All Your Base Are Belong To Us (VGL 2006)

vgl-logo.jpg There was no way to take a photo of it, but last night, one of the best displays of integrated media I’ve ever seen was at Video Games Live, at the Hollywood Bowl.

My understanding is that the Bowl is a “no fly zone”: not to be interrupted by planes or helicopters – and certainly not by the Goodyear Blimp. But, lo and behold, there was the Blimp itself, in all its multicolored display glory, announcing itself as a sponsor of autism research, and informing us that Goodyear hoses and belts were the official parts of NASCAR. Of course, it’s a captive audience, but I was wondering – wouldn’t there be some repercussion for violating the sancity of the Bowl?

Then one of the contest portions of the evening began. A random audience member – a ten year old boy – was chosen to play Space Invaders, while the orchestra played the game music in real time. He had two minutes to beat the first level. The catch was that he had to run back and forth to move the ship at the bottom of the screen. And so, Tommy Tallarico explained the game – and then yelled, “Hey, is the Goodyear Blimp still up there? Hey, Blimp, can I get a two minute countdown?” And the blimp immediately flashed up “2:00”

And that was just a small part of VGL, which I loved. The clips were beautifully put together, focusing on the stories of the games (where possible). There were video intros and cameo appearances by original game score composers. The musicians were brilliantly talented, from the Philharmonic Orchestra, to the “Halo” guitar soloist, to the choirs and solo singers who provided the vocals. It was a beautiful evening, and an amazingly well done event, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh, and that Space Invaders kid? He didn’t make it in time. But the whole time he was playing, the boyfriend and I were happily yelling quotes from Futurama’s Anthology of Interest II, where Fry asks, “what if life were more like a video game? “DROP DOWN! CHANGE DIRECTION! INCREASE SPEED!” VGL may not have been what Matt Groening was envisioning in that episode – but it was close enough.

EDIT: I totally forgot to mention that BT opened, and his performance was amazing. I adore BT to begin with, and the integrated composition – words, video, music – that he composed for his daughter was so heartfelt that I actually started crying. BT alone was worth the price of admission

9 thoughts on “All Your Base Are Belong To Us (VGL 2006)”

  1. So jealous! I wanted to go to that very badly. Mostly to see BT perform w/ the Philharmonic I’ll admit, but I did really want to see the rest. Good to know it was so good. Guess I’ll just have to go next year!

  2. I was there, last night, also.

    I loved the music, and the on-screen clips were outstanding. However, I absolutely hated the contests and the endless jabbering by the spider-man-T-shirt-with-his-tuxedo-jacket guy, who acted like we were in the Burbank Hilton for Fanfest ’98 instead of in the Hollywood Bowl to hear an orchestra. In fact, I’m willing to bet last night was the first time the phrase, “Let’s give it up for [something]!” has ever been uttered on that stage. Hopefully, it will be the last.

    VGL could and should have been an absolutely amazing experience, and when they just let the music and visuals combine, it was. But stopping the show every few minutes to blather on about how great video games are, or to introduce designers who walked on stage, waved, and walked off, made the entire experience feel more like a trade show than a symphonic experience at the Hollywood Bowl.

    There is tremendous potential here, and I hope that they’ll make it less “trade show” and more “real performance” next year.

  3. I agree with the mindless jabber, Wil, but I liked the video intro clips from the Japanese composers, each of whom was surprised and honored that their catchy little tunes, written for 8 bit machines, were being brought to life by a whole orchestra.

    Also, I admit, I liked the Space Invaders contest, but that was just because of the Futurama reference potential.

  4. Agreed on the composer clips, Jillian. That was cool, and I wish they’d just stuck with that approach for the non-musical portions of the show. The lightspeeder and Metal Gear stuff onstage was also highly entertaining. I forgot to mention that.

    And I, too, was referencing Futurama during the entire Space Invaders bit. I’m listening to my all-Rush mixtape in its honor right now.

  5. Yes, but do you have a two liter bottle of Shasta?

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention the live action bit, especially the Final Fantasy costumes! Maybe it’s because I was far too traumatized by the Frogger.

  6. I think a great case for nixing the awful jabber by Tommy is when he asked the 10-yr old contestant if he had a MySpace page so maybe they could “hook up later.”

    Loved BT and seeing Steve Vai perform is always a treat.

  7. The look Steve Vai gave Tommy when he threw the mic at the end of the show was just priceless. My friend said, “Steve Vai hated that move the last time he saw it . . . when David Lee Roth pulled it on tour in the 90s.”

  8. My friend had tickets and I stupidly decided to pass. I had to wallow in regret by listening to mp3’s of old NES games like Mario Bros and Mike Tyson’s Punch Out instead. (It looks like the host suspended the website account but maybe it’ll go back up later). Looks like I missed an awesome show. Anybody do the Guitar Hero 2 contest?

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