Features, Music, Review | by — February 6, 2014


Heaven, London

February 5th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Being at an Anamanaguchi gig is like being an anime character in 1991 at a rave inside a Nintendo Entertainment System.  I’m pretty sure my mind actually blew a fuse.  This band has defied all of my expectations of a live performance.  Familiar with their sound which is heavily based in a digital 8-bit sounding reality, I half expected Anamanaguchi to be one of those live bands that do little more than press play.  Not only did all four members play live instruments (Drums, Bass, 2 Guitars) layered over their synthesized samples and occasional prerecorded guest vocals, but their visual accompaniment was spectacular.

The screen behind the band was filled with retro futuristic imagery including 8-bit video game style animations and Japanese anime, their house lights were immaculate, the LED lights were awesome, and the two cubes filled with projections were fascinating.  This band is a spectacle in the best sense possible.  Their sound is so rich that it is hard not to get swept away into the music.  At some point I was transported back to the 1990’s; glowsticks, rave music, dancing, I didn’t quite realize Anamanaguchi could sound so heavy live.  Their albums always seemed much more 8-bit and less 90’s rave.  What a revelation!

While my mind was blown for the first couple of songs and my favourites that cropped up throughout the set, there is a problem with a band such as Anamanaguchi.  Being primarily instrumental with such a distinct sound, their music can become quite samey which was felt at a couple of points during the set.  But somehow they always brought the energy and audience attention back to the music.  A usually reserved British gig audience often struggles to find the drive to demand an encore, but not in this case.  They almost brought down the house with stomping and shouts of “one more song”.  Here is where it got really weird.

Having already been transported to an alternate reality of retro futuristic 90’s Nintendo anime rave, when the band returned to the stage for the encore and the shirtless drummer proceeded to tell dad jokes for 5 minutes, the harsh reality of actual reality kicked in.  These are just normal nice guys – not magic Mario Brothers characters.  Damn.  But they look so fun:

Oh wait.. they ARE fun.  Encore achievement unlocked!  This is a band whose albums are innovative, complex and interesting.  Their live set is on a whole other plane.

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