March 1, 2013
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Crystal Prather
Who knew the violin could be so electrifying. In the hands of a certain self-proclaimed hip-hop musician named Lindsey Stirling, the instrument most certainly is.
I had no idea what I was walking into when I decided to go to this event. My curiosity had been piqued when I discovered Stirling was calling herself a dub-step violinist. I may have been clueless to the unusual term, but the audience inside was totally tuned in. This show had been sold-out for weeks. Honestly, I was just as interested to see who the people were that gobbled up the tickets as I was to see the artist herself.
A little investigation into Lindsey revealed a self-promoting marketing genius. No is the last thing you ever want to say to this artist. A quarterfinalist on America's Got Talent in 2010, Stirling was told by Sharon Osbourne she should join a band if she wanted to pursue music. The always clueless Piers Morgan told Lindsey she had no future in the business as an electric violinist and sent her packing. A certain cinematographer named Devin Graham saw majestic beauty in Stirling's musicianship. In fact, he believed in her so much, he tracked the musician down and made a simple request. Could he use her music, and Lindsey herself, to create videos of her songs. A dynamic musical partnership ensued.
A Lindsey Stirling show is as much about self-empowerment as it is entertainment. By no means is this 25-year old a virtuoso with the instrument. She doesn't have to be. The sold-out crowd that attended her first appearance in the Lone Star State wasn't there to be wowed by her latest interpretations of violin concertos by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Elgar or Vilvaldi. They wanted to see the woman whose sometimes magnificent, other times edgy music videos, had touched the hearts and minds of some 225 million people around the world that viewed them on her YouTube channel. That's right, Lindsey Stirling is a YouTube sensation with her own station on the web site called ‘Lindseystomp.' Whenever she posts a new video on her sight, it's an immediate hit. Take for instance her dub-step video, (by the way, who is it that makes up these terms) "Crystallize". It received more than 23 million hits five months after is it was posted. Unbelievable!
If you really take stock of what Stirling and Graham have accomplished, it boggles the mind. As Stirling reminded the audience throughout the night, they alone were responsible for the enormous success she is currently enjoying. Her sold-out trek across the fruited plains is directly attributable to the one-on-one connection her music has made with her YouTube viewers. Tonight, fans were able to get up close and personal with their feisty heroine. And let's not make any mistake here. Stirling is indeed someone for kids and even adults to look up to. The word "No" may mean no to some musicians, but not this one. She treated the negative response as a challenge to overcome, and that's exactly what this sprite artist actually did.
When USA Today called Stirling's music "Mozart Meets Skrillex" they actually may have been on to something. Lindsey is accompanied onstage by a keyboard player and drummer. The display screen she performed in front of also visually enhanced the music bringing her video effects to the stage. To call Lindsey an Energizer Bunny on overdrive would be an understatement. Throughout the night, she prances, poses, preens and pirouettes about the stage as she flawlessly performs with her violin in hand. She was a leaping, bending, whirling dervish in constant motion. This girl could easily run a 10k marathon and not break a sweat.
This audience was well-aware of Stirling's YouTube notoriety. They also knew she loves reinterpreting other artist's music. Her combination of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and "Smooth Criminal" into one song was exceptional. She brought down the house with her rendition of the "Phantom of the Opera" which closed the show. The highlight of the evening for most of this audience was Stirling's rendition of the music that accompanied the classic videogame "The Legend of Zelda" in which she plays her violin while wandering through a forest in full costume. The screen behind Stirling helped bring this song to life.
I think the most interesting aspect of this concert was the makeup of the crowd. For many in the audience this evening, it was a true family affair. There were young kids with parents. I saw tweens with parents, teens old enough to attend without a parental escort, and even adults who simply appreciated the artistry that IS Lindsey Stirling. Though she tirelessly moved about the stage and even found time for a couple of outfit changes to reflect the clothes she wore in her videos, the real star of the show was the music. There's something about the Pied Piper sound emanating from her instrument that transfixed this audience as the music flowed from her fingertips and bow. Had Lindsey decided to walk out of the building with violin in hand, this crowd most certainly would have followed.
Now that's someone in America that's Got Talent!