Steven Tanaka and all his helpers have organized face-melting, ass-kicking Next Music From Tokyo shows across Canada for many years and volume 10 continues the trend. The Montreal show sold out and I’m not sure how often that’s happened in the past. I admit I did not unequivocally like all five bands this time around but all of them put on crazy and energetic performances with lots of crowd surfing.
I was initially indifferent to the second band Bakyun the Everyday based on the few videos of them that you can find on youtube. At first I didn’t really like Nobumi’s singing voice but after hearing her live I have come to appreciate it. I do feel she actually does sound better live. As Steven says, Nobumi is not the best singer but she has a magnetic stage presence. She sings her lungs out like she’s just completed a marathon with every song. I wasn’t able to pay as much attention to the other original band member Yuji who seems to do backing vocals but he matched Nobumi’s energy with his guitar playing. The bassist was also really into the performance at one point taking his shirt off and throwing it into the crowd. The band as a whole plays their upbeat brand of music (classified as city punk) loud and fast. It’s the type of music that makes you smile no matter what.
I didn’t have any expectations of the third band Yukueshirezutsurezure / ‘Not Secured Loose Ends’ but they definitely blew away the crowd by going full throttle from start to finish. They seem to combine metal/hard rock with idol pop singing and occasional screaming. Shidare is the leader and she’s definitely a dominant presence with her screams and crazy antics. At one point she got off the stage and headbanged in the middle of the crowd. However, I actually noticed Cococo a lot too. She also put a lot of effort into her performance and hyping the crowd up with her wild arm movements. The other members, Tsuyame and Komachi seemed slightly more controlled (relatively speaking) but all the girls performed with boundless energy and enthusiasm. The group’s music is catchy, however, I am not a fan of baby/cutesy voice singing but that’s pretty much expected for this genre. Despite that I enjoyed their performance a lot for its sheer intensity alone. I’d say this was the most exhausting performance (in a good way) and well worth experiencing live for fans of the genre. I think they were the only group who actually sold out their CDs before the end of the Montreal show.
The final band of the evening was Yubisaki Nohaku. They were probably the band I thought I would like the most based on youtube videos. Indeed that turned out to be true. Not sure what genre they would be categorized as other than some sort of rock. The lead singer, Kana, plays guitar or keyboard depending on the song. I was mostly drawn to her and the drummer Yumiko the most but they’re all pretty charismatic. Junko did some crowd surfing and Yuko was pretty animated. I like Kana’s singing. She has really good control of her voice but also imbues it with emotion. She also varies the way she sings whether it be in volume or tempo. It was also nice to have a softer song in the middle of the set but otherwise they have songs that are just as loud as any other band. The audience demanded “one more song” from them and they obliged with more than just one. They ended the show on a high note for sure.
The first band The Taupe did a good job of hyping up the crowd. In turn the crowd responded well and certainly enjoyed their performance a lot but for whatever reason I didn’t really like their songs. But It was fun seeing the male singer almost standing on the hands of members of the crowd and singing at the same time.
The fourth band Hyacca seems to use a lot of dissonant sounds and after some musically repetitive sequences early in their set I kind of tuned out and needed to take a break. Admittedly at that point I was feeling fatigued so maybe I didn’t give them a fair chance. They were definitely a hit with the audience but I guess to me it just sounded too “noisy” for my tastes.
Final Thoughts: Recommended
Overall, compared to past volumes, I feel like there were more musically interesting bands in the previous two volumes and with more memorable drummers too. But there was certainly no shortage of talent in vol 10 and the intensity of the bands here easily matched previous volumes. Arguably this was the most animated Montreal crowd in my short history of attendance, which only adds to the experience. Regardless of whether I like all the music or not, the effort and passion is always evident and I can respect that.
Steven also announced volume 11 in October! Another year with two NMFT shows? Not sure how he keeps up the motivation to do this but it’s definitely something I look forward to.
A couple of random observations, at least two bands were giving the middle finger during parts of their performance, which I don’t recall any past bands doing. I guess it’s the equivalent of hand horns. Nobody mentioned loving poutine this time. Not that I care (not being a fan of poutine) but it is something that at least one band member has said in past volumes.