After three long exhausting days in Tokyo, one day of pure relaxation in the quiet Fukui-prefecture, and one too many train adventures, I made it to Okayama on a bright afternoon on Tuesday. I was just in time to get some lunch with my friend Masako and eat by the riverside with other patrons enjoying the Ohanami(flower viewing). In this very short time I grew fond of Okayama city and how it maintained this balance between the busy city of Tokyo and the calm, laid-back atmosphere of Fukui-city the day before.
I was even more astounded when the Live House I was going to that night was so close to my hotel. After browsing Tower Records for awhile it was already time to check out the concert at Crazy Mama Second Room.
Tonight’s live wasn’t headlined by a band that was widely known or an upcoming sensation in the underground scene. I found out about this event at the live house and decided to give it a try. Most of the bands were female fronted and it wouldn’t hurt to give some new artists a chance.
Particularly, I was most looking forward to a band called Homme that was active in the Tokyo scene. They were almost like a girl version of Yura Yura Teikoku, and they seemed like the one act I was guaranteed to enjoy that night.
At the entrance I saw Homme’s merch table and was tempted to get some CD’s right away but decided to check out their set before anything. There were a bunch of bands on the bill that night and I didn’t know any of them but I waited in anticipation for the bands to come on stage.
The floor was nearly empty except for me and a few others that had come to see the bands tonight. Later, I learned that a lot of the audience were in the other bands themselves, so I felt even more disappointed in the turn out.
Jagli was the opening act of the night. They were a young, 3-piece girl band, probably barely out of high school, and they played really simple pop-rock. They were still very shy, barely saying anything during the MC’s, but it was commendable that they were playing shows at their age and trying to make a name for themselves.
Next was i-Rabbits. The vocalist and keyboardist was female but the rest of the band was male, so I guess not all the bands were made up of just girls . You could tell immediately i-rabbits were a lot more expreinced then some of the bands here. Even with a small crowd they had everyone take a few steps towards the front and threw out a towel to some of the audience members. They sounded great and put out a great performance even if there wasn’t a huge turn out, so I thought that was really cool of them. They usually play gigs in Tokyo and had a one-man live the next month. Their sound wasn’t anything special, something you hear from a lot of female fronted bands with a rock-edge to their music, but the amount of energy in their performance made it fantastic.
After i-rabbits was Spancle, a 4-piece girl band who were on tour for their first mini-album that they had put out in February. I saw their music video before seeing them live but wasn’t too impressed with their music. They got up on stage in matching white dresses, which was adorable(similar to the picture). They seemed a bit shy too but I found myself enjoying their set quite a bit. They ended their set with “Sunset”, this amazing song that was brilliant when they performed it live. The climax at the end that they built up to was explosive and even if they weren’t smashing their guitars at the end it was quite a way to end their set. Later, when they handed out their survey’s before the next band’s set I noticed other people also circled “sunset” in the question for what their best song was that night. Nice. (for the record, I later got a hold of their album and the single that I saw the music video for was actually the weakest song on the album. Don’t judge a band by their single!)
Homme from Tokyo (left) Homme at Crazy Mama (right)
By this time I had scratched off half of the bands on the roster and was eagerly awaiting homme, Mongolian Spot, and Ginback. I took a look at the homme flier I received at the entrance and couldn’t make out the band members on the xeroxed paper. The next band that took the stage was made up of three guys, the only all-male band that night. I knew this wasn’t ginback and, even if I didn’t understand what they said their name was, I knew they didn’t say Mongolian Spot…Was this really homme, the three piece girl band I had been looking forward to all night?
Yes, it was. I found out that what they said their name was, pronounced “Omu”, was indeed, the same band on the flier. So there were two homme’s out there. Is it pure coincidence that at an all girl’s band concert I would confuse the one with all girl members for playing? I don’t know, but I felt pretty discouraged after that. This “other” homme wasn’t memorable to make up for it either, playing generic pop-rock that didn’t sound too different from hundreds of other bands out there. Maybe they had something going for them but I was too tired and disappointed to notice that night.
It would take a lot to not just wake me up but pull me out of the slump homme had put me in. The one band you are looking forward ends up being…not the band. Mongolian Spot, even if I couldn’t find their homepage prior to the live, magically ended up being that pick me up I needed. They were a cute all girl trio that looked a little bit older than the opening acts, Jagli, and were still as cute as a button getting up on stage. Even if their music wasn’t going to get them to be named the next Chatmonchy, they had this endearing charm that I could not get over. They were a riot during the MC’s, and, as a first, I think even the sound tech’s and bartenders were in a laughing fit at one point, not to mention the members of i-Rabbits in the audience watching them. Even if I didn’t understand much of what was going on I still couldn’t help but crack up with everyone else. They always had a smile on their faces and even seemed to chuckle a bit when they started a song, but could be taken seriously when playing on stage. They were adorable, funny, and their music was perfectly acceptable.
Ginback were the headliners for this show and I heard samples of their music when I first checked out this live. It was your standard pop-punk with English lyrics sung with a heavy accent but I was hoping these three girls would deliver something more when performing live. I was really tired by this time and kind of hungry, and it felt like the night was never going to end. One guy who had been standing alone in the center suddenly whipped out a towel from his back pocket, went to the very front of the stage, and sang along to all of their songs. It was awesome. I watched from the corner, exhausted, for their short and final set of the night. I didn’t get much from their performance, but again, I think I was just overly exhausted and the sound system was starting to sound stale. It was a long night.
This wasn’t fully realized until I looked at my watch after their last song: it was past 11 at night. Even with all the encores and hanging out after gigs in Tokyo I never left the club past 11. I gathered my things, thought about checking out the merch, then passed and walked into the elevator with a few other kids on their way down and out. There were less than 5 of us in the elvator and I figured this wasn’t far off from the number of attendees that night. (the floor didn’t seem that empty, but I know that a lot of people who were in the audience were band members)
Even if the Live wasn’t mind-blowing like the nights before it was interesting to check out some new bands I had never heard and get a look into the local scene, despite having to sit through a lot of stuff I didn’t really care for. Despite how disappointed I was with some bands, especially homme, I did manage to get Spancle’s CD later after the guitarist e-mailed me(I wrote on their survey in English and left my e-mail) and it turned out to be a great release.
Even if Okayama’s music scene wasn’t as lively as Shimokitazawa’s, I felt like I had seen a good portion of up and coming bands that will sadly, not get as much attention as they deserve. The gig also helped me to relax from the busy days I had in Tokyo and enjoy a Live where everyone knew who everyone else was. The concert was a great opportunity to listen to bands I wouldn’t have heard of anywhere else, and I think the night was definitely worth it.