How can we party like it's 2008?
June 1, 2008 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Any tips for having a Rock Band/Sing Star/Guitar Hero party?

Want to have some people over to play. I've had friends over before, but would like to extend invitations to friends of friends, acquaintances, etc.

I figure I'm going to have to provide alcohol to get at least a couple of the people singing. So we'll have beer and food. We probably won't be able to provide any cocaine, however, for the shy ones.

We live in an apartment with a pretty small living room, so I'm not sure what's a good number to invite.

Any tips or suggestions by people who've thrown/attended these types of parties before? Not looking for a big production, just want everyone to have a good time.
posted by The ____ of Justice to Human Relations (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My spouse and I frequently host Rock Band/Guitar Hero parties. We've had anywhere from five to maybe as many as 30 guests.

Our house has an open room layout, which really, really helps. Since only two or four people are playing at a time, everybody else is going to stand around and watch, eat, and chat, and you need room for them to do so -- hopefully, within sight of the TV.

We also rearrange the entire living room so that it's as open as possible. Remove furniture if you have to -- flailing drunk people won't kick the coffee table if the coffee table's in another room! (Just remember that some people prefer to play guitar sitting down, so at least keep a few chairs around.) People are going to be switching instruments between songs, and new people are going to replace old people, so there needs to be plenty of room to maneuver around the drum set.

Also, the Rock Band peripherals are notoriously fragile. If any of your guests also have the game, and you know them well enough to ask for this favor, ask them to bring their stuff as backups. Guests' backups have saved entire parties for us before. (And we did actually purchase a second drum set and several extra guitars as our own backups too ... but we take Rock Band pretty seriously around here.)

And as I'm sure you know, setting up additional accounts for an entire Rock Band band is a huge pain in the ass. We actually built a special band just to play in World Tour mode at parties, with really ridiculous-looking band members to give people something to talk about. (Featuring ... the Lumberjack on guitar! And the Schoolgirl on bass! and I forget the rest.) Letting people switch out characters and stuff is just too big of a hassle.

Have fun!
posted by liet at 7:03 PM on June 1, 2008

I have attended a couple of these and they were really fun. Thinking of Rock Band, if you've got a bunch of newbies playing, it's especially great if you have at least one experienced player in the band who can rescue the song when it's in danger of failing. I hate it when the song fails.

I also think it's kind of boring to sit there while individual players customize their outfits. For that issue, maybe set up some basic characters for your guests (that kind of resemble them) and just let them tweak them a little? Or have a regular party at the beginning of the evening while each person sets up their character one at a time -- anything to prevent the whole party sitting there watching while one guy tries on every single hairstyle.

Thinking about that, starting as a regular party is probably good -- have lively music on and drinks flowing to warm people up before the game, so it feels more like spontaneous fun and less performative. I also like the room lighting a little dim so I feel less self-conscious about looking like an idiot. Also great is if there are shelves or tables nearby so that players can keep their drinks by them -- at one party we could only put them on the floor by our feet and that got awkward.

The smallest of these I went to had 4 people; the largest had 10.
posted by xo at 7:10 PM on June 1, 2008

Invite, or at least talk to, your neighbors. Especially if you have downstairs neighbors. The drum kit is a killer.

We're by far the nerdiest people on the block with the least number of parties. So imagine our surprise when the police stopped by in the middle of Karaoke Revolution "Bohemian Rhapsody."
posted by Gucky at 7:36 PM on June 1, 2008

I've had a couple people over to play Rock Band, though not explicitly in a party setting. Strangely, the people I've played with often start out by singing—the guitar and drums look like they require more coordination and rhythm than they can muster, and the first couple of tries on the instruments only solidifies this reputation. So my suggestion is to set everything to easy, figure out the easy songs to play on guitar and drums (not so much vocals), and be prepared to fill in as necessary for instruments people don't want to or can't play. I end up playing the drums a lot because my friends seem to have the most trouble there, and they're happy to have me sit behind the kit all night.

We never once bothered with dressing up characters, and stuck mostly to quickplay to keep things easy. I'd probably only start throwing people into the World Tour part if your group's fairly small and only once they've gotten comfortable with the game.

Oh, and finally, I've become much more comfortable with letting other people wail on the drums ever since I got a metal plate to reinforce the kick pedal. Not having to tell people to baby the instruments is great.
posted by chrominance at 7:41 PM on June 1, 2008

If someone wants to play drums but they are having trouble coordinating the kick pedal, have someone else man just the kick pedal (with feet or hands). That's what we've done in the past, it gets another person involved and keeps the drummer from dragging down the whole group.
posted by cabingirl at 7:52 PM on June 1, 2008

Slightly different; if everyone at the party is somewhat familiar with the game, have a Battle of the Rock Bands. Put everyone's name into a hat and draw for bands. A friend of mine does this and has each band pick a song to play and a random song, then compare scores!
posted by thewalledcity at 8:17 PM on June 1, 2008

I attend a poker game, and when you are out of the poker game you are in the Rock Star party.... its great fun actually.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:25 PM on June 1, 2008

I'm suprised that nobody has pointed this out yet:

*** Make sure all of the songs are unlocked before you start ***
posted by Talez at 11:14 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, consider buying a mic stand. They are really helpful.

If you have the space for it, set up a room away from the main event for people who want to chat/flee from songs they dislike to go. Otherwise, you end up with people talking loudly to be heard over the music, which usually makes the singer turn up the music to hear, which results in louder talking and angry neighbors.

Add some MS points or whatever the PS3 version of points is to your account before the party. Let your guests pick a song or two to download for that event. There's a Jimmy Buffet three-pack coming out this week that is just made for drunken crooning.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:48 AM on June 2, 2008

The best Guitar Hero/Singstar party we ever had at my old place was when guests were required to dress up in some kind of rock-star-ish outfit. We had extra studded belts and bandannas in case anyone tried to get away with not dressing up. Helps get people in the mood.
All it takes is a few more outgoing people to start playing and everyone else will want to join in.

On GH we usually played in the battle mode where each player can select their own level of difficulty, plus that way the song doesn't stop if you suck really bad. That way everyone can enjoy playing a bit, no matter what their level.

Oh, and booze!
posted by vodkaboots at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2008

Perhaps just as important as booze: xbox live points - folks have fun perusing the available downloadable tracks/albums - it's fun to be able to just grab the ones you want.
posted by soplerfo at 7:59 PM on June 2, 2008

If you're inviting a bunch of people, I would recommend sticking with either SingStar or Guitar Hero. Rock Band has a lot more complexities than the other games, and simple is always better. Especially if there are drunk people involved.

Also, to emphasize what others have mentioned, I would hesitate to invite too many people if you live in an apartment complex. I once had a Guitar Hero party with about 30 people after talking to my neighbors about it, and still got slapped with a noise complaint for it. Never underestimate the power of people's crankiness. It may also help to invite them.

In terms of food and booze, get stuff that people can grab quickly between songs and/or solos, so that no one has to worry about where to put their food. Especially if you don't have much room in your apartment!
posted by keekmaxima at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2008

You should invite me.

That's all I got.
posted by Defenestrator at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses guys. You brought up stuff I never even thought about, like having a mic stand, battle of the bands, having guests download songs, etc. etc. These suggestions are great!

Defenestrator, you're invited too. What's a mere 600 miles when ROCK is involved...
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:50 AM on June 3, 2008

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