Summer is the time of travel for the Harmonix Community Team and San Francisco’s very own Golden Gate Park and Outside Lands Music Festival became our latest target. Of course this celebration of life, love, and music would be the perfect avenue to introduce a whole new generation to the brilliance that is The Beatles! But San Francisco was also the very last tour-concert ever for the Fab Four (at Candlestick Park). What could be a better way to unveil the entirety of The Beatles: Rock Band for the first time? With a totally ‘gear’ '50s-styled tent (complete with mod chairs, retro-rugs, two "living room" set-ups and a mini-stage), HMXalex and I, along with HMXadam and HMXcaleb from QA, prepared to deliver a full dose of Beatlemania on an unsuspecting crowd.
But the beginning of the trip wasn’t actually the concert, but a Rock Band night at the Rock-It Room on Thursday that HMXalex had been helping for quite some time. We showed off the full game here to a raucous and jazzed-up crowd that fought over each other for a chance to play. As the patrons imbibed more, the spirited renditions of Beatles-favorites became increasingly exuberant, just as it should be! To start off the trip on such an exceptional high-note was telling for how excellent the rest of our stay would be.
Friday, the first day of the concert, brought tons of people through our tent all day long. Maybe it was the free t-shirts or maybe it was the ultra-swanky couches and blinky lights but people were drawn to us like moths to a flame. At every point in the day the couches were full and there was a significant wait to hop onto the game. Fans of all ages - yes, even parents and kids - queued up for some play time. Even HMXcaleb's gigantic mohawk did not deter the masses from having a chance at singing "Dig A Pony" at the top of their lungs (he has such a friendly face)! It was exhausting and exhilirating at the same time to watch and to experience. But all this paled in comparison to Saturday.
Outside Lands attendees playing The Beatles: Rock Band
If we thought the previous day was mobbed, Saturday seemed to triple the number of people present. If you could find a seat in our tent you were one of the lucky ones. Saturday became pretty much standing room only for the entirety of the day. The weather didn't help as it seemingly dropped 20 degrees from Friday. So unaware of San Fran's crazy weather that I had to purchase a sweatshirt just to make it when I arrived on Thursday (I mistakenly thought of August in California as t-shirt weather) only to have it heat up on Friday. I was always a day off on my outfits concerning the weather. Curse you!
Anyway, it was busy. Incredibly busy. And people kept wanting more. They'd play one song and then wait around for 30 minutes just to play another song. I routinely saw people missing performances just at a chance to drum it up in "Back in the U.S.S.R." again! We had many repeat visitors throughout our three days, oftentimes bringing along new friends. And, once more, there were tons of different ages playing and enjoying the game. Anybody who claimed that nobody under 40 would enjoy the Beatles would be eating crow at how many teenagers and kids knew every word to every song in the game. I was personally flummoxed at the number of singers who even know the harmonies along with the melodies. One of my favorite moments involved a child no more than five years old jumping onto the main stage and singing "Octopus' Garden." His mother actually came up to me and asked if we had this song (among a few others) because while he wanted to sing, he had to pick a song he knew because he didn't know how to READ yet. Amazing. We were able to relax a bit on Sunday, but just a tad. By this point we had quite a few return players who were able to help with the people wrangling. I’m sure HMXadam was glad to give his vocal chords a bit of a rest (he was nailing the harmonies all weekend long).
Our entire time in San Francisco was filled with good cheer, positive vibes, and happy music fans. There’s no doubt in my mind that we made a few converts to the cause and it seemed like many die-hard Beatles fans really appreciated all the effort and heart that the Harmonix team poured into the game. Being able to see all types of people, from all age groups and all walks of life, participate and enjoy our game was the highlight of the trip.
Oh yes, and the music! While we were basically attached to our tent throughout the entire concert, we did get chance to enjoy some of the amenities and festivities (however brief). First off, I had the BEST. COFFEE. EVER. at the festival (courtesy of Philz Coffee). And secondly I got to see and meet (for a moment) Mastodon – one of my favorite bands. Totally bad ass!
I also just want to give a shout-out to the ladies and gents from Cornerstone who helped us staff and set-up the tent. Without them the entire event would have descended into chaos and confusion. You guys are amazing!