October 16, 2012

Something Awesome!!!

I'm the third person on Lindsey's left, your right. I'm in blue!
Stuff’s been going on! I’ve had a couple of days to let this simmer, so I think now would be a good time to share my experience with those who don’t already know (though based on the views that this blog gets, this post may be superfluous).
On Saturday, October 16th of 2012, I got to go see Lindsey Stirling perform in Phoenix! Not only that, but I also got to meet her in person since I had a Meet and Greet ticket! She is just an amazingly nice person; very welcoming of her fans! I got a copy of my arrangement of her Zelda Medley signed by her, and a copy of her album made out to me personally! She seemed pretty impressed that I took the time and put the effort in to arrange her piece, and was super generous in allowing a second object of mine to be signed (we were technically only allowed to bring one thing in for her to sign, though that rule really didn’t hold much sway, as there were several groups of people traveling together anyway). Then we got our picture taken together, giving a hearty thumbs up to the camera! The whole exchange took about four minutes (at least in my memory), but those were some of the most meaningful minutes ever for me. I’d like to add that Lindsey Stirling is a personal hero of mine, and to meet her like this just took my breath away. Just so cool!

I was so happy after this!
After that, those of us with VIP passes got to go into the concert hall first and I promptly took up a position in the front row. Yes! The front row! Awesome! The rest of the crowd filled in then, and then the concert began.
There were three warm-up acts that preceded Lindsey herself, the first of which was really bad. The guitarist and the drummer weren’t very good, but the entire ensemble hadn’t done any of their sound checks yet, so they were still testing things out even as the concert began. Really unprofessional, and the worst of it was that the singer had a gorgeous voice, the two fiddlers were both really good… but all you could here was a pretty bad guitarist and a lukewarm drum part taking up the entirety of the sound.
I texted my mom after the first act was over, to let her know how much damage was done to my poor ears! She asked if I wanted to move back to which I declined; this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here, and I was not going to move back! The second act was better than the first. These guys were Lindsey’s high-school band, StompOnMelvin, and Lindsey came out for one song to perform with them. After that she left, and I and several other people was left wondering if that was it! Luckily it wasn’t, as the third and final prelude commenced with reassurance that we would see more of Lindsey soon.
The third act was actually pretty good. The guy who was performing was a decent singer and guitarist, and it was interesting to see him interact with a backtrack on his laptop of all things (the sound was enhanced, obviously). I was about ready to just pull back my expectations at this point, because the tech crew began clearing the stage of everything except for a drum set and a keyboard, and I thought that it was over. Luckily I was wrong, and what followed was pure Lindsey Stirling violin rock concert venue gold!
She began with Spontaneous Me, followed non-stop by Shadows. Both were really good. I loved what she did with her live performance of these pieces (really all of them, but these in particular); she made them seem more human, probably because her violin sound wasn’t covered up by electronic tweaks and bobs and whistles. Next came a beautiful rendition of Electric Daisy! She did things with her bow in that song that were just scary! Cool, but insane.

Skyrim came next. This one was the song that really made me go “okay, she’s doing this live, and I’m really here!” This was done in an impressive way to be sure. If you’re not familiar with her version of her Skyrim theme… then first of all, what are you doing here, second go check it out, but third her arrangement of it has 107 tracks of violin and a capella tenor singing the lyrics. Well, she obviously couldn’t fit a full male choir onto the stage, so she projected a video of only the singing tracks, and then just played along to that. Now, I hadn’t been to a rock concert before this in my life, so maybe this is done far more often, but as a way to deal with the fact that she didn’t have seventy people on hand to back her, this was a great way to get around that. This also meant that the audience could sing along as well, since the lyrics were shown on the screen! The whole song was just a great time, and I, and the majority of the audience seemed to have had a ton of fun with it.
Moon Trance and Zi Zi’s Journey were both really good. Again, much like Spontaneous Me, and Shadows, these two played live sounded really human and alive and just so rich in tone and texture. That’s not to say that the album version of these songs sound bad, but adding the human element back in can make a world of difference. There’s nothing like live music!
Lord of the Rings was fantastic. I get pretty excited by this song, as you can no doubt tell in the video. She just had this aura of power around her for this whole thing. The live drums were a nice touch, and the singing portions of this really surprised me! This girl can sing pretty well, and of course the crowd was going crazy: nothing like a little nerdiness to spice up a concert like this.

