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Orlando Nerd Fest brings iconic video game composers to town

Nerdier than thou

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ORLANDO NERD FEST Thursday-Sunday,

Aug. 7-10 | Orlando Airport Marriott, 7499 Augusta National Drive | 407-851-9000 | full schedule at orlandonerdfest.com



Noon Monday, Aug. 11 | The Geek Easy, 114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park

Nintendo may currently be struggling with financial loss in the midst of a continually competitive gaming industry inundated with button-mashing types flinging social media apps at Facebook walls and hoping they stick. But in 1987, the original NES console was regularly booted up by first-generation gamers stoked on Final Fantasy, a game that begot many of today’s successful role-playing franchises and introduced to the world an underdog composer who would create some of the most memorable music in video game history: Nobuo Uematsu.

A self-taught musician, Uematsu never had a piano lesson, or so his legend goes. He was approached in the music rental shop where he worked in Tokyo to compose video game soundtracks for Square (now Square-Enix), a company that eventually developed Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and Kingdom Hearts. As the intro text scrolls in the original Final Fantasy, the gamer hears a synthy scale of the classic bleeps and bloops of early games while reading, “When the world is veiled in darkness, Four Warriors will come ….”

A similar darkness descended on Orlando’s nerd music community with no major local event to shed light on those sounds, and so emerged four just-as-unlikely warriors, the organizers of Orlando Nerd Fest, a five-day music festival that Uematsu headlines this week. Eric “Chozo Ninpo” Wright, Chuck Silver, Victor “Glitch” Wilder Jr. and Derek “D-Rock” Marunowski are on a mission to create not just a massive event but a musical experience as unforgettable as Uematsu’s iconic compositions.

“We’re planning for the future, which is always important to nerds, because we want it to get here, so we can have that next cool thing,” Chozo says. “And the next cool thing for us is Orlando Nerd Fest.”

Orlando Nerd Fest takes place Aug. 7-10 at the Orlando Airport Marriott, with a free after-party on Aug. 11 at the Geek Easy – which has sped up their expansion plans to double the nerdy club’s size in time to host the final day of the festival. The first day is also free, and day pass prices vary ($20 Friday, $30 Saturday, $15 Sunday, $50 weekend pass). Set up convention-style, the event allows guests staying in the hotel to enjoy a festival livestream on the hotel’s private station, and on the final day, buses will run between the hotel and the Geek Easy for $5 a ride.

In addition to the appearance by Uematsu (who will also speak on panels), God of War composer Gerard K. Marino is a host, and the festival also features more than 60 bands, including Tokyo kei rock band Vivid playing their first U.S. date, Jason Hayes (World of Warcraft lead composer) and his band Critical Hit, and anime voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch (Bleach, Sailor Moon) and his band Eyeshine. Other notable nerdy acts on the bill are Wordburglar, MC Frontalot, Adam WarRock, Steam Powered Giraffe and locals like Sci-Fried, Marc With a C, Random Encounter, MagiTek and DJ RoboRob. In the spirit of embracing all nerds, there will also be a JamSpace where any band can perform during the festival. Orlando Nerd Fest seeks to meet the Tetris avalanche of fan demand that’s legitimized these bands worldwide.

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