Doujin, Indie Music, Japanese

A Night into the Fantastic: Flowering Night 2011 (Day 1)

May 17, 2011 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook A Night into the Fantastic: Flowering Night 2011 (Day 1)on Twitter

The month of May has a lot to offer enthusiasts of the indie comic and music scene in Japan. Alongside the mad dash for sales during the nearly week-long series of holidays known as Golden Week, the month is also known for its bevy of doujin events, among them being the annual Hakurei Jinja Reitaisai event that is a celebration of anything and everything Touhou Project. Normally around March, the event was canceled due to the Tohoku Earthquake and re-scheduled for Golden Week. Thus was it a week for Touhou Project fans with both Reitaisai and Flowering Night (May 14 – 15, 2011) being less than a week apart.

Flowering Night, for the uninitiated, is an annual concert series featuring many popular indie groups that cover Touhou Project music. With the exception of 2010, the event has been running annually since 2006. This year the event has stretched to 2 days, doubling the number of bands playing compared to previous years. Despite my extensive travels through Tokyo, I have not had the opportunity to attend this concert but with the advent of sites such as Nico Nico Douga and USTREAM live broadcasting the concert, it was certainly better than nothing.

Does Flowering Night live up to all the hype? Hit the jump and find out!

As mentioned before, this year’s Flowering Night featured 2 days of music with 5 bands playing on each day. I’ll save coverage of day 2’s lineup for a later time, but day 1’s lineup including the following (in order of appearance): Kimi no Museum, C-Clays, Kairo, Buta Otome, Kishida Kyoudan & the Akeboshi Rockets. Four out of the five groups are new to Flowering Night with Kishida Kyoudan & the Akeboshi Rockets having participated in every Flowering Night except for the first. Even in that case, front man Kishida worked on an arrange for the group, Yaminabe, who participated in the first Flowering Night. Some may be familiar with Kishida Kyoudan & the Akeboshi Rockets for their work on the opening song for the anime, High School of the Dead.

Kimi no Museum

Flowering Night started off with this group, known for their Baroque stylings and certainly well dressed band members. Kimi no Museum is also notable for being the only band to have members dressed up as Touhou Project characters. Certainly a nice touch given the theme of Flowering Night. Though the costumed vocalists were wonderful to look at, I felt that one of the two singers on stage didn’t quite hit the notes on certain songs which marred an otherwise fantastic performance by the group. I did rather enjoy their performance of “Dance of Witches” off of their Reitaisai 7 release, dialogue ~Stella Theater~. The main vocalist of Kimi no Museum was joined by two guest vocalists for a harmonious rendition of this song. It was perhaps an added bonus that the three female vocalists on stage were dressed as Marisa Kirisame, Alice Margatroid, and Patchouli Knowledge. A nice touch for fans who enjoy the interactions between certain characters.

C-Clays

C-Clays is known for the many music genres they cover but perhaps more so for their electronic-flavored pop renditions of Touhou Project standards. Their opening is no different, but I was surprised to see a bevy of female dancers light up the stage alongside the vocalist. Compared to the whimsy of the previous group in their cosplay, I was a bit surprised. Images of young female KPOP groups such as Brown-Eyed Girls came to mind immediately and judging from the comments of viewers on the Nico Nico Douga’s feed, they weren’t too into it. And certainly all that dancing around took its toll as the vocalist, Mai Kotoge, struggled at times to muster the breath and energy to sing the songs on the set. With the dancers gone and a lot less dancing going on, things got better for C-Clays with their performance of “Shiny Up!” off of their Comiket 77 album, Ray-Mei. You could feel the energy in the song and Ms. Kotoge’s vocal range is certainly impressive. I think without all the dancing and strutting around, her performance would have been many times better.

Kairo

After starting from a good point then going a bit downhill with C-Clays, I was a bit worried that the trend continue through the rest of the performance. It is true that many of these groups are amateurs at best and that should be put into consideration, but that is perhaps up to the tolerance of those that are watching. Paying the 525 yen a month charge for premium access on Nico Nico Douga (the live performance is free) for better video quality and watching in the comfort of my room, I probably felt more tolerant versus someone at the concert hall in Shin-Kiba who forked over 4,200 yen for 1 day of performances. With Kairo however, I was hardly disappointed. Perhaps taking a cue from C-Clays, the singer of Kairo didn’t jump around the stage, choosing to kneel and often times stand up to sway with the music. Her voice was strong and distinct and with the rock stylings of the songs, I was certainly impressed. A number of tracks selected for the performance came from their Reitaisai 8 release, And, I wake up under the Cherry blossoms tonight. I was reminded a little bit of the style of High and Mighty Color especially in the guttural screaming by the guitarists. Those who enjoy arranges with a heavier rock flavor would certainly have enjoyed their performance.

Buta Otome

Certainly the most interesting of the groups playing on Day 1, Buta Otome is characterized by the various band members and the animal head masks they wear. This also includes an individual clad completely in a rabbit suit who is listed on the circle website as someone who doesn’t really do anything but is notably listed as the vocalist’s older sister. Watching the rabbit dance around the stage during the performance makes that rather clear, but nevertheless Buta Otome came out strong in their performance. Ranko, the vocalist, sings with amazing clarity and strength and gimmicks aside, it was certainly worth watching. They really got the crowd involved with a bit of choreography in singing the song, “Yurara Kamishibai,” off of their Reitaisai 8 mini-album, Kansha Kangeki Amearare.

Kishida Kyoudan & the Akeboshi Rockets

Last on the set was Kishida Kyoudan & the Akeboshi Rockets. As veterans of the Flowering Night circuit and newly minted professional music artists, there was a lot of expectation for them to deliver. Judging from the flood of comments on Twitter and Nico Nico Douga, they certainly delivered. Out of all the groups that played on Day 1, they seemed perhaps the most skilled and ready and the response was enthusiastic. A number of their more popular tunes were played including “Reichi no Taiyou Shinkou” from their Reitaisai 7 album, Rolling★Star. With one song left before the ending of Flowering Night, they chose to go with a classic from their Reitaisai 4 album, Gensou Jihen with the track “Akeboshi Rockets” which met with an even more enthusiastic response both by people at the venue and online.

Overall, Flowering Night was entertaining, and for fans of the ever burgeoning field of Touhou Project music out there, a must see event. Although I was a bit disappointed in some of the performances and certainly some of the blame also falls on some of the spotty sound engineering, it was still worth the time. With other major names on the set list for day 2’s festivities, you can be sure that even more great music was played.

[via Flowering Night 2011]

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