To all my watchers. This dream occurred several months before the season two finale. Therefore this posting contains one detail that is different from a known fact in the series.
After the Octavia's performance three nights ago and the afternoon garden recital the day before it was time for something completely different at the Canterlot Music Festival and my Equestria dreamscape. It was interesting to see how the staff at the hotel looked at us as we left the hotel in our outfits for the Scratch concert. Even the cabbie gave us an odd look as we all piled into the cab and headed off to the Canterlot Civic Auditorium. Upon arriving at the Auditorium it was immediately obvious that the three of us were in for very different performance tonight.
Instead of a crowd of ponies dressed in the finest that Equestrian high fashion could create we were found a milling mass of ponies dressed in outfits very similar to the ones that our crew was wearing. In fact our garments for the evening were almost dull compared to some of the more outlandish outfits we spied in the crowd. Well at least we fitted in, and it definitely made for a visually distinctive scene. The Canterlot Civic Auditorium is not as impressive of a structure as the Canterlot Symphony Hall of a couple nights ago but still was a large and imposing building. As we were entering the building I could see workers in a side alley busily bringing in assorted machinery and coal. Lots of coal.
Like the exterior the interior of the auditorium was impressive but nowhere as opulent as the symphony hall. It reminded me of some of the movie theaters I have visited that were constructed in the 1930's or 40's. There even was a concession stand in the front lobby for ponies to buy snacks from. For tonight we did not have our own box but instead we were seated in a reserve section of the auditorium which was located on balcony area exactly in the middle and midway back from the stage. It promised an excellent view. The stage curtains were drawn but we could easily tell that additional equipment had been installed around the hall. Temporary frameworks of gaslights, early electric spotlights and other assorted paraphernalia had been grafted onto the light green interior walls of the hall for tonights performance. It made for strange surreal experience. One part grand theater; one part boiler room or steel mill. From behind the curtains there was a constant sound of workers moving. Ponies giving hushed instructions, and the occasional sound of someone testing a musical instrument or running some piece of machinery.
We had arrived early, so after locating our seats we wandered a bit around and milled with the crowd. Besides Petina suddenly had the munchies big time and wanted to hit the concession stand. There were quite a few couples attending the concert along with groups of ponies who were obviously schoolmates or friends. Most of them were younger than myself, Petina, or Carousel by several years. The fact that two attractive mares were part of one stallions entourage/ party garnered some jealous looks from younger, single stallions in the crowd. Carousel stayed close by my side and was obviously enjoy herself and the attention. Petina decided to on several occasions to drape herself over me while we chatted with various random pony or group of ponies. For that evening I rather felt like a rock star at some award ceremony.
Eventually showtime came and everyone had to return to their seats. A few minutes later a middle aged dark gray unicorn stallion who obviously worked for the auditorium came out on the stage levitating a white megaphone at his side. After a couple of seconds of fiddling with his bright red ascot then he brought the megaphone up to his mouth and addressed the audience. "On behalf of everyone here at the Canterlot Civic Auditorium I want to thank you for attending tonight performance. The show will begin in a few minutes but before it does I must discuss a few things with you." He paused for a moment before continuing. "The performance you are about to witness is one of the most complicated show we have ever put on here. If you look around the hall you can see that many pieces of equipment have been temporally installed just for tonights show. We ask for your own safety and the safety of Scratch's crew please do not attempt to touch or handle, by any means, the equipment." He waited again for a couple seconds before continuing his prepared speech. "During the concert we must insist that you do not climb, fly, levitate, or teleport yourself onto the stage or any location in the auditorium not meant for the general public. All the equipment has wards to prevent physical and magical tampering. However we ask that you make no attempt to manipulate the equipment before, during or after the performance. Once again for your safety and the safety of Scratch and her crew." The next words from the unicorn were very carefully chosen.
"Scratch's performance have tendency of exciting, arousing, stimulating and generally make ponies very festive. Dancing in the aisles during performance is permitted and there will be several points where you will be asked to sing and contribute to tonights show. However Scratch, her crew, and the staff of Canterlot Civic Auditorium ask that pegasus refrain from flying inside the hall during the performance. That unicorns refrain from any use of magic that could either disturb the show or distract and endanger the audience or her crew. Any pony who engages in any lewd, uncivilized activities during the performance will be immediately removed." At this point we noticed that there were quite a few security stallions stationed around the auditorium hall. The unicorn then smiled and with a bow he concluded. "Now with no further delay the Canterlot Civic Auditorium presents. Scratch!" Then lights in the hall went out.
The program booklet said the first piece to be performed was called "Day Shift". For several seconds we sat in darkness until we realized that the stage curtains had parted and we were staring at a simulated night sky with twinkling stars. Then slowly a soft glow grew as if dawn was approaching. Then just before the sun rose above the horizon a steam whistle starting blowing at regular intervals. In the far right corner of the stage behind screen the silhouette of an earth pony reared up on its hind legs and with a pickaxe in its front hooves it starting swinging at the ground it in a rhythmic fashion. Ching chagga! Ching chagga! Ching chagga! In the opposite corner another larger pony silhouette also behind a screen began striking in counterpoint with a large sledgehammer. Thud! Went the hammer. Thud! Thud! Thud! Now rising above the horizon and into an ever brighter sky was a giant slowly spinning clockwork gear whose teeth were bent and tapered at the ends to resemble a stylized sun. In fact it was not a bad interpretation of Celestia's cutie mark. As the sun/ gear climbed higher into the artificial sky and as the light grew brighter one could make out the stylized skyline of city like Fillydelphia. Lights began to appear in building windows and pony silhouettes began marching in two lines from opposite sides of the stage toward the center in step like some giant shadow puppet performance.
