All the live music events made me realize why Anime Los Angles is my favorite convention that I keep returning to every year. ALA appreciates live experiences, they feature live music in the “Entertainment Lounge” (Shoutout to Driving Recklessly! (With Seatbelts) whom I saw there), the Honored Guests list included 3 “Magicians” who held panels, and many of the recurring panels all had interactive elements, VoiceWars being a favorite of the blog. This push toward audience interaction is part of the reason Engloids.Info whom has hosted multiple panels at the convention try to make each of our an interactive experience as well.
When you go to ALA it is all about live experiences and I am glad that the “Battle of the Bands” seems to be a recurring thing at Anime Los Angeles with ALA2020 Battle of the Bands being booked as the “2nd Annual” of a recurring event. It was great to see some awesome local talent, fellow indie artists, and experience such a diverse crowd of music and influences in a pseudo battle format, because what anime fan does not like a Tournament Arc?
This year we had 5 participants. While the MC did a great job promoting each band, reminding us to follow them on Spotify and social media, even exampling it on stage with his own phone, the URLs for all these things were not immediately obvious unless you got to meet the bands after the event. Below are the names of the bands, some photos I took of each, and relevant links for each participant.
Band 1: Days Out
My personal favorite of the bands that performed today. While the judges criticized their drummer for not attacking his drums enough I felt that this was the only performance where the drums did not overwhelm the performance as the drum sets were pretty well mic-ed and mixed pretty high throughout the day. My favorite part about their performance, and why they were my personal favorite, was they had greater interaction amongst their members, bantering on stage, and I loved their transition from Break Down > Done Now > Better Off. They crafted a narrative, told a story, and bought the audience along with them. The original songs were also all really good. They also got bonus points for doing a Battle of the Bands in Anime Cosplay, then performing Haruka Kanata (Naruto Season 2 OP) live dressed as characters from the show. As the first performance of the day, they set the bar high and were the bar I measured every act against.
Sample Track: Done Now
Band 2: The Almsman
Throughout the day there were a variety of issues with the live mix, vocals kept getting lost, overpowered by drums guitar and bass, so nuance of lyrics were lost in almost everyone’s singing, especially if they had a lot of guitars, drums, and bass like The Almsman did. Even though I couldn’t hear what vocalist Connor Dyer was saying I give props to his delivery style, its a style of sing-saying that reminded me a lot of Fred Schneider from the B-52s, which is perfect for the type of music they do. I am not sure about how much live performance they have done but my main complaints were the showmanship portion of their performance. This is a “Battle of the Bands” and they were way too nice and humble for the setting. Fake it until you make it, I wanted to see that rock star bravado I expected for a band that had the rock star look.
I haven’t been able to pour through their discography enough to recognize it (links above) enough but one of the tracks they played was actually was my favorite track of the day, the only downside is I felt some of their other tracks blended together and had the same “sound”. I recognize they had different chord progressions and like, but in the loudness of the performance hall, besides the one track which was my favorite, the rest blurred together. Props to opening their gig with a track from BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, it was a great choice considering the audience and the venue.
Sample Track: Macbeth
Band 3: Midnight Shinigami
Veterans to the Los Angeles convention circuit I would almost say that Midnight Shinigami needs no introduction, but I realize many of my readers might not be familiar with the niche of convention touring anime song cover bands. Unlike every other performer that did a series of original music and one anime cover song Midnight Shinigami only does anime song covers, so if there was any a band that was perfect for this venue it was Midnight Shinigami. My favorite part about their performance was their attempt to get crowd interaction on their performance of “Shinzo wo Sasageyo” by Linked Horizon (Attack on Titan Season 2 OP) that choreographed audience response is a VERY Japanese style of concert artist-audience interaction and the ALA crowd was tough on, many unfamiliar with those kinds of interactions and even more unfamiliar with the song. As a person who watches many videos of Jpop and Jrock performances I really appreciated it. Another thing I appreciated was when they did an instrument swap and their drummer and guitarist swapped places. That guy’s stage presence was infectious AND he was a really good guitarist so my eyes were on him for half the time he was on the front of the stage. Good on you guy.
