In case you’ve managed to avoid its constant mentions in our HipTrax podcasts over the previous months, Nerdapalooza is set to go down this very weekend. Yes, Nerdapalooza, the annual music and culture festival that attracts geeks of all stripes from the world over, is scant days away. Of course, for every one of you who is, even now, pocketing his ticket and nodding slyly, there are surely countless others scratching their heads in dismay.
To those of you not in the know, I present the following rundown of the festival’s finer points. Consider it your cheat sheet for all things Nerdapalooza. There may well be a test later.
The festival is in its third year: Nerdapalooza was conceived in Arcata, California by John “Hex Warrior” Carter in early 2007, but the first official festival, Nerdapalooza SE 2007, took place in Gainesville, Floria that August.
But this is the fifth festival: Between Nerdapalooza SE 2007 (Gainesville), Nerdapalooza Beta (Arcata), Nerdapalooza UK (Bradford, England) and Nerdapalooza SE 2008 (Orlando, Florida), this year marks the festival’s fifth outing.
It’s in Orlando again: This year’s venue, the Holiday Inn Express Convention Center on International Drive, affords easy access to dining, shopping and the Mouse.
It’s for a good cause: Nerdapalooza is, at its core, a charity event benefiting Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play. Sure, it looks like nothing more than a gaggle of geeks reveling in their own esoteric passions, but the proceeds of every purchase, from tickets to event-themed merchandise, goes to put toys, games and books in the hands of hospitalized children worldwide.
It’s the largest event of its kind: Lots of festivals and conventions feature nerdy music, but Nerdapalooza is the only event firmly centered on the concert-going experience. You can hear Wizard Rock, chiptunes, nerdcore hip-hop and filk-rock all on one stage.
The crowd is kid-friendly, the music not so much: Nerdapalooza is a safe and controlled environment in which nerds of all ages meet, game, reminisce and (most importantly) listen to music. Many of the acts on the roster, however, feature adult themes and language in their music. Of course, it’s also important to note that just as many of the yearly participants offer a more family-friendly brand of musical entertainment. To put it another way, for every Grammar Club there is a Dual Core. If you’re planning on bringing along your geeklings, be sure you do a little pre-show listening to determine which artists you feel offer appropriate lyrical fare; then consult the performance schedule to plan accordingly.
There are plenty of diversions: If you’re looking for something to do between sets (or if you just need a break from all the rocking), this year’s festival features its own Gaming Pavilion. Boasting spectacle-driven options from Dance Dance Revolution to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, even this aspect of the event is likely to draw a crowd.
It’s reasonably priced: Tickets for both days of the event have recently been reduced to $20. Yes, you can dork out for an entire weekend for a mere twenty bones. If you’re only in town for a single day of the event (Saturday, July 11 or Sunday, July 12), daily tickets are $15.
You can meet the talent: If you’re a fan of, say, Uncle Monsterface, Nerdapalooza is an excellent opportunity to not only catch them on stage, but to actually interact with such artists in the proverbial trenches. In fact, as most performers spend the bulk of their time in the audience supporting the other participants, you’d have a hard time not meeting them.
Oh yeah, the headliners: Headlining the events first night is the combined geeky hip-hop might of MC Frontalot and MC Lars. Likewise, day two will conclude with the Mega Man rock of The Protomen and the incomparable mc chris. But don’t forget that these acts represent only a fraction of the musical entertainment on tap for Nerdapalooza 2009. With live performances from noon to midnight both days, the event’s headliners may be the main course, but don’t discount the other dozen or so daily acts on the table.