Thursday, December 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Umbrella @ Anime North Live Report


Today we present to you our new feature "Throwback Thursday". It is a time that we VKH authors take the chance to post any of our late live report, interviews, etc. and publish them to help reflect on the past events as well as get our information out there! If you've noticed any reports missing recently, don't worry, we've got it covered now. It will all be published during our weekly/bi-weekly segments over time until we are all caught up! When we fall behind, the cycle will begin again. With this first feature, we remind you of Umbrella's and Awoi's live at Anime North earlier this year in a two part live report.

Well with any good review you have to start at the very beginning...of the line that is. People started lining up about an hour before the concert even began. I felt a bit bad because it was so windy and quite chilly. That didn't faze the anxious fans that were patiently waiting and taking turns doing coffee runs. Of course I took this opportunity to talk to a few people who were waiting. I found out that there were quite a few attendees that had travelled a fair distance up from the States just for the chance to see their favourite bands rock out. Thanks to J-rock North Promotions I was allowed to slip in a bit early so I could scope out a good spot for photos.

They were a little late letting people in. During the sound check there had been some technical difficulties that needed to be fixed before they could proceed. Once people were let it, there was a mad dash to the front of the stage so many fans wanting to get up close to the bands. It was nice to see a good crowed filling into the space. It took quite a few minutes till everyone was in and ready. Without further adieu Shay from Jrock North Promotions came out on stage. Riled up the fans and introduced Umbrella! as the first band to play. As a huge roar erupted from the fans, Sho, Syu, Hal and Yui came onto the stage. The fans were really excited to see them and couldn't wait till they started playing!
Eventually the fans started to get a bit restless and started chanting 'Um-brel-la' as the guys were getting set up to play. Sho stood up behind his kit and waved his arms up to make the fans chant louder, which of course they obliged. Then the band started clapping a slow, steady clap, getting all the fans to join in. Part way through they started picking up the pace. Syu and Hal played a few notes that carried through the clapping sounding very mystical. It quieted down for just a few seconds before they went straight into their first song. At this point the stage lights came on and illuminated the band.  Oh and did I mention Hal and Syu both had light rings on their strumming hands? Sho had them on his drum sticks and Yui on his right hand. It was a pretty cool site when they all started to rock out.
Vo: Yui
Excellent choice for a first song. It had a great quick and upbeat rhythm, which got the fans moving, dancing and jumping around.  Umbrella was very much into the song. So much energy! You could definitely tell that they were happy to be there. Yui was right up to the fans, touching hands and singing right to them. Benefits of having no gate in front of the stage the fans were able to be right up close. To feel like a part of the music, to have a sort of togetherness that you normally wouldn't get at a different concert. Of course the fans were respectful...for the most part. Let's face it when you have an amazing band come from Japan, a crowed of crazy fans and no gate there is going to be groping of legs and arms. Of course it wasn't just Yui. Hal and Syu both played at the edge of the stage getting really into the performance and the fans. With just this first song you could see how much the band members are into their music and how much they love what they do.
With the start of the next song Yui asks the audience 'Are you ready to rock?' with a unanimous 'whoooo!!' from the crowed. Immediately following the start of the next song, Yui got the crowd into more chanting.  Yui also sang the first part of the song with a folding fan. It was a really unique it added a certain flare to his movements. It felt like an extension of his hands and voice, adding more expression to the music and it was just really cool. I found Syu and Hal were at the edge of the stage a lot of time. It was really nice because the fans loved the opportunity to be so close to them playing. With this song there was a lot of jumping and fist pumping from the audience who were clearly having fun with it. I slipped into the crowed at the beginning to get some snaps of the artists and I distinctly remember getting kind of crushed during this song. It's really hard taking good photos when a crowed of fans are jumping around but it was great to see. Once this song came to a conclusion they wasted no time drumming into the next song.
Back with the chanting! With Syu and Hal encouraging for the fans to go louder, this next song they played was from their newest album.  One thing I have to say about Umbrella their music and energy they have performing is so infectious. You just automatically want to jump right in and rock out with them. There is no way you cannot keep moving during a performance.  At this point Hal and Syu decided to check out the other side of the stage and switched places. Even Yui decided to get close to the fans on the one side by touching a few hands. Then everyone went back to their places. Yui does a lot of dancing around when performing; it's really cute and fun to watch. Hal dances and spins around a lot too. They are so entertaining.
Before getting into the next song Yui gets the crowed screaming and excited again.  This song is a bit softer than the previous songs, it was a nice contrast. This gave the drummer a bit of a break, but not by much. I find a lot of people take the drummer for granted, but drummers have to keep a steady beat and rhythm throughout every song and keep up the energy. It takes a lot of coordination and endurance to be able to do that. It was amazing to watch Sho drum, keeping the pace and the drumming combinations. It's amazing how fast he was making the drumsticks just fly over the set. The fans started to clap to the music. This song has a very steady but interesting beat to it.

