I was first introduced to Cornelius in Film School, where the buddy I often shared a dark editing room would play ‘Count Five or Six’ while I attempted to count and mark 16mm frames on the tiny strips running through our moviolas. This January, I jumped on the chance to see him at the awesome Walt Disney Concert Hall with Plaid.

Let’s start off with Plaid. I was very excited to see them, after catching their AV Set with Bob Jaroc at the Natural History Museum last year. The visuals, unfortunately, didn’t do much for me. There were a few sweet moments, but mostly I felt trapped in a semi-monotonous 3d visualizer. As we broke for intermission, I talked with a few other VJs and they agreed. I was skeptical about Cornelius, and figured I’d just have to settle for a rockin’ audio set and not expect much from the visuals.

I’m glad I was wrong.

Cornelius’ set started off with slow-mo footage of a giant bubble floating in a park. I couldn’t tell if it was CG or footage, and it didn’t matter. With the beautiful swells of the music and the rainbow-riffing undulating soap mass onscreen, I was lifted out of my funk and ready for an awesome show.

Each song had its own specific video – and each one looked and felt very different from the last, which does wonders to avoid visual burnout. Ironically, the first visuals set where I was amazed by the variety of visual atmospheres was that first Plaid/Bob Jaroc show.

His LED light rig was simple and spectacular. He had several lighting stands with rows of LEDs, and custom patterns that matched or contrasted the video for each song. There were also strobes mounted on top of each pole which were used sparingly and to great effect to punch up the impact of the hardest-rocking songs. You can see them in the following video:

Cornelius Live 01-17-08 from momo_the_monster on Vimeo.

Please note that this footage, taken in video mode with a still camera from the very last row in the hall, does not nearly do justice to the quality and variety of video. That said, it’ll give you a taste of the night, which is better than nothing.

One question that remains after the show – how did they keep it all synced up? I suppose Cornelius could be playing to a click-track, but it all felt very freeform, so I’m inclined to discount that idea. My only guess at this point is a DVJ or something similar that played back the pre-composed videos, with a VJ speeding up or slowing down the playback to stay in sync – like a DJ would do to keep two records from trainwrecking.

If you have any favorite moments from the show, or ideas on how they put together the video, leave your mark in the comments.

Read the full interview with Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) on Create Digital Music. He tells CDM:

For the live performance, it’s an important part as there’s not only the sound in live shows but the visual aspect. By creating visuals I think it helps to understand more about the music as my songs are in Japanese.