[Review] Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions Tour – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff

As an avid gamer, I’ve always wondered about these game music concerts.  For some reason I’ve never felt particularly inclined to go to one.  (Even though I was curious about that Zelda concert that I allowed to pass me by.  After this experience, I’ve decided that if anything like that comes back around, I’ll go.)

Pokémon Symphonic EvolutionsIt was actually a pretty interesting and fun experience.  The minute I walked in, it was like a mini-Otakon (which is fantastic, because due to a work obligation falling on the Saturday of Otakon, I am sadly unable to go—didn’t think it was worth shelling out $90 when a bulk of the stuff happens on Saturday and I won’t be there for most of it).  I’m not sure how it’ll be set up elsewhere—the tour runs until early February of next year—but the minute I walked in, there were areas where people could play games and a small booth set up where they were selling merchandise (T-Shirts, plush Pikachu’s and posters).

In general, I love the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO).  I’ve attended several concerts at the Strathmore location, and it’s always been a wonderful experience.  As a creative mind, going to classical concerts has always been a great way to unwind and just freely daydream with whatever the music inspires.

Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions is a little different in its approach; there’s use of visual aids (a mixture of scenes from all the games—with the exception of the Ruby and Sapphire remakes, I believe—video stock footage, and I believe even a few clips from the television series), which can kind of distract from the live music experience.  The presentation, however, definitely brought up nostalgic feelings for gamers like myself that started playing from Blue and Red, when they were first released in the West.  (I suppose now is also the time to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the “spoilers” for the later games, because after a certain point I stopped my investment in this franchise and so I found myself laughing a bit as I was given the opportunity to see a bit of what I’ve been missing, haha.)

I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised to see the diversity in ages at the concert hall.  You had everyone from kids to even a few grandparents there.  I was also surprised that the parents of a child I was sitting next to seemed pretty well-versed in their knowledge of the franchise.

Admittedly, while some of the game music is catchy, I tended to play the games with them off when I was younger, because they would really annoy me with how repetitive they were.  Played by a live orchestra, however, I was able to enjoy it without it getting on my nerves.  I also appreciated how the members of the orchestra reacted to the audience; they might not have understood their passion for it, and a few that sneaked a few glances at the screen might have found several lines from the game to be overly cheesy, but they seemed to be having a fantastic time themselves.

I also have to say, Tim Davies was also an absolute delight to watch as a conductor.  He was incredibly energetic and hilarious at times.  Towards the end, for one of the two encore pieces, I was rolling with laughter as he made funny gestures with his hands, encouraging audience members to be less shy and be more bold in their participation.  It’s a shame he’s not always at the BSO, because I’d truly love to attend another concert that he’s conducting again someday.  The first-string violinist, whose name unfortunately escapes me at this time, was also quite wonderful, as was the moderator, who was also hilarious.

I think at each of these events they throw a beach ball somewhere in the audience at random with some signatures on it.  If you’re a diehard fan, I’d say hang onto it if you have the opportunity to catch it.  The moderator didn’t necessarily make it clear at first that the item was for keeps, so a few of the audience members last night were a bit confused and bounced it around a bit.  (I hope the very first person who caught a hold of it wasn’t a super invested fan when they gave it up; I know what it’s like to accidentally do something like that and it sucks, lol.)

And as a sidebar—this is totally the video game geek in me talking right now—for an owner of any part of the Nintendo 3DS family, the second best thing to the performance would have to be that events like these are the prime opportunity for obtaining StreetPass tags.  It’s been impossible for me lately to get any (which is incredibly frustrating because I’m one of those people who actually wants to collect all those puzzle pieces in Mii Plaza), so it was great to be able to get a whole bunch of tags and get some headway on that.

If you’re a huge fan of the game or video games in general and you’ve never been to one of these, I recommend that you try it.  And if you’re a fan of classical music in general, then even better.

There’s several more shows happening in the States, Canada, Australia, and Mexico.  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like they’re coming back to the BSO, but Pittsburgh looks like it’s going to have a round two of this tour early next year, in January.  For those interested in tickets, tour schedule, and the event’s Twitter page, I’ve provided the links below.

Tour Schedule: http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-symphony/
Tickets via Ticketmaster: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Pokemon-Symphonic-Evolutions-tickets/artist/2012775
Twitter Feed: @PokemonSymphony

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