The Events of MAGFest X: Earthbound Papas

Going on a ride with the Earthbound Papas.

There used to be an embeded media player here, but it doesn't work anymore. We blame the Tumbeasts.

It would have been enough if the Earthbound Papas had just played music — it is a group that includes the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, after all — but they went beyond that. They started interacting with the crowd even before hitting the stage in earnest. A simple sound check turned into a series of call-and-return games between the different band members and the crowd. Uematsu tearing off a riff on his keyboard drove the crowd so mad that he had to leave the stage so they would calm down a little while other members finished (it was either that, or his levels were perfect on a split-second blurb). The drummer testing his bass drum resulted in rhythmic pounding and clapping from the crowd. So on and so forth it went until the band actually proceeded to play.

After the first two songs, Nobuo bantered with the crowd a bit before jumping back into things. After the fourth song he introduced his bandmates, telling the crowd the Final Fantasy games (among others like Shadow Hearts) each of them had performed on in the past. A healthy amount of cheering was heard for every game named. A mention of Final Fantasy XIV got a somewhat mixed reaction, but let’s be honest, that has nothing to do with the music. A song after the introductions, the band took a quick break on-stage for beers, which the audience heartily approved.

The music was the core of the experience, though, and despite some spotty sound it did not disappoint. They opened in huge fashion with “Octave Theory” (listed as “Octopus Theory” on their site) from their debut album of the same name. Next up was “Those Who Fight Further,” the boss music from Final Fantasy VII; a fan favorite, made even more obvious by the amount of people bouncing off the walls and headbanging. The Papas then turned things on their head with the somber and heartfelt “Thread of Fate” from Guin Saga, which had some members of the audience crying and others holding each other close.

The fourth song, “Metal Hypnotized*,” went back up tempo, but unfortunately I didn’t know it by name. (I know, I know, gamer card revoked. I couldn’t recall the sixth song either.) (*=Thanks to Gmutechie for the providing the song name. “You are rock!” to steal a quote from the concert.) The crowd went nuts while the band tore through the fifth song, “Clash on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V. The sixth tune returned to a somber melody that saw people in the crowd breaking out lighters. (The song was “Forest of a Thousand Dreams” from Octave Theory. Thanks again to Gmutechie.) Their final song, “Dancing Mad” from Final Fantasy VI got everyone riled up again… except that the Papas came back for an encore with “Maybe I’m a Lion” from Final Fantasy VIII to close out the concert. You can check out the video at the top of the article (or directly on YouTube) for all the songs up through “Clash on the Big Bridge.” Unfortunately, my batteries died before the end of the concert.

Personally, it was my first time seeing Uematsu live. I had always intended to attend a Distant Worlds performance, but things came up constantly as they tend to do. It’s hard to describe the impact of seeing someone live whose music has backed moment after moment of my life throughout the years. I had played games prior to it, but Final Fantasy turned me into a gamer for life. I wasn’t reduced to a blubbering mess or anything by the concert, but I also won’t ever forget it. It’s like hearing the word of god straight from his own mouth, so to speak; you simply had to be there. The long and short of it is that Nobuo Uematsu still is what he has been for a very long time: masterful.

Robert Hill-Williams
Robert Hill-Williams
Robert Hill-Williams

MASH Veteran

The only things Rob has been doing longer than gaming are breathing, sleeping, eating, and reading. RPGs were what made him view games as an experience instead of a distraction, but these days he likes and plays every genre gaming has to offer. Outside of his usual reviews and articles on MTB, you can find Rob on the weekly Mashcast and frequenting Twitter.

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