As someone who has a strong background in Live Action Role Play (LARP) experiences, I love trying them out whenever I get the chance. So when Aaron Vanek announced that his entry for this year’s Fringe would be an ’80s-themed rock band story with a murder, I was happy to join in the festivities. Rock Band Murder Mystery
Rock Band Murder Mystery begins with a 20-minute introduction during which each guest getting to choose their ‘role’ in the experience; beginnings like this happen far more frequently in LARP scenarios than in more ‘immersive’ experiences. I excitedly chose to be the lead guitarist, immediately getting a list of information about my ‘character’ including what seemed to be juicy details that would obviously come up later to make my life complicated. Anyone who’s ever played a “murder mystery dinner party” would recognize the sort of information I received. Who was I sleeping with? What had happened to the previous guitarist? Things like that. Others chose to be the rest of the band members, the manager, a groupie, and even a reporter.
Then we got to jam out to our first rock ’n’ roll session – on Guitar Hero, of course. Having once been an expert GH player, I assumed that my skills would remain as sharp as they’d always been at the top of my game. I was sadly incorrect. Then the experience truly started.
The setup had been fantastic, so I was looking forward to what would happen next. Unfortunately, for me, the rest of the 90-minute experience was less impressive than I had hoped. The band only played a few songs – although we could have played more and others could have also played if they’d wanted to do so. But it meant that the “Rock Band” part of the story was pretty small.
That lack of playing music meant the “Murder Mystery” segment needed to be fun and twisty, and have lots of suspects to be engaging. But instead, we were all given clues repeatedly that echoed each other’s information. There was no real conflict of sources or perspective or anything – we all just got effectively the same info at the same time, clue after clue. Worse, in my opinion, the mystery only seemed to have one real suspect. We all focused on one individual immediately and none of the information seemed to counter that choice – which seemed to defeat the purpose of it being a mystery. Traditionally, mysteries have multiple subjects, multiple clues that point to possibilities, and multiple motives. None of that happened here. Perhaps it was simply our particular group or perhaps the mystery needs to be fleshed out to create more chaos and confusion and potential outcomes. I’m not certain who is to blame for the mystery lacking punch, but in my experience it certainly came across as the least interesting part of the production.
Rock Band Murder Mystery certainly has its fun moments. Getting to pretend to be a rock star in a great location with a bunch of other people has a certain charm that made the experience fun and goofy and amusing. I am glad that I chose to go. I simply wish that the mystery had been something we had to crack, and that we could win or lose when we tried to solve it. At least in our group, we all came to the same conclusion without any confusion, which ultimately made the entire experience a little underwhelming. That being said, I am glad to see LARPs continue to influence immersive entertainment in even more blended ways.
Find out more information on Rock Band Murder Mystery and buy tickets here. Keep up to date with all of our Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019 coverage here. Follow our Event Guide for more news and reviews throughout the year. Rock Band Murder Mystery Rock Band Murder Mystery Rock Band Murder Mystery
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