While at the Bagdad, awaiting KUFO’s screening of the amazing and brutal gangster film GoodFellas (if you haven’t seen it, why haven’t you?), I and others stood next to a black van and played with guitars, a drum and a microphone. In the van (open on the side facing the SE 37th Ave. sidewalk) was an XBox and a big-ass TV for playing Rock Band. Rock Band takes the play-along concept of the hugely popular Guitar Hero (a game plenty of you reading this are familiar with, but I’m writing this sentence for people who aren’t) and runs farther with it so that you can be part of a two-, three-, or four-piece band.
As I’ve never even played Guitar Hero, you won’t be surprised to know my guitar playing stank, but I so enjoyed stinking! On my second of two songs, I hobbled through Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” The Tour Crew from the Rock Band van helped me adjust to the game, but I ain’t no guitar player.
The more fun session was my first: I took the mic and sang “Dani, California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I affected some attempted quasi-Southern-Midwestern blended accent for the song (“Gettin’ born in the state of Mississippi/ Papa was a copper and Mama was a hippie…”) and got a three-minute lesson in how tough it can be to keep your voice consistent and interesting while singing. But I sang, and I had fun (woo hoo! Rock on!), managing not to get bothered by knowing that my voice was reverberating at least half a block away. (Later, KUFO’s “Fatboy” told me that he thought he heard me from inside the Bagdad, where he and Cort were broadcasting their show.) Clearly I need, and seem suited for, more karaoke experience. This is true with a side order of extra truth. *nods*
I hung out in and near the Bagdad for a few hours total before GoodFellas. I took a seat at a sidewalk table, still near the Rock Band van, and ate spicy mac-and-cheese with chicken, plus an iced coffee. I also air-drummed, especially when one team played “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” (And hey, did anyone choose “Wave of Mutilation” by The Pixies before I showed up? I’ll let myself believe so; it is on the menu…)
People started getting admitted to the near-600-seat theater ’round 10:30. Showtime approaching! I shook hands with a tired Rick Emerson, and mimed sending him “caffeinated waves” to help him wake up. I finally met Cort of The Cort and Fatboy Show. I paced, to use caffeine. I pissed, to get rid of caffeine (hmm; how is caffeine excreted?). And then the movie happened, with our movie-geek audience having a happy time cheering on the film’s ultra-violence. There was a lot of cheering, in fact, at moments you might not expect. It almost was subversive: Rock on! We can think like gangsters for two-and-a-half hours! It’s certainly seductive, the gangster life, until the savage beatings and gun deaths are happening to you…
Amazing film, to go all Movie Reviewer Guy here. I got chills when the piano exit from “Layla” started playing over the dead-bodies montage. One of Rogers Ebert’s marks of a great movie is, it exhilarates you, even if its content is as ugly as what GoodFellas has. And that’s what I felt: exhilarated. And it couldn’t have been just from the performance high, but if so, thanks, Rock Band!