Fanime is known to be one of the main anime conventions that truly promotes music. Acoustic karaoke, people jamming in the hallways, or even just people singing the Pokemon theme song down the hall. I remember being really excited a few years back when Thee Out Mods actually got to perform there (I lost my voice for a good three hours after). Music is a big part of Fanime and one of the biggest events at this venue was the FLOW concert on the very first day.
FLOW is a five-piece rock band made up of vocalists Kohshi and Keigo, guitarist Take, bassist Got’s, and drummer Iwasaki. Those who don’t know the Japanese band FLOW have most likely heard their music. They played many theme songs for popular anime titles such as Naruto (GO!) and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (COLORS, World’s End). Their most recent single is “Calling” for the anime HEROMAN. The band has gone through many phases, from J-rock to J-pop to easy listening and back and most of what I’ve heard is pretty darn catchy. I think my friend Robert really should be the one writing this part of the review because he was bouncing all over the place for this concert.
I arrived late to the line because I had to eat and the nearest Subway was several blocks down but in the end I did not have to worry since the auditorium was actually not very crowded! I thought for certain that it would be filled with Naruto fans and 4-chan /b/tards who came just to sing the first words from COLORS. But we all made up for the empty seats with some of the most energetic cheering and screaming that I’ve ever heard from Californians (You know how we Californians love to just stand there awkwardly and sway back and forth in silence.). FLOW responded with a mind-blowing performance, blazing through classics and their non-anime songs alike. They even spoke English rather well, thanking everyone for their support and talking about their experiences so far in the United States. It was their first time in the United States and they were very excited that there was so much support and energy coming from the audience. Apparently their Japanese fans aren’t as loud as we are. Which just meant we started to sing along even louder.
I pretty much lost it when they played both COLORS and World’s End and sang along at the top of my lungs. I’m sure my life is a little more complete now that I’ve had my chance to “sing” and “rock out” with them. The crowd went wild when FLOW played “Calling” from HEROMAN and then again when they finally performed GO! from Naruto (We are fighting dreamers! la de la de da de da da) which they saved for last. FLOW’s energy exploded at the very end as the band members started jumping on top of the speakers and down again, running around the stage and encouraging everyone to take part in in the chorus.
Most bands have an encore and FLOW surprised us with theirs. Instead of playing one of their own songs, they played a tried and true American classic: Surfin’ USA. Complete with surfing and swimming motions. I swear, there is nothing more awesome than a Japanese band covering an American song well. The memory brings a smile to my face every time. I really wish I could have recorded any part of this concert but unfortunately 1) I wasn’t allowed to due to the band’s requests and 2) I’m too short to record anything decent anyways from where I was sitting.
I left the concert with very sore arms (from waving my LED stick the entire time) and unable to hear very well. I also lost my voice for a while again. It wasn’t a bad thing really because it meant I wasn’t able to hear the Christian protesters stationed in front of the convention center. They ended up sounding like the adults from Peanuts so they were fairly easy to tune out (more on them later) and I merrily made my way back to the main halls of Fanime with my crew. I actually didn’t get to see Robert’s reactions during the concert (since I was late and I couldn’t jump in line by that point) but his reactions in the aftermath were more than good enough. I wanted to go to the FLOW panel the next day but alas, there were too many people in there. Thwarted again! But at least there is the Fanime interview transcript which you can check out below.
So yes, you should check out FLOW if you like awesome Japanese music.