Last Saturday on July 4th during Anime Expo 2015, we had the chance to attend the live performance of “Wagakki Band” a Japanese group that mixes Vocaloid songs with Wagakki traditional instruments, fused with a cool western rock style. The concert ,that took place at Club Nokia, was completely sold out, but I was lucky enough to attend and as an extra, I enjoyed even more that I anticipated.
The concert had an opening act of IA, a Vocaloid that was also performing for the first time in America. While I’m not a big fan of the whole “Virtual ldol” genre, I admit it was a nice act, with top level musicians and interesting dance set pieces (performed in part by real ladies, mind you) but once Wagakki Band hit the stage, a nice strong vibe invaded the place, letting us know that we were in for a treat.
After a few minutes it was clear to me that each of the members are very talented and that they know their instruments all too well , even after several songs, none of them missed a beat nor showed signs of fatigue, and the audience was roaring with excitement… (Yes, that included me). The best way you can tell that the songs being preformed are top level, is that you don’t need to understand the lyrics to enjoy it, you can just let yourself go with the rhythm, guided by the fusion of the instruments, and that, spiced with Yūko Suzuhana’s voice, was all I needed to have a great time.
The band consists of Yūko Suzuhana (Lead vocals) Machiya (Guitar, backing vocals) Beni Ninagawa (Tsugaru jamisen, a kind of three string banjo)Kiyoshi Ibukuro (Koto, a kind of horizontal harp) Asa ( Bass) Daisuke Kaminaga (Shakuhachi, the flute) Wasabi ( Drums) and Kurona (Wadaiko, the traditional drums and percussions)
One of my favorite parts of the concert was when most of the members had their chance to perform their solos. Since I’m a huge fan of the Taiko drums, I was more than excited with the cool duel between Wasabi with the drums and Kurona with his Wadaiko… Just Epic, I also was amazed at how much energy Daisuke Kaminaga had, he never stopped dancing and jumping to the songs, while playing the shakuhachi without missing a beat.