Put enough geeks together and incredible things can happen — startups, solutions and smudged glasses. Their combined intellect is often more than enough firepower to conquer any obstacle, but can they rock?
Boulder will find out Tuesday as a new event called Cause to Rock attempts to melt brains at its first battle of the bands at Shooters Grill and Bar, using “Rock Band” in place of real instruments. The event will pit bands of gamers against each other, using the popular video game’s plastic guitars and drums to crown new rock royalty.
“I had the idea for a ‘Rock Band’ live event a year ago, but I’d forgotten about it until I was watching karaoke with a friend,” said event founder Jason Janelle. “People have a desire to perform, to experience the rush of being on stage.”
Along with co-founder Jared Kohlmann, the two developed an event that sidestepped the need for musical talent and focused more on mirth, gaming and a healthy appreciation for vintage Van Halen. Groups of people form bands (consisting of guitar, vocals, bass and drums) and do their best to play in rhythm to Rock Band’s collection of rock anthems. Over the course of the night, bands will be eliminated and one will emerge rocktorious.
Taking a cue from other local events that funnel money to worthy causes, Janelle added a charity angle to the event so that competition stays friendly.
“As part of the sign-up process, each band picks a charity that they’ll be playing for,” Janelle said. “If that band wins, the charity they picked receives a donation. There are so many ways to help charities, but most don’t involve watching a bunch of gamers put it all on the line for the cost of two lattes.”
So what kinds of bands form when geeks have a cause to rock? Janelle explained that while some bands formed via online matching on Twitter and Facebook, one band formed over drinks at a particularly raucous birthday party.
That band is Pulp Fiction Briefcase — or Purr Like a Walrus, they can’t decide — a group of four self-described “sexy folks” who will be battling on behalf of the Boulder County Firefighters Association. Their drummer, web developer Jonathan Woodard, confesses to being “rhythm-stupid and tone-deaf” but eager to perform despite his musical shortcomings.
“We’re ready to thrash the stage,” Woodard said. “I’m totally amped about this.”
For bands looking to steal the spotlight from Pulp Fiction Briefcase, they will have to act quickly. Band registration for Cause to Rock will end Friday night. Janelle advises competitors to focus less on coming away with a victory (which will be determined by a blend of Rock Band’s built-in scoring system and audience voting) and more on camaraderie.
Rock’n’roll, video games, charity and a room full of geeks. Why else should you attend Cause to Rock?
“Because it’s going to rock your face,” Woodard said. “Who doesn’t want their face rocked?”