Total Rock Total Rewards

Start a Band. Rock the World.

Well folks, once again we find ourselves at the end. The curtain has come down on another incredible Total Rock, Total Rewards.

For the second year in a row an astounding group of the best Rock Band players from around the country converged on Atlantic City, NJ and brought with them unparalleled amounts of rock awesomeness. The stakes may have been higher this year, but so was the level of talent on display.  Originally, I had challenged this year’s bands to break out all the stops, to really take this thing to the next level, to exceed the performances of last year, show us something new, and to give us a performance we’d never forget. And did they ever deliver. The costumes and make-up were crazier, the playing was stellar, and the stage antics were just jaw-dropping.

If you’ve seen the pictures and videos, you’ve had a taste. If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for.  If you were there, well, that’s a different story. If you were part of this show, performing, observing, cheering, judging or even just passing by, you were a part of something truly special. This year’s bands brought the rock like never before, with performances that will live on as the pinnacles of talent and showmanship for a long time to come… or at least until next year.

So to all of you who made the 2010 Harrah’s Total Rock, Total Rewards Rock Band competition so amazing, thank you. Thank you to Harrah’s for providing such amazing hospitality, an incredible venue, and the opportunity for everyone to live this dream. Thank you to ION Audio and Mad Catz for providing the gear to jam on and the amazing prize packages (the Gifting Lounge was a thing of beauty). Thank you to Polk Audio for the sweet, sweet, sounds and even sweeter prizes. Thank you to Harmonix for giving us the vehicle to unleash all this talent. Thank you to MTV Games for putting it all in place.

Most of all, thanks to the players for giving us such outstanding performances and such incredible memories.

We’ll be seeing you guys again soon. Count on it.



Preface: I am running dangerously low on rock and roll puns, and I may have to stretch quite a bit

The titans of “Rock Band” gathered together, surrounded by plastic hay bales and two dimensional cactuses decorated with christmas lights to see which quartet would reign supreme.  The reward: 10k in cash, the title of “Rock Band Champion”, and a chance to meet Ringo Starr, who we hear is quite the accomplished musician.  The instruments may not be real, but the tension was.

The crowd, not so wild at this point, but just wait.

The 3 judges based the scores on 3 criteria: Gameplay, Style, and Performance.  Sway ran the show, with his daughter in tow. And the crowd was huge from the get-go.

Our Gracious Judges

There were two rounds to the pentultimate Rock Band square off.

The first round consisted of each band getting up on stage and drawing a song at random to perform.  For Rock Band players, this is roughly the equivalent of that dream where you are naked at school and have to do an interpretive dance about the Meiji Dynasty for your final.  Yeah, everyone was quite nervous.  Many of the songs randomly picked for the first round of competition were the songs you usually skip over playing at home because they are just too darned hard.  I think we actually saw smoke coming from the strum bars at one point.  Many sonic booms were felt, due to drummers regularly breaking the sound barrier.  It was insane.  The main differentiation among the bands was not gameplay scores, but stage presence.  Delorian Racers, in particular, were penalized quite severely for a lack of cohesive style, while FA/KE, ROFL MAO, and Science!!! were all quite even in the first round.

Our Attention: She had it

The bands brought their own songs to the table during the second round of competition.  The crowd was amped up to an appropriate level for the occasion, and some say that the stuffed prostitutes looking down from a nearby facade had turned their smirks into smiles for the occasion.  FA/KE took the stage dressed as egyptians (quite reminicent of ROFL MAO the day before), and PLAYED THE HELL OUT OF THE SONG.  The choreography and antics displayed by the rock warriors were even more impressive than anything we had seen previously.  A new bar had been set.  Science!!! then took the stage, and absolutely met the challenge in glam rock fashion.  ROFL MAO came out and drove the croud into a frenzy with their pitch perfect rendition of “Heartbreaker”, and by the time Delorian Racers were done performing  “Under Pressure”, many of the crowd had to be peeled from the carpet with spatulas due to the fact that their faces HAD BEEN MELTED OFF by the amazing shockwaves of rock sent off by all the bands.


In the end, it came down to ROFL MAO and FA/KE.  FA/KE, still stining from the previous years’ close defeat was again sent home with 2nd place as ROFL MAO were christened as the Total Rock Total Rewards Rock Band Competition Champtions of 2010.

They are the champions, my friends.

