The fifth annual Nerdapalooza music festival just wrapped up a couple days ago down in Orlando, FL. Held at the Orlando Marriott hotel, the festival broke all previous years attendance records and was an ear-blasting good time. I’m pretty sure the Orange County Public School system was stoked about the attendance, as they were the charitable recipients of all the proceeds.
I was once again accompanied by my friend and fellow GeekDad Z, and we rocked our freaking socks off. Literally. If you were there, you would have caught me walking around barefoot most of the second day. Again, a huge thanks to John “Hi, I’m Hex” Carter, Masurao from Krondor Krew, his lovely pink haired wife Nina, Josh and his pajama pants and Captain Dan. They were the brains behind the event and they made me feel like part of the extended family once again. I literally copied that line from last year’s post. This year the pre-party was inside the venue, and kicked off heavy with the Scrubclub performing a medley of their songs, and some other great opening acts.
Aside from GeekDad sponsoring the event and stage B (of which I now have the banner hanging in my bedroom) NoS Energy Drinks was the other major sponsor. While we were giving out bumper stickers, they were giving out caffeinated drinks by the case. Literally. The whole place was jacked from open to close. Their banner was hanging on the main stage, which made sense because they probably forked over more sponsorship money. They had a cool retro gaming table set up, which came in handy as I was letting people try on the Gunnars glasses I had brought along with me.
The first thing you might notice about this post is that it’s a part one, unlike last year’s Nerdapalooza recap which was just one singular post. This year, aside from listing out some of the great and unique things you missed out on in this post, I also shot about 6 hours of video (give or take) of mostly mediocre to good quality. Special thanks to the wife for hanging out in the booth while I ran around shooting video. That video, along with some commentary of course, will be posted in the coming weeks after I get a chance to upload it. I know I promised the same last year, but this time my video is much, much better. All work and no play and what not. So, here’s what you missed at Nerdapalooza that I found worth mentioning.
I got a Tattoo, and it’s Really Nerdy
On Sunday at some point a tattoo parlor popped up about sixteen feet from the stage. While getting a tattoo that far from the main speakers of the main stage might seem like a terrible idea in retrospect, I have to hand it to the folks from Scooter’s Skin Art of Lakeland, FL for holding their concentration and doing a fantastic job on every one they worked on – including me. My artist (and I say “my” because like picking a doctor, she’s the only tattoo artist I’ll see until she either moves or I run out of skin,) Chay happens to be very talented when it comes to doing line work, and considering my chosen design – that worked out pretty well.
The highlight (aside from my cool tattoo) though was Josh, Hex, Nina and Aaron all getting the Nerdapalooza cartoon logo (a nerdy skull with glasses) tattooed on them. Aaron went with his calf, Hex with his bicep, Josh went upper chest and Nina went armpit. That one looked like it hurt. Then later in the day there was a photo shoot for nerdy tattoos, and I actually got to participate. If you happen to know what my tattoo represents (it’s a real thing) go ahead and leave it in the comments. So far only @funky49 was immediately able to identify it.
Pirates vs. Ninjas Throwdown
One of the best things about walking around Nerdapalooza is all the cosplaying. The most popular costumes are some variant of MegaMan (clearly fans of the Protomen,) ninjas and pirates. Now, there were a ton of ninja walking around, and this might have had something do with The Way of the Sword setting up shop in a corner of the main room. They brought a ton of foam swords & shields and were holding battles. One such battle was an epic (as far as in relation to the event) pirate vs. ninja battle.
The guys from Krondor Krew challenged the guys from Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew to a battle. I filmed it, and it was hilarious to watch but I can’t tell you who won. Mostly because I don’t know who won. I think the pirates won the first round, then the next day the ninja won. Either way, this impromptu event garnered a larger crowd than some of the opening acts and highlighted the overall attitude of the event – fun – as two of the participants (Captain Dan & Masurao) were also two of the organizers. It bodes well for the event as a whole if everything is running so smoothly that these guys had time to whack each other with foam swords.
