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WagakkiBand 1st US Tour 衝撃 -DEEP IMPACT- 7/12 Los Angeles Live Review

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和楽器バンド (WagakkiBand) 1st US Tour 衝撃 -DEEP IMPACT-  7/12 CLUB BAHIA, LOS ANGELES

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和楽器バンド (WagakkiBand) is still a very new act in my book, but they've gained popularity at an amazingly quit rate. I had the privilege of seeing them once last year at Anime Expo. However, my view was very far back and behind a pillar. Thankfully they came back for 3 solo shows and I was able to attend one of them. Unfortunately, even though it's stated at a US tour, all three shows were in California. Being from Seattle, WA meant I had a mini vacation ahead of myself.  The show I ended up attending was at Club Bahia near Echo Park on July 12th. I do apologize in advance for missing some details, as I did photography for this event as well. To make up for my poor view the last time I saw them, I bought a VIP pass (before knowing I'd be photographing the concert) which came with a few plus sides other than being let in first which I'll get to later. 

 

Just 4-5 days prior to the actual show date is when I received word that I'd have to bring my camera with me as well. Now just because I had the press credentials, doesn't mean I got priority entry, so the VIP pass I previously purchased worked out in my favor. The venue itself was very small and served as a night club or a place for local acts to attend an open mic night when it wasn't hosting events like these. I showed up about an hour prior to doors, and even though a majority of the line was VIP holders, I only had about 10-15 people ahead of me. When I arrived, the staff seemed to  be winging it (which I feel is the case for most venues just some are better at doing it). There was 和楽器バンド (WagakkiBand) staff going down the line and having fans take photos and posting hashtags to Instagram for special items. I did it myself, and got some stickers! So that was a nice and short distraction from the confusion. When I had arrived, the VIP and general admission line had not yet split and I still had to check my camera in and make sure everything was cleared. I asked someone who looked like they knew what they were doing and she informed me that they would check it in as I entered the venue. Well in my opinion, anyone could have walked in to that venue with a camera if they had the confidence to back it up. After she spoke to me, the only other time my camera came up was from security asking if I was checking it as press. I said yes assuming they'd ask for ID and what not the closer I got to the entrance. That never happened and thanks to the idea of buying merchandise prior to the concert, I made my way past the huge line of people waiting to buy things to the stage with a shrug of the shoulders. 

 

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The stage was even smaller in person than when I looked it up online and just by the placement of their instruments you could tell there wouldn't be much room for movement. I noticed the staff setting up several angles for the photographers pit, which I realized after the fact that they were live streaming the concert somewhere and not just filming. However, the staff continued to set things up and tune instruments in the small confined spaces they were provided and fans started to file in behind me. I know the line for merchandise took a while because people I knew who were in the general admission line somehow managed to squeeze in right behind me. Anyway, the background music got softer, the lights dimmed and that's the queue for cheering, chanting, screaming, and just a raw sound of excitement as figures of idolized band members floated on to the stage. 

 

The music started, but it wasn't one of those big bang entrances where the lights flash on and all the members turn around at the same time. It stayed dark. Beni and Machiya had a calm aura about them but showed slight aggression as heavier parts of the song poked at the audience. They were probably my two favorite to photograph and probably the most interactive. Now because of my constant focus on getting the shots I wanted, I wasn't really able to pinpoint certain things with particular songs and after the show I couldn't really remember the order of the songs even though I knew they had been played. Thankfully, I had another person from the same press group with me there for that reason. So I thank her for the in depth set list. But as for member action, these are the things I do remember. 

 

The members went off and on stage a lot to transition from full line up to a mini collaboration between 2-3 members. This happened when Yuko introduced all of the members and what it was that they played. Then of course there was a drum off between Wasabi and Kurona which felt more like magic tricks than anything else. That was one of my favorite parts of the show because it was so interactive with the audience and required all of us to chant and follow both of them. They worked together to create the illusion that the sound of their cymbals crashing were traveling back and forth to each other, they battled back and forth, and for the finale the room went dark and they had light up drum sticks! Kurona and Wasabi weren't the only impressive acts from the unit. Asa came out, showing his skills on the bass to tide people over until Machiya re-entered the stage with his signature face mask. I knew what it meant already and before I could form words to express my excitement, "Homura" started. There was also a moment before that song where Machiya took a seat at the front of the stage, showing off his skills and slapping notes all over the place like it was a talent he was born with. He made it look so easy. Kurona then joined him as well. It was a fantastic duo. 

