2012.08.03 OWARIKARA / Akai Koen / KEYTALK @ Shimokita QUE

This review will be ultra short since I need to talk about RIJfes in the next post.I went to the show with Akiko who I met in Toronto last month one day before she had to return to Japan. She came all the way to Shimokitazawa from a small town near Enoshima. Although she's been to Tokyo a number of times it was her first ever visit to Shimokitazawa so we strolled around the area, had drinks at 3rd Stone Cafe and had some camembert croquets and yakitori at Torikizoku. Then we rushed over to Shimokita QUE. A bit of a surprise, OWARIKARA were the first to hit the stage. I didn't even know they had released a third album in May. They were powerful, loud and fast as well as smooth, incredibly tight and funky. Owarikara were already great when I brought them to Canada during the first NMFT tour. But that was before signing with Sony and three albums later they are even more polished, tighter (if you can believe it) and confident on stage. For the setlist and a detailed review of their performance check out Naka's blog.

Akai Koen batted second. Owarikara had the crowd warmed up well-done and Akai Koen scorched the livehouse down to ashes. 1. 副流煙 2. ランドリー 3. 今更 4. のぞき穴 5. ナンバーシックス 6. 塊 7. ふやける (see Naka's blog for very detailed review)

Definitely a darker and more powerful setlist than what they played at UNIT (which intentionally showcased their poppier side). Ending it back to back with "Katamari" and "Fuyakeru" they awed the crowd with bonecrushing fury. Chiaki stole all the highlights this time around: 1. Maisa asked the PA to raise her guitars. Then Nao asked for more volume on her drums. So Chiaki asked the PA guy to up the volume on her mic. The PA guy obliges and immediately after she walks away from the mic and starts talking to the crowd with her bare voice (without using the mic). That was f*cking hilarious and had the whole audience cracking up. 2. During "Fuyakeru" (last song), Chiaki from the left side of the stage lunged backwards into the crowd. She didn't make it far (few seconds) and walked back onto the stage. So she said "Let's try this again... this time carry me as far back as you can!" This time she was much more successful and she was surfing progressively towards the back. While this was happening everyone shifted their focus on Hikari and Maisa who were energetically roaming every inch of the stage creating a deafening wall of noise. When the song ended, Hikari, Maisa and Nao took turns bowing and exiting the stage. Maisa threw her plectrum into the crowd. The set was done Akai Koen had left the stage... but wait... where was Chiaki? You here some shouting and the audience turns backwards: Chiaki is standing on top of the PA booth right at the back of the venue waving with a big smile on her face. F*cking awesome!

KEYTALK had to follow the insanely great and energetic performances by OWARIKARA and Akai Koen. The curator knew what he was doing because KEYTALK rose to the challenge and carried the torch with confidence. When I saw the band for the first time ~3 years ago they were called real. Back then they sounded alot more like the band apart. After signing with KOGA Records and changing their name to KEYTALK they developed a more straightforward poppier sound but they always kept the aggressive, tricky instrumentation to show off their stellar musicianship. They brought more of a fun, party type sound than Akai Koen and OWARIKARA and had the crowd pogoing and pumping/waving their hands throughout the entire set. Maisa (Akai Koen) really enjoyed KEYTALK's performance and said they're the next generation ORANGE RANGE. Yeah I guess they have some ORANGE RANGE in them but they still have their roots in that mathy bossa nova sound akin to the band apart and susquatch. They can bring out the fierceness and intensity when they want but for the most part their music is quite "元気!”

It was a great show! Akiko had to leave early to catch the last train back towards Enoshima but she got to watch the entire show and I introduced her to members of Akai Koen and Owarikara. She had never heard of any of these bands before but researched a bit into them prior to coming and had a great time watching all three bands. The show was so much more energetic than she expected.

After the show I went to a great izakaya with Kubota (ex-manager AK & MOTFD) and Kotera (Natsumen's manager). The steamed clams and yakiniku salad were like a direct extension of the awesomeness of the show we had just watched. hahaha. Later we were joined by Chie (AK's A&R) and Maisa. When the izakaya closed we moved to an incredibly chill lounge and drank some more until 2am. It was nuts since Akai Koen had to drive out to Ibaraki for Rock in Japan at 6am and I had to get there pretty early too. I didn't have much trouble waking up but there was severe inertia in getting up out of bed to trek out to Hitachi, Ibaraki for RIJfes. I just missed out on one of the acts I wanted to see but that's a story for the next post. Damn, this entry was a lot longer than I expected it to be.