Last Night: Guitar Hero at the Tin Can, St. Louis

Jun 20, 2008 at 9:58 am

What You Missed Last Night: Guitar Hero at the Tin Can Tavern

The robots have won. First microwaves, then text messaging and now guitars. Guitars! Is nothing sacred? This has gone too far, you think as you pull up to the Tin Can Tavern on Locust for Guitar Hero Night on Thursday. For someone who’s last experience with video games amounted to little more than pipes and mushrooms, the prospect of virtual rock can be a little daunting. Well, whether you’re already a robot zombie drone (gamer) or skeptical newcomer, you should read on to see what Guitar Hero Night at the Tin Can has to offer.

The Venue: Guess what they have at the Tin Can Tavern? Cans! Glorious cans of beer, more cans than your grandma still has in her basement for the great St. Louis quake of 1990! The place is too clean to be a dive bar, but it does feature a cigarette vending machine, which means it ain’t exactly the Ritz, you get me? Red, black and tin dominate the room, along with “can art” and a nice beer cozy collection really classes up the hallway outside the bathrooms. The '90s alternative grunge music makes you yearn for your tattered flannel and scuffed up Docs.

The raven haired bartender serves up frosty cans with a smile and even took the time to help two goonish corporate office jockeys select a beer other than Bud Light. Tin Can also has a location in South City on Morganford, but something about the trash blowing in the wind down the desolate streets of St. Louis on a week night really draws you here.

The Audience: Early in the night, you may enter to find the khaki short explosion. With cultish dedication, almost everyone wears the khaki shorts, the tucked in polo (bad look for beer bellies) and the blunt safety-scissor cut hair. What are these people doing here? Then it all comes together, there’s some sports convention going on downtown and these are the attendees, out to booze it up after a long day of…conventioneering? When the real crowd (all twenty of them) shows up, it’s a mixed bag of quirky youngsters, sporty locals and regular Joes.

The (virtual) Rockers: The heroes of the night are two regulars named Ethan Marose and Colin O’Brien, the resident Guitar Hero enthusiasts. Though they look more like college students than rock stars, they have the chops to make it in the (virtual) music industry. In real life, Ethan ''dabbles in the recorder,'' while Colin has played the French horn, violin, piano and guitar. Would Colin’s real skills take him to the top in robot land? Were these guys at all concerned that Guitar Hero was being used in a robot takeover?

Ethan did have concerns, ''Eventually, robots will play Guitar Hero, then I'll have nothing to do.''

Colin, who is a software engineer and therefore secretly working for the robots, wasn’t too concerned about the threat because ''it couldn't happen fast enough.'' Likely story, Colin.

The Show: A fiery-eyed stuffed deer head with can cozies perched menacingly on his antlers stared at the conventioneers in utter horror as they played hours of Wii bowling and baseball. Did these guys know that St. Louis has some of the finest actual bowling alleys in the universe? Anyway, once the grannies left the stage area, it was time for some sweet guitar action from Ethan and Colin.

They strapped on the key-tars (come on robots, real guitars have strings that break and cost money, meaning extra profit for you) and started a face-off on medium hard to The Strokes. It was an instant transformation; regular civilians turned into fiercely determined rock dualists; eyes fixed, body rigid, sweat pouring from the brow and fingers flying over keys at unheard of speeds. On screen, little flames danced over colored holes across the fret board, JUST LIKE REAL GUITAR!

Unlike real rock, you are advised to use the whammy bar on almost every song. Despite his experience with instruments of the human world, Colin seemed to lose the guitar battle with Ethan more often than not. This goes to show you that ''guitarist in real life'' does not equal ''guitar hero'' and vice versa.

When the super drunk girl in the cork wedges and her loudmouth boyfriend show up to play, it’s time to ''get the rock outta there.''

- Lyndsay Johnson