Archive for the ‘ACEN’ Category

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ACEN Live Review: Aural Vampire

May 23, 2010

What does Anime Central mean to me?  The only time of the year I get to see live music.  And do otaku stuff.  So when I heard they got Aural Vampire to perform, I was exited to see another Japanese band live even if I never heard of them.  What better way to celebrate ACEN’s thirteenth anniversary.  I guess vampires are in.

Aural Vampire is a Gothic electronic darkwave synthpop band who just released their debut major label album ZOLTANK via avex.  They consist of Exo-Chika on vocals and RAVEMAN on electronics.  They arrived on stage twenty minutes late in a barrage of seizure-inducing flashing lights.  Exo-Chika donned a blood-stained white gown with prosthetic fangs and pigtails down to her waist while RAVEMEN came in leather, a cowboy hat, and a flashing helmet ala Daft Punk.

Blood stains aside (later she changed into a black gothic lolita dress), Exo-Chika was your typical J-pop idol.  Vocals were in line with Oricon chart toppers and her dance moves were off just enough to make everyone think she was cute.  For a vampire, I found myself thinking “kawaii” more than “ew.”  But who knows, maybe the lyrics are about axe murderers and boys that sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight.  Overall she was a decent frontwoman, even if her English was bad (both times she tried to introduce the band, RAVEMAN had to cut her off to mask the awkward silence).

RAVEMAN is kind of an enigma.  And not just because of his mask.  He spent about a third of the performance walking around with a joystick-synthesizer board, doing his best Omadaka impression.  The rest of the time he spent walking around like a sick puppy dog–sometimes imitating Exo-Chika’s dance moves, or hovering over her shoulder, or just watching the rolling video behind him.  I don’t think I saw him at his laptop station for more than two minutes.  It’s a shame because his beats were far more interesting than the vocals.  Exo-Chika gave him a great opportunity to show his stuff when she walked off stage to change.  This was the moment to show off his DJ skills.  But what does he do?  Invite zombie cosplayers from the crowd onstage and film them (hey, I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera in).  I would’ve liked to see him work his instruments more.  I could set a boom-box on stage and stand around, too.

For a pair of people who have performed together since high school, I expected a little more chemistry on stage.  It seemed like they spent more time ignoring each other.  I guess vampires and “butchers” don’t mix.

Their music is not as creepy as you would think.  I did enjoy their techno vibe and RAVEMAN’s beats had more than one middle-aged gentleman in the crowd pumping his fists.  Exo-Chika’s vocals clicked for me later on when I listened to the CD.  My favorite songs that I remember they played are “Freeeeeze!” and “Hot Blood Workout.”  I also enjoyed their encore performance of “PNFPN” that featured strange video of a goat in the background.  There was also one more song with a rap in it that I couldn’t find on either of their albums.  The only reason I remember that song is because of RAVEMAN’s obvious lip sync fail when he tried to rap into the bottom end of a flashlight and gave up mid sentence.

Overall I was disappointed by their stand-offish stage presence.  They came off as more awkward than frightening.  I did watch some live videos on YouTube when I came home, and they definitely looked more into it than they did at ACEN.  I’m hoping it’s because they just had a long weekend and not because avex crushed their souls.  On their own, RAVEMAN is a great DJ and Exo-Chika could have a successful solo career (RAVEMAN already has Futon Disco).  Their album sounds great, but I had to wonder why they were together on stage.

In any case, I did buy their CD after the show and got it signed.  I’ve played it on repeat for the past week so I guess I like it.

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Anime Central 2008: Peelander-Z & HALCALI

May 21, 2008

Last weekend, I achieved a short-term goal of mine: seeing a Japanese band in concert. As you may remember last year, I was disappointed that I couldn’t see High and Mighty Color at Anime Central. Well, I planned ahead this year, sorta. Actually, I didn’t think I would even go to ACEN this year but I found myself in the 7 hour line from hell on Friday morning. We were only planning on attending on Friday but by the time we finally got our badges (7:30pm), there wasn’t much to do. The dealers room was closed and my back ached like only an old person would know. However, they were out of Friday badges and we were given full weekend passes instead for the same price as the day only ($30). So I went again on Saturday with someone else. I remembered the tickets this time. We were near the end of the line but I didn’t really care.

