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Monday, June 7, 2010

Five Real Venues That Would Rule in Rock Band

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Just like Billie Joe Armstrong -- who says he "sucks" at playing Green Day's new Rock Band game -- we get pwned every time we try to tinker with fake plastic guitars or toy drum kits. But, watching this preview for the East Pay pop-punkers' name-brand video game, we kinda dug catching (albeit brief) glimpses of the exotic architecture inside Oakland's Fox Theater:

This got us thinking: While the Fox is undeniably historic and swanky, a number of other Bay Area rock venues deserve digital immortality as much as it does. So here's a by-no-means-complete list of five local venues that we'd love to pretend to play while actually just sucking at a video game:

The Fillmore: Duh. When the Grateful Dead game -- or any '60s American Rock Band iteration -- gets made, this better be on it. Jimi Hendrix may be slightly more identified with New York's now-defunct Fillmore East (legendary shows there provided material for Band of Gypsys and Live at the Fillmore East), but maybe when his Rock Band game comes out this year, we'll see the chandeliers and balconies of this magical S.F. ballroom in it. If not, we guess they could wait for the Jerry Garcia edition ... but only if they add like 10 more buttons to the tiny Rock Band guitars.

The Fillmore
  • The Fillmore

Berkeley's Greek Theatre: This outdoor hillside amphitheater seems to elicit performances as surreal as its surroundings. So what better venue for a video game? We can almost see the sun setting behind a CGI San Francisco Bay already. Throw in some digital $10 chardonnay and all you'd need to match the real experience is the stiffness of a butt that's been sitting for three hours on cold-ass concrete.

Surreal sunset at Berkeley's Greek Theatre
  • Surreal sunset at Berkeley's Greek Theatre

Bottom of the Hill: Maybe for the inevitable "indie" Rock Band game? This Potrero Hill club has incubated a thousand up-and-coming artists, some that are now world famous and some that are utterly (and thankfully) forgotten. One of them (besides Green Day) is bound to have their own video game someday. Also, the kooky architectural adornments inside (what's with the teetering skyline? Why are there roof tiles hanging off the interior wall? And whose idea was a window directly behind the stage?) already seem like they came out of some stoner game designer's head.

Great American Music Hall: Born as a bordello, legitimized as a dance hall, changed into a jazz club and then revived, after years of neglect, as a rock venue that's now among the city's finest -- this place deserves a video game of its own. Think of the time-warping digital possibilities, like a Rock Band-meets-Red-Dead-Redemption game: Wyatt Earp gettin' down at a Fuck Buttons show. Local psych-rockers Thee Oh Sees recast as a gang of dapper, prohibition-era gangsters. (We shudder to think what John Dwyer would do with a tommy gun.) Just make sure you game designers get the Rococo balconies and marble columns right.

Dancing in the fog at Golden Gate Park - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Dancing in the fog at Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park: You can't render the stink of primo ganja or the sting of a frigid summer wind on the Xbox -- yet -- but good 'ol Speedway Meadow and a smattering of other spots in San Francisco's flagship park rank up there with the finest indoor stages. Advice to designers: you can't have too much fog, wind, or pot smoke. And make sure the video game's sound is severely scatterblown, to match reality. Call it an easy level in the game, and as long as the singer hits every fourth or fifth note OK, the baked audience should still applaud. Oh, and there'd have to be bonus points every time some Richmond District resident calls the cops to complain about the racket.

OK, those are our wacky ideas. What local venues would you wanna rule in Rock Band? And which bands should play there?

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Ian S. Port


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