Only the truly passionate of gamers would get goose bumps when they hear the Super Mario Bros theme mixing into a techno song or the Legend of Zelda theme played on a ukulele. Only the dedicated type of gamer could close his eyes and see his favorite game introduction as he hums the opening theme in time. And only a true gamer could sit in a concert hall and cheer as their favorite video game’s music rises up from the live orchestra and images from the game appear on a giant video screen above. Truly these are the people that Video Games Live was created for.
Created by video game composers, Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall as the ultimate experience in video game music, Video Games Live is a live concert that mixes video game cinematics, spectacular visual effects and a live orchestra and choir to bring the very best of video game music from throughout the ages. From Pong to Halo, from oldest gamer to youngest gamer, Video Games Live has something for every type of gamer to enjoy. Each show includes a pre-show festival which features a costume contest, Guitar Hero II preview contest, and retro gaming arcade machines which feature games like Frogger and Space invaders to play. Throughout the actual show, there is a space invader contest, and a Frogger contest with prizes for each player to take home. After the show, there is always a meet and greet with local game industry people as well as Jack and Tommy. Official VGL merchandise is also available for purchase before the show, during intermission and after the show.
Gaining on their success, VGL will be putting on their biggest and best show yet at the Hollywood Bowl on September 21st, 2006. The new show will include special guests like Dweezil Zappa, Steve Vai, Julie Stoffer, Tim Schafer, plus many more. The pre-show festival will now include a PC gaming setup provided by Intel, and a gaming contest on six custom built arcade cabinets provided by Dream Authentics and featuring the games, Space Invaders, Centipede, and Asteroids. There will also be a huge meet and greet featuring hundreds of gaming, music and television industry people.
The show itself now will feature an opening act from electronic recording artist Brian “BT” Transeau performing selections from his new album “This Binary Universe.” Legendary guitarists Steve Vai and Dweezil Zappa will be performing along with the orchestra, as well as live electronic drumming by Irwin, and other special appearances by well-known video game composers including Halo composer Marty O'Donnell. New segments include Halo 3 and Civilization IV, plus a rare special acoustic performance by the original LucasArts composers performing Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and more. There will also be a new Final Fantasy segment that will include the orchestra playing the music of Final Fantasy VII, and Video Game Pianist, Martin Leung will perform his own Final Fantasy arrangement featuring 10 Final Fantasy melodies. Also expect to see new and expanded versions of the game segments Video Games Live has featured in the past which will include new footage and longer music arrangements. There will also be a new interactive contest during the show involving the Goodyear blimp.
Adding to the news of this expanded show, Video Games Live also announced that will be taking its show on the road to places outside of North America. Soon gamers in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan and Australia will be able to enjoy the music of Video Games Live. Check out the official Video Games Live website to see when the show will be in your corner of the world.
From personal experience I can tell you that this is truly a show built for gamers. I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto show at Massey Hall back in the beginning of September and I was impressed by what I saw and heard. Sitting in a concert hall with hundreds of gamers screaming and clapping for their favorite video games was an experience like no other. I knew for once that I wasn’t the only person in the building that could hum every Super Mario Bros song or sing the words to the Kingdom Hearts theme.
Every single video game featured in the show was like a trip down memory lane from me as I flooded with the sounds and images of games I had once played and conquered. From Myst to Mario, every composer in the game industry was given a chance to shine as most of the time American composers are forgotten about when people tend to think about great video game themes. This show included them all. I have to say the best part of the show came from Video Game pianist, Martin Leung who not only wowed the audience with his unique Final Fantasy arrangement, and but also performed the music of Super Mario Bros. with a blind fold on. His super fast fingers pumped out the music of Earthworm Jim, Tetris, Mario and Final Fantasy so fast that even the live video screen feed had trouble keeping up with him.
There were only two things I would have changed about the show which were the Medal of Honor segment and the Kingdom Hearts segment as both did not include footage from the games. Medal of Honor had footage from the actual world wars and though it was heart felt, I kind of found it boring. Kingdom Hearts had footage from Disney movies and being such a huge Kingdom Hearts fan I was disappointed to not see Sora, Donald and Goofy on the screen. KH is such a beautiful game with amazing cut scenes and I would have rather of seen the game footage then bits of Disney movies.
The show lasted only around 2 hours but it seemed to just fly by. By the end of the show, I knew that I and those around me enjoyed every minute and would easily return again to see the show next year.
From the over all experience, I have to say what really impressed me the most about show was the dedication of those involved and the realization that Video Games Live wouldn’t exist without the hard work and love each of the people involved. I had the chance to talk to Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall after the show, and what they told me gave me a new respect of what they were trying to accomplish. Though there were sponsors that provided prizes for the games and such, Tommy and Jack took a chance on each show’s success at selling tickets when they booked each venue, because they were the ones fronting the money for the show. Not the sponsors and not the venue. It was at that moment, I realized Video Games Live was created by two guys that just loved music and video games so much that they had to share it with the world and it wasn’t created as some corporation’s idea to sell more games.
What also impressed the heck out of me was the spunky little marketing coordinator for VGL, Becky Young, who ran the costume contest and spend hours after the show talking to every attendee to get their opinions on the evening. To spend that much time finding out the good and the bad points of the show in hopes of perfecting it is true dedication on her part. I am lucky enough to call Becky my friend now and I know the VGL is lucky to have her as a part of the team.
I would just like to thank Tommy, Jack, and Becky for an insider view into the lives of the people of VGL. Knowing who all of you are and what you’re all about makes the show that much more incredible. I would also like to thank the VGL crew for the free swag and for a cool experience. I don’t think you’ll ever realize how much you three made my weekend. Thanks again.
For more information on the show, tour dates, and ticket sales, check out the official Video Games Live website.
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