Beefy, Adam WarRock and Jesse Dangerously perform

Nerdapalooza Is Dead; Long Live Nerdapalooza

Events Geek Culture

Beefy, Adam WarRock and Jesse Dangerously perform Here’s a little window into my creative process (such as it is); I sit down at a keyboard and I type. Yeah, I mean, sometimes I have some review notes or a collection of disparate thoughts from an Evernote document or something, but mostly it’s just me putting words together.

Later, when I reread and begin to edit, I almost instantly see a larger framework, my underlying theme or my driving point. I share this because this particular post is nothing like that. I have spent weeks – nay, months – agonizing over how to eulogize Nerdapalooza, Orlando’s now defunct nerd music festival. And, sadly, the longer I’ve waited the more difficult this has become.

Plenty has been said to praise and to bury this titan of geek culture, and some have already begun both critically reflecting on NAP, its longevity and what ultimately went wrong, as well as rush to fill the void its departure has left. There’ve been tears shed, there’ve been fingers pointed and there’ve been anecdotes shared. But for me, as I close out yet another year, I’ve at long last realized what I hope to impart in these final words.

You see, particularly where Nerdapalooza is concerned, I’m less concerned with what will no longer be or what should’ve been, but simply with what was.

Nerdapalooza was the first event I ever covered for GeekDad, and that festival and this blog have had a strong relationship ever since. We were, on a number of occasions, a sponsor – this primarily meant that we gave the NAP crew a little of the money they needed to get the job done in exchange for our names splashed around the venue… and a table I tended to ignore.

But even before that, Nerdapalooza was a part of my life. It went from a big idea from some far-flung nerd named Hex to a for-real occurrence that took place at irregular intervals in tapas restaurants, hotel ballrooms, bars and convention centers. It grew and it swelled and it succeeded and it receded and, all the while, it told a story. Hell, it told a whole bunch of stories.

Mine started with friendships, meeting and becoming forever tied to folks like Denika, Mustin, Team Monsterface, Euge and the motley Sci-Fried crew. It saw me share space with not only hundreds of my geeky brothers and sisters, but share experiences with genuine friends like Matt and Larry, two patrons of the nerd arts that’ve likely spotted me more meals, drinks and hotel rooms than my own blood-family. Weirdly, I always sort of thought of my fellow Nerdapalooza patrons as just that, and those long weekends began to feel very much like massive family reunions.

Even this year, with the stink of this impending doom permeating the event, haunting us through whispers and sideways conjecture, mine was a story with its own indubitable highlights. Finally seeing my old pal Beefy take the stage, catching a secret magic show from the phenomenal Nelson Lugo and seeing a very grown-up Nerf Herder play a set with every speck of their awkward 90s alterna-rock energy intact are not only some of my freshest memories from this, the show’s final chapter, they are some of my fondest.

Still, it wasn’t just the bands I wanted to see, the sets I simply had to catch that made Nerdapalooza. It was also those I fully intended to miss. If jazz happens in the space between notes, then surely Nerdapalooza’s magic happens between sets, or in those stolen moments when you wander out to the smoking area, up to your room for a quick drink or off for a bite to eat.

But again, that’s just my story. Hex, I’m sure, has his own tale. As does my regular traveling companion Josh. So does Andrea. So does Curtis. So does Mikal. If you were there, once, twice or always, then you too have a Nerdapalooza story. Aaron and Nina – two longtime show-runners – even have a story that includes a recent wedding. (Congrats, guys!)

If Nerdapalooza was anything for you like it was for me – some manner of freaked out musical family gathering – then you no doubt realize the truth: that we’re all still family. I’m sure we could all debate at length who made the wrong calls, what decisions led to its dissolution and where to place the blame, but none of that really matters.

What does matter is our memories. What does matter is that the dream of one man became the opportunity of a lifetime for many a musician and music lover. What matters are the careers launched and the relationships forged. What matters is that we were there.

In short, it doesn’t matter that it’s over; it only matters that it happened.

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11 thoughts on “Nerdapalooza Is Dead; Long Live Nerdapalooza

  1. Well said Z!

    The Orlando Nerd Fest wasn’t created to erase NAP, but if anything celebrate the culture and continue to support the community that NAP created.
    Even if ONF 2014 was only able to survive for this one time I’m sure another event would pop up to take it’s place.

    Nerd culture doesn’t really like letting things that it appreciates disappear without a fight. 🙂

    I’m just glad that there are enough people in the community that are dead set on making these things happen every year, and I hope I see you and the rest of my friends there, as well as new people that I can form new memories with to cherish with my older ones.

    <3 you all!


    1. Wow Chozo, you really have some tact. Using this place to advertise for your “music festival”? You should be ashamed. That and the phoenix imagery – you really are trying to take advantage of somebody else’s bad situation. No wonder so many nerdapalooza bands wont book with you.

      1. I’m sorry that you feel that way, I truly am.

        Orlando Nerd Fest is not my festival, it’s not any one person’s event, and while I’m proud to say that I am indeed working with the group I would be daft to claim to be anything other than a very happy supporter and someone willing to throw money and time at it. I am very very very happy that so many people are going out of their way to take on the risk and stress to put together another event in my town (I moved out here from California for NAP, no less).

        If anyone out there would rather be upset that the same community that has supported NAP for 7ish years than happy that we don’t let something as devastating as what happened here keep us from moving forward than I honestly don’t know what to say.

        As the title of the blog says, NAP is dead. NAP is a company, no more, no less. A group of people that worked their asses off to great personal sacrifice and while I may not have the best personal working relationship with every one of them (some I still so) I have nothing but respect for them and all that they have accomplished.

