Peter Berkman might be the gawkiest frontman I've ever seen. His banter reminds me of the happier nerds I knew in high school, who barely survived the social food chain but didn't harbor a shred of resentment toward the cool kids. As he introduced songs, he might as well have been making a Scrabble club announcement at assembly, laughing nervously and tousling his hair. But when the man shreds, he's totally in his element.
There's a similarly nerdy, fuck-if-you-like-it quality to his music, which is packed with enough joyous chutzpah to mask its inherent uncoolness. If you've ever played the excellent multiplayer sidescroller Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you already have some of these manic melodies etched deeply into your memory. The band plays chiptune, fusing the giddy bleep-bloops of a hacked NES from 1985 with the best elements of pop-punk (energy, shamelessness, more energy). Since the band had to play to a track to accommodate all those Nintendo sounds, there was a bit of that Sleigh Bells-y, Guitar Hero vibe to its show. From a distance, you might not realize a full band was playing. But NES music notwithstanding, live drums took Anamanaguchi out of the dorm room and into a well-deserved opening slot on the Google Play stage. The four-piece nearly got lost in its own Four Loko-level energy, but a couple of midtempo disco cuts kept a sweaty, bandanna-headed field of kids fist-pumping and stoked for the weekend ahead. These guys have a gimmick that should barely work, but because it works at all, they succeed in spades.