Nerd Rock

When you think of Nerds, what do you often envision? Maybe they are wearing glasses or reading a Dungeons and Dragons manual? Maybe they are fighting over anime characters or trading comic books? Maybe they are correcting your computer problem or correcting your grammar? Or just maybe they are rocking out on stage with a guitar and a sick baseline? And if that last one surprises you, than you don’t know the world of nerd rock. Allow us to introduce you:

Tracing the history of nerd rock is a tricky business, and we are not going to do it. History is boring* and this is rock and roll. Some people can point back to bands such as Tenacious D or the king nerd himself, Weird Al, and say the trend started there, but others could find even more obscure examples, like Nerf Herder and Paul and Storm. For us, here at The NYRD, our love of nerd rock started with none other than Kirby Krackle.

Fronted by Kyle Stevens and composed of a variety of talented and nerdy musicians, Kirby Krackle, is a true mix of great music, pop culture references, and all around good-natured fun. Their lyrics have a unique ability to be funny, catchy, and still manage to convey deeper personal meaning all at the same time. A band from Seattle -because where else would they be from- they have toured around the country and around the world spreading their tunes and geeky vibes to the masses. We highly recommend you check them out, and their extensive discography.

Kirby Krackle may be where it began but our obsession with nerd rock spread far and wide to a variety of musicians, such as the party rockers H2Awesome, or the more folksy stylings of The Doubleclicks. If your tastes, however, lie more toward the world of rap we would highly recommend NYC’s own Schaffer the Darklord, and MC Frontalot. If you are looking for clever and entertaining music videos, check out YouTubers like Epic Rap Battles of History. If your tastes tend toward video games and talented re-imaginings of classic vg music than you should be checking out bands like Bitforce or Rare Candy, and if you are really looking for a video game nerd rock fix than we highly recommend that you check out a show for Bit Brigade. They are a talented five piece rock group that plays VG music while their frontman does live speed runs of classic video games for the audience.

In fact, if nerd rock or just music in general is something that you enjoy we would also highly recommend checking out MAGFest, the annual gaming and music festival that takes place every January in the National Harbor right outside Washington DC, or one of the other festivals that they put on around the country. We attend every year so that we can hang out, play some board games, check out the newest indie games, and listen to awesome nerds play awesome nerd rock.

It is also worth mentioning that we are not being paid to advertise for MAGFest or for any of the bands we mentioned here. We are simply fans and we want to spread the word that nerd rock is alive and well. If you like video games, movies, comics, or if you just want to listen to good music, we would urge you that you check out these bands. They are not wealthy Kayne West celebrities. Instead, the make their music to celebrate the things we all enjoy, and to make us laugh and smile. In our opinion, those are the types of people worth supporting. So check them out, and if you find something you like, than support that artist by buying their records, finding them on Patreon, or just using your word of mouth.

Nerd rock and nerd music can be as varied as nerds themselves. There are rockers, rappers, folk singers, heavy metal guitarists that just want to play covers of Kirby’s Dreamland, and everything else in between. There is something for everybody, but mostly nerd music is about having a good time with like-minded people, and enjoying the pop culture things that we all love.  We highly recommend that you check out some of the bands that we listed here today, or just go to our new Spotify Playlist: NYRD Music, and check out a small sampling of artists and songs that we collected, which we think will tingle your inner ear and your inner nerd.

*Please not that no one at The NYRD actually believes that history is in fact boring. We love history and all its nuances and interests, but right now we are in the mood to rock.

NYCC

Dear New York Comic Con -and your parent company ReedPOP,

We, here at The NYRD, want to start this letter by saying that we have always been big supporters of what you do. Your convention was one of our favorite events of the year and most of us have been attending since the very beginning. In fact, each year we have even coerced more and more friends, family, and even strangers into attending your event. Moreover, New York Comic Con brought us together and inspired us to follow our nerdy passions. Without NYCC there may not have ever been The NYRD.

That is why we find it so heartbreaking to say that we will not be attending your convention this year. Your latest ticketing policies have proven that NYCC is no longer about fans and fun, but about profits and greed. You have lost sight of what is important and we can no longer support you.

