Underground Idolatry

By admin • October 2nd, 2016

mbg

The main reason I’m holding the tour twice this year is because I really liked Maison book girl’s music and I had a hunch they would blow up in popularity fairly soon. So if I waited until next May it would probably already be too late and sure enough 2 weeks ago Maison book girl went from underground idol group to signing with a major label. Their major label debut concert is in November, a month after NMFT9. It’s a one-man show (no opening acts) that sold out within hours of tickets being released. A couple years ago I was close to adding Suiyoubi no Campanella (Wednesday Campanella) to the NMFT7 line-up and had talked with Komuai back when the group was still relatively unknown. But I chose Atlantis Airport instead and figured I could just bring WedCamp on the next tour. But after a few months WedCamp exploded in popularity and later signed with Warner Music. Similar thing happened the year before with Oomori Seiko. So even though holding the next tour six months early has been a huge pain in the ass to organize, Maison book girl has vindicated my decision and I feel like a genius. LOL.

Mind you, I don’t go to Japan six times a year trying to discover the next big thing. I don’t give a shit about who’s going to be hot or popular because in general I can’t stand popular mainstream music. I try to find artists and bands whose music I love or at least thoroughly enjoy watching perform live. Most of the bands I like are way too eccentric and not physically attractive enough (LOL) so they have a snowball’s chance in hell of signing a major label deal. But a few underground bands I really like have potential to crossover to the mainstream and I try to get them to Canada before they do because after they sign with a major label they become way too expensive to invite… AND… their music frequently changes for the worse (watered down) to appeal to a greater number of people (eg Kinoko Teikoku, Akai Koen, Ame no Parade). (note: I still like KT, AK and AnP’s music but greatly prefer their earlier works)

If the Steven Tanaka from three years ago built a time machine and traveled to the present I’m sure he would gladly risk the temporal paradox to kick my ass because three years ago I totally despised all aspects of Japanese idol culture. I hated the fact idol groups like AKB48, Momoiro Clover Z, C-ute, Morning Musume etc were dominating the music scene with their senseless and shallow, cookie-cutter, bubblegum dance pop. The fact they’d release CDs with 12 different album covers to try and rake in as much cash from the fans who were stupid enough to buy all 12 versions of the same album. Idol culture was totally commercial, symbolized style over substance and pandered to middle-aged men’s fantasies of illicit teenage romance.

Even underground live houses that specialized in punk/HC/noise had to surrender and start booking amateur idol acts in order to survive financially. But as time went on the cross-pollination of amateur idol groups with the underground music scene led to the development of increasingly more creative and interesting idol acts.
So with that long-ass-winded intro finally over, here are three underground idol acts I secretly like. LOL

ゆくえしれずつれづれ (Yukueshirezutsurezure)
yt

Yukueshirezutsurezure (YSTZ)’s music for the most part combines idol music with post-metal and skramz but other styles like EDM chime in for variety. Their first mini-album “Antino未deology” is one of my favorite releases for 2016 with my favorite song being “つれづれ賛歌” followed by:

and

I don’t like their follow-up single as much since it doesn’t have as much rawness or ’emo.’ wwww
But YTSZ were unequivocally awesome when I saw them live in August.

img_5176

I’m even considering inviting YSTZ to NMFT10 and talked to Komachi (the blonde one) about potentially bringing them to Canada. Komachi reminded me of someone but I couldn’t remember who when I was talking to her. Then afterwards it hit me that she looks exactly like one of the original members of the idol group Hauptharmonie… except maybe taller.


Hauptharmonie

Hauptharmonie’s music takes idol music and blends it with a myriad of styles including: UK Rock, ska、guitar pop、Anorak、emo、Balkan Beat、bluegrass、Shoegazer (this info is taken straight from their homepage).

Now my good friend Geoff Spence (aka VP of NMFT) always shakes his head and rolls his eyes at my newfound acceptance of underground idol music. But guess what Geoff!! The song in the video should sound familiar because it was written and arranged by one of your favorite bands, KAGERO! Hauptharmonie are also the only idol group that will be participating in KAGERO’s FUZZ ‘EM ALL FES 2016. In fact Hauptharmonie will perform a separate band set with KAGERO (just like Maison book girl x CHAOTIC SPEED KING).

Hauptharmonie’s live shows are pretty rambunctious with the crowd going totally apeshit.

I actually went to a show at Shinjuku LOFT where Hauptharmonie performed and the crowd went bonkers. At one point the entire crowd was doing a collective headbang in unison with the girls (just like in the link). And then Maison book girl went on and I felt sorry for them because how the hell do you go on after something as crazy and high energy as that? But guess what? The crowd went twice as crazy for Maison book girl. I couldn’t believe it because their music wouldn’t seem to have as much potential for hyping the crowd and the members have a relatively cool and nonchalant demeanour on stage. But yeah, MBG killed it but I guess most of the credit had to go to the audience who really knew how to stir shit up. But they were pretty tame during the next idol group so credit to MBG too!

