FanimeCon (May 27-30, 2011) may technically be an anime convention, but that hasn't stopped Japanese pop from making a big presence at the event. Having hosted artists such as AN CAFE and LM.C in the past, the convention's trademark concert MusicFest carried through yet again for 2011 with back-to-back performances by Matsushita Yuya and FLOW!
FLOW, which is returning for its second time, expressed excitement for this performance in a video message to fans. "Last year, we performed at Fanime for the first time," vocalist KEIGO recalled. "Despite the language and cultural differences, we were so happy to see everyone singing our songs out loud. Sharing the excitement together at the show with everyone is a great memory for us."
Japanese pop fans who attended FanimeCon struck gold this past weekend with free tickets to the highly anticipated concert, which took place across the street from the convention center on Saturday evening.
Many fans sacrificed precious convention time to queue up that morning; although the show wasn't scheduled to begin until 7 PM, the line already was already snaking around two blocks by the afternoon. After the long wait, the early bird attendees were granted access to the first ten rows of seating, while everyone else streamed in to completely fill the concert hall seats on the first level and surrounding balconies.
The concert started with a bang when Matsushita Yuya took the stage, charming the audience with his catchy melodies and strong vocals (Check out tokyohive's recap of his performance here!).
The audience took a breather with a twenty minute intermission, and as the break period winded down to its final minutes, a chant for FLOW grew until the entire crowd was participating in unison as it awaited the final artist of the night.
A dark blue spotlight was cast on the stage and the five band members emerged, with the audience exploding with cheers. Vocalist KEIGO, who had bleached his hair blonde, and other vocalist KOHSHI took to the microphones, while TAKE, GOT'S, and IWASAKI rocked the guitar, bass, and drums, respectively.
FLOW worked right off the hype by kickstarting the show with "Re:member", a fun, upbeat track from the NARUTO anime OST that had everyone jumping along to the rhythm. Without missing a beat, FLOW launched right into the songs "Realize" (Eureka Seven TR1:NEW WAVE) and "LUNA" as well.
After greeting the audience ("We... are... FLOW!"), the rock quintet continued with seven more songs, including "COLORS" (Code Geass), "WORD OF THE VOICE" (Persona), "CALLING" (Heroman), "ANTHEM", "DAYS"(Eureka Seven) , "UNION", and then "Nagareboshi".
FLOW is known for their upbeat rock songs, and by performing tracks of that style back to back, the band refused to let the audience catch its breath, and instead took everyone on a whirlwind of fast-paced beats and catchy melodies.
During one of the MC breaks, FLOW also revealed that much of the set list was picked from their newly released "FLOW ANIME BEST," a collection of tracks that have been used in various anime OSTs. The album was digitally dropped in America on May 10th.
And sure enough, FLOW continued to perform tracks widely familiar to anime fans, following with eight more tracks: an official cover of "1/3 No Junjou Na Kanjou" (originally for Rurouni Kenshin), "WORLD END" (Code Geass), "ENEMY," "Sonosakiniwa", "Sign" (Naruto), "NUTS BANG!!!", "GO!!!" (Naruto), and "Around the world". KEIGO animatedly walked around the stage, playing call & response with the audience and getting everyone's hands in the air.
The key to FLOW's stage charisma is the individual personality that each member exhibits during the show. The five members of FLOW, who have been together since 1998, were clearly veterans to performance - they all fed off the crowd's enthusiasm with ease and knew how to have fun while rocking it out onstage.
Playing a nineteen-track set list must be exhausting, but FLOW rocked the entire repertoire front to back, resulting in a high energy show that will be remembered by attendees for years.
Stay tuned to tokyohive for an exclusive interview with FLOW!
Photography by: Kevin Chang