Gu: Syu
 Then, it was time for a bit of a break. Yui said 'Hello' and a few other things but between his Engrish and a bunch of screaming fans it was really hard to tell what he was saying. At this point Sho was adjusting the cymbals on his kit. Syu adjusting the sound of his guitar and Yui picked up a guitar. After all adjustments made they were read to rock out some more. Also a lot of egging the fans on getting them to scream louder....if that was even possible. They did get some more 'Um-brel-la' chanting out of the fans and got softly shushed by Yui so they could continue with the next half of the set.

This next song is one of their newer ones from their album that was released in 2012. The audience started clapping along to the beat in the beginning then changed over to fist pumping. Syu and Hal were right up to the crowed again. Interestingly enough,  Shou stood up while playing!  It was just the base drum beat section of the song. I have never seen that done before. To see a drummer stand up during a performance, still keep the beat and without losing control was really cool to see. It was really impressive and yes can't get over how epic it was! It's not too often that you see a vocalist play guitar live and I have to say it was really neat seeing three guitarists up front. What was really fun about it was when they were all rocking out on their instruments at the same time. It looked like so much fun! Kind of like when you're listening to a favourite song and your playing air guitar....except they are playing for real.  As they finished off the song, the fans started screaming again. They sounded louder this time though, I do not know how they managed to up their enthusiasm but they did. I think for Canadian fans it has to do with being so deprived of Jrock here. We end up having an endless supply of craziness and energy when it comes to Jrock concerts. Of course I also find Canadians just have a real love for music in general so when we're at a concert we can't help but get carried away and get lost in the experience. I am sure it is the same for a lot of people around the world but I just notice this trend a lot more when I'm at a concert in Canada.
They didn't waste much time leading into the next song, which was a bit softer than the previous songs but still had a great steady beat. It is really nice to hear the variety and range that they have in their music. This song is a really beautiful song and filled with a lot of emotion.
When the last song finished they went right into the next one. This was another ballad with a very steady beat but is also a soft song. It's a song that sounds like it transcends space and time. Kind of has an epic quality to it. Also, there’s a bit of a march section to it which is pretty neat. Syu was playing with the fans with his guitar then waving for the fans to go louder while Yui stepped up to the front and grabbed a few hands. The audience eventually quieted down in anticipation for the next song to start.
Starting off with a few bass notes and Sho's cymbals, Syu started in and before you knew it they were into the next song, which was upbeat and had a quick tempo. I find Yui is a very expressive vocalist which is a lot of fun to watch because he uses his hands to express different parts of a song or dances around on stage to the upbeat parts. It keeps the audience engaged and they get sucked into Umbrella's world. This is a great combination song, by that I mean there are some slow and soft sections. Then, in the same breath, there is an upbeat and quick tempo part. The transitions are smooth and seamless, making for a great, well rounded song. Lots of fist pumping from the crowd and screaming, ending with drum beats and cheers from the fans.

