We are the champions, my friends


From the “why not start the shameless self-promotion early” department:

Devout Feministe readers may remember a post from a while back where I talked about becoming obsessed with drumming in the game Rock Band, where you and up to three of your friends sing into, strum or pound on little plastic instruments that make your television play awesome rock hits. Well, I went a little overboard… when I heard that the Virgin Megastores were having a Valentine’s Day Rock Band tournament, I decided I needed to put a band together.

The last time I competed in a tournament like this, I took second place for playing Guitar Hero II; that time, a bunch of my opposition in the middle of the tournament were obnoxious drunken guys who kept trying to intimidate me (or maybe they were just being idiots) by yelling about how they weren’t going to get beaten by a girl, how I really wanted to sleep with them, etc. etc. the usual. I destroyed them. So this time I thought, maybe we should have an all-girl band, hmm? Thus was born… Glittürminætor!

We only managed to practice together for one night, although our guitarist is my roommate (and a calendar pinup to boot) so we’ve had some practice playing in sync. So this is the weird part… we won the tournament. And came away with a bunch of prizes: a $500 gift certificate, another copy of Rock Band (which we inadvertently gave away to a random teenager), and a bunch of other random gizmos.

Now, I have to say this competition involved way more luck than it ought to have. Because of a ludicrously bad scoring system that involved picking songs out of a hat (and some songs being worth far more on average than others), a couple of the most experienced and skilled bands were eliminated early on. We weren’t particularly lucky or unlucky, but in the end we won because the judges decided the final bands needed to all play the same song, a rather absurd cock-rock prog number called “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria. (Apologies to any fans.) Our vocalist had actually never heard that song before–or three of the other four songs we played, which included the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siva,” Hole’s “Celebrity Skin,” (what we’re playing in the picture above) Aerosmith’s version of “Train Kept a Rollin'” and “I Think I’m Paranoid” by Garbage. But she’s pretty talented at sightreading a tune from a score.

Although I was initially expecting more of the same kind of ugly competition that I ran into during my last rock-video-game tournament, I have to say the ten bands that showed up were mostly really cool. I made some new friends who appreciated my drumming skills enough to scream out how much I rocked, which is always nice. Plus, we weren’t the only all-female band there! A trio of younger girls played in the first round, and we were rooting for them to make it to the finals, especially since they were a stereotype-defying multiracial combo, including a drummer wearing hijab. Sadly, they were eliminated in the first round. Anyway, even though the scoring and elimination were pretty suspect and luck-driven, I’m still happy that Glittürminætor claimed Virgin (Megastore) booty in the name of girl gamers everywhere!! Whoo!

One slightly amusing confession I have to make. I ended my last post about Rock Band by saying:

As for me and actual drums, it seems unlikely at this point — I live in a small New York apartment, and my neighbors already complain about the noise! Of course there are ways, even in the city. I’ll have to see, once I finish “Hard” and “Expert” and trounce another few dozen adolescent gamer boys online, if I’m still hungry for more drumming challenges. If I am, well… maybe at some point I’ll hop over that fascinating, funny gap between entertainment and reality. At which point I will discover how much I truly suck, especially at getting my sticks crossed.

So about that… after encouragement from some musician friends and people telling me “that I just seem like someone who plays drums” (whatever that means) I actually started taking real drum lessons. It turns out that playing a lot of Rock Band actually does translate into a number of basic skills; since I could already play a basic rock beat and had developed decent chops with a regular pair of sticks, I managed to skip a bunch of introductory lessons! In fact, I think my video game investment kind of paid itself off! I don’t have a drum kit in my apartment (it’s unlikely) but I did manage to hack my Rock Band drums so they can be played like a regular electronic instrument when connected to my PC. In fact I’m practicing on them right now. Next up: two of my friends just got a cheap kit on Craigslist, and want me to play in their minimalist country-rock band, 77 & Granite. Hah. I think I’ll just keep doing this until I hit the limits of my abilities (or talents).

