Late last year, I had the opportunity to review the Saengar Theater’s showing of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses for Where Y’at Magazine. Orchestral renditions drawn from the classic series’ 30-year catalog soared over a cinematic collage culled from playable protagonist Link’s multiple princess-saving crusades. Though based on a video-game, the event held the posture of a high-art affair, punctuated by pauses for applause, an intermission, and as many people decked out in black tie attire as those decorated like the elven-folk of Hyrule.
Simply put, Symphony of the Goddesses is for Nintendo what Hamilton is for hip-hop.
Bit Bridage’s performance of the The Legend of Zelda at Gasa Gasa is the antithesis of this: an X-Games-style spectacle featuring a live speed run of the original 1986 adventure played along with perfect timing by a punk-rock foursome shredding through its basic 8-bit ballads. Prior to their show, the button-mashing thrashers were welcomed by New Orleans’ surf-rock opener SHARK ATTACK!!
While Symphony was comprised of a calming choreography of cutscenes and classical compositions, Bit Brigade’s performance was an act of athletic precision; the band reacted to its gamer’s advances the way dance partners respond to cues, or basketball players successfully execute an alley-oop. Racing through the game in a just over 40-minutes, the show felt more like watching an Olympic distance running trial than a multimedia concert. And just like a sprinter lunging for the finish line, the band was spent by the end of the set, exhaustively head-banging geysers of sweat into the crowd as the final boss met his match.
Still, it was the rapid run-through by gamer Noah McCarthy that won me over. The original Zelda wasn’t a game that could be conquered with timing and reflexes alone, nor did it feature an intuitive open world landscape. It’s cryptic in the way only ‘80s games were…the kind kids could only figure out in the pre-internet era if they had a subscription to Nintendo Power. This means that in addition to being a seasoned Nintendo ninja, McCarthy also spent hours memorizing his subject matter inside-and-out. I would love to know how many times he had to complete this game before mastering his record-setting stride.
If the pictures below aren’t nostalgia enough for those lucky enough to have caught the January 10 performance, the band also sells vinyl copies of its retro-game covers on its website. I picked up a copy of their Mega Man 2 remastered album – very cool.