New York's Blip Invasion

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If hearing the Castlevania theme song remixed in the style of MegaMan is enough to get your joystick jumping, then hightail it to New York City's Blip Festival (December 1-3, 2006). Nerds and n00bs alike will find something to appreciate at this three-day event, where a cast of international 8-bit artists will rip the guts out of old game consoles in the name of creative expression. Artists on the bill range from stateside scene leaders Bit Shifter and Nullsleep (whose wicked Game Boy cover of Depeche Mode works hard for the term "megamix") to the insanely cute three-piece Japanese pop band YMCK. Throw in workshops about reverse engineering on NES cartridges and pixelated art installations–including Corey Arcangel's "Super Mario Movie"–and you have a proper congregation of art-minded geeks. "I'm not gonna lie. [Our audience] is a lot of dorky guys who look like they'll soon be returning to their parents' basement," admits Mike Rosenthal, the festival's artistic director. "But it's fun! They want to hear shit that makes them groove, but they want to know something techy is going into it." Rosenthal, who runs a packed chiptune monthly at alt-performance space The Tank, attributes the scene's growing popularity to his generation's shared pop-culture nostalgia. "People grew up immersed in this stuff–that 8-bit, blippy sound speaks to them on a deep level. It's taking back a pure and total part of our childhood, and turning it into something crazy and new."