Now the way Hauptharmonie are now is actually quite different from how they used to be just half a year ago. They only have two original members left and they completely overhauled their musical style as well. Here is what they were like before:

Now is it just me or does the blonde ex-member in Hauptharmonie (小川) look exactly like the blonde member (小町) in Yukueshirezutsurezure?

hana-equal-komachi

Ogawa Hana left Hauptharmonie right around the time YSTZ was formed. Hmmmm.
Actually, I think it’s just a crazy resemblance because Komachi in YSTZ looks a bit taller and lankier than Ogawa.


校庭カメラガール (Koutei Camera Girl)
kouteka

Now Koutei Camera Girl is actually a collective consisting of two units:

1. KOUTEI CAMERA GAL: currently 2 members (ramy t talata and pataco & pataco)
2. KOUTEI CAMERA GIRL ZWEI: 4 members (Molmo Mol; Shugashu Lala; NonoLuLu Remeru; Whoa Whoa Toumie)

One of the girls, Molmo Mol, in KCG Zwei also used to perform solo:

Of the two groups, personally I prefer KC Gal’s music by far because it has a sweet underground hip hop vibe whereas KCG Zwei is basically techno. Fave song is “Hoppy and Champagne” It has a simple, chill, soulful, atmospheric beat similar to one of my favorite posse cuts. (Though I like the B-Money mix even more).

Although! I have to admit KCGZwei put on the more fun and entertaining show:

Before they split up into 2 groups, Koutei Canera Girl were pretty awesome as well:


Before I end this post I guess I would be remiss if didn’t mention anything about BiS and BiSH.
Four years ago, the first time I watched a show where an idol group performed was when BiS shared the stage with Kinoko Teikoku, Passpied, and Sebastian X. I remember telling my friend Sharon it would be my first time seeing an idol group perform live. But Sharon corrected me: “BiS aren’t idol. They’re ‘anti-idol’.”

So I checked out some of BiS’ PVs and yeah they acted punk and shit but “P’shaw. Whatever, Sharon. This is still idol bullshit to me.” LOL
At the show (High Apps Vol 9) I was mainly there just to watch Kinoko Teikoku who I was bringing to Canada (NMFT5).
BiS went on before them and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention to their performance but I did notice how buck wild the crowd went in showing their adulation. To the point that I realized that fans definitely seem to enjoy themselves a whole lot more at idol events than they do at indie/underground rock shows. A lot more crowd interaction and benign ‘mayhem.’
But after the show still zero interest in idol or ‘anti-idol’ music.

BiS more or less started the whole ‘anti-idol’ movement and paved the way for a slew of underground idol groups like the three groups mentioned above.

The above video is pretty interesting and has English subtitles (activate the CC button).

BiS’ collaboration with Hijokaidan:

One take home message from the video above: Koshoji Megumi (the blonde one) of Maison book girl was a member of BiS and a FEARLESS stagediver. I remember her performing with Oomori Seiko as a back-up dancer and she went nuts jumping into the crowd and then hanging upside down from the ceiling pipes for half a song. She’s matured quite a bit and restrains herself when performing with MBG but maybe if we get her drunk enough in Canada we can coax her into showing us her stage diving prowess.


She’s so genuine and down to earth and probably my favorite member of Maison book girl but they’re all super nice.

After BiS disbanded (resulting in offshoots LUI FRONTiC Matsukuma JAPAN, Maison book girl, BILLY IDLE, Pla2me), their management created a new group named BiSH (Brand New Idol Shit).


I hate to admit it but the song “DEADMAN” and it’s PV are pretty dope especially the hilarious ending.

Goddamanit this post was long.

Oyasuminasai.


Addendum.

I’m not sure how much I enjoy ゆるめるモ! (You’ll Melt More!)’s music but their eccentric member Ano is the 2nd coming of Mariko Goto if she were completely stoned.


^ This series absolutely cracked me up


しまった!!くそ!!!

Thanks Chris! I totally forgot about Oyasumi Hologram.
I actually haven’t seen them live yet but have seen live videos of them.
They’re definitely one of the cooler underground idol acts. Their collabs with Have a Nice Day! +/- Nature Danger Gang are insane!
And they’re tight with Maison book girl which is nice (covers of MBG’s “my cut”)

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Comments

Steve,

It’s good to know you warmed up to idol groups. I myself have a huge dislike for the 48 groups now (I admit, I did sort of like them a little way back when) but I can dig some of these new groups. I have never heard of any of the groups you posted but I will give them a try! In the underground category, I dig Oyasumi Hologram who I think you already know, and last time I saw Bell Ring Shoujo Heart (with Chiina!) they were a RIOT – hands down coolest show I’ve ever been to, but remember: I never got to see Midori when they were around 🙁
If my cred is gonna dip any lower, I absolutely adore dempagumi.inc. Their music is subpar sometimes but I love Nemu to pieces.

