Life in the Slow Lane

August 12, 2009

‘Video Games Live’ is a nerd’s paradise

Filed under: Entertainment,Games,Music — pauljlane @ 11:15 am

Walking into the Artpark mainstage to see the recent “Video Games Live” concert, it was clear that I was among people

Yeah, I'm a dork. But at least I got to stand next to a giant inflatable Super Mario.

Yeah, I'm a dork. But at least I got to stand next to a giant inflatable Super Mario.

who still possess the mindset about gaming that I used to (I still love games, mind you, but my time for them has diminished).

After posing next to the giant, inflatable Super Mario, I had to walk past people a “Guitar Hero” contest and people dressed as Zelda, Little Mac from “Punch-Out” and the princess from the “Super Mario” series to get to my seat.

I expected to enjoy the show – which features a symphony orchestra (in this case the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra) performing songs from video games, with the games playing behind the orchestra on giant screens.

What I didn’t expect was to see so many people so fervently into the event. And once I got the past the fact that they’re  bit nerdy (hey, so am I), it was fun.

The house was only about half-full, but those who were there saw a terrific show (and, at nearly 2 1/2 hours, a longer show than I expected). Created by Tommy Tallarico (who has family in Niagara Falls) and Jack Wall, the show features plenty of great music, several interactive components and some neat surprises (such as the local cover band Armcannon being brought out to play songs from “Super Mario Bros. 2”).

Anyone who thinks this sounds like kids’ stuff, well, might be right. But if you can forget about the music’s origins, close your eyes and listen, you WILL be blown away. From the eerie, solitary feel of the “Metroid” theme song to the passionate “Halo” soundtrack and the ominous sounds from the “Castlevania” game series, video game music is actually pretty good.

The co-creators have made more than 60 distinct segments for their show, and they choose about 15-20 for each performance (each segment highlights a different game/game series). Both Wall and Tallarico participated throughout the show, with Wall conducting the orchestra and Tallarico playing several guitar parts – including, during one especially fun stretch, when a teenager came on stage to play Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” on “Guitar Hero,” an Tallarico nailed Joe Perry’s lead guitar part. C’mon, that’s just plain, pure fun right there.

Sure, there were several songs that I didn’t know (at 30 years old, I am practically aged out of the gaming target group already). But hearing the “Tetris” theme once again and having the “Super Mario” music played at warp speed on the piano (complete with the high-pitched “dink-a-dink dink-a-dink” that accompanied the character’s picking up an extra life) brought back some great memories and provided quite an entertaining evening.

For at least one night, Western New York’s dorks had their day.


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