Now, please understand we are not claiming that you should offer your convention for free. You have the right to make a profit. We understand that, but your current “fan verification” process is both unwieldy and unnecessary. In order to purchase a ticket a fan must first go through the Fan Verification Process. Then when the day finally comes, fans must use their specific verification link to go to the ticket site, where they can wait for hours in a virtual queue. Assuming the servers don’t crash or tickets aren’t sold out, fans then finally get a chance to purchase their passes with hard-earned money. However, the process is not done. Next fans have to create an account to assign those tickets to pre-verified attendees. If they fail to do so than the tickets will be taken away with no questions asked. Meanwhile, this process is explained only through emails. That means anyone who wants to attend NYCC must be on the email list, and must remember to check their spam filters as -inevitably- at least one or most of these blast messages can be flagged as spam by certain email services. All of this is compounded by technical problems on your end.

In at least one instance when assigning tickets to their proper “verified” attendees the process failed completely. A member of our staff had his ticket refunded without warning, even after he completed the assignment process. It was made even worse by the fact that he was one person who only bought one ticket. Commonsense would seem to dictate that one person who purchased one ticket would be using that ticket for themselves. Your ticket assignment process should at least automatically recognize that the person who wasted their time to “verify,” “purchase,” and “register,” would be using at least one of the tickets they bought. Your new process and zero tolerance policies are hurting real people who only want to attend NYCC. So, if fans fail to jump through one of the hoops that constitutes your new system, then their money is refunded and their tickets are taken away, with no chance for an appeal.

Objectively, even your convoluted process of verification and registration can be doable by many attendees, and we are sure the floors of NYCC will still be packed with hundreds of thousands of people. However, that is also part of the point we are making. You, ReedPOP and NYCC, know full well that you are going to make money regardless of the sheer number of lunatic hurdles that you place in front of fans. New York Comic Con is going to sell out, because it is New York City. By the law of averages, you could require attendees to capture live raccoons with bar codes tattooed onto their stomachs and still get at least 100,000 people. However, just because you can do something does not mean that you should.

In years passed you had a simply code-registration system, which worked fine. It may not have stopped all the scalping, but it had the added benefit of being understandable and simple for convention goers to accomplish. Here is a news flash: You cannot stop 100% of scalping. Yes, you can limit it, and we would argue the reasonable measures you had put in place, in the past, did well to do that. However, making people jump through flaming hoops of crap to buy tickets, only hurts actual fans. We guarantee with the utmost certainty that there will still be people on 34th street hawking passes regardless of your new draconian rules. It happens at sporting events, music concerts, and even movies, but those venues do not require that attendees offer up DNA verification or one of their first born as collateral.

NYCC, we know that you are just following the example of your older brother, SDCC, but there was still scalping at San Diego Comic Con this past year, regardless of their regulations. With hundreds of thousand of attendees, no verification process or registration process is going to stop all the scalped tickets from getting through the door. We are not condoning scalping, but we also do not condone policies that are aimed at assuming everyone is guilty of the crime unless proven otherwise. The real problem is that NYCC is punishing people who had no intention of scalping in the first place, instead of trying to encourage fans to attend this wonderful and amazing event.

As a final nail in the proverbial geek coffin, tickets cannot be purchased at any retailers. In the past fans were able to buy tickets at Midtown Comics or other local comic stores, but not this year. That means that you will not be getting many new attendees. Casual fans have now been excluded. Anyone who had a possible passing interest in checking out NYCC can no longer wait in line and buy a physical badge from their local comic store. If people were not made aware of the new fan verification process months in advance of ticket sales, then they stand little chance of getting a ticket. In essence, this policy is actually hurting nerd and geek culture by discouraging new people from going to conventions. That is incredibly disheartening, especially coming from a convention of which we have always been such big supporters. Yet, as long as you get paid, than maybe you don’t really care what this does to fans.

