To the unfamiliar, Hatsune Miku does not exist like you or I. Hatsune Miku is a vocalist, or animated Vocaloid software, currently touring North America with a flesh and blood band.
Unlike Gorillaz, which is a collaboration between musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, Hatsune Miku isn’t a fake band of real people. Hatsune Miku is a fake performer backed by real people. If you’re still confused, just watch her Letterman performance from 2014.
I chose to show that video rather than her concert experience because to the uninformed the concert experience may look like a caffeinated teenage cult on the brink of fascism. It’s amazing.
The crowd at last night’s Hatsune Miku Expo at The Anthem was happy. Possibly the happiest crowd I’ve been in. It was a crowd made up of predominantly young people of every gender and race. I have no idea what they were singing, Hatsune Miku sings in Japanese, and I have no idea why they thrust their arms at specific times, but I wholeheartedly support it. And their fans really, really support Hatsune Miku.
Merch sold out last night at The Anthem. It sold fast. 30 minutes into the show, most shirts were sold-out. The $35 glow sticks sold out before the first song. A large portion of the crowd bought 2 glow sticks. A large portion of the crowd spent $70 to wave glorified color changing flashlights. A large portion of the crowd appeared to be under 21. There was never a wait at the bar. It was great.
Time to talk about the music. It’s what you’d expect. It’s high energy dance pop with a loud rock edge. The band is extremely tight, which is exactly what you’d expect. They’re able to segue from EDM inspired dance pop to TLC slow jam dance pop to chunky guitar dance pop. It’s dance pop that could fit in the musical landscape of the last 20 years and will most likely be programmed to evolve with the next 20 years of pop music.
The music never lets up. The songs don’t seamlessly flow into each other but there’s usually a 5 second gap between the end of one song and the start of another. These musicians are a machine. They need to be since they’re playing with one. If I couldn’t see the band I’d think it was a backing track. The musicians do get individual spotlights and introductions but it must be a little disheartening to play to thousands of people, garner positive crowd reactions and sit through a way, way larger positive crowd reaction once the not flesh and blood singer is introduced.
The sound was perfect. Perfectly mixed. The Anthem is a great venue for this type of spectacle. Big enough for synchronized arm thrusts (I realize I could easily find out how the kids knew when to do certain arm motions but the mystery is more fun) with the newest, high quality sound system in the city.
But the music and the venue isn’t what made me, a total outsider open to pop culture movements, so happy. It was seeing the kids find their tribe. These fans have found their tribe. It’s not for me and it may not be for you, but it definitely has its place in today’s live music landscape.
It’s as perfect a live show as you can see. Maybe since it’s perfect it’s not going to stick with me for very long. It’s great these fans don’t have to worry about a potential suicide or OD or racist comment or sexist comment or anything that plagues most successful touring acts, but the lack of genuine personality, the kind of mistakes that can’t be programmed, makes this show somewhat disposable. It’s the most fun you can have in one night and you may not want to repeat that night for a year or remember it a week from the experience. But maybe those glow sticks and conversations fans had with each other will make this show last forever.
The young people at this show are enjoying a shared live experience. The singer may not be made of flesh and blood, but this is an authentic experience.