a day in the life of ...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10.29.08 Video Games Live


Music has always been an integral part of video games. In most recent years, there have been a number of bands and events showcasing this natural association. Bands such as the minibosses and Neskimos have been covering Nintendo numbers for a number of years. Other events, such as Video Games Live, use the more elaborate approach of a full symphony.


The concert started about an hour before the music with a costume party/contest. The actual number of attendees who dressed up was pretty minimal. The party itself consisted of a couple of Wii/Guitar Hero/PS3/etc booths. In retrospect the costumes in general were pretty average. The constest eventually came down to a zombie nurse and some alien from Mass Effect, with the latter being the winner.

The concert portion of the event featured the music of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with co-founder Tommy Tallrico MC'ing the event. The event was fairly well put together and played out much like a variety show. While music was a primary component of the show, there were many interactive segments interspersed throughout to keep the audience entertained.

The program began with an old school games medley consisting of about 20 games from Pong to somewhere around the 8-bit era. The rest of the program focused many on music from games from the late nineties and beyond. Several of the pieces, in particular used the talents of the Vancouver Cantata Singers quite nicely. In particular, Civilization 4 seemed to almost uplift and awe the audience. Other pieces were almost forgettable, falling into the "epic movie soundtrack" realm.

Interspersed between the tracks were two interactive moments. The first featured a rather large gentleman, forced to wear a shirt several sizes too small, playing interactive Space Invaders. The second was a twelve year old in a Guitar Hero: Aerosmith contest. Both were unsuccessful, but received consolation prizes (actually the latter got it anyway). Perhaps the most impressive pieces were done solo by pianist Lee Ann Leung, sister of Martin "the Video Game Pianist". Her 10 song Final Fantasy medley was stunning. Other notables: The Vancouver band Splitting Adam played live, accompanying the orchestra, to Need for Speed: Undercover. A remix of SSX Tricky was played with the original composers/music directors. The night ended with two crowd pleasing encores, "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy 7 and Castlevania Rock.

Despite the charming evening of music, I did have one major gripe. There was a lot of wasted time. All the interactive segments, song introductions and MC banter ate up a lot of time. In fact, one of the segments was a impromptu filming of a video game review of the TV show "Reviews on the Run". While all of this lead to a more polished and well paced show, one could not help but wonder how many more songs could have been added to the setlist.

01) Intro/Symphony warm up
02) Classic Arcade Medley
03) Metal Gear Solid
04) God of War
05) Space Invaders
06) Need for Speed: Undercover
07) On My Own
08) Civilization 4
09) Final Fantasy Piano Medley `
10) Metroid
11) Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
12) Intros/Electric Playground Segment
13) SSX Tricky Remix
14) Kingdom Hearts
15) Warcraft
16) Starcraft 2
17) Super Mario Brothers
18) Mario Piano Medley
19) Tetris Piano
20) Guitar Hero Challenge: Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion
21) Halo
22) Final Fantasy 7: One Winged Angel
23) Castlevania Rock


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Sunday, October 12, 2008

10.03.2008 Opeth / High on Fire

I was a little disappointed that Nachtmystium, who opens most of the dates on the first leg of Opeth's current tour was left off the Vancouver date, because they have former members of Black Dhalia Murder in it. Instead we seem to have gotten a longer set (60 min) from sole opener, High on Fire, which i guess is a good thing.

I've had the opportunity to see High on Fire at least a couple times over the last few years, (I even walked out of a HoF show, before they even got on stage once) but have never actually seen them play. My overall reaction was a bit mixed. I really had trouble getting in to them live. Aside from a few tracks, the more upbeat ones, (the ones that sort of reminded me of Motorhead) I was, pretty bored during their set. The serious metal fans in the crowd seemed to just eat it up though. As I said earlier, I was more impressed that we the fans were given a good bang for our buck with an hour long set.

I was having second thoughts about going to see the show a few days ago. This was mostly due to the fact, that I didn't really like Ghost Reveries, and wasn't really expecting that much from Watershed, the album they were touring in support of. I guess I figured they would play mainly new songs and wouldn't play enough old songs to make it worth my while. Never the less, I was convinced by a friend that, live, Opeth haven't changed. Between songs, Opeth's singer Mikael Akerfedt was his ever amusing self, referring to Fredrick, their new guitarist's old band (Arch Enemy) as a "cock rock" band while addressing their recent lineup changes, and making light of his time writing their early albums while still living at home. After the first older song of the night, "Serenity Painted Death", off "Still Life", Akerfeldt mentioned that they filmed a new video at the Vogue Theater the night before. They didn't really mention for which song it was for. Before playing the somber ballad, "Hope Leaves", from their non-death metal album Damnation, Akerfeldt tried to set the mood by asking everyone to raise the lighters. He even kept it authentic, discouraging the cellphone lights. In what seemed like a perfect Spinal Tap moment, the fire alarm went off as the song was ending. The alarm would go off and on a few times more, but the band still kept going, though rightfully a bit annoyed.

During one of the between song breaks someone asked Akerfeldt what he thought of the new Metallica. He responded that he wasn't really a fan, especially when compared to their older stuff. He also noted that it was annoying when people compared Opeth's older material to their newer stuff. He then got Fredrick to play a few Metallica riffs: Master of Puppets, and Battery. Pretty cool. They ended their set main set with Demon of the Fall. For the encore, they came back with Drapery Falls to end a set that clocked in at just under 2 hrs.


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