DM's birthday was last month, and we were surprised a few weeks early with a trio of tickets to a concert in his hometown. It wasn't just any concert, though. It's a show I only vaguely knew about called Video Games Live, and it's almost exactly what it sounds like. Local orchestras team up with two top video game composers (Tommy Tallarico [host] and Wataru Hokoyama [conductor] for our show) and play several mind-blowing hours of classic video game music accented by game footage and lighting.
VGL started in 2005 and has expanded to anywhere between 50 and 70 shows a year in countless cities, and they're all performed with the local orchestra and for the first time this year, they came to our state. According to Tommy, our show was lucky enough to have over 110 performers on stage at once, and it was utterly stunning! They performed pieces from everything: A highlight reel of old classics to start, followed up with Metal Gear Solid, Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy 7, Halo, World of Warcraft, Kingdom Hearts, a beautiful-looking game called Afrika that was composed by the conductor, and they finished up with Castlevania and Chrono Trigger/Cross. I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two.
Along with the standard music, they had several extras. Before the show, apparently, there was a cosplay contest and it was won by a VERY deserving costume I'll describe later. Martin Leung, a young pianist famed for playing the Mario theme blindfolded serenaded us with a Final Fantasy 7 medley and a repeat of his blind Mario performance. Two people got the chance to win prizes by playing games on stage while the orchestra performed (one played Space Invaders, another played Expert mode of Sweet Emotion on Guitar Hero. He was only asked to play Hard - he upped the ante himself.) There was a video of the first ever video game being played and a live Skype interview with the inventor of the game. There were also cute little videos of video game mix-ups (What if Sonic were the main character of Pac-Man, or GTA played like Frogger?) and top 10 lists (we saw Top 10 worst video game voice acting and Top 10 worst video game names. Apparently there's a Korean dictionary game for the DS they decided to call, in America, Touch DIC. Bravo, translators.) All together, it made for a completely amazing time! They encourage getting involved and rooting for your favorite games - by the end of the night I could swear I wasn't going to have a voice in the morning!
After the show, there was a Meet & Greet with Martin Leung, Tommy Tallarico and Wataru Hokoyama in the auditorium's lobby. We decided to get swag first before getting in line, and having waited to come out of the theater itself, we were near the back of the line. I decided to people watch and see if I could spot some of the cosplayers. There was a Riku (FFX) running about getting pictures, and after several minutes, I spotted on the other end of the lobby a giant Sackboy costume running around giving hugs and getting pictures. I just assumed he was someone with the show as he was acting like a professional mascot.
After we finally got our things, we hopped into the M&G line. Most people had already left, but the line was still decently long. The three of us chatted amongst ourselves for a minute before I turned around to see how many people had lined up behind us. And not 5 feet behind me was Sackboy, standing a good 8 to 9 feet tall. Let me tell you, that's not something that you want to see directly behind you. We struck up a conversation, though, and spent the entire time in line talking with him and his girlfriend. The costume was made primarily of foam and burlap, was impossible to take off without help, his head was level with the costume's mouth, and it had taken several weeks to make. Also, they had a second at home for her. Simply stunning. We five stayed at the end of the line and happily got our autographs, a little chat with the group, and watched as all three signed the Sackboy costume. We all left the concert with good music, good memories, and new friends.
If you're a fan of video games and video game music, check out Video Games Live. It was seriously one of the best concert experiences I've ever had, and if they come back again next year, you can bet you'll see us there. If you can't go to the live concert, they also sell CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays of their shows so you can enjoy it again and again from the privacy of your own home. But seriously, if you have the option and the ability, go see it live. You will not regret it.