We all know that ANAMANAGUCHI, despite their rebranding away from chiptunes, is still one of the most successful bands from the early 00’s era of chiptune still performing. I never give up a chance to see a good band live, so when I heard they were coming to Richmond again I hopped on it. They didn’t reveal their guest performers – Chipocrite with Rekcahdam, Gull and Lazerdisk – until right before the show. I’m sure by now you all know how I feel about Paul and Roger, but the other two bands I’d never heard of – and given the fact that this was the first show I was seeing at The Broadberry, one of Richmond’s newer venues, I was extremely hyped for what was to come.
The Broadberry is owned by the same folks who own The Camel, which has been a Richmond staple venue for ages. The one drawback to The Camel, however, is its lack of space. This is where The Broadberry comes in – not only is it 2-3 times the size of most of the other downtown RVA venues, boasting both indoor and outdoor seating as well as a proper stage and light rig, it also has something almost no other Richmond venue has: a free parking lot. This may make some of you out there laugh, but let me assure you that ample affordable parking puts The Broadberry at a significant advantage over other local venues. The fact that they have better refreshments than PBR and “vodka made from the French fries that dropped behind the frier” is just icing on the cake.
When I got to the venue, the opening act, Gull, had just started playing. The best way I can describe him is an experimental electronic one man band – jumping back between playing a guitar one handed as well as juggling a snare drum, a hi-hat and then creating loops on his computer, it was probably one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had at a show. What was most interesting, however, was Gull’s mask. The mask looked like a bedazzled version of the prop from the Jim Carrey movie of the same name, except with a microphone my the mouth and a plug at the top. It looked very homemade, and yet charming because of that fact. Only some of his songs had lyrics, but all of the tracks utilized vocal sampling in one way or another, and they were all strangely fascinating. While Gull’s mask gave only one expression, if you could call it that, those of the crowd told quite the story. I can safely say that the only people who were prepared for Gull’s set were the few Richmond locals who knew who he was. It was very obvious that there were a lot of younger nerds in the crowd who were here solely for ‘GUCHI, and their worried looks said that they weren’t sure this was entirely the sort of event they were prepared for. Eventually, Gull’s set wrapped, and he removed his mask sweaty and triumphant. It wasn’t the way most of the crowd probably intended to start the evening, but it was a hell of a way to get the juices flowing.
Next up was Chipocrite and Rekcahdam. Anyone who has been to one of their shows knows what to expect here – some slamming guitar, killer drums and some pro sounding beeps and boops. Evidently most people had seen these guys live before – I’m willing to venture many of them at the last ANAMANAGUCHI show in Richmond – because people’s faces lit up when they got on stage. They were not to be disappointed – those two absolutely slayed it out there. Although it’s been a while since they’ve played together, these two dudes have great musical chemistry – the inclusion of live drums into Chipocrite’s older tracks is always seamless, and the newer tracks which are arranged for a full band definitely benefit from Rekcahdam’s slick percussion skills. It’s always apparent how Paul and Roger feel about the music as it’s happening – when Paul hits a particularly tasty guitar lick, his face scrunches up like the only things in the universe are him and six strings, and when Roger gets lost in the drums he ends up just kind of staring out into the middle distance while his arms become a blur. They’ve got their “we done goofed faces” too, which they wore from time to time in the evening, but I promise no one but me noticed. The whole set consisted of most of Chipocrite’s greatest hits with a smattering of Rekcahdam’s personal selections of his own (including the track he gave us for our winter compilation, I might add). If anyone other than The Gooch was the finishing act, I might have just been satisfied and left then. But they were, and I wasn’t about to jump ship just yet.
Lazerdisk was on after, and I certainly wasn’t expecting them – they were a pure DJ set stuck amongst a series of instrumental acts, and their inclusion was nice, but jarring. It almost felt like there was a reset on the show, and that these guys were another opening act. That’s not to imply they were bad – they’re certainly some of the raddest live DJs I’ve seen, and a healthy chunk of the crowd was going wild. I live under a rock in the middle of the woods, so I’m not personally familiar with a lot of the tracks they remixed on their set, but those people who were into it were super into it, dancing and carrying on. A lot of us, however, just sorta looked uneasy, and saw this as a great time to top off our beverages and powder our noses. Their set did give me a chance to finally look around the crowd and see who decided to trundle on down to the show. The crowd makeup seemed to be split very evenly between folks you might see at MAGFest – 18-25 year olds with video game tees who are super hyped to be at a show they actually care about – and your more relaxed, low key older nerds, the ones who look like they’ve been going to hardcore punk shows since they were 16 and have just about burnt out all the rage they’ve got left. That’s actually a pretty good descriptor of much of Richmond’s music scene in general, if we’re being totally honest. But soon enough, the sick drops came to a close, people had their beers frosty, and the main event was at hand.
There’s one thing I love about ANAMANAGUCHI above all else. It’s not their musicianship. It’s not their impressive library of songs. It’s not their longevity. It’s that through it all, they never stopped being a bunch of dorks from New York. Sure, the composition of the band may have changed a little over the years – switch out a musician, drop the NES in favor of effects, but when they walked out on stage you could tell they were a bunch of goofballs who are a little awkward but just want to come out and make music for people. Well, except Luke anyway – he proceeded to almost immediately get shirtless. There was a lot of shirtlessness to be beheld during their set – random audience-goers would just strip down and dance and do stage dives. How they didn’t get kicked out, I honestly have no idea, but to quote an oft-used internet adage, the whole thing was a wild ride from start to finish. Shirtless Luke notwithstanding, the entire band seemed to be rooted to their spots, eyes locked on their guitars, with the kind of look on their face that says their entire concentration is on the music, but that they’ve done it so many times before that they’re examining themselves as they play to make sure their muscle memory is still on point. They played a song off of an upcoming album, and another song that may never be played again – so if you missed out, sorry! There was a healthy mix of their bigger older hits mixed in with their newer Endless Fantasy work, and they were the only band to have supporting visuals, which was something that the evening had been missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It’s basically a given at chiptune shows that you’ve got someone running visuals, but either because most of the acts weren’t, or maybe The Broadberry just didn’t know about it, there wasn’t anyone on hand to do them for anyone but GUCHI.
All in all, I’d say the evening was a solid success. The fact that the evening wasn’t all one kind of media was strange, but not unheard of for the few ANAMANAGUCHI shows I’ve been to. The Broadberry is definitely a much better place than most of the other venues I’ve been to at least in terms of size and comfort – I sincerely hope that any of you folks reading this who want to take a stop in Richmond take a peek at them and try to make them work, because while I love cramped bars and all for the whole punk rock/indie vibe, actually being able to breathe was refreshing (no pun intended). If you missed ’em this time around, have no fear – the boys end up on tour more often than not, and with a new album out sometime in the near future, I can’t imagine it’ll be too long that they’re announcing a much larger US tour.
That’s all for now! Seats OUTTAHERE.