Hi, I am a twenty-seven-year-old human, and I am not afraid to say that the Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions show (conducted by Susie Benchasil Seiter) at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday was one of the BEST concerts I have EVER been to. This is a bold statement seeing as I go to concerts ALL OF THE TIME, but it was totally the perfect storm of all things perfect: seated show (because I am a person who appreciates sitting), nostalgia factor (like re-living fourth grade all over again), rad all-ages audience (costumes and general excitement slash enthusiasm galore), AMAZING musical performance by Orchestra of St. Luke’s (ON FLEEK, Y’ALL)…I mean, I could go on and on and on, here.
To backtrack a bit, this was actually my first experience seeing a live orchestral performance. (I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it is, in fact, a thing. Now I basically want to go to the symphony ALL OF THE TIME, though, which IS a good thing.)
I also attended the show by myself, which I didn’t mind (it’s kind of in the job description), although I DID have to wonder if I just looked like the saddest (and/or creepiest) super-fan of all time as I sat alone in the VIP section (directly behind a ten-year-old whose name I decided was “Kevin” and his very sleepy mom whose name I decided was “Trish”) drinking a ten dollar Bud Light whilst sporting my very best Pikachu socks (which one of the security guards told me he liked, by the way // POPULAR!), all on a Saturday night in New York City.
Introspective solitudinous times aside, the format of the show included two active musical halves during which the soundtrack and accompanying video components progressed through various generations of the Pokémon video game series, starting with “ancient” first generation Blue to more modern versions like Black. There was also a fifteen minute (I think? I didn’t time it…) intermission in which a bunch of cosplayers danced aggressively near the front of the stage. Kevin and Trish didn’t even notice the commotion because they were too busy staring at their Gameboys and Kindles, respectively. I wondered if I should do a dramatic rendition of that Ferris Bueller quote (you know, about life moving pretty fast) for them, but Kevin had already been craning his neck to look at the closest Jumbotron all night long (he has glasses, it’s not his fault), and I didn’t want him to strain in turning around to face me.
Speaking of the Jumbotrons, at first I tried to pay attention to what was happening with the visual components on the screens during the active first and second halves of the show (again, lots of nostalgia re: game footage // SUPER EFFECTIVE!), but eventually I just became transfixed with the strings section moving their bows all together in one fluid motion. (This transcendental experience may or may not have been sponsored in part by my consumption of that ten dollar Bud Light.) Long story short, the orchestral translation of 8-bit tunes was really pretty extraordinary, and you really didn’t even need to be a fan of the Pokémon series to appreciate how incredible the soundtrack was when performed by such a talented group of musicians. I mean, I even got emotional at one point (like, tears welled up during “Ecruteak City” and I am not even kidding), but I repeat: that could have been the ten dollar Bud Light talking. I don’t know. It was just so so so good. I would go again and again and again forever on repeat if I could.
Bottom line: is the show for everyone? I will go ahead and say no seeing as Trish slept for the entirety of the first half of the show. But Trish doesn’t seem very chill in the first place (I bet she doesn’t even let Kevin eat gluten), and Kevin had a great fucking time (he was MESMERIZED, YOU GUYS…), so I’d say if you’re 1. a Pokémon fan in ANY capacity, and/or 2. appreciate the majesty that is a quality strings section, then this is a MUST-SEE. To put it more heavily, if someone had told me I was dead at any time during the performance, and that Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions was the afterlife, I would have been totally cool with it. Me and Kevin and Trish, navigating all of eternity to the tune of a symphonic rendition of “Pallet Town”? Count me in, you guys. Count. Me. IN.
Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions will be at Wolf Trap on July 18th, so if you’re one of our DC readers, be sure to snag a ticket RIGHT NOW!!!