Video game music has been on an extraordinary journey since its inception. From its start with simple bleeps of a computerized synthesizer to a slew of beautifully orchestrated pieces, the music of games has become as integral as its storyline or graphics. To showcase this now fundamental piece of video games, a live orchestra, with a choir and visual effects has been created. This amazingly fantastic experience is known as Video Games Live.
If you’re still reading this article, chances are you’d absolutely love this concert. This weekend, I experienced my second concert of the series. The first time was way back in 2008. I was a young college student excited to see and hear all the songs from my favorite games. When I heard that it was back in NYC for another show, I knew I had to see it. But I had some reservations. Would it be as good? Would they recycle the same pieces and franchises? They specifically state that each concert is a different experience, but how much of a new experience would it be?
First off, before I even go into the actual concert, I was among a select few that were upgraded to orchestra seating! I wasn’t complaining because now I was about 30 feet from the stage and could see all the instruments in fine detail. Being a musician myself, I always appreciate the technique and expressiveness of the performers.
It began just as my first experience — a live version of a certain game (obviously not spoiling) appeared on screen. I laughed just as I did the first time, but became cautiously nervous. Luckily, my nerves were quelled quickly as this was the only purely identical item in the concert.
Happily, there was still a large variety of genres, both in terms of games and style of music. The rock-anthems of Castlevania, paired with the symphonies of The Legend of Zelda, followed by the whimsical nature of Earthworm Jim, offered each person something to geek out about. All of the pieces were also combined with great visual effects and an overlay of various gameplay for each of the series.
Tommy Tallarico, the creator and producer of Video Games Live, also announced early in the concert that there would be THREE world premiere pieces in addition to a slew of special guests (two of which I’ll elaborate on). This did not happen with my first concert, so this announcement certainly piqued my interest. One was a beautiful piece from the Donkey Kong series, where a musician played an “electronic wind instrument” (pretty much a mix between an electronic keyboard and a flute). Another was a strange looking, yet musically striking segment from the just-as-strange looking game Iko. Though it seemed like no audience member was yelling for excitement over the game’s announcement, nonetheless, it was intriguing as another premiere.
One of the special guests, Viking Jesus (Yes, that’s his name), performed a hardcore rock version of Pokémon’s battle theme. You can see a bit of it below. Needless to say, that had me both rocking and reminiscing all the way back to the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. Another guest, Michael Barry, one of the musical geniuses of League of Legends, conducted a piece of the game. There were several more guests at the concert, but just in case they reappear in a future event, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!
The wondrous concert wasn’t the only part of the Video Games Live event. Prior to the show there was a Guitar Hero high-score contest and costume contest. Both weren’t my cups of tea, but it was great to see another layer of excitement from participants (it also didn’t hurt that they would each win $500 of downloadable content).
Overall, I loved the second experience. An exhilarating concert, exciting premieres, and wonderful callbacks to iconic games. What was even better was seeing the obvious jovial experience from the friends I went with. They couldn’t stop talking about the concert and all the intricate moments. Video Games Live clearly knows what it’s doing.
Go check out Video Games Live. It is a phenomenal experience for anyone. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or casual gamer, eight years old or eighty years old, you simply won’t be disappointed. The series literally tours the world so make sure to check them out before they head out!
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