2012.09. 15&16 Eternal Rock City (Reviewed by Geoff Spence)
Oooooh SH*T!!Eternal Rock City is an annually recurring indie music festival curated by Yuya Tsuji (20 y.o.). The festival began in 2010 and has grown substantially each year.
2010 line-up: CoverAge / キドリキドリ / 真空ホロウ / the SHUWA / Buffalo'3 / BYEE the ROUND / butter butter / MONICA URANGLASS / moja / Large House Satisfaction / リリィノート / ヘンリーヘンリーズ / イェン・ツー・パオ
2011 line-up: ZAZEN BOYS / the telephones / KING BROTHERS / nhhmbase / THE★米騒動 / about tess / URBANフェチ / Wienners / 嘘つきバービー / 快速東京 / GARI / キドリキドリ / Cathy lost one's apricot yesterday / 虚弱。 / QUATTRO / クリープハイプ / COLD KITCHEN、Psysalia Psysalis Psyche / thatta / sisi / 6eyes / JABBERLOOP / the SHUWA / the chef cooks me BAND / The John's Guerrilla / sleepy.ab / 太平洋不知火楽団 / The DARARS / Turntable Films / CHARLTON / THIS IS PANIC、direction of the chord / TWO FOUR / Naked blue star / HaKU / butter butter / Buffalo'3 / Half-Life / he / ヒツジツキ / Brian the Sun / pegmap / ポッグカウチナゲット / HOLIDAYS OF SEVENTEEN / memento森 / moja / lines / Large House Satisfaction / THE ラブ人間 / wozniak
This year's line-up was even crazier with >100 bands and >30 DJs over 2 nights at 6 venues (7 stages) in the Red Light District of Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo.
I've met Yuya Tsuji a few times and he happens to be a huge fan of the NMFT project and the shows we've held in Tokyo. This fact is evidenced by the inclusion of NMFT alums hyacca, チーナ, 赤い公園, sgt., and uhnellys this year. Akai Koen had to cancel their performance; however, OWARIKARA were added to the roster as a surprise All-Star "Crazy" opening-act to start off Ero Fes 2012 at 945am!! (Last year the big name band opening the festival was the telephones)
Since there were so many NMFT bands representing at this festival and a ton of other great bands I desperately wanted to attend this event. UNFORTUNATELY, I couldn't get time off work and I had to very regrettably miss out.
LUCKILY, my mellow my man Geoff Spence planned a trip to Tokyo around this time and has written a review so we can experience Ero Fes 2012 vicariously through his words.
Eternal Rock City - Day 1
The first band that I really wanted to see at Eternal Rock City (EroFes) was Otori. They were playing at Shinjuku Motion at 1:10pm. Even though EroFes started at 9:00am, I knew I would have to pace myself over the weekend so I took a pass on the early shows. (editor's note: what?! you skipped out on OWARIKARA?! hahaha) When I arrived at Motion the venue was already packed. The first thing that struck me about this live house was how incredibly small and intimate it was. Otori had just begun when I arrived and I made my way to the front of the venue to take in their set from up close. Otori were fantastic. Singer Sae Kobara prowled across the stage for most of the set like she was stalking the audience. The band was tight even though they are still quite young. After their set I decided to head down the road to Family Mart to grab a beer and onigiri prior to the start of THE★米騒動 (The Rice Panic)'s set, who were on next at Motion in 40 minutes. As I returned to the venue I noticed a fellow gaijin loitering outside the entrance to the building in which Motion is located. This man looked familiar, and a had a somewhat disheveled appearance...........as if he had spent the prior evening drinking until the sun came up. It had to be Ian Martin I thought to myself......I introduced myself and we chatted for a bit. Apparently, he HAD been up all night drinking until the sun came up. Ian is the man behind Call and Response Records which has put out albums by NMFT alumni Praha Depart and Hyacca, as well as another band I really like, Zibanchinka. He also writes for the Japan Times, promotes shows, and is extremely knowledgeable about the Japanese music scene. It was great to finally meet Ian. He is a fantastic guy.
