By Brittany Wait
A girl sporting a leather jacket and ripped pants with netted stockings showing through the holes turned up the music. The entertainment was about to begin.
After performing privately in front of the judges, just like on American Idol, a select few contestants had moved onto the finals. The remaining six performers competed for trophies at I-CON’s “Anime Idol.” The competitors, dressed as their favorite animated character, performed a Japanese or American song of their choice.
First up, Thomas Lanigan, 21, of Levittown, performed “Starry, Starry Night” with consistent clarity, but cautious vocal range. He didn’t seem to step out of his comfort zone enough, but the audience voted him into the top spot and he walked away with a trophy.
The second performer, Michael Bonanna, 18, of Selden, wore sneakers, headphones on top of his red scarf and a painted red leather jacket. He asked the audience to “bob your heads, if you like it” and he started to clap. The audience began clapping to the beat while he belted out the lyrics along with the original artist. Bonanna was so enthusiastic that a member of the audience reclined back in his seat and bobbed his head up and down while scrunching his face with his eyes closed. One of the judges critiqued his performance by saying, “Wonderful performance and good song choice.”
Jackie Abarams, 23, of Massapequa, is taking classes at Stony Brook University, and decided to perform, “Catch You, Catch Me,” from the opening scene in Card Captor Sakura, a Japanese anime. She sang a fast-paced song with Japanese lyrics and delivered an energetic performance by dancing and getting the audience to clap. At one point she even did the “running man.” And she was dressed to impress. Abarams moved around in brown boots and pranced from one spot to the next in her jeans, black jacket and white blouse.
“You know what you’re doing,” said one of the judges, Kelli Butler, 27, of Scarsdale. “You really delivered that performance.”
Nicole Oliva, 20, a student at Five Towns College, sang without instrumental accompaniment a song from the Anime show InuYasha called “fuki mori,” meaning “deep wood” (she simply forgot the CD before she left the house). Oliva, performing in a flowery dress, white stockings just below her knees and white dress shoes with straps, began singing in Japanese. She wore a tiara with fabric vines and blue roses and made eye contact with audience members throughout her piece. She has a commanding voice, which caused the audience to fall silent. She finished it off by curtsying. One judge said, “Your voice is strong enough that you didn’t need a mic.” After that performance, the judges warned audience members not to hum during performances, because it distracts them from making accurate judgement calls.
The most interesting character of the day was Kevin Barry, 18, a student at Suffolk Community College.
“Think of this as my demo,” he said, just before his friend set up a camera to record his performance.
Barry wore a maroon-colored wig, the synthetic hairs up in a half-ponytail, along with blue Crocks and a matching blue top and bottom with red tape covering the edges of the fabric. He performed “Hi Touch,” the theme from Pocket Monsters Diamond and Pearl. During his performance, he sporadically threw his hands up, punched the air and put his hands over his heart. At one point, he threw the microphone up in the air and caught it again. His singing was choppy and could barely catch up to the fast-paced Japanese rock music. After his performance, the judge said that he was a lot of fun to listen to. But, in the end, he was only the runner-up and won a smaller trophy.
Last, but not least, Jessalyn DeJesus, 19, a student at Pennsylvania State University, sang “Love is War [Yamai ver],” by Supercell and Hatsune Miku. Wearing a black headband in her pink wig, a jean skirt over gray leggings and a black sweater, DeJesus had the audience clapping along to her “sweet voice,” which overlapped the soft music in the background.
At the end of the competition, the audience was supposed to vote based on the performer’s vocal chords and overall energy. But the observers mostly voted for their friends. The winner of the Japanese segment was Nicole Oliva and the runner-up was Kevin Barry. The winner of the American segment was Thomas Lanigan and the runner-up was Michael Bonanna. They each got trophies.
“I love singing in front of people,” Lanigan said. “This is my fourth I-CON. This one’s better than last year.”