"Pretty sweet, huh?" Haynes asks, pointing toward a guitar-shaped controller. Haynes, a hefty, metal-loving redhead and I are preparing for what will be my initial taste of RedOctane's Guitar Hero, the lauded videogame that lets you rock along with your favorite guitar jams.
Holding the plastic controller for the first time is, well, underwhelming. Weighing maybe a pound, the "axe" is certainly not guitar-god certified. No frets or strings, just five multi-colored buttons and a clicking switch more suitable for a toddler's toy, not rampant guitar noodling. Impressed I am not.
We scale through the playable songs, consisting entirely of stoner staples (Black Sabbath's "Iron Man"), a smattering of modern hits (Incubus' "Stellar"), and the occasional classic rock gem (Queen's "Killer Queen"). Choosing David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," Haynes, eyes alight with anticipation, hits start.
It takes four frustrating tries, but finally something clicks. Praise guitar-Jesus, because I'm following the onscreen prompts, hitting the buttons at the right time, and some semblance of "Ziggy Stardust" is blaring out of my television. And for two fucking minutes I AM DAVID BOWIE. My hands are sliding up and down the crappy controller and I am rocking the shit out of every note. I can feel the heat from stage pyrotechnics singeing my eyebrows. I know this song will finish and I will go backstage and bang the shit out of some coked-up groupies. I am the greatest guitarist ever.
Without fanfare, the song ends, and I am sweaty and holding a shitty toy guitar. There are no groupies, no cheering fans, only Haynes, red mop plastered to his forehead, smile plastered on his face. Our eyes meet. Two dorks in a dingy basement.
Play Guitar Hero at the Red Room, 2530 NE 82nd