Congratulation everybody!  One of the greatest things about the whole competition was the comeradery displayed between all the bands.  Everyone’s love of Rock Band (and the sponsors, we assume) brought them together in a whole lot of hippy feeling lovey dovey crap.  Anyhow, everyone, keep rocking, and prepare yourselves for the 2011 competition!  Help us spread the word among your rock band playing friends, and let the owners of bars and Harrah’s casinos know that you want them to host the tournament next year.  We need lots and lots of venues to participate in order to make 2011 even better!

All winners (technically, there were 3 losers, and one winner)

Stay tuned for videos of the competition.

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Come on down to the Main Stage @ Wild Wild West tonight at 6 PM to watch your rock band heroes duel it out for 10k and immortality (results may vary).

Sway will be here to cheer the winning band on to glory, while crushing the dreams of the other 3 bands’ dreams. And everybody knows how delicious crushed dreams can be when sprinkled over ice cream.

The competition will be over just in time for the fireworks show, which should be spectacular.

Stand by as we post scores live on our Facebook and Twitter pages. (Find the links to the right)

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4 winning bands
-Delorean Racers

These great bands will be competing in the finals tomorrow night at 6.

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It is a lovely day. The sun is shining, the breeze is sweet with the scent of the Atlantic, and the rockers are ROCKING (no chairs were involved in the rocking).

Imagine, if you will, a western themed casino. Olde Tymie facades of buildings to the left and to the right. Howling coyotes above, crazy creepy stuffed prospectors below. And trains, trains, EVERYWHERE. In the midst of the western themed casino, draw with your mind’s eye a stage. Should we call it a stage, or a platform of glory? We’ll just call it a stage. It’s shorter.

Upon this stage of fantabulosity, the brave warriors of rock raised their plastic instruments high in tribute to the glorious sponsors of the competition (at least that is what we are telling the sponsors).


All the bands were able to practice for 15 minutes on the small stage before graduating up to the main stage to be judged under the cruel eyes of our benevolent judges. There has been some fantastic costumes, dance moves, and styling. Some of the highlights include the LED lit elvis, foot long spiked hair guy, and full ghostbuster geared bands.

We were afraid

The reactions from regular gamblers who happened to wander by ranged from besmirchedly amusemed to WTF GET ME OUTTA HERE AND KILL IT WITH FIRE!


Stay tuned for pics and winners.

Last night we had ALL of the most talented Rock Band “artists” in the United States in one tiny bar. It was kinda like having congress, the supreme court, and the president all in one room, so Jack Bauer was on the case. If the terrorists had had their way, it would have been a very sad day in plastic instrument history.

A Target Rich Environment

As a surprise for the bands arriving, we had a Rock Band 3 setup chillin at the Mountain Bar @ Bally’s Atlantic City. Rock Band 3, as in tres, you ask? Yes motherfrakking 3. This is the first time that anyone outside of Harmonix and E3 has been able to get their grubby fingers on the keyboard, non-Beatles harmonized vocals, and all the other goodness of Rock Band 3.

So fun, it was keytastic.

Everyone got their swag bags, including XOJet gear, Rock Band Green Day games, Bally’s Coffee Cups, Rock Star Energy Drink hats, Pepsi coolers, Total Rewards luggage tags, Beatles drum covers, Rock Band sweat shirts, t-shirts, and drum sticks, Polk T-Shirts and gift cards, and other assorted shtuff.

Everyone got a chance to go up on stage and show off their Rock Band 3 chops (or lack thereof on the keyboard) during the course of the night. In fact, when it was time for everyone to go back to their room, we had to pry the instruments from some of the band members’ cold, clammy hands.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and showing the kind of Rock Band comraderie and spirit that is usually quite lacking on Xbox Live.

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Meet the judges for the final round.

Alex Rigopulos  – CEO and Co-Founder, Harmonix Music Systems
As a professionally trained composer, Alex brought a love of music to Harmonix from the very beginning. He co-founded the company in 1995 because he wanted to invent new ways for non-musicians to experience the unique joy that comes from music-making, regardless of talent. Alex is also an avid gamer and has been playing games since age 3, when his parents brought home a Magnavox Odyssey console. Alex now manages the studio and contributes to the design of Harmonix games. He also enjoys rocking out on the drums and occasionally performs with his brothers in their rock band Yeast.  He earned his B.S. in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.S. from the computer music group of the MIT Media Laboratory.

Musical Talents: Plays drums in some of the world’s worst rock bands
Random Facts: While attending MIT, Alex played percussion in a Balinese gamelan orchestra.
In His Own Words: “Playing music is one of the most purely pleasurable experiences that life has to offer, and Harmonix exists to make that experience accessible to everyone.”


