Driving 3.5 hours, each way, to go see a concert of video game music. That’s what makes me a nerd.
Yesterday I traveled to St. Louis, MO, to see Final Fantasy Distant Worlds, a traveling performance that takes the music of Final Fantasy and teaches it to local city symphonies. This one was performed, obviously, by the St. Louis symphony, and it was amazing.
I don’t expect any of you to understand my impetus behind this. Well, then again, maybe I do. With me in the crowd that night were people from as far away as Chicago, Kentucky, and several other states (and probably countries). The house was packed. A solid 50% of the crowd cheered when asked if they’d been the the very previous night to see the same show (with a slightly different program). So, regardless of how lonely we nerds feel sometimes, I knew then that there had to be other people who were bizarrely touched and moved every time they heard the Dream Oath Opera from Final Fantasy VI.
It was a sort of culminating moment for me. The Final Fantasy games defined storytelling for me at an early age – you can read a bit about it in my Manifesto – and to hear the sheer power of that music, mixed with that nostalgia, mixed with that thrill of being able to hear stories int he language of those notes…it was something I really don’t think I can describe. I’m not ashamed to say that my cheeks were wet for a good deal of the performance. I’m getting a little choked up writing about it now. To an outsider, that must seem ridiculous, crying over video game music. But I know it’s not, so you can go cast Fire 3 on yourself.
More than that, the composer of all this music actually made a rare appearance in the audience that night. Nobuo Uematsu himself, an unassuming Japanese man who did all of this work with the Final Fantasy series without a speck of traditional musical education, waved to the audience and bowed, then proceeded to sit ten seats next to me like an average schmuck. He went up on stage a few times, but didn’t speak. The crowd treated him like a god.
At the end of the performance, they played One Winged Angel as an encore – the final boss theme of Final Fantasy VII and one of the defining songs of the entire series. The conductor and Nobu-san (as he called him) apologized, since they didn’t have the choir that was so integral to the piece. So they did this:
The sign that Nobu-san is holding up says “SEPHIROTH!” in big black letters.
I can’t say too much more about my experience without gushing. It was absolutely worth the 7 hours in the car and getting home at 1:30 AM. So, I’ll leave you all with a game that I like to call Spot the Red Mage.
Ride on, Chocobo. Ride on.