AKA All the Fans Ruined My Night
The Zelda Symphony was an experience I was psyched for, but ultimately, the fans did a great job of dulling its beauty.
By August Wright, College of Charleston
For my birthday last month, my boyfriend bought us tickets to go see the Legend of Zelda Symphony in November.
I’m not really into live music events (regardless of the type of music being played), but I’m really into “The Legend of Zelda” since my mom spent most of my childhood playing those games.
No, really. I would sit next to her for hours while she played. I imagine this information may surprise some people, but before people had computers in their homes (for my family, this was 2001/2002), and before game guides were as available as they are today, people had one of three options when they got stuck in a game.
The first was to call Nintendo’s hotline number, which my mom did several times for “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” The price-per-minute for the hotline was outrageous (it was $1.50! Per minute!) and my mom is a frugal woman, so the fact that she ever called the hotline even once sort of shows her extreme dedication to completing these games.
The second was to quit, blame your family/friends for your failures, grab your game system and promptly re-enact the printer scene from “Office Space.”
The third option was to have your kids sit with you while you played, and then rely on all of that combined knowledge to figure out the puzzles. This option is the cheapest, but it sort of ruins the games later for your kids because, well… All the fucking puzzles have been figured out, so, you know, thanks for that.
So, the symphony. Was it worth the $220? The pros definitely outweigh the cons, but the cons in this case are so very con, people with softer sensibilities—meaning, people who’re prone to bouts of petty anger/annoyance at other people for doing normal people things (e.g. me)—may find the symphony not a delightful stroll down memory lane, but instead just a stressful ordeal.
Our seats were about mid-range (maybe closer to the “cheap” seats), which was fine. I mean, what do you need to see? There’s a video screen with scenes from the various “Zelda” games accompanying the music (arranged extremely well), but unless you like feeling the cool mist of the conductor’s moist armpits and neck, there really isn’t any reason to pay for closer, top-tier seats.
When we got to the show, people were, as they so often are, underdressed. A handful of people were dressed in costume because, for some reason, there’s a strange intersecting point where video games, anime, manga and the tradition of dressing up on Halloween all collide. That being said, fans who dress up are (usually) infinitely better than the other two categories of people who frequent these types of events: The “I hate that I’m stuck at this stupid thing with my kids right now” and the “I’m a diehard fan, but it’s not cool to act like a fan, so I’m going to be aloof the entire time we’re here because I can’t actually enjoy anything like a normal person because I am just way too freaking cool.”
In the lobby, there was extremely overpriced merchandise for sale. I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t want to take a second mortgage out on my house, but if you have some extra cash, I would recommend getting something because the merchandise does change by location. If you’re following the show or have the opportunity to go to several shows, you probably have the money to spend on merchandise anyway.
They were also selling popcorn and big pretzels in the lobby, but—and this is just a rumor—but I heard you can actually make popcorn and big pretzels at your home for about 1/100th of the cost they’re being sold for at the symphony.
The show itself was very well-arranged. Our show actually had “local flavor,” which is just me trying to sound trendy and fancy, but actually means they had the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus on stage (these guys killed it).
I was particularly impressed with the lighting during the show because the floor would light up and change colors based on the “Zelda” scenes (if the video was showing Link sailing across the ocean in “Wind Waker,” the floor would be cool blue, for example.). At one point, the floor went from a light green-ish color to fiery red as the music transitioned from a sort of soft melody to this dude just wailing on his bongos. It was aesthetically pleasing.
The highs of the show are definitely during the better-known parts of the “Zelda” games.
Most people are very familiar with the major titles (“Ocarina of Time,” “Wind Waker,” “Majora’s Mask,” etc.), but not so much with the small titles released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
Fair warning: Most of the show is oriented around “Ocarina of Time.” Most of the videos playing are from “Ocarina of Time.” Most of the music is also from “Ocarina of Time.” While I know one could argue that this is the case because Nintendo, with “Ocarina of Time” (and, really, even before that with “Link to the Past), was setting a standard for RPGs not just in game play and story, but also in music.
I mean, you’re talking about the guys who took shitty 8-bit sounds and made them not shitty by creating the “Super Mario” theme, which is probably the dopest and most recognized video game theme in the world.
But still. When two hours of your three hour show is “Ocarina of Time,” that’s a little disappointing. “Majora’s Mask,” which, I think, has infinitely more interesting tunes, was given a (maybe) five minute treatment (at the tail end of the show. Thanks for adding it in as an afterthought.).
I initially thought that perhaps “MM” got so little screen and music time because it’s not that popular, but when the video came on and everyone saw the opening screen for “MM,” they went insane. I—as well as my boyfriend—were suddenly awash in the salty-sweet musk of a thousand titillated fans, which left a moistness in the air comparable to the remnants of a rainstorm that has just passed over a southeastern town in the summer. I would comment on the smell, but no one wants to hear about chopped up Burger King hot dogs brined in the sticky rancidness of 30-year-old canned tuna juice.
I mean, sure, everyone was overreacting to everything that was happening. For example, there are several times throughout the show where people like Koji Kondo—one of the three “Zelda” designers—comes on the video screen to give a pre-recorded message about the symphony, the music, some interesting facts about the games, etc., and that’s neat-o because it adds another layer to the show.
Unfortunately, people were enthusiastically clapping and cheering after these pre-recorded videos ended (and there were four of them). Koji Kondo can’t hear you, no matter how hard you clap or how loudly you scream.
So, yeah—when people are clapping for non-live video feed and cheering for someone who isn’t actually there, you can imagine that, when “Majora’s Mask” finally did get its music/screen time—after (apparently) so many of us waiting the entire show for it—people just went nuts.
That would’ve actually been okay, except the video started with the music. People quickly quieted down when they realized the symphony was beginning to play, but some of the more diehard folks in this group thought it would be a good idea to cheer throughout various parts of the “MM” movement.
There’s sort of an old rule that, during musical performances, you don’t clap/cheer/start going insane Lisztomania-style until after the group has totally finished. This rule is in place to keep noise levels low so the musicians don’t get distracted (maybe. I don’t know. I didn’t fact check that, but the logic is sound so everyone will accept it as truth).
You’d think that, since it’s inappropriate to clap in-between songs, it’s probably really, really inappropriate to do the same during songs. Such logic could not be found in this group, and, as a result, the cheering caused one of the flute players to mess up… During her extremely complicated solo, which was being broadcast to the audience on the video screen.
She was a true professional and immediately got back on track, but she didn’t know she was on the video screen, so not only did we hear her mess up, we also saw her expression—which was complete with a scowl, eye roll, and a very small head shake. I imagine her train of thought was just a string of expletives.
Anyway, the symphony was awesome (save for slighting “MM,” but that’s okay), but the fans sucked. If you can go to the movies without being annoyed by the person next to you crunching their candy, opening their family-sized bag of chips from home, ordering a pizza, making a doctor’s appointment, looking at their phone with the brightness turned all the way up, making out with the uggo sitting next to them and “whispering” to their friends for the entirety of the fucking show, then you won’t mind the fans.
But if you’re a normal person—or someone who, when given the option between “let’s go to the movies” and “let’s drink a gallon of gasoline and follow it with flaming shots,” you choose the latter—the Legend of Zelda Symphony will be an unwanted exercise in self-control.