BlackRage - HeroFor a long, long time, I’ve been caught by the magic of rock and metal music. And like so many other music fans, I played the electric guitar in high school. I considered myself to be a fairly decent guitar player; I had the rhythm, I knew the chords and I could improvise on simple solos. The best days of my musical career started when I got into a high school band with some friends. It was one of those bands that still played those genuine ‘80s rock tunes, the ones that you love to hear at any given time, but not a single radio station will play. We played small venues, small parties, we didn’t get paid… but we had the best time of our teenage years. Try to imagine walking on stage, proudly holding your guitar with one hand, holding it aloft and looking at that anxious crowd, that has gathered only to see your band play. It’s magical. I felt like a star.
But as the years passed, my band fell apart and I lost my touch. I lost my touch on the guitar. My dream of stardom had vanished, leaving only a gap in my existence; and emptiness that ate its way toward my core. I was left stranded. That once flourishing stage of my life was decimated into only a swift breeze in my memory, a tender coolness soothing the inferno. I had now made it into college.
But I was far from right when I thought that serious life had begun. These were the years that I met Metalrage’s own Arcane, and life got a whole lot more interesting when we became friends. Parties, alcohol and lots of diverse metal music was what defined my time in college. That was also when I attended the first gigs of my life. In the years to come, I didn’t go to see shows often anymore; even though I loved the music of the artists on stage, there was something amiss. Something, anything… everything. It was not until recently that I’d attend a show of one of my favourite bands and really feel energized by the power that flowed through the crowd. Just seeing my musical heroes perform on stage was a delight. Great as it might have been, the feeling slowly faded in the days after.
A few weeks ago, I was surfing the web and found a website on which a videogame called Guitar Hero III was for sale . It included this cute plastic controller in the shape of a guitar and featured a track list loaded with ‘80s rock classics. Obviously, I couldn’t resist and ordered it. The wait was long, but when I was finally able to play it, I was taken away to another plane of existence. It was great to finally hear those songs again, like I was back in high school. After having a bit of practice, I made ready to head to the city where my childhood friend Timothy lived. Then, my phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Jim, another childhood friend. We spend little time together nowadays, because we all lead busy lives and have demanding jobs, so we decided that tonight was going to be our night; just the three of us. I packed my plastic guitar and made my way to the car.
First thing we did after I’d arrived, was sit down and have a drink while watching a hilarious episode of South Park. Time for action. We plugged in the game system and hooked up the little plastic guitar. Jim and Timothy were unfamiliar with this game, but a short introduction proved to be enough to start shredding in no-time. I can’t genuinely describe what it was like when we were rolling over the floor, wiping away the tears of laughter from our cheeks as we progressed and failed at the classic songs. Jim’s humour is rather dry whereas Timothy isn’t one to withhold an eruption of laughter when one of Jim’s jokes hit him. Combine the two and you’ll find it hard to not join in when one of them starts laughing. When I leaned back on the couch I looked at my two friends, screaming and falling to their knees, giving away virtual guitar solos to The Scorpions. It had already become four-thirty in the morning (weekdays) and I had trouble keeping my eyes open. In the brief moment that I closed them, I went back in time and saw a screaming crowd in front of me as I held aloft my guitar. When I looked back, standing on that stage, there they were. My friends, enthusiastically smiling and getting ready to rock the world.
Nowadays, Jim is mainly focussed on his career than on anything else. Timothy’s losing hair and practically married. And me? I think I’ll always stay the dreamy guy that just keeps staring at a sunset at sea. When I opened my eyes and saw Jim and Timothy jumping around in front of the TV and calling my name because it was my turn to play, I warily smiled and got up from the couch. That it took a game to realise that I should cherish what I hold dear, I’d never have thought. It might have been the hour, but when I blinked, I could have sworn I saw my friends jumping up in front of me in the age of 16. Timothy handed me the controller and gave me a pat on the back. “One more song!”, he yelled. I nodded and accepted the little plastic guitar from him. One song or many, it would not have mattered to me. All I could do was savour the moment.