Trust us, you will get your money. You always do, but policies like this lay bare the fact that your money is all you care about. Unfortunately, that is not a surprise. As much as we have loved attending New York Comic Con, we have seen a trend in the past decade. NYCC used to be about fans, with small panels such as nerd rock concerts or video game improv, but the convention has changed. Long gone are the quirky fan events or intimate shows. They have been slowly replaced by big budget stage productions from giants like Marvel, DC, Legendary, and more. At some point the convention stopped being about us, the attendees, and started being about corporate sponsorship. This trend has finally culminated in the current ridiculous and convoluted ticket process that only proves that NYCC and ReedPOP don’t care about being loyal to the nerd and geek community. All you care about is the bottom line, and that is the worst tragedy of all.

So, it is with heavy hearts that we here at The NYRD must announce that we will not be attending your event this year. We can no longer support an organization that so blatantly disregards the very people that have helped make it what it is. Your policies will not stop scalping, but they will stop true fans from attending NYCC. You can bank on that.

Sincerely,
The NYRD

MAGFest stands for Music and Gaming Festival. It is an annual convention -now in its fourteenth year- that takes place every winter in Washington DC’s National Harbor. MAGFest is a great place to check out video games, board games, and roleplaying games, as well as geek-tacular music and panels dedicated to all forms of gaming. With a library of board and tabletop games, as well as an entire wing dedicated to retro arcade gaming MAGFest is also the place to be if you consider yourself a gamer or if you just like rolling a D20 every now and then. Independent developers set up booths to show off their latest games and allow fest-goers to playtest their products. MAGFest is a great opportunity to see a lot of impressive wares and interact with the men and women on the forefront of the Indie gaming community.

The NYRD sent a few representatives down to our nation’s capital to eat, game, and be merry, and this is five of the best and brightest products and people we think you need to keep an eye on. Check out what they found:

5. Ninja Burger
Ninja Burger is not necessarily what you might consider a new find. MAGFest offers  a wide variety of old and new games in their board game library. Ninja Burger was created by Steve Jackson -who created the successful series of Munchkin games- and has been around for a few years now. However, it was new to the crew at The NYRD, so we felt strongly enough about the game that it deserved to be on this list. We found this game tucked in the far corner of the game library in a beat-up old box and we could not be happier that we did.

A wildly imaginative and not-so-serious game, in Ninja Burger you take on the role of a ninja in the Ninja Burger franchise. You must deliver your burgers to customers ranging from super spies to speeding car drivers, all without being noticed, in true ninja fashion. To do this you complete mission cards with a set of skills and fortunes. Failure means that you bring shame on yourself and the franchise, but success brings honor and possible a nice tip. Gain enough honor and you could be promoted.

This game was so fun that The NYRD crew had to go back for a second round of gaming the next day. We highly recommend this find to anyone who enjoys playing casual and hilarious card games with friends.

4. Just Beats and Shapes
Just Beats and Shapes is an award winning Indie party game. By far, the most frequently played Indie game by The NYRD crew at MAGFest. it is fun and challenging, yet the controls are simple enough that even the most inexperienced gamer can jump right in and play along. Just Beats and Shapes won multiple awards at PAX East and GDC, and the game has not even released yet.

You and up to three of your friends need to navigate your node around obstacles and impressive graphical side-scrolling shapes all to the beat of some catchy tunes. Even if you are not into dance music or techno beats we promise you will be toe tapping along with the songs on this game, mostly because you will have to redo level sections multiple times as you fight and maneuver your way through minefields of colorful lines, blocks, and fast-moving dots.

According to the developers the full version should be ready by the summer for release on Steam and most major gaming platforms. You can also follow the developers on their Twitch feed to get live updates and watch the progress of the game as it develops.

3. Eight Bit Disaster
A mix between the Dave Matthews Band and that creepy kid in college who did nothing but play Mega Man with the lights out, Eight Bit Disaster is the kind of band you need to experience live to truly understand. Immensely talented musicians this group of five gentlemen rock out to classic and modern video game, TV shows, and cartoon music remixes.

We definitely recommend checking out one of their shows if they are ever in your neighborhood or if you are ever in their vicinity of North Carolina. With a saxophonist leading the charge, old and classical video game songs become new again. There is also plenty of musical interludes where the individual musicians get to show their talent and jam out with guitar, keyboard, bass, drum, and of course saxophone solos. Eight Bit Disaster was anything but a disaster at this year’s MAGFest and both the audience and our crew members came away cheering and clapping.

