Nirgilis Panel and Concert

Seeing Nirgilis live was wonderful, not only because of the popularity of some of their songs, but also due to the fact that they have quite the good evaluation on the Japanese music scene. Their eclectic, mish-mash style is extremely unique for a band that does anime songs. In fact, anime has for such a long time revolved around cute, pop songs sung by mediocre voice actresses that having the chances to listen to Nirgilis talk was truly refreshing.
Introduction by Kylaran

Panel Report by Kylaran

The Nirgilis panel was a laid-back, very enjoyable affair that saw the three members essentially hanging out with the crowd. Now, I have to admit that at first the conversation was very straight forward, almost edging on the border of awkward: the panel host seemed quite nervous, while the translator was fairly young and seemed to have been supervised by another lady who I had seen at several panels both this year and the years before. Perhaps he was nervous, but it didn’t help that some of the responses he had to translate from Nirgilis were difficult (How exactly do you translate 中二病, which refers to the existential crises that teenagers experience going through puberty? It’s just an example of something that you’d be hard pressed to come up with on the fly.)

One important thing Nirgilis noted was how they create their music from mash-ups. When asked about the development of the song “Sakura” for Eureka Seven, they responded that the choice to have a group of vocalists sing “Amazing Grace” was a response to two factors: first, they needed to fulfill the director’s interest in having a more classically-themed opening song, and second, they needed something that they won’t have to pay royalities for. Their strategy paid off, and “Sakura” became a hit song for the series.

Nirgilis also has an element of creativity and constant change that make them feel like a great band. Constantly thinking about how to make their music adapt to the situation, how the viewers of an anime or their club crowd will receive their songs, and how to diversify their songs. All three of them are Mac users (Not that I’m surprised.), but the fact that they use them in-concert is indicative of their indie and DJ roots. They even made a guest appearance at the Day 2 dance/DJ event at Club Nokia. Wish I had been there for that one.

Concert Report by Shinmaru

I am not totally certain what I expected from Nirgilis at Anime Expo, but “sex on the beach” was not it.

Not that that’s a bad thing.

Now, I’m a bit limited in my musical taste. I love all sorts of rock (Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Nick Cave are among my favorites), am a fan of hip-hop, love cheesy 1980s synth pop, and I don’t listen to much else. I’ve dipped a toe or two in the electronic pool a few times; however, I wouldn’t call myself a fan, nor a hater. It’s just a type of music outside my experience. As it pertains to Nirgilis, I’d heard just a couple of songs before — “sakura” from Eureka Seven (which I like) and “Shiny Shiny” from Deadman Wonderland (the best part about the anime). Other than that, zilch.

Well, the actual concert itself was definitely an experience…

What this concert showed me, first off, is that Nirgilis is a band that strives to present a totally different live experience than what fans get via the band’s albums — many of the songs sound straight up different and are remixed in an interesting way. This could be pretty bad depending on who you are, but as someone who knows very little Japanese (and very little of Nirgilis besides), it’s not as if recognizing and singing along to the music would have been a big part of my experience. From what little I know, remixes are common, anyway, and people seemed happy to jam to the beats, anyway.

If nothing else, Nirgilis does have quite danceable music. From the opening notes of “kiseki” (the OP for Birdy the Mighty Decode), even a dinosaur like me was tapping his toes from all the way back on the press balcony. Journalists can have only so much fun; from my vantage point, I would have had a good time if I was among the throng in front of the stage. Nirgilis definitely knows how to put together a catchy tune, even if the live experience is unpolished compared to the album cuts.

The band makes up for that with a ton of energy, though. As one might expect from a trio of free-spirited folks, Nirgilis has a kooky sense of humor and just let things fly onstage. They’re obviously quite different from a Kalafina (whose concert I did not see) or Kurosaki Maon (whose concert I did see). Kurosaki interacted with the audience more than expected, but Nirgilis’ concert seemed geared toward forging a real bond with everyone who came to see them.

