NEW TOUR: DJ-driven, rave-style multimedia affair stars some of Japan’s popular virtual characters, or avatars. (Anime Entertainment)
UPDATE: The International Anime Music Festival that was supposed to launch next week in Vancouver, B.C. has been postponed indefinitely. The tour now launches March 30 at Arena Monterrey in Mexico and is due to play Arena CDMX in Mexico City on March 31 before shifting to Europe. The postponement was announced in an Instagram post that cited production and technical issues. Tickets are to be refunded at the point of purchase. An attempt to reach the organizers was unsuccessful.
Bob Ringe could easily sit on the considerable laurels he’s amassed in the course of 50 years in the music business, but instead, the founder of Survival Management is launching a touring anime festival in North America.
Survival Management represented acts including Leslie West and Mountain, Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople, The Knack, Mick Ronson of Spiders from Mars fame and Alan Parsons. As co-head of A&R at RCA Records, Ringe helped sign David Bowie, Lou Reed, the Kinks, Pure Prairie League and produced PPL’s legendary hit single “Amie” off the 1972 record “Bustin’ Out.”
One might think the acts Ringe signed meant instant success but some of them were just starting out or were still working toward the kind of massive success they would eventually enjoy. Others, like Pure Prairie League, didn’t catch on until years after they produced their most enduring work.
“Bustin’ Out,” the band’s second studio release, was pretty much a bust when it dropped in ‘72, but a few years later, when Ringe was working in London for William Morris, he got a call from PPL front man Craig Fuller who delivered the news that RCA had re-released the album because it was popular on college radio and it was charting, with “Falling In and Out of Love/Amie” leading the way.
“I started out as an agent. In those days I was handling Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Moody Blues, Terry Reid, Cream, those kinds of bands and then I left there to go to RCA and while I was at RCA, I found the Pure Prairie League, produced their first two albums and really the two albums didn’t do anything significantly; maybe 80,000, 90,000, 100,000, whatever,” he said. “And then everybody in the A&R department at RCA got fired. Bowie hadn’t broken on the level he eventually did, the Prairie League, we also signed Lou Reed with “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Ringe couldn’t land another A&R job so he went back to the agency world at William Morris in London.
“I was there three or four years and one day I get a call from Craig Fuller and he says, ‘You know our record is on the charts?’”
At the time, Vince Gill replaced Fuller as frontman and later went on to a huge solo career.
Because of Ringe’s relationship with Bowie guitarist Ronson, who would become a lifelong friend, Ronson contributed to “Bustin’ Out,” arranging strings on two songs.
A small debate has smoldered regarding whether or not Ronson played lead on the tune “Angel #9, one of the cuts on “Bustin’ Out.”
The song also appears on Ronson’s 1974 solo record, “Play Don’t Worry,” and the lead on the PPL version indeed sounds like a case of glam slamming into country rock to compelling melodic effect, but some insist it was Fuller’s guitar work.
Ringe said he couldn’t definitively render a verdict, but weighed in nonetheless.
Later, Ringe put Ronson and Hunter together as the Hunter Ronson Band.
“When Mick was in New York, he may have laid down a track on Angel #9,” he said. “To be honest with you, I really don’t remember that far back. I have trouble remember what happened two weeks ago, much less 30, 40 years ago.”
Now, Ringe is co-founder and CEO of Anime Entertainment LLC, which is launching the International Anime Music Festival to 37 North American venues over two months beginning Feb. 6 at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, B.C.
The show is a DJ-driven, rave-style multimedia affair that stars some of Japan’s popular virtual characters, or avatars, including singeroid “#kzn,” vocal duo Himehina, vocal trio MaRiNaSu, the North American debut of fan favorite GUMI, and pop twins LiLYPSE.
New songs will be featured as Ringe and company adapt an event that’s proven popular in Japan, where the anime music movement originated before gaining global popularity.
“Music is the key, but the production of the show is like a rave with massive sound, lights, production, three LED screens a DJ and a ton of merch,” Ringe said.
