June 18, 2013
A Journey Through Music: Video Games Live
A while back I saw a show that any self-respecting gamer needs to go see. So, I’m going to share with you guys my experience at Video Games Live.
Video Games Live is a concert event constructed by video game music composer Tommy Tallarico in part with several other notable video game composers, such as Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy). The show has been touring across the world after a huge success due to its debut in 2005. It is the first concert show to ever exclusively feature video game music with over 100 segments and music from over forty franchises.
On June 4, 2013, I attended the sold out show at the Schemerhorn Center in downtown Nashville, TN with my family and a friend. None of us knew what to expect from the show. I had only heard of it and happened to see a poster for it in the Gamestop window two days before.
As we entered the center, we were surprised to see people of all kinds. Gamers, non-gamers, young and old alike, all came out to see this show. There were several people in costumes of their favorite video game characters. I saw several Marios, Links, Steves (better known as the Minecraft guy) and even a LEGO Indiana Jones costume. In the corner of the lobby they had a Guitar Hero set up where people could challenge to play the Foo Fighters The Pretender on Expert. I failed instantly.
Before the show, Tommy Tallarico hosted a costume contest on stage, which the Indiana Jones kid won with roaring applause. I could hear people whispering amongst themselves about what songs they hope they played. The house was packed, with only a few box seats empty. It was a really enthusiastic crowd, and probably the biggest one the Nashville Symphony will see all season, which is astounding considering this is the first time the show had come to Music City
The stage was also decked out specifically for this show. There were laser lights set up all around the orchestra, and three huge projector screens above the chorus box where they showed little tidbits and videos between segments, such as “Video Game VS,” where two unrelated titles are combined for a surprisingly funny outcome.
Now it’s time to talk about the music. The show started and we were thrown all the way back into the days of Pong, Space Invaders, and Centipede with a medley of classics & arcade games. What was amazing was that as the gameplay footage of each game was rolling on screen, the orchestra was perfectly emulating the sound effects and music of each game, and honestly it was probably the most creative part of the whole show.
Throughout the rest of the show we got to hear several renditions, covers, and medleys of about 20 different games. There was a medley of Sonic the Hedgehog music, which included Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Star Light Zone, and Sky Sanctuary Zone (which I loved), a full performance of the Dovahkiin anthem from Skyrim, complete with a chorus singing in the Dragon Language, and one of the fan favorites, a cover of Portal’s Still Alive by Youtuber Flutelink accompanied by Tommy Tallarico on guitar. The music was great, the crowd was great, and the show was amazing.
One thing that I didn’t expect from the show, and came to appreciate the most was, how interactive and free it was for the audience. Most symphonies that you attend, the crowd is very stiff and quiet, and any applause during a piece could get you thrown out of the theatre. Here, we were encouraged to scream and holler any time we heard something we liked (aka everything).
Also, the show featured some segments where audience members got to come up and play games, too. Four people were randomly chosen by Tommy and got to come on stage and play a round of Super Smash Bros. Melee while the orchestra and chorus covered the theme from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Later in the show, the guy who got the best score on Guitar Hero before the show got to come on stage and play in front of the crowd. Everybody was supportive and cheered him all as he played the Foo Fighter’s The Pretender on expert while the orchestra added an extra epic accompaniment to the piece. It was… just awesome.
Video Games Live is a unique show, one that had never been attempted before. Even though video games have been around as a popular medium for about 3 decades, never before had a concert based on their music been made on such a grand scale. Definitely check out their website, and see if they’re coming to a concert hall near you. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com