So, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith dropped this weekend in North America. What does that have to do with me getting completely smashed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and totally hitting on Steve Tyler?
Hit the jump for the full adventure.
The picture you see at the top of this post is the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square here in New York City, where I headed Friday evening to attend Activision's launch event for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Media check-in was a couple hours prior to when the event was slated to start; Aerosmith themselves were to give a press conference, so security was tight. While I waited outside, I saw lots of tourists lining up hopefully around a large bus which they assumed belonged to the band.
Alas, it was merely a mortal tour bus; when its doors opened, the crowd began to scream and ready their cameras, but the only person to emerge was a uniformed driver vaguely bewildered by all of the attention.
At about 2:30 PM, I was allowed in alongside an unjustly panicked swarm of mainstream television reporters - the band's press conference wasn't scheduled until 4:00 - who hit me with their large camera equipment, stepped on my toes and yelled at the door staff. Me, I calmly meandered in to the huge fancy bar area around the stage.
Stations with the game were set up all around the inside of the cafe - all PS3s, if anyone's keeping score. I'm a pretty competent fake guitarist - no Expert, mind you, but pretty solid on Hard, so I confess I was excited to show off, amid bewildered media and VIP who needed Activision reps to explain to them what the colours were all for.
It was not to be. I've got an old wired controller at home, and these were all the Gibson-style wireless. The buttons were just different to me, and I'm not sure whether I didn't need to press so hard or wasn't pressing hard enough, but I was always about one second behind the note. I played poorly and petulantly blamed the controller - but come on, it makes a difference, right? Am I crazy?
After playing for about fifteen minutes, I still had about an hour left before Aerosmith was slated to take the stage. Time to kill plus open bar equals I drank a lot of margaritas, drowning the sorrow of my Guitar Hero failure. Oh, suddenly I was having a super fun time, socializing with just about everybody.
I happened to meet some Sony merchandising managers - ah, that was why it was all PS3s there - and we all hit it off. Turns out they had special "Meet and Greet" passes to visit with the band, and they let me come with them to a special area where several folks with similar passes would have the chance to meet Aerosmith. No autographs, warned high-strung staffers.
I'm not a particularly huge Aerosmith fan, but it was still super cool to see a band that huge walk right by me. By this point, the margaritas were catching up to me, so I was especially excited when it was my turn to come up and meet them.
I ended up drunkenly flirting at Joe Perry, hanging on Steven Tyler and putting my business card in his pocket. I have no regrets.
After the meet and greet, Aerosmith took the stage following some big screen trailers of themselves in-game, while the crowd packed into the restaurant just went wild. Thoroughly sauced, I shouted so loudly that the lady standing next to me warned me not to ruin the sound bites.
The band held an informal Q & A with the crowd, talking about the experience of building the game, both "amazing" (getting back some old memories) and "annoying" (wearing the mocap suits). Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Joe Perry noted that he "pretty much sucks" at Guitar Hero.
Just about all the band's members said their kids were fans of video games in general, and that they'd bonded over the fact that Dad is now in Guitar Hero - as if it were a bigger deal to the band's kids to see their fathers in a video game than have their fathers be Aerosmith.
I swear this is an actual picture of the band on stage, but this is as close as the staff would let me get, seeing as I lacked proper huge equipment for injuring, jostling or photographing.
The success of music games, said Tyler, is "showing the way the music business is going". The band discussed how important Guitar Hero and its ilk have been to artists like themselves who are searching for ways to stay relevant to a new, younger audience.
Video games are to musicians now, said Perry, "as important as albums used to be".
I know they said a lot of other stuff - like the game's musical parts being based on real multi-track recording, that Tyler's favourite song of theirs in the game is "No Surprize", and that being mocapped for Guitar Hero reminded the band of being on The Simpsons - but honestly, my notes on the press conference degenerate into loopy sauce-scrawl from there, and so does my memory.
Lurching through Times Square in the back of a cab while the scenery swam in my frame of vision put me quite firmly in mind of GTA IV - in case you've never ridden through New York City completely wrecked in the back of a yellow cab, yes, it is exactly like that.
I had one of those three-day hangovers, but it was all worth it. I'm still waiting for Aerosmith to call me, by the way.