Since 1996, Japan Nite has been showcasing both big-name Japanese artists and acts rising up in the country’s music scene at SXSW, followed by a tour across the United States. After celebrating two decades of shows in Austin last year, the 2016 edition of Japan Nite picks up right where it last left off, introducing fresh-faced Japanese performers to North America while also bringing along some bands who have charmed Texas in the past.
This year’s Japan Nite showcase is set for Friday, March 18 at Elysium (705 Red River), the event’s home for over ten years, and features the SXSW debuts of Tempalay, REATMO, Atomic Stooges, Rei and DEXSTRINGs, along with the triumphant return of jungles!!! from Red Bacteria Vacuum and KAO=S.
Tokyo trio Tempalay has been making waves in the capital’s live music community over the last year, filling up venues across the city thanks to their woozy psychedelic sound with tropical touches. Formed in 2014, the band soon earned a spot at one of Japan’s most celebrated summer music festivals (Fuji Rock Festival) and released their debut album From Japan this January. Tempalay have become one of the outfits heading up an emerging lo-fi rock boom in their home country, and their shows as part of Japan Nite mark their first trip abroad.
Other first timers set to step under the Japan Nite spotlight include Atomic Stooges, an Osaka three-piece creating chugging rock complete with classic swagger. Shortly after coming together in 2013, they released a cassette tape via American label Love Panic Records, and their retro-tinged numbers earned them a spot alongside Tempalay at the 2015 Fuji Rock Festival. Tokyo-based human beat boxer REATMO, meanwhile, won the Beatbox Battle Championship in Boston at only age 19. He uses an elaborate set up of electronics to create complex, human-born original songs and covers, and he’s received a co-sign from Maroon 5.
Rounding out the Japan Nite newbies are two folksier acts. Rei started playing guitar at age four, and one year later fell for blues music, which has informed her fidgety guitar rock ever since. Yet she has absorbed all sorts of styles along the way, taking cues from artists such as Johnny Winter, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Beck among others. Rei released two mini-albums in 2015, and also played raucous sets at Fuji Rock Festival, Rising Sun Rock Festival and celebrated Japanese radio personality Peter Barakan’s Live Magic event, wowing audiences with her mix of finger picking, thumb picking, and ad libbing. Music runs in the blood of all the members of DEXSTRINGs, whose singer Aisa is the daughter of Iwasawa Satsuya of influential rock duo Bread & Butter while guitarist Taka is the son of beloved Japanese guitarist Dr.K. The quintet play alt-country and bluegrass-tinged numbers, and have a flare for live performances.
Japan Nite also boasts two SXSW veterans who have gotten the crowd at Elysium fired up in previous years. Hailing from Osaka, jungles!!! features three members of the band Red Bacteria Vacuum, a high-energy rock outfit who are no strangers to SXSW either. This new project played Elysium in 2014, and their ferocious guitar playing had the packed floor bopping around madly. Finally, trio KAO=S return to Austin, bringing their combination of traditional Japanese music and modern rock with a dash of theatrics – and sword dances – with them. They’ve toured Europe, including a stop at Paris’ Japan Expo, and have also been written about by CNN.
Following Japan Nite’s annual showcase at SXSW, the Japan Nite tour gets under way as Tempalay, REATMO and Atomic Stooges hit the road. Those three rising groups will handle the first four dates, and will be joined by veterans KAO=S and jungles!!! for the finale in San Francisco. Complete information is below.
Japan Nite 2016 at SXSW
– Friday, March 18 at Elysium (Austin, TX) featuring REATMO, Tempalay, Atomic Stooges, Rei, DEXSTRINGs, KAO=s and jungles!!! from Red Bacteria Vacuum.
Japan Nite 2016 Tour
– Sunday, March 20 at Knitting Factory Brooklyn (New York, NY) featuring REATMO, Tempalay and Atomic Stooges.
– Monday, March 21 at The Crown (Baltimore, MD) featuring REATMO, Tempalay and Atomic Stooges.
– Tuesday, March 22 at Double Door (Chicago, IL) featuring REATMO, Tempalay and Atomic Stooges.
– Wednesday, March 23 at Federal Bar (Long Beach, CA) featuring REATMO, Tempalay and Atomic Stooges.
– Thursday, March 24 at Rickshaw Stop (San Francisco, CA) featuring REATMO, Tempalay, Atomic Stooges, KAO=s and jungles!!! from Red Bacteria Vacuum.