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13 comments for “We are the champions, my friends

  1. Falyne
    February 17, 2008 at 3:57 am


    I just got back from my campus’s video game club’s Rockband tournament. We came in third. And we would’ve won if we’d gotten to the final round, too, since all the other bands sucked at Run to the Hills, while my being a soprano in my Real Singing Voice has its advantages there. Dammit. Damn you, Black Sabbath, and your unsingable Paranoia! Arrrrrrrghhhhh…..

    Oh, and our band was the only one in the tourney from the video game club itself, and we were the only one (out of 7) with ANY female members (me on vocals and my roomie on drums). Actually, I was pleasantly surprised that nobody made any disparaging comments or anything, at least not in any of our hearing, especially given that neither of us, uh, could ever be described as small.

    Of course, it helped that, in addition to my natural gift of singing range and style-mimicry-ability (ie, sorta what I meant by Real Singing Voice above… it’s not what I use to sing Blitzkrieg Bop, for example), I was basically the only vocalist who had even practiced. Heh. After we did Wanted Dead or Alive in the second round, I was being all “OMG that sucked I usually do much better dammit sorry I suuuuuuuuuuck.” And then I heard the band we were competing with, who did the same song. And then I felt better. Except my ears. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

  2. Falyne
    February 17, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Oh, heh, I forgot to say: Congrats to you! ^_^

    Glad you had better luck than we of Critical Fumble did…

  3. February 17, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Yeah, I have to say… it was really unbearable at times, how bad some of the vocalists were. It was like they didn’t take it as seriously as the instruments, which is weird because where are all the karaoke aficionados? I’ve never heard such bad karaoke outside of a parody. I guess maybe there’s not enough overlap between “good at karaoke” and “hard-core enough about a video game that they’ll play in a tournament.” I mean, our vocalist falls entirely into the first category and not really into the second, and hadn’t sung 85% of the Rock Band songs before.

  4. February 17, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Nice job!

  5. February 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Rock on, Holly. Congrats to you and the rest of the band!

  6. Falyne
    February 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Yeah… though here it seemed that the singers probably weren’t so much “hard-core about a video game” as they were “buddies or frat-brothers of folks that are hard-core that could be roped in to fill the fourth body”.

    Or just total attention-junkies… the singer for the band that wound up winning was a buddy of mine, who was at least not-painful and who was totally and awesomely hamming it up. In aviators. Doing the CSI dramatic whip, constantly. Their whole band had sunglasses, fake tats, one case of bright blue hair, and general over-the-top bandness. They were pretty awesome. ^_^

  7. February 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    HA! That’s pretty cool, Holly. Maybe I can get into an Animal Crossing tournament?

  8. Trixie23
    February 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm


    Picking songs out of a hat!? PANIC ATTACK!!!

  9. She-cago
    February 17, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Hey that’s so awesome that your experiences have led you to start drumming lessons! Good for you! Sounds like tons of fun. A couple of weekends ago I tried Rock Band for the first time and had tons of fun with it, although I was initially quite hesistant. I also really liked playing the drums, and singing too as long as I knew the song- I aced Roxanne ;-)

  10. Speck
    February 17, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    That’s awesome, Holly. I should thank you, by the way – your last Rock Band post was what got me to buy the game, and I’ve been happily whacking away at those pads ever since. Interestingly enough, I’ve also gotten sucked into the world of real life drumming. There’s just something about getting into that whole-body groove, isn’t there? I bet drum kit manufacturers are giggling all the way to the bank about a Rock Band-inspired upswing in sales.

  11. February 17, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    My drum teacher likes to hyperbolically quote some old jazz drummer (I think?) whose most famous quote was, “If everyone played the drums, there would be no more war.” I don’t know quite what the logic is supposed to be there, but I think it does have something to do with drumming euphoria, moving both your arms and legs to the beat and getting sweaty without even realizing it. The drums are way more relaxing and cathartic than any other instrument I’ve played (clarinet, guitar, violin, piano…) — my favorite at the moment is putting on some blues or old soul tunes, closing my eyes and just tapping out a beat.

  12. Sickle
    February 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Right on!

  13. plunky
    February 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Dunno if you will find this interesting or not, but a musician forum that I read has an alternate take on this sort of thing.

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