New Rock Band mixed reality concert stage available How to get t…(Pt. 4 Ch. 2)

TheRealJoeRockerTheRealJoeRocker Unsigned
edited November 2017 in Rock Band
New Rock Band mixed reality concert stage available How to get tour gigs booked and backstage passes...

How I went from this:

To this:

It all started when my buddy’s kids got the game for Christmas in 2007. I had seen guitar games in stores, and I thought it looked interesting although I didn’t “get it”. The kids were excited as they could be, performing songs and ignoring all the other gifts under the tree.

They kept begging the adults to play, and it certainly did look like a lot of fun. It was like karaoke on steroids, a sing-along that also had pseudo instruments that players would strum or drum in synch with the notes on the screen.

“Come on Van”, they said “you’ve got to try it!” I finally gave in.

“OK kids, I’ll try it once, but old Van isn’t much of a musician...”

As I picked up the plastic guitar, they explained how I was supposed to hold down the colored buttons while “strumming” a switch in time to the music. It didn’t take long to flunk out. My past frustration trying to learn the guitar came back to haunt me, but the drums looked like they might be easier.

I volunteered to try them for a song, and flunked out again. I had failed, but I was a little better on the drums and decided to give it one last desperate shot. The next song was easier, and I was able to keep up and finish it!!! Victory was mine, and the kids seemed just as excited to have a new bandmate as I was to “play the drums”…

I wanted to buy the game myself, but I also wanted the new gaming sensation, the Wii. This was back in 2008 when the Wii was in high demand and short supply, and you couldn’t find one anywhere. I continuously checked back with my local Wal-Mart, but it seemed that the shelf was always empty.

A helpful employee suggested that I check on a Tuesday since they always received a truckload of inventory then. Several months later, I had to pick up a few things late one night, and since it was a Tuesday I decided to stroll through their electronics section.

That was the night everything changed!!! I finally spotted one lone Wii console sitting by itself in the locked electronics display case. I panicked, unable to decide whether to stay there and guard my console or to seek a clerk to open the case. I finally decided to go for it, running through the aisles until I found a sleepy looking gal who unlocked the display and handed me the box. The instant I took it, my eye fell upon a box with the Rock Band game and instruments for the Wii. I was in heaven.

I arrived home and showed my wife the birthday present I had just bought myself before breathlessly assembling it in our home theater. Little did I know that this would lead me to develop a mixed-reality stage that allows you to play Rock Band in front of a real crowd of screaming fans with all the effects of the Stage Kit and more, a real PA system, lead and backup microphones, and split guitar/bass video monitors for the ultimate rock star experience...

Next: Part II: Learning to play drums, concerts by the lake, and system switchover…


  • Wow! Great story so far and I look forward to the next chapters. This would be a great entry for the 10 year Rock Band Stories too. Thanks for sharing!
  • New Rock Band mixed reality concert stage available How to get tour gigs booked and backstage passes...

    Learning to play drums, concerts by the lake, and system switchover…

    After finally getting Rock Band, I was a man on a mission. While I enjoyed guitar, bass, and even singing, I was a drummer from the start. For the first few weeks I slogged my way through the songs on the original game, spending hours and hours trying to develop limb independence and learn to relax and just play.

    The home theater that I used was ideal. I had a 1,000 watt Onkyo 7.1 surround system blasting the tunes, and a projector displaying the game on a 12 ft. screen. I spent many hours pounding away on those drums, eventually breaking and replacing the kick pedal. I was probably too hard on it when I first started to learn, substituting force for accuracy.

    We had a few get-togethers with friends who enjoyed the game as well, and when Rock Band II was released, I purchased it immediately. The new songs were great, and I began downloading DLC and collecting different track packs including my favorite, AC/DC. I also packed up the entire game and my projector to bring on a few vacations at the lake.

    We set up a big EZ-up tent in the backyard and started jamming at dark with everyone getting a turn to play or sing. It was a blast, and the feedback was 100% positive. Folks loved jamming under the stars, and it was the first time we ever had a “big event” with more than a handful of people. It was one of those weekends worth working for, good times with great friends.

