August 1, 2011
Live @ Tennoji Fireloop (04/02/2011)
During my time in Osaka I spent way more time enjoying the sites and taking it easy rather than when I went to Tokyo last year and went to a gig every night. My first gig was actually supposed to be Friday, but I ended up having other plans. On the 2nd of April I had 2 shows to go to, one to see a friend of mine, Natsuko, performing under YeYe, and the other to see a bunch of great bands play all night from 5PM to 4AM. However, I ended up thinking up my situation and since location from my house to the places where the concerts were held was a huge factor, I ended up backing out of the latter choice, especially since one of the bands performing at 1AM on the all night roster ended up deciding to play a set at the gig with YeYe, too. So that sealed the deal for me to just attend one gig and keep up with the “taking it easy in Osaka” vibe.
Fireloop is a club not to far from the busy Tennoji station, located closer to a smaller station on the train line called Teradacho. I arrived a bit early to get something to eat and walk around the area a bit. It was a small, peaceful little town but while walking after the station, I immediately saw the huge sign for fireloop that looked to be located just beneath the station. Upon arriving about an hour later, though, myself and a few other people were shocked to realize that the club had actually moved. I panicked a bit since I couldn’t read the signs very well, but realized that the new Fireloop was situated just across the old one, in the basement of a building.
The staff was quite nice and the “new” Fireloop was actually really great. There was a small area behind the audience where the bands were selling goods, away from the crowd but not too cramped in like some live house setups I’ve seen. Furthermore, the toilets were actually really nice and usable. The stage was raised quite a bit, but not so much that I felt like I was at a festival and the place was small enough that from the back you could still feel pretty close to the band.
My friend Natsuko, who is the vocalist for the Senkou Riot 2009 band concentrate on popping, opened the show with her acoustic set under the moniker YeYe. Bias aside, Natsuko’s soft, whisper-esque vocals coupled with her intricate guitar work makes for a really pleasant sounding harmony. Her work is very simple, and on stage she gave off the vibe that she was rather shy, but the melodies she made using the guitar spoke otherwise and really showed she was a quite seasoned musician.
The next act to go on was the 3-boy 1-girl outfit called the Dim. They played some simple mix of pop and rock’n roll with a tad bit of folk in there, but nothing out of the ordinary. I could tell the band was quite young and they didn’t seem as used to the stage as the other musicians. The vocalist had a lot of potential though, I could tell she was just starting to break out of her shell. She had a great voice, singing quite well in English, but there was a bit of something holding her back. The band only played about 2 songs, but a lot of people seemed to like their set.
Next was a band that blew me away, a young quartet from Osaka who have played with quite a number of reputable bands lately, the -probably-named-after-a-Quruli-song ピアノガール (Piano Girl). These four dudes tore up the stage despite looking no younger than myself. Their drummer especially was beating down on the drums like a maniac, something I can always appreciate. Their vocalist was a bit whiny, but I can tell this band is gonna go places with a great performance like the one I saw. Their music was a bit emo, punk, and had those twangy guitar riffs ala the band apart but a bit more edgy and young with their sound.
clione index came on stage without me noticing since I was grabbing Piano Girl’s CDs and talking to Natsuko. One man stood on stage with a guitar and started playing a riff. I waited for some time for the other members to come on but they didn’t, and I realized this was a true, “one man live”. So how interesting can a one man guitar band be? Well, clione index would play a beautiful melody then overlap it with other riffs and play off of those loops. He kept his feet as busy as his hands working the pedals to keep loops in check. It was very ambient, shoegazey, stuff but I could tell everyone was quite engrossed in his sound. It was something I couldn’t keep a smile up for, it just kept me deep in thought, and the music evoked some really deep emotions. He really brought out everything with his guitar, I’m sure anyone would think one man on a guitar would be boring but when alone, you really focus on the sound of that one guitar and nothing else, and it brings you a lot closer to the music.
Afterward, I was a little disappointed when I saw another solo act come on stage to sound check. I was hoping for another band to lift the dense, somber atmosphere that clione-index had created.
I felt pretty bad about thinking like that especially when I realized how interesting 蜜 (Mitsu) was when they came on stage. They were a duo made up of vocalist, Yuuri and vocalist/acoustic guitarist Ryo. They played the most entertaining show I could ever possibly think was possible coming from a really simple lineup. It was their stage performance, not just the music, that made the show so fun. Yuuri was always hopping/skipping/dancing on her side of the stage while she sang instead of staying rooted to the floor. The music was also lively and interesting, something that I was surprised they could conjure up with just an acoustic guitar. The serious tone of clione-index was turned upside with Mitsu. I just couldn’t help but wear a huge smile across my face their entire set.
The night was starting to wear down but my excitement was about to reach its climax when I knew that 東京カランコロン (Tokyo Karan Koron) was going to come on stage. I loved their quirky take on pop so much that I actually wrote a blog post on them on this site before, so I can probably save time describing their music and getting straight to their performance. They were great that night, and during one of the interludes the bassist ripped open a melon-bread package with his teeth, commented on how great it was, then the band got right back into playing the end of the song. They were all really colorful on stage, and I was surprised that with all that goes on in their music they pulled off live renditions of their songs so well. They even went so far as to bring a little toy drum, amongst a plethora of other trinkets, with them to complete the sound done in some songs.
The organizer’s of the event, Brian the Sun, were a band hailing from Osaka that actually represented the area in the first Senkou Riot band competition in 2008, and took home one of the top prizes. I knew a lot of people had come to support them(at least nearly everyone that came to the live house when I did told the staff they had come to see them upon entering, and their list of reservations was quite long). I had heard the one song the band contributed to that year’s senkou Riot CD but other that that I didn’t know anything about them.
They weren’t the greatest band ever live and I still find their music to be so-so after seeing them close out the event. It was great to see so many people come out and support them though. The audience was twice as energetic as they had been for all the other bands combined, so it was nice to see the crowd finally get excited about something. They were sort of like the heroes of the young music scene in Osaka, or at least that’s how I saw it.
After playing their encore I realized it had gotten really late already and I had quite a long way to get back home. Natsuko from concentrate on popping left right after the show since she had to get home all the way back in Kyoto. I remember her saying “Densha ga yabai!” as she made for the exit, but I’m sure she made it in time.
I also got to talk to the keyboardist from Tokyo Karan Koron when I got one of their shirts and I felt like it was a good and bad thing, since it was just impossible not to develop some kind of crush on her from seeing her band put on such a great performance and being so pretty at the same time. I was supposed to catch the other event going on in Namba that ended at 4AM. Tokyo Karan Koron would probably be catching the train in about an hour to play their set over there.
My own densha was rather “yabai” as well but I managed to find a train headed home in time and walked down a dark, scary, street, in the middle of the night and managed to get home right as clock struck 12.