Spokane is a dangerous suburb of hell, and any time I was not running for my life from scorpogons or sucking on nutshells for trace minerals I would occupy myself with basic mental exercises. These were often Rock Band related: the creation of band names, for example ("Cair Paravel," "Raped In A Restroom") or the crafting of song packs that I’d like to see bubble up at some point. Bon Jovi’s "Slippery When Wet" has already been sampled, with Wanted Dead or Alive figuring prominently on the release disc - but "Livin’ on a Prayer" must also have a seat at the table. In addition, "You Give Love a Bad Name" - the song that sold me on pretend instruments in Guitar Freaks - could be represented without flaw in in this setting.
There have been a couple moments while playing as a band that were really… singular, and when you read some of the reviews that are available you can discern when a writer has experienced a similar, timeless sensation. After we had warmed up for awhile unlocking venues and tracks, we ended up in a Seattle concert hall performing a set of three songs from local artists. Then, strange things started to happen: there was one song where our vocalist could deliver the verse, but not the chorus, so she and a spectator had to execute the melody with a kind of "Chariots Of Fire"-style baton pass of the microphone. Usually you aren’t able to watch the sometimes very elaborate presentation while you are playing, but for some reason I could see past the notes on the last chorus of "Learn to Fly." The vocalist actually leapt out into the crowd, singing while being held aloft by a hundred enthusiasts. I had never seen this before, and hearing the actual voice commingled with this digital puppet at that very moment rocked, in a literal way, my sense of what was actually occurring. It’s what opponents of the medium always claim will happen to people when they play videogames, except it was this bizarre, drum circle transcendence that was (in fact) the precise opposite of aggression.
At least, at that moment. Out of the three our group owns, two guitars will no longer activate star power and one strum bar no longer strums, though I suppose it is still technically a bar. It’s a good Goddamn thing Guitar Hero instruments work with Rock Band, and not just because compatibility is a good policy that will insure the health of the genre for every product. It’s a good thing because without functioning controllers, it is extremely difficult to play the game.
In Child’s Play News, I mentioned the Desert Bus For Hope project because I thought it was a novel bit of self-flagellation for a good cause. Now that over ten thousand dollars have been raised and those poor creatures must toil for a hundred consecutive hours, I wonder if they’ll decide to simply avoid charity in the future. Donations at this point are just mean, in a way: a system to torment human beings at a distance, which might explain its dark appeal.