Guitar Zero

Maybe the next generation won't even play instruments. Clapton and Hendrix? So passé.

The next time Lozano struts into Java D'Lites for a tournament, every disheveled head in the place whips around. Dog Fish IPAs clink down on the marble counter. Knuckles get cracked. "That's the one," somebody whispers.

c. stiles
Matt Lozano with his constant companion.
c. stiles
Matt Lozano with his constant companion.

Lozano, in a striped polo, is escorted by his dad and his friend Boyett, who introduced him to the game. Boyett has decided to enter the tournament just for fun.

The organizers, James Olsen and Arthur Grandquist, raise their eyebrows, then give the nod. They knew Lozano would show. And that's why the rules of this week's tournament will have to change.

Rather than everybody playing on the same level, which would clearly give the competition to Lozano, there will be handicaps. Lozano will play on expert, but his challenger can play on beginner. This means accuracy will be the most important factor.

Still, there's no denying that Lozano is the best in the house. When he plays "Stricken" by Disturbed in the opening jam session at expert level, he misses just five notes.

"I actually scared a couple of kids away," he says. "They left because they didn't want to compete against me."

Boyett and Lozano, who opened a tab and drank Monster energy drinks, found this hilarious.

In the faceoff round, Boyett found himself facing Marc Brooks — the eight-hour-a-day gamer. Brooks played on expert level. Boyett played on easy.

Miraculously, Boyett missed zero notes and defeated Brooks. It might have had something to do with the more sensitive Xbox controller that Lozano loaned Boyett, Lozano said.

Maybe lending Boyett his best controller wasn't such a good idea. Boyett made it all the way to the finals, where he faced, yes, Matt Lozano, his friend, the ultimate guitar hero.

They played three songs. "Raining Blood" by Slayer. Then "One" by Metallica. The last song was Lozano's choice, and he selected "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." He had been practicing it, and he knew that Boyett had never seen it because it couldn't be downloaded on the Wii.

But on easy level, Boyett was able to complete the song missing just three notes. Lozano missed a lot. And just like that, the Guitar Hero was unseated.

Boyett won $100.

"It felt pretty good," Boyett says.

"It was the best day of his life," Lozano jokes.

Though clearly better than anybody in South Florida, Lozano says he isn't ready for national competitions. When he compares his scores to those on, where all the masters post their personal bests, he finds he's better than only about 90 percent of the people out there. He's seen a guy with the moniker IamChrisForLife who "looks like he's in his 28s."

When Lozano watches IamChrisForLife play "Dragon Force," the hardest song on Guitar Hero III, he can't believe his eyes. "Like, when I would get 400,000, he would actually double my score and get like 860,000. This guy is crazy good. That's someday where I hope I would be."

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