You can check out their music on Band Camp, but -be warned- it does not do justice to their live show.

2. Liege
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for The NYRD crew at MAGFest this year, Liege, is a serious and dark Indie game done in the JRPG style with a twist.Created by CodaGames, Liege takes the classical turn-based combat approach of JRPG’s and gives the player a dynamic and innovative tactical element to go along with it.

Though we were only able to play the Alpha run-through the game looks not only mechanically fun but graphically beautiful. This is definitely a title we would recommend keeping your eyes on. Currently the project has over $81,000 but we would love to see this game brought to full realization. It is an exciting title with a lot of potential for fun and incredible storytelling. Any fans of Final Fantasy or other classic JRPG styled games would enjoy Liege.

Check out their Kickstarter to learn more and see if you want to pitch in some money to help.

1. Bit Brigade
By far the highlight of MAGFest was a band called Bit Brigade. They are a staple of the festival and they never fail to amaze. Their self proclaimed lead singer is a practiced classic video game speed runner. With a range of games from Contra to Castlevania he can blow through games in under an hour, often with one or less deaths.

However the real joy of Bit Brigade comes from the band standing behind the man who is hunched over a controller on a small 90’s mini TV. The band plays through the entire game, giving each level of classic 8 and 16 bit music new life with wailing guitars and reverberating drum beats. This year the band treated their crowds to performances of Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man 2. There is nothing quite like rocking out while also being transfixed by the skill and magic of a live speed run.

We recommend you check out their page, their skill, and their tour dates, because if you see one video game band live this year, it should be Bit Brigade.

The NYRD crew had an amazing time this year at MAGFest. It is a far cry from the media and entertainment circus that can sometimes be New York or San Diego Comic Con, but that does not mean it is a modest convention in the slightest. Instead it feels like a gathering of thousands of thousands of like-minded friends who just want to come together, play some games, and rock out to some quality musical groups. For anyone who has not attended we highly recommend the experience. You will not be disappointed.

The promised weekend has come and gone. San Diego Comic Con 2015 has passed us by, and though the staff members at The NYRD have been trapped across the country in the NY, we have been keeping up with all the goings on, on our sister coast in the SD. The biggest surprise this year seems to be that Marvel has basically taken a back seat, letting DC walk away with the show almost unopposed, but rest assured there has been news on Marvel and Marvel related titles.

Jump to: Marvel, 20th Century Fox, Walking Dead, Lego, Warcraft, Doctor Who, Star Wars, DC Comics

Marvel:
The only real showing on the MCU front was the debut of the Ant-Man suit in the main hall, but in truth it is nothing we haven’t seen before on the trailers or at last year’s comic con.

As for Marvel TV, the panel consisted of stars from Agent Carter, and Agents of SHIELD. It was pretty standard stuff, basically confirming that we can expect a new season of both shows in the fall. The biggest reveal has to do with AOSHIELD, which took place in a video featuring Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Coulson and Skye will be leading a super team called the Secret Warriors, and Skye will officially be dubbed Quake, and her name is now Daisy Johnson. This has basically confirmed theories of her identity in the comic world. They also announced the return of Antoine Triplett, and that Lash from the Inhumans would be joining the show.

On the comic front, Marvel teased a new Blade, indicating that the character would be a female, following the excellent trend the company started with the new Jane Foster Thor. They also teased a new series titled, Spidey, which showed a picture of the familiar red and blue wallcrawler carrying two bank robbers through the sky. The tagline stated, “Before he was amazing.”

20th Century Fox:
As if in response to the absence of Marvel, the studio franchise that is helming the X-Men and Fantastic Four titles, did their best to step up their game.

They started off their panel talking Fantastic Four, with an appearance by the whole cast, and a debut of a new and extended trailer for the movie, but that was just the appetizer before the main course.

The next person to take the stage got one of the biggest applauses as Ryan Reynolds appeared from the darkness after showing the first look at the new Deadpool trailer. By all accounts and the leaked footage that some naughty person took, the humor, the violence, and the tone is spot on with what we are all hoping for a Deadpool solo movie. Ryan Reynolds showed his obvious passion for the film, and even took a few shots at his former stint in green over at DC. He was joined by the rest of the cast who all talked about their experiences on the movie set.

