Video Games Live

Video Games Live LogoThose of us who play a lot of video games know the power that music brings to them.  We all have our favorite classic tunes, and we know the feeling of hearing a great piece of music while playing a game.  Personally I am a huge fan of game music, listening to soundtracks and remixes of soundtracks in my everyday life.

Video Games Live is a show designed to bring the joys of video game music to the greater public.  The show consists of an orchestra playing music from games while footage from the game plays on big screens, accompanied by a light show and sometimes stage antics.  It was founded by Tommy Tallarico, a video game composer and all around character. 

Last week I had the privilege of attending this show.  For those of you who are stalking me online, let's just get this out of the way:  I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the show was just outside the city on April 1st.  Now for those of you who listen to the podcast, you will know that myself and one of our other writers, Michael T, were planning on attending the show in February but it was canceled.  Although we're still not completely sure why, they rescheduled it at a different venue about six weeks later.

Also of interest is that this particular performance was being taped to produce a DVD and (wait for it...) a PBS special.  Yes indeed my friends, you'll be able to watch the very show of which I speak sometime in May (check your local listings).  Why they picked Louisiana to record this show, nobody truly knows.  The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is widely known (to those who know orchestras) but Louisiana isn't exactly a hub of gamer culture, although New Orleans more so than the rest of the state.

The show itself was quite fun, there was a cosplay competition which was won by a cute little kid dressed as Donkey Kong (the crowd voted with cheers).  A couple of special guests helped liven things up, including Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first video game console.  The old man was there and talked about his inspiration for it and they also had the console itself there and he played against a kid from the audience.  The game was kind of like Pong but actually offered more control, as you could move the paddle from left to right as well as up and down, and you could also curve the path of the ball when it left your paddle.  The best part was, the very first serve went straight through the opponent's paddle, eliciting comments from the host about buggy programming.

Another guest who was very popular with the crowd was Martin Leung, who acheived internet fame by playing a medley of Mario songs blindfolded.  This time, he played a medley from several Final Fantasy games, a Mario medley that he performed blindfolded, some Tetris music, and Castlevania.

I'm pretty sure Tommy Tallarico started doing the show because he wanted to be a rock star.  He played electric guitar along with several songs (including One Winged Angel) and he was sure enjoying himself.  He even got the bass violin player to rock with him.  At one point he introduced music from Advent Rising, a game that did not sell well, but he composed music for it so it got to be in the show.

The show was fun, and I'm sure the Louisiana Philharmonic has never played to such an enthusiastic crowd.  Even if you're not a fan of public broadcasting, you would do well to catch this performance when it comes around.

Here are some pics from the show.

Video Games Live Cosplay Competition
Here's the cosplayers on stage.  From left to right you can see Mario, Sora and Mickey, Link, Donkey Kong, Master Chief, Link, two original characters, Ken. The Cake and Companion Cube and a SNES controller.
Video Games Live Cosplay Competition
Here's a Little Sister, Yuna, Kairi, Squall, Ken, The Cake and Companion Cube, SNES, and SNES controller.
Video Games Live Martin Leung
Martin Leung
Video Games Live Encore
Everyone waving phones and humming the Mario Bros. theme.