MAGFest XII was a bit different for me this year. It was definitely one of the best MAGFests yet, however Jesse and I did not table, and it changed the way I got to experience the best Video Game festival on the East Coast! As a result, this post is going to be different from past-years MAGFest reports.

Let us start at the beginning!

MAGFest was once again held in the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel and Resort. This is the show’s third year at this immensely huge hotel and convention center. The Gaylord has been a gracious host all 3 years and continues to work very well with attendees and MAGFest alike to provide the best experience possible for everyone! I hope they continue to let MAGFest happen there every January!

My very first order of business was dropping off prints to Knight of the Round the very first band to perform at the show this year on the Main Stage! The prints were of my design for their first album Gaia’s Bane and their newest album Onward Dissension. They rocked faces at their Thursday afternoon set and got the show off to an incredible start!

My second delivery was some prints of Pretty Eight Machine, Inverse Phase aka Brendan Becker’s 8-bit rearrangement of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. Brendan did a panel on how he creates his music through a technique called Tracking, used by many talented remixers including guys like Mazedude.

After that it was off to check in with the most awesome group of dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in the aptly titled Lumberjack Lounge! This is a party room featuring many of MAGFest’s longest-repeat attendees. Hosted by “Biggest Fan” JoeCam and Taras aka “Pappy”, the Lumberjack Lounge has become THE place to be at MAGFest when you’re not rocking out at a concert or taking in a discussion panel. This year featured many, many surprise faces showing up…but we’ll get to that.

Before we knew it it was midnight and time to go to prom. That’s right, MAGProm. Featuring music from first-time MAGFest performers Love Cannon and long-time MAGFest favorites The OneUps, the dancing went on long into the early morning hours! Here’s my photos from the event:

By request, a picture of JoeCam and his date Tina.

Love Cannon came at us with amazing 80s covers, and are working on a VGM tribute album!

The dancing was spontaneous and exciting!

The OneUps returned this year with a shuffled line-up as Mustin left and bass player Moose returned! Also now featuring rapper Lucio as a regular!

The OneUps bring the funk!

After being woken up far too early by a fire alarm on floor 4 of the hotel, Friday began! It was the most packed of the days I attended and while the Street Passing on my Nintendo 3DS didn’t stop all weekend, Friday was the one day that just sort of kept going…with awesome!

After finally getting some time to explore the whole of the con, I checked out the Animators panel featuring a whole mess of famous YouTube animators/satirists/parody film makers including the one and only EgoRaptor! It was not really anything I haven’t heard before about being a creator and getting your work out there, but it was refreshing to hear other, moderately successful people say it and shed some insight on how their paths to popularity were formed. Hopefully one day I can be on such a panel, encouraging all the kids to just get out there and “JUST DO IT!” as EgoRaptor kept saying.

Next up was Video Game Improv! This panel has exploded in size every year, and it’s totally easy to see why. The guys and gals from X-Strike Studios, The Virtual Fools, PBC Productions, ScrewAttack and others have all come together to create a hugely talented cast of characters! The show itself is sort of like “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” just with video game themes and sensibilities…and probably way funnier!

Seriously funny dudes and dudettes!

Next on the Friday agenda…was ROCK.

The Megas have skyrocketed to immense popularity since their debut in 2008. I was introduced to their sound last MAGFest and quickly became absorbed in their message from Dr. Light. They put on a great show again and I was front and center for this one!

They invited all the costumed fans to join them on stage for their finale!

After The Megas signed my tee shirt at their vendor table, I returned to check out This Place Is Haunted! They have a great rock sound and were performing at MAGFest for the 8th time!

Rocked out, it was time to clean up and head back to the Lumberjack Lounge for the themed Lumbergents party! A lot happened and much fun was had, I’ll just leave a bunch of my photos from the event…here.

Gaming and conversation in the Lumberjack Lounge!

Lumbergent Mazedude talks music!

The party got packed!

Artist Hex Martinez and his lady-friend Brittany chats with Devon Riley while X-Strike Studio’s Tim Ekkebus chills in the background!

A Wild Jon St. John appeared! Joking around with Tina.

Jessperk gets classy with D-Lux, dressed as the Abominable Snow Man from SkiFree.

The night was drawing to a close very soon, but not before one last stop off: The MAGFest RAVE/Dance Party!

The Snowman was very insistent on people going to the Rave….

The Rave opened with one of the best performing MC/DJ combos out there: bLiNd and A-Rival! They put a surge of energy into the room that was incredible!

The Snowman dancing his pixel butt off!

DarkeSword from OCRemix was taking in the phat beetz also!

At one point a Tardis made of balloons was crowd-surfed until it came apart!

The second DJ to take the stage was the immensely talented and popular Ben Briggs. Just listen to his music, it’s out of this world quality!

Friday finally ended and Saturday was quickly upon us! I feel like it was almost one day as I didn’t get terribly much sleep between them. Such is life at MAGFest!

I finally dropped some money down in the vendor hall, picking up some nice swag.

After that I ran down to the well hidden Jam Space to check out Kris Huber as he introduced a few tracks from his new MAGFest-Limited album Blademode. If you didn’t get a copy from him at the show, in-person, then that selection of music will never be available again. He can also be heard with Lumberjack JoeCam on the SML Podcast every week! Check them out!

The last order of business on Saturday before settling down at the Lounge for some decompression was to rock out one last time with LonelyRollingStar! Featuring artists Ailsean, Norg, Cubosh and Stemage (who’s names you should know, and be ashamed if not) these long time MAGFest performers from various other bands have collaborated to create a whole new, amazing sound!

Ken “Hat” Crouch joins LRS on his Big Orange Trombone!

Way sooner than anyone ever expects…Sunday arrived and it was time to head home! The trip to and from was mostly safe for Jesse and I, despite some bad weather happening all over the country on both trips! I’ll finish off with just a few more photos and a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at MAGFest. Fans, friends and staff alike, you all make the show the amazing thing it is and I hope to be able to table next year and contribute further to it’s awesomeness!

Dat’ licence plate.

One of the best costumes at the show; Judge Gabranth!

Trust me, there were plenty of girls cosplaying and leaving little left to imagine, but I thought this cross-playing Marth was by far the cutest lady in costume! Cheers to her!

The best get of the weekend from the vendor hall! Split the cost on this with Jesse, $100! Can’t wait to play!

Yeah. That’s right. James Rolfe the Angry Video Game Nerd signed my 3DS XL literally just as I was leaving the show to come home. Be jealous. *goes to buy a clear case to protect it*

-RD

All photos © 2014 Randall Drew
All Rights Reserved.