Finally, it was time for the X-Men to come to the stage, starting with the legend, Hugh Jackman, who thanked the fans before confirming that the next Wolverine movie would be his last outing as the character, but it seems like they saved the best for last. The next solo flick for the canucklehead will be Old Man Logan, though it is questionable how that movie will work without actually being set in the MCU, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

He was then joined by the full cast of X-Men: Apocalypse and Bryan Singer. It was revealed that the new movie would take place ten years after that last movie, placing it sometime in the 80’s. Some unfinished footage from the movie was revealed, giving the attendees their first look at the majority of the cast, including a bald McAvoy.

The show ended with the casts of all three movies returning followed by none other than Stan the Man himself leading a bewildered Channing Tatum in a Gambit shirt.

Walking Dead
The Walking Dead Panel gave us a glimpse of the full cast and crew and included a trailer for Season 6 which will debut on October 11. It was also announced that the season premier would be a 90-minute episode, and showed us some of the tensions that would be bubbling up inside the group. The Walking Dead attraction in the main hall and the panel both hinted at a new threat looming over Rick and the Gang, known as The Wolves.

The panel also debuted a first look at the new Fear the Walking Dead, which will portray the zombie event starting mere days after the outbreak. It takes place in LA and seems to have a much smaller perspective. The main characters are normal people, not gun toting sheriffs or samurai warriors, like those found on the original show.  Even the zombies will be less gory, as they are only freshly dead, and the camera style looks a bit fuzzy and shaky. It seems as if this new series is really trying to strike out from under the shadow of its older sister.


Lego:
The toy giant made a few splashes of its own at SDCC. They practically plastered the town with advertisements and attractions from their newest enterprise, Lego Dimensions, and revealed that Doctor Who, would be joined the LD universe. In true Lego fashion you will be able to play as any of the twelve doctors, and when you die you be able to regenerate into another Doctor. Peter Capaldi will also be voicing the Twelfth Doctor, and Jenna Louise Coleman will also be lending her voice talents to the game.

The company also announced a plethora of new playable characters for Lego Marvel’s Avengers, including Sam Wilson’s Captain America. Stan Lee will even be playable with a character called Iron Stan.

Warcraft
Legendary Pictures went balls to the wall with their Warcraft attraction on the show floor. Weta Workshop trotted out an insane amount of armor and orcs from the upcoming Warcraft movie and even gave people a chance to wield some weapons in a photo-shoot with a life-sized orc warrior. The panel also revealed new artwork, and it looks pretty sweet.

Lothar_Warcraft_11x17_rgb_sml Durotan_Warcraft_11x178_rgb_sml

We have to admit we haven’t really been feeling the hype for this movie, despite us all being unadulterated Blizzard fans, but the booth was fairly impressive and there is something awe inspiring about seeing full-sized Alliance warriors in their familiar armor.

Doctor Who:
Peter Capaldi and the entire cast were on hand to debut scenes from the Series 9 of Doctor Who which will start in September. We got a look at the new dynamic that will be taking place between the Doctor and Clara, as well as return of the Zygons. Yet, even more exciting the preview showed Maisie “stick’em with the pointy end” Williams.

Star Wars:
The only panel that gave DC a run for its money, the Star Wars panel gave fans a new look into a galaxy far far away.

Most importantly the cast was on stage, and we are talking Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamil, and Harrison “Don’t get cocky kid,” Ford. JJ Abrams made a big promise to fans that this latest outing in our favorite galaxy was all about “respect.” He also promised that there would not be a new trailer out until the Fall. However, to make up for it he did give everyone a behind the scenes look, which gave us some new tidbits of information. Sufficed to say it was a crowd pleaser.

It was revealed that the new enemy, The New Order, is using the Empire’s old TIE Fighters, except with a fresh paint job. Maybe they are low on credits and have to cut corners wherever they can. I guess we will find out more in September. Lastly, a surprisingly familiar face popped up in the form of Simon Pegg who will have a cameo in the new Star Wars movie, even if you won’t be able to see his face behind his giant alien costume. Only our favorite geek from across the pond would be this amped about a part where we will never even know it is him. As for the rest we will just have to wait and see what more details are revealed in the coming months.


