New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones

So this Saturday was a Harmonix Milestone for me... it was my first real Community road trip. HMXSean gets to do all the fancy high profile stuff like the Grammys, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, and playing with the American Gladiators, while I've been more involved with the home front stuff here in Cambridge / Boston. But this past Saturday HMXJohnlok, HMXTheMax, and myself took a day trip down to New York City to attend the Wii launch of Rock Band at the Nintendo World Store.

It was an awesome experience, and a whirlwind trip. We were in and out of NYC in about 24 hours, and left many faces rocked in our wake. We got in late Friday night and stayed at a hotel about a half block outside of Times Square that could have easily been mistaken for a German discotheque. Quite the setting for the wild and crazy HMX Community Team. Once we settled in to our slick leather and chrome tricked out room we really let loose and watched Caddyshack then went to bed.

Saturday started off early. We were at the Nintendo World Store to set up around 8:30am and there was already a line of about a hundred people down the block waiting to get in. We watched a little bit of the Today Show filming right outside, since it's right on the back side of Rockafeller Center. Very hip. We got in and met with some MTV and NWS people and got some Rock Band kiosks set up.

There were six full band set ups in all: three regular demo stations, two huge flat screen tvs in a lounge type area, and one GIANT set up complete with professional stage lighting, a stack of speakers, and a fog machine. There was Rock Band signage everywhere, and the opening "Highway Star" cinematic playing on nearly every screen in the store. It was intense.

We started letting people in around 10am and play stations filled up fast. We got people organized in bands and helped round out groups when bands couldn't find a fourth member. Most people were scared of the mic so I did a lot of singing. My throat still hurts.

I was really surprised at how many people were already familiar with the game. There were lots of people who had played RB on another system before and they helped out the newer Wii Rockers get acclimated. Even those new to the game took to it really quickly. The Wii certainly attracted more casual gamers than other events we've held, but they were really quick to pick up on things. I was fully prepared to play band Savior all day long, but there weren't a lot of people failing out, and even the kids picked up on strumming and the kick pedal much faster than I expected. Thanks to everyone who played with me... you made my job pretty darn easy!

The only downside was being on my feet all day (hardly anyone needed a drummer to sit in for them) and not having much of a choice in which songs we played. I sang "Enter Sandman" and "Dirty Little Secret" close to a dozen times each. "Dani California," "When You Were Young," and "Don't Fear the Reaper" were big repeat hits too. Out of the 63 songs on the RB Wii disc I probably didn't play through more than a dozen of them. I snuck in a few plays of "Brainpower" at the end of the day though, which was a nice little 2 minute bubble gum break from the regular cycle of hits.

Around 4pm we started to pack up, but no one wanted to stop playing. People were begging for just one more song, so we ended up keeping 2 of the play stations open after we left. I grabbed a tshirt for my special lady (Mario in Tanooki suit) and after that we hopped into a cab and booked it back to Boston where we were safe from being judged based on our local sports teams.

All in all it was an awesome first time on the road. I probably won't let HMXJohnlok book my accommodations again any time in the near future, but that really just adds to the charm of the trip. Big ups to the crew at the Nintendo World Store and anyone who came out to hang with us. Everyone was in high spirits and we all had a blast playing.

And that's my story of the Community work weekend in the big city! Below you can find a short playlist for the flight to New York. It was a short flight, so it's a short playlist. Good times.

NYC Mix Tape
1. Sick Of It All - It's Clobberin' Time
2. Antidote - Life As One
3. Abused - Watch Out
4. Gorilla Biscuits - New Direction
5. Side By Side - You're Only Young Once
6. H2O - Family Tree
7. Cro-Mags - Hard Times
8. Fear - New York's Alight If You Like Saxophones
9. Andrew WK - I Love NYC