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Monday, July 1, 2013

Kalafina at Anime Central - May 17th - 19th, 2013

AnimeCentral_LIVE-1__credit-SME Records

Live photos © SME Records


 

Kalafina Official HP | Kalafina Staff Twitter | SMEJ International Facebook page | Anime Central HP


An all-female group founded in 2007 by producer Yuki Kajiura, Kalafina has come far. Beginning as a group primarily to sing anime theme songs for Kara no Kyoukai, they now have an EP, 4 studio albums and more than 10 singles! Originally composed of Kajiura’s FICTIOJUNCTION project members Wakana and Keiko, 2 other members were added later. Maya and Hikaru were chosen out of 30,000 contestants in a contest held by Sony Music Japan. Maya’s departure a year later left Kalafina with its current lineup of Wakana, Hikaru, and Keiko. Since then the ladies have performed all over Japan, as well as several Asian countries, and Germany. Recently they made their third US appearance at Anime Central, where Visual KEIOS had the opportunity to catch them. Please enjoy our coverage of this talented group below:


 

[tab:Kalafina Press Conference]
Kalafina_ACEN__by_Kaitlin-MaginnisHow was the concert? How was it performing your new songs?*

Wakana: This is our first time in Chicago and we were really excited to be here. And also this time the band was here with us. So we were happy that we were able to deliver our live sound to the crowd, we really had fun and we’re really happy.


Do you write your own music? How much creative control do you have over your performances, videos and sound?


Hikaru: Kalafina’s producer, Yuki Kajiura, she does all the writing of the lyrics, the songs, the music and also the remixing. We don’t do that.


Also in Japan there are a lot of live performances, and we do have set lists and a lot of visuals to think about, as well as how to perform. We so a lot of rehearsals, and everyone is included, and discuss it together.


Keiko and Wakana, you’ve worked together as members of FictionJunction, did you find that this created an advantage?*


Wakana: FictionJunction and Kalafina are similar by the fact that they make chorus and harmonies. But the difference is in the numbers - three and four. Having more people in the performance makes for broader ranges in our vocals. Because it’s a different project, every time we perform as Kalafina or FictionJunction, we are learning different, new things.


Keiko: We’d already met before through the FictionJunction project, but under a different name, more solo. We had never tried harmonies before, putting our voices together. At the live performance as FictionJunction, we performed and harmonized together for the first time and we discovered new things. It was a relief to see each other during the Kalafina audition because we already knew each other already.


This is your first time in Chicago, where else in the US have you performed and where else internationally have you performed?


Hikaru:  Our first time in America was in Boston. The next time was in Los Angeles. Outside of the US we have been all over Asia; to Shanghai, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Outside of that, we also went to Germany.


Hikaru; what was it like auditioning and then being chosen out of so many participants?*


Hikaru: In the beginning I entered the audition wanting to be a solo artist. It wasn’t until I got a phone calling telling me I passed the audition that they told me it was a unit. I was unsure at first if I wanted to do it or not. But then I thought that this was my chance, so I took it. Now the three of us are together and I am so happy to be performing with Keiko and Wakana.


How different is it performing for an American audience or European audience as opposed to an Asian audience?


Keiko: Every concert hall is different. We make the atmosphere from that with the audience; so obviously, every time it’s different. The MC is also important. It’s different in Asia, Germany, and US. Mostly in Asia, a lot of people sing along in the concert. Also in Germany, the excitement built up and by the end it’s like Boom! -exploding. I think the American audience is very honest; their excitement varies between songs. For example if we perform a song comes from their favorite anime they’re very excited.


Your PVs are very whimsical - Where do you draw inspiration for them?*


Wakana: Music, the sounds are very important in how to make the music video. The producer, Yuki Kajiura’s image that she had is important. We meet up and discuss, considering those sounds and the image she had; also if it fits our image that we already have. Everyone thinks it over, has meetings and discusses.


Keiko: I think about the expressions on my face, how should I make my expressions because visuals are very important. I try to over express those.


