Online music fest SPF420 celebrates its one-year anniversary

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Chaz Allen, aka Metallic Ghosts, one of the people behind SPF420
  • ALISON GREEN
  • Chaz Allen, aka Metallic Ghosts, one of the people behind SPF420

Last night marked the one-year anniversary of SPF420, the online music festival that once served as an outlet for the ephemeral electronic-pop sound called vaporwave; as I explained in my B Side feature on vaporwave earlier this year, the folks behind the online concert series decided the second SPF420, which went down in January, would serve as vaporwave's final eulogy as outsiders began circling in on the microscene. Even as vaporwave's originators have distanced themselves from the style, though, their online scene has stayed intact. SPF420's one-year anniversary is not only a testament to the strength of the digital community but also how much it's grown.

The folks behind SPF420 still use Tinychat to multicast the performances, but the chat room that hosted last night's show was embedded onto the official SPF420 website (it's got a dot-com URL). The night's lineup included acts that usually play to hundreds at IRL venues; electronic producer and former B Side cover subject Mister Lies, who has since moved back to his hometown in Connecticut, headlined the affair, and Black Moth Super Rainbow's Tobacco played the afterparty. I only caught a small chunk of last night's SPF420, but from what I saw it was pretty clear that the online concert series is gathering steam—Mister Lies took the occasion to premiere a couple tunes from his forthcoming album ("Sleepmask Pt. One" and "Push Becoming Shove"), and when SPF420 host Stress introduced Tobacco she broke the news that the producer is dropping a new solo album in April.

While some of the issues that plagued the first SPF420 I attended popped up again last night—there were lagging issues and the low-bit sound came through grainy—there was an infectious, uplifting energy unquenched by the tech issues. For Stress the energy became so overwhelming that she got flustered, letting out squeals while announcing the news about Tobacco's forthcoming full-length and jumbling her words. As she struggled to put together a coherent comment on the night's events, Stress captured the exuberance of the anniversary celebration with her scatterbrained exclamations: "This is the best SPF I've ever been to, or ever hosted, or whatever."

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