Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Concert Review: Angela @ Anime Central 2014

Another year, another Anime Central. Aside from being another phenomenally fun weekend, ACen was also home to this year's visiting musical guest: Angela. Angela had previously performed in the United States at Otakon 2004, so this year marks their first performance in the U.S. in almost a decade. But let's face it -- Angela is a hell of a lot more popular now after their recent songs appeared in a few hit shows.

Compared to the Kalafina concert last year, Angela's performance was significantly less crowded, taking place in one of the convention center's larger ballrooms rather than taking up an entire performance hall. Sadly, the crowd was both a bit small and rather subdued, which was a shame because Angela's performance was full of energy.

I hadn't explicitly investigated Angela before and didn't know many of their songs offhand, so I was surprised at the number of songs I actually recognized at the concert. Angela performed three songs from the 2012 show K, all of which I recognized. I was particularly thrilled when they performed "Tsumetai Heya, Hitori," one of my favorite anime songs ever and one that I was totally unaware Angela had written. In addition to the K music, Angela also performed "Angel" from Coppelion, which I knew from working with my collab group, as well as the OP to the new show Sidonia no Kishi. Unfortunately, it didn't seem that many in the audience knew even fewer songs than I did, which may have contributed to the low energy.

Angela was a fun band to watch. While atsuko (the vocalist) wasn't as animated as, say, KOTOKO, she was nonetheless fun to watch and sang beautifully. KATSU (the guitarist), on the other hand, was simply overflowing with energy, and the bassist and drummer who were helping out were equally enthusiastic. During one particular song, "Asu eno brilliant road" from Stellvia, atsuko taught us a cute little dance, which was quite fun.

Below is the setlist for Angela's Anime Central performance in no particular order, or at least all that I can remember. (There are probably a few missing, but oh well.) Click the little "x" to the left of each song to check it out on Last.FM.

[x] To Be With U (K Project)
[x] Tsumetai, Heya, Hitori (K Project)
[x] KINGS (K Project)
[x] Angel (Coppelion)
[x] Tooku Made (Coppelion)
[x] Sidonia (Sidonia no Kishi)
[x] Asu eno brilliant road (Stellvia)
[x] Separation (Stellvia)
[x] Shangri-La (FAFNER in the Azure)
[x] Beautiful fighter (Corpse Princess)
[x] Gravitation (Corpse Princess)
[x] Boku janai (Valvrave the Liberator)
[x] A new song whose name I can't recall

After closing their setlist, Angela came back to the stage after the audience demanded an encore. They'd performed all of their most recognizable songs by that point so I was a bit curious what they would perform, but nothing prepared me (or the audience, judging from the density of the cheers) for their encore:

[x] Cruel Angel's Thesis (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

(Apparently it's one of KATSU's favorites.) It was a bit ironic that their most popular song ended up being one that they didn't actually write, but it was still a very pleasant surprise.

Because I couldn't quite get enough of Angela even after the concert, I attended both Angela's poster signing, where I was able to briefly meet and interact with atsuko and KATSU. (My friend had the pleasure of sharing an elevator with atsuko, that lucky bastard.) I also attended Angela's final panel, where I learned (via their translators) a couple fun tidbits about the group:

-atsuko and KATSU were once in "rival" bands, but joined forces after moving to Tokyo. According to atsuko, they joined up was because they knew each other from high school.
-Angela was a struggling street band when the director of Stellvia approached them after hearing a performance. According to KATSU, anime "saved their careers."
-atsuko's favorite song they've produced is "Asu eno brilliant road."
-KATSU's favorite anime that they've produced for is Sidonia no Kishi.
-atsuko's favorite recent anime is Kill la Kill. (I wish I hadn't ditched my cosplay by then...)
-KATSU grew up on mecha anime, and a favorite of his is Neon Genesis Evangelion.
-KATSU's catchphrase is "she's a babe," which he learned because "it would be useful."
-Before composing each song, KATSU will thoroughly read the source material for inspiration.
-Angela writes over 8 different drafts for each anime song before sending it to their producers.
-atsuko has no formal training in music (despite being such a wonderful singer!).
-The music video for "Angel" stars Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill fame.

Though I may not have been an Angela fan going into ACen, I definitely emerged as one. Angela's friendliness, passion, dedication and talent won me over, and I can't wait to hear the music they produce for anime in years to come.

'Til next time,


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