Hikaru: Of course the music. Also how we would move within the videos, and how the videos would look pretty. Things we would be unable to express in our live concerts.


* = Visual KEIOS’ questions


 

Kalafina kindly introduced themselves to the Visual KEIOS readers in the comment video below!



[tab:Kalafina Live Concert Review]

 

Before the concert even started, the excitement could be felt throughout the theater. People were lining up to be allowed in, heading towards their seats as soon as they were able.


Quickly enough, everyone was seated, waiting, and eager for the concert to begin. The normal pre-concert chatter could be heard throughout the room, people discussing favorite songs, similar bands, and their hopes for the concert. Anticipation could be felt and excitement heard as someone came on stage to introduce the band. Everyone was ecstatic to have them there and cheered loudly on cue.


Starting out with a familiar tune, Kalafina chose to open with “oblivious”, the theme from Kara no Kyokai. Keiko stood center stage, with Wakana on one side and Hikaru on the other. The lights helped set the mood as the girls stood in silver and black ensembles with handheld microphones. From the very start they blended beautifully, their voices sounding as though they were made for each other. They did more than just use their sound, though it was powerful enough to stand by itself, the ladies of Kalafina used their hands and upper bodies to convey feelings to the audience. Beginning in such unity, working together as one, “oblivious” was a wonderful opening song.


Next came “consolation”, the title track of their new album that was released on March 20th, 2013. Transitioning from a more mystical beginning piece to an energetic, fast-paced piece makes for a fun contrast. Aside from the music, one of the first things I noticed were the costumes. There were similarities between Wakana and Keiko’s costumes; matching colors with distinguishing characteristics. In contrast to Keiko’s costume, both Hikaru and Wakana seemed to have a corset like tops; beautiful outfits for beautiful songs and performers. They looked similar and when standing in their opening positions, they each had something on the outside arm; the symmetry of it made a perfect visual to compliment the amazing song.


This piece involved a lot of body language, subtle in the beginning, but more gradually fierce and loud as the song marched forward. There was a strong bass in this song that rocked on its own and alongside the voices, working together easily. The liveliness of the song was only further emphasized as the strobe lights appeared in several different colors. It was obvious how the ladies listened to each other here, their voices blending while standing out and effortlessly intertwining. All three of the members clearly got into the piece all the way to the end.


After piece number two, the ladies took a break to introduce themselves and speak with the audience. From the audience’s point of view they were charming, playful and very welcoming with their bright smiles. They thanked the band who performed alongside them, seeming quite humble and kind before leading into the third song of the night “Kagayaku Sorano Shijimaniwa”.


Well known from the anime series Black Butler, this began with Hikaru looking soulfully towards the sky, while the other two sang. Keiko’s deep voice contrasting with Wakana’s higher one worked perfectly together to make two distinct sounds; apart yet together. It was then Keiko’s turn to stand center, still while the other two sang in turn. All three exhibited a terrific range here that I must applaud. Switching again from twos, to individual, to twos again, all three uniting when it was called for, making the changes seamlessly.


red moon” is a fan favorite and recognizable piece, the name of their second studio album, which was released back on March 17, 2010. As “red moon” was the first Kalafina album that I personally owned, it was a joy to hear it live, its strength withstanding the passage of time. Beginning with Wakana this time, they continued to display their knack for highlighting each other in songs. This piece expertly displayed this as they flawlessly transitioned from person to person, to group, and back again. This style goes well with the piece beforehand, clearly the set list was well thought out.


On screen backgrounds were utilized during the concert, and the ones from “red moon” really seemed to grab me as my eyes could not help but be drawn to them. Each song had different backgrounds to complement the music. Subtle movements from the girls led to major placement changes on stage in this piece; Keiko and Wakana switched, only for Hikaru and Wakana to switch afterwards, leaving them in different positions.


