Beats & Coffee: Video Arcadia

  If you were to stumble upon Bourgie Nights on Saturday the 23rd, you may have seen some things you weren’t expecting. Maybe you saw Wario and Waluigi spinning their sinister synthesis of jazzy beats and glitched-out visuals; or maybe it was the man dressed up like Bowser frantically reading ticket numbers for a raffle to benefit Autism research while a man paints a trippy portrait of Mario behind him; hell, you might have even seen me getting my ass kicked in Super Smash Brothers. Needless to say, Saturday night found that little section of Princess Street transformed into a psychedelic, retro-gaming wonderland.

  This night was brought to fruition by the wonderful fellas in Beats & Coffee, a local beat-making collective who has been prolific in both output and performance. They recruited visual artist MXLPXL, whose work provided an endless source of nostalgia and blissed-out, glitchy visuals to compliment the wide range of music on display from RizzyBeats + Rene (the aforementioned Wario & Waluigi), Jay’s Cafe (who donned a Mega-man helmet to go with his trippy, Fly Lo-esque beats), Tod Soul, and Tim from D&D Sluggers. D&D Sluggers’ music proved to be a perfect fit for an evening billed as “A Beat-Maker’s Gaming Event”, as they have built their sound off of remixing and repurposing classic video game tunes and melodies to serve as a foundation for some killer pop songs.

  In addition to the local talent, Beats & Coffee partnered with an impressive array of great local businesses in order to bring together an enviable prize pool for the raffle. Video Arcadia brought together local sweetheart Chops Deli, Wilmington’s staple music emporium Gravity Records, Fanboy ComicsMemory Lane Comics, the ever-hip Bespoke Coffee, real-time live painter Nathan Verwey of The Revolution Awaits, and our store as well, all to dole out a wealth of great surprises to raise money for the Autism Society of North Carolina. It was a heartwarming fusion of charity and entertainment, and couldn’t have been done without these fantastic local artists and businesses.

  I was immediately impressed by the atmosphere and good vibes upon entering Bourgie, a testament to the complete vision that Beats & Coffee had for this event. Dual-wall projections of glitched-out video games (some of it streaming from live sessions being played at one of three video game stations on  the wall) as well as live footage via a camera-operator who could be found floating around the stage. This was an evening of synergy between audio and visuals -- it would not have been the same without MXLPXL’s hallucinatory work, nor would it have had the same vibe if any other musicians were performing. Each beatmaker and performer had their own  distinct sound and specific wells of video game nostalgia to draw from, leading to a wide array of sounds fusing with ever-shifting visual delights.

  There have been few shows in recent memory that have fundamentally transformed a space as well as Beats & Coffee did on Saturday. They are part of a wave of DIY artists in Wilmington who are whittling diverse niches into what was once a largely homogenous cultural canvas, and the results of their efforts were a blast. Not only was I defeated in Super Smash Bros, but I also got my butt punched in Mario Kart on the SNES, all while a man in a Megaman helmet (to go with the Megaman footage being chopped-and-screwed on the walls around us) was spinning a beat that I’m pretty sure sampled the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater theme. For a first-time event on this scale, Video Arcadia was a rousing success. It was a wholly unique experience that could have only been the result of a group of driven artists brought together by a mutual appreciation of each other’s idiosyncrasies, and a desire to use their art to raise money for a very good cause. If Beats & Coffee are a large part of the new wave of Wilmington’s culture (and I would reckon that they are), then I think we should all be excited about what else lies in their future.

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Photos by Haley Smith

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