Music & Nightlife

Lindsey Stirling works a high-energy, violin-dance combo

Electric violinist Lindsey Stirling gave an energetic 90-minute performance Tuesday.
Electric violinist Lindsey Stirling gave an energetic 90-minute performance Tuesday. Rachel Stone

My friend was skeptical about a dancing violinist, but her jaw dropped during Lindsey Stirling’s opening number, and the electric violinist, composer and performer hardly slowed during her entire 90-minute show, in a packed Ovens Auditorium Tuesday.

Stirling, in a blue sparkling tutu and Converses, commanded the stage, twirling and playing from one corner to the other. The graphics that accompanied her made it seem as if a music video was happening before our eyes.

Although the 29-year-old has been off tour for nine months – her longest stint since she started performing, she has said – she certainly did not seem out of practice.

People in the audience shook their heads as she mixed hip-hop, pop and classical music, executing technically challenging material while moving nearly as much as her four backup dancers. And she never seemed to tire.

Stirling received three standing ovations, the first for one of her most popular YouTube music videos, “Roundtable Rival.” She and guitarist Kit Nolan dueled in a battle of fast fingers and high energy.

Most of the crowd’s favorites were songs that Stirling explained before playing. She talked about her new song for the Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon” – called “Something Wild” – and how it’s about following your inner voice: “Back when I first tried to be a musician, every door that I knocked on was slammed in my face,” she told the audience. “I had this voice calling me that wouldn’t let me give up. And I think everybody has that voice.”

“Something Wild” is one of her few songs with lyrics; Andrew McMahon sings the movie score, which accompanied Stirling’s performance Tuesday.

(In 2010, Stirling did not make it past the quarterfinals on “America’s Got Talent,” the judges bluntly saying that she needs a singer and wasn’t talented enough to make it on her own. Tuesday night’s audience didn’t seem to mind.)

“Something Wild” is one of a few songs Stirling played from her new album, scheduled for an Aug. 19 release.

No audience reaction, however, compared to the screams after Stirling performed her dubstep original and most popular song on YouTube (with almost 153 million views), “Crystallize.”

Musicians in the crowd would call her songs uniquely chromatic, tending to end on deceptive cadences rather than melodically – but everyone can hear that her style is atonal, using lots of surprising, nonharmonic chords. And her choreography underscores that quirkiness: Each performance was different, most with a frenzy of movement, but occasionally slowing down, for more somber pieces.

Ending the show with her second-album title song “Shatter Me” and “Phantom of the Opera Medley,” Stirling received two more standing ovations and shouts of “We love you, Lindsey!”

What moved me most was how much she wanted to connect with the audience, and how much she was willing to lay bare.

“I was a depressed, ugly girl with anorexia,” she said amidst shouts of support from the audience. “But I redefined myself ... No matter who you are today – whatever you think you are – you can become the kind of person you want to be.”