When they first announced their one and only show in Los Angeles this year, tickets sold out in less than a minute. As one of the many bag holders, I was left wondering if it would ever be possible to see a band with such a widely known status as ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION (AKFG). Luckily, the band took note of the high demand for their performance and opted to perform a second night. The second night was the one I was able to get into. Just like the first night, AKFG made a brilliant move of scheduling during one of the world’s largest anime conventions, Anime Expo. Perhaps it was because of their notoriety, or maybe the convenience, but AKFG was able to draw in massive crowds. I cannot speak for the final sales of the second show but I know that the venue fits just over 2,000 people. I would not be surprised if we hit that number that night. Before the doors opened the line stretched further than any I’d been in. That is to say, for a single Japanese band. I would like to quickly state that I do not consider myself to be a huge fan of AKFG. I know some of their work, but not all of it.
Awkwardly nestled on the third floor, The Novo, formerly known as Club Nokia, was not a new venue for me. Little has changed since Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia. However, I cannot say that I am much of a fan of this particular venue. The last time I attended, I was almost kicked out for getting a little too into Dir en Grey with some of my brothers in arms. Our excitement just couldn’t be contained and some people just weren’t having it. This was due to the odd pit policy that the venue had. It isn’t open, it’s sold at a higher level and it’s not advertised very well. To be fair, it’s your own fault if you miss it. However, a band with the tone of AKFG doesn’t warrant much of an issue there. I found the place to be much more enjoyable, despite the air being thickly laden with the scent of tired, seldom bathed otaku. It was the end of the third day of the convention.
Overall, the sound quality in the venue was satisfactory. Mids, highs, and lows were all distinguishable. My only complaint is that I didn’t leave the show deaf. It definitely could have been louder. Additionally, despite being pretty filled up, there were plenty of great viewing angles for an individual of my height. Amidst a crowd of my tired peers, worn out from a long day at the convention, I found myself at home. It’s not every day that you get to be a part of such a homogeneous audience.
On that note, AKFG was very aware of who was in attendance that night. What I mean by this is, if one of their songs was used in an anime, they played it. From Naruto and Bleach, all the way to Full Metal Alchemist and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. If you don’t believe me check the setlist at the bottom. AKFG tailored their set list to who they knew would be in attendance. It worked out phenomenally. Fans in attendance knew almost every word of every song. The highlight of the night had to be during Rewrite. As the song reached one of its slower points, the band made some adjustments. Fans were singing a bit off time and echoing lead singer Gotou, to which he responded with the best of his English “you are singing the old version, this is the new version”. Of course, the fans ignored him and continued to sing what they knew. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it. With the start of each high energy tune, the audience would jump in unison. The venue shook and shook from their excitement making it hard to tell if it was the fans or another California earthquake.
Rewrite was a very intimate moment for a great deal of the attendants. For many anime fans, it was likely their first exposure to AKFG. However, nothing had as explosive of a reaction as Haruka Kanata did. Naruto is without a doubt a juggernaut in the anime world. The first few notes alone were enough to have the crowd burst into a frenzy of cheers. Despite the approaching end of a wonderful night, just about everyone was reinvigorated by the iconic tune. The heavy bass intro soon played into an entire crowd singing with every ounce of their being.
While the fans were exceptionally lively, it would not be fair to finish this review on that note alone. As to be expected, there were moments of communication from the band to the rest of the audience. However, the fans took all the initiative in starting to jump, clapping their hands, and in essence creating hype. AKFG was there to do their job, perform. It wouldn’t be right to say they were devoid of life but, they were very professional. Personally, this was somewhat of a letdown. Thankfully, their music really speaks for itself. In the sense that fans all react accordingly.
The night closed with a short encore and fans left with smiles painted across their faces. The band really made everyone’s dream come true. There has not been a single show I went to where I wasn’t hoping for a particular song to be played. That night, everyone’s favorite song was played. I am sure many in attendance and those who were unable to make it are waiting for the next time AKFG will come back. From my experience, I can say that I truly hope that all their fans can experience what joy they are live. We’ll be waiting for you.
- Kouya wo Aruke
- Blue Train
- Kakato de Ai wo Uchinarase
- After Dark
- Omatsuri no Ato
- Yoru no Call
- Inamuragasaki Jane
- 188.8.131.52.5.6. Baby
- Blood Circulator
- Wonder Future
- Ima wo Ikite
- Haruka Kanata
- Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu