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Video Games Live, Houston 2009 Concerts
Author: Michael Ahlf 
Date: August 17th 2009

For the fourth year in a row, Tommy Tallarico, Jack Wall, and the rest of the Video Games Live tour hit Houston, Texas and delivered a stellar performance. This year's event was much bigger than last year's - in fact, so big that it will shortly be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest live performance of video game music, ever.

Instead of a single performance, fans were treated to a triple delight. First up was the trappings: a mini-convention dubbed "Gamer MusiCon", featuring free-play video games and competitions (including the ever-popular Guitar Hero competition). Then came the day's first concert, a new event dubbed "Blizzard Live", rolling up an immense amount of music from the various Blizzard franchises (Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Warcraft) and visits and guest performances by a number of the Blizzard staff who make the games and, particularly, the music a reality. Highlights included the Wrath of the Lich King expansion's title music, a Diablo suite, Martin Leung performing a piano medley of World of Warcraft themes, and a medley of the "best" of the World of Warcraft zone background music, not to mention music from the upcoming Starcraft II.

Between the performances came a pair of panels, the first focusing on the behind-the-scenes scoop on what it takes for video game music and in-game cinematics to be created, and the second on the Video Games Live tour itself. Brilliant questions from the audience, and equally wonderful questions from the panelists, made these something that weren't to be missed. Tommy Tallarico gave an amazing and thoughtful answer on the subject of how things have changed over the years - from the 4-bit and 8-bit NES days, when programmers got three monophonic tones, a square-wave generator to create "noise" and simulate bass-beats, and 45 looping seconds into which to insert a memorable theme, to today when the process can take months and involve multiple people before eventually winding up with a real symphony for a recording session.

Right before the second, more "classic", Video Games Live concert, fans were treated to this year's costume contest, once again hosted by Rod Ryan of Houston radio station 94.5 The Buzz. Congratulations to everyone who participated, winners or not - it was evident that people had really spent a lot of time getting their costumes ready.

Of course, a Video Games Live concert has its standby pieces that have to be performed, and this year was no exception. Returning favorites included the Classic Arcade Medley, Space Invaders interactive event, Kingdom Hearts, One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII featuring a fantastic video montage of FF7 cosplay photos, Castlevania Rock, Martin Leung's stellar performances of Final Fantasy and Super Mario Bros music, Halo/Halo 3, and the Super Mario Bros medley itself. Adding to the list, and enhancing the event, were the often-requested and finally-heard Mega Man medley, Mass Effect, Metroid medley, and bringing the house down at the end, a medley of the music from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, along with a mass-audience, a capela singalong of the Super Mario Bros theme.

If you haven't managed to get to a Video Games Live concert yet, what are you waiting for?

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Video Games Live 2009


Added:  Monday, August 17, 2009
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

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