Bit Brigade, a local guitar driven rock group who perform live versions of video game soundtracks as a gamer beats the game, performed on Monday at The Caledonia. On this occasion they played the soundtrack to the original Ninja Gaiden circa 1988 for the NES.
Featuring members of local math rock groups We Versus The Shark and Cinemechanica, the group has existed for several years and continually impresses with their intricate and synchronized playing. Their performance as “Ninjaband” was the first of a five day stint which is taking them up the east coast through North Carolina and ending at the ninth annual Magfest in Alexandria, Va. The bands choice to start their tour on 01-11-2011 is fitting due to the binary nature of their band name (“Bit” Brigade, anybody?).
Despite the blizzard hurtling inches of snow on the city and freezing many of the roads, a crowd of thirty or so fans attended. In place of an opening act (understandable in consideration of the logistical problems caused by the weather), the gamer Noah McCarthy warmed up his fingers and the crowd with a speed run through Mega Man II which took only a mere twenty minutes.
Bit Brigade entered the stage and explosively played through the title screen before the start of the first level. On the large projection screen at the back of the stage the small Ninja character ran across a horizontal playing field and slashed at his foes. McCarthy quickly dispatched through the first boss at the end of the level who exploded as the band created a loud crashing noise with their instruments. This soon to become familiar sound would make several recurrences through-out the set, each time after the master gamer easily dispatched his digital victims.
Typically, it took around two to five minutes for McCarthy to defeat a level, or “Act,” as they were called in the game. After each of the five acts there was a cut scene which featured the animated face of the Ninja, his adversaries, and a female comrade. During the cut scenes the band would play melodic arrangements which set the tone for the next level, or emphasized certain words. Their guitars were tinny, electric, and biting-a faithful rock’n’roll recreation of the original 8-bit audio. Their performance showcased a genuine love for the classic game and a fusion of highly technical rocking with highly technical gaming.
On their website the band states of Ninjaband “Clocking in at forty-five minutes and encompassing over sixty unique cues and some of the most acrobatically challenging platform gameplay ever created, Ninjaband is indisputably the most epic game in our roster and truly showcases the meticulous attention to detail we pride ourselves on.”