I love video games (obviously) and I love music, so all the way back in 2005 when I first heard that famed game composer (though to me more famous as a reviewer on Judgment Day, cause that’s where I saw him first) Tommy Tallarico was doing a concert series on video games, I only knew one thing; I had to attend one of these events. The problem is, being in Oklahoma City, events of this kind rarely roll through town, with the closest often being in the surrounding states, more times than not with the Dallas, TX area being the nearest feasible location. So because of this year after year went by with Video Games Live always being in the general area, but still too far for me to be willing to drive to it.
As luck would have it, they would finally stop by my neck of the woods almost exactly 10 years after the first concert. So, was it worth the years of waiting for me? Short answer is hell...yes. As for the longer answer, well let’s just get to that, starting with the pre-concert festivities.
The guys behind the local video game convention, SUPER! BitCon, were gracious enough to lend some of their gaming cabinets stocked with old school systems like the Genesis, NES, SNES, and N64 for people to play in the two or so hours before the concert began. Some great classic games were on display like Sonic 2, Super Mario All-Stars, Punch-Out!, Goldeneye, and Diddy Kong Racing. And speaking of the guys from S!BC, I actually got to have a brief chat with several members of the convention’s board before the concert and gave them some feedback regarding the convention.
As part of the Video Games Live experience, there was also a Guitar Hero competition and a cosplay contest, though the actual cosplay contest was held on the concert stage and I just couldn’t get any good pictures of it, so for the cosplay you’ll have to make due with these two pics of Chell from Portal and Hatty Hattington from BattleBlock Theater being photobombed by Misty from Pokemon.
The Chell cosplayer ended up winning the contest, by the way.
As is tradition with Video Games Live, the music was performed by a local orchestra, which in our case was the excellent Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
The concert itself was freaking amazing. It’s one thing to hear some of your favorite video game songs through an electronic device of some kind (like a phone, or tablet, or computer, or a game system). It is an entirely different beast to hear it be performed live by professionals in a room designed with great acoustics in mind. When the Metal Gear Solid series’ main theme song started playing, actual chills ran down my spine.
I was experiencing some of my favorite songs from games like Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Halo, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, even Earthworm Jim, in ways I never heard them before.
One thing that really surprised me was the audience participation. In both halves of the concert, they had a segment where one of the audience members got to participate on stage, with the second one being the winner of the Guitar Hero contest having to play the song in the game on stage while Tommy played the song for real on one of his many awesome guitars, and the amazing thing is the guy who won the GH contest managed to upstage Tommy, on top of nearly pulling off a perfect performance of the song in the game. It was an awesome moment.
So after the amazing concert ended, Tommy and the conductor, fellow famed composer Emmanuel Fratianni, had a meet and greet autograph and picture session, so I finally got to meet in person one of my favorite individuals in the video game industry.
Sorry for the somewhat awkward pose, my knee currently likes to act up at inconvenient times and I almost fell while kneeling, so I balled my fist up to not pull Tommy down with me. >_>
Also got Emmanuel and Tommy to sign my copy of the third Video Games Live album.
All in all I had a god damn blast. More than worth the long ass wait to finally get to attend. The only complaint, and I mean the only complaint, was that the lights on the sides of the stage would get insanely bright every now and then and would hurt my eyes. Beyond that it was everything I dreamed it would be and more.
If you haven’t attended a Video Games Live concert, but you like music, and especially video game music, then you absolutely must go to one. It truly is an experience of its own.