At the Downtown Community League, we stood and watched the opening acts. It was hard and fast punk — the kind that’s good for your soul. Towards the end of the night, the band started setting up. I had seen bands set up before, but I wasn’t looking at the guitarist setting up guitar pedals.
Instead, I was looking at an amalgamation of 90s gadgets and gizmos. Laid out on the small stage was the hallmark of nostalgia: the Gameboy. I watched the guitarist configure the sound player on several different consoles; slowly, the crunchy and teeny sound of 8-Bit poured into the air.
Chiptune music never held any appeal to me. I love the synthesizer and often find myself straining to hear it in my favourite songs. It all just seemed like an overly complicated way to make music. As endearing as the sound is, there’s a risk to playing music on such outdated technology.
Then, the band started to play over the 8-Bit track. They all played like people who somehow never tire of performing. They were flashy, but in a way that I only see with smaller artists. The lead singer nodded her head at people in the crowd, beaming at them.
The musicians wore strange clothes, the kind that would solicit comments. The lead singer, Chloe Yakmyshyn, had dyed hair and wore colourful clothes and Christmas socks. Somehow, she looked more punk than any of the popular “punk” bands gaining popularity on social media.
They were loud, flashy, and almost gaudy; but, wasn’t that more subversive than trying to look “cool”?
The 8-bit melodies joined the distortion of electric guitar and drums. Every sound thrusted its way through the massive stereo setup in the tiny venue. The reverb of the guitar rattled at the base of my skull, making my teeth chatter.
Across the stage, Brett (the guitarist) and Chloe jumped and moved around. There was no lack of energy; and they never once seemed as though they were forcing themselves to act.
All the young people in the crowd were absorbed. Young faces stared up at the band with closed eyes and nodding heads. The source of their enjoyment was difficult to pinpoint. Was it the booze? Probably. Maybe it was nostalgia. That’s what it always comes down to, right? BOOSH ignited memories of simpler times. Hours spent playing the Gameboy on the porch and straining to see the game on the dark screen.
Photo taken by Joelle Fagan