Again, fantastic choice with MBG especially with them going major label. I could see few other idol groups being comfortable in your lineups except them. I think they will be a huge hit. They did a small show in Shibuya sometime last year that I checked out, and I took my first idol cheki ever with koshoji. I doubt I’ll see them in that type of venue again.

I’m living in Japan now so FOR SURE I will be at any Japan tour final this time around.

Chris

Yooooooo! Chris!!!! I always love reading your great comments! I totally forgot about Oyasumi Hologram and edited the post to include them.

Bellring are probably the most respected/popular underground idol unit right now. I saw them perform at Shimokita Shelter with Maison book girl but only caught part of their set bc I had to leave early. To be honest I haven’t followed their stuff much bc I haven’t taken idol music too seriously until more recently but yeah I should look into them because most of my friends think they’re the best DIYidol group around. Yeah, I remember seeing a clip of Nemu at Mogra a few years back and thought her stage presence was cool https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okPFKy1aanc The NMFT8 tour final is Nov 10!! See you there! I should be able to get you on guest list

*shakes head and rolls eyes*

Ha ha!

That Hauptharmonie song with Kagero is actually pretty decent. It sounds exactly like a Kagero number with vocals….and the vocals aren’t all that bad. Similar in style to Momochan perhaps.

That older Hauptharmonie that you posted was probably one of the worst things I have ever heard. Yikes!

yep. funny. i’m with you. 3 years ago, i would’ve told you how much i hated idol music. i think it started to change with mariko goto and her contribution to you’ll melt more! i loved ‘you are the world’, but probably wouldn’t have listened to it if not for her song. unfortunately, their newer stuff doesn’t seem to be quite as good.

and thanks for the ystz recommendation. i had never heard them before but was completely blown away.

i wished i lived close enough to come see Maison book girl as i love their music as well. i hope they get as popular as they deserve.

and saw suiyoubi no campanella in san francisco. Amazing!

good luck with the show!!!

Nice! I need to get to listening to oyasumi hologram’s new material. I had their first album for awhile but it never stuck until recently. I thought they fit the NMFT vibe pretty well, and I never knew they were that tight with MBG!
That show I went to was a year or two ago so I can’t imagine how BellRing are now. There was a huge turn out just for them when I saw them, and Chiina and everyone else was blown away haha. Some of their songs are pretty catchy but it’s really the stage antics that blow me away.
I WISH Nemu still did events like that! I would so be there. Koshoji and them are all pretty tight with some of the dempagumi members, too, at least according to all the pictures I see 😛

Nov 10 is the day after my birthday so yes, PLEASE, count me in, guest list or not! I would owe you tremendously if you ever stopped by Guam haha. If you can’t it’s honestly no trouble, just as long as I can get a ticket somehow(lawson, email, whatever) shoot me an e-mail or facebook or something about the details. Good luck with the Canada tour!

Great picks! I would totally be on board with an appearance from YSTZ next time. Even better, if you were to put on a Canadian leg of the Brand-new Idle Society tour (with LUI FRONTiC, Maison book girl, BILLIE IDLE etc.) that would be about the greatest thing ever.

By Ronald Luc on October 6th, 2016 at 7:32 pm

I really like the list of idols that you put up. I would be so excited to see more idol performances in upcoming shows. There is definitely a lot more to idols than the mainstream stuff. If I could I would suggest listening to some of these groups that I enjoy
-Malcom Mask McLaren
-BPM15Q
-KOTO
-Q’ulle
-Passcode
-Electric Ribbon
-エムトピ emutopi

I also listen to underground Idol groups way too much lol. Ayumikurikamaki is one of my faves not mentioned here. I think they are signed to a major now but their music is still worth checking out. They might be a little on the cutesy side but the bear outfits have recently been retired. Their live shows are pretty energetic anyway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqZpMW9C0_A&feature=youtu.be&t=18m22s

Based on the response to Maison Book Girl I look forward to the Next Idol from Tokyo tour in 2017! 😀

So first off, thanks so much for bringing out Maison Book Girl to NMFT9. Was at the Vancouver show and man, they kicked so much ass. I was already a fan of them and this just cemented how good they are.

But ALL the bands were amazing at the show.

Would be awesome to bring out Oyasumi Hologram. I think they would be very well received.

Yukueshirezutsurezure would be cool too.

 

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