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Treasure among trash: the London Symphony Orchestra in Daytona Beach

Saturday night, as Amy’s birthday present, I bought tickets to go see the London Symphony Orchestra perform in Daytona Beach, during the Daytona Beach International Festival. The show, called “LSO Pops! Celebration of Speed”, took place at the Ocean Center, and with the exception of the performance by the orchestra, felt like a complete and utter disaster.

Indulge me today as I pick apart the entire experience and discuss why the coordinators of this event clearly don’t know their assholes from a hole in the ground.

First, the music. A symphony is all about the sound and feel of the music. That’s it. It’s the only component that really matters. That’s why most symphonies occur in a magical place called a symphony hall. Not a large arena akin to a large gymnasium. In a symphony hall, the acoustics cause the music to surround you. You feel it on your skin and in your seat and it sounds full and rich and tangible. In the Ocean Center, the speakers they had to use hum and buzz and rattle and distract you from the only reason that you attended in the first place.

Oh, but that wasn’t the only aural distraction. The floor of the Ocean Center was set aside for the DBIF sponsors, one table per sponsor where dinner was apparently served. That was a neat idea. The not-so-neat idea was the bartender operating the cash bar. Rather than closing down the bar during each piece, the bar was open and active, and during quieter and subtler parts of a piece, you could clearly hear the lovely sounds of the cash register, the click-hiss of cans opening, and other miscellaneous noise from the bar. Did I say lovely sounds? I meant fucking obnoxious sounds.

If only the distractions were the sole element of annoyance. Ah, but we can’t forget the unwashed masses who descended like shrieking morons rushing the door at Wal-mart on Black Friday. Let’s have a little multiple-choice quiz, shall we?

What Things Don’t You Do At A Symphony?

A. Bring in concessions, like popcorn and beer and candy that you unwrap and munch throughout each piece.
B. Talk to the orchestra while they perform, saying intelligent things like “Yes. Thank you. That was wonderful.” loud enough that everyone around you can hear you.
C. Refrain from clapping your hands so that you can stomp your feet loudly instead, just like you’re at a high school pep rally.
D. Come to the symphony a full thirty minutes late, or, if you’re the usher, allow idiots who come late to enter during the middle of a piece, slamming the door, using your flashlight, and forcing people to interrupt their enjoyment and stand up so that some shitlicking fucknuts can get to their seat.
E. All of the above.
F. None of the above.

The answer, of course, is E. However, in the white trash capital of Florida, apparently the correct answer is F.

In the end, though, all of these are minor complaints compared to the audio/visual component of the evening. I’m not sure which moron was responsible for this amateurish display of idiocy, but I think it was either the design “firm” Zgraph (which, honestly, even if it wasn’t, they designed the piece-of-shit website for the DBIF that has fucking autoplay music. What a joke) or Godonis Design, a company whose website has a flash intro, which is about as trendy as leg warmers. Whomever the culprit is, they should immediately quit their job, walk to the nearest McDonald’s, and apply for the burger line there. Because that’s honestly the only job for which they’re qualified. “Why is that?” you may ask. Allow me to explain.

Above the orchestra hung three large screens. A reasonable person may assume that these screens were to be used to display video sent by the cameras surrounding the orchestra, showing the entire audience close-up video of the orchestra as they played each piece. A reasonable person would think that displaying these experts at their craft would be the only thing that would make sense for these screens. This reasonable person would be completely wrong.

Ten percent of the time, these screens were used for a reasonable purpose, and it worked excellently. Getting to enjoy the visual experience while listening to the music helped supplement the tinny sound coming from the speakers and the other distractions.

The other ninety percent of the time, however, the screens were used to display completely random, poorly edited and spliced clips from movies that had little to no relevance to the piece being played. An example, you ask? Ah, but there are so many. One that comes to mind would be the time that the orchestra played John Williams’s Superman score (let’s not get into the fact that the pieces chosen were all designed to pander to the white trash Daytona audience and were completely dumbed down). The screens started out by showing Iron Man, then switched to the Flight of the Navigator, the Neverending Story, Harry Potter, Spider-man, Zorro, Batman, and then finally Superman. Another example would be when Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” was accompanied by video of ants and birds. It was arbitrary, it was amateurish, and it was stupid. Every piece was distractingly supported (or detracted, actually) by a jumbled mess of video clips that looked like it had been created by the audio-visual club of a remedial high school where everyone is classified as mentally retarded. And their teacher was actually a monkey.

The final straw was the piece played by the concert master, Carmine Lauri. I’m sorry to say that I cannot remember the name of it and the program we received did not in any way reflect the actual pieces and the order in which they were played (another shining example of the poor job done). At any rate, it was an extremely quick tempo violin piece, where it felt like he was playing 10-15 notes a second. Some mental midget made the decision to avoid showing him play this masterful piece at all. Instead, we got clips from Highlander. What the holy fuck is that all about?

