Casual Friday: MTV's Virtual Music Scene

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, here are a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

Music Appreciation
It's tough living the life of a fake rock star. You think life is all plastic guitars and 100-note streak achievement points? "You got another thing coming," man. My fingers bled this week as Rock Band rolled out its first complete album, Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance. The 10-song metal anthem costs $14.99 (or $1.99 a track) from the in-game store.

Judas Priest, 1982: When metal was king.
And more are on the way: The Cars and The Pixies will each release an album over the next two months, and the classic Who set, Who's Next?, is coming--eventually. Me? I'm more excited about being introduced to new artists.

Already, Rock Band slips in discounted tracks (from groups such as Paramore and Sprode) at a buck a pop to promote new music. But if music games aren't good enough for head Weezer, Rivers Cuomo, then I suppose it's time for me to hang up my color-coded frets and go see a "real" band.  

Luckily for me, New York City's hipster haunts are now opening for business on MTV's Virtual Lower East Side (vLES.com). It's a free Second Life-like tour of the East Village music scene with the MTV rubber stamp of "cool."

The good news: vLES is not Second Life or The Sims Online (nor is it trying to be). Better news: there are no ugly people in MTV-land. Even me. Trussing up a stylish avatar, I start cruising a detailed recreation of the neighborhood where I once kicked around (don't ask how long ago).

Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone...
First thing I notice: Man, the Mercury Lounge is DEAD! I'm standing at the corner of Houston and Ludlow looking for any signs of life. That's part of the problem with sampling an alpha-state digital playground. It's not ready for prime time yet.

In truth, it's like sneaking into some new club while the bar is still being built. Even though I'm feeling like The Omega Man, I stick it out. Sure enough, by about 8 p.m. EST, some other club-goers start to hit the scene with all their slacker emotes and all-caps-lock talkin'. Then I'm suddenly reminded why most of my friends who used to frequent the bars now hit Brooklyn. But I'm not here to meet people--at least not yet. Right now, it's about the music.

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