Another well-known piece of theirs was up as following “red moon”, was “Magia”.  Also featured in an anime, this time from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Fierce and full of energy, their arms were used beautifully for expressions from the get go in this particular piece. So well known, many fans in the audience got up from their seats. Previously patient and sitting, they couldn’t hold it in any longer. They returned to the original positions partway through the piece, shortly before an instrumental section highlighting their talented band. Everyone seemed to be enjoying that little interlude, including the band. It was fun to see Keiko dance in place. Things like that are what show how much the band is enjoying it as well.


More commentary was given after these three songs, allowing us some entertaining insight into the ladies that are Kalafina. They said they saw lots of trees and visited downtown Chicago, noticing the European taste and also saw the Water Tower. They mentioned how surprised they were about an outdoor concert at the J. Bleaker Pavilion. When discussing what they loved, Wakana said she loved the dinosaurs, Hikaru would love to try Chicago Pizza, and Keiko said popcorn. The commentary continued with requests for recommendations. It ended with Wakana talking and Keiko asking “Would you like to hear our song?” leading right into the next performance.


Anime themes are a great thing for concerts, and in general, they give people a chance to learn who performed the themes they enjoy, and check out more of their work. Such is the case with “Hikari no senritsu”.  This was one of the calmer pieces that they performed over the course of the evening, but still it was energetic. More smiles were seen from the girls, this time it was Wakana bouncing her knee to the beat. Hikaru gave off a bright but deep feeling with her singing and expressions.


The girls clapped and moved, working with each other. There were some wonderful low notes all together, before Keiko had a moment to sing on her own. The spotlight then moved to Hikaru for a moment, granting her a turn before it was Wakana’s turn to shine. She produced some beautiful high notes; such a contrast from the earlier lows. With excellent pitch and strong power, these girls are highly impressive and ended this piece standing together, making a wonderful image.


A door was opened with their next song “Door”. Softer, slower, calmer, this piece is relaxing and entrancing. Wakana stood in the center while Hikaru and Keiko remained on the stairs. It created a strong presence that drew the audience into the performance. Position changes were noticeable in this piece, as well as the continuing rotation of who was singing rather than the three united - the song was strong, yet beautiful and calm at the same time. This gorgeous piece is lovely to listen to but even more powerful performed live with the intense atmosphere the girls created.


That is what is astounding about their music in general. The more one listens to the music and compares it to a live performance, the more noticeable the difference is. Kalafina makes beautiful music, but the best artists are the ones who get so lost in the world they create when they are performing live, and without a doubt Kalafina does exactly that.


Mirai” was next, wonderfully placed in the middle of the concert. It began lower than its predecessor but that is a nice contrast, showing the variety of the band. Keiko started dancing in her position, snapping and clearing enjoying herself right from the start. It makes it so much easier for the crowd to get into the music when the musicians themselves are enjoying it so much. That makes a good band great and all the more powerful. Wakana seemed to loosen up gradually throughout the piece, while Hikaru swayed, dancing less but making a statement with her deep, emotional looks staring upwards.


Another section completed, there was commentary once again brought to the attention of the crowd. They discussed how “Hikari no senritsu” was the opening song for anime Sound of the Sky, and how “Miari” was an opening for Madoka Magica. They asked if the crowd knew of these two shows and that only led to cheers as the girls mentioned their favorite characters, even going as far as looking to see if there were any cosplayers in the audience. They found one and deemed them “So cute”, which was true as it was an adorable costume!


The concert resumed with “ARAI” as their next song. During this song they showed some of the anime, perhaps the actual ending, of Kara no Kyoukai, where this song features as the fourth ending theme. Another opportunity arose to see beautiful gestures and body languages from Wakana, nothing short of awesome. They played to the center position that Hikaru took, no one missing a beat. Finally fading out, this piece led well into its successor, “signal”. Lively and fun, this song featured an instrumental solo in addition to the girls amazing singing. It was fun to watch Keiko dancing around a bit after acknowledging the band, which is something the girls were very sure to do. It is wonderful when a group recognizes the band and they work together so well.


