This is the second Next Music from Tokyo show I’ve attended. This time I specifically took time off work so I could stay up late for it. That’s how great I thought the last show was. Now, of course, it’s all different bands this time but having looked up their youtube videos, they all sounded pretty good. I also got ear plugs which I forgot to bring, of course. Here are my thoughts on the show.
First up was the hard rock band, This is Japan, a 4 member group with two guitarists (one of them also the vocalist), a bassist and drummer. They played a solid, loud and energizing set but for whatever reason the crowd was pretty shy and barely anyone moved. Maybe a bit of head bopping. Considering how crazy the audience was at the last NMFT show, I was surprised that the audience wasn’t displaying the same amount of energy as the band was giving. The lead singer, Sugimori Jack, who was wearing a Deadpool shirt, talked a bit in English and mentioned poutine, which as usual in Montreal will get cheers at least.
The audience activeness did improve with the second act, Hitsuji Bungaku, a 3 member band. Their lead singer, Haiji (Heidi?) sang with a lot of emotion and the band certainly had nice variety with both soft and more lively songs. Haiji pretty much sounds the same live as on the youtube videos, if not better. There is a really nice quality to her voice, not cutesy but mature. The drummer was really focused and hit the drums with much ferocity. The lead singer spoke a bit of French to introduce the band, which was much appreciated.
The third act was Maison Book Girl in their white outfits. They don’t play instruments so their performance consists of dancing intricate choreography and singing in cutesy voices like most idol groups. The small stage limited their dancing somewhat but they did well with the space they had. They initially maintained their neutral facial expressions, which I think made them seem a bit too serious but maybe they usually perform that way. However, as the audience finally started to wake up and put their arms up for a few parts of a song, the girls started smiling. They finished strong. Even so I think parts of the crowd were unsure how to react but the music was catchy and definitely not your typical pop music.
I wanted to get their autographs but they seemed quite busy with photos. In order to take a photo you have to pay by buying a photo ticket (or whatever it’s called). This is a way for idol groups to make money because unfortunately they don’t make much money off CDs in the age of illegal downloads. In any case, I hope they get a decent chunk of the money I spent on their CD.
Next up was Jizue, a 4 member instrumental band who had performed at a previous NMFT show. They easily managed to get the audience going, which should be no surprise given their high level playing skills and their experience as veteran musicians. All members got their chance to shine. I think the pianist, Kie, is probably the most impressive but the drummer, Shin, also blasted out some ridiculous solos. He almost knocked over some of his equipment at one point from drumming so hardcore. There was at least one song where they all had their eyes closed while playing and seemed completely dialed into the moment. They could probably play their whole set blindfolded. They also had an interesting take on a Disney song (which is included as bonus track on their latest album). I took a liking to their music while checking out youtube videos but listening to them live is so much better, it was an almost unbelievable next level experience. This is absolutely a band that must be experienced live.
The last band to go had to do so because they actually only arrived partway through the show. I don’t remember all the details mentioned by the organizer but I believe they had a gig in another city away from Tokyo and they rushed to get a flight to make it for the Montreal show but then ran into problems with their instruments and merchandise getting lost. Luckily it seemed like the merchandise was found as they did have some stuff to sell at the venue. Toranoko Rammy had to do soundcheck after Jizue finished their set before they could start their performance.
This band performed exceedingly well as the final act because despite being jet-lagged and tired, they played with a crazy amount of energy and had persistent smiles the whole time. If their situation hadn’t been explained, I would not have suspected a thing. They all wore red shirts and dark pants and the lead singer danced around with a fake chicken. Their stage presence totally blew up the venue and this was following an excellent performance from Jizue. An audience that was overly self-conscious and inactive at the beginning of the show was jumping, bopping and waving their arms like crazy. The audience even demanded an encore, which Toranoko Rammy happily obliged, although I’m sure they were expecting to get some much needed rest after playing their planned set.
Besides the two EPs below that I got, they also had an album selling but I only noticed it after the show ended and didn’t get a chance to buy it. Their amazing performance made them very busy at their merch table after the show.
Final Thoughts: Recommended!!!
The setup time between acts was fairly quick and the show ended some time after 12:30am. From an audience perspective, Toranoko Rammy and Jizue got the best responses. For me personally, Jizue and Hitsuji Bungaku most suited my musical tastes. They were the most interesting to me from a musical perspective but the other bands were all great too. Maison Book Girl was the first jpop idol act to be booked by the organizer, Steven Tanaka. I hope it’s something he continues to try out. Perhaps he could bring some hip hop acts too one day. At least it would save a bit of money on flying over instruments.
There seemed to be less people at this concert compared to volume 8 and the audience was uncharacteristically subdued (by Montreal standards at least) for the first few acts. I just hope that Montreal can do a bit better with the attendance and do Steven a solid by spreading the word more.
Toronto and Vancouver fans have a lot to look forward to in Vol 9. Don’t miss out! You’re going to have an amazing time, guaranteed.