PEELANDER-Z


Peelander-Z walks the fine line between extreme audience participation and “we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing.” Their first song, “Mad Tiger,” lasted roughly twenty minutes (only 3 minutes on their CD) and was interrupted for a minute for the song “YYY.” The other songs they played, “Super Health,” “Happee Pee,” and “STEAK” followed the same formula, and generally consisted of less than five words per song. Every song was interrupted at least once for their stage antics which included human bowling, a limbo contest, and multiple incidences of crowd surfing (with a plush surfboard). I’d say roughly 70% of the audience was on the stage at least once during their performance. Pots and pans were handed out and they joined the band on stage to play with them. At one point, the band members themselves gave their instruments away to audience members to play in their place. This is when the human bowling game started. The band members took turns throwing each other into a set of pins. Another great stage antic was when Peelander Yellow and Red jump roped while playing their instruments. Overall, I’d have to say I was very amused throughout Peelander-Z’s concert. I’ve never seen an audience so into a performance. Everyone was screaming and have a good time. Peelander Yellow said it best, they are not a band but organizers for your party. Peelander-Z’s last song was the fan favorite “STEAK” which I’ve loved ever since I’ve seen the video on Spike TV’s MXC some five odd years ago. They ended with an infomercial for their DVD Peelander is Fun!! and went out performing acrobatics to the tune “My Heart Will Go On.”

http://www.myspace.com/peelanderz

HALCALI

So, I’m not really into J-pop. I have heard this group prior through the ending theme “Tip Tap Tips” from Eureka Seven. I loved the music video for it but never bothered to listen to more. I had to sit this one out. My back from the night before was still killing me but conveniently there were plenty of chairs available in the ballroom. I was close enough to see their heads but watched most of it on the side screens. HALCALI is a pop/hip-hop duo, pretty generic to the ears but I fell in love with them as the show progressed. These girls can’t dance if their lives depended on it. If you’ve seen the Rick Roll video that’s been going around, that’s pretty much what they do: wave their arms around retardedly. What should have made me leave turned out to be disgustingly cute. I couldn’t tear myself away from their smiling faces. Their short gym shorts were a plus, too. They played around 15-20 songs, mostly upbeat and a DJ was the only other person on stage. Many people in the audience flashed HALCALI’s signature hand-heart symbol as seen in the picture. One of my favorite songs was “Koi no BUBUBUN” were the girls repeatedly revved up a fake motorcycle with their hands. They ended their set with the song “Tandem” from the anime Mr. Stain on Junk Alley. I had no idea they sang this song! Back when ColoursTV played anime, they would always play a commercial for Mr. Stain with the exact same song. I’ve had it stuck in my head for quite awhile. At the end, they announced their next concert would be in June at Madison Square Garden.

http://www.myspace.com/halcali

Overall, two great performances. I bought Peelander-Z’s CD Dancing Friendly and their DVD. I was too shy to ask for their autograph but I found them extremely accessible (and loud!) after the concert and later in the dealer’s room. Unfortunately, HALCALI didn’t have any CDs for sale (I had to download when I got home :P). They did have a black T-shirt for sale with “HALCALI” printed in pink on the front and back. I’m not really into pink. They signed autographs later in the dealers room. The line wasn’t extremely long (75 people?) but I ditched that too. If I was too shy to shake Peelander-Z’s hand wouldn’t I be shyer to approach two cute Japanese girls? Yeah, I’m a pussy. I did get a couple of very blurry shots of them. They actually waved to me! Lol oh well. Can’t wait to see who comes to ACEN next year…

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so it’s been a while

May 21, 2007

So today is the start of my 2nd week off from school.  As such I’ve done absolutely nothing since -.-  I went to Anime Central (ACEN) last Saturday where Spiral Spiders and High and Mighty Color performed.  Unfortunately, I was unaware that you needed a ticket and they were sold out by the time I got to the booth.  Maybe next year!  I was going to do an ACEN report on my *comic* blog but as it turns out there’s not much to talk about.

In any case, I went to Best Buy yesterday and they had the new Cornelius cd in stock.  I didn’t expect to find it there but I snatched it up with my 10% off coupon.

Also if anyone’s interested DRUM:KAN‘s cd is available for preorder on interpunk.

Now that school’s out, hopefully I can find out more to do with this blog.