See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's slideshows, “E3 2011: Day 1” and “E3 2011: Day 2,” and read more about Video Games Live in Liz Ohanesian's post, “Video Games Live: The E3 Event That's Open to the Public.”
Video Games Live, which performed its 200th show at Nokia Theatre last night as part of this year's E3 event, might sound like a gimmick. In a way, it is. The premise of the show is to combine video game music with a full orchestra and make it interactive. But video game composer Tommy Tallarico's tribute to the music that helped get us hooked on so many games is one of the most relevant musical experiences you can find.
That Video Games Live has struck a chord with audiences across the world is a testament to the popularity of gaming. Last night, the audience screams signified which games had the biggest followings. Mention Resident Evil and the crowd goes wild. But, the show's knack for capturing the attention of concert-goers goes beyond its inclusion of extremely popular franchises. Video Games Live hits on one touchstone of Internet culture after the next, bringing it all into the live setting. They even have top 10 lists (“Top 10 Worst Video Game Voiceovers,” which had the crowd rofl).
Take mash-ups for example. Certainly, you've seen a few fan-made videos that combined a popular song with movie, TV or game footage. You've probably also heard one song composed of the vocal track of one hit single, and the instrumental of another. In the hands of Video Games Live, the mash-up becomes a series of what-if video game scenarios that play on a screen in between musical pieces, like “Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Pac-Man” and “Grand Theft Auto vs. Frogger.”
Some of Video Game Live's brightest stars first came under the spotlight via video sharing sites. At the end of last night's show, Tallarico mentioned that YouTube was where they first spotted vocalist and flutist Laura Intravia. Now a member of the group, Intravia is well-known for her performances as “Flute Link.” Yes, as in the hero of The Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile, Martin Leung, the company's solo pianist who performed a rousing, recently published version of the Zelda theme “in the style of Chopin,” is the Video Game Pianist whose blindfolded rendition of Super Mario Bros. music went viral.
Video Games Live is doing what legions of fans have been doing for years at conventions and online. They're taking beloved characters, putting their own twist on it and turning it into something new. They're just doing it on a much grander scale than a group of teenagers at a convention masquerade. What makes Video Games Live so amazing, though, is that they accomplish this by including people who have a background in these DIY fan projects. That Castlevania composer Kinuyo Yamishita can perform her own music on the same stage as local Mega Man tribute band, The Megas, is a stroke of genius. We were happy to simply witness it.