A large artistic community has been growing around gaming culture for years, largely among enthusiastic fans and outside of the big-buck industry maneuvering. On the musical end, everyone from Electronic and Hip Hop to Metal musicians have paid tribute to the sounds heard within popular video games. From a performance standpoint, one of the best is Athens, Ga. quintet Bit Brigade, whose concerts are multimedia experiences, combining progressive Indie Rock with the growing fascination of watching others play video games.
Bit Brigade features Bryant Williamson and Jace Bartet on guitars, Luke Fields on bass, Mike Albanese on drums and Noah McCarthy, who is kind of the “frontperson” — he plays classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games on stage, to which the band provides the soundtrack. Using the musical themes andsounds from the actual games, the band follows the gameplay live, but there isn’t a ton of improv. McCarthy and the musicians work together to plot out and time their sessions, though the element of surprise (dying or not making the next level) is always there, of course.
Musically, the band (which tours the U.S. Rock club circuit consistently) is a tight mix of Post Punk, Indie and Prog Rock — some of the musicians are also in the Athens instrumental Indie Rock band Double Ferrari. So far, Bit Brigade has done such NES games as Contra (the one that started it all), Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, all of which are available as albums at bitbrigade.bandcamp.com. For the group’s visit to Newport, Mega Man II will be played.