Here at Imperial College we’re pretty used to being labelled geeks. We all like science enough to devote three years (at least!) of our lives to it; we have our very own scifi library; xkcd is a standard cultural reference – need I say more?
But being a geek is losing its stigma. Some people are geeks about films, or science, or football. Having a passion is always cool, whatever it’s about.
That’s a sentiment that is bound to go down well at Geekpop, an online music festival for people who love science-based music. At their launch event last night, physicists, biologists, chemists and mathematicians came together to drink and listen to some hilarious tunes and revel in their geekery
They won’t have been disappointed. A joke about binary code brought the house down, and a live demonstration from our compere Steve Mould explained… I dunno, something or other about fire and sound. I was distracted by how cool it looked. Check out the video down here!
And yet it all felt pretty stylish. The venue, Wilton’s Music Hall, is London’s oldest music venue; a spectacular, if slightly weathered hall in Whitechapel. Look around any other gig in east London, you will see the same thick-rimmed specs, corduroy and floral dresses. Except that here, the geek-chic was for real.
We started with a set from The Amateur Transplants. Adam Kay and Suman Biswas (who was on call, and had to leave early to be, y’know, a doctor and stuff) take popular songs, and re-imagine their lyrics with a slightly surreal and usually nerdy twist. I did write down all of their pun-based titles, but realized that just re-telling their jokes here would ruin the punchlines for you, so I implore you to go check out their hugely popular London Underground song. Their Andrew Wakefield and MMR vaccine version of Rihanna’s Umbrella went down a treat too – “It won’t give you autism, but will protect you from measles, mumps and rubella, ella, ella.”
During the interval (after a quick pitstop at the bar), we headed upstairs to find Helen Arney and her banjo, fresh from a Festival of the Spoken Nerd event the night before, and ready to serenade us. She is one of the artists featured on the Geek Like Me album available if you click on those lovely blue underlined words. Check out some of the links on the right hand side of the screen too for some free tracks.
The climax of the night was Dr Martin Austwick‘s headlining set. A particle physicist, he sang traditional songs about love, luminiferous aether (thank you 3G access to Wikipedia), Brownian motion, and finally one about the unsung heroes of science – a pretty apt song to round off the eve of our issue on unseen science!
What I took away from last night is that being a nerd is not only nothing to be ashamed of, it is currently the cutting edge of cool. So go ahead, don your specs, get out your favourite lab coat, and geek away.
Geekpop will have songs to download, festival highlights podcasts and all sorts of goodies available on their website from today. You can also check out tracks from past years, and find out more about the history of the festival.