Before we go any further, I feel like I should first answer the two questions you’re probably asking yourselves right now: Yes, Anamanaguchi is a real band. No, I’m not making that up.
Now that we’re all clear I should probably also tell you that they. are. rad. On every band’s wiki page, there’s a list of all the instruments the band plays – pretty standard stuff. But on Anamanaguchi’s page, you’ll find something a little different (and the key to what makes them so incredibly refreshing): a hacked Nintendo and a Game Boy. The chiptune foursome from NYC brings a fresh sound to the basements of clubs everywhere. And though it’s entirely new…I can’t help but find it awesomely retro – hearkening back to a time where it was Jolt instead of Redbull, Robyn wasn’t famous (the first time) and Hollywood was still trying to convince us that Emilio Esteves was good looking. Appropriately enough, one of the security guards at the Middle East looked like Vanilla Ice. The nostalgia was almost overwhelming.
After entering to an Anamanaguchi’d rendition of “Till the World Ends” by Britney Spears (and, let’s be honest…slightly before that), the band immediately started blowing our minds. Set to an odd, projected backdrop of cats and (I’m pretty sure) Jesus, they powered through their quasi-nerdy brand of rocking instrumentals and I found myself realizing that this show and this band would’ve been awesome even without the Nintendo. While it definitely helps differentiate, you can’t help but notice that the driving sounds of the set are incredibly complex and expertly crafted. “Helix Nebula” and “My Skateboard Will Go On” walk the thin line between dance music and good music and they wrestle it to the ground. hard. They don’t take themselves too seriously and just want to give their fans a good time. I showed up to this show after a long day at work, was by myself and stone-cold sober and still had a blast. They manage to be endearingly normal while playing one of the most eccentric shows I’ve ever seen.
“Space Wax America” and the cover of M83’s “Don’t Save Us From the Flames” were highlights for me and just reinforced how these guys are doing something so right. I was surprised how naturally the chiptune style translates to everything they’ve tried. In previous sets they’ve covered Weezer, Katy Perry, and the Beach Boys. Just when I thought I’d heard it all…they wrapped the set with the most badass song to ever be named “Mermaid” and they crushed all eight minutes of it.
If it’s not clear by now…I was very much impressed with Anamanaguchi. Not only in their musicianship and professionalism but also in that they’re just a bunch of guys sitting around playing music they want to hear – it just happens to be what everyone else wants to hear as well. I like to describe these guys as the nerdy little brothers of Explosions in the Sky. Except instead of Zeppelin…they like Street Fighter.