While things have quieted down a little bit around here, the community team is not entering winter hibernation. In fact, though we’ve taken a little bit of a break from the road, we’re still busy as ever.
A break doesn’t mean we’ve given up travel entirely though. In fact in the past few weeks we’ve been jaunting all over the country in support of our games, the Rock Band community, and killer events and charities like Child’s Play.
So, where have we been?
DENVER (November 19)
Most recently, HMXVeng and I hopped a plane to Denver for the night to rock out with the crew from Kotaku.com as they raised money for Child’s Play. Though we were only there for one night, Denver put on quite a show – not only was the crowd as rowdy (and occasionally rowdier) than our regular crew here on the East Coast, we witnessed our first ever Rock Band night STAGE DIVES!! And not just one, not two, but at least three full on jump off the stage and smash your friends’ faces stage dives. We also got to meet up with some of very excellent forum goers and fans (like YRDaddy, bse523, ImBillPardy, and kazlam). Our new forum buddy StageBeans even regaled us with a very cool story about how playing our little games lead to his first foray into gainful employment.
Overall the night was a huge success. Master of ceremonies Brian Crecente and his right hand man Adam ran a seamless event that not only flowed well but was a TON of fun and raised a lot of money (over $6,500!) for a great charity.* If you’d like to know more about the event, and see some photos of the onstage craziness, head over to Kotaku.com
Thrasher & friend playing LEGO Rock Band
CHICAGO (November 10)
Here’s a fun fact, HMXHenry, HMXJohnD and I are all former Chi-town residents. (JohnD is actually a born and bred Chicagoan).** So you can bet your butts that when we have a chance to visit our former hometowns we’re game. Shortly after Halloween we had the chance to take a visit to hang out with some very cool families, play some The Beatles: Rock Band and LEGO Rock Band, and eat a hell of a lot of sausage.*** TheBestSteph was also along for the adventure and her first ever visit to this lovely midWestern hamlet.
We arrived in Chicago mid-morning and walked the long half block from our hotel to the event venue where we met up with JohnD and the rest of the event coordinators. Our pals Stone and Matthew from Microsoft were there to clue us in on the event setup and get us ready to rock.
Normally when the HMX Community crew heads out on the road for an event it’s a fun but stress-crazed tornado of setup, building, tech-troubleshooting, and all manner of other odds and ends. This time around it was Stone and Matthew running the show – easy-peasy for us. We got to show up, hang out, and rock with some of the cutest kids and fab families in the midwest. My first group of rockers featured a trio of young brothers and their mom on vox! They played two songs and got the LEGO Rock Band crowd warmed up. Soon after we had a steady stream of kids, tweens, and teens rotating in and out, setting up bands, and offering each other gameplay tips.
LEGO Rock Band!
While I was on the middle floor with LEGO, TheBestSteph and HMXHenry were on Beatles setups one floor up and one floor below. You could hear parents and kids alike harmonizing to “Here Comes the Sun” all over the venue.
Our favorite little performers of the night had to be a young lad, about age six, who came up to each setup with his little cousin, and sang his own version of all of our tunes regardless of game. Actually our little fan paid tribute to Michael Jackson by screaming the refrain from “Bad” over every Beatles and LEGO tune he tried out. (It was awesome, we raised his vocal volume). He and his cousin also played some very inventive, and collaborative drums utilizing LEGO Rock Band’s new “super easy” mode.
Overall we got to interact with about 75 families throughout the course of the night. In our typical HMX fashion we danced, rocked, and fed our little friends tons of soda prior to their departure.
MINNEAPOLIS (October 23)
As you may have heard from the podcast, HMXAlex and I also made a quick overnight stop in Minneapolis for the Be Excellent To Each Other fundraiser. The theme of this kickass event was “we rock, the kids win,” and the proceeds went to Child’s Play and Children of Minnesota.
The fabulous and talented Lisa Mason set up the event and played gracious hostess to both me and HMXAlex. The format of the event was a little bit different than most traditional Rock Band nights/fundraisers, but it worked out very nicely. While the crowd mingled and perused the Rock Band setlist a DJ records over the bar PA. Every half hour we’d do a Rock Band ‘set’ allowing bands to come up on stage, rock out, and play to the crowd on the 501 Club stage. Each set lasted 30-45 minutes and would be followed by another DJ set. This gave the event attendees time to mingle, make friends, check out the killer silent auction/raffle items for sale, and sample the delicious 501 Club fare.****
As the night wore on, HMXAlex and I were stoked to find that not only did our Twin Cities crowd pick a lot of our favorite “thisisridiculousletspartyandthrowthings” songs during their sets, but they were a generous lot as well. Every single raffle and auction item went by the end of the night – including three Rock Band 2 bundles (one for each platform).
By night’s end we’d jammed with the Minnesota Roller Girls, discovered coffee beer, and raised some money for a good cause while having fun. A solid night out indeed.
To find out where we’ve been, where we’re heading, and what’s up next for the Harmonix Community team keep posted here to RockBand.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @RockBand.
*I will credit at least $300 to a bidding war that HMXVeng got into with another gentleman over a Tekken 6 fight stick. If I hadn’t been savvy enough to leave my check book and credit cards at home I would have easily bid an obscene amount of money on the laser etched 8-Bit vineyards wine. If you missed the event but still want to give, visit: http://www.childsplaycharity.org/
**Other native Chicagoans include Kanye West and Al Capone, no relation to HMXJohnD.
***Except for me. I just had baked potatoes and salad. I don’t eat sausage.
****Homemade chili and sweet fries. Go, eat it, thank me later. Have a coffee beer too.