We Found Love was really neat, because Lindsey did not play the violin for this (at least for the majority of it)! She sang… the whole thing… by herself! Her voice is really quite lovely (her album doesn’t do it justice), and it was very cool to see her fully utilize it here! The parts she did play with the violin were obviously good too, and this song stuck in my mind more so than some of the others because of how shocking it was to see Lindsey sing and not play for the majority of the song.
As a little treat between her more famous pieces, she also gave us a look at what her version of Can’t Touch This by Michael Jackson would look like if she ever did a music video of it. She can moonwalk! How awesome is that?!  Along with that, she also played her version of River Flows in You. Again unexpected, this was a great break from the more note-heavy songs that preceded it. She proved with this that she can do proper vibrato (thank god), and that you don’t have to play fast to play beautifully. These two pieces were a great way to set the crowd up for the final third of her concert, which had one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life in it.
Crystallize began the awesome trio of songs here, and it was good. I have a love-hate relationship with this song in particular, because I personally think it’s overrated. Does it suck? Absolutely not; it’s a great piece, full of lovely minor chords and cadences and vibrations, but people seem to have this misconception now that this song represents the best that Lindsey has to offer, which is not the case at all. My favorite original composition of hers is Shadows because it has a simple melody and a cool triplet backbeat and presence running throughout the song. But this still is not the best that Lindsey has to offer; that comes later. Crystallize, however, was played very well (her dance moves were stunning with this), and if you’re not me, you probably love this song which is totally fine; I do too, by the way, I just don’t consider it her best.
Transcendence was the finale to her concert proper, and this is what blew me away. In this piece, her dance moves are displayed in full force… as she actually did her famous limbo move while playing her violin! All the way down, and all the way back up! I caught it on video and was thunderstruck!!! Amazing! How the hell does she do that while playing her instrument?! I just… oh my god! So that was what really stuck in my head after the concert was that move right there! The rest of the song was amazing as well; intonation was pretty good (this song is hard for Lindsey to play well in tune, and even harder to play while dancing, I imagine), and, while she was probably exhausted, she kept any tiredness hidden very well. All smiles all the way.

After this, the audience went wild, demanding an encore. Now, three things went through my mind when she came back out to obey the audience's wish to play another song:
1) What else is there to play?
2) Why didn’t she play her Phantom of the Opera Medley?
3) Oh my god, she’s going to play her Phantom of the Opera Medley!
And she did, and it was superb. Her version of Phantom is, in my opinion, the best that Lindsey Stirling has to offer in terms of her composing and performing abilities. The medley is a bitch to play; so many fast runs, trill, turns, scales… its just insane, but the thing that really makes me love this is that it combines a classic opera piece with rock, which is after all what Lindsey set out to do: make the violin a modern instrument. Seeing this live just made my jaw drop even more (it fell through the floor, see), because she played this on an acoustic instrument. The original was played on an electric violin, and with that, she was able to do a whole lot more in terms of being able to cover up mistakes and enhance slides and trills, but here, she has to contend with the fact that an acoustic violin is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to sounding electronic. I took a class this summer at the Mark O’Connor camp on how to make an acoustic violin sound like an electric one, and let me tell you, its not easy. Here, Lindsey makes it look so easy, and she hits almost everything right (she messed up on her final cadenza run right before the keys and drums came barreling back in, but still)! This was a great way to end the concert!
My mom said that when she met me outside (she was in the far back of the concert hall), I was just grinning from ear to ear! And I can believe it, because the whole experience literally changed my life! After seeing Lindsey live, I just feel so much more empowered now. I’m a pretty good musician, but there are things that I am not good at: my long bow strokes (playing from the frog to the tip), playing in tune up high, sight reading, and meeting her and seeing her perform live just makes me feel so much more empowered and confident in those areas of improvement. This was a life-changing experience that I will never forget, and I can’t recommend seeing her live if you get the chance enough. It’s just incredible!

I also bought a poster, but forgot to include it in these shots. It's the Crystallize poster; for all my critiques of the song, I've gotta say, that poster rocks!

This made me so proud of myself!

The experience of a lifetime!