When I initially submitted my application to join Lords of Gaming, one of my submission pieces was a review for Sonic Frontiers. As you have all seen from some of my work so far, I’m a very passionate Sonic fan. So when word came out about a symphony, of all things, covering music in one of my favorite gaming franchises was happening, but was actually coming to a location I could travel to, set off a chain reaction. I couldn’t buy my ticket and pack my suitcase fast enough. Going into seeing the show, I knew it was going to be a fun time. But even I didn’t expect to be as moved as I was.
Journey to the Sonic Symphony
Traveling to the area where the Symphony was taking place was a journey of itself. Since I have never traveled beyond the New York area much, taking the Long Island Railroad and the Amtrak was a really fun experience. I saw so much along the way.
When I left, heavy snowfall was coming down. So seeing a literal winter wonderland across New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore while sitting in the Amtrak train was a sight to behold.
Getting off Amtrak and spending time with family for the next few days was a major highlight for me seeing beautiful nature walks and exploring the nearby town.
Enjoying the area was fantastic and a day later, I went to the Symphony at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC.
The First Half of the Show
The first half of the show was focused on the orchestra, with them playing music across the entire Sonic series. A major focus was the Genesis era of the series.
Kicking off the show was a Sonic 1 melody, focusing on the game’s six zones and other music pieces throughout the game. But it wasn’t just the amazing orchestra playing the music, but the gameplay of the game playing on a screen in the background. How it was edited only added to the piece. More specifically during the Labyrinth Zone portion of the song.
Following this was a Sonic 2 melody, with my personal highlight (and the entire theater’s based on everyone’s reactions), which was during the Chemical Plant portion of the melody. The zoom-ins on Sonic and Tails as they struggle to get above water got everyone laughing.
Other pieces included a Sky Sanctuary Melody (Sonic 3 & K), a Sonic CD Melody, a Rooftop Run Melody (covering both the Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Generations versions of the zone), and a Chao Garden melody.
My favorite pieces had to have been the Sonic Colors and Sonic Frontiers Melodies. Both of them make me earnestly tear up and get the most applause out of me.
This portion of the show was fantastic and it only got better in the second half.
The Second Half of the Sonic Symphony
One thing about Sonic music is that the franchise has a ton of vocal tracks. This kicked off during the 3D era of the franchise, continuing with the most recent Sonic Frontiers having a plethora of these.
The second half of the show was filled with vocal tracks, with a proper band joining the orchestra and the two playing another hour of music in unison. Everyone popped off during each track, even the ones from the lesser-regarded games in the series.
Kicking this portion of the show off was ‘I Am All of Me’ from Shadow the Hedgehog. From where I was seated, everyone behind me went crazy for the track. I joined in on the fun and for the next hour, and sang along with everyone.
The songs that hit the hardest for me were Sonic Unleashed’s ‘Endless Possibilities’, Sonic Colors ‘Reach for the Stars’, and the two Sonic Frontiers Titan themes ‘Undefeatable’ and ‘Break Through it All’.
Frontiers vocal tracks always stuck with me and seeing a live band play genuine metal music alongside an orchestra was amazing. It reminded me of how fantastic watching my late mother’s Symphony and Metallica DVD was growing up and how when melding two clashing genres can result in magic happening.
One song that was so much fun for the entire crowd was Sonic Forces ‘Fist Bump’. So fitting a song about friendship and working together to be at the show. Where not only the crowd but the people playing the music showed the world what we can do.
I have to say though, the raw positive energy coming from the entire theater with ‘City Escape’ and ‘Live and Learn’ played was infectious. Everyone, and I mean everyone, sang in perfect harmony. The passion on display just showed how powerful the love for Sonic Adventure 2 was and I earnestly hope SEGA notices this.
When the show ended, I came away with this; for all its issues, the Sonic community is full of people who genuinely love the franchise, and everyone can celebrate it together. You couldn’t find nicer people.
As a long-time fan, my only feedback for future shows would be pulling music from more obscure Sonic games. A huge draw to seeing Sonic music getting played like this is music you normally wouldn’t hear orchestrated or played by a proper band, getting the spotlight they otherwise wouldn’t receive.
Specific tracks that come to mind for me would be Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity’s ‘Ungravitify’ and Sonic Forces Avatar stage themes. To the showrunners’ credit, they did take feedback last year and during one of the October shows, the Halloween-themed ‘Pumpkin Hill’ got on the setlist.
The Sonic Symphony, A Night to Remember
When traveling back home, I couldn’t help but think how much fun traveling to a new place was. And the fact Sonic of all things pulled me out of my shell to see the world proper, showed me how much the franchise has positively impacted me.
From helping me cope with major loss both in the past and in recent times to inspiring me to travel more, the power of Sonic’s music cannot be understated.
If you have even a passing interest in Sonic, I cannot recommend the Sonic Symphony enough. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone, fan or otherwise. Also, travel if you haven’t! It’s such a positive experience and will open up your mind a bit to seeing new things.
Author Credit: Robert Kellett