By StarvingGamer 15 Comments
What a week.5 it's been.
So as a baritone of talent in the LA area I had the unique opportunity of being called in as a ringer to perform with one of my old choirs in the Video Games Live concert during this year's E3. Since becoming a father I had to put all of my extracurricular musical activities on hold but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Arrangements were made and I managed to find the help I needed to free myself up for two evening rehearsals and a full afternoon for the show.
Driving to my first rehearsal I was running late as usual. I'd like to blame extraordinary circumstances, but really it was because I was reciting the "just one more drop" mantra while playing Diablo III. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the choir room to hear them in mid-rehearsal of "And the Heavens Shall Tremble", the main theme from the game! It was a very surreal experience.
So I grabbed my music and we went through it. Mostly basic stuff with a lot of "aaah"s and "oooh"s, it is background music after all. The last piece, however, was something entirely different: "The Song of the Dragonborn". I had never actually heard the piece since I was completely uninterested in Skyrim due to being an Elder Scrolls hater despite trying really really hard to like Morrowind (decidedly un-tactical combat and a dumb leveling system, the two reasons I play RPGs). I was immediately blown away, it's a great piece of music and VERY fun to sing if you're the type of performer that gets into the theatrics of a piece.
So fast forward two-and-a-half weeks to the day of the show. I won't bore you with the details, but by the time I reached the Nokia Theater at 5:00PM for my 4:00PM call I was exhausted from only getting two hours of sleep before waking up at 6:30AM in order to do heavy lifting for the next nine hours. Basically the manager at my new apartment sucks and moved my move-in day twice, the first time without informing me at all (I learned about it by accident!) and the second time by calling me at 5PM the day before.
Anyways, I snuck on stage and thankfully they hadn't started rehearsing the choir bits yet. We went through the numbers and it was a lot of fun finally being able to put our sound together with that of the orchestra. All of the conductors were extremely easy to work with, full of enthusiasm and positive energy. I already knew we would be performing with Russell Brower of Blizzard fame, the composer of the Advent Rising soundtrack Emmanuel Fratianni, and of course the charming Tommy Tallarico himself, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Austin Wintory there as well to conduct one of his pieces from Journey.
So the concert started. A lot of talking happened in between acts but unfortunately they did not turn the monitors on for the choir meaning we couldn't understand a single thing being said. For some reason Walter Day was there in his trademark referee's uniform handing out a bunch of plaques to various random people from the development industry. And incredibly creepy looking Billy Mitchell was following him around holding posters for something but I have no idea what was going on. As a neat little bonus, however, one of the awards they handed out went to Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert. Immediately after the concert ended I ran into them backstage and (it's odd how familiar these people can seem when you've been watching them talk to you online for years) walked right up to Tim Schafer and said, "Hi, I gave you $100." In my defense I was only half-awake and they gave me some promotional buttons so hey, I must not have been completely horrifying.
There were a fair amount of solo-acts. Martin Leung, the Mario piano dude, played a Mario medley and then a bunch of random stuff while filling time for a Guitar Hero segment suffering from technical difficulties. Laura Intravia, the Zelda flute girl that I saw on Geekologie once, apparently made it as she was not only the soloist for a Mario medley and a Zelda medley, but was also the vocalist for "Still Alive" and the song from Journey. There was a guy called Viking Jesus who played a metal version of music from Star Fox that sounded completely unrecognizable. Finally, they doubled down on their Zelda with the violin girl Lindsey Stirling. She's a pretty solid player when you consider all the jumping around she does, but some of the hip gyrations she did near the end seemed a bit inappropriate. Maybe it's because the choir was viewing her from behind.
The concert went without a hitch for the most part outside of the aforementioned technical difficulties. The version of Guitar Hero they were trying to emulate wasn't working properly and it was interesting listening to the professional guitarist/guitar maker sitting next to me in the choir grumble about his low opinion of the game. Oddly enough he seemed genuinely interested during the "Still Alive" sing-along and I passed along all of the JoCo information I could. I'm proud to say I was able to sing along word-for-word without having to look at the screen for the lyrics.
I'm a bit bummed that amidst the confusion of the move I managed to forget to bring along my copy of the DIII CE soundtrack to be signed but part of me feels that doing so would sully my self-image as a professional musician. The only thing that I'm really upset about is the fact that my phone hasn't been charging properly so I wasn't able to take very many photos before it just up and died on me. So instead I'm co-opting pictures from other choir members that were posted to the group's Facebook page. At the end of the day, as beaten and worn down as I was, I can say that the experience was definitely worth it. I hope we get invited back next year.