        But let’s not kid ourselves here. NAP was not the first nor largest nerd music festival. It never was. While I worked with NAP I felt like we were the bread and butter of the nerd music scene, and even I was blown away in finding out that MAGfest had already existed for 6 years! An event showcasing Music and Gaming that has always been no less than 9 times the size of NAP.

        I was extremely humbled last year at my first MAGfest, that this thing that I had no idea existed made everything we had ever done look like child’s play. (This is my personal opinion, your mileage may vary)

        That’s when it hit me. NAP was never about the bands. It was never about the people running it. It was nothing more than an outlet, a place for this amazing community to meet up in the South East once a year. NAP was and should always have been about the community. Nerd music is more accessible than ever, with Protomen, MC Lars, mc chris on things like Warped Tour. Every year more and more nerd musicians are performing anime, gaming, movie, and music festivals and conventions. More acts are touring nationally, even globally, than ever before.

        The one thing that each of these shows individually provides is the unique experience, and NAP was no different. NAP was a great place to mingle with the “stars” and meet and connect with new and amazing people. People that go out of their way and spend every dime that they have to travel and spend just a few days a year looking for that same experience.

        With NAP dying, that experience dies with it. Very few times in life do we get second chances to save the things that we care about that unfortunately don’t survive. ONF 2014 isnothing more than the community doing just that. Fighting to move on, to continue, to exist. Fighting to save the experience.

        Anyways, I’m getting emotional here, and it’s way beyond TL;DR. Bottom line is that if you’d rather be upset at me now just because I’m helping spread the word than upset later that you never heard that ONF existed, that’s fine. That’s a risk I’m willing to take if that means that even one person is saved from missing out on ONF, because as a community, one that I’m ultra proud to be a supporting member of, everyone deserves to make up their own mind about what they want to do about it, and what happened.

        The community in Orlando is too large, too strong to not have a large scale nerd music event. Events come and go, they rise and fall and replace each other all the time. Even if I retired and never touched another nerd event for as long as I live someone else would be doing it, and that’s just a fact.

        As for bands “won’t book with me”. I don’t handle the booking at ONF, and while I can’t legally say who that is due to Non-Disclosure, I can definitely say that the guys (plural) that are handling it would definitely surprise you.

        I wish you peace, friend. Hopefully I cleared up some stuff, and I’ll probably repost this to my facebook.


      2. So, talking about an image that, as far as I know, was no longer being used in any way BEFORE this article was put on. So it looks like you have knowledge about Orlando Nerd Fest other than just this article. Also, an image who’s true meaning we may not be privy to. Now who really has an agenda to push here, Chozo, or sumdumguy. Brilliant choice of name, I commend you on that, really helped to prepare me for what I was going to read. Let’s face it, the article mentioned Orlando Nerd Fest, I’m sure if it didn’t, Chozo might not be here talking about it, but it did. That being said, have you ever tried to get something off the ground like that, you advertise the crap out of it when ever you can, and an article that mentions you is probably one of the best places for it.

        Now, it seems you may feel a little hexed at how quickly another show popped up, but it was the day after it was announced that Nerdapalooza was shutting down that there were a bunch of people running their mouths saying that they were going to run the next Nerdapalooza, I mean the body wasn’t even cold yet.

        Now as far as I can grasp, Orlando Nerd Fest seems like something that was just going to happen anyway. Under another name, run by whoever, but there was always going to be something. I mean you have nerd shows outside of Nerdapalooza, did you think that once it shut down, that there was never going to be any nerd music in Orlando.

        Nope sorry, sumdumguy said we aren’t allowed to have any more nerd music shows in Orlando. Sorry Megaran, you can’t preform here outside of Nerdapalooza, not counting all the other shows in Orlando he does outside of Nerdapaliiza. Not counting the other nerd shows that go on, like performances at nerd night, the geek easy, or ongaku overdrive. Apparently there simply can’t be nerd music in Orlando without Nerdapalooza.

        Look, it’s pretty obvious you have an ax to grind, if Chozo hurt you in the past or made you feel like less of a man, I’m sorry, but you need to move on. I’m surprised you haven’t accused him of trying to steal Magfest, which now that I think about it, was around a while before Nerdapalooza. Orlando moves on, and the community won’t die just cause one show did. Nerdapalooza was amazing, truly a life changing experience, but just cause it’s not hear, doesn’t mean that nobody can have fun. Look how many conventions there are in Orlando, you can have more than one show.Nothing’s going to replace Nerdapalooza, and from where I’m sitting, and what I’ve read, nothing is trying to. Orlando Nerd Fest seems like a fun homage to something we all love, and it seems like Orlando Nerd Fest loves Nerdapalooza too.

        Personally, I feel that more nerd music is better, why you gotta hate. When Nerdapalooza died, I was devastated, as were a lot of us. This article was really good, and I’m thankful that it seems like I’ll get to see some of my favorite nerd musicians again. So I’m happy Orlando Nerd Fest is a thing. I’d be happier if there were more, why is it we only get one big show. I hope that someday there will be more than just Orlando Nerd Fest doing this down here.

        1. Its not about only having one festival – its about being an opportunist more than caring about the music and the community. Chozo had always tried to piggy back on other people’s successes (*cough*day after show*cough*) and this isn’t any different. Dude should get an original idea. He even ripped off another nerd festival in Florida (Space Coast Nerd Fest).

          1. I like it when people take pot shots from anonymity without any real good position or footing. The internet is good place for people to say things that have no bearing on the conversation at hand, derail a topic, and insult the good nature behind peoples actions.

            Well played Red Nuts and Sum Dumb Dude. Well played indeed.

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