A few weeks ago, I had the chance to hang out with one of my favorite bands. My friends can attest to how much of a fan I am of acoustic guitar duo Ryanhood, probably while rolling their eyes and sighing. As it happens, I’m not the only person in the Greater Boston-Cambridge metropolitan area who considers himself a devotee of the band, which recently had a show in the area. Caitlin Mason and Chris Chiampa in Malden, unable to make it to the concert in Boston on March 6, opened her apartment to Ryanhood the next day for some Beatles: Rock Band with band members Ryan Green and Cameron Hood. Luckily for me, a few other fans got to come along for the ride, myself included.
I’m fairly sure that if I randomly encountered a Hollywood celebrity on the street, I would almost certainly be rendered incapable of forming coherent sentences and would instead stand gaping on the sidewalk for so long that I’d have to join the Living Statues Trade Union. Again, I’m not the only one — Chris related the story of a friend with a similar disposition. Although Chris’s friend was a fervent Monty Python fan, instead of walking up and talking to Michael Palin when she passed him on the street, she could only turn to a nearby bystander and say, “It’s Michael Palin!”, preceded by an expletive. Fortunately, she said it loud enough for Mr. Palin to hear, so she at least got a wave and a smile out of the exchange; not all of us are so lucky.
A friend of mine, an absolutely rabid Firefly fan (something else I’m a eye-roll-sigh-worthy fan of) once barely missed Nathan Fillion walking out of a diner, which would be tragic enough on its own. Compound that with the facts that she a) had that day narrowly decided against wearing her Jayne hat, a bright orange/yellow/red knit toque that’s impossible to miss and a badge for many Firefly fans, b) lives in Los Angeles but constantly has to correct people who assume she sees celebrities day in and day out, and c) once walked past Firefly creator Joss Whedon at the San Diego Comic-Con in a similar manner, and it’s positively heartbreaking. Hindsight is a cruel mistress. I therefore live in envy of people who can have a normal conversation with famous people without developing a stutter or sharing too much information, like our hosts Chris and Caitlin, who apparently not only spoke to Ryanhood (which is more than I can say for the first time I met them), but invited them to their house.
When I got to Chris and Caitlin’s apartment, I was obscenely early, which is par for the course for me, a punctuality paranoiac. What wasn’t par for the course was the fact that I managed to find the place without getting lost even once (which is why I’m a punctuality paranoiac and why I was so early to begin with). After Ryanhood’s arrival, the videogaming commenced shortly. Aside from the expected technical difficulties with calibration, a common concern with rhythm-based games, things went fairly smoothly. Unsurprisingly, both Ryan and Cameron rocked lead vocals, and were understandably hesitant to play “Dear Prudence,” which they covered on one of their early albums. What was surprising, aside from Cameron being at least as good at drums as he was on guitar, was how much the afternoon played like a normal gaming session.
Though Ryan and Cameron are both professional guitarists, instruments were exchanged as freely as with any other group of gamers I’ve played with. No red carpets, no giddy fawning, although I do recall that Ryan and Cameron had no trouble leaving at the end of the evening with a Tupperware container full of cookies. Just a solid afternoon of good fun with interesting people — and not just the rock stars, either. Our hosts and their friends were equally fascinating, including a scholar of literature and a development writer for, among other things, the Discovery Channel. When you’re sitting across from someone who has met (and was allegedly checked out by) the host of Cash Cab, and she’s offering to mix you a drink, you know you’ve found a good way to spend your Sunday afternoon. Not only did I get to show off my Rock Band skills to two of my favorite musicians (proving that contrary to the common parental assertion, video games are only a partial waste of time), but I made some new friends with cool jobs, good taste in music, and every Rock Band game ever made. Methinks I’ll be visiting again soon.