Suddenly from center stage there was brilliant burst of blue light from a unicorn's horn. A dozens of gaslights came to life illuminating an intricate multi-level stage. Front and center, reared up on her hind legs and her head thrown back and front hooves above her head was the white unicorn mare Scratch. She wore a dark violet stallions top hat with a hat band festooned with pocket watch faces. Her eyes were hidden by large goggles with mauve tinted glass. Around her neck she wore a ludicrously large blue bow tie that complimented her mane and tail. Her lower front legs were sheathed in long dark blue material. Machine gear-like buttons ran vertically along one outside edge. With a cheshire cat grin on her face she looked like a pony steampunk equivalent of Willie Wonka. She had no microphone or megaphone but her horn flared blue again and when she spoke her voice filled the auditorium hall. " Gentle stallions and mares. Welcome! I am Scratch and on behalf of all the performers in my excellent crew I want to thank you for attending tonights show. We hope you find tonights performance to be everything you imagined and more!" Her voice was hypnotic and while refined it had a slightly impish, mischievous quality to it. In technical terms I guess it would a Lyric contralto.
Her horn glowed a third time and I small trapdoor by her opened in stage floor. Rising into view was this baroque looking control panel with giant lever that you'd expect to see on a locomotive or a steamship. With both her front hooves she grasped the lever. "Now with no further delay lets get this SHOW GOING!" With my mighty tug she pulled the lever. Suddenly the multi-level stage burst to life as multiple trapdoors sprung open. Out them rose musicians, dancers, and a bizarre collection of musical instruments and machinery. Her entire stage crew was eighteen ponies. Who knows how many were working behind the scenes.
When we found out that we would be attending Scratch's concert Petina immediately started searching the various tabloids she could come across and asked various ponies to try and learn more about the background of the young artistic genius. However, separating the fact of speculation, fiction, rumor and outright slander was very tricky. Scratch had burst on the music scene about five years ago when she won first place at a Manehattan Music Contest. While many critics initially discounted her as a fluke and an oddity she soon proved them wrong by going on to be winning a string of prestigious music festivals and awards.
Scratch for being such public figure has remain an enigma to her fans, critics, and fellow musicians. Her background has remained a mystery, which is amazing in a world where one usually goes around with one's personal heraldry, your cutie mark, visible for all the world to see. However to this point her family, childhood, education, and place of birth and source of revenue have remained a unknown. One thing that has stymied ponies is where she has acquired the necessary funds to finance her elaborate performances and develop the equipment required to make them happen. Some speculate that she is connected to one of the ancient houses of the Royal Unicorn dynasties. Other think she is the scion of some industrialist pony. Another train of thought is that she is a former explorer/ adventurer/ mercenary who has financed her artistic endeavors from some unknown, forgotten treasure trove she's discovered. A final, and probably the most outlandish, rumor is that she is the love child of an affair between Princess Celestia and some unknown unicorn stallion, and her eccentric performances are funded, willing or not, from the Royal Treasury. I can say from first hoof knowledge that Celestia finds the whole idea very silly and not true. None of the other members of her crew who have been interviewed have been able, or willing, to provide any useful information into their employers past. Even with the offer of some very hefty bribes or persuasion.
Even simple facts about Scratch's own appearance are subject to speculation in the public. There are no known photos or public first hand accounts of anyone seeing her without her signature mauve tinted goggles or large wrap around glasses. Ponies wonder what her eye color is. Some speculate that maybe she has horrible scar on her face that even magic can't hide or heal. Maybe it is a curse from where she found the treasure that finances her shows. Maybe it is a magical disfigurement as result of her research into the spells and machinery that make her performances possible. Others think that Scratch is actually is blind and that glasses and goggles actually let her see magically.
All that was forgotten by the ponies assembled their that night. Within five minutes she and her crew had most of ponies in the hall dancing and singing and stomping their hooves. Scratch's concert and music was a mix between a rock opera, rag time performance, stage magicians show and Burning Man. The music was something like a combination of Abney Park, [link]
Florence + the Machine, [link]
and Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring [link]
. I closest thing I have actually attended in real life that matched level of theatrics was a Cirque Du Soleil performance. Only this had ponies and steam engines. Scratch was an irresistible siren who's voice and lyrics took you on surreal, fantastic, and sometimes rather erotic journey. Along with being apparently a very gifted singer, and musician she was a very good dancer and watching her sleek white body flow across the stage with the other dancers was very hypnotic. Carousel was completely under her spell and soon was giving her own fine dance performance in aisles of the hall. I am usually not a dancer by nature but Scratch's music was enough to get out my seat and dancing with Petina. Despite the warning from the staff member about lewd behavior it was obvious that many a stallion and mare were ignoring the declaration about being removed from the hall. Fortunately with all the dancing, changing lights and swaying bodies most of it was lost in the swirling mass of ponies. Petina who is quite an exhibitionist and a voyeur at time of her life drinking in the performance, and was becoming quite frisky and adventurous as performance went on. Still she exercised some restraint although it was very clear she would be a handful when we got back to hotel room. Oh well, I can think of worse handfuls than her.