Aug 11, 2009, 06:04AM

Why hire a real band?

A professor at Brown tries to understand the rise in Rock Band and Guitar Hero bar nights.

In this column, I’m attempting an assignment that I require of virtually all my undergraduate students: a performance ethnography blog post.
When I arrived at Our House East, a college-crowd bar near Northeastern University, I found Mike, the guy who runs the weekly Rock Band game night, standing out front tapping away at his cell phone—texting me, as it turned out. I recognized him from his Facebook profile photo and introduced myself. (I’d found him through a Rock Band group on Facebook and had messaged him to arrange an interview.) We went inside, where he had set up the Rock Band instrument controllers facing a large wall-mounted TV. It was only 5:30, and the college students were gone for the summer; the small bar was almost empty. Mike insisted on buying me a beer and offered me a homemade brownie from a Tupperware container. He was a super-friendly guy, and I could immediately see why he’d been hired to run a social event that required people to volunteer to perform in front of strangers.

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