Just got back home from a sudden surprise for the evening. I was graciously gifted with a free ticket to see The Legend Of Zelda: Symphony Of The Goddesses. And only with about three hours advance notice! But it was quite the awesome surprise.
This particular performance took place in downtown San Antonio’s very own Majestic Theatre. Ticket holders were greeted with the sounds of classic Legend of Zelda songs lightly playing throughout the performance hall while the logo was projected onto a large screen behind the symphony while the symphony themselves began slowly filtering onto the stage and began getting prepared.
Now, before I continue, I feel compelled to comment on the activity of the ticket holders at the event. For starters, I was one of the many, many people who brought their Nintendo 3DS to the concert. Yeah, I Street Passed. Would you believe how many people changed their hats to Link’s cap or the Triforce along with their greeting phrase just for the sake of the concert? I guess that makes pretty decent sense. But then there’s the way people dressed. I get it, the concert is based on music from a series of video games. Believe me, I understand. I’ve been to several other symphonic video game concerts. But this is the most casual event I’ve seen yet. I thought everyone at Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy was bad. No, this was much worse. The fact is, I feel like there’s a certain level of respect that people tend to ignore. I mean, forget the fact that it’s music from a video game. The fact is that it’s still symphonic music. And past that, you’re in the nicest theatre in the city. Look at what you’re walking in to!
For this reason, I find casual clothes particularly rude. And there were very few people who dressed nicely for the event at all. I mean, I suppose the most I can understand is wearing your oh-so-awesome Legend of Zelda T-shirt to the concert. That’s one thing. But sloppy jeans and a sloppy, unrelated T-shirt is another. Then there were cosplayers. Again, I still felt like it was rude, as I often do at orchestrated events, but at least most everyone was dressed as Link. Even a single Zelda was there (how nice, after all, the games are named after her). But then there’s cosplayers who just want to be looked at and are obviously just doing it because they’re begging for attention. I am talking directly to you, guy who dressed up as Ness from Earthbound and guy who dressed up as Marluxia of Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts francise and your terrible pink wig that couldn’t even fit over your head and had just as much natural hair sticking out. If you ever read this, good. You should see me wagging my finger at you. Symphonic concerts aren’t conventions. I’m sorry if you missed the memo. Now go home and change.
Back to the show…
This show was so pro. Now, I consider myself a much bigger Final Fantasy fan than a Legend of Zelda fan. However, as the music played, I couldn’t help but realize what an impact the games really have had on me over the course of time. I walked in expecting to appreciate the music, sure, but not to be moved to tears, and that’s indeed what happened.
This feeling was aided by the fact that the entire production was so well organized and thought out that I don’t know how they can possibly outdo themselves. The performance features game footage being played along with the music from that particular game. And while I’ve seen this done in many other concert series’ before it, never have I seen it done with such precision and accuracy. Even the Final Fantasy concerts have never pulled it off this well. In the Distant Worlds concerts, there would be some game footage sloppily pasted together while the orchestra played along with it, not entirely matching the visuals on the screen at that given moment in time. However, with Zelda Symphony, we have a far more technologically advanced system. It starts with the conductor (an Irish woman, might I add! I have to admit, I’ve so rarely seen female conductors that I was pleasantly surprised). She, along with the rest of the orchestra, wear little Apple-style ear buds to listen to something. A digital metronome, perhaps? Each other? Anyway, in front of the conductor was a large tablet where I could indeed see what appeared to be some variety of metronome. It at least had a bar that would scroll across it from the left side to the right side, maybe even counting out the beats in a measure. When it got to the last bar in a song, I saw the line turn red, and then disappear. She ended the songs just as soon as that last line would reach the far right side of the screen. I assume that this is what keeps the orchestra so perfectly in sync with the video being displayed. That video, by the way, is edited perfectly, to display the proper game play footage at just the right moment, where it fits both rhythmically and emotionally. This far surpasses the editing I’d previously known from the Distant Worlds concerts. The only thing that may be wrong with this is that no less than five games were completely spoiled to anyone who hadn’t beaten them. There were five full overtures, from Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess, all of which had footage in order from beginning to end (including final battle and defeat footage) playing during the performance. I suppose for a room full of LoZ nuts, that’s fine. But… I’unno, I’m not a huge fan of that.
It was very apparent that everyone who had produced this concert wanted to make sure they were doing exactly what the fan’s hearts desired. I apologize for comparing Zelda Symphony to Distant Worlds so much, but it’s just proved that it doesn’t matter whether my heart is given to Final Fantasy or not, sometimes another company just plain does it better. In this situation, Nintendo has cared greatly more than Square Enix has. One of the producers of the concert series would occasionally step out and talk about the upcoming pieces that would be performed. It was somewhat charming the way he would prattle on about how much of a fan of the Zelda series he’s been throughout his life (and it was plainly obvious that this was the truth), but in some instances it was somewhat painful. It would last too long, and then he would try to make in-jokes or make the audience geek-guess what the next song would be, and he’d have this big, geeky, doofy smile on his face. I’m sure he’s a great guy and fun to talk Zelda with. But in some places it got to a point where I wanted him to get off stage and let the music play. At one point, the conductor began introducing the Wind Waker movement, and she actually switched out her baton for the Wind Waker baton to conduct the orchestra with for the duration of said piece. Very nerdy, and the audience adored it, of course.
The concert was quite long. Especially with the encores. That’s right. Encores is plural. Three encores. Three of them! Boy, it must suck to be those guys who walked out before even the first one played. I hope they get online later and see that they missed another three long songs and feel at least slightly dumb, like they missed out. ‘Cause they did. They were great.
The concert merchandise sold out like crazy. During intermission there was just no getting up and walking around. The Majestic isn’t particularly huge, and the line for merchandise was this insane blob in the middle of the biggest artery the Majestic has. They had sold out of T-shirts before the end of intermission, and at least by the end of the concert they had sold out of posters, too. I’d heard they’d had to start giving people order forms to purchase stuff and get it shipped to them later. Nintendo is rolling in dough just from this concert series. And why shouldn’t they be? They made a pretty friggin’ solid presentation.
All in all, I would definitely see this concert series again. It ended up being far grander and nicer than I expected, a presentation worthy of the price of admission. Which is why it was even sweeter that I managed to see it for free, because I got way more than I paid for. If it ever rolls through your town, set aside the funds to go and see it! But, please, leave your Solid Snake costume at home. Nobody cares.
Thanks to http://original-gamer.com/ for helping me see this performance.