Having never been to a Lindsey Stirling show, I walked into the San Diego Civic Theater on August 31st with, what I can only call in retrospect, ignorance. I’ve heard of her majesty from friends and I’ve heard about her YouTube legacy… never tuned in though. Now that I know everything Lindsey Stirling encapsulates, I feel that I’ve been blind to the coolest club for over a decade.
Her talent is sheer breathtaking.
You might think my statement is hyperbole, but, let me assure you, breathing regularly while witnessed Ms. Stirling in action is no easy feat. Or, should I say, feet! Stirling never misses a beat — from the start of the show to the end — dancing, balancing and even flying through the air, all while playing flawless violin. Costume number one for San Diego was tribal with an archery bow poised next to the violin one, hankering to almost a Tiger Lilly look from Peter Pan.
And, what would the tale of Peter Pan be without a few pirates? Up next, Stirling adorned a full pirate dress, complete with parrot on top and scallywag wenches dancing onstage. Before going into the number, Stirling addressed the crowd about insecurity, jealousy and self-doubt — a recurring theme of the performance — through a personal story of how she was invited to a party under the guise of it being costumed. Well, on arrival as a full-fledged pirate, the party, in fact, was not a costume party at all. She had two options: sneak away before anybody sees… or decide to be the only pirate in the room. What do you think she went with? This story of bravery led to more audience participation, with Stirling changing the choreography of the next song to what we wanted to see! A large screen behind Stirling and her dancers offered two options — the one with the most cheers continued the dance onward. This, in turn, led to a final choice of “starting a mutiny” onstage over “promoting Lindsey to Captain”. Stirling’s pirate bredren promptly began stringing her up into a harness high above the ground (and, would you believe it, even suspended mid-air blindfolded, Stirling never missed a note).
Each of Stirling’s song spectacles continued to be more awe-inspiring than the last.
Around this time, Stirling expressed her excitement for her forthcoming single with childhood idol Amy Lee (of Evanescence), before taking ballet performance to whole new heights (literally). As lights flashed red to white to match the EDM instrumentals, Stirling once again rose high in the air — this time upside down, playing her violin and twirling with perfect form. It was then when I realized that I might be in the presence of the greatest performer of all time… this was certainly the most fantastic show I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen quite a few as a concert reviewer). Actually, no one beats Paul McCartney… but, he’s a Beatle. Most influential and legendary band of all time aside, there is Lindsey Stirling.
To be honest, I have no idea why she isn’t headlining Coachella, racking up GRAMMYs and cruising around with Rihanna 24/7. I guess her genius is lingering on the precipice of plummeting into the mainstream market… Whatever reason it may be, it’s probably linked to how I didn’t know what I was getting into that night when I received the tickets. Word will spread though, in time.
It was then that I snapped out of my thought spiral and traveled back to the concert in front of me.
Contemplating on Stirling’s talent can definitely distract you from Stirling’s performance. Be warned. It was around this time that Stirling took a quick break from her choreography to do a Disney-dedicated montage of covers, prompting her furry friend Luna to run across the stage, once with an oversized yellow balloon for Up and again dressed in a Woody costume for “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”. What a cute puppy!
Stirling’s second half of the show focused on her latest album Artemis and, even cooler, the story behind it. Artemis lives on the moon, guarding humans against our own demise. She is the one that reminds us to have inner strength; she is the one that coaxes us to be better to others. Defeat Fear. Defeat Jealousy. Defeat Self-Doubt. These messages flashed on the digital screen behind Stirling as she danced yet another superb number. With a red wig looking like something out of an anime cartoon, Stirling finished out her 90-minute set with the crowd cheering for more. How could it be over??!
Stirling resurfaced for an encore, confessing it was because there was a man dressed like a hotdog in the crowd.
We all knew she wanted to give us one more bite of the apple, though. With rose petals scattered across the stage, Stirling bid her farewell to San Diego with the song “Guardian”, dedicated to her late father and best friend she lost last year to cancer. All hearts in the auditorium broke simultaneously hearing that announcement, only to heal a moment later from the swirling floral visuals and graceful dancing of the final song.
Lindsey, thank you for bringing your talents to San Diego. I very much needed it. I needed to be inspired again through song, dance and the fact that you defy physics at times. You’ve gained a fan for life (but, I’m sure you hear that all the time).
Photography by Kristy Rose