Matenrou Opera at AUSA 2011

If the hoard of fans who had waited hours was any indication, Matenrou Opera’s U.S. debut was long overdue.

Anime USA, known for bringing over big names such as 12012, arranged and handled the band. For the second year in a row, fans ignored the rule that the line cannot start until an hour before doors open — resulting in a very disgruntled crowd  made up predominantly of young females being shuffled and moved.

The concert started about half an hour late, but when the electronic intro signaled the show’s commencement, all residual annoyance from the mix-up melted and a wave of excitement swallowed the main event hall, leaving the anxious crowd hot and jittery. The combined body heat from the hundreds of eager fans — many of whom have waited to see Matenrou Opera since its incarnation three years ago — was overwhelming: Bodies of fans were smashed close against each other; kneeling bodies of the AUSA staff lined the barricades between the audience and the stage.

Lead by the convention’s well-known megaphone man, Jessie, the fans chanted “Opera” until the members entered the stage one by one.

While the powerful music alone was enough to send fans into eardrum-shattering screams, there was no aspect of the live that could be describe as anything less than the perfect combination of talent, elegance, and trained skill. Each member performed with expert grace.

Even if Sono’s frequent use of vibrato isn’t the proverbial key to your heart, the sheer power of his voice — which carried over the instruments even while technical issues caused his microphone to go out several times in the first few songs — could convert anyone into fan.

In case Sono’s voice couldn’t win you over, then the performance of the rest of the members would have pulled you into the wonderland that is a Matenrou Opera performance. After only three songs, Sono exited the stage, leaving the other members to have their own bonding time with the audience.

When the instrumental song finished, everyone left the stage but Yu. A drummer who never seems to stop smiling, Yu performed a high-speed solo while spinning his drumsticks and laughing as though it were the easiest thing in the world.

Yu’s not the only with tricks, though. Anzi probably spun his guitar around his body as often he swayed his hips — which is to say he did it a lot. If he wasn’t known as the flirt of the band before this concert, he earned the title when held his guitar over his head while playing and pretended to shoot members of the audience while winking and smiling.

And if you were too caught up with the other members to notice Yo or Ayame’s side of the stage — probably an impossible feat given their adorable demeanor on stage —  at one point Yo actually played his bass with a drumstick. Ayame never stopped dancing or posing, even with his keytair, which is roughly half his size.

The fans’ response was almost as overwhelming as the band’s performance. Hundreds of people of all ages, some of them traveling across the country and, in at least one case, all the way from Japan to see the U.S. debut, sang along with Sono. It seemed as though the majority of the audience had memorized the lyrics despite the language barrier.

When the members left the stage, the audience screamed and some even cried — the encore was ushered in on screams of “Opera.” The band performed in their Matenrou Opera t-shirts, and when they finally left the stage the tired crowd trampled out to stand in lines yet again.

The undoubtedly exhausted band members then signed merchandise until around 1:30 A.M.

What made the night wasn’t only the members’ skill or the power of their music — what sold their performance was the enthusiasm they exuded, the obvious love of what they do and their willingness to sit behind a table for hours after performing just so fans could meet them one last time.

The language barrier meant nothing when compared to the dedication of both band members and fans. In the end, Matenrou Opera’s U.S. debut was a cocktail of elegance talent and legitimate love for fans.

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