Video Games Live

Video Games Live at Heinz Hall
Video Games Live at Heinz Hall

Sometimes, you find you need some culture.  Sometimes you can’t settle for something dry playing down in the cultural district that will just boil down to staring at the brass section recollecting on your glory days as a trombonist in pep band.

So this past week, Chachi reminded me of this Video Games Live coming to the Heinz Hall this weekend.  We snatched out tickets and headed down in our snazziest attire.  But, alas, we were duped.  Walking into Heinz Hall, you can’t be helped but to look around in awe at the architecture and chandeliers.  And the elves.  And wizards.  And Kratos from God of War.  (How did they let him in without a shirt on?  And how was that bus ride?)  We walked around a bit scoping HeinzPlazathe Guitar Hero competition and hung out in the Plaza with it’s large waterfall that I would see through the gates when I was a wee lad in college from my bus stop in front of it, wondering about the fancy people.  And here I was, standing in here next to a guy with a Nintendo controller for a belt buckle…

The show was amazing.  From our second level seats, we could see everything.  We were treated to videos before the show and during intermission of a Moonwalker tribute to the late Michael Jackson, Pac-Man chase through NYC, and more.  The Pittsburgh Symphony was backed by the Mendelssohn Choir, led by Jack Wall, who co-produced the show with Tommy Tallarico.   I’ve been a fan of Tallarico since the days of Electric Playground on G4 when I finally started getting it.  This guy has worked on some classics like MDK, Earthworm Jim, and Tony Hawk.  The set was accompanied by synced video and lights in a rock concert-style vibe.  The audience was encouraged to cheer for games and moments on screan and performed, as apposed to the usual fair at a classy joint like this.  We were treated to a Final Fantasy piano solo, as well as a performance of the popular blindfolded Mario by Martin Leung.  More medleys included Metal Gear, Civilization, Zelda, Mario Brothers, World of Warcraft, and even a retro retrospective that started the evening.  Twice we have some interesting interactive segments.  One girl played Space Invaders as the Symphony played along with the speed of the game.  The second saw the Guitar Hero contest winner playing Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” as the symphony, choir, and Tallarico on guitar played along.  The God of War and Halo sessions gave me chills.  The night ended with an encore performance including “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy 7 set to Cos Play (including plenty of asian girls.  Rawr) and Leung rejoining to do organ for Castlevania with the symphony.

This was a great celebration of what many of the geeks of this generation grew up with and the demonstration of video games as art instead of just violent toys.   (though when Tallarico mentioned that as his cause, one excited audience member yelled “kill ’em!” in response to the critics).  If this is coming to your town, it will be well worth the money to head out for the night to see this.

I think the Silent one put it best…

TheSilentNinja: Just got back from Video Games Live. The Silent Ninja approves. Would have been worth the $100 seats if I could afford them.

I put a small video together from our pre-show observations:

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