Hatsune Miku Live Party 2011 39's Live in Sapporo
Rave 18 Movie Theater
Better than… Spending the night with “Ievan Polkka” stuck in my head.
The first rule of Hatsune Miku concerts is to bring glow sticks. They become part of the show.
The occasion was a one-night only broadcast of a recent concert from the virtual pop star called Hatsune Miku Live Party 2011 39's Live in Sapporo. The concert screened in nine cities across the U.S., giving fans the opportunity to witness an unusual performance that they may never have the chance to see in person.
Before the show started, some kids at the front began waving their glow sticks. Teens not even old enough to drive started talking loudly, and someone even pulled out their phone to blast Miku's early viral hit, “Ievan Polkka.”
Two of the girls wore outfits inspired by Miku — and the crowd cheered for them. Hatsune Miku events are a lot like anime conventions, after all — filled with happy kids, baffled parents and a lot of costumes.
Apparently, traditional movie theater rules don't apply when you're watching a Miku concert screening. Noise is okay. Standing up isn't even that big of a deal. Waving your glow sticks above your head is a must. As the concert progressed, the crowd in the front of the theater swelled until there was a small army of Miku fanatics attempting to do the same arm dances as the audience in Sapporo.
On screen, Miku and fellow Vocaloid characters Megurine Luka, Kagamine Rin and Kagamine Len performed as though they were human. Costume changes were frequent. They were backed by a live band. Miku even spoke to the crowd and introduced the band members. This was very similar to the live event at Nokia last summer.
However, since this was a pre-recorded event, a lot of the technical glitches that I noticed at the Nokia show were absent. The characters didn't fade as they moved across the stage. The colors were richer. It looked more like an animated/live action film then the strange, high-concept concert that it is.
Also interesting is the difference between the Japanese and U.S. fans. Crowd shots from Sapporo revealed the audience to be mostly grown men. Here in the U.S., Miku fans are often very young and her audience is roughly 50/50 male and female. Inside Rave 18, most of the adults looked to be the chaperones.
There are undoubtedly many cynics who see all of this as the death of music. I don't. Instead, I see her popularity as a source of inspiration for a new generation of electronic music artists. Every piece of media related to Miku and her Vocaloid buddies is essentially promotion for software that will, at some point, be available to U.S. consumers. When this is released, one can only hope that her scores of young fans will want to buy this software and begin making their own music. Miku is a tool for making music, just like any other hard or soft synthesizer, she's just one with a personality.
Personal bias: I've seen Hatsune Miku in concert.
The crowd: Junior high and early high school kids, many with their parents.
Random notebook dump: I'm listening to kids scream during a concert film for a singer who isn't human. The line between fiction and reality may not exist much longer.