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They played one final song and the band exited the stage silently and quickly. I was impressed by how in sync the fans were in chanting for them to come back for another song. Normally during encore chants, the crowd gradually picks up pace until the rhythm is lost and then they start over. Not this time. I joined in with chanting, and it was a consistent "WA-GA-KKI" or "ONE MORE SONG" chant at a consistent tempo for 2-3 minutes at a time. I'm sure because of the obvious unison in the audience, the band came out for an encore rather quickly.  I was excited to hear "Senbonzakura" and found that I knew more of the lyrics to it than I thought. Machiya and Beni both smiled and sang along with random people in the crowd, even catching me singing a few times. Though it was enjoyable, everything else was a bit of a blur. 

 

Now, after the show had officially ended, I went to go grab my merch but I had to be quick. Since I bought VIP, I still had a meet and greet with the band. Now I had expected either a signing, a photo, or even a hand shake with the band. It was actually disappointing. They lined us up and quickly ran us through the back side of the venue. A quick high five as you ran past the members and a poster shoved in to your hands right after was all we got. The last time I saw them at Anime Expo, VIP was cheaper, anyone could go to the signing if they waited for a ticket the previous day, and people who purchased VIP got a meet and greet and a photo with the band. Whether it had to do with the venue, time, or the management... it looked rushed and poorly planned. 

 

Aside from that, it was an extremely impressive performance and the turn out was really great considering the size of the venue. This was one of the first concerts I have been to in a while where the fan base was very much united and kind. I had no issues with fans behavior in my area and even the people I met in line for VIP were a delight to have around. I'm really curious to see where 和楽器バンド (WagakkiBand) goes after this or if they come back and do a longer more widespread tour. All of the members were really kind and talented and I look forward to seeing them again. I've posted the set-list below:

 

Strong Fate

Tengaku

Valkyrie

-MC-

Hanabi

Hangeki no Yaiba

-MC-

Shigin - Koin Kunwo Tazunu

Furin no Utautai

Homura

HAGANE

Shiromadara

-MC-

Yoshiwara Lament

Akatsuki no Ito

Drum & Wadaiko Battle

Hoshi Zukiyo

Ikusa

ENCORE

-MC-

Kishi Kaisei

Senbonzakura

 

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Nice report! Glad I can live vicariously through you as they didn't deem the east coast worthy of any shows (I couldn't get a NY or DC show Wagakki Band?? C'mon!)

 

Ha, I bet the stage was indeed cramped with all their members/gear and the smaller venues (compared to Japan) they were playing.

 

I don't think I've ever seen an encore chant continue without the usual peaks and valleys of it dying down and some group or another starting it back up again.

 

Did any bands open for them? (kinda a long setlist, so I'd guess not)

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8 hours ago, The Reverend said:

Nice report! Glad I can live vicariously through you as they didn't deem the east coast worthy of any shows (I couldn't get a NY or DC show Wagakki Band?? C'mon!)

 

Ha, I bet the stage was indeed cramped with all their members/gear and the smaller venues (compared to Japan) they were playing.

 

I don't think I've ever seen an encore chant continue without the usual peaks and valleys of it dying down and some group or another starting it back up again.

 

Did any bands open for them? (kinda a long setlist, so I'd guess not)

Yeah I was a little worried they wouldn't be able to pull it off to be honest. Haha. 

The encore chant was really impressive!!!

No opening bands, just them. Which is surprising because i know often times a band needs an opening band for their first tour... but maybe they have a stronger following than I assumed before. A lot turned out for them back when they performed at AX but IA (vocaloid something) opened for them so that could have been a big deal too. 

 

They did play a show in NY and another location if I remember correctly, but it was a "TOUR"

 

Hopefully they come back and offer a better selection in tour dates lol.

 

thanks for reading!

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