A couple of weeks ago I picked up the Pat Benatar pack for Rock Band, mostly out of curiosity. Last night I played “Love Is a Battlefield” for the first time and found it to be a lot more fun than I was expecting. I suppose I hadn’t listened to what the guitar was doing in the background before.

I did 95% on sightread, which was good enough for 1,496th on the leaderboard.

It’s not the best Benatar on Rock Band, though; that honor goes to “Heartbreaker.”

My Rock Band activity page is here, by the way. I really wish Harmonix provided RSS feeds or another way to ingest this information elsewhere. I turned on the Facebook integration today, but I prefer to bring this stuff into my own site where I can control it.

Last month, I gathered in Seaside, Florida with my Automattic colleagues for the company yearly meetup, which ended up being a week of awesome working together, fun, and a lot of getting to know my coworkers even better still. I love working with a distributed company, but it’s amazing the different things you learn and pick up on when you are in the same place as the people you work with every day.

(Who, by the way, are the very fine people you see in the image above.)

On the final night, we of course gathered as many of us as possible into one location, which very much crowded one of the houses we were staying in—having been christened earlier that week as the VaultPress Discotheque. Naturally, this was accompanied by much music, starting at first with some sweet beats and moving at one point in the evening into classic rock and awesome impromptu-karaoke tracks for everyone to enjoy.

It was a during that part that I took over for the music selection and dare I say we continued to rock the night.

A few people have since asked me what the list was that I worked from, and here’s what iTunes says was played to round out the evening:

Title Artist Album
Just What I Needed The Cars The Cars
Never Gonna Give You Up Rick Astley Whenever You Need Somebody
Blue Monday (’88) New Order (The Best Of) New Order
More Than a Feeling Boston Boston
Alex Chilton (LP Version) The Replacements Pleased to Meet Me
Message in a Bottle The Police Regatta de Blanc
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen A Night at the Opera
Baba O’Riley The Who Who’s Next
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) The Proclaimers The Best of The Proclaimers
Go Your Own Way Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Africa Toto The Essential Toto
Shout Tears for Fears Shout – The Very Best of Tears for Fears
Brian Wilson Barenaked Ladies Gordon
Stand R.E.M. Green
Sledgehammer Peter Gabriel So
Thriller Michael Jackson Thriller
Canned Heat Jamiroquai Synkronized
Simply Irresistible Robert Palmer Heavy Nova
Wanted Dead or Alive Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet
Next to You The Police Outlandos D’Amour
Who Are You (Single Edit Version) The Who My Generation: The Very Best of The Who
Any Way You Want It Journey Journey – Greatest Hits
Back in the USSR The Beatles The Beatles
Unbelievable EMF Schubert Dip
To Be with You Mr. Big Lean into It
Free Fallin’ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Anthology – Through the Years

Anything required you think I missed? Feel free to add tracks you think should have been in here, or vehemently disagree with musical selection or taste.

In a future entry, you’ll hear the story of how a video game brought me to respect and understand the classics of rock—and how you can get started playing it, too.

Really, the main focus of Rock Band 3 development was finding new ways to experience the music and actually doubling down, if you will, on our investment in compelling game play.

“We are adding a new instrument (a 25-key, fully functioning MIDI keyboard) and we’re adding a whole new mode, which is designed basically to answer that staleness factor.”

The result, he says, is “an experience that is both accessible to players who are just getting into this thing, and builds something for the hard-core player who is maybe a little bored with where music games are.”

This is one of the weirdest places I can think of for this news to be broken, but this has me so re-excited about music games. Stuff to look out for:

  • Drop-in, drop-out game play, change instruments or difficulty levels without having to back out to a menu.
  • A way to filter the songs in your library (which is getting huge in the Markel household).
  • Three-part harmonies.
  • 25-key keyboard instrument added.
  • Pro mode, with new guitar controllers with actual strings, drums where the cymbals are different hits than the drum pads, and two-octave keyboard tracks.

That screaming sound you heard was my wallet, begging for mercy.

(via ‘Rock Band 3’: What’s new, what’s notable – USATODAY.com.)

Let’s talk about Rock Band for a second.

With these games, my passion runs pretty deep. I probably get in a good session every week, grabbing my plastic guitar or drum kit, finding some music to fit the mood, and playing along. It’s great fun and quite challenging.

It costs a little bit of money, but what hobby doesn’t? I’ve picked up a couple of guitars over time. I’ve bought a very nice drum kit to go with it. I’ve spent a good amount on songs to build the library. I’ve become pretty decent at the game, at least on guitar.

Nothing prepared me (or for that matter, my wife) for the Rock Band Stage Kit.

You can picture this in your mind. It’s evening. You’re having a good time pretending to be a completely awesome guitarist. You think to yourself, “Nothing is missing here. This is the experience. I’m playing the music.”

This is fine.

Now take that feeling and add an LED light pod, a fog machine, and a strobe light.

Of course, now you think to yourself, “What on earth does that look like, and is it awesome?”

It looks like this:

And yes, it is awesome. I bought it a little bit for the humor factor—and it does provide that in a way that makes one giddy with laughter—but I have to say that it actually does add something tangible to the experience. It’s synchronized to the on-screen lighting and the music.

I have heard from the Internet that someone out there has hacked together six of these things into one massive light show.

I have some research to do.

I don’t know why, but this is my favorite Rock Band track for this week. How can I turn down a song with three awesome and very different solos?

This is an example of a full Rock Band track, with all four parts. The bass is on the left, lead in the center, drums on the right, and the vocal track is not shown, though the lyrics are at the top.