Viewing the parade tonight at 8 takes place in a video game you can join, and here's a first look at what you'll see.

krewe of vaporwave screen shot
A preview of Tuesday night's Krewe of Vaporwave virtual parade

Last month, members of the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave announced their 2017 parade at My Spilt Milk as krewe members selected some of their favorite instances of vaporwave music, videos, and websites. The krewe’s second annual parade rolls tonight at 8 p.m., and it will visible as part of a video game-style interface that you can download at KreweOfVaporwave.com. Your avatar can catch throws from the floats, and some will be redeemable for real world prizes.

Krewe founder Merely Synecdoche has given us a sneak peak inside the virtual float den at the entry Synecdoche created with Grand Master Badass for the parade, “1985.” The track resonates as most vaporwave does as the bastard love child of ambient, pop, and chopped and screwed hip-hop, and like dada, it invites you to consider what you see and hear in a host of contexts. Some associations stick, some meanings coalesce, and the object itself might encompass all of them or be fundamentally meaningless. “1985” invites you to think about the tension between the electronic dub track and how much Mark Knopfler, seen in the accompanying “Money for Nothing” video, would likely hate that music. As the video is smeared, pixillated, distorted and recolored, it’s not clear that float makers have much respect for Knopfler and Dire Straits either. The music’s dark, electronic grind feels like a death skank for an age of sport coats with rolled up sleeves, as well as for the computer generated repairmen in the video. 

Today, the lo-tech video manipulations seem as dated as the “Money for Nothing” animation does, and it’s hard to think about anything retro without considering the present day and the desire to get away from wall to wall Trump. The video’s relationship to the current president becomes fodder for contemplation when the slowed-down source of the dub bass and drums becomes clear, while the title offers up the possibility that some version of what we’re seeing might be what comes after 1984.

While watching “1985,” we can think about how it fits into Carnival. I’m sure there are still floats from that era in use in some parade, and float design sensibilities haven’t changed a lot since then. Carnival is better organized, but nostalgia still rules it, and Vaporwave goes after nostalgia with tire iron tempered in a vat of New Coke.

We can think about what constitutes a float as Vaporwave’s video floats come just days after ‘tit Rex’s shoebox-sized political commentary, Chewbacchus’ rolling, large-scale toys, and Krewe du Vieux’s rolling off-color jokes, all with riders on the ground next to them. Krewe of Vaporwave has the most in common with Chewbacchus as it finds a place where Carnival and the krewe members’ pet interests intersect, but like so many other indie Carnival organizations, it confronts the large scale spectacle of conventional parades with something smaller and more personal. Even if, like Rex and Comus, its membership is shrouded in mystery.