In the end, we enjoyed the music and tried our best not to let the horrible environment (I forgot to mention the layout, which required everyone to sit in their seats at a 45 degree angle to be able to face the orchestra), white trash attendees, and amateurish work performed by so-called A/V and design firms ruin it. It is a testament to the quality of the work done by the London Symphony Orchestra that the coordinators pretty much did everything wrong that someone could do for a symphony and, even with that, the orchestra’s skill still remained clear and undeniable.

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35 Replies to “Treasure among trash: the London Symphony Orchestra in Daytona Beach”

  1. Grant

    I hope you broke out the air horn and giant foam finger when they played the theme to Star Wars. I’m assuming they played it since it’s the only recognizable work they’ve ever done. I don’t know about that Flight of the Bumblebee ditty. Everybody knows Bumblebee is an Autobot and doesn’t fly. I guess them foreigners messed up again.

  2. Hilly

    I’m going to sound like a total douchebag snob here but, if you don’t know the proper manners when attending the symphony, don’t go to the symphony. What happened to the days of getting all gussied up, sitting in a concert hall and feeling like the damn place was so boring you wanted to kill yourself? At least that is the way it should feel. 😉

  3. Cris

    Dude! You take your lovely wife to a program because you won free tickets to a Country Music Radio Station’s call in trivia question about Kenny Chessney’s preferred chewing tobacco flavor… then you have the nerve to complain! No wonder Dave2 (the Tequilacon Shit kicker) didn’t invite you to New Mexico.

  4. Cris

    Oh! And for YOUR information… here in OKLAHOMA when we want a bit of culture we have to broadcast CDs of movie theme music over a boombox on the town square while some fat kid walks around with old movie posters on a stick. You Floridian people have it SWEEEEEET!

  5. bubblewench

    I’m still shaking my head over the Highlander bit.. Having been involved with theater 20+ years, and having done numerous symphony performances in that time, hearing that a symphony performance was so awful makes me think their stage manager sucks ass as well. A good one would not have let the director or PR firms get away with that crap.

  6. Lexi

    I’m so impressed that you kept the presence of mind to come home and blog about it. I probably would have snapped and would now be wandering the streets in a bathrobe, drooling.

  7. Jay

    “click-hiss of cans opening”

    Beer in a can? How low-rent is that?

    I think that once any live performance starts (or a movie) the doors should be locked and anyone arriving late should NOT be allowed to enter and NOT be given a refund.

  8. Avitable

    Kim, ugh, Talladega.

    Faiqa, such a bitch!

    Grant, there was a standing ovation at the end, so they came back and played Star Wars.

    Whall, exactly!

    Becky, nah. The design firms will find it at some point. And I don’t really follow that logical train of thought with regards to white trash. It differentiates them from other colors of trash.

    Jennier, at this point, I don’t think it matters.

    Sybil, yeah, the Zorro clips were even worse.

    Hilly, hahahaha! I’ve been to boring symphonies, but this one could have been interesting if it wasn’t for the distractions.

    Johnny, you should run in the opposite direction!

    Robin, I should have. Maybe next time.

    Cris, Oklahoma is damn classy.

    Sheila, does the Pope shit in the woods? Of course not. It’s fucking Daytona Beach! 🙂

    Finn, actually, they vacation there officially.

    Bubblewench, I think everyone involved, except for the actual orchestra, sucks.

    Lexi, if Amy and I hadn’t been able to joke about it all night, I probably would have done that too.

    Jay, I agree completely. There was an intermission, and that would have been a perfectly acceptable time to enter.

    Theresa, I lived in LA for a while and we actually went and saw them there. It was outstanding.

    Britt, and you are an angry little woman! More like a sarcastic Tinkerbell.

    Chris, my musical education is sorely lacking.

    BE Earl, ever? You’d never go to a symphony?

  9. Clayton

    The Ocean Center is the wrong venue for sure. We used to have All County concerts out there and they didn’t sound great either, of course a nicer hall probably wouldn’t have compensated our skill level. I saw Engelbert Humperdink with my grandmother there and that sort of worked. I haven’t been to LSO in probably 15 years, but when I went in High School, they always had it at the Peabody and it was nice. The concert hall at Bethune-Cookman is well suited as well. I think there may be some performances there.

    I think what happened is the Ocean Center was going through renovations of some sort and they were itching to use it.

  10. Beth

    I’m surprised that they let people enter while a song was playing. When I was in choir in college, our director was ADAMANT that you never ever ever enter or leave a room while a group is performing. It’s just poor etiquette — and this was community college, not even an enormous group.

  11. Nanna

    Hey you know what, that whole video clips on Megatrons behind the symphony must be a trend–they did it here with (God help me) the entire “Wizard of Oz” showing on the screen. Pretty much.

    Freaking sigh

  12. Avitable

    Cristina, as long as my pain is good for a laugh!

    Clayton, yeah, the renovations make it absolutely miserable to walk around, too. It’s so poorly designed now.

    Beth, I know! That’s one of the basic elements of something like this – if you’re late, you wait.

    Nanna, some people just shouldn’t be allowed near culture.

    Mocha, oh yes. Honkytonk. How fun. I may poke my eardrums out now.

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