'Rock Band' Game Amps Up Bar Scene Bars like Whitlow's on Wilson near Washington, D.C., are drawing crowds with an increasingly popular video game called Rock Band. Players can take the stage as rock stars — singing or playing guitar, drums or bass to their favorite hits.
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'Rock Band' Game Amps Up Bar Scene

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'Rock Band' Game Amps Up Bar Scene

'Rock Band' Game Amps Up Bar Scene

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Mr. BILAL QURESHI: The beer's on tap, SportsCenter's on the flat screens and the happy hour crowds are building. At Whitlow's on Wilson, suburban Washington, D.C., is ready for an evening of karaoke on steroids.

Mr. MICHAEL MCFADDEN (Emcee, Rock Band Night, Whitlow's on Wilson): You get to play instruments, you get to sing. There is a singing role, but there's drums, two guitars and plenty of people who've done it before already.

Mr. QUIRESHI: Some of the random stragglers at the bar have already formed their rock bands for the night. But one, calling itself the Washington Reagans, is short a drummer. Enter stage right Corey Sweeney(ph), still dressed for the office.

Ms. COREY SWEENEY (Participant, Rock Band Night, Whitlow's on Wilson): I'm going to go play drums. I have no experience whatsoever, and I play easy.

Mr. QUIRESHI: She really wants to make sure they have the game on its setting for beginners. She gets in position on stage behind a plastic drum set. She's confused, looking for direction.

Unidentified Man: That's not for you.

Ms. SWEENEY: Oh, no, no, I want easy.

Unidentified Man: Here you go. Here you go. Green.

Ms. SWEENEY: Thank you.

Unidentified Man: There you go.

Ms. SWEENEY: I was going to hit your finger, I'm sorry.

Unidentified Man: It's all right. It's all right. Here, let me give you some more space.

Mr. QUIRESHI: And tonight, Corey Sweeney's band is taking a stab at a 90s anthem, "Wonderwall."

(Soundbite of music to "Wonderwall")

Ms. SWEENEY: This is so good.

(Soundbite of man singing "Wonderwall" by Oasis)

Today is gonna be the day That they're gonna throw it back to you By now you should've somehow…

Unidentified Man #1: They're gone.

Unidentified Man #2: Oh, no. I don't know who failed out of that one.

Ms. SWEENEY: But that's pretty good.

Unidentified Man #2: Was it the guitarist?

Mr. QUIRESHI: But not everyone's here to score. For some, the victory is in just showing up.

Mr. MCFADDEN: You get the shut-in geeks - video gamers who've come out to the bar for their one night a week, you know, for their excuse to come out to a bar and then there's other beautiful girls out here. And you see the interaction between, you know, I don't know how to talk to a girl, I'm at a bar, but wait, they'll play Rock Band with me.

Mr. QUIRESHI: Michael McFadden emcee's Rock Band Night at Whitlows.

Mr. MCFADDEN: You can't go wrong with Oasis. Oh, wait, there's more. There's more.

Mr. QUIRESHI: He says the crowds have definitely gotten bigger. For proof, I've turned to Jonathan Williams, who runs the bar. He says the $400 it cost to buy the Xbox totally paid off, because it gets people to stay in his bar.

Mr. JONATHAN WILLIAMS (Manager, Whitlow's on Wilson): Put it to you this way - if you and I are hanging out in here, and we get here at 9 o'clock and drink a couple of beers, by 10 o'clock, we might consider getting up there on stage. And by 11 o'clock, you know for sure we're going to be rocking, you know, playing air guitar.

Mr. QUIRESHI: And for the gamers more new to navigating the happy hour jungle, there's a lesson in common courtesy.

Mr. MCFADDEN: I don't know how much you drink when you play Rock Band at home, but here you've got to tip your server.

Mr. QUIRESHI: The Xbox requires no tips and that plays on until last call.

(Soundbite of rock guitar)

Mr. QUIRESHI: Bilal Quireshi, NPR News.

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