It’s been a very long time since we used the Music category here. It’s time to change that.

Cast & Crew

The performing Vocaloids (and the people who provided their singing voices) are:

Hatsune Miku (Based on Saki Fujita)
Lin & Rin Kagamine (Based on Asami Shimoda)
Luka Megurine (Based on Yū Asakawa)
KAITO (Based on Naoto Fūga)
MEIKO (Based on Meiko Haigō)

MKP39 (backing band) is:

Ryoichi Kikushima – Drums
Kei Suzuki – Turntables/Keyboard
Konno Tsuguhito – Bass
Kouta Nakamura – Guitar

Available for Streaming on Crunchyroll.com

The Premise

Hatsune Miku and her fellow Vocaloids put on a concert in New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with musical accompaniment by their touring band, MKB39.

High Points

The technology behind this concert is stunning. To explain – the Vocaloids don’t exist in real life at all. Instead, three dimensional images are projected on stage, along with various visual effects to accompany the performance. The idea that the there would be a live concert by the Vocaloids, in the US no less (and touring, as opposed to a stationary venue such as a Las Vegas casino) is extra-ordinary.

Other than that, the melodies and riffs of some of the tracks are really catchy. There are definitely some earworms in this performance. The concert itself is also very well staged, and the footage is incredibly well shot, highlighting the spectacle of the concert, the energy of the crowd, and the band, along with the performances by the Vocaloids.

Low Points

The mix is a little rough. There are more than a few occasions where the music ends up muddling the vocal track – especially during Miku’s performances. If you saw the performance of “Sharing the World” on Letterman, and then the performance of the same song at this concert, it’s pretty clear.

Scores

Originality: I’ve seen a few J-Pop concerts before, and this concert was pretty standard J-Pop fare, but with the spin of the concert being by fictional characters. 5/6

Lyrics: The lyrics of Vocaloid tracks range from very silly (PoPiPo – which is about vegetables), to melancholic (Glass City – which feels like it could have been used in the film Her), to darkly comic (Senbonzakura – which feels like it escaped from one of the Touhou games, or some other Bullet Hell shooter), to some of the “Let’s make music together” faire that you might see in Eurovision (Sharing the World). However, the songs are mostly in Japanese and unsubtitled, so unless you look up the Vocaloid wiki entry for this concert to see the setlist (and lyrics for the tracks), you might miss that. 4/6

Music: LIke much J-Pop, the tracks here are very riff and melody focused. That said, there are several ear-worms here, and I’m surprised I haven’t found a metal version of Senbonzakura yet. 6/6

Performance: Part of the limitations of the Vocaloids as a group is that there isn’t really any sense of spontaneity to the concert. To be fair, I suspect concerts by J-Pop groups are pretty similar. Still, the backing band was really into it, it looked like. 5/6

Production: See the low point. Otherwise, this was a stunning concert, with a stage show on par with Pink Floyd’s P*U*L*S*E tour. Okay, maybe not that big, but pretty big. 5/6

Emotional Response: The crowd was pretty hyped, and that enthusiasm really carried over to me, watching it streaming. 5/6

Overall: I enjoyed the concert, but I’ll also say that J-Pop is an acquired taste and if you don’t like J-Pop, this concert will drive you right up the wall. 4/6

In total, Hatsune MIku: New York 2014 gets 33 out of 42.