Orange Crush

I’m a bassist.

Funny after all these years to discover your true instrument. Hell, I may not hold the neck vertically like Bill Wyman, but I find myself pulling the strings up with my fingers like so many classic bassists. Then again, they’re not really strings. There are no strings on this axe at all. It’s more of a lever. That sits in the heart of my plastic instrument in ROCK BAND!

To say the learning curve on the PS3 is steep is akin to stating that KT22 is one hellacious drop. You wouldn’t ski the famed slope at Squaw Valley without years worth of training and you really shouldn’t fuck around with a PS3 unless you’ve spent hours on consoles, all the way from Nintendo 64 to Xbox, never mind the PS2. They figure you come to the set-up with years of gaming under your belt, that you push controller buttons in your sleep, that you can navigate a joystick easier than you can drive a car (if you’re old enough to drive a car).

Setting up the wireless connection on the PS3 was nothing compared to figuring out how to download the FREE demos. I kept clicking and clicking, but the fucking driving game wouldn’t come down. It took me fifteen minutes on the Mac to discover you have to register in order to partake. Who knew?

And why couldn’t I play all the fucking songs on the Rock Band box? Better yet, why could I play "Orange Crush" solo, but not with Felice?

Oh, you remember "Orange Crush". R.E.M.’s breakthrough. From their first album on Warner Brothers, "Green", which many consider to be a disappointment. Who knew "Out Of Time" was just around the corner?

You may never have to hear "Losing My Religion" one more time, but do you know "Low"? It’s my second favorite R.E.M. track, after "Ignoreland", from the follow-up, "Automatic For The People". For a minute there, R.E.M. was the biggest band in the land, until the drummer faced death in the eye and quit. Was it the massive bucks from WB, the absence of Bill Berry or was R.E.M. just done? "Monster" was such a disappointment. Now I don’t give their new albums much of a shot, I don’t want my memories fucked with.

But speaking of memories… I like "Orange Crush", but I didn’t LOVE IT!

Now I love it. Because of ROCK BAND!

I don’t know why I was able to play it. I hadn’t seen it previously. But as I was practicing my skills, I saw it was available and clicked on it. Then the fun began.

I never understood the bass before. How did you know what to play? But following the exploding (I hoped!) cartridges, I found I was providing the underpinning. Michael Stipe was singing, Peter Buck was wailing on the guitar, and I was off in DREAMLAND! I was locked in a groove, able to play my part as my mind drifted. I was the classic member of the rhythm section, singing along, even though I was nowhere near a mic. When the number was through, I had to play it again, and AGAIN! Finally, I was ready to work out with Felice on the skins. But no matter where I moved the controller, I couldn’t pull up "Orange Crush".

Smoke coming out of my ears, I fired up the Mac. Turns out YOU’VE GOT TO GO ON TOUR!

I thought the game was just playing along, I didn’t want to get invested in the shenanigans. But unless you play by their rules, you can’t play most of the songs on the system.

By this time it was past 10, Felice was losing patience. But I wanted to gig on some new songs. I told her we had to make a band.

I’m furiously working the joystick through the online keyboard. I named myself "Idiot". But it turns out there was already a default, of "Devon", so from here on in, I shall be known as "Devonidiot". Felice? She’s "Naomi". That was the default. As for the name of our band…when Felice demurred at "The Turds", I just clicked on the default, which is so complicated, I can’t even remember it, but I do know it’s not unique, so we can’t play ONLINE! And worrying that all the good will we build up might be for naught, needing to start all over again with a different moniker, like a real musician having experienced the implosion of his group, I said I was from Boston, Felice said she lived in London and we decided to make it in the U.K. first. I’d say because the audiences are more receptive across the pond, it’s easier to get traction, but the truth is I was scrolling through so many presets Felice was getting frustrated, and the last one was London, so we’re starting in the mother country.

Turns out you’ve got to play WELL, or you just can’t move on to better venues.

We made $10 for our first gig. We ultimately made it to $40 a night. We’ve now got 4,000 odd fans. And we’ve moved up two levels in venues. And we’ve got $465, which we can blow on clothes and other accoutrements.

I know, to the uninitiated, it sounds ridiculous. But have you ever played in a band? THE FIRST THING is the name. And not long thereafter, you’re worried about your image. But, in the real world, you might never get a gig. In real life, I’m a whisky bum, but in the virtual world…well, I might not be a king, but I’m a member of the musical FRATERNITY!

I still haven’t figured out how to play "Orange Crush" together, but we got good enough that we unlocked a few new songs. It was a close call. We had a gig at the Saville and I blew the big finish, not knowing how to mess with the whammy bar, having only gone through level 1 of the tutorials, but it turns out the venue forgave us, we were threatened with going home with bupkes, but we got paid.

Meanwhile, hearing these aged songs again and again, I’ve got a newfound love for them. It might not quite be like playing for real, but you do get the thrill, it’s more than a video game. The tutorials are hip in a way that mainstream media is not. I feel respected…then again, when I fuck up, THEY LET ME KNOW!

INB4LOK Endless Setlist Expert – Orange Crush

Orange Crush (Rock Band Expert Drums 5 Gold Stars)

REM – Orange Crush (Rock Band)

Rock Band: full band: Set1, Song 6: Orange Crush

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.