Rock Band … For Jesus?

I speak, of course, of XBox Rock Band, which I played for the first time tonight. Our group had a four-piece combo … drums, bass, lead guitar, and vocalist. My inner music snob made me reflexively skeptical of the game at first, and if you’re not a metal or hard rock fan, it’s easy to scoff because the game is pretty clearly aimed right at those guys in high school who greeted each other with the three-fingered metal horns and Gene Simmons face in the hall and wore morose t-shirts. That, and for people with any experience actually performing real music, the game simulates the feel of live performance sufficient to inspire a kind of stage fright.

But as it turns, I had a blast playing the game because 1)it lets you feel like you’re actively involved in the difficult task of quasi-making music; 2) at the same time the game pretty quickly takes your mind off music since the challenges that Rock Band presents you with are not inherently musical, except for the drummer role, which does somewhat play to the strength of naturally rhythmic people (the vocalist role also rewards experienced singers, but bad singers can do well, too, since the game measures vocal “skill” in a way that almost entirely leeches out all need for pitch control and instead appears to award points for voice – as opposed to pitch - control); and 3)most people just aren’t that musically inclined, so in your average group of people, the musically experienced start out with an advantage in confidence, even when the random song selector pops up Faith No More, “Epic,”and yours truly had just drawn the “SING” role from the hat. Oh my.

Anyway, if there isn’t a country version of this game, there oughta be and I imagine soon will be. Kick it off, Witchutawh. And a CCM version would be huge with the youth group set, you’d think. And though it won’t ever happen, I did imagine at several times tonight getting my sg friends together and “performing” our favorites on Gospel Rock Band. The simulated crowd on screen would say Amen and Praise Jay Suss and throw babies from the balcony (if we were doing well) or, if we’re doing badly, stage whisper to one another about how “it’s too loud!”, put a dollar in the plate, and make for the aisles in the middle of the song.

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  1. DRL wrote:

    “sg” and “band” in the same sentence? What’s wrong with this picture? A big hit with the sg crowd all righty … you play drums, I’ll play guitar. Fat Chance! As they used to sing … everybody wants to be the lead singer in the “band”, and if a real band gets in the way of my ego … Goodbye, you are the weakest link!

  2. Kyle wrote:

    I can see it now….a CGI Jim Hammill turning to the band, “Kick off that ‘Gloryroad’!” Singer gets points on how loud they can squeel, and instead of “Star power,” you get points for the number of “Hallelujah’s” you can fit in one line.

    The big problem, though….there is no piano in Rock Band!!!!

  3. mp3guy wrote:

    “Epic”?? I would have paid at least a dollar to see/hear that

  4. Revpaul wrote:

    Doug, you’ve got way too much time on your hands! ;)

  5. DrummingDrew wrote:

    I agree! I have played the game (ummm it was my nephews) and I loved the idea of it. However, I don’t know alot of the songs. My wife bought the American Idol game for the Nintendo Wii and it is like a karaoke with judges comments. That would be more like today’s gospel music. I wish that there was an SG version of the game, then maybe I could finally beat my wife in a game.

  6. cdguy wrote:

    A couple of weeks ago, at the International Christian Retailers Show (a trade show for Christian book & music stores) a couple of companies were showing a CCM version of an American Idol-type game. S/G Idol must be just around the corner.

  7. Aaron Swain wrote:

    According to some people, the way SG is today, you wouldn’t need to play the game with instruments; you’d just score points by singing and hitting the right buttons on the track machine. Bonus points for every encore.

  8. Butch wrote:

    Bingo Mr. Swain! Mr. Unthank tried to make a case that sg needs more entertainment and not a live band to make a comeback. It was the lamest attempt yet to justify tracks vs. live band. I love watching a good drummer; it is very entertaining

  9. Larry S wrote:

    Whereas on Guitar Hero it proclaims, “YOU ROCK!” if you’ve done well, what would the SG version declare? “YOU’RE ANOINTED!” That’s what SG needs - MORE encouragement (fuel for wishful thinking) to press on for those with no talent… I think the boss battles could be awesome - an instrumental battle vs the Anthony Burger-led Kingsmen band? “Just Over In The Gloryland” anyone?

  10. quartet-man wrote:

    Well, if we are going to get into the band versus tracks thing…. :)

    Under the right circumstances I love a band more than tracks. Some of my favorite stuff of the Oaks or Stamps of the late sixties and early seventies are their live stuff. They often beat the studio versions hands down. Many of the Cathedrals stuff from their live performances the same. A band has something to do with it of course.

    By the same token, tell the Cathedrals they were not entertaining or inspirational when they sang Champion Of Love. Tell the same to the Gaiither Vocal Band doing Let Freedom Ring. These are just two examples of not only moving performances without tracks, but songs that needed tracks. Sure, it would be cool to have had live instruments of all the instruments on these recordings, but that isn’t feasible with the possible exception of doing a video recording perhaps.

    With that said, I would prefer both. The Cathedrals had it about right. I do miss the band with Gold City, but they are still entertaining. I do often feel it was silly that Gaither had such a good band in the video shoots, but only used them for window dressing a lot of the time. So, although a band adds and is desirable, a group CAN do well without them. Maybe not as well at times, but it can be done.

  11. Kyle wrote:

    Butch, that’s a whole ‘nuther post….as tempting as it is to do so, I’m gonna avoid hashing it out here.

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