Ordinarily, we're not hard-core
video gamers: Joni and the kids have some games they like to run on our
PC, and we have one of those game consoles that you plug into your TV and
it runs Ms. Pac-Man
and Galaga and old-school
games like that. But otherwise, we can pretty much take or leave video
But then our neighbors, the Beckers,
introduced us to "Rock
Band." It's a video game where up to four people form a virtual rock
band and use game controllers that look like instruments to "play" music
together. We're hooked. Absolutely hooked. And we're not the only ones:
our other neighbors, the Harkemas, are too. We get together and play 'til
all hours of the night, taking turns on the instruments. Because we usually
play on Fridays, I call our little jam sessions "Friday Night Videos,"
in homage to that TV
show from the early '80s (remember that?).
"Rock Band" has a good range of music:
classic stuff from Aerosmith
and the Stones
and KISS; 80's
bands like Bon Jovi
and Metallica and
The Police; and more
recent stuff like Weezer
and Oasis and
Another nice thing is that each player can set his own difficulty level,
so kids and beginners can play, too. Kickin' tunes, easy to play, and family
fun--what more can you ask for?
Click on each thumbnail to see a
Beth, Nathan Becker, Jade Harkema,
and her dad, Mike, jamming out; Joni and Ally prefer to sing; me on "guitar"
Ally likes to drum, but she recently
fell and broke her arm, so she's strictly on vocals for the time being
Colored lights on the screen tell
you what "notes" to "play"; Beth's wearing one of my
Plant concert shirts, from the "Now
and Zen" tour in 1988
Mike is an excellent "guitar" player,
and Jade is an awesome drummer. Nate really
gets into singing, but his brother
Dylan (on the couch) is not always into it
Andy Becker on "guitar" and Joni
on "drums;" Joni's a good drummer and an even better singer
For this get-together, I dug out
Row concert shirt from the 1991 "Slave
to the Grind" tour
Jade: the little drummer girl who
head-bangs like a grown-up. Beth likes to sing newer stuff, like
It Ain't So" and "When
You Were Young" and "Maps"
You Gonna Be My Girl?"
Andy can play drums for real, so
he kills on "Rock Band." He often lets the younger kids,
like his son Dylan
or our daughter Ally, sit on his
lap and help him drum. "Drums" are the hardest "instrument" to play.
Mike likes to play songs--like "Enter
Sandman" and "Train
Kept A' Rollin" with really hard "guitar" parts.
As I said, he's really good. So
good, I think his nickname should be "Van
I like to play "guitar" or sing
older songs. Some of our favorites are "Black
Hole Sun" (by Soundgarden),
City" (David Bowie),
(the Ramones), "Should
I Stay or Should I Go?"
Hot Chili Peppers), and "Here
it Goes Again" (OK Go)...
Rock City" (KISS), "Highway
Star" (Deep Purple),
I'm Paranoid" (by Garbage)
to Fly" (The Foo
Fighters). Andy loves anything by The Police, and Mike loves
Dead or Alive," by Bon Jovi. If you ever get a chance to play "Rock
Band," go for it!
It's a tremendous amount of fun!
Posted April 2008