I Fight Dragons, You Fight Dragons, We All Fight Dragons
The two headlining bands were The Protomen, who played both Saturday and Sunday nights and I Fight Dragons, who closed out the show on Sunday. The Protomen were once again excellent, and it’s amazing that they are literally a ten-piece band performing live in coherent harmony. They performed both their albums in order starting on Saturday night. The best part of their set though, and probably all the music heard, was their encore Saturday night. They are working on a Queen cover album and broke out with a couple of Queen songs to end the night. They were spot on performances, spiked with passion and energy.
While Rob, the local representative from NoS Energy got to introduce the Protomen both nights, Z and I got to introduce I Fight Dragons. That was pretty freaking amazing and I’m still a little shell-shocked by it. As I quickly learned on stage though, no one gave a flying crap about us, as they quickly began chanting for I Fight Dragons. I had never seen this band live, and heard they perform a rocking stage show. They did not disappoint. If you get the chance to see them live, do so, totally worth it. While filming I closed in on lead singer Brian’s face several times, and he just had this wide expressive smile across it. Performing isn’t a chore for them, it’s what they love to do and it shows.
Speaking about performers, every year I pick one that really surprised me. Last year it was The Bossfights who blasted my brain out of my skull. This year’s surprise came from a very unexpected source. During the Scrubclub pre-party set I met this young round faced kid Josh Klopfenstein, from Washington (the state.) He was running around the stage with a handheld camera, and seemed very friendly. Then at one point, he dropped the camera an grabbed a microphone and started rapping. Go figure, but this kid was good. His rhymes were quick and tight and peppered with nerdy humor and smooth transition.
This kid turned out to be the rapper known as Klopfenpop, a recent signing to Scrubclub Records. Nerdcore is one genre of music where you can pretty much come from any walk of life and if you have the talent, be a rapper or musician. Klopfenpop epitomizes that almost “every geek” theory of the music. Not only was he unassuming off stage, but he was really talented on stage. A curly haired little ball of energy and the dude was in a good mood the whole time he was at Nerdapalooza. Not to mention he performed two songs with I Fight Dragons, which was a little bit of a surprise (he told me beforehand) and quite entertaining. If I’m not mistaken he’ll be performing with MC Frontalot the day after PAX Prime in Seattle. Check him out on Twitter, or go download some free tracks.
Not Just Musical Artists
This year, while music was the main focus of Nerdapalooza, it wasn’t the only focus. There was art. A lot of great nerdy art. Pixel art, paintings, sketches and all kinds of art. Some of it was amazing, some of it was so-so and some of it just blew me away. Sadly, I didn’t have the money to be spending on art. However, we did buy a bunch of drawings from local Orlando artist Michael Banks. He makes these kind of goth type cartoony drawings of characters in popular culture. He took requests and drew my wife several Disney characters for our daughter.
The addition of visual art added a much needed dimension to Nerdapalooza. There are down-times, although with it running much smoother this year there were less of those, where you just want to wander around and look at something besides the hotel walls. Hence the art. Even Hex had some of his own art up for sale, and Madhatter had his pixel buddies for sale.
Deep breath, here’s a list of all the non-musical visual artists that had art displayed in the gallery (or elsewhere) at Nerdapalooza this year;
Janae Corrado, Bianca Roman-Stumpff, J.P. Perez, Mark Gil Perez, Chad Jacobs, Johannah O’Donnell, Drez13, Jen Hersey, Dan Hay, Kristal Celeste, Tracy Lulu Brown, Jeff Pfaff, Kristin Barron, Steffen Messinger, Jon Jacobs, Ryan Kittleson, Cake Marques, Michael McGrath, Pam Treadwell, Charles Treadwell, Elizabeth Shupe, Michael Banks, Curious Kingdom, Tony Baldini, Max Acree, John “Hex” Carter, Trevon Jakaar, Kill Taupe, Kristin Frenzel, Lucas Jewell, Henry Schreiber, Jon Gardner, Liana Lavoie, Chris Tobar Rodriguez, Jessica Whitaker, Samuel Alexander, Anna Maiya Young Kelland & Kamikaze Frankenstein.
