AM², the New Awesome Kid on the Block

The Los Angeles and Orange County area was especially busy this year–especially with an incredible new convention that swept Anaheim by a storm over the July 4th weekend.

AM², short for Anime, Music and Manga, surprised Japanese culture fans as it exploded with its many events and exhibitions at the Anaheim Convention Center. There were four concerts over a course of three days, and the convention introduced many bands that were expanding out of and visiting from Japan for the first time.

The great thing about AM² was that the concerts were free.

Wait–what? Free? Free exists in Southern California?

Yes. Free.

Attendees who purchased a passport were allowed first dibs and a fast track into premier seating, but entry into the actual venue and concerts are free. AM² recommended that people who had bands they were dying to see purchase a passport to guarantee they would have a spot at the concerts.

The four performances were all Japanese musicians who flew over for the sole purpose of participating in AM² taking off in its first year. The concerts included Heidi., Sadie, KanonxKanon and SCANDAL.

Photo provided courtesy of AM2.

As luck would have it, I caught the KanonxKanon and SCANDAL live shows.

Photo provided courtesy of AM2.

KanonxKanon features the popular and haunting Gothic Lolita sensation, Kanon Wakeshima, and the incredible bassist of AnCafe, Kanon. Both artists have performed before in the United States, but their concert at AM² was the first live performance officially featuring them as the KanonxKanon duo.

The KanonxKanon concert was unique because it wasn’t a rock concert. The duo are known for their love of Japanese animations and products, and made this the main rallying point of their live show by introducing haunting, whimsical and fantastical themes to their cheering audience.

Audience members were also entertained by a special “lesson” provided by guitarist/bassist Kanon, who enthusiastically taught his audience the otage dance, a special and hilarious dance reserved only for hard-core lovers of anime. The audience members didn’t hesitate to learn the dance regardless of whether or not they liked many anime. Many of them broke their own glow sticks and danced along with Kanon on stage while laughing and cheering the entire time to his antics.

Photo provided courtesy of AM2.

The SCANDAL live concert was the next evening. It was perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated events on AM²’s schedule, and the four rocking girls of the band did not fail to impress their fans–some of whom had flown in from Toronto, Canada and Texas to see them.

SCANDAL brought the house down during their live show. They cheered their fans on and encouraged them to “sing and dance” with the band as they performed famous fan favorites like Haruka. The band also thanked their audience for their continued support of Japan as the country recovered from the Tohoku earthquake in March of this year.

The live shows at AM² were performed primarily in Japanese, although the musicians would also talk to their fans in a mixture of Japanese and English, proving again that music and fandom knows no political or linguistic boundaries.

In addition to the musical main events, all the guests of honors also had special panels, meet and greets, and autograph sessions. The various events were a useful–and sometimes hilarious–opportunity for celebrity guests to get a glimpse of American culture while fans enthusiastically took the chance to express their love and admiration for their favorite artists.

For a convention that started in their first year, AM² impressed their attendees with an amazing lineup of Japanese artists–hope to see you next year too, AM²!

RELATED LINKS

heidi.
heidi. Official Facebook
heidi. Official Blog

Sadie
Sadie Official MySpace

KanonxKanon
KanonxKanon Official Facebook

SCANDAL
Scandal Official Twitter

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About Tabia
A girl whose eyes are much too big for her stomach. This leads to adventures at buffets that result in sleeping on the couch and dreaming of the next buffet to be conquered.

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