Ian said he showed up to see Otori, however, he couldn't get in because the venue was full. When I tried to get in to see THE★米騒動 (The Rice Panic) the venue was still full and I had to miss their set. Actually, many other shows at Motion were at capacity during EroFes, fortunately, I didn't have any interest in any of those shows. Motion is a great venue, however, I think it might be too small for a festival such as EroFes....at least for some of the acts that were booked for the venue. I ran into Sae from Otori in the lobby and asked her if I could buy an Otori CD. She said they sold out all the copies that they brought to the show. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate when bands run out of merch at their shows. Especially CD's. It's not difficult to bring unsold merch back home with you........just bring more with you to the gig. (unfortunately, this has happened quite often with many bands on the NMFT tours as well, leaving fans disappointed). Fortunately, I was able to pick up Otori's CD at Disc Union a few days later. (editor's note: I saw the Rice Panic last night and they f*cking RULED! Definitely a future NMFT band. Sae from Otori actually works at Shinjuku Motion and about tess' guitarist Takuto is Motion's booking agent. NMFT bands have to limit how much merch they bring to Canada due to luggage space and hassles from customs)
Next up at Motion were The Mornings. I hung around until The Rice Panic's set ended and the venue emptied a bit. I have heard/read quite a bit about The Mornings from both Steve and Ian and I was highly anticipating their performance. When the guitarist starting playing Telephone Number by Hyacca during the sound check it was sign that this set would be a good one. The Mornings put on a highly energetic and memorable performance. The Mornings and Otori were definitely two of the biggest highlights of day 1.
The Mornings had finished their set at 4pm and I decided to grab something to eat prior to watching Kagero at the Loft bar stage at 4:55pm. I didn't know much about Kagero prior to EroFes, however, I did watch one of their PV's the day before and they intrigued me. They are an instrumental band that plays a sort of jazz/punk fusion, somewhat in the same vein as Midori. Except their sound is a little more mature than Midori, and the vocals are replaced with some killer sax. Here is their PV for the song Gas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcnARXJNY50
Kagero put on an amazing performance and really blew me away. They ended up being one of my favourite performances during EroFes. The are fantastic live. Each member is an extremely talented musician.
After Kagero had finished their set there were no other bands that I was familiar with that I had any interest in seeing for the next two hours until About Tess took to the stage at Motion. Since I was at the Loft bar stage already, I decided to walk over to the Loft main stage and check out Jabberloop who had already started their set. Jabberloop play a sort of smooth jazz that was a bit too much like adult contemporary music for my liking. I couldn't get into their music at all. Especially, after getting pumped up by Kagero's high energy performance........this smooth jazz just started to kill my buzz. Time to hit Family Mart for another beer and head to another venue. (ed note: lol!)
I decided to check out the Ruido K4 venue next since I wasn't exactly sure where it was and I was planning on seeing sgt., OUTATBERO, and Tricot there the following day. The first thing I noticed when I entered Ruido K4 was this was another great venue with a raised stage that makes for excellent sight-lines. The second thing I noticed was how much I disliked the band that was playing. Brian The Sun was performing when I arrived at Ruido K4. Their music lacked soul and testicular fortitude. I could only stomach two songs before I had to leave. (ed note: lol!)
I then headed over to Marz to check out the venue and a band that Steven has praised, Sebastian X. I have previewed their music a few times and I have never been able to get into this band. They just don't do anything for me. However, I thought perhaps if I saw they live....maybe I would be persuaded. Nope. Not my cup of tea. The venue was nearly full and they did have a lot of support from the audience so I guess they are doing something right. (ed note: SebX are a band I used to like a lot back when they had a more raw, soulful sound. Right now their music is way too polished.)
I headed back to Motion about 20 minutes prior to About Tess taking the stage just to ensure I got in. About Tess are a six piece instrumental band with two drummers, two bassists and two guitarists. I walked right up near the front so that I could get a close inspection of guitarist Takuto Uzuno's guitar picking. About Tess completely filled the small stage at Motion with their six members. They looked rather slick all dressed in black and delivered a kick ass set. Takuto's guitar playing was very impressive. A girl standing in front of me was going mental for the entire show........when Takuto reached out and touched her face I thought she was going to faint. lol. All in all a great set. This is a band that I feel is definitely best experienced live. (ed note: about tess is one of the LOUDEST bands I've ever seen live. Takuto would love to bring about tess to Canada and said he'd even lighten up the roster to make it less expensive for me)
Next up at Motion were Suiseinoboaz. They were good but I wouldn't say they were great. I decided to head over to Marz halfway through Suiseinoboaz's set and check out Wienners. I haven't really listened to much of Wienners music, but I thought I might like them. In hindsight, I should have stayed at Motion for the rest of Suiseinoboaz's set. I didn't care for Wienners at all. (ed note: Really?! Wienners are like a next gen Polysics. I think they're pretty badass.)
All in all day one of EroFes was a bit hit and miss for me. Excellent performances by Kagero, The Mornings, Otori, and About Tess.
There was also an all night party at EroFes from 11:00pm to 5:00am at Motion/Marble/Marz with a bunch of bands and DJs which was apparently quite good according to Ian; however, I had to get some rest and did not attend.
