Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wii demo at low-tech music festival

Contrary to predictions, Sunday in Seattle was sunny and warm, so I took my daughter down to the annual Northwest Folklife Festival, a donation-funded event at the Seattle Center.
Because of its focus on traditional forms of music, Folklife is an unusually low-tech festival. There was a Balkan dance band, Orkestar Zirkonium, with oom-pah tuba holding down the bass and various brasses, woodwinds, and string instruments weaving Eastern European melodies. There was a bagpipe/drum duet, Nae Regrets, that seemed to be playing a version of "Tom Sawyer" by Rush. There was a youth fiddle orchestra from British Columbia. There was a learn-to-bang-a-drum tent, a hippie drum circle, and random ensembles in the walkways with lots of string basses, banjos, small drum kits, and other non-amplified instruments. The crowd was wearing traditional folk costumes (tartan kilts, dashikis), tie-tye, and this retro-depression look that's been popping up recently in Seattle (knee pants, suspenders, hats with brims).
Right in the middle of this aggressively low-tech festival, standing out like an alien spaceship, was a white-and-green demonstration booth filled with high-definition TVs. There, attractive young women in skintight costumes who looked like they should have been at E3 were demoing Wii Fit, a fitness game that's played with a balance board. I watched some kids laugh at each other as they played the hula hoop part of the game, then wandered on, scratching my head. It looked like an interesting game, but I'm puzzled why Nintendo decided to demo it at Folklife. Is there some crossover between folk music fans and Wii users?

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