It was a 6:30 p.m. show on an unbearably hot weeknight in the heart of Culver City and yet the line for Kanon Wakeshima's free show and record signing extended out the door of maid cafe Royal/T and out onto Washington Blvd. Not only was the show from this little-known Japanese musician packed, but it was crowded with people who had clearly spent a good two hours getting dressed for the event. Hair was teased and tied into a bevy of unusual styles, accessories were perfectly coordinated and skirts were puffed out with crinoline.
But, to be fair, the hype surrounding Wakeshima began well before last month's US release of her album, Shinshoku Dolce. An accomplished cellist prior to embarking on a pop career, she is the protoge of enigmatic Japanese rock star Mana, who produced her debut. Like Mana, she embraces the elaborate costuming and fully-choreographed style of performance that is favored by the Lolita crowd. Her first two singles, "Still Doll" and "Suna no Oshiro" were featured in the popular, though unreleased in the US, anime Vampire Knight, which has brought in fans from the anime fandom, particularly cosplayers. Additionally, her unique neo-classical take on dance pop has appealed to fans of the neo-Victorian and steampunk cultures. Wakeshima's music may never appeal to hipsters and holds little chance of hitting the US mainstream, but her music and persona hits enough underground communities to ensure her a strong following.