June 16, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands is about 1000% more fun than being in a real band

The first scene in RPS Game Club choose Deathbulge: Battle of the Bands – a really fun and innovative turn-based riff role playing games – sees guitarist Faye, with cotton candy hair and glue, frantically searching for her lost guitar as the crowd for the titular battle grows impatient. You'll quickly realize that this is a pantsless school-style dream sequence, but the tangled mess of thick black cables carpeting this dingy side stage is painfully precise. Pissing with the crew is about 70% of the band experience, in my limited experience of being in bands. This probably changes when you have roadies or tech people, but we didn't because we were stripped down. And also terrible. Several hours of Deathbulge have brought me more joy than several years of being in real bands. I had some isolated good moments in some of those bands, but I'm having a very Good time with Deathbulge.

Deathbulge isn't good because it's deeply cutting satire or something. Most of the time he just finds fun in pure abstract nonsense or silly characters, and I think the team (3 people!) would have found both the shit and the gigs in any topic, despite the shitty gigs. However, the theme feels vibrant and precise enough to allow me to confidently deduce that its writer 1. Has an abiding love for Big Mouth Billy Bass, 2. Has seen at least enough Peep Show to base the appearance of a movie mogul energy drinks in sports suit. Super Hans and 3. he Has been in gangs or has many mates who were. They probably used to hang out at skate parks too. You've probably worn a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long-sleeved one at least once.

Faye performs a creepy guitar move in Deathbulge: Battle of the Bands.
Image credit: Deathbulge/Five Houses LLC/Stone Paper Shotgun

Some of these jokes are painfully accurate, like the experience of trying to impress the guy at the instrument store. The guy is five years older than you. and He has a piercing in his nose. She saw Slipknot twice. Before They did Iowa. He's the coolest person your idiot has ever met, and you'd cut off your toe if I could get him to nod and say “okay.” Here, Faye attempts this by naming instruments that have “bass” in the title. There are plenty of smaller bits recognizable to anyone who's spent time as part of a loosely defined, DIY-feeling scene that was actually heavily choreographed by marketing types with big Alsatian dogs and whoever makes those studded bracelets. Like, for example, the fan club that enjoys making you wet for not having heard of a rapping duck, with a little penguin mascot called Newborn, much more than the experience of simply sharing that music.

It would be hyperbolic of me to compare the actual experience of interacting with other gangs, as a gang, to the demonic murder pact that Deathbulge members unknowingly sign in the game. However! Playing gigs in exchange for beer and gas as part of what I would affectionately come to know as the 'bathroom circuit', you find that other bands often make up the majority of your audience. They will laugh and smile together, while harboring a secret disdain for each other. After all, the chance of a band breaking through from the same lap of the bathroom circuit is incredibly rare. But two? No. You know, deep down, that you are better than these people in every way. Sure, they have better equipment than you. A tighter set. And yes, when you listen to their music, you tap and nod, while listening to your own music makes you die a little inside. But you can't trust your own lying ears. Pedestrian concepts like “basic listenability” have no place in art. you are doing he real shit. His shit? that's obviously he fake shit. You can tell because the crowd really likes it. Crowds are idiots. Everybody knows they can't drive the real shit.

Faye laments an inaccessible loot box in Deathbulge: Battle of the Bands.
Image credit: Deathbulge/Five Houses LLC/Stone Paper Shotgun

We once arrived late to a gig due to various transportation issues and ended up being kicked out until the end of the night, when everyone had gone home except the other bands. Every once in a while, I'd see the bassist I'd spent the last two hours forming a lifelong friendship with, his face slowly turning into an expression of disgust as they decided that whatever we thought we were doing was the most definitely not the real shit. It's fine with me, because they definitely they were not doing the real shit any.

We probably could have remained companions, but I was too proud for that. I wasted much of my life convinced that it was more important to be an interesting person than it was to be helpful, well-rounded, or likeable. Anyway, I'd like to think I probably take myself at least a little less seriously these days, which is the only lifelong artistic endeavor really worth pursuing. Now, sometimes I'll pick up a guitar after work and write a little song that's not meant for anyone's ears but my own, and I love it. Music is what happens between things that make noise and your ears, and something that's fun to do with friends. Everything else is nonsense and bluster, and I think Deathbulge understands that.

Faye unsuccessfully kicks a door in Deathbulge: Battle of the Bands.
Image credit: Deathbulge/Five Houses LLC/Stone Paper Shotgun

This is just idiocy on my part, though, and I imagine there are plenty of lovely, talented bands who make good companions, like the good, wholesome Deathbulge companions. It's charming and very entertaining to play something that takes both the camaraderie of sleeping face down in a van and the little pretensions and silliness of being in and around bands, and refuses to take any of it too seriously. And if you haven't heard of it… it's all good and cool! We will be happy to sit down and I'll tell you everything. (Friday May 31 in 4 pm eastern time!)

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