NMFT5: the recap
The tour was a blast! For me it may have been the most fun NMFT to date and it was definitely the most successful in terms of attendance with sold out shows in Toronto and Montreal. (Thanks everyone!!)
I wanted to recap the entire tour in one go but after sorting through almost 10,000 photos taken by me and my friends I've decided to split the massive post into multiple entries (too many good photos!)
But here are the highlights!!!!!!! :
Best Show: Toronto, the Rivoli May 18, 2013
The Montreal show was also spectacular with a fantastic crowd that was incredibly loud and energetic; however, the 2nd Toronto show was the apex. First of all, the show had a secret opening act: Kinoko Teikoku's front woman Sato aka Kugatsuhascome. She had the crowd mesmerized by the very first song: a chilling yet beautiful acoustic rendition of Kinoko Teikoku's "Eureka" Also, the Rivoli was PACKED. Waaaaaay past sold out (Rivoli's legal capacity is 170. However, it can easily hold 200 people with plenty of breathing room. We crammed in 255 that night. Shhhhhh! Don't tell the police. And we still had to turn away lots of people.) And the audience was AMAZING. Super LOUD with so much crowd surfing it was getting a bit ridiculous... to the point I had to warn the audience to tone it down a bit. Of course... they ignored me and we broke all sorts of crowd surfing records as mouse on the keys rocked the stage. The highlight was the crowd going mental and singing along to Kinoko Teikoku's "退屈しのぎ" What the hell?! The vast majority of the audience was non-Japanese but somehow a bunch of us managed to learn the chorus to "Taikutsu Shinogi" by the 2nd night and it was awesome (mind-boggling) to hear people singing along. All four bands KILLED it with Chi-na setting it off after Kugatsuhascome and each band pulling off magical performances again and again and again. The sound was a bit better at Divan Orange but Toronto May 18 had the most memorable show.
Most Popular Band: きのこ帝国 (Kinoko Teikoku)
This was also a tough call. Every band had their fans. It was チーナ's 2nd time in Canada. They already had a solid fan base and they gained even more fans with their infectiously fun and endearing performances. They sold out their merchandise EASILY. They even sold out of Chi-na spoons for chrissakes. SPOONS!! First of all what kind of band is crazy enough to think spoons would be easy to sell as merchandise. Secondly, how awesome must a band be to actually sell out of said spoons. Only チーナ could pull that sh*t off!! :)
mouse on the keys were the 'headliners,' the big kahunas, the most well-known of the four bands on the NMFT5 roster. There were definitely people who came to the shows specifically to watch motk without much interest in the other bands. Unfortunately, due to the length of time (~40 min) it takes for them to set up I was forced to put mouse on last each night to save time and they couldn't start their shows until just after midnight. And each night, without fail: Chi-na, harafromhell and Kinoko Teikoku would put on such amazing performances that almost half the audience would leave early; happy enough and more than satisfied with the first three bands that they didn't mind skipping out on motk (it doesn't help that mouse take forever to set up). If motk were able to go on 2nd or 3rd in the line-up would they have ended up the crowd favourite? They definitely got a raw deal having to go last each night but it was unavoidable due to their unusually long set-up times Mouse on the Keys put on JAW-DROPPING, masterful performances of the highest skill and it's a huge shame many people missed out on them by leaving early. Just watch the following clip to see how f*cking legend they were!!:
Harafromhell were my dark horse. Even in Tokyo they are complete unknowns in the indie scene. They're not elite musicians, Tatejima Yoko doesn't have the sweetest voice and at the time I invited them they only had one 4-song demo to their name. However, I fell in love with the simple yet extremely catchy and emotionally charged songs on that 1st demo and after seeing them live I was hooked. Tatejima Yoko is drop-dead gorgeous and a bit of an airhead (self-proclaimed) but in the most adorable way. Her wacky dancing, infectious personality and boundless energy on stage could put a smile on even the most morbidly depressed. I was worried that NMFT fans in Canada might not like them as much as I do but they were an unequivocal hit. Many people I talked to enjoyed all the bands but mentioned harafromhell and Kinoko Teikoku as their two favorites.
