distant_worlds_logo Last week on April the 24th, I embarked on a journey to celebrate the music of Final Fantasy. I traveled from my hometown, battling giant bugs and goblins, boarded a Mystery Train where I gained more party members, my bros Matt and Rachel. Together we took on the slightly cliché but always necessary JRPG Ghost Ship as we took a ferry to the far off continent of Massochiechie.  We battled the usual mobs like Angry Old Men Why Won’t Let Us Get On The Boat and Seasickness.Finally we reached our destination, the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We bolstered our ranks with more party members, Jon and Courtney, and let ourselves feel the Real Emotions of the concert.

I was excited as a Final Fantasy fanboi could be to be able to attend this concert. The concert hall was packed, maxing out the capacity of three mezzanines. The sound of styluses tapping  3DSs filled the air until the conductor, Arnie Roth, took the stage and a hush fell over the crowd. The night took off like a golden Chocobo right out of the gate as the performers played FFVII’s Bombing Mission and bits of the games’ opening sequence were projected into a large screen as accompaniment. A crowd-pleaser for sure. Soon FFVI’s Character Medley shined some light on each of the characters by playing a small piece for their themes.Balab Garden: Ami calmly reminded me of my of my pre-teen crush on the chicken-wuss and just how cool FFVII was before disc three.  Closing out the first half with as big a bang as the opening the orchestra hit us with a one-two combo of J-E-N-O-V-A and one of 200 bird-centered ditties, Swing de Chocobo. The montage of sassy chocobo tail swinging, flapping around the world map and jumping out of afros on Gran Pulse was incredibly adorable and matched the hilarious up beat music.

Let me take a second here to just air something out. I’ve only had one Encounter  with any other video game concerts before, the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses back in February. I can’t say I have much experience with them. But I have plenty of experience with other concerts and with being a human being so I can say with authority that the conductor, Arnie Roth, is kind of a douche.

He oozed this sleazy air of false platitude and condescension, like he was a used car salesman who thought his car was too good for you. He named dropped working with Uematsu as many times as he could and humblebragged about “working directly with SqaureEnix every day!” But he just seemed like another otaku. He also seemed like someone’s dad who had just looked at all the trending Final Fantasy hashtags and wanted to let us know how hip he was: “I would love to play some FF15 music IF IT WOULD EVER COME OUT, AMIRITE?”  “Final Fantasy IV, aka the game with the MOST characters in ANY GAME EVER IN THE WORLD, LOL”

But most revoltingly, he was a total ass! First off he stops playing FF5’s Main Theme four seconds in, turns to the audience with the biggest shit-eating-grin and says “Let’s start that over. And this time the [guy on the drums] will try to come in on time.” Then when the song starts over he stabs at the drummer with angriest gesture for him to begin. Later he chastises the pianist is if she were a child when she starts to play the notes she knows he’s going to ask for because she knows the goddamn game he is going to play with the audience because they’ve done this show before and rehearsed it. “NO, Listen to me then play”

Yes, messing up is not something the performers should be doing when the show is live but yelling at them like dogs should definitely never ever happen. Sounds like The Extreme but you gotta believe me unless Maybe, I’m a Lion…(I’m not)

After intermission they brought FFIX to the forefront with a very touching and beautifully performed Roses of May, theme of Garnet Queen of Alexandria. I was introduced to FFXIV with an operatic theme and footage of MMO players battling huge Eidolens  I was hit with sucker punch as they played The Theme Love from FFIV. I remember rolling my eyes as I played the game with the spoony bard, the love triangle between Totally Not Gay Cecil, Kain and Rosa, and the annoying twins who got stoned. But when I heard that theme I felt my heart swell. FFIV was one of the few Final Fantasies on the SNES or younger that I played to completion and LIKED! Apparently its deeper in my heart than I remembered.

FFX’s To Zanarkand brought a hush over the entire building. Everyone felt the burden of the Summoner as the scenes of  Yuna Sending all those who died in Kilika  when Sin attacked. The tone shifted towards a triumphant rise as a Battle Medley and series theme medley rounded out the night….or it did until Roth came back out for his ONE AND ONLY encore, One Winged-Angel (where the aforementioned pianist yelling occurred).I was honestly hoping for Eyes of Me or Liberli Fatali or anything from FFXIII-2 but the rest of the audience went wild for it. Everyone loves Sephiroth…I guess.

The songs hit all the special places in my garment grid. When I hear those songs from my computer I am transported back to that particular game’s most memorable moments. experiencing them from a live orchestra took that nostalgia to another level and even made me think about some of these games I’ve known for years in brand new ways. But from the technical issues (the  percussion in Man with the Machine Gun was almost the only thing audible) and the attitude of Mr Conductor, and the length of the performance! (Symphony of the Goddess cost the same amount and was twice as long, didn’t have any flubs and the conductor was amazing and gave four encoures!!) I probably won’t be going to another of these Distant Worlds any time soon.

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