It’s early hours now (well, 9a.m.), and I’m in the basement of my brother’s house up in Scarsdale, a wan morning light filtering in through high small windows set just above ground level. The house is silent and the large basement is gloomy, the thick carpet, the toys and tables and piano and bookshelves almost indistinct in the murk. This is the girl’s playroom, where they come down to romp and yell and wave the Wii controller and draw and whatever else a 6 and 8 year old want to do. But last night it was the site of a massive rock concert, where beer was drunk, songs were played with agonizing skill and dexterity, and tens of thousands of fans were won.
That’s right. I’m talking about Rock Band.
My brothers Nick and Stuart, Nick’s girlfriend Liz and I were manning the instruments, and we rocked. It’s one thing to play guitar hero by yourself, mesmerized by the screen, absolutely alone but for the falling colors and your guitar. It’s another to stand with a group of friends and family, caught up with everybody’s strenuous attempts to push their skill levels further, one of you singing their heart out, another smashing the drums and the final two hip pumping the guitars and falling to their knees during the solos.
And for the first time the drums clicked for me, and I discovered that part (if not most of the fun) was to hit them with vigor and panache, to put your shoulders into it, to try and break the whole kit. Man, when the drums clicked and suddenly I was able to get the rhythm, the tempo, or whatever–it felt great. And when the songs would end we’d all yell out, look at each other grinning, comment on which parts nearly killed us, compare accuracy scores, take a swig from our beers and then pick the next song.
Upstairs I can hear people stirring. I’m going to go grab a mug of coffee in a second, and then it’ll be lights, people yawning and getting ready for their day. Nick and Liz are heading for the airport, and I’m going to make my way back down to Manhattan. But as I sit here, typing these final words, I realized that if I cock my head just right and narrow my eyes, I can still hear the thunderous cries of the crowds, just beyond the silence.