There’s probably no better example of the band’s strange sense of humor than the untitled (as far as I know) medley Nirgilis launches into during the middle of its performance. Vocalist Iwata Acchu starts a little game with the audience — she throws out titles of popular anime and anime phrases, and the audience sings along with her, all with a thumping beat in the background. And then, of course, it ends with a rousing chorus of the phrase, “Sex! Sex! Sex on the beach!” Strange, right? Honestly, I wasn’t totally sure what to think of it, but it definitely amused me. I do wonder if this game is a part of the band’s regular set list, or if it’s something Nirgilis pulls out for conventions.

(This isn’t the first time the band has performed this medley. There was also a great moment during his medley when it seemed that Iwata and drummer Inadera Yuki were determined to get the stone-faced security guard standing in front of the stage to show even a hint of emotion. They jumped around onstage, crashed into each other, banged on cowbells right behind him … nothing worked. Either that guard is the biggest party pooper ever, or he is just THAT good at his job. He didn’t even have a reaction to the “Sex on the beach!” business. Total pro.)

But again, when they weren’t crafting bizarre medleys, Nirgilis put on a solid musical show. A song I particularly enjoyed was “Brand New Day”. Bits and pieces of it gave me a Siouxsie and the Banshees vibe — a lot happier (like, a LOT happier, haha), but there nonetheless. That song actually seemed closest in tone to the synth pop I enjoy so very much. “Snow Days” is a song I remember digging, as well, though my memories of it are faint, so it must not have left too big an impression on me, sadly.

The highlight of the concert for me was definitely “sakura”, which is my second favorite of the Eureka Seven openings behind FLOW’s wonderful “Days”. Nirgilis played a remixed version here, with the famous opening lyric from C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” periodically playing in the background. It made for an interesting contrast with the opera-inspired wailing of the chorus. I can’t really say whether I like it more or less than the original, though I do like seeing a band willing to tweak their music and try something a bit different because they feel like it. Either way, “sakura” was great to hear live, and I could picture the opening animation of Eureka Seven in my mind as I heard the song (which was a bit trippy with all the lights and whatnot going off).

Overall, the concert was a lot of fun. I wouldn’t call Nirgilis musical geniuses, or anything, but they know how to put on a fun, energetic show. At the very least, they don’t come off like a manufactured group whose sole mission is to appear in anime openings and endings and sell records (not that anyone else I saw came off that way). Nirgilis really does have this vibe that they live to have a great time onstage. Always fun to come across a band like that that’s been around as long as Nirgilis.

8 Responses to “Nirgilis Panel and Concert”

  1. I have had a taste of sex on the beach, and I want more.

  2. I’m a little disappointed when the crowd didn’t get into the Sieg Zion hand motions, but overall it was pretty cool.

  3. one thing i didn’t know prior to some quick wiki-ing was that none of the current nirgilis members are of the original lineup (although apparently the band was formed in 1993 and the current lineup consists of members brought in during 95).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qptdoRwbnc0 (2003)
    http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm14657583 (their first single from 2002)

  4. lol, yeah, that was one of the things I found out during my research. Kind of funny how that’ll happen sometimes with bands.

  5. I think the only song of theirs I know is the Birdy The Mighty Decode 02 OP (which is a damn fine song, that said).

    Electronic acts often have that challenge of whether to reproduce their songs as they appear on the album during live performances, or creating remixes. I consider myself something of an IDM fan, but I haven’t seen all that many electronic acts live. I do think it’s better to go the remix route. Give the fans that turn up to your show a unique experience, etc.

  6. @Sorrow-kun:

    At the Nirgilis panel, there was a guy sitting on my left who wouldn’t stop muttering how nobody liked ‘kiseki.’ It got quite annoying. (To be fair, though, I kept voicing my support for Nichijou)

    Then again, 90% of the audience questions were on sakura and Eureka Seven.

  7. […] another take, I do recommend giving Shimaru’s Nirgilis Concert Report a read over at Behind the Nihon […]

  8. […] Picture taken from Shimaru’s review […]

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