Live Report: Hatsune Miku's Live Party 2011

Who can change stage outfits in a whirl of clothes and can disappear in and out of thin air?

Hatsune Miku can!

Hatsune Miku’s Live Party 2011 39’s Sapporo Live was screened on November 10th in nine major cities following the August concert celebrating Miku’s first birthday. San Francisco was one of them, and Mou Ichido was there with a friend from eventseekr.

So how exactly do you enjoy a virtual concert with a virtual pop star? I was wondering this for a few days when I was confirmed for the show and still wondering when the film actually began rolling.

The answer? Enjoy it like it’s a very good piece of anime that had been overlaid in a concert hall full of men waving green glow sticks, which it basically was.

It was a Hatsune Miku concert, but all the major vocaloids, the Kagamine twins and Megurine Luka, made appearances--mostly out of thin air. The virtual stars were projected onto a screen with real musicians playing on both sides.

And of course, I was watching the entire concert DVD projected onto a screen, making it a virtual concert with its virtual pop star.

Despite the number of times I’ve already typed the word “virtual” though, I will admit that there were times when this Vocaloids felt very real. The attention to detail on the Vocaloids, from their movement down to the swish of Miku’s infamous turquoise hair, sometimes made me forget that I was still watching an animation and not just a very good cosplayer dancing on stage as the music rolled. Megurine Luka particularly impressed me when she began to “sing” and demonstrated a voice that was extremely life-like and human.

In fact, my realization smacked me head on when I was confronted with Miku’s (>∀<) face. Yes, >∀< was exactly what showed up on her face. All of the Vocaloid’s inhumanely fast costume changes (Miku literally “gave us a twirl” and had a new costume on half a twirl later) were also something that real performing celebrities could only dream of.

Another giant flashing sign that the concert didn’t have a flesh and blood singer was the projector that was behind the screen. It sometimes proved distracting when the camera caught a Vocaloid at an angle where you looked directly into a flashing light instead of Hatsune Miku’s uniform.

Many of the audience members might as well have sat in the concert itself. There were plenty of cosplayers, and many attendees arrived and armed with green glowsticks, some in the shape of Hatsune Miku’s iconic welsh onion.

Audience members cheered when their favorite Vocaloid appeared, and Ooohed and Awwwed when a Vocaloid did something particularly impressive. During ballads, there was a steady wave of green glowsticks, and during more upbeat songs, rhythmic clapping in the theater auditorium matched those of the recorded audience.

The best part of the show wasn’t Hatsune Miku though. It was in fact her live band. They brought out the best of the concert. The band brought a very human and interactive talent that couldn’t be replicated by programming and synthesizers.

With Hatsune Miku’s programming, it was given that she couldn’t interact with her audience like a human performer. So with what the Vocaloids couldn’t do, the band did by showing off their many skills when solos came up. The two guitarists would shred through their solos while the bassist and drummer had no trouble keeping with the beat and energy.

The keyboard pianist was a ringleader in many ways. When he wasn’t playing wildly at his keyboards, he was cheering on the audience and encouraging them to wave their own glowsticks by pulling out his own. The other musicians followed suit and five pairs of glowsticks also lit up the stage.

All in all, the Hatsune Miku concert was definitely an interesting concept, but not one that felt quite as exciting as a live concert. It was reminiscent of when I browsed YouTube videos online, only much higher quality on a much larger screen. While interesting and definitely unique, the length of the show felt longer than necessary, especially with the lack of interaction between the Vocaloids and the audience. Plus, it didn’t help that Miku waved goodbye for the last half hour before actually getting shut off.

The concert didn’t leave me with nothing through. I definitely developed a greater appreciation for the Vocaloids, especially Megurine Luka, and I have a newfound respect for the crew that put the concept together. The concert was truly a gathering place of talent--both on the programming end and the artistic end. There was also a part of me that enjoyed this rather philosophical mix of where "reality" started and stopped. It felt as if there were deeper cultural implications that were clearly playing out on the screen in front of me.

And, of course, before I go off on an analytical distraction and forget...Happy belated birthday, Miku!

If you watched this live anywhere else in the US, let us know what you thought of it! Would you like to see more Megurine Luka? Should there have been more of the Kagamine twins? I was personally hoping for a guest appearance from Kamui Gakupo myself, but that was not to be...


You can find some more Hatsune Miku photos at the MICHIDO Facebook along with some of the Laruku stream previews.

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