For those who have never seen Mix Speaker’s,Inc. perform, it can be a very difficult image to paint, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a difficult world to craft. What makes Mix Speaker’s,Inc. unique, even among the countless visual kei bands who incorporate so many degrees of theatrics and themes into their image and music, is the degree to which their visuals and audibles meld to create a truly all-encompassing stage show that transports you to another dimension where you are watching a marvelous fairy tale unfold.
Each member of the band plays a certain archetypal role through many incarnations, like Cloud Atlas through the scope of VK. seek (ba) is always a monster, on this occasion a red tentacled octopus that could have come straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean; AYA (gu), despite boyish charm, tends to play the part of a princess; Keiji (gu), a warrior or soldier, this time with a seahorse theme; and S (dr) tends to be a wild card but with one thing in common: he is always something cute and often something squishy. The dueling vocalists, Yuki and Miki, tend to play complementary roles, with Miki the darker, “evil” twin and Yuki the innocent, angelic twin.
Despite opening to a modest crowd, all eagerly huddled around the stage — filling not even a quarter of the spacious Main Events room –, the band ascended the stage, all smiles, emitting a pure and sincere energy that captivated and mesmerized the audience, reaching beyond the room in such a way that, soon enough, that crowd of about a hundred doubled in size. Through the course of the evening, fans continued to dwindle in, drawn in by the energy and pure spectacle of a band that, appropriate for an anime convention, had some truly envious costumes and master role-playing skills.
Follow the jump for a detailed report and pictures!
Yuki and Miki, the polar-opposite twin-like vocalists, put as much effort into livening the crowd as they did into harmonizing with one another. They were diligent about the furitsuke (hand-motion choreography) of their songs, and so, it was soon clear, were the fans – one of whom even wore a pair of light-up LED accessories on his fingertips which illuminated the path of his choreography in the air. During part of the set, the band even held up posters giving the audience cues for when to do certain hand motions, such as “seahorse head” and “octopus hands” (accompanied with respective doodles), which carefully tied into their undersea pirate theme. For the electro-rocky ONESTAR, in fact, all six members of the band gave their instruments a rest as Yuki led the entire room in dance, but only after quipping about the sudden heat, which must have been emanating from the now tightly compressed audience.
Other highlights of the night included the ska-flavored fan favorite ロミオのメロディー, with its ever-so-recognizable horns and bizarrely appropriate lock-heavy dance; the magenta-bathed 傘の下の世界, the first mellow ballad of the night, which had been an abrupt shift in pace from the heavier WOODY NIGHTMARE; and the closing Shiny Tale, an odd choice for a conclusion as it is perhaps the song that best introduces the group’s current theme (a band of treasure-hungry pirates) but a strong conclusion nonetheless.
If there were any complaints about this appearance, they would not relate to the stage performance. Despite an initial turnout that would have been disheartening to lesser artists, the band pushed through and suppressed any visible disappointment and, in doing so, managed to pull in larger numbers, transforming a number of casually curious but uninitiated observers into minions of the MSI militia.
Unfortunately, the initial low turnout was likely reflective of the few opportunities during the course of Anime USA for would-be fans to familiarize themselves with the band. The band did not schedule even one Q&A session open to the fans, shutting down a key opportunity to convert convention-goers into fans; with little promotion and minimal interaction, their one advertised autograph session was also, appropriately, untrafficked. Even press interviews were limited and poorly timed (very near, if not after, the official close of the convention), again cutting out clear opportunities for the band to expand their market and their reach. If this appearance had been meant to be promotional of anything, I would hesitate to call it wholly successful merely due to so many missed opportunities.
Whether the band was victim of poor planning or whether their hearts were otherwise not in the game, at the very least, they did not let it show when they were on stage. The passionate performance and numerous attempts, despite language barriers, at fan interaction show that the band certainly had the desire to make the weekend unforgettable, even if the scheduling did not reflect as much. Even the song selection, a mix of not only new songs from this spring’s SEAPARADISEの秘宝 mini-album but classic fan favorites such as Innocent World, JUNK STORY, and MONSTIME, suggested a real desire to please established fans while initiating the unacquainted.
A truly inimitable experience, Mix Speaker’s,Inc. has, despite any organizational follies, cemented a place for themselves in the visual kei realm and carved out a special spot in the hearts of AnimeUSA attendees.
SE. SEA PARADISEの秘宝 (SEA PARADISE no Hihou)
1. SKY HEAVEN
4. Innocent World
5. Woody Nightmare
6. 傘の下の世界 (Kasa no Shita no Sekai)
8. 誘ワク星リズム (Yuuwakusei Rhythm)
9. ロミオのメロディー (Romeo no Melody)
10. 遠い風 (Tooi Kaze)
11. See you again…
12. うらめし屋敷 (Urameshi Yashiki)
14. JUNK STORY
17. Shiny tale
Extra special thanks to Jess S. for all her help that weekend!
Correction 2013-02-19: We are hearing from fans that there had, indeed, been a fan Q&A and a photo session; some have suggested that the autograph session had a long line, but from our experience this was not the case. However, I recognize that such observations can be entirely subjective. To the best of our knowledge, Q&A and photo events were not included on the convention schedule nor did we receive any supplements in our press packets to suggest amendments, and so, due to ignorance, timing, and/or simple miscommunication, S-T.net was unable to cover those events. Nonetheless, I take full responsibility and apologize sincerely for misrepresenting the situation and am currently investigating to bring you the most accurate information. Stay tuned for further updates!