Harmonix is located in the heart of Central Square, Cambridge, a vibrant epicenter of activity. In the span of one block you can walk past an Indian restaurant, a Center for Marxist Education, a Goodwill Store, a dance studio, an awesome record store, a sex shop, an Italian tailor, a check cashing place, a dance club and a famous greasy pizza place. There’s never a dull moment here, and I’ve always enjoyed our location being where it is (not to mention that I have a 2 minute walk commute to work here).
Another benefit of our location is proximity to a Boston comedy landmark, ImprovBoston. ImprovBoston has been in operation since 1982, putting on nightly shows in Improv, Sketch, and Standup comedy. A number of our employees go to ImprovBoston weekly on our Tuesday lunch break to do an hour of improv on their stage. I’ve performed in many shows in the theatre myself, so I was extremely excited to help get the ball rolling with their new monthly Rock Band Night. To use the best word in corporate speak, it seemed like perfect SYNERGY for us and the theatre.
The organizer of the event at IB, Hannah, asked that we come and judge the bands. We were more than happy to oblige, so HMXHenry, HMXJohnD, HMXCasey, and myself headed over to the theatre to be judgmental jerkfaces. Unlike more serious Rock Band nights that we’ve been a part of, this was purely for fun. The theatre even had a number of its costumes out on hangers for bands to wear as they played.
With the theatre around the corner from our offices, and right next to Harmonix’s favorite bar, The Field, it wasn’t hard to get coworkers on board with showing up at the event. I know what you’re thinking: “Not fair! Harmonix bands would be ringers!” Well, those who were at the event know that this simply wasn’t the case. Senior Sound Designer Izzy Maxwell (seen below) led a band in what will probably go down as the worst performance of Everlong of all time. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but No Fail mode was on, so the suffering lasted for the entire song’s length.
The night was rolling along pretty nicely, but things really got kicked up a notch when a band of rabid Rock Band fans took the stage. Their singer, a lady in a smock of some sort, took the opportunity while the rest of the band got ready to tell HMXJohnD that he looked really familiar to her. She asked him “Didn’t I meet you 10 months ago?” and as HMXJohnD was responding “What are you talking about?” she ripped off the smock to reveal she was majorly pregnant. Hilarious, and really fit the tone and location of the event.
The band brought the house down, with the singer even playing tambourine on her giant pregnant belly. They went on to take the first place prize for the night, which I think consisted of something like the Robert Townsend classic “Meteor Man” on VHS and a pack of gum. They aren’t in it for the money, princess. They’re in it for the revolution, and for you.
Part of the billing on this particular Rock Band Night was to be an official Q&A with Harmonix people (us, the judges) in between songs. The majority of them went like this:
“Hey tell us secrets about The Beatles game!!”
To which we would reply:
“The Beatles game is awesome and fun and you should buy it when it comes out on 09.09.09.”
Between starting this article and finishing it, we’ve actually had our second Rock Band Night at ImprovBoston, and the crowd was even bigger and more boisterous than the previous month. A personal highlight for me was when the judges played the final song of the night, I fell off a 3 foot riser in the backstage area of the theater while horsing off on guitar. It wasn’t my most graceful moment, but the audience seemed to enjoy seeing the judge eat it after a night of being a jerk.
Big, fun things are already in the works for next month’s Rock Band Night at ImprovBoston. If you are in the Boston area and enjoy such things, mark the 3rd Thursday of every month on your calendar and meet us at the theatre!