Last night, Anamanaguchi played a free show at afterHOURS, along with fellow chiptune acts Crying and (T-T)b (pronounced "tee-tee-bee"). If you haven't heard of afterHOURS I wouldn't be surprised. afterHOURS is a small Northeastern University venue tucked away inside of the student center between the cafeteria UBurger and the campus Starbucks, making it an unlikely but somehow perfectly fitting location for a chiptune concert.
Arriving at the parking garage early, I stuffed my face with a few leftover slices of pizza before finding my way over to the venue. After a few wrong turns and a little help from campus security, I found myself outside of the venue waiting in a small line of 10 to 15 students, who I immediately identified people as Anamanaguchi fans by their colorfully dyed hair and graphic tees. Once inside the venue, I settled down on the right side of the stage and watched as opening act (T-T)b set up, tangling their gear around Anamanaguchi's distinct custom cylindrical lights.
(T-T)b began their set just before 7:00pm, launching into a fast paced set of catchy pop tunes. Formed only a few years ago and having only recently released their first full length album Good Talk, (T-T)b was clearly a little nervous to be opening for Anamanaguchi, but they handed the pressure well. Bassist Jake Cardinal energized the crowd with his fun and quirky personality, beginning the set with a real zinger (What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta! HAHA), while drummer Nick Dussault quietly kept the group grounded with solid technical playing, and guitarist Joey Dussault quickly won the crowd over with his humble and transparent persona. After a surprise vocal feature from a friend in the crowd and an Alex G cover, (T-T)b finished their set strong with a new song just after 7:30pm.
Next up was Crying, who just released their first full album Beyond the Fleeting Gales earlier this month, following two EPs in 2014 and 2015. Crying played a slightly longer and more refined set, led by singer Elaiza Santos' mellow and articulate vocals.
By 8:15pm Crying had finished their set, and the crowd was well warmed up for Anamanaguchi, who casually took to the stage around 8:30pm. Drummer Luke Silas appeared first and began unpacking a polka dot backpack full of gear, while guitarist Ary Warnaar walked through the crowd to the front of the stage, slurping a UBurger soda as he searched for an outlet for his phone (which I happily helped him locate). Bassist James DeVito soon joined them, as well as guitarist Peter Berkman who was sipping at a Starbucks tea to soothe his sore throat. After some light political banter about the "demos" and "repubs," Anamanaguchi started their set with a bang, diving into the title track from their 2013 album Endless Fantasy.
I had last seen Anamanaguchi during the first leg of their 2013 tour following the release of Endless Fantasy, and it was immediately apparent that the band had gained a significant amount of confidence in their live performance since then. They played an action packed set for a little under an hour, with a variety of old and new songs, including crowd pleasers like "Meow," "Airbrushed" and "Helix Nebula." As usual, it was a visually stunning performance, as DeVito's custom tube lights flashed in mesmerizing neon bursts, and screens throughout the venue looped pixel art .GIFs of dolphins, cats, and anime characters.
Towards the end of the show, the band suddenly came to a halt, as they experienced minor technical difficulties. Apparently, the chiptune track had somehow become desynchronized from the visual content, which had began playing a video calling for the band to play "Miku," one of their latest songs about Miku Hatsune. Eventually, the band managed to get back on track, blaming the strange episode on their digital friend and soon succumbing to her song request. Not long after the Miku incident, Anamanaguchi played their final song of the night, playing their latest single "Pop It," of of their forthcoming album USA. And with that, Anamanaguchi thanked the crowd for having them (as well as the Starbucks baristas), and began breaking down gear and mingling with the crowd before hopping into the "Vanamanaguchi" and driving back home.