On the Scene: Sonic Adventure Music Experience

On the Scene: Sonic Adventure Music Experience

by January 7, 2018

Jun Senoue is perhaps the most antithetical rock star to currently walk this earth.

Having wowed Sonic fans with his musical prowess for years, first with Sonic 3, then Sonic 3D Blast, then his defining moment composing for Sonic Adventure–itself a series defining moment–and his continued involvement as Sonic sound director for the series since, Senoue has parlayed his talent and loyal fandom into concerts, CD and soundtrack sales, and collaborations–the most famous being Crush 40, a name now so synonymous with Senoue the band’s title is his Twitter handle.

But Senoue remains fiercely dedicated to his craft. Several minutes before his scheduled performance, he was on stage, meticulously tuning his Sonic and Shadow guitar brought from Japan for the first performance in the United States–and only the third time ever–of the Sonic Adventure Music Experience. He reviewed stage notes, and conversed with his traveling trio of bassist Takeshi Taneda and Act. on the drums. Though on guitar for the show, his longtime role as a sound director showed with a personal attention to detail unrivaled at many high profile concerts.

Shortly after chants of Sonic, Sanic and Big the Cat permeated through the crowd at 10:30, it was time for the trio to shine.

The night began with Emerald Coast, an iconic tune out of a soundtrack where there were many. For a series that vastly expanded the sound horizons of Sonic, it became clear as the set continued how much of Sonic Adventure’s roots were firm in Senoue’s guitar. For the hard rock heavy Sonic Adventure 2, that’s a given; for the more varied and eclectic Sonic Adventure, the robust, tight performance showed the nuts and bolts of strong, if not timeless composition live to a packed, approving crowd. Few could make a performance of a menu theme engaging, but the trio’s effortless rendition of Choose Your Buddy! not only demonstrated the team’s passion for music, but proved the staying power of Adventure as a complete critical accomplishment of its time.

Senoue himself remained calm, collected, and in control the entire performance. Switching between his trademark Sonic and Shadow guitars, his crowd interactions between sets were brief, almost punctual, but met with wild praise from fans. On multiple occasions, Senoue was humbled and uplifted by the crowd, showering him and the rest of the trio with cheers and applause. Senoue even let out a little secret, much to attendees’ approval: His favorite character in the series is Shadow.

The remaining band members followed Senoue’s lead and didn’t miss a beat–despite one occasion when Act. appeared to break one of of his sticks during a more intense session, he quickly recovered without consequence. It would be unfair to call the experience automatic; it was simply Senoue and company still at the top of their game, nearly 20 years after the original tunes showed the Sega Sound Team what they were made of.

Indeed, there were moments of spontaneity on both ends, beyond a single performance of Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes breaking up the Adventure dominated playlist. Each musician had moments throughout the show to show off their talents. Whether it was Taneda’s expert bass playing, or the incredible drum solos put forth by Act., each had their moment to shine.

So too did the audience. When Run through the Speed Highway followed the theme of Dr. Eggman seen above, fans joined in with a rousing rendition of Up and Down and All Around, at exactly the right moments. And when Metal Harbor closed out the show, the audience added their own melody to the chorus. This was a group who, together, shared an intimate familiarity with a series that, on both sides, was a landmark.

After the experience, the crew headed downstairs for an autograph session, their second of the four-day event, that lasted well after midnight. After he signed a CD and I wished him and the band a safe trip back to Japan, Senoue told me he didn’t want to go back yet. Befuddled, I asked why. He told me he wanted to stay at MAGFest. For a rock star as genuine as humble as he, it may be the highest vote of confidence yet for the now 15 year old event. I could only tell him to enjoy all of what Sunday had to offer.


Set list:

Windy and Ripply…For Emerald Coast

This Way Out…for Prison Lane

Rumbling HWY…for Mission Street

Choose Your Buddy

Welcome to Station Square

Seaside Hill (Sonic Heroes)

Mr. Unsmiley…for Sky Rail

Vengeance is Mine…for Radical Highway

Won’t Stop, Just Go!…for Green Forest

Theme of Dr. Eggman (Sonic Adventure)

Run Through the Speed Highway…for Speed Highway

Skydeck a Go Go…for Sky Deck

Be Cool, Be Wild, and Be Groovy…for Ice Cap

Keys the Ruin…for Pyramid Cave

Bad Taste Aquarium…for Hot Shelter

Theme of Chaos 6 (Sonic Adventure)

Azure Blue World…for Emerald Coast

That’s the Way I Like It…for Metal Harbor