Not too long ago, on a bright, hot sunny Saturday, I went to a party at a friend of a friend’s place. This party promised to be a decent amount of fun, so I was looking forward to it. So when we got there, where was everyone on such a beautiful day?
Why inside playing Rock Band of course.
Anyway, at some point my group of pals were given a chance to play. I’d never played before, but I was interested to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, as we took our stations (I was on the drums), one of the guys said, “What song do you want to do?”. As we scrolled through the listings, I was confused and petrified.
Soundgarden…..Jet…..Queens of the Stone Age…..The Hives….Foo Fighters….The New Pornographers….
I had no fuggin’ idea who 90% of these bands were. I sat there numbly while the others debated between bands like Garbage and Boston, which was rather ironic, since when I think of “Boston” I think of “garbage” anyway.
But anyway, as I sat there and watched the screen flip from one rock band to another, I suddenly realized that Rock Band is like those culturally biased standardized tests that everyone talks about. You know, the ones were there are questions on there that people argue handicap minority test-takers because the questions aren’t grounded in anything in a reality you’re familiar with.
For example, I remember the following from when I took the SAT:
SAT Question #65
Recently, a family, the Jacksons, moved two doors down from your house. Over dinner, your father slams the table and says, “great, now we’ve got lower property value and we’ve got Shaquille O’Puff Daddy practically living next door”. As your mother attempts to calm him with some Yo Yo Ma and his favorite pair of Tevas, your father calls up his ‘drinking buddies’, hangs up the phone and ask you to, ‘grab all the bed sheets in the house–the white ones’.
What’s the best answer to this question?
b. “Keep’em separate, keep’em pure!”
c. insufficient information; no solution possible
d. x= -21
That’s what it’s like playing Rock Band. It’s like the very songs themselves are in a different language. I mean, I couldn’t keep up; I felt like an ESL kid in an AP English class.
The game is deceptively simple too: you see blue on the screen? Hit blue on your instrument. Repeat steps with corresponding colors.
Sounds really easy, but within the span of 15 seconds, I went from the cool, unaffected posture of ?uestlove to the manic, belligerent motions of Animal, from the Muppets. I started hitting shit during breaks in the song when no one was playing. I was feverish, hot and sweaty; it was like the time that an ex told me the only two words scarier than Rock Band: “it broke” (I wanted to break some shit then too).
Thanks to Enter the Sandman, I had already done an about-face on my perspectives of race in America via my new-found hatred for Rock Band. As the song neared the middle mark, I had mentally signed up for the Black Panthers.
I looked around the room in a stupor, when a girl came over and took the drumsticks from me in mid-song. Granted, at this point I couldn’t have played worse if I was using my junk for drumsticks, but it still hurt. The delicate way she took the drumsticks from me was like when you see people take things from old people so they don’t hurt themselves.
“Don’t worry Pop-Pop; let me mow the lawn. Why don’t you go inside and lick some stamps for awhile, k?”
I was, out of sheer manhood, stubborn about giving in to such a stupid game. Plus, in my fury, desperation and concentration to get the music right, I’d peed on the stool I was sitting on.
But still: no Roots? No Prince? Sheila-E’s drumming was the stuff of my childhood. Maybe they should make a Rap Band video game. It could be like karaoke. I’d kill to see the same group of people do “A Mili”.
Hm, actually, maybe I’d just kill someone.
Oh, and the answer’s “a”.