The hall was packed Saturday at Otakon, the line forming three hours beforehand and stretching around and back. Only the careful attentions of staffers kept it from devouring itself like an ouroboros of human bodies. Gear in hand, I sat in the press section and chatted with the official photographers while we waited for the seats to fill.
Local J-rock/Visual act Geist exploded onto the sage with ‘Mizery.’ The powerful voice of Kane, backed by guitarists of considerable proficiency, filled the halls. A second metal track, ‘Grotesque,’ showcased her ability to issue deep, throaty sounds. This was followed by ‘Starlight Opera,’ a J-rock track.
Geist proved both skilled and energetic. Their forceful performance was only slightly marred by the relative inexperience of the sound tech, made apparent by a few instances of feedback that did not seem to be intentional. It was not clear if Geist had their own sound tech, but it so happened that Otakon’s normal sound engineer was ill for the weekend this year. Aside from this, the technical effects were excellent.
‘Starlight Opera,’ the most clearly anthemic song, was straight-ahead J-rock, and best showcased the talents of the band as a whole. The rhythm guitarist’s distinctive picking style, the bassist’s excellent underlining work, and the spirited drumming came together to win Geist many fans. Even though few knew of them at the start, by the end, there was a noticeable change in the audience. Watching the final song was like watching a young Luna Sea perform – not yet at their peak, but clearly full of energy, determination, and talent.
It’s symbolic that the cello came first. I mean this literally – Kanon Wakeshima‘s white cello, Minazuki, came out before her band did, its presence dominating the otherwise empty stage in the wake of the opening act Geist. Perhaps it is the only appropriate beginning, given that Kanon Wakeshima started playing at the age of 3, and thus the cello was the beginning of her professional career.
Two contrasting themes presented themselves in her music – dark fantasy and cuteness. The latter was present in her movements, her dress, and her voice. The former, due in large part to the influence of MALICE MIZER’s Mana, was the deep, throaty menace of her cello, the shadow and mist that filled her stage, the stern Gothic element lurking behind the ruffles and lace. This dichotomy was further highlighted by her playing style: while singing, she moved about and posed, but she periodically switched to a stationary position to play the cello. This indeed fit the theme of a still doll that occasionally moved.
Between breaks to read scripted lines in English about her cats and how excited she was to be performing in America, Kanon Wakeshima played seven songs. In a strange bit of Americanism that may not have translated well, occasional cries of “Aishiteru!” could be heard from the crowd.
The concert arrangers left no chance for fans to doubt her most tangible connection to the world of anime – clips from Vampire Knight showed as she played ‘Still Doll,’ and she herself made subtle cues for the audience to clap along with certain of her more recognizable songs. Dozens of cosplaying girls in Vampire Knight school uniforms were only too happy to oblige.
What does it mean to be a doll, a marionette? Is it to dance on the strings of an external power, to be moved by a will not your own? If so, Kanon Wakeshima was a puppeteer at Otakon, and the audience members were her willing dolls.
Geist set list:
– Mizery [sic]
– Starlight Opera
– Still Doll
– Suna No Oshiro
– Kuroi Torikago
– Shinku No Fatarythm
– L’spoir ~ Mahou No Akai Ito
– Ennui Kibun!
– Skip turn step