To a passer-by, the first installment of printf() might have looked more like a rave than a digital arts show. The concert was held in an abandoned warehouse. Crazy, flashing graphics and techno sounds filled the room. Hell, people danced like loons while chugging bottles of water, but that had more to do with the insane heat than pill-popping. Tree Wave's Paul Slocum created the printf() concert series to promote Dallas' electronic arts and music scene, and his first crack at the idea (aside from the temperature) was a great, weird start. Tree Wave opened the event, and even though the duo's rig of Commodore 64s and old computers looked the same as in previous shows, it sure sounded different. New effects and instrumental parts sneaked into older songs, beefing up their live presence, and a new track ended with a storm of feedback that sounded like Kurt Cobain spiking his guitar into an amplifier. Reminder: Tree Wave doesn't even use guitars. How does Slocum do that?
After a hacked Super Mario Bros. intermission, which showed footage of the Nintendo plumber taking a psychedelic, art-school journey, France's DAT Politics finished the show with a three-laptop blast of insanity. The foreign trio twiddled with vocal modulators, drum pads and other odd gadgets while screaming nonsensical call-outs, and their video display flashed plant-animal hybrids and fluorescent landscapes that looked like a cloning lab gone awry. Songs fluttered between bedroom pop and big-beat techno, and while some songs were too repetitive, noisy climaxes made up for any lulls. In fact, people rushed the stage and pumped their fists during the loudest parts--how often do laptops make people act like they're at an AC/DC concert? Such excitement bodes well for the future of printf(), as long as nobody tries to bring glowsticks, anyway.