I Do Nothing Half-Way: Rock Band

Let’s talk about Rock Band for a second.

With these games, my passion runs pretty deep. I probably get in a good session every week, grabbing my plastic guitar or drum kit, finding some music to fit the mood, and playing along. It’s great fun and quite challenging.

It costs a little bit of money, but what hobby doesn’t? I’ve picked up a couple of guitars over time. I’ve bought a very nice drum kit to go with it. I’ve spent a good amount on songs to build the library. I’ve become pretty decent at the game, at least on guitar.

Nothing prepared me (or for that matter, my wife) for the Rock Band Stage Kit.

You can picture this in your mind. It’s evening. You’re having a good time pretending to be a completely awesome guitarist. You think to yourself, “Nothing is missing here. This is the experience. I’m playing the music.”

This is fine.

Now take that feeling and add an LED light pod, a fog machine, and a strobe light.

Of course, now you think to yourself, “What on earth does that look like, and is it awesome?”

It looks like this:

And yes, it is awesome. I bought it a little bit for the humor factor—and it does provide that in a way that makes one giddy with laughter—but I have to say that it actually does add something tangible to the experience. It’s synchronized to the on-screen lighting and the music.

I have heard from the Internet that someone out there has hacked together six of these things into one massive light show.

I have some research to do.

On "Backwards" Guitarists

Recently, I have been involved in a discussion of note regarding a specific image in a design mockup and concern that one of the people in the mockup was “playing the guitar backwards” and that the image should be changed lest the design face dread scorn and ridicule.

Please note: playing a guitar backwards is a relative thing. I feel I must rally against this claim in that it is discriminatory against those of us who are left-handed.

To wit:


I doubt this backwards guitar-playing was suspect. (Though he did just take a righty Strat and modify it.)


I’m going to assume that there were no nasty letters or phone calls received from worried people that the guy on the left was holding his guitar in the opposite direction from his bandmates. (And bass wasn’t even his preference.)

And for the slightly younger set:


…which might say something about the emotional stability of left-handed people, but whatever.

Because Some of You May Not Be Familiar with Fake Plastic Rock

I realize that not everyone who reads may have an understanding of what Rock Band is and why it’s perhaps one of the greatest timesinks I’ve ever run across. I post often about it and will even throw up YouTube videos of note charts for songs I’m really interested in. For those of you who might need a small primer, I present to you this series of videos and explanations.

Rock Band is a “rhythm game”. What that means is that you are handed some music in the form of a track playing on your television courtesy of a video game system. You are also handed a plastic instrument. The first game to tackle this idea handed you a guitar. In Rock Band, there are four instruments: Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Vocals. Each plays slightly differently. The goal is to hit the right “notes” within a certain “window” of a graphic crossing your screen.

The game comes on a disc with about 80 songs, and there are weekly releases of downloadable songs you can purchase and play. The songs cost $2 each, which is a steal considering you’re not only hearing the music, but you’re also “playing” it.

To save those of you who might not want to load everything, I’ll put the rest behind a cut; please read on if you are interested.

Continue reading

Playing a Classic with Fake Plastic Rock

Here’s the note chart for Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Texas Flood” on Expert guitar in Rock Band:

I haven’t picked it up yet, but I find this very exciting. I’d like to drop the couple of bucks on it just to encourage the creation of more blues-related tracks on Rock Band, as it’s an under-represented genre that has solid guitar parts and can be enjoyed without destroying the twitch muscles in your strumming arm (most of the time).