Roughly three fourths of the way through the concert came “obbligato.” Kalafina remained strong this far into the concert, not showing signs of slowing down, but instead just as energized as they were with the first song. Taking advantage of the lighting in the Rosemont Theatre, it began with some blue lighting, using flashing lights later on. The screen was utilized as well here, showing us imagery to match the song. Here we got to see some dancing from all the girls, which worked out great. Again, Wakana impressed, showing her talent with amazing vocals in this piece featured here. These girls were never anything less than outstanding the whole night.


Ongaku” followed with the girls asking “Chicago, are you ready?” right off the bat. The crowd was definitely ready as the girls started this fast-paced song. While Keiko stood at the top of the stairs, the girls looked at each other, seeming to enjoy themselves still. For me this just reaffirmed their status as wonderful artists, since they have fun with what they do, and that is the most important part. The instruments in this piece were completely amazing. They have a great band working with them! While the instruments were finishing up their part, the girls thanked the crowd saying “Arigato” and jumping together to finish this song off right.


Commentary came again as it really seemed like these ladies enjoy interaction with the crowd. Hikaru began by explaining that Aria was from Kara no Kyoukai: Garden of Sinners before going on to talk about the band and introduce them. They mentioned each by instrument and name, making sure not to miss anyone as the crowd applauded.


When resuming performance, the next two songs, “Manten”, and “to the beginning” were both from the same anime: Fate/Zero.  Both were amazing pieces that fit the fantasy-like anime with dramatic motions and anime backgrounds to go along with their origin.


The last song before their final piece was “Hikarifuru”. Winding things down with this piece, it was much calmer than the past several songs performed. Terrific visuals added to the performances, but the ladies were so incredibly talented that they stood on their own with their music. Listening to this piece it seemed to fit so well that I thought it was the end. I was soon surprised when I realized it was not, but instead a fitting intro to the final song. Haunting at times, with an ethereal feel and lovely green lighting.


One more round of commentary to explain the previous songs, telling us the origin of the two songs from Fate/Zero and “Hikarifuru” (which is from Puella Magi Madoka Magica). They then proceeded to explain that there was one more song, saying “Last song. Oh no.” Wakana said it was great to be able to perform with such great members. The girls then said they hoped to see us again. Keiko strongly stated “I will be back.”


Yume no daichi” was an ideal ending song, fitting in exquisitely, as each and every piece did. The melody even lent itself perfectly to a goodbye song. It ended with Kalafina reintroducing their band and bowing together before having one more fan moment to close things out. They took a few pictures with the crowd behind them, leading everyone to try and get in the photos with many laughs and smiles! A fabulous end to an already wonderful concert!


For a group classified as pop, they are so much more. Kalafina takes other elements to make themselves more than any one genre, more than just pop; it is unique, something to stand all on its own. They are that powerful and beautiful. They are Kalafina and I for one was grateful to see them live. I hope to see more from them in the future!


[tab:Setlist]

[one_half]AnimeCentral_LIVE-2__credit-SME Records

Live photos © SME Records


[/one_half][one_half_last]

 

  1. overture

  2. oblivious - Kara no Kyokai

  3. consolation

  4. Kagayaku Sorano Shijimaniwa – Black Butler Season 2

  5. red moon

  6. Magia – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  7. Hikari no senritsu – Sound of the Sky

  8. Door

  9. Mirai

  10. ARAI

  11. signal

  12. obbligato

  13. Ongaku

  14. Manten – Fate/Zero

  15. to the beginning – Fate/Zero

  16. Hikarifuru – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  17.  Yume no daichi


[/one_half_last]

[tab:END]

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='off']http://www.visual-keios.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/starpower.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

This Kalafina coverage at Anime Central was conducted and written by Kaitlin Maginnis (Rain) and edited by Alicia R. Thomas.


We'd like to thank Kalafina, Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Anime Central staff for all of their help in making this coverage possible.


[/author_info] [/author]

 

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