I've heard a ton of people rave about Guitar Hero II, the video game that can turn virtually anyone into a shredding rock star, but I'd never seen the game in action until last Wednesday night at the 15th St. Tavern (1623 15th Street). These two guys were staring at the game on a big screen, playing plastic guitars while Spinal Tap's "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You" blared. As I found out later, they were in face-off mode, when two players cooperatively shred riffs between each other. See, in order to shred, you have to know the five-colored fret buttons and hit them as they travel down the screen toward the player; at the end of the song, you get to see who had the highest percentage of correct notes and the longest hot streak.
As the night progressed, players riffed it out on the Butthole Surfers' "Who Was in My Room Last Night," Rush's "YYZ" (twice), and Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized," which had two guys struggling on the fast chorus sections. When two players agreed on "Freebird," a guy at the bar groaned and said, "I'll be back in half an hour." But he stuck around anyway, finally yelling, "Jesus, when's this song gonna end?" as it sped into its finale, the notes traveling at warp speed.
According to 15th St. bartender Shane Henry, who plays guitar in the skate-punk band Frontside 5, a few other members of the band, including bassist Brooke Crawford, are Guitar Hero fanatics. So you might find them and other diehards at the bar on Wednesdays — especially on the last Wednesday of the month, when players will battle axes to win bar tabs and other prizes.
Guitar Hero II
And if one night a week of Guitar Hero isn't enough, Rockbar will be teaming up with KTCL and Game Crazy for Guitar Hero competitions every Friday in June. The folks at Game Crazy will bring in a bunch of TVs so that everyone can watch, and the sound will be cranked up in true Rockbar style. Each week's winner gets to take home a copy of the game, and the grand-prize winner will receive the game and an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 to play it on.
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On Thursday night, I popped by a suddenly reopened Bannock Street Garage (1015 Bannock Street). Owner Eddie Morrissey met me at the door and asked for my ID. "We're really hard-core on checking IDs now," he said. That's understandable. Two weeks ago, I reported that the club had closed its doors because of liquor-license violations.
"We went three years without any violations," Morrissey explained, but then the bar was cited for two violations within eight weeks. After closing down for 104 days, the Garage was given the green light to reopen. How long it will remain that way is anyone's guess: Morrissey confirmed that the building that houses the bar is for sale, as is the building to the south and the parking lot to the north. But he plans to keep the Garage open as long as he can — which could be several more years, depending on whether the building is sold and what happens to the property.
And whether he keeps checking those IDs, of course.