    The kids seemed to really get into it, which made sense given the powerful imagination that we all possess as children. We would all play the game, but they actually seemed to become the rock stars they were emulating. I also noticed that younger kids didn’t know the music was dated – they only knew that it felt great to rock out like Mick and Keef! The older teens all wanted to play newer music.

    Those nights by the lake were inspirational, and I started to want a more intense experience, a deeper dive into the feeling of being a real musician performing in front of a real crowd. Hearing people cheer for me and my bandmates was an breakthrough. I had only experienced it from the other side as a fan at concerts. Performing songs I loved for people who loved them generated a spark of magic.

    Although I loved my Wii, I soon found that it limited my Rock Band experience. I would have to face a critical choice, the issue being raised by the Stage Kit. The prospect of colored LED’s, fog, and strobe lighting was simply too much for me to pass by. I would purchase a used Xbox 360 and graduate to the Ion Pro Drum Rocker with cymbals, one of the best purchases I have ever made.

    Next: Pt. III – Drum upgrades, playing local clubs, the search for a stage…
  • TheRealJoeRockerTheRealJoeRocker Unsigned
    edited November 2017
    dllewel said:

    Wow! Great story so far and I look forward to the next chapters. This would be a great entry for the 10 year Rock Band Stories too. Thanks for sharing!

    Thank you!!! Part II now posted...
  • I tried the link but it is either broken or thread is missing?
  • Temporarily broken... waiting for an edit to be approved - strange...
  • Sorry about that. There are apparently some thing on Vanilla that a year later I hadn't entirely worked out. Your post is now here, a couple posts above.

    As a note, while I love your projects, I think it's better to keep posts about one project to one thread, so as you can see, I put it in this thread.
  • Thank you!!! I will be writing the 3rd part today. Is there a way to upgrade the headline of the thread like you did on this one to reflect that it is Pt 3 and not Pt. 2?
  • Thank you!!! I will be writing the 3rd part today. Is there a way to upgrade the headline of the thread like you did on this one to reflect that it is Pt 3 and not Pt. 2?

    Of course! You can also do it by editing the first post.
  • Part II was great! It's fun to see all the photos you have along with your story. I will await chapter 3...
  • Just keeps getting better and better!
  • TheRealJoeRockerTheRealJoeRocker Unsigned
    edited November 2017
    Pt. IV, Ch. 1 - Building the stage

    Purchasing our Rock Band stage was the most daunting challenge in moving from “fake plastic rock” to having a real performing arts venue that could go anywhere. I spent a lot of time on Ebay trying to find a trailer that was modified for use as a stage. These are specialty rigs based on car-haulers, but one side of the trailer had a huge door cut out that would fold out down into the stagefront.

    At first, my stage was very primitive. A church had previously used it to bring a puppet show to kids as part of an outreach ministry. But only half of the interior was level with the exterior stage, making it dangerous for game players who might step backwards off the edge. It also had their logo on the outside, which meant that I would have to pay for an upgraded exterior in addition to building out the inside.

    My buddy Nate took on the task of finishing the inside stage, making everything level, adding some fold-up steps, and installing the first part of a wheelchair ramp that will be complete soon. He also built the drum riser and covered everything in carpet to match the exterior stage. Then my Crew Chief Jack got a bunch of soldiers at Ft. Lee to volunteer their time to paint the interior black. We did that to minimize the walls and emphasize our lighting inside. Our next move was hiring Billy Voight of Voight Enterprises to install the truss, lighting and other effects, PA, monitors, etc. That wasn’t cheap, but the results were worth every penny.

    I could write an entire book about the process of planning and building out the stage, but I’ll spare the minute details and focus on the end goal. First, I wanted an elevated drum riser so that the drummer could see and be seen by the crowd. The drummer also has a video monitor in front of the drums and a speaker firing up right in front of his feet. Second, I wanted two risers on either side of the drummer with stage kit controllers mounted to shine the LEDs down on performers in front.

