Earlier in December, I received a discount to go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Growing up, my neighbor and her family always went to see the show around Christmas time and loved it, so I decided that it would be fun to see them. I bought tickets for my parents and I and we went to the 4pm showing at Toyota Center on Friday, December 19th.
I didn’t really know much the Trans-Siberian Orchestra other than the fact that they have a badass interpretation on Carol of the Bells and the Nutcracker theme song. I thought I was going to get dressed up and sit down and enjoy a nice night at the symphony. I was expecting, you know, like a full on orchestra with a bunch of people dressed in black dresses and tuxedos and lots of bassoons, and violins and classy string instruments. UM. FALSE. Let me dispel a few rumors for you. Despite the name, “Trans-Siberian” they are not from Russia. They are straight up American. And they are not an “Orchestra” or a symphony. They are a rock band. Like hard-core, leather-wearing, long-haired, head-banging rock band with electric guitars, sexy dancers, pyrotechnics, and laser light shows. I’ll let that sink in.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is EFFING WEIRD.
The “theme” of their show is Christmas Attic, which is the name of their second album. Uh, weird. The concert opens with a dark stage and ominous music setting the scene for this super creepy computerized cartoon story projected on massive screens.
The scene begins in the middle of a snow covered forest. All you see are foot prints slowly being made in the snow. Then the character that we are following (presumably a little girl) arrived upon this abandoned house. She goes inside and looks around and all the rooms are empty, some windows are left open, the fire place is suspiciously still on. And the little girl decides to go upstairs. She arrives at the second floor and it is empty as well. So she’s on the landing by the staircase and the music is building and all of a sudden this ladder unfurls from the ceiling. It’s taking all my self-control at this point to not jump up and yell “DONT GO UP THE LADDER!!!”
I’m freaking out, wondering where her parents are…Isn’t it Christmas eve? Should she be out alone? Uh. Nooo. This is concerning. It’s that classic horror film scene: empty house, weird lighting, crescendoing music….Anyways the girl ignores all my telepathic warnings, proceeds to go up the sketchy ladder and enters the attic–or the Christmas Attic if you will.
She discovers a trunk full of letters and mementos and proceeds to read through them all. A narrator appears and proceeds to tell the story of the little girl and the letters from long ago. He’s actually pretty good–all dramatic and rhyming. Weird. But good. So each letter has a story and somehow links back to Christmas which the Trans Siberian Orchestra take upon themselves to interpret in the most bizarre ways ever.
Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas Attic concert is part vocal part instrumental and all over weird. The drummer, one pianist and some tradition orchestra-esque people sit in this giant trunk–clearly emulating the trunk discovered in the attic. They have a bunch of dudes in leather pants and vests just rocking out with their hair past their shoulders on their electric guitars. The main chick dressed in her own leather-goth-rocker outfit totally kills it with her electric violin. I repeat. ELECTRIC VIOLIN. Okay, yeah I see you, you know what’s up.
In terms of special effects, these guys took no short cuts. They had sparklers and fireworks and flame throwers and laser light shows. And these weird spinning scaffolding that sent them into and over the crowd. This one (pictured below) was about 5 rows behind us at the back of the stadium opposite the main stage. When the performers dismounted, they ran up the aisles back to the main stage. Fist pumping and fist bumping along the way. My dad, sitting on the aisle, got a fist bump. It was a beautiful moment.
Who ever was in charge of the video to accompany each of the songs took some, uh, liberties. There was this bizarre Christmas montage scene where they just flashed random images of a castle and a town and Santa Claus and made patterns with the pictures in a seizure-inducing manner. There was another song staring some old piano player (presumably Beethoven) who was directing this group of girls dressed in white night gowns dancing in a gothic castle. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a bunch of virgins dancing a heart-pounding tribal dance (pretend the video below is oriented properly) with smoke and fire and sexy leather clad back up dancers covering the stage.
Also there was this borderline terrifying scene with dragons fighting to get out of a cage (you can kind of see the cage in the picture below). The dragons eventually break free and are crawling all over this castle and breathing fire–complete with actual fire torches that fly up from the stages around the stadium. The stadium got real hot. I was freaked out. There were lots of kids around me. Like little kids. Um what? Scary dragons + real life flames = nightmare material, thank you very much. The set designer had quite the, uh, imagination….
The concert was also effing long. It was a solid 2.5 hours long. You certainly get your money’s worth at this concert. Although I personally get a little fidgety after 2+ hours of sitting….The concluding song was, of course, their infamous Carol of the Bells, accompanied by an appropriately red and green themed light show. If I had to choose twos words to describe the show, they would be AN EXPERIENCE. Phew. I haven’t been to a concert like that in a long time. And lawdy be it was interesting. Such an interesting interpretation on what it means to have Christmas cheer. If you want to freshen up your Christmas traditions, Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Attic show will certainly do the trick.