Crunchyroll has been a patron and sponsor of Anime Expo for quite a while now, but this year, they decided to do something a little different than what they’ve done in the past. This year, instead of simply offering a variety of events at the convention center, they also decided to put on a concert. That concert took place on Friday, July 3 at the Microsoft Theatre just outside the convention center.
This wasn’t just your average concert, though. Instead of allowing anyone to purchase tickets, it was only open to badge holders at Anime Expo 2015. It was an event sponsored by Crunchyroll and designed to give back to their subscribers and to the people of the convention. As someone who loves music and anime and with a Premium+ membership to Crunchyroll, I decided that I absolutely had to go. I hadn’t listened to Anamanaguchi in a while, but I had heard from friends that they put on a great show, so I certainly wasn’t going to miss out.
After Crunchyroll changed up the benefits for their membership plans by allowing anyone with a subscription to read the manga, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep my Premium+ membership, but when I saw the discounts for the concert I knew that it was worth it. The tickets for the event ranged from $25-75 depending on the section you bought, but if you had a Premium+ membership you were eligible for a free loge seat or $40 off of any ticket which is a pretty big deal.
Unfortunately, by the time that I went to grab my ticket, pit — my initial choice of seating — was sold out. It was either loge or $40 off of orchestra seating, so I opted for the latter in order to get a better view. That ticket was usually $45 sans fees, but with my coupon I was able to nab it for closer to $5. Not a bad deal, considering that the membership only runs you $11.95 a month. So I settled for orchestra at a great discount, and waited until Friday at 8:00 pm for the concert.
It was revealed earlier on Thursday, but as it turned out, the mystery headliner was Porter Robinson — someone we’ve talked about before. There was a lot of speculation about him performing at the event prior to the announcement, and I was glad to hear that would actually be the case after our publisher and co-founder Patrick Moore informed me with great gusto that I absolutely had to go, because he’s a rare breed of performers that you just don’t see very often in EDM these days.
I’ve been to a lot of shows, as a fan of music — usually punk — it’s not uncommon for me to want to explore the live side of things. But one genre that I hadn’t explored live prior to the concert was EDM. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, I just never got around to it. So of course, I was excited at the prospect of seeing Anamanaguchi and Porter Robinson, two artists who are both doing really interesting things in the genre right now.
I’d never been to the Microsoft Theatre, so I was surprised to see the size of it. There’s a lot of space on the inside, but since the venue is entirely seated, it’s actually not as big as it looks. According to the page on Wikipedia, the capacity is only 7,100. That’s not a whole lot of space for a typical concert — especially since Anime Expo boasted a record-breaking 90,500 attendees this year — but since this concert was largely about doing something for the fans, it makes sense.
The largest venue that I had been to previously was the Fox Theater Pomona, which only holds a comparatively small 2,000 people, so the size wasn’t an issue for me personally and it became even less of an issue when the music actually got started as Anamanaguchi took the stage. I had listened to a lot of their material leading up to the event to essentially catch up for their performance at Microsoft Theatre, and I was ready to see them live. They didn’t disappoint.
Since the whole venue is seated, I had erroneously assumed that everyone would stay in their seats for the concert, but that didn’t happen. As soon as Anamanaguchi took the stage, everyone stood up, which makes a lot of sense in retrospect. After all, electronic music is all about dancing, and that’s exactly what they did. Right off the bat, Anamanaguchi came out with Endless Fantasy, the title track from the album of same name. It was a great way to start off the night, and I can still feel the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd coupled with the booming bass from their set.
Unfortunately, since Anamanaguchi was the opener, they didn’t stay on long. They played Meow, On My Way, and Pop It, and they even brought Meesh on stage to sing along, which is something that I wasn’t expecting. They put on a great performance, but the highlight was certainly seeing Meesh on stage. They even have balloons to let loose on the audience, which you’ll remember if you’ve seen the music video for Pop It. If you’ve seen Anamanaguchi before, it’s probably nothing out of the ordinary, but as someone who recently rediscovered their music — I had a whole lot of fun watching them for the first time and if you ever get the chance to see them I’d definitely recommend it.
Of course, as the headliner, the main attraction was Porter Robinson. You could tell as soon as he took the stage that everyone was excited for him to perform. While Anamanaguchi may have blown away my initial expectations and left me with a great impression, Porter Robinson was on a completely different level. As Pat tells me, in the world of EDM it’s not uncommon for some performers to simply press play and leave it at that. In the case of Porter Robinson, however, he really puts on a show.
According to Pat, when Porter Robinson performs, it’s a spectacle — and a spectacle it certainly was. There was smoke, lights, confetti and a hell of a lot of bass. For most people that are into EDM, that’s probably nothing new, but as someone who had never seen an EDM show in my life, I was thoroughly impressed not only by the spectacle of it all, but also his capability as a performer. He didn’t just sit back and relax and pull out a few tricks to get the audience excited, he went all out.
There was one point, for example, during Sad Machine when he mixed the Song of Storms from the Zelda franchise into the music, and it was an incredible experience. Mixing might not be anything new, but you could tell by watching the performance that Porter Robinson actually cares about the audience he’s performing for, and that’s a great thing. I hadn’t seen Porter Robinson prior to seeing him at that night, but it seemed almost as if his performance was perfectly crafted for Anime Expo, perhaps because he’s become so ingrained into the culture with his latest album Worlds.
He even played Spitfire, which was something that I didn’t expect at all given the new direction of his sound, but I was very happy to see that he hadn’t forgotten his roots as a producer. Overall it was a very solid performance, and a very solid night. Anamanaguchi and Porter Robinson both put on great performances, and the crowd reacted accordingly. If there is any indicator as to how well a performance is going, it’s definitely the crowd reaction. With such a great reaction this year, I think it’s pretty clear that the artists for the event were well chosen. The audience was happy, and I was happy.
Porter Robinson was certainly one of my highlights at Anime Expo this year, and with such a great response from the fans, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is looking forward to whatever it is that Crunchyroll has planned for next year. Let’s just hope it’s another concert, because it seems unclear at the moment as to whether or not we’ll see it happen annually. As for me, well, I’d definitely like to see it again. My only complaint is that 8:00 pm on a convention day might not be ideal. Still, it was a great experience and one I’ll always cherish.