Eternal Rock City - Day 2
This was the day that I most excited about. So many bands that I already like, four of them NFMT alumni, all playing on the same day. I started the day by arriving at Motion prior to 11am to catch 385. It felt a bit odd at first watching a band in a live house so early in the morning.....but after the first sip of beer it felt....normal. (ed note: Geoff is turning into Ian!) I was already a fan of 385 prior to seeing them live for the first time. It was great to finally have this opportunity. The only downside was that their set time conflicted with Chi-na's set time and I wanted to check out both bands. I ended up watching the first half of 385's set and then headed next door to Marz to catch the last half of Chi-na's set. 385 were very good.....hard hitting music with excellent muscianship, however, I found that Miya's vocals, which consist of alternating gutteral screaming and high pitch squels, does get a bit stale. I can understand why Steven has been hestitant to invite them on one of his tours. I do think they would be very well received though if they ever did play in North America.
When I got to Marz to watch Chi-na the first thing that I noticed was the large Canadian flag sticker affixed to the front of Kyoko's keyboard. That was a very nice touch! I managed to catch the last four songs of Chi-na's six song set. The four songs that I heard consisted of three songs off the new album, plus a personal favourite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jqe37hxUUQ Chi-na put on a fantastic performance and they had most of the audience spellbound. I got the feeling that the people in the audience that liked Chi-na REALLY liked Chi-na......including a couple of older gentlemen who had creepy perma-smiles on their faces during the entire performance. A review of their performance, including set list, can be found here (in Japanese): http://blog.livedoor.jp/erofes919/archives/17739522.html
I stayed at Marz to catch the next band Gekitetsu. The place filled up quickly to what I suspect was close to capacity before Gekitetsu hit the stage. Many of their fans were adorned with at least one piece of leopard print apparel. I had heard that the singer of Gekitetsu has excellent stage presence, so I had some mighty expectations of him....and he did not disappoint. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy from the first note of their set. It was a high energy show with an extra helping of swagger. The singer did not stop moving throughout the set. When he was not singing, he would be dancing or wildly flailing about the stage. Their music does not have a lot of variety, however, they are a lot of fun. The highlight of the set had to be when the singer left the stage momentarily and returned with a giant stuffed tiger and a grappling hook attached to some rope. He through the feline into the audience, who held this big cat aloft over their heads. He then climbed on top of the stuffed tiger and had the crowd carry him near the back of the venue. He stopped just short of the balcony and launched the grappling hook up into the balcony and then proceeded to climb up onto the balcony. Very entertaining.
Next up at Marz was Moja performing a floor set. I decided to go outside for some fresh air and some refreshment prior to Moja's set. When I returned the place was pretty full and I couldn't get very close to the band who had set up in the middle of the venue. Their show was solid and fun, however, all of their songs sort of blend together and start to sound the same.
After Moja's set I decided to grab a bite to eat. I decided to eat at an Indian restaurant in Kabuki-cho that served naan the size and shape of tennis racquets. As I was eating my butter chicken and naan I noticed some guy walk past wearing a beanie. The weather outside was really warm, probably around 30 degrees C. I thought to myself "who would wear a beanie in such hot weather?!?". Then it occurred to me that it must be Kimo from Hyacca......I have never seen him NOT wearing a beanie. I shouted "hey Kimo" from my seat by the open door of the restaurant.....he turned his head and then kept walking as if unsure of where that voice was coming from. He later asked me at Motion if that was me that called out from the restaurant and asked how I recognized him. I joked with him that it was because of his impeccible fashion sense.
After I finished my lunch I headed over to Loft bar stage to catch the hardcore punk band Deepslauter. These guys put on a great performance. The singer is mental. As soon as the band launched into their first song the singer leaped onto a railing that separates the dance floor from a slightly raised level and he walked across the entire length of it while singing/screaming. When he got to the end of it he jumped into the moshpit and kept singing/screaming/moshing for the rest of the song. If you like hardcore punk music then I highly recommend this band. As good as Deepslauter were, I decided to leave their set early to check out Usotsuki Barbie who were playing on the Loft main stage. The room was absolutely jammed packed for Usotsuki Barbie's set. They are definately great muscians......but I found their music to be a little underwhelming and a tad disappointing.
I then headed over to Ruido K4. Viridian were about to go on. I have never really gotten into Viridian, however, I thought they might be decent live. They were pleasantly surprising as a live act. Really mellow stuff, but the singer has a great voice and after listening to some heavier bands earlier in the day it was a nice change. (ed note: viridian were better as a 3-pc with no bassist. They played with much more intensity back then before adding a bassist and developing a warmer, mellower sound.)
