The last few weeks saw an estimated 75,000 people converge on Austin, Texas for one of the country’s biggest music and media festivals, SXSW. Filmmakers, tech gurus and, of course, musicians from all over the world came to show us their stuff, bringing make-it-or-break-it attitudes to the heart of Texas in an effort to score that big deal. It’s crazy, crowded, and sometimes downright bizarre, but it has become a staple of Austin music culture and possibly the most anticipated event of the year.
Shonen Knife is a band that should be on everyone’s ‘to-see’ list. With over 3 decades of music and stage performance behind them, you may come in with a set of expectations, but you’ll leave with an experience that’s outclassed by none.
The Silver Dollar Room is a venue which places the stage in the middle of a deep room, facing into the bar, offset by 2 live-streaming TV’s at either end. Taking to the stage Naoko, Ritsuko, and Emi were met with the cheers of a sold out crowd. Though I could not see the ends of the bar for the fans, I’m sure not an eye was turned away from that stage, and it remained that way the entire night.
Naoko led the trio through the night, her strong, yet playful vocals, bringing us her love of music thoroughly infused with a passion for life and food, accompanied by fingers deftly plucking away at a silver guitar full of glitter.
Ritsuko to my left, caught between sharing her lyrics with the crowd and rocking to the beat, her hair a constant sea of motion, the ‘hair dance’.
Behind the two, but with a presence that brings her just as much to stage front, Emi delivers the drive, the beat of Shonen Knife. An ever-expressive face, she promises to take you forward without ever looking back.
One of the most fun bands I have ever had the pleasure to seeing live, Shonen Knife delivers their own brand of Rock: no pretense, no props, just honest, true, fun rock & roll.
Delivering a 17 song performance, with the briefest intermission I’ve ever experienced before encore, these girls know how to make your night. Be sure to come check them out on their 2014 Overdrive North American tour. This isn’t a show to miss!
What do get when you mix the dry, Arizona heat and four days of non-stop shopping for the latest and greatest in otaku wares, anime & cosplay, and amazing Jrock concerts? Saboten Con in Glendale, Arizona, of course. I had the privilege to be able to attend this year and can I just say that it was an absolutely AMAZING experience. I had the chance to jump into the beautiful chaos as media with this year’s three music guests: Kazha, Iruma Rioka, and MoonStream.
Let me just start off by saying that I REALLY wished I could have done more with Kazha, but because of event overlaps and my early departure I missed a lot of content with them, including the Q&A, signing, and photo-op. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed what I did get to attend.
Kazha are Kazuha Oda on vocals and bass, Hideki Matsushige on guitar, and Masaya Kondo on drums. And to be quite honest, I hadn’t listened to them once until a few months right before Saboten, which I now regret. I went into their concert completely unaware of what kind of live show they put on, while everyone surrounding knew what was about to happen and had prepared for impact.
Unlike other Jmusic concerts I have attended, there wasn’t quick or even often movement back and forth all over the stage during the time I could stay and watch. Everything was very calm and relaxed, but exhilarating and beautiful at the same time. Both the music and lyrics blended perfectly to create balanced pieces of art. The melodies were very rich. And, unlike the regulars of the con, I was blown away, left in the dust of the meteor that had hit. Definitely a performance you can go in knowing nothing, but leave an instant fan. I just wish I could have stayed through the whole concert, but unfortunately awkward panel scheduling left me scrambling.
Luckily, I was able to catch all of the acoustic performance. And, despite Kazuha’s cute headgear, the acoustic performance was just as beautiful as the performance the night before, especially the acoustic of their cover for “Don’t Stop Believing.” I do think that was the most beautiful sing-along of that song that I’ve had the chance to be a part of. Hopefully, some day in the near future I can have the chance to attend a full performance. I would LOVE to be able to see a whole show without other things interfering.
Next up is Iruma Rioka. Vocalist Iruma and guitarist Nemu (Nemu-sama as he asked us to call him after the chants of Nemu-chan) make a fantastic pair who not only look good, but also sound phenomenal! With this duo I went in completely blind, no pre-listen or research, just kind of hopped in and hoped I would enjoy myself. And I think I did more than that (Guys, I was dancing and jumping in heels. Not something I have the natural ability to accomplish). The concert was fun and energetic. Iruma danced around across the stage and catwalk, with Nemu sometimes joining her.
Unlike the other concerts, the chair barricades were taken down, allowing for everyone to be right up close in the action. Before long the room was a cheering, dancing mess (in the absolute best way possible). The only calm moments existed for Iruma’s keyboard pieces, which were absolutely lovely. Then it was back to being wild.
And some exciting news: later this year Iruma and Nemu will be joined by Jill of Rose Noire as their violinist and begin touring as Hollow Mellow. Iruma stated that she has been wanting to incorporate violin more into their music, and with Jill joining the team it is their perfect chance. I greatly look forward to seeing the band back in the US and hope to be able to attend the performance at that time.
And lastly, the whole reason I left my little home in Oklahoma to fly all the way out to the deserts of Arizona: MoonStream. MoonStream is a collaboration between Satsuki and Tomo Asaha, together with Raanen Bozzio on drums, Poel on bass, and their mascot Apollo. This makes my second time to see them live and I had an absolute blast!
Starting off with the first track of Satsuki’s album Luminous, Twilight, MoonStream went full force into their performance. It didn’t take long for the audience to take to the band, joining in with the callback and following Satsuki’s actions and cheering for Tomo and Poel as they danced about the stage. Many, as I could tell, were prior fans and sang along with Satsuki (including me of course).
The band even gave us the pleasure of hearing some MoonStream exclusive tracks and the both pieces from Satsuki’s latest single, Lily. And of course, me being the crybaby I am, busted up crying when he played Brave (which became a personal favorite of mine the first time I heard it).
