An Epic Eight-Bit ’Sco Show

Kara Brooks, Staff Writer

Saturday, Dec. 5 began as a day of no distinguishable significance. It was not Halloween, it was not the first weekend back from a break, nor was it the last Saturday of the semester. It was an ordinary Saturday night, but many Oberlin students decided to forget their workloads and let the good times roll.

New York City-based chiptune punk band Anamanaguchi had an epic performance at the ’Sco that night. Chiptune, more commonly known as eight-bit music, is a genre in which sounds are synthesized in real time by a computer or video game console sound chip, rather than with sample- based synthesis.

In other words, chiptune music is purely awesome. College junior, Review staff writer and ’Sco staff member Jimmy Hagan exclaimed, “I haven’t seen the ’Sco that crazy in a long time.”

When I spoke to students at the show, Anamanaguchi’s popularity was obvious. College first-year Ross Chait told me how he had “been looking forward to this show for a while.” He continued to explain how he is “friends with [drummer] Luke Silas, and so it was really awesome to have him play a show here and to see that the band is taking off and people were digging it.”

People seemed to be absolutely “digging it.” As I entered the ’Sco, the first two things I noticed were a girl dancing in her underwear and a boy being launched into the air to crowd surf.

Chait also stood out to me when I glanced over to the mosh pit. He explained, “My friend and I were trying to do a chest bump, and he jumped before I did, and his shoulder hit me in the face. I did not even know I was bleeding, but someone rushed me into the bathroom to clean me up. I was happy. It was cool. It did not even really hurt.”

Though some of the audience members already knew and loved Anamanaguchi’s music, those with little experience with eight-bit music still seemed able to relate.

“I was impressed that they were able to be so dynamic with such a set theme. I was really into their Game Boy sound,” Hagan said. Knowing that eight-bit bands don’t typically play at Oberlin, Anamanaguchi guitarist Ary Warnaar said, “It’s always fun to be the first to bring chip concerts to a virgin audience.”

Having personally seen Anamanaguchi play over the summer in New York, my love for the band grew Saturday night at the ’Sco, where the members seemed to be more on top of their game.

Chait agreed: “I think they’ve sort of mastered their playing a lot more. I have seen them play a bunch of times, and I would say it’s the best show of theirs that I have seen. They really had a solid show. I did not see any flaws whatsoever, and their graphics were really cool.”

“We’re always upgrading our setup. Our shows used to be the most stressful thing ever. The nature of the gear is stressful: The hardware we use is as old as we are! There’s no telling how it will behave. Luckily, we’ve reached a point where we’re so on top of our live game that everything just flows on the technical side. That doesn’t mean we won’t stop adding more buttons and knobs to our Frankenstein of an NES, though,” Warnaar explained.

Anamanaguchi absolutely added more diversity to its set. Not only did the members step up their game with the graphics they used, but they also added more songs. One song that really seemed to excite people was their cover of Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.” “They reminded me a lot of Weezer, so it was cool when they played that song,” said Hagan.

Warnaar told me he was unsure of what to expect from Oberlin students: “It’s always a bummer when people are kind of tame at our shows, but luckily it was the complete opposite — people were going nuts! It was one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played.”