DC
Finally, the DC panel was the breath that everyone was waiting to exhale, and surprisingly it was pretty basic. We are not saying that there was not a ton of cool stuff, but there was also no surprises. There was no Jared Leto in full joker attire or even cameos by the entire line-up of the Justice League. For a convention where everyone expected DC to wow the crowd with a show stopping extravaganza, it seems like DC was content just hit the single and score the winning run in modest fashion, instead of going for the grand slam that everyone expected.

With that said the new DC Cinematic Universe, if that is what we are calling it now, seems to be chugging ahead at full steam. The SDCC main hall was packed with a giant display case showing of the Superman, Batman, Armored Batman, and Wonder Woman costumes from Batman V Superman. It looks as if we are going to get the most realistic Batsuit yet to appear on screen, which is a definite plus. There was also a ton of smaller things to see too including bat gadgets galore and Wonder Woman’s lasso.

The panel itself opened up with some movies including Pan and the Man from UNCLE, but that was not what people came to see. It wasn’t until the full cast of the Suicide Squad, including a bald Will Smith, took the stage that the audience got their first look at clips from the movie, and things really heated up. From all accounts the movie has a definite gritty and dark tone to it, and the clips ended with a full look at Leto’s joker electrocuting someone. David Ayer promised it would be about “bad vs. evil,” and the crowd went wild.

Next up was Batman V Superman, and we got to see a lot new, and sometimes disjointed, footage. We saw Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, including a scene that shows that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis during the time of the Zod incident. We also saw a long haired Lex Luthor, a dead Zod, and confirmation that Metropolis and Gotham City are sister cities. The Joker also appears as if he will play at least a small part in the movie, and there was a weird scene of Batman fighting armored guards in the desert who are wearing Superman patches on their arm.

All and all it seemed kind of hard to understand how all the scenes really fit into the same movie. The full cast and crew came on stage, and all seemed genuinely excited about the script and the story. So that should be a plus.

It was confirmed that the Green Lantern movie would be about the Green Lantern Corps. instead of being a piece centered around just Hal Jordan or Jon Stewart. I suppose DC learned its lesson on risking a sole Green Lantern movie. It was also confirmed that the stand alone Wonder Woman movie would be a time piece set in World War II. Personally speaking, we here at the NYRD are super psyched by that take on the Amazonian warrior. It is the perfect time piece to put her into and a good way to spice up the DCCU with some history and back story.

On the comic front, DC seems to be pushing ahead with new Earth One titles, including new Flash, Superman, and Aquaman titles.

On the DCTV side of things a detailed panel included guests from Arrow, Flash, and the new Legends of Tomorrow. Each debuted new ideas, new villains, and new heroes. Oliver Queen will also be getting a new suit. The panel even showed a promo for the new animated series, Vixen.

The cast of Gotham was next to the stage and they talked about their next season including their plan for more about the origins of the Joker. It’s hard for us at The NYRD to really see the sense in that, as revealing the Joker’s origins tends to ruin the mystique of the character, but Gotham has been a quality show up to this point so we will give them the benefit of the doubt.

The real show stopper was the full preview of the pilot for Supergirl, that seemed to really please anyone in the crowd that was willing to stay late enough in Hall H to catch the hour long debut. By accounts, most people walked away satisfied by what they saw of the super-heroine. Many said that the show seems to have the feel of the Richard Donner Superman movie. Let’s hope that is a recipe for success.


Final Reactions:
This year’s San Diego Comic Con was certainly a good time. However, we must admit there were no real shockers to be seen. Everything that was premiered and debuted was basically on par with what we expected.

Maybe that says more about the culture of Internet rumors and leaks than it does about any of the convention presenters, but compared to other years we really don’t feel as if we found out anything new about the properties we love and love talking about. With that said, there was plenty of cool footage and awesome geek news to digest. This year was certainly a success by any standards and we personally cannot wait till October.

NYCC is just around the corner. We hope to see you all there.


Warcraft photo credits: http://www.warcraftmovie.com/