Ba. Hal
Sho tossed one of his drum sticks to the fans and Yui was grabbing the fan's hands again. Hal, Syu and Yui had a bit of a water break. Then the fans started chanting 'Um-brel-la' again. I must say it was really neat to hear because the whole space just echoed spectacularly. Sho was tapping his drumsticks together in time with the chants.  Yui then tossed his water bottle to the crowed. Syu had grabbed his phone, did a photo op and started taking pictures of the crowd. Same with Sho, he grabbed his phone and stood on his seat, balancing with one foot on his kit taking photos of the audience. Hal was screaming to the fans and they were screaming back. Yui took some pictures of the fans as well; Sho, still balanced on his seat and kit waving his arms up so the crowed would cheer louder.
The fans were pretty loud a bit on the high pitch side.  Hal introduced Sho who is on drums, then introduced Syu on guitar. The fans were yelling at Syu, so Syu tricked them by running toward the end of the stage like he was about to crowed surf but stopped short. Hal introduced himself on bass shortly after. Last but not least, vocalist Yui was introduced. Hal then said, “We love you, Canada.” which of course this just made the fans go nuts with cheering. Hal passed out stickers to the rest of the members and they started flinging them to the fans. Sho came out from his kit and grabbed a few of the fans' hands. Hal asked the fans if they had a t-shirt; some did, some didn't. I couldn't quite make out what Hal said next because well the fans were just really excited and screaming a lot and really loudly which pretty much drowned out everything else.

Everyone settled down a bit as a few noted were played on the guitars. Sho then went full swing into the next song with a very upbeat and fast tempo. This was another song from their most recent album. Fans were fist pumping to the beat again; this song is interesting because Hal and Syu both sing a bit in it as well. Syu noticed me off to the side as I was taking a few photos, gave me a thumbs up and stuck his tongue out at me. I couldn't help but dance to their music. Syu then went over to Hal's side and started playing with him close to the fans. As Syu came back over to his original side Hal followed him so he could play to the fans on that side of the stage. Hal moved back to his side. The fans were encouraged to fist pump to the beat of the bass drum by Sho and to rock out with Yui as he did. The song ended with lots of screaming from the fans.
Dr. Sho
Yui introduced the last song and said, “Arigatou!” before they start playing into their last song of the set. An upbeat, fast tempo with soft lyrics, this is another time that both Hal and Syu also sing a bit in as back up to create depth and fullness to certain lyrical sections. Syu does a bit of a solo and Yui starts dancing around again. It was seriously really fun to watch Syu throw his pick to the fans after his solo bit and grab another from his mic stand. This was a perfect song to end on, it seemed to wrap up the whole set really nicely. Yui yells “Thank you!’ to the fans, and they end the song on a typical jump in unison and drum beat. With that Umbrella's set is done and they toss stuff to the crowed like Syu and Hal's light rings, picks and drum sticks. A few water bottles even got tossed, and were snatched up quickly.
Sho said thank you again, later joining Syu in shaking hands as Hal had already exited the stage. Yui jogged over to the side of the stage where Syu was playing to shake some hands as well and he waved at me. Syu had exited the stage at this point, but Yui was waving to fans and eventually found a light ring to toss to them. Sho was practically in the crowed on the other side trying to shake everyone's hand. Yui and Sho exited the stage, during this whole time the fans were screaming and cheering. I realized that the fans have amazing endurance to keep up that constant cheering at the same pitch. Anyway that was the end of Umbrella's session. It was really well performed and I am really looking forward to seeing them live again.
Set List:

  1.  ギザギザ回路 (Gizagiza kairo)
  2. Kousounikki
  3. モノクローム
  4. Kuroneko ga toru
  5. 風穴
  6. ワスレナグサ
  7. Requiem
  8. LoV
  9. 五月雨 (Samidare)
  10. Tsuk


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