    Third, I wanted vertically oriented monitors on both sides in the front connected by overhead truss that could support a projector and some lights. These monitors are programmed to show a split image with only the right or left side of the game so that the guitar and bass players each have their own separate video monitor with their note track displayed.

    The projector allows me to shine the game up against anything that works as a screen. Usually that means the game is about 20 feet tall on the side of my office building. We have used other surfaces and we also have a couple of portable screens that we take with us and set up for night shows. In the daytime we are limited to TV monitors. We can hang one from the front truss or put it on a table in front of the stage – not perfect, but good enough.

    Next: Pt. IV, Ch. 2 – Kids’ benefits, and IRS tax-exempt status
  • Has to be one of the most elaborate setups out there. Well done! I only wish I lived closer to join in on the fun, looks like a blast!
  • That is INSANE. Thank you for sharing!
  • I gotta show my wife this so she'll leave me alone about my modest upgrades!
  • My first time playing was one of the biggest reasons that I was inspired to use Rock Band to help children’s hospitals, their patients, and families. We all remember our first time, right? What really changed my life was those kids reaching out to me and inviting me to play with them, insisting that I join them even though I was too shy to take a chance on making a fool of myself, too old to become a musician, and too ordinary to ever become a rock star. They extended a hand and welcomed me into their band, and that made all the difference.

    My buddy's kids: as soon as they learned rock band, they wanted real instruments!

    I later realized that their gesture of hospitality and admission onto the stage was a gift that would last for over a decade, growing every time I played the game and eventually being shared with other kids who wanted the same dreams to come true. Sure, I flunked on the first couple of songs, but we all had fun. More importantly, it sparked a flame that grew into a five figure investment in music, in bringing our inner rock stars to life, and in living the dream of playing music we love for people we love who love the music too. It’s a “vicious cycle” in reverse – a snowball effect of goodwill and great times.

    Perhaps this is the ultimate culmination of rock and roll music. Like the internet giving people access to information, Rock Band gave us the ability to “play music” in a sense, spawning countless musicians who graduated from plastic rock and went on to master a real instrument or to sing. This is especially true for drummers, who had the most realistic experience and actually learned a form of reading music. A number of players have set up professional e-drum rigs that can be played independently or within the game, making the transition into real drumming much easier.

    Our first charity gig was in Bon Air, just outside Richmond. The event was held on behalf of a young guy named William who was a pre-school student there. We were there for “William gets to be a superhero” day, and there were hundreds of kids swarming around the place. Since this was our first real gig, I was very nervous about how it would go. It was a cold March morning, and things started going wrong as soon as we pulled up and it started to snow. Our stage is obviously weather sensitive, and the gear can’t be exposed if there is any precipitation.

    But the snow stopped just as quickly as it had begun, and we opened the stage and started setting up. No sooner did we open the main stage door than a kid going past us on his dad’s shoulder’s pointed at the drums. “Look daddy,” he exclaimed “Rock Band!!! Can we play?” He recognized the colors of the drums, and his dad said he wanted to play too. As soon as we turned on the power and started the game, kids instinctively lined up at the back door to play. The parents started to gather at the front of the stage, snapping pictures and forming a nice little crowd.

    I have never had more fun playing Rock Band than I did that day. Some of the kids already knew how to play, others needed us to help them out a bit and show them the basics, and a few were too young to play but didn’t realize that their instruments were turned off. We all had a great time despite the low temperatures, and we were grateful for the clear skies that prevailed after we arrived.

    NEXT: Pt. IV, Ch. 3 – More gigs, more expenses. And then we got a letter…
  • Can't wait for the next part. This has been the best read on these forums in a long time. Can't believe what you've accomplished!
  • Thanks to everyone for the encouraging feedback!!! I hope we get to take our rig on tour and jam together with all you good people. \m/ \m/
  • This is the most epic of epic. I detect awesomeness.
  • I've made a few gigs myself but this makes me look like a child throwing his first party. Awesome stuff.
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