Video Games Live in Minneapolis

Last Weekend on April 10th, Video Games Live performed in Minneapolis for their first time. Video Games Live is headlined by seasoned video game music composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall who bring their compositions of popular video game franchises to your "local" orchestra and perform them.

This concert is meant to be a celebration of video games and game music. Tallarico and Wall said that their mission with Video Games Live was to show all generations the legitimacy of games and how they've changes our lives and culture. And it was a celebration. This concert attracted all flavors of game enthusiasts from children and families to hipsters to hardcore gamers to casual gamers and to nerds and geeks in general. There was a wide variety of cliques and cultures in the audience which is really proved their point. Video Games aren't for some niche demographic, they're for everyone to enjoy. It was neat to see everyone join together in harmony.

Here's the set list from the evening:

1. Intro
2. Metal Gear Solid
3. God of War
4. Space Invaders Demonstration
5. History of Video Games
6. Kingdom Hearts
7. Martin Leung performs "Final Fantasy"
8. The Legend of Zelda
9. World of Warcraft
10. Super Mario Brothers
11. Martin Leung performs "Super Mario Brothers" while blindfolded
12. Chrono Trigger / Chrono Cross
13. Guitar Hero "Van Halen - Jump"
14. Halo
1. One Winged Angel - Final Fantasy VII
2. Castlevania

Also, I recorded the whole thing since I chose seats with a perfect vantage point.  I wonder if they'll try to kill this...

Video Games Live v. Distant Worlds

Video Games Live is strikingly similar to another video game themed 'concert' I've been to before entitled Distant Worlds. Distant Worlds is a concert featuring music solely from Final Fantasy and created by primary Final Fantasy Composer Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu has been in charge of music in Final Fantasy since the beginning, and his concerts aren't really so much a celebration of Final Fantasy, but revisiting the music and compassion that made these games so memorable.

That's really the true division between Video Games Live and Distant Worlds. Video Games Live's music simply represents a game. Comparing Video Games Live and Distant Worlds is like comparing the question "Dude, do you remember Super Mario Brothers?" to the question "Do you remember how you felt when Yuna performed her dance for the souls of everyone in her camp?" (or whatever). Yeah yeah, Super Mario Brothers NES doesn't lend itself well for emotion memorable experiences, but VGL performs music from other games that are such as Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid. Their performances didn't really engage me with the same emotion and life as any Final Fantasy song performed at Distant Worlds.

I think the real difference boils down to Video Games Live simply being a cover band. That's not meant as an insult, but I think their songs are missing what made these games good and memorable to begin with. In some cases the most memorable parts of these games was not the music. Like World of Warcraft? Does that game even have music?  And in other cases where the games have a clear memorable melody, it's not best expressed with an orchestra. Like Guitar Hero with an Orchestra?! Halo? In both cases, Tallarico is using an electric guitar. Yeah, that fits in an orchestra setting. Though, their Castlevania song is pretty bitchin'

I think Distant Worlds is a much better performance because the songs are meant to capture and emphasize those emotional experiences, they same way any classic song should. And with the original composes, Nobou Uematsu, behind it all, he ensures that the essence of the song is in tact and more powerful.

Speaking of which...

Distant Worlds started back in 2008 and is still roaming the globe. I saw them on March 1st 2008 on their first visit to Chicago. They've already been back through there again. Probably because it sold out immediately the first time. They're coming through Chicago for a third time on August 1st, 2010 and tickets go on sale this Thursday. This time they're performing at Ravina, wherever that is.

Distant Worlds Link - Ravina Link