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The Thrasher Challenge: Are You (Wo)Man Enough?

HMXThrasher is a Community Moderator at Harmonix and indeed a big enough jerk to shamelessly promote via t-shirt. Otherwise, she's generally a nice person who enjoys high fives, growling into microphones, and non-sensical dance moves on the main stages of the Harmonix conference booths.

For those of you who may have missed it, the HMX Community crew was on the road a lot this summer. We've toured all over the country (and the world) in the name of rock, fun, and general excellence. We were also promoting our latest game - you may have heard of it, The Beatles: Rock Band.

If you attended PAX (or at least follow my shamelessly self-promoting Twitter feed ::ahem, HMXThrasher, ahem::), then you may have heard of a little contest we like to call the "Thrasher Challenge." In the following paragraphs, I'll give you some insight into the origins of this fabled challenge as well as the glory and rewards that come with taking on and beating said challenge. If you think you've got what it takes to beat and best the challenge, this is an open call for matches at PAX East. Read on rock warriors.

The Origins of the Thrasher Challenge

The initial seeds of inspiration for the challenge were born at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. On one particular day, I came down to the floor wearing my favorite ratty old t-shirt - my grey, worn to shreds, Thrasher skateboards shirt. HMX_AnarKeith, who also sports a collection of Thrasher tees, noticed me wearing it and just burst out laughing. "Nice," he said. Later on that afternoon, while (wo)manning one of our Rock Band 2 stages, a group came up and asked to play Evile's "Thrasher." I filled in on guitar and one of our German crew members pointed at my t-shirt, looked at me, and said: "hey, we're playing your song."

Thrasher t-shirt club

Fast forward a few weeks later to PAX. Someone again (Mr. Pope, I believe), mentioned the triple dose of Thrasher. I tend to wear my Thrasher shirt a lot on the road1 and after a few too many real sodas (sugar plus caffeine = woohoo), I approached HMXHenry with a thought. "Hey - I have an idea about how to get rid of some of our extra swag." Henry listened patiently as I hyperactively outlined a potential contest involving "Thrasher," my shirt, and, well, me.

We came up with some early rules, tweeted about it, and that was that.

The First Challengers

Much to my shocked delight, the next morning I met my first challengers (who knew anyone was reading my tweets?!). To make the situation even cooler, our first challengers were two of our regulars from Improv Boston Night! "Alright Thrasher, we've never even played this song but we're here to take you on. I've got guitar, and the lady's on drums," our buddy Matthew said. Then he followed up: "I know you said play on at least Medium in your tweet - we're going to attempt Expert."


I hopped on vocals and thus began our first Thrasher challenge with me growling, yelling, and tearing my vocal chords, while our crew from back east held it down. The initial tweet said: "achieve at least a 90% score," to earn a prize. Given that all of the instruments on “Thrasher” have demon heads next to them, I realized that we need a "thanks for playing" prize - especially since, as I'd come to find out, the most hard core Rock Band players can be taken down by the song - especially when on the tiny booth stages.

More Challengers Arrive!

"Well," I giggled to HMXLushLife, "that was awesome - and that's already two more people than I'd anticipated for the challenge." "And you still have your shirt on your back," Lushlife noted. Indeed, I did still have my gloriously soft, tshirt (the prize for FCing the song on Expert drums or guitar), still on my back. "I have a feeling I'll be keeping it for awhile, I can't imagine that anyone else has heard about the challenge." No sooner were the words out of my mouth than GodLovesNinjas, Rock Band drummer extraordinaire, and his lady-friend came striding up to us. I knew what they were there for. "We're taking you on!" he said. "Expert?" I arched my eyebrow. "Of course."

Again we took the stage - this time I had to contend with a gentleman in the crowd who couldn't for the life of him understand why I'd call this song a "challenge." "Why it's bloody noise," he said. "Just wait," I said, "they're all playing on Expert, they have to hit at least 90% for a prize, and FC the song for this lovely t-shirt I'm wearing." I started my howling - and after a few minutes of watching the note charts swirling, with GodLovesNinjas furiously pounding the drums, the gentleman on the floor with me, said: "ah, now I see what you mean."

About 15 seconds before the end of the song I was seriously worried that my challengers would be taking the shirt off my back - and then calamity struck. Drumsticks went flying everywhere - notes were missed, the track went red, the sticks came back, but the damage was done!

Our valiant challengers earned themselves some limited edition Rock Band bandanas for holding it down, but they challenged me to a PAX East rematch. It's on!

The Challenge is Real! Bring on PAX East!

To my surprise, I had a few other folks come up to me on the floor over the course of the day and ask: "what's up with this Thrasher Challenge thing?" One group of guys told me they'd need more practice but would take me on at another event. Even more surprising, to me, anyway, were the PMs from the rock masters of our forums.  And now, I'm in real danger of losing my shirt...

The Rules

Should you decide to take on the Thrasher Challenge, here's what you need to know:

  1. You have to find me on the floor! No asking HMXHenry or Veng where I am - you've got to figure out who I am and offer up a high five or a chest bump, along with your name, to let me know you're taking on the Thrasher challenge.2
  2. I'm on vocals. Why? Because it's my challenge, because I like to yell, and because there are no demons next to the vocal line.
  3. You can come up solo or with a band - for the basic part of the challenge you have to play on at least Medium. No Easy players folks.
  4. Hit at least 90% of your notes on Medium, Hard, or Expert, and get some cool swag from the community team.
  5. Take on the challenge on Expert and you'll get some swag just for being a bad-ass and risking losing your hands/fingers/eyes/toes.
  6. FC “Thrasher” on Expert drums or Expert guitar and my coveted, loved, (and slightly dirty), Thrasher tee is yours. I'll even sign it, and, then I, the Thrasher, will bow down to you!

The Glory

Rock Band swag! Chest bumps! Victory laps! Sweaty t-shirts! Fame on the forums and in the hearts and minds of the HMX crew.

1 (or at home, in the office, to sleep, to do housework - generally until my boyfriend tells me it smells and needs to go in the wash).

2 Addendum to part 1, you also have to be patient as we'll let the bands playing finish up to keep the crowd flow going before we hop up.