Wagakki Band rocked.
I’m going to say a bit more than that, but if you just wanted to know the essence of the performance, there you go. They opened up with Senbonzakura and you could immediately feel the power of the performance. There were a few things that stood out:
- Kurona and Wasabi are excellent together. They complemented each other perfectly on stage, and in almost any other band they would be the defining element. I could’ve focused almost exclusively on them and enjoyed the show. They did share an extended solo while most of the band recuperated, and it was superb. The special highlight was when the arena darkened and they played with glowing drumsticks. Just a fantastic moment.
- As great as Kurona and Wasabi were together, it was difficult for me to keep my eyes off of Machiya. I knew he was good from the YouTube videos. I didn’t know he was that bloody good. After the drum solo he returned to the stage with a Hendrix-esque performance of the Star Spangled Banner. It was an awesome moment, and a ballsy one given the natural comparison. He knew he had the skills to pull it off and it elevated what was already a great concert.
- They were never out of tempo. Trust me, I was listening for that as it was a major concern, given seven instruments plus the lead singer. The performance wasn’t quite perfect, but that wasn’t the fault of anyone on stage. Kiyoshi’s Koto wasn’t quite amplified correctly. The same was true for Beni’s Tsugaru Jamisen, although in her case it might have been a decision to err on the side of understated as it sounded perfect when it was the focus during a couple of solos.
- Asa and Daisuke gave stage right a sense of humor. Daisuke struck many flute player poses while Asa danced while he played. Actually, all five on stage front all did, but Asa was the most uninhibited.
- You know the “it” factor that a lead singer of a band has to have? Yuko has it. I can see why she was so successful in Shigin competitions. She and Machiya provided vocals together on multiple occasions, and those moments worked great as well.
Wagakki Band may be a group of friends, but I have to acknowledge they’re also an all-star team. The litany of their successful side projects outside of Wagakki Band speaks to that. If you want a sense of where their music may be heading, Ikusa gives some hints:
The members’ individual Twitter accounts are fun as well, as they drop the corporate personas and show you a bit more of themselves.
Finally, while their web developer could stand to take things down a notch, their website has everything you’d want from it.
I’ve gotta tell you, I’d love to see them again in New York City, and a major US Tour is one of their dreams.
Editor’s Note: We have a few extra photos that were just too gorgeous to not include! You can check them out below. -MF