I already knew from prior experience that the show was going to be amazing, but it far exceeded my last experience seeing this band live. They played with much more passion and power. Many times I was on the verge of tears from just how well they were doing and how well the crowd reacted to them.
MoonStream, minus Poel who had to return home, also performed an acoustic set after all the contestants of the masquerade had walked the stage. Having missed the acoustic performance last year at Izumicon due to delayed flights, it was great to have a chance to finally hear it for myself. They even played Guren no Yumiya, which Satsuki had told us last year was a song he really wanted to cover, and Carving, a MoonStream exclusive song. And Raanen realized his dream of a hip-hop callout at an anime convention.
The night ended with the VIP event with a private acoustic session and a few rounds of drinks (virgin for this little baby). Followed by cheki and a little bit of partying afterward (I’m sworn to secrecy about some of what took place, sorry. But if you were there you know EXACTLY what took place). I even had the chance to chat with Satsuki a little bit during that time, just some small which was a nice break from my social awkwardness. Let’s just say I was a little sad to see the night end (AKA I was a gross, crying mess), but I couldn’t say that I didn’t have the time of my life getting to hang out with them again.
News from the MoonStream side: While it looks like this may be their only show this year, with Satsuki heading off on a European tour this winter for his solo project, MoonStream are working on recording tracks to compile into an album.
So, the overall rating: FANTASTIC. I really got to enjoy myself at this convention and seeing all these wonderful artists perform. Let’s hope that the near future will give me another chance to see them in action and share my experience.
|photo taken from babymetal.net|
Facts First: Montréal ROCKS.
Seriously and straight up.
|Photo: Sabrina Ramos|
BABYMETAL have blown up considerably since the release of their self-titled album in February. Widely accepted by the metal community, and entirely by metal musicians, BABYMETAL nevertheless continues to generate controversy. It was for this reason everyone was waiting for the crowd reaction at Heavy Montréal.
The final show on the North American leg of a World Tour, having just completed five American dates with Lady Gaga’s artRAVE extravaganza and a one-man in Los Angeles, BABYMETAL took the stage on Day One of Heavy Montréal (Saturday, Aug 9) at 1:10 PM. They were the second act up on a billthat included the likes of Overkill, VoiVod, The Offspring, Anthrax, Apocalyptica and Metallica.
|Photo: James C. Stewart|
BABYMETAL’s performance was early, unfortunately daylight, but this was BABYMETAL in Canada and who the hell would’ve thought that was ever gonna happen? So from far and wide BABYMETAL fans came, the unfortunate and the dim-witted and the noobs stuck in a sea of people beyond the gates, beyond security.
BABYMETAL took the stage on time, opening with “BABYMETAL Death”. It was authentically scary at the front; the crowd was rabid, and pits formed randomly. A wave of heat and brush-strokes of panic swept me at one point, and to have fallen in this press of people would’ve been a bad, potentially dangerous scene. This was fandom run amok. The crush was unreal, surreal. But in a super-positive way—pure joy. Only BABYMETAL and their perfectly honed brand of Kawaii-metal could see a mosh pit of hardcore Quebec rockers throwing kitsune-signs during a song about Chocolate.
|Photo: James C. Stewart|
Even with the minor technical difficulties and two poorly timed Walls of Death the set was high-test BABYMETAL. The Kami-band solo prior to “Catch Me If You Can” truly rocked with bassist and perennial favorite BOH mugging for the more-than-appreciative crowd.
|Photo: James C. Stewart|
|Photo: James C. Stewart|
|photo taken from babymetal.net|
By the end of “Catch Me If You Can” security had zapped the twisting horde with firehoses, the water immediately evaporating in the heat. At the BABYMETAL one-man in Los Angeles, Moametal over-heated, and had to be taken to the hospital for observation. While not hospitalized in Montréal, she clearly melted again. And it was easy to see why. Moametal rocked her little heart out, a true rock and roll soldier in bows and pigtails. Hybrid Japanese rock princesses of the 21st century, Montréal schooled Moa. How much can a kid take, right? Too much heat…too much love…
The YouTube videos sort of catch it, but having been there in the moment I can report the insanity was breathtaking, watching the guy next to you take a crowd-surfer’s boot to the face, smashed lip & grinning bloody teeth, “BABYMETAL, BABYMETAL, BABYMETAL…”
|Photo: Sabrina Ramos|
Which bring us to the final number of the day—“Ijime, Dame, Zettai”. Online there has been much written and many fingers pointed at Canada (just scan some of the comments in the WOD videos) for blowing what could’ve been a most epic BABYMETAL Wall of Death by running too soon. It should be pointed out that while there were a ton of BABYMETAL fans at Heavy Montréal, they hardly made up the majority of the 40000 fans at the show. I would’ve thought it was obvious when they blew the Wall of Death these were new fans, unfamiliar with the strange customs of the band’s Metal Resistance.
HEAVY MONTRÉAL SET LIST:
1. BABYMETAL Death
2. Gimme Chocolate!!
– Kami-band solo –
3. Catch Me If You Can
5. Ijime, Dame, Zettai
BABYMETAL will continue their World Tour in November performing shows for London and New York.
|Photo: James Stewart|
ViViD‘s Q&A panel was held Friday afternoon before their live. The band was already seated at a long table at the front of the room when the small but excited group of fans was ushered in. They all looked dashing and cheerful, flashing wide smiles at the crowd as we shuffled in. I took a seat at the edge of the crowd, trying not to be distracted by the wild Ken-chan lurking about taking pictures and futzing with the sound (as an avid AGENT, this was difficult for me). Shion of Babel Entertainment acted as MC and with an enthusiastic “Let’s kick it!” we got started.