Last weekend (April 23rd), I attended the Hatsune Miku Expo 2016 Seattle concert at the WaMu Theater. This was the (third?) Hatsune Miku concert ever held in North America (with the Seattle stop being the first in the NA tour), the first being Anime Expo 2011‘s Mikunopolis LA. While I did attend AX2011 back then, I didn’t realize that I had to pre-order tickets ahead of time (concert newbie mistake!) and, of course, they all sold out by then. This time around, I did make sure to buy concert tickets ahead of time (or rather, a friend of mine did for me), making this the first time I’d see Miku (or rather, Sega’s 3D projection technology) in person.
As an otaku, I have a bit of history with VOCALOID: I did play around with the VOCALOID2 software a while back with a Lily cover of “Love is War” and VY1 Mizki’s cover of “Uninstall”, wrote a long academic paper on Miku’s history for school a few years back titled ”The World of Hatsune Miku”, and own a Hatsune Miku Dollfie (which is still in perfect condition in her original box), but I’m not actually much of an avid VOCALOID music fan. Despite this, the voice synthesizing technology and 3D projection technology still fascinate me, so I wanted to go even if I wouldn’t recognize most of the songs.
Miku Expo 2016 (Seattle)’s opening song – “World is Mine” by ryo feat. Hatsune Miku, captured with my Sony DSC-RX100
On hindsight, I should have tried to get much closer seats up front since it was a bit hard seeing over everyone’s heads (being on the main floor and with everyone standing up). I actually had to rely on looking at my camera’s screen to see Miku, which also wasn’t the best since camera’s don’t exactly focus well on hologram light objects in dim light settings, and it was hard maintaining a steady hand with everyone waving their glowsticks around. Despite all this though, it was quite an interesting and unique experience and well worth it! Here’s the photos+video dump/blog post.Photos
The Seattle concert was held the WaMu Theater (Washington Music Theater). Despite the concert being held at 8pm, we decided to go a bit early and arrived at 5:30pm. By then, a small line had already started forming, split between the VIP group (closest to the wall) and the regular attendees (4 lines).
There was a small merchandise booth outside where they were selling T-shirts, posters, glowsticks, CDs, and other random stuff. I was somewhat tempted to get a glowstick but ended up deciding against it since it’d just end up being more merchandise that I’d never use/have space for displaying (and also because they were just closing up the outside stalls and preparing to move it inside by the time we got there).
After a long wait, we finally got into the venue. Turns out, they gave out free (green) glowsticks, along with a “guide book” (which was pretty much just 2 pages of background info, then 10 pages of advertisements).
Closer up of the stage. Drums and bass on the left, keyboard and guitar on the right, and projection glass panel in the middle. Above were some random ball and hoop decorations, mostly just for lighting effects. Was a bit disappointed they didn’t go with the triple-panel or double-decker setup for the project glass panels, but I guess the single wide panel was the most portable solution for their international tour.
The concert started with a half hour opening act by American band Anamanaguchi who was touring with them. They played mostly electronica music, with one final song that had vocals by Miku. See the videos section below.
And then at long last, Hatsune Miku appeared. By this point, the venue had pretty much been completely filled to the max and the room was literally a sea of Vocaloid fans all standing up and waving their glowsticks like crazy
I video recorded parts of the concert on/off with my Sony DSC-RX100 camera, but the quality wasn’t all that good due to my seating position, abundance of other phone/cameras blocking the view, arm tiredness from waving my glowstick around the entire time, and general difficulty of trying to film a light hologram in dim light settings. While these are definitely not the best quality videos you’ll find of the concert (if they do release official BD/DVDs, I do recommend you go buy them!), they’ll hopefully give you a glimpse of what it felt like being there in the crowd. I only uploaded the “World Is Mine” video to YouTube, so the rest are all Flickr videos – click on each photo below to watch the video on Flickr.
Miku appears on stage and opens with “World is Mine” by ryo (Supercell) feat. Hatsune Miku – YouTube mirror here
I have no idea what song this is but I’m pretty sure its some mashup of a lot of different songs (cause I recognized some of them). But damn can Miku dance (pretty sure any non-virtual singer would be gasping for breath)
Second half of some Meiko song. Kaito had his own solo song earlier but I didn’t record it. Surprisingly, the two only had one song each and Meiko’s wasn’t even in her default outfit for hers. I continued recording here into some Rin song that I also didn’t recognize (damn I feel outdated, not knowing any of these new VOCALOID songs >_>)
“Just Be Friends” by Dixie Flatline feat. Megurine Luka. Finally a song that I recognize, a beloved classic :3 Pretty sure they use the same animation each time too. Audio quality’s muffled in this video cause I was switching arms a lot (have to tiptoe and hold my camera up high for each of these videos) and I accidentally covered the camera’s mic.
Yet another newer Miku song that I don’t recognize (I maybe knew like 1/4th of the songs at most?) – by now I had somewhat figured out how to zoom in and focus properly on the projection model, though the video would still continue blurring each time someone in front of me stuck up their arm/phone – should have just gotten closer seats… orz
I discovered that the North American audience is actually pretty bad at the Japanese “en-corr-ree!” tradition, and it took over 10 minutes of alternating between “Miku! Miku! Miku!”, “En-cor-ree! En-corr-ree!” and “Mou-yi-kai! Mou-yi-kai!” (with lots of dying down and silence periods and random cheerings in between) before the encore started. I had to start/stop recording like 3 times during this period before it happened. And of course, I didn’t recognize any of the encore songs :P
And that’s it for this event report/blog post. Was quite a worthwhile experience and nice to see the light hologram video projection technology up close (kinda) in person. Seattle was the first city in the NA tour with the next few Miku Expo 2016 tour concerts happening in other cities across the country in the next two months. If you happen to be in those areas and the concerts aren’t sold out, I’d highly recommend you go pick up tickets and check it out!