Each night Kinoko Teikoku consistently had the best or 2nd best crowd reaction. Their performances perfectly blended an occasional dark and serious tone with bursts of playful energetic freakouts retreating to periods of beautiful serenity then crescendoing into a massive wall of distortion and noise. Their music really grabbed the audience by the soul and seemed to resonate the strongest. The audience clapping and screaming after each song was almost deafening:
I can guarantee you I plan to bring Kinoko Teikoku back to Canada again in the future.
Most Memorable Performance: Harafromhell @ Divan Orange
Kinoko Teikoku's performance @ Rivoli May 18th might have been the best but harafromhell really stepped it up when given the prime (3rd) spot in the line-up at Divan Orange. They stirred the crowd into a frenzy with the biggest "friendly" mosh-pit of the tour. (All the mosh-pits during NMFT have been non-violent. i.e. Full contact but with no intention to harm.)
Both チーナ and Kinoko Teikoku raised the bar ridiculously high with fantastic performances and harafromhell just stood on their shoulders to maintain the level of quality and raise the drive and energy level even higher. Tatejima Yoko may have emcee'd with the poorest English skills of any band in the history of NMFT but she still managed to charm the crowd by trying her best ... in both English and in French.... but mostly in Japanese... hahaha.
Setlist: 1. クラスメイト 2. エイプリル 3. アパート銀河 4. new song 5. 最終回 6. マトリョーシカさん 7. れない。 8. 東京昆虫博物館
And the secret weapon was hooking Tatejima up with a Montreal Canadiens T-shirt which she unveiled halfway through the set:
Rocking the Habs T-shirt, bounding across the stage, contorting her body and dancing in her own unique Tatejima style she electric to watch. Kento Hara was just as dynamic on guitar and Kuroki Atsuro maneuvered the stage in a smooth, cooler fashion but playing with plenty of emotion. However, hidden in the back was Ishizuka, furiously pounding the drums to the point of exhaustion. And just when Ishizuka felt he was at his limit and about to faint he realized he still had the last song (東京昆虫博物館) to go which is the most brutal drum workout imaginable. If you don't believe me watch how hard and fast he has to kill the drums in this clip from Vancouver.
Ishizuka was dead from exhaustion but we managed to carry him to the bottom of the front stage for the group photo. Just look at the expression on his face... he has no clue where the f*ck he is at this point:
Most Important Person to Attend a Show: My Dad
My parents have known about the tour since jump but having read about it in the Japanese newspapers in Vancouver the last couple years my dad really wanted to see for himself what the concert was like. My mom protested telling my dad "not to embarrass Steven." But my dad really wanted to watch so he actually asked me for permission. :) I told him of course he and mom could both come and that I'd put them on guest list. My mom still didn't want to impose but my dad was happy to come although he insisted on paying admission. He also said he would just watch from the back so as not embarrass me. lol. So I put my dad on the guest list and of course he still paid at the door. He came promptly at 7pm for the door opening. Both me and Kubota (akak Hiro; ex-manager of Akai Koen and Mass of the Fermenting Dregs, who came to Canada with his wife Midori to help me with the tour) greeted him and kept him company till the show started. At the Rickshaw Theatre they have seating at the back and that's where my dad stayed for most of the night. Before introducing the first band (harafromhell) while on stage I gave a shout out to my dad and told him that I loved him. It was seriously the most mushy thing I've done for my dad in public. hahaha, Although attendance was sparse for harafromhell, it really picked up by the time Kinoko Teikoku took the stage and my dad was really surprised by how many people had shown up.
He liked all three bands he saw but his favourite was:
My Dad's Favorite Band: チーナ
So my dad had watched harafromhell and Kinoko Teikoku from the seats at the back but for チーナ he stood up to get closer to the stage. WHAAAT? I hope he didn't see me going nuts in the audience or crowd surfing. Actually... if I had known he had gone closer up I would have lifted him up to crowd surf myself. hahaha. Don't worry! I would never have let him fall. He commented on how much more fun it is to watch the bands from up close compared to sitting down. (No Kidding!!!) I'm super glad my dad had fun at the show. Of course... like half the rest of the audience... it was getting late... so my dad left after チーナ and didn't stay for mouse on the keys.... (DOH!!!) I think he would have loved mouse on the keys, but I'm actually surprised he stayed all the way till the end of チーナ. Anyhow, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
This is the end of the overall re-cap but I have tons of great photos from the concerts and off-stage so check the site frequently in the next few days for constant updates! (I'll be a LOT quicker with subsequent posts)