The IAMF follows Ringe’s foray into hologram-based entertainment, featuring deceased performers in three shows by Whitney Houston, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly and Maria Callas.
He founded BASE hologram with Marty Tudor.
Tudor is also Ringe’s partner in Anime Entertainment, whose production for the first time combines virtually generated animated characters, called VTubers, and virtual singers, called Vocaloids, with computer generated voices, on the same stage.
The tour is represented by Wasserman Music in North America and UTA internationally.
Ringe said he was indoctrinated into anime during Atlanta Anime Weekend.
“We’re trying to build an audience and a brand that we believe is the future,” Ringe said, adding that it might take a few years to see if the event has legs.
The show loads in and out in a day and runs about three hours.
“Because of the younger demographic, I insisted that these be early shows (with 7:30 p.m. starts),” Ringe said. “This is a family oriented show. There is no cursing, nothing x-rated, nothing risqué. Parents can feel comfortable bringing their children.”
Tickets range from $55 to $100 for a VIP package that includes early entry and merchandise.
The lowest capacity venue on the tour is 2,800 and the highest about 5,000.
“All of the major promoters are involved, Live Nation, AEG, Nederalander,” Ringe said.
Swings through South America and Asia are also in the works, he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
MAR 30, 2023
MAR 31, 2023
Mexico City, Mexico
APR 20, 2023
APR 25, 2023
APR 26, 2023
APR 28, 2023
APR 29, 2023
MAY 5, 2023
MAY 6, 2023
MAY 8, 2023
László Papp Budapest Sports Arena
MAY 12, 2023
MAY 13, 2023
Verti Music Hall
MAY 14, 2023
MAY 15, 2023
MAY 16, 2023
MAY 18, 2023
INTERNATIONAL ANIME MUSIC FESTIVAL NORTH AMERICA 2023 TOUR SCHEDULE: UPDATE – POSTPONED
Mon, Feb. 6 | Vancouver, BC | Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 8 | Seattle, WA | Paramount Theatre
Feb. 9 | Portland, OR | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Feb. 11 | San Jose, CA | San Jose Civic Auditorium
Feb. 14 | Los Angeles, CA | Microsoft Theatre
Feb. 16 | Phoenix, AZ | Arizona Financial Theatre
Feb. 17 | Las Vegas, NV | The Theater at Virgin Hotels
Feb. 18 | Albuquerque, AZ | Revel Entertainment Center
Feb. 19 | Denver, CO | Mission Ballroom
Feb. 21 | Kansas City, MO | Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland
Feb. 23 | Austin, TX | ACL Live at Moody Theater
Feb. 24 | San Antonio, TX | Tech Port Arena
Feb. 25 | Irving, TX | The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
Feb. 26 | Houston, TX | 713 Music Hall
Feb. 28 | Oklahoma City, OK | The Criterion
March 1 | St. Louis, MO | The Factory At The District
March 2 | St. Paul, MN | Myth Live
March 3 | Milwaukee, WI | Riverside Theatre
March 4 | Chicago, IL | Riviera Theatre
March 5| Detroit, MI | Masonic Temple Theatre
March 7| Indianapolis, IN | Murat Theater at Old National Center
March 8| Cleveland, OH | The Agora
March 9 | Cincinnati, OH | Bogart’s
March 11 | Montreal, QC | MTELUS
March 12| Toronto, ON | HISTORY
March 14 | Pittsburgh, PA | Roxian Theatre
March 15 | New York, NY | Terminal 5
March 16 | Boston, MA | Roadrunner
March 17 | Mashantucket, CT | The Premier Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino
March 18 | National Harbor, MD | MGM National Harbor
March 19 | Philadelphia, PA | Franklin Music Hall
March 21 | Charlotte, NC | Blumenthal Performing Arts Center – Belk Theatre
March 22 | Jacksonville, FL | Florida Theatre
March 23 | Durham, NC | DPAC
March 24 | Atlanta, GA | Fox Theatre
March 25 | Orlando, FL | Hard Rock Live
March 26 | Fort Lauderdale, FL | Broward Center for the Performing Arts