Friday, August 27, 2010

Wherein a Mexican Sees The Magic That is Anamanaguchi

I'd known my favorite chiptune band was going to be in town for a little over a week, and I'd made plans to try and go see them. My sister was my partner in crime tonight, charming little beast that she is, and after spending a bit of time at Little Tokyo today (Orochan Ramen nearly killed me. And yet it's deliciousness was AMAZING) we traipsed on over to Meltdown Comics over on Sunset. I'm kind of disappointed in myself honestly, I've been in California, not but half an hour from LA and I hardly ever even go out there to see what's what. I'm a failure of a Californian.

Then again the two terms tend to be mutually exclusive. But I digress.

Meltdown Comics was, I should say, freaking HUGE. Seriously, you could put my house quite comfortably inside of it. Possibly two. In any case, we checked in and got out purple wristbands signifying that we did indeed have a right to be there, and after a bit of waiting (and having a bathroom briefly hijacked by someone else) we we let into the venue, which was, in fact, the gallery for the comic shop. More or less it was a basement which permitted the entire audience to be packed in like sardines. And that was pretty much the case by the time we all filed in.

The stage, for lack of a better term since it was pretty much just a corner of the room, had a whole bunch of equipment set up. Mixers, a guitar, a few amps and a soundboard... And two Nintendo Entertainment Systems and a Gameboy. Unorthodox, yes, and supremely bizarre. The fact that one of the NES's was blue and pink with 'Anamanaguchi' on the side did nothing to stave off the oddness. Awesome yes, but odd nonetheless.

D/A/D was on first, and I gotta say, for a one man show, the man certainly knew how to impress. Quite honestly, I was entranced, spellbound even by his performance. In my opinion, he was clearly loving every moment of it, and who could blame him? His music was captivating, had a rhythm that sunk right into your bones and pulled them like a puppeteer, and I could close my eyes at any given time during the performance and just let the music take me away. The guy had some serious chops; playing guitar, two keyboards, AND mixing through his laptop. The deserves a fucking medal for everything he did, seriously.

D/A/D left the audience in high spirits, and ready for the main event. Not that I'm discounting the man, far from it, but the band was on the header for the website for a reason. After a bit of warming up and tuning, the crowd was ready to rock One forward thinking individual had even crafted a pixelated Scott Pilgrim head and was holding it up in reverence of the band. It was a sweet gesture, and honestly it warmed my heart cockles to see Pete accept the gift from the fan. You really don't see that kind of thing in big time concerts, and it's part of the reason why I like smaller, private shows better. It shows that the band really does care for the fans, and there's just so much more interaction between fans and artists that can't be found anywhere else.

Now, I can't really elaborate on the show too much, though the videos that I'll be posting to my Youtube can do much better, including a couple of piss poor teasers from the show itself. I will say this though. Despite the fact that it stank like Swedish chocolate (for some truly odd reason), despite the fact that everyone was sweating like mad and there wasn't a dry back in the house, despite the crowded conditions... I wouldn't have changed a thing about any of it.

It's all part of the scene really. There's just a certain energy that can only be found in these types of performances, a kind of electricity that's almost palpable. It jumps from person to person, fizzing and crackling as it hotwires your spine, hijacking your senses and flipping off the policeman as it takes your brain for a joyride. You find yourself stomping and hooting, hollering and headbanging, jumping and jiving for sheer joy as the music takes control. Something primal and wild wells up inside you, and in those conditions, all those people around you just stirs the pot even more. A primal sense of community develops, where the whole tribe gathers around the fire to listen and celebrate something ancient and incredible that we can only hope to reach in some distant way.

I could be romanticizing the whole thing, but I like to think that there's some truth in my words. Flat out though, despite standing all of 3 feet from the main speaker, I was floored by the wonderful and surreal sounds that Anamanaguchi produces, what with their hacked NES's and Gameboy. It was particularly a trip to hear them do a cover of an especially memorable song. Let me tell you friend, nothing can prepare you for an 8 bit rendition of Weezer's 'Buddy Holly'. Their was a bit of moshing, which is inevitable in these things, but it really wasn't so bad. Sure, people pushed and bashed around, but it was never too hard, and it was a case of controlled chaos; people were going nuts but in a restrained fashion.

In any case, I've said a lot, and I'll let the videos do more talking. I'm in the process up getting them up right now actually. For your own viewing pleasure, here's the first of them, the rest of which can be viewed at my user page on Youtube. Just look up TheBumbleBeaner.

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