Given the venue upgrade, all-ages admission, and massive vendor marketplace, the freshly rebooted Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo is now a major player on the field of fandom conventions in the lower mainland region; but what really drew our attention was its live music component, featuring several local acts in an ad hoc geekapalooza at the Anvil Centre’s second floor auditorium in New Westminster.
Regular readers of Factory Worker Media will recall our coverage of show headliner The Runaway Four at Nerdfest (the organizer of which was also in attendance this weekend, entrenched in the plush fortification of Morgan’s Pillows on the first floor marketplace), but opening act Opus Arise was the big draw for this reviewer. Since the nine-piece instrumental symphonic metal outfit’s appearance at the 2015 campaign of Wacken Metal Battle Canada, one’s anticipation for their upcoming debut full-length album “Revelation” has not waned.
Granted, the repertoire for this performance was a tribute to video game soundtracks rather than a showcase of the band’s original compositions, but it provided an all too rare opportunity to witness the full ensemble and suss out its readiness for future shows in support of the new recording. Arrangements of classic video game themes from Metroid to Final Fantasy were fresh and engaging throughout, and clearly a concerted effort was made over the past year to tighten their live sound in terms of both arrangements and engineering (which is a significant challenge for a relatively large ensemble whose public performances are few and far between.)
As the band flawlessly executed ambitious arrangements without strain, evidently the set was meticulously well-rehearsed and their commitment to create a great live experience demonstrates that the ensemble has a next-level array of powerups in their inventory; whatever Opus Arise may have in store with “Revelation”, fans will not be disappointed.