Prior to sgt. taking the stage a couple came up to me and asked me if I was from Canada (I presume my Toronto FC jersey prompted this question). I said "yes, I was". They asked me if I knew the Zoobombs. I responded that I did and that I have seen them live in Canada. They also asked me if I knew Praha Depart. I said that I saw Praha Depart on the NMFT tour last year. It turns out that this couple is from Hokkaido and are fans of Praha Depart. They flew in from Hokkaido for the weekend to take in EroFes. They explained that, sadly, Praha Depart doesn't play in Hokkaido anymore (at least two members of Praha Depart are from Hokkaido). Praha Depart - if you are reading this......your fans demand a gig in Hokkaido! I asked this couple if they had heard of Hyacca. They said "no". I said they must not miss Hyacca's set at Motion later in the day. They promised they would attend.
sgt. came on stage and blew everyone away. I think they only played three songs. Each song being quite long, however, sgt. songs don't drag on and become boring like some other bands lengthy numbers tend to do. They take you on a pleasurable journey that you wish would never end. When I saw sgt. perform at NMFT they really amazed me. They upped the ante even further with this performance.
After sgt. was Outatbero. I only stayed for two of their songs as I wanted to ensure that I made it into Motion for Hyacca's set. The two songs Outatbero played were quite good, and I was glad that one of them was this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Nah-udVTPg which I was already familiar with and quite enjoy. As good as Outatbero were, Hyacca are one of my favourite Japanese bands and I did not want to take the chance of missing their set. When I got to Motion I was disappointed to find out that they were running behind schedule. This was the first instance in a day and a half that a set did not start on time.....which is actually pretty good I think. This meant that I got to see Clean of Core perform their entire set. They were surprisingly really good. For some reason I had a pre-concieved notion that I wouldn't like them. However, they were great. An instrumental 3-piece that actually plays 5 instruments at certain points. The bassist and guitarist each play keyboards AND their main instruments at the same time during some songs. If they did this while hamming it up and mugging I would probably think they were acting like a bunch of douchebags trying to show-off, however, they seem like a humble bunch so this doesn't come across as a cheesy gimmick.
Next up were Hyacca!!! They were introduced by some dude with a towel draped over his head and face who did some sort of weird rapping/chanting into the microphone. Once Towel-man finished his bizarre intro and the band started their set, Towel-man decided to dive into the audience by launching himself off of the railing at the front of the stage. Towel-man slipped when he tried this stunt and did a face plant on the floor right in front of me. He got up slowly and stumbled off the floor. The venue was quite full for Hyacca's set, which was great to see, and they had a nice little mosh pit going that I was in the middle of. About three songs in I felt someone crash up against me and fall to the floor. It was Towel-man! This time he was just lying there and wasn't getting up. Instinctively, I reached down and picked him up so he wouldn't get trampled on. Towel-man was a big dude, Tanaka-sized. I scoured the audience to see if I could find Ian Martin and get a hand carrying this guy off the floor. I found Ian and waved him over and we carried Towel-man out into the lobby. Dude was pretty hammered. I then ventured back inside to the front of the stage and continued to enjoy watching Hyacca slay. A couple minutes later I felt another thud on the dance floor.........it was Towel-man again! I reached down again and picked him up and dragged him back outside. This time I sat him down on the stairs that lead outside so he could get some fresh air and some water. I think someone took care of him from there on in as I didn't see him again until after the show. Most of us have been there before..... a little too much to drink....I just hope the guy didn't hurt himself too badly. Hyacca were awesome, and foturnately, I was going to watch them play an hour long set the following day. I ran into the couple from Hokkaido after the show and asked them what they thought of Hyacca's set. They said that it was crazy and that it was one of the best performances that they saw all weekend.
After Hyacca's set was done I booted it back over to Ruido K4 to catch Tricot. I was worried I wouldn't get in because I saw more people wearing Tricot merch during the past two days then any other band. Luckily, the venue was not full when I got there and Tricot had not gone on yet. Tricot came out in mask's to begin their set.....not sure what that was about.......but one thing that I am sure about is that this band was extremely tight for such a young band. I was seriously impressed. Their songs were a bit hit and miss with me. Some of their songs I rather like, such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdU8PKK3VS4 and then some other songs not so much. I do suspect that this band will probably get quite big in the future.
About half-way through Tricot's set I decided to head over to Loft and end the night taking in the last high of Uhnelly's performance. They put on an entertaining show playing mostly party anthems. The crowd was dancing and it was an excellent way to end an excellent two days.
Thanks Geoff for the fantastic review! I wish I could have been there too! Can't wait for your Hyacca / tacobonds /MIR review coming up!