Geekfest

I have been promising a blog post specially dedicated to the infamous JoCo for ages, so here it is at last. Yes, it’s about time, I know…

If you are in any way a geek, even a mild one, even a weekend geek – and let’s face it, if you are reading this blog, chances are you are – then you will love Jonathan Coulton. In fact, you may well love him even if you aren’t. Everyone should love him. He is the chosen one, loving him is so much fun… Oh, sorry, wrong geek.

I first discovered the works of JoCo when he appeared on the good old Geoff Show, many moons ago. He sang a song about zombies. It made me laugh, so I looked up his website, and found out that not only was his music all released on Creative Commons license, which is already a jolly decent thing to do, but a lot of it was free. So I downloaded a lot of the free stuff, listened to some of the not free stuff, ended up buying the lot and getting completely hooked.

So who the hell is this ginger, bearded, bespectacled, geeky guy (who isn’t Geoff Lloyd)? Well, if we are to believe his bio, he’s an American singer-songwriter, previously an IT pro, who gave up his day job for the wonderful world of moozic. He may actually be an alien whose identity is protected by the MIB, but if he is, he’s not tellin’. He could also be a cyborg, but I doubt it. I mean if you got to engineer your own body, would you really go for ginger with glasses?

So JoCo writes songs, and plays a lot of fun instruments, like the guitar, and the ZenDrum, and stuff like that. He once wrote one song a week for a whole year. And they are nearly all good. He sings about robots and monkeys, evil geniuses and lonely monsters, unrequited geek love and cyborgs with self-image issues. And Ikea. He’s also a Dad, so he wrote a few Dad songs too, and they kick ass (he’s American, remember? They don’t have arses over there, so they have to kick old donkeys.).

Last year, he did a tour of Ye Olde Continent, and we went to see him when he came to “Oyreland” (my use of that spelling ever since is entirely his fault by the way) at Whelans in Dublin. The best thing about a JoCo concert is the people in the audience. Well, apart from JoCo and his music of course, you know what I mean, stop being silly. A room filled with so many geeks it almost had its own gravitational field. If geekiness could be channelled into a renewable source of energy, JoCo could save the world.

I have never before been to a concert where a fight nearly broke out, not over the allegations made by one concert-goer about another’s Ma, but over the correct formulation of the Mandelbrot Set equation (that’s fractal mathematics, for those who don’t know…). I will always remember the last few notes of JoCo’s song fading away and the reedy shout of “Your math is wrong!” coming from the back of the room. The rest, as they say, is history. Or possibly quantum physics.

The other members of the audience who completely made it unforgettable for me were not the couple who had brought a pair of plush monkeys and hopped up on stage to puppet-dance along to Code Monkey, nor the lady who desperately wanted to get her coconut signed. Nope, it was the young lady (probably only just 18) who was chaperoned by her mother, who quite obviously didn’t know JoCo’s stuff at all, and sat there very politely through the whole thing. Until he hit the chorus of First of May. Then her jaw hit the floor. Priceless.

Before I wrap this post up, I would, however, like to make something quite clear, JoCo is not just a singer for geeks, he’s not even just a brilliant writer and composer, he’s also a great singer. So great in fact that he has made me love the romantic ballad that is Baby Got Back. Seriously, listen to his cover version, you will never be able to look at a big butt again in quite the same way.

So there we have it, the only thing left to do now is head to his site and listen to his stuff. Read the info on the songs too, sone of them have gret stories about how they came to be. There are a lot of great fan-made videos on YouTube too… Oh hell, just Google it.

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