Like a Family Reunion, with Less Sack Racing
Every time I go to Nerdapalooza, it’s like a family reunion. You see old friends, you meet new friends and for the most part – every one gets along. Artists mingle with fans, with other artists and just hang out. Every one cuts loose and has a fun time, not caring if they are dressed like a homeless ninja or not. I think the experience is similar for every one that attends Nerdapalooza, and that’s one of the things that makes this such a great event. There is a constant feeling of belonging, no matter your background, social or racial creed. It’s one big happy family, where the currency is sweaty man-bear hugs and exploding fists.
So with that being said, here’s every one that I didn’t mention above (and some that I did,) that I consider my extended Nerdapalooza family.
First off, thanks to Madhatter for showing me this video. Probably the best My Little Pony video dub that I’ve ever watched and listened to. The Bossfights were awesome once again this year, the energy and humor that Doctor Awkward brings to the stage is second to none. Zealous1 and King Pheenix probably give the best sweaty man hugs and are just really nice people to hang out with. The clear winners of best style (if that was a pretend award) are the HD Ninja boys who went with their suits and ninja masks, and Funky49, who spent most of the weekend dressed as (and altering his mind to fit) Hunter S. Thompson.
I missed the Epic Win Burlesque Show but I saw that the line was out the door, down the hall, around the corner and ending somewhere near the lobby. I think they sold too many tickets. I spent a lot of time with Dan, from Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew who helped out extensively with the vendors and was nothing short of five star customer service minded the whole weekend. Also, he freaking killed it on stage. You’d never think the guy was a full out pirate until he’s wearing all the garb and aiming a flint lock at you.
A quick thanks to DJ Shadowfax of Available Sound. Last year there was a lot of stress centered around the sound and lighting and the several hour delays that kept happening. This year, the furthest behind the festival got was 18 minutes at one point on Sunday, which was quickly eliminated. The couple of times there were electrical or other problems, Shadowfax and his team were quick to deduce and fix them.
Also thanks to Rob from NoS Energy for giving me my own half case of sugar free NoS. I didn’t want to have to fight the hardcore Street Fighter IV gamers for what few sugar free cans there were. On the subject of vendors, T-Shirt Bordello was there once again this year. I’ve bought a lot of geeky pop culture t-shirts in my life, but I have to say that the best I’ve ever bought I’ve bought from T-Shirt Bordello. I still have my Doctor Who Tardis shirt from last year, which is rare for a graphic tee to last that long. This year I went with the Android R2 design.
Back to the music; there were a lot of amazing performers this year, but it’s so tough to list them all out and have it mean anything. I missed a couple of them, and didn’t give some my full attention but I have to single out Marc With a C. Marc performed a solo set that blended into a couple songs with the hard rock group Sci-Fried. Marc’s tongue in cheek lyrical based songs blended perfectly into the heavy guitars of Sci-Fried, making for a very unique and entertaining set. Word is that they are already working on their set for next year.
[Note to the Orlando Airport Marriott, that nickel and dime-ing people with the parking and wireless internet is a poor way to run a business, especially with the amount of money forked over this past weekend. It’s no surprise that when I drove out of there, after paying $12 a day for parking, that I noticed your maintenance guy fixing the gate arm, which was lying in pieces on the ground. And $450 a day for the wireless password for the meeting rooms is weak sauce.]
Stay tuned for some video, some of which might need some volume leveling. It wasn’t until about half way through that I found the auto leveling button. Such is life.
All images: C. Silver except Klopfenpop w/ I Fight Dragons by Bryan Kissel
[This article, by Curtis Silver, was originally published on Thursday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]