“Is this it?” My Uber driver and I craned our necks out of his car’s windows in downtown Los Angeles, searching for the Microsoft Theater. Straining for an indication that I wasn’t totally lost, I scanned the hoards of elaborately costumed anime characters excitedly buzzing and flitting towards their destination, and taking an educated guess, I made my way to the venue.
To close out the week-long Anime Expo in DTLA, the American-based online anime streaming giant Crunchyroll played host to Anamanaguchi and Porter Robinson for a one night only show in the Microsoft Theater, located directly across from the Staples Center. The theater was sizeable, and had a much different feel from the locations I’d seen Porter play in the past, with thousands of sweaty fans at massive EDM festivals and grimy rave venues. The Microsoft Theater’s expansive presentation and stadium seating signaled to me that this was going to be more than just a show – I was about to experience a true performance. Taking my spot next to Link and Zelda cosplayers, I sat back and awaited the first act of the night: Anamanaguchi.
Anime clips rolled on the two large LED screens flanking the stage while we awaited the start of the show. The lights dimmed and after a brief thank you to the audience from Crunchyroll, Anamanaguchi took the stage. In an instant, the group’s neon synths burst through the air with a hazy glow of rainbow lights flooding the theater, and the crowd’s yelps of exhilaration propelled the set onward at full force. Anamanaguchi’s performance was a sugar rush of pure joy; their music’s classic pop leanings had everyone on their feet within milliseconds of lead guitarist Peter Berkman’s first chord ringing out through the Microsoft Theater. After jamming through their new single “Prom Night,” friend and frequent collaborator Meesh appeared to sing tracks such as “Pop It,” along with unreleased material. Seamlessly surging through song after upbeat song, Anamanaguchi gave an unforgettable performance, and immediately after the last song, I found myself scrolling through their Facebook to see when I could catch them next.
The group’s earnest and energetic vibe matched that of the crowd they played for. Watching the genuine grins of the people dancing around me, it was evident that this was a venue full of people happy to be there – no pretenses, no hopes of “networking” – just a gathering of people who really loved the music they were listening to.
A brief intermission followed the band’s set before the headlining act of the night: Porter Robinson.
I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said about Porter’s live show. I could use all the adjectives in the world to try and express to you the intense emotional experience that it was, but I feel that’s been done. So I’ll relate it to you in the most personal way I can.
As I watched Porter perform, I deeply understood his sheer genius as both a performer and a creator. His use of color, sound, movement – all of it brought forth the core essence of every emotion, a blissful ride through what I imagine synesthesia to be like. A sense of pure elation and rapture washed over me during the performance of Porter’s “The Thrill” remix, and I stood there in awe of how lucky I was to be witnessing this beautiful moment. The only thing I can equate it to would be the feeling of slowly, gently falling in love with someone for the first time.
Porter Robinson’s stunning live show held the audience captive – I honestly didn’t see more than five phones come out during the show. It was, in the truest sense of the word, magical. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to see this show, and many days after the show, I couldn’t help but unpack the significance of the night. To put it simply, Porter Robinson and Anamanaguchi reminded me why I started writing about music in the first place: because I am truly, madly, deeply in love with it.
I love listening to the beauty in each melody. I love the way it brings people together. The passion and delight you feel radiating through every square inch of a space as the music settles into your being; the ecstasy of the perfect chord hanging through the air; and the people you meet who share your love of these moments. That’s why I love music.