I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Anamanaguchi when they played live at the quaintly named Tammany Hall as part of the New Music Seminar (NMS) presented by eMusic. In my head, I pictured a bunch of “gamers” getting up to towering parallel Nintendo stacks, while dramatically holding the classic black, red and gray controllers for showmanship, before launching into classic tunes from their first album Dawn Metropolis. Then, I remembered, the band plays actual instruments as well. Quite well, actually.
For those that haven’t heard the band, their brand of music is typically referred to as “chiptune,” which in the case of Anamanaguchi means they derive synthesizer sounds from 1980’s era Nintendo gear, giving their music a driving eerily nostalgic cadence. They mix in live drumming, bass and electric guitar for a melting pot of nerdy goodness.
While the show didn’t feature any singing, as all the songs are instrumental, there was a projector featuring images of anything from Nintendo folklore to furry little kittens. The band looks; exactly how you think they would look, donning Mickey Mouse shirts, bed head hair and stage banter dry enough to brittle a leaking waterbed. For instance, when they came out as the special guest for the eMusic showcase, they proclaimed, “we’re the Beatles from New York City.”
I guess if you classify them as the Beatles of chiptune, they were accurate on both accounts.
The succinct set gave head bobbers, jumping thrashers, IPA sippers and nostalgic nerds alike everything one could ask for.
The opening acts were alums of the eMusic Selects program, whose mission is to find and spotlight new up-and-coming bands, Yellow Dogs and Hooray for Earth.
Yellow Dogs opened the night with a furious, danceable set that featured a keyboard player that looked like an Iranian John Oates and an overall sound that stuck out, much like how I would imagine the Bad Brains did during the punk hey-day of the 80’s in DC. Worldly in context and bouncy in vernacular, their music comes with a fun anecdote. The band was formed in Tehran, where rock music is illegal. They played under constant threat of arrest and punishment until they left the country, moving to Brooklyn in 2007.
It’s certainly a story one can rally around, if not the uprising spirit and riot act their infectious sound brings to the landscape.
Hooray for Earth was a throw everything, AND the kitchen sink at the audience act. There didn’t seem to be a moment when the band wasn’t flexing their sonic muscles to force the audience on their heels with the sheer physics of rock waves. I didn’t walk away from their set with any hooks in mind, but they held an entertaining presence and are a band to keep an eye on.