After weeks of practicing The Beatles: Rock Band harmonies, and booking travel for Community Team, I was more than relieved when the time finally came to board the plane at Logan Airport for LA and E3 2009. People tried explaining E3 to me, “it’s like a tradeshow on steroids” or “a movie set dedicated to gaming.” And though I learned these both are accurate statements, neither prepared me for the Brainsploding-Awesomeness that is E3.
Booth set-up on Monday was daunting. The outside of the Convention Center was adorned with an epic Brutal Legend banner that HMX Community Team collectively drooled at. But wait, look at the Assassin’s Creed 2 banner! Wait no, is that the Ecto-1 by the door!?! The stairs are painted with the Final Fantasy XIII logo! Ohmygod Left 4 Dead 2! It was sensory overload, and by the time I got to our Abbey Road booth, my heart was pounding in my chest like Chev Chelios.
I spent much of the day buzzing around our 10,000 square feet of the LA Convention Center locating (Read: Frantically contacting awesome people from home to send us backup stuff that didn’t make it to the booth. Thanks Paul, Todd and Emily!) gear, cables, and lots of The Beatles: Rock Band instruments. Every time I looked up at the commanding two-story tall Rock Band 2 set list banner, vertigo pounced and things went blurry. This may have also had something to do with the fact that there was no air conditioning that first day. As HMXPope would say, the room “felt like the inside of a mouth.” Luckily, since our booth re-creation of Abbey Road Studio 2 had a ceiling and localized HVAC, (which later in the week tried to kill us, read on!) we had a place of solace away from the rest of the floor.
Just outside our main booth, the Lego Rock Band set up was being assembled. Giant Lego stairs led to the stage and just around the corner sat a full size, Tim Burton-era Batmobile with what appeared to be armed guards from Warner Bros keeping a sharp eye on the gawkers. It was pretty crazy watching the drab, concrete LA Convention Center transformed into Gamer Paradise with super over the top, mini movie sets everywhere. Dare I call the sight, breathtaking? Yes, I dare.
Once set up was (mostly) complete, we took off to shower our grody, sweat-soaked, pre-E3 selves and get some food at the O Hotel where we were shacked up for the week. After many beers, the alarm clock went off and it was time to head back to the booth for the first day of E3.
Our demo team hit the stage in our 80 person presentation theater almost as soon as the doors opened. Appointments to see TB:RB were jammed from open to close every day. For each demo, HMXJohnD did his thing explaining how amazing our game is, and the rest of us joined in rocking 3 Beatles songs per demo. It was fantastic to check out the faces of people in the audience as they watched the game play on the 103 inch screen hanging overhead. More than a few times audible gasps, “wow” and “oh my god” comments could be heard, and without fail there were always tons of smiles. People were generally psyched after the demo and totally excited to get their hands on the game on the console of their choice out in our lobby. After singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” for the 83rd time, we wrapped it up and headed back to The O for the post party. After many beers, the wake up call came and I was back at the booth.
Day 2 at E3 we saw Jason Sudeikis stop by with his crew from The Jimmy Fallon show. They hung with us and played some TB:RB for this spot on the show. And I got to spend half the day over at the Lego Rock Band booth. Me and HMXSteph rocked some Jackson Five and Foo Fighters with some very zealous gamers. LRB lanyards for all! The best thing about working the Lego booth though, was seeing the four mulleted dudes who walked straight out of Spinal Tap play The Final Countdown with more sincerity and heart than I’ve ever seen on a Rock Band stage. And trust me, I have seen my share. Those guys are awesome.
Not as awesome however, as the dudes from Hopes P!nk Sweater our Pepsi Drink Up Rock Out contest winners! They were flown out to attend the last day of E3 with us, and it couldn’t have happened to a cooler group of guys. (Watch their winning video.) Sadly though, they didn’t get to hang out when Elijah Wood stopped by the booth to check out the game. As a huge fan of The Beatles, he seemed fascinated by TB:RB and had lots of questions about game play and graphics. I like to think of HMXHenry as our own Elijah Wood, and apparently this is just fine with Henry’s mom.
We were finally able to check out some other games on the final day of E3. Shout outs to Brutal Legend, Left 4 Dead 2 (Woot!) and Batman Arkham’s Asylum, all amazing. We showed up an hour early just to check them out and were not disappointed. Back at the booth, it was Beatlemania once again from open to close. As the day wore on, backstage antics grew more and more ridiculous until the theater curtain broke and we had to hang by the side of the stage while the audience rolled in for demos.
Then came the second to last demo for all of E3. We were all completely punch drunk and slap happy from lack of sleep and general overstimulation. As HMXJohnD gave his presentation for the 8500th time, the rest of the band stood by on stage listening. After a minute or two, the sound of tearing paper and plastic came from high above our heads. Before anyone of us could process what was happening, a cylindrical HVAC Death Vent plummeted from the rafters and struck the floor just inches from HMXjon and HMXJohnD’s respective craniums. Everyone screamed / nervously laughed and somehow, since the show must go on, HMXJohnD finished his spiel. We played the last song, and promptly ran out of the theater. We literally brought the house down.
Things calmed down, and the remaining HVAC units were removed. We ended all of E3 with “I Am the Walrus” and all was right with the world. Later that evening, the HMX crew played Rock Band into the wee hours of the morning. After many beers, we got some breakfast and headed to LAX. To hear more about that, check out HMXsean’s audio boo.
Check out more of the 2009 Harmonix E3 recaps!