Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery, Friday 12 August 2016

Our second trip to the South Bay during August was to see Lindsey Stirling, again at the Mountain Winery. This is the third time we’ve been to see Lindsey Stirling as a family. Both previous times were at 013 in Tilburg, so there’s a family tradition of driving an hour and a half to see her. Or maybe it was just a trilogy than a tradition.

Fiona was excited because we were returning to where we had taken her to see the Barenaked Ladies six years ago — her very first concert. Alex seemed lukewarm. We were running a little late, but we still saw most of Carah Faye’s opening act, which was fine.

The first time we saw Lindsey Stirling perform, it was just her, her drummer, and her keyboard player. The second time she had two dancers on stage with her as well. This time, she had a troupe of six dancers. I don’t know if this is the continuing progression of her stage act, or because she didn’t have to fly so many people half-way across ther world; either way, it was the biggest and richest visual performance we’d seen of her. Although perhaps the dancers are starting to become a distraction from her own violin playing?

A definite distract were the short skits that played on the video screen behind the stage while she nipped off for a quick costume change. The first one was a jokey short about her biggest fan living backstage, and doing a short piece to camera. Meh. The second one was a new-agey video of water crystals forming and dissolving, with soothing background music, and a voiceover explaining the (pseudo-scientific) work of (discredited) scientist Masaru Emoto on how water crystals respond to our emotional state as an obvious truth that we were all missing. Alex literally facepalmed, and spent the whole video with his head in his hands and groaning. We could see his prior respect for Lindsey Stirling drain away from him. Around us, the open-air auditorium felt hushed, not so much out of respect, but out of a uncomfortable feeling of “is she really…?”

California is a bit of a weird mix, sometimes. One the one hand, it is a centre of scientific and technical innovation. On the other, it is the worldwide home of woo. I’m sure that some people in the audience were sitting there, nodding, and going “yeah, she’s really onto something”, just as many of the parents there were going to have some resoundingly skeptical conversations with their kids on the way back home. Alex certainly had a good rant on the way out of the gig afterwards. Abi pointed out that we go to Lindsey Stirling concerts for her music, not her beliefs, but I’m not sure if Alex was convinced. It’s a hard and perennial question: how do you deal with it when a person has qualities you both admire and abhor?

Alex didn’t buy any merch after the gig. Fiona did. The geometric T-shirt designs accompanying Lindsey Stirling’s new album Brave Enough are pretty cool.

Because we were late to arrive, we were right at the back of the Mountain Winery’s car park, and it took us almost a full hour to exit. A few days earlier, Abi and I had arrived much earlier, because we were having dinner before the concert. Even so, getting our of the car park was a slow affair, because the venue is half-way up a mountain, with just a single-track approach road. So, note to self: when visiting the Mountain Winery, get there early.