Overall another great Midnight Shinigami performance. I have seen them many times before and their experience on stage showed. They did a great job on the song transitions, interacting with the crowd (and one another) as well as repeating their band name and doing the social media nag. Those kinds of callouts and promos, especially in a multi-band music festival/competition are important in getting the audience to remember your name. Another thing I like about Midnight Shinigami is that their social media game on point. The next day they had parts performance up on YouTube, so props on that, view a couple of songs of their ALA performance embedded below.
Sample Battler of Bands Performance
Band 4: Cloudrunners
Of all the bands affected by the technical troubles of the day the Cloudrunners probably had it the worst. None of their mics were working, their IEMs weren’t working, they couldn’t hear their backing tracks, they couldn’t hear their playback, they had the most technical malfunctions of the day and it showed, which is a shame because of all the artists that played that I looked up online and was able to look up online, they had by far my favorite original music. The thing about live performance and competitions like this. have no doubt ALA Battle of the Bands is a competition, it is a test of your ability to streamline your live process, improvise when things go wrong, and interact and entertain the crowd. I know their technical problems and mic troubles frazzled them but there was too much downtime and dead silence during their transitions, they needed to introduce their songs, talk about themselves, promote their social media, etc. as they transitioned between each song. For all their faults however they really brought things together at the end. The original Pokemon theme is a track that almost every congoer knows, can sing along to, and the whole costume swap and throwing Pokeballs at the crowd made them have the strongest closing act. Also their logo is cool, props to providing it to the live production crew beforehand cause it led to some awesome visuals on the screens flanking the stage.
Sample Track: Save Me
Band 5: TemperMental
The biggest surprise of the convention TemperMental is a group of 4 13-17 year old girls who pay some pretty hardcore rock and metal. I don’t know if it was intentional but they have the Babymetal thing where because of the timbre of their relatively young voices they were able to sail over their instruments in the live mix where every other performance seems to struggle with the venue. It wasn’t perfect but most of their lyrics were mostly intelligible, which really helped the crowd connect with the band. I mentioned earlier that the drums were very strong in the live mix and this may have been in TemperMental’s favor, their drummer had a huge stage presence, like a volume on Shiori Experience: Jimi na Watashi to Hen na Ojisan playing out on stage it was like she was channeling the spirit of David Grohl and the band had Nirvanna’s drummer on stage with them. The girls were in cosplay, jumping around on stage, but it was the drummer who was front and center who held everyone’s attention.
Speaking of stage presence the frontwoman in the Yoko cosplay, appropriate considering the venue, did a great job in the song transition talking with the crowd, repeating their band name, introducing the next song. Their performance on stage in between songs was second only to Days Out, who wins only because their songs were in a series that told a story, that they presented to the crowd. I also love how dynamic the bass and guitar were on stage, beyond literally jumping around (how do you have so much energy?!) they really moved around. They did the crossover where they changed the sides of the stage they played on, they played “at” one another, and even for one segment stood behind the drumset and played with their bandmate there.
Their setlist included a mix of originals and covers (no anime covers)… which are admittedly before my time but I am 32 and these girls are 14-17, how did they even get exposed to this music? Either Spotify did a good job with their Daily Mix or I suspect their parents passed off some of their musical influence to their children. To which I say good on you, they turned out good and they are playing some awesome music.
Sample Track: Strawberry Shortdeath
And The Winner Is…
If my comments earlier weren’t already leading not only was their performance great, the venue tuned well to their performance, and their stage presence overwhelming, the judges Jason Charles Miller & Samuel Khosravi were really impressed with their potential expressing that if they were this great now, he can’t wait to see where they will be if they keep pursuing rock 10 years from now.
Hot off the presses, released the day before their performance at Anime Los Angeles, check out TemerMental’s latest music video “All in My Head”.