Steve Raymond – DJ – WZXL (AC)
Steve Raymond is the host of WZXL’s morning show. He has been at the radio station for almost 20 years, and loves it. He’s originally from New England, and considers himself a native citizen of Red Sox nation. He’s also a Steelers fan. The Rolling Stones, AC/CD and Aerosmith are some of Steve’s favorite rock bands.

Favorite Stuff:  AC/DC AEROSMITH, THE ROLLING STONES, WAWA Hazelnut coffee 12oz.(daily!)
Random Facts: Celebrating 20 Years at WZXL in 2010.

David Gravatt, Vice President, Dick Foster Productions
Over the past 20 years, David has produced and directed award-winning stage productions, including renowned magic and celebrity ice shows among other elaborate stage extravaganzas.

Best known for his creativity in developing and producing innovative and alternative concepts, David is recognized throughout the entertainment industry as a forerunner in cutting-edge programming. He’s created BevErtainment, which allows casino staff to showcase their professional performance skills via individualized vignettes on stages. His program, T-Mates, is the only female caddie service in Las Vegas.

This post was created @ 41,000 feet, over the state of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Today the winners of the Total Rock Total Rewards “Get Treated Like a Rock Star” sweepstakes obtain their prize, and it is quite the impressive prize. Here are 10 reasons that you wish you would have won the Total Rock Total Rewards sweepstakes.

  1. Security lines are for suckers. Did you know that when you fly on a private jet, you don’t have to deal with all the same security lines?  Yeah, we didn’t either.  You just kinda show up, and 1 minute later, you are sitting on the plane.
  2. Schedules do not apply to you.  What happens if you are late?  Well, the plane isn’t gonna leave without you.
  3. You can bring liquids on the plane! Yeah, I know, liquids are pretty revolutionary.  We were so pleased about being able to bring an alternate to a solid or a gas, that we brought a gallon of milk, just because we could.  That’s how rock stars roll.

    Liquids, They Rock

  4. No baggage fees, oh, and it would be almost impossible to lose your luggage.  The pilot takes your bags, and puts them on the plane for you.  He doesn’t weight them, like a UFC fighter.  The bags never really leave your sight, they just go onto the plane.
  5. You are treated like a rock star, not cattle, by the XOJet captain and crew.  They greet you with a smile, and not suspicion.  Everybody is happy and relaxed.  Flying without mean people can be quite dis-jarring, kind of like seeing a baby with a beard, but it just works.

    Your friendly pilots. Please note that you can actually go into the cockpit and chat it up with them without getting tackled by the air marshall.

  6. Food that doesn’t make you worry about bathroom placement for the next day or so.  You won’t have to worry about sleeping through the snack cart coming through, or alternatively, getting smashed by the cart as it rumbles down the lane.  The snacks are just chilling there for you to take, so take em when you want.  You also don’t have to feel like Oliver when asking for more peanuts.

    Raid Away

  7. Freaking wifi on the freaking plane.  First, you don’t have to turn off any of your electrical devices, keep those babies on.  XOJet understands that your cell phone won’t make the plane spontaneously combust.  Then connect to the internets.  Internets on a plane, without any additional fees?  Oh yeah.  The winners of the competition are currently at 40,000 feet, watching Netflix, Hulu, and downloading a torrent of Toy Story 3.  Take that MPAA, try to arrest us IN THE AIR!

    Streaming at 41,000 feet

  8. A limo is waiting at the airport for you.  No cab lines, no waiting for shuttles.  Do rock stars wait?  No!  Every moment spent NOT rocking is a minute wasted, so the limo is just chilling there for you. The limo had nothing better to do.  Get off the private jet, get into the private  limo.  You do have to walk about two hundred yards to get from one to the other, but as soon as we perfect the Harrah’s Entertainment Jet Pack, we will cut out the walking too.
  9. Free stay in Atlantic City!  Umm, need we say more?
  10. Knowing that there are lots of people reading a blog post about why they should be jealous of you.
  11. We had to have a number 11, because we are rock stars, and rules are made to be broken.  But wait, do we have to go past 11 because 11 is too stereotypical of rock stars?

