The 5 Best Band Performances at Video Game Conferences

Honoring today’s jaw-dropping announcement that 2001’s “Drops of Jupiter” performers, San Francisco rock band Train, will appear at BlizzCon 2018, I wanted to take note of other notable musical performances by major bands at games-related events.

Listen. It’s a slow news day. Red Dead 2 is out and everyone is avoiding making news like I’ll avoid driving my horse off a cliff by accident later tonight.

Anyway, to the jams!

5) Phoenix @ The Game Awards 2017

Okay, “Ti Amo” is a good track by a great band (when they’re not being shoehorned into lesser Sofia Coppola films), but the nature of The Game Awards, paired to a pandering intro with Mario coin sounds, had me eye-rolling well into Phoenix’s three-minute performance.

I wish they had gotten an hour to play instead of… <gestures wildly at The Game Awards>

4) Muse @ BlizzCon 2017

Might as well mention last year’s BlizzCon! British space rockers Muse can be  self-serious to the point of corniness, but at least they’re mostly on-brand with BlizzCon attendees. They played a 90-minute (!) set in Anaheim; during which faces were melted quite thoroughly as they played through the best of their impressive catalog.

Booking Muse is awfully impressive in itself (and probably pricey). Not to mention it struck me as a pretty good fit—especially when they ended the evening with a rousing rendition of “Knights of Cydonia” while Blizzard characters crowded the stage for some pretty “rad” dancing.

3) Rae Sremmurd @ The Game Awards 2016

There’s a lot to unpack in Rae Sremmurd’s 2016 performance of “Black Beatles” at The Game Awards. First things first, “Black Beatles” is a total banger of a track even now. Holy smokes.

The duo does a pretty good performance of it here, but I have a few takeaways I have to mention. Firstly, where can I get Slim Jxmmi’s sparkly pants?

Masterful pants, those. Second of all, I know it’s The Game Awards, and I know everything is Gaming and that Gamers are Gamers, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to pop arcade cabinets in the background just to remind us that “hey in four minutes when this set is over, we’re gonna go back to celebrating Duke Nukem’s bicep veins.” Like, we get it.

Anyway, “Black Beatles” rules and I’m glad Geoff and the Game Boys booked Rae Sremmurd.

2) CHVRCHES @ The Game Awards 2015

What a good get for The Game Awards 2015. CHVRCHES (pronounced chuh-ver-ches) is a really, really, really good Scottish synth-pop band who produced one of this year’s best albums, Love is Dead.

Love can’t be dead, seeing as I love that album so much. So dramatic, CHVRCHES.

“Leave a Trace” is one of the band’s stronger tracks and very good showcase for Lauren Mayberry’s soprano voice. It’s not the strongest performance of theirs, nor even the strongest performance of this specific song, but it’s a no-frills set piece I remember watching live. “No frills” is a welcome descriptor at The Game Awards.

And hey! Say what you will about The Game Awards (I certainly have). They still scope great musical talent and put on a high-level production every year.

1) Weird Al Yankovic @ BlizzCon 2016

Every few years I convince myself that I’m not a kid anymore. I’m absolutely not charmed by Weird Al Yankovic’s riffs on popular music. I’m just too cool for parody songs. Then I actually watch a performance of Young Alfred’s and exclaim “Weird Al is still the truth” out loud to any coworkers in earshot.

Weird Al’s performance at BlizzCon 2016 is a trip through his greatest hits and greatest videos because the dude does like 27 costume changes in 90 minutes. He’s just an incredible performer and musician. Every time I try to leave that part of my childhood behind I grow to appreciate his work even more.

I’m promise I’ll try to stop running away from Weird Al now.

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John Warren

I miss Texas sometimes. Wheelchair person. Professional wrestling is humanity's greatest achievement. He/his, y'all.

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