As thousands piled into the Hynes Auditorium, I couldn’t help but be a bit curious about the evening’s entertainment. While I wasn’t overly familiar with Yousei Teikoku’s body of work, I had done a bit of research and listening before the event so that I could get an idea of what I would be in for. To be quite honest, after seeing the video for Kuusou Mesorogiwi, I was convinced that the group wasn’t for me, but I’d give them a shot.
As the thousands in attendance sat and waited for the show to begin, the traditional Anime Boston pre-show rolled on the projection screens. Like previous years, the pre-show entertained the masses with a playful sense of humor and countless self-aware gags and games. Whether it was a game of “Win Lose or Banana?” or a sing-along for the original Pokemon theme song, people were laughing and having a good time. As the lights dimmed and the band took the stage, though, I could tell that the good times weren’t going to last.
As the group began to play, I couldn’t help but notice that something seemed “off” about the sound of things. The vocals seemed to fight with several other elements for dominance, and frequently lost as Yui was drowned out. And, with the loss of her voice, the linchpin fell apart, and bared the mediocre tunes for what they were. Honestly, though, it’s unfair to pin this entirely on the band. Many of their songs were simple at their core, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And, in a different context, they would probably be fairly enjoyable. The guitar work was solid, and the drummer was a strong backer to the group. Unfortunately, most of the songs were over-produced to a fault, adding in far too many prerecorded elements, like choral chants and bells, that clashed with the music itself. The end result was a disappointing mess that led to the group’s front-woman being effectively silenced by what should have been little more than background noise.
It would be remiss to write off the band entirely. The group showed a flair for the theatrical, as they delivered a tightly-choreographed spectacle. The group’s movements were delivered with the precision of a well-oiled machine, and Yui proved to be incredibly agile in six-inch heels. The group gave off an infectious energy, as they moved breathlessly between songs, only pausing to deliver prepared English remarks. They worked the room into a frenzy, as attendees dance and, in some cases, moshed to the music. The crowd was so engrossed, that they were more than happy to join in a round of Engrish callback singing with Yui, as they parroted the following to her:
We are martyr, we are believers, and we just believe the fairy
While I wouldn’t be the first to outright recommend a Yousei Teikoku show, I have to admit that the Anime Boston concert wasn’t terrible. The theatrics on-stage helped to distract from the generally unspectacular music, and the group’s natural energy really helped make the experience enjoyable.