Video Games Live: From 8-Bit to Orchestral

Don’t Miss Out On This Live Tribute to Video Game Tunes


Published: Febrary 14, 2008

Mention the term “video game music” to your average person, and more than likely, the first thing to come to mind will be the bloops and bleeps of “Pac-Man” or “Tetris.” These catchy 8-bit tunes, however, have evolved over the decades into music that you might not be able to distinguish from a film’s soundtrack. Whether to set the atmosphere for a tense mission into an unknown world or to evoke emotion in a tragic scene, the soundtrack to a video game has become an essential part of the gameplay experience. Video Games Live, a concert event featuring an orchestra playing tracks from games to honor this aspect of them is coming to the Beacon Theatre on April 26 to show New York City just how immersive video game music can be.

Video Games Live was started in 2002 by Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, who are both veteran video game composers. Their first concert was on July 6, 2005 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The event, with music performed by the LA Philharmonic, drew over ten thousand people, proving that video game music wasn’t just for a niche audience. Since then, they have performed dozens of sold out concerts not only in the United States but in Canada, England, Brazil and other foreign countries as well

The event not only promises music, but a complete experience. Synchronized videos of game footage will play along with the music, with attention also being given to special effects and laser shows. The show intends to bring interactivity to the plate as well. A portion of the concert involves the orchestra playing interactively with a group of audience members chosen to come up to the stage and play a game. The concerts have, as well, included a pre-show and post-show festivals with events such as costume contests, game competitions, and meet-and-greets with the co-founders of Video Games Live.

You can expect to hear a wide range of pieces at this event, from retro old school games to games you might still have in your Xbox 360. Of course, there’s a classic arcade medley to pay due respect to where it all began. The list also includes popular series such as “Final Fantasy,” “Kingdom Hearts,” “Halo,” “Metal Gear Solid” and, of course, who can forget Mario, Zelda and Sonic? Other games to have their music featured are “Bioshock,” “God of War,” “Civilization IV”…and that’s not even half the list.

The concert is geared toward a wide audience: old and young, gamers and non-gamers alike. Of course, one would assume that gamers would be getting the most out of the event. Just like hearing a sad song on the radio might bring to mind memories of an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, listening to a piece from a game you’ve played before will undoubtedly bring back memories of the experience. “Aerith’s Theme” from “Final Fantasy VII” is bound to make a player recall a certain end-of-disc-one cutscene, while music from “Halo” will bring to mind the tough fight against the Covenant (or, alternately, the memories of trash-talking people halfway across the U.S., depending on whether you’re playing online or not).

Video Games Live is still several weeks away, but if the giant “Sold Out” in red letters next to every previous concert date is any indication, you’ll want to snag tickets soon. Whether you’re a video game fanatic, a music fan, or just someone who’s curious as to what it’s all about, this event is one of the best and biggest celebrations of video game music in the world.