Saturday, June 6, 2015

The 24 Hour Setlist: Introduction

For my first ever participation in the Extra Life charity event for children's hospitals, I'll be singing a 24 hour marathon on Rock Band 3 from November 7th to 8th!

Here is my page on Extra Life, which has more information on that initiative. The marathon will be broadcast live on my Twitch channel.

So why Rock Band? I don’t say this lightly, and this is not hypberbole, Rock Band changed my life. We knew right away it was a cooperative game experience like none other as we selected our roles in the band. My brother Alex had a knack for the Guitar Hero series and continued that role on Rock Band. Our lifelong friend Mark took on the drums. As for me, there was nobody on the mic so I basically found myself there my default. We never did find ourselves a permanent bassist, although a few great candidates came and went over the years.

As for the mic, I loved it. My voice was the controller. I used to be nervous about singing in front of people, but I found much more confidence as I went from failing out on “Reptilia” to being able to get 100% on insane Iron Maiden songs on the hardest difficulty even while I had bronchitis. Rock Band vocals were the only video game I had where I was the most skilled person I knew (not the best singer in general, but the best at singing for the game, I don’t want to sound too over the top). At the peak of my powers, which was around the time that Rock Band 3 came out, I had gold-starred (very high scores on expert difficulty) hundreds upon hundreds of songs in RB’s ever-growing library and was one of the top 100 singers in the world as ranked by the online leaderboards.

Eventually, the genre of music games fell on hard times. Activision’s competing Guitar Hero games, which had sloppily adopted the full band format as well, flooded the marketplace with half-baked spin-offs. As for Rock Band, they were a little too eager to silence idiots who would insult the games since “it’s not like playing a real instrument.” You don’t say? All this time I thought guitars only had five notes, who knew? Not sure how that applies to singing, anyhow. Your voice is your voice. Anyway, Rock Band wanted to prove that it could actually teach people real music, so for Rock Band 3 Harmonix invested considerable expense into a “pro guitar” mode that would enable people to play along to the real notes a controller modeled after an actual guitar. There was also the addition of the keyboard that had its own “pro” mode. It was impressive ambition, but in the end Harmonix greatly overestimated the demand among players for “real instruments” and Rock Band 3 sold far less than the concurrent Guitar Hero game that had no such ambitions.

The company added more songs to the game’s huge library for a couple of years afterward, but the genre was fading away. Nobody I knew wanted to play anymore. Finally, they announced that the DLC songs would also be coming to an end. The world may have decided that “the era was over,” but I really wasn’t ready for it to go. It had brought too much joy into my life. The news of Rock Band 4's upcoming release was hugely uplifting and I decided that this year's Extra Life event would be one epic way to say goodbye to Rock Band 3.

We're still months away from the big day, but I'll be practicing on the Twitch Channel hopefully once a week (Friday nights) and later this summer, I'll post the setlist in all it's 335 song glory! Please look forward to it!