There’s a story about a professor who asked his students if a jar filled with rocks was full. They said it was. But he proceeded to pour in some pebbles, which fell into the spaces you could see, and then the students agreed the jar was full. Then he added sand, and it filled the spaces the students didn’t really know were there. That must have convinced the students that the jar is totally full, right?  Then the professor opened his coffee cup and poured it into the jar.

Southam Hall at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre was packed tight on a cold, snowy Saturday night. The NAC Orchestra took to the stage to start off the night with a full song on their own to give a taste to the audience of what they were in store for. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house, and every space filled with an eager Patrick Watson fan. Patrick finally took the stage, and his band filled the small dedicated area at the front of the stage, while he took his spot at the grand piano. The crowd was fixated.

It was clear how much time and energy went into this show’s preparation. So many musicians were involved with each song, not to mention the additional elements including expansions and props like balloons. Patrick briefly mentioned how they met for a drink to discuss concepts, and how various aspects of the show were created.

As I watched the show, I couldn’t help but think about the jar story. The rocks, make up certain functional points of Southam Hall. The pebbles, those on stage. The sand make up the audience, filling the space to its fullest. But then the music starts. The sound of the orchestra fusing with the whimsical sound of Patrick’s songs. The waves of sound filled the air, the spaces you can’t see. In the mind of the audience, that’s what full feels like.