    We HAVE to go PAST 11

  12. Umm, TOTAL ROCK!

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As many of you will be heading off in the morning for the AC EXTRAVAGANZA, just a few more mentions…

  • What happens in AC does not stay in AC. The gospel according to Total Rock, Total Rewards is if you’re having fun, spread the good word. We fully encourage insights and observations, backstage antics and congratulatory tweets! Follow @KerithAnn for competition updates and share up to the minute news on Facebook.
  • If you have additional questions while in AC, email The FAQ page will be continuously updated.
  • The schedule is as follows:
    • Wednesday, Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino – Mountain Bar 8 – 11pm
    • Thursday, Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino – Main Stage 12 – 5pm
    • Friday, Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino – Main Stage 6 – 8pm

Now, let’s introduce the Total Rock, Total Rewards 2010 Rock Band Bands (at press time, not all bands provided their rider requirements):

  1. Charlie Gets Crippled – Bill’s Casino, Bill’s Lounge…Rider = Cold Dr. Pepper. Great TV. Comfy bed.
  2. Combo Breakers – Mountain Bar at Bally’s
  3. Complimentary Breakfast – The Boardwalk Complex Downtown…Rider = Stripper pole. Rock Band 3. George Forman grill. A Partridge in a Pear Tree.
  4. DeLorean Racers – Busby’s East…Rider = A framed copy of Nick Nolte’s mug shot. 3 Kilos of BBQ sauce; Plutonium
  5. Death of the Arcade – Govnr’s Tavern…Rider= Hamster. Tape. Knives.
  6. Eggs Erroneous – The Dam Bar…Rider = Cats. Keystone Light. Hebrew National brand hot dogs.
  7. FA/KE – The Blarney Stone…Rider = Drum Sticks. Roc N’ Soc drum throne. The drum HELMET o’ PAIN.  Personal Chef. Lakers games broadcast live to the tour bus. Sound proof isolation chamber for vocal warm‐ups and various other activities.
  8. Four Shades of Power – Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Cabo Wabo…
  9. Goat Southeast – Fahrenheit Ultra Lounge and Restaurant…Rider = Chips (Not paint chips). Running water (Not stationary water). Oxygen (Not paint chips).
  10. Here Comes a New Challenger – Dallas Woody’s…Rider = The first person to read the rider for whom it is possible will be asked, “…to bring your mother to the venue’s backstage area, so she may be the butt of any ‘your mom’ jokes that are told. This is critical to our band unwinding and we will not go on stage without your mom.” 1 Complete Dinosaur Skeleton, uniquely furnished by the venue (predator preferred, Utahraptor size or larger). Polar Bear with food (seals).
  11. Intellectual Platypus and the Wombats – Transit Lounge…Rider = Xbox360. Rock Band 2. Lots and lots and lots of Food
  12. Jimmy Twinkle and the BAD- The Underground, Rockit Ranch…Rider = Squeeze-Its. Fun-Dips. Dance Dance Revolution Machine.
  13. Katastrophe– Rock and Roll Hotel…Rider = Purple M&Ms. An XBox (with Rock Band of course). Cat ears
  14. Last Minute Rejects – The Waterwheel Lounge…Rider = Fridge full of Tab Soda. A whole bowl of Skittles without purple ones. A Rock Band setup backstage.
  15. Morning of Mourning – Outland on Liberty…Rider = A Dancing Monkey
  16. Ninjas in Disguise – Harrah’s Joliet…Rider = Energy Drinks. The Ladies. Rock Band hooked up in our green room with loads of DLC!
  17. Rofl Mao – Alibi Lounge…Rider = Kiddie pool full of hummus. Cake shaped like the Millennium Falcon. Rock Band in the dressing room, of course!
  18. SCIENCE!!! – Paddy O’s…Rider = 14 cases of Pepsi. Sway Calloway action figures. AVOCADOS! 

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Welcome the final “sideline” judge at the AC extravaganza.

Kyle aka HMXdropslash is the Event Specialist for Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. He spends a lot of his spare time voxtarring the same songs over and over again fixing broken Rock Band equipment. He knows way more than anyone should about video game audio, video, and technical direction. He’s hoping that the Total Rock, Total Rewards crew can impress him with more than just wigs and make-up. When he’s not camped out by the side of the stage, you can usually find HMXdropslash managing the Community Team’s event equipment, creating works of art in Excel, or pretending not to notice HMXThrasher stealing his coffee coupons.

 Watch out Rock Banders, Kyle will be judging FROM THE STAGE, giving the competition an up close, expert eye on your game skills. He’ll also get to see all the bad hair and makeup up close and personal. Yikes!

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