On Center Stage

by Matthew Edward Hawkins

Last night, along with my friend Job, I went to see The Protomen, a Mega Man tribute band from the south. They basically have this quasi-rock opera based upon the Mega Man mythos, and for those of you who aren’t diehard Mega Man fans, the story in a nut-shell goes like this: two scientists create a bunch of robots to help people, then one of the doctors goes nuts and kidnaps most of the bots to help him rule the world, so the other doctor takes the last remaining robot, soups him up, and Mega Man is born, who then takes down the evil robots along with the evil doctor. Later on, in part 3, you find out there was another robot who came before all the others, Proto Man, who hates Mega Man, his “brother” and you think he’s on the bad guy’s side, but he’s not. He hates evil just as much… perhaps…. but is just a loner with his own agenda.

So the Protomen conveys this whole story, or at least the underlining themes, I think, via various songs, while also somewhat focusing on the human element. While the rest of the bad plays rock music, all decked out in black and red southern threads, as well as some silver face-paint, the leader singer switches between Mega Man and Proto Man when addressing the audience, like some sort of pep rally. And at the end, it culminates with a confrontation between the brothers.

It was… okay I guess. I hesitate on using the word “cute”, since it was a rock show, but thats how it was to me. If anything the show made me feel OLD. And not just because a lot of the folks in the audience were half my age (I’m turning 30 in a just a little over a week btw, and man, am I ever feeling it these days), but because the music was just too plain fucking loud. I went in really wanting to like the Protomen, since I dig Mega Man, as well as creative uses for video game music. They scored major points in my book for using original songs to tell the tale; only once did I hear a familiar tune, the ending theme from part 2, or which I like to call the “love song”, and it was incorporated quite brilliantly. And the entire tale that was being told seemed quite intriguing; it?s just that I couldn’t understand a fucking word! It was by far the worst sounding live performance I have ever heard… the levels were all out of wack, and I can’t blame the venue since almost everything I have heard at the Knitting Factory has sounded great (the place just has more than decent acoustics, though maybe Joe can argue differently since he plays there so often). Also adding to the annoyance was how it took them over an hour to hit the stage, seemingly for no reason, and not once did I see any sort of sound check (I guess it could have happened beforehand, but by the sounds of things, I seriously doubt it).

Back to the word “cute”, while the idea of a rock show built upon the story of Mega Man is novel and all, but sometimes you just can’t go by concept alone. Call me old or jaded, but I guess it take a little more than Mega Man and Proto Man helmets to impress me. Though what was perhaps the biggest downer for me was that the concept did feel as if was utilized to the fullest. The whole story wrapped up before the end of their set! Then they played some covers. And the strangest part is how, performance-wise, the cover songs was so much stronger than the source material! Primarily the lead singer, who I guess couldn’t rock out as Mega Man and had to be all stoic? Kinda lame.

Job picked up their CD and has promised to pass along mp3s, so I can actually hear the lyrics, which is why I’m going to withhold final judgment for the time being. Hey, at least it was different, and again, good use of established material. I for one enjoy video game covers as much as the next game music aficionado, but I’m well past the point of annoyance due to numerous lame Willamsburg house parties where some douchebag who simply plays three cords of the theme to Castlevania and Contra and gets the crowd all in roar, and dick sucked by the end of the night. Though as disappointed and confused as I was last night, it doesn’t even begin to compare the two kids I saw in the audience, neither of whom looked over the age of seven, no doubt huge Mega Man fans, enough to drag their parents to some loud rock show. The look of shock on their faces was something else… maybe rock and roll, or maybe something else….

Anyway, in other news, Steve’s story on my top ten worst games of all time list is finally up at MTV News!

I think it turned out really great… I’m glad he concentrated on me basically acting the role of a classic heel wrestling manager. Though I was bummed out a link to this site was not included in the piece. The reason? I curse too much on this site, at least too much for MTV’s standards and practices. HA! Then again, I did say fuck twice in this entry, and mentioning dick sucking probably doesn’t help either.

  • http://www.lizbaillie.com Liz

    Double-check the link on that interview – it’s not working for me (says the page “can not be found”) I want to see it!

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    Sorry! Its been fixed. Fucking HTML…

  • http://www.yaytime.com dave

    Wow…I bet a lot of people link to this!
    You might want to take out some insurance incase EA comes looking for you ;)

  • http://www.bearsdriving.com/blog/ Pat

    Pretty much my sentiments exactly about The Protomen show. Entirely too loud, inaudible vocals, and most importantly: you couldn’t hear the keytar during “The Will of One.” And if you can’t hear the keytar, what’s the goddamn point. In their defense, what they lacked in audio quality they made up for with stage presence. Everybody was all dressed up, Protoman had the sweet helmet microphone, and there was a dude on trumpet in the back. Plus there were like 10 of them. It was like the nerd version of the Polyphonic Spree.

    The highlight for me though, was finding out that “The Sons of Fate” is a duet of sorts between Protoman and Megaman. Never picked that up listening to their album. (Which by the way, is infinitely better than their live show.) So there’s that.

    Anyway, clearly they clicked with the audience on some level, because they did get the encore.

  • Pingback: A Visit To See The Protomen, NYC-Style | Video Games

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