Recap: June 12, 2015: Sooooooybomb!!!!
Personally, this was my favorite NMFT tour so far.The line-up of bands was SOLID but more than that the camaraderie, dynamics and intangible aspects are what really made the tour so enjoyable. The private LINE chat between NMFT staff and the bands was both incredibly useful as a form of communication and legendary in the hilarity of its contents. For example, Ariga, guitar maestro of PENs+, became the muse, court jester and mascot of NMFT7. Members of otori and OWARIKARA started posting close-ups of Ariga's face on LINE chat, then everyone joined in and it got progressively crazier:
And this is just a fraction of the crazy Ariga pics and insanity that went on in our chatroom. One last photo of Ariga that personifies his awesomeness is him wearing his homemade Fugazi t-shirt. It's just a grey t-shirt with Fugazi handwritten in katakana with a cheap felt marker!! LOLZ!!!!!
Our first show was held at Soybomb HQ. Arguably the dopest music venue in all of Canada due its brazen underground vibe, the fact the bands play on a halfpipe with the audience surrounding them and because Jason and Paul who run the place are such easygoing straightshooters who are only interested in helping you put on a kickass show.
PENs+ were first up to bat. I wanted to get the show off to an energetic start and they didn't disappoint.
They started their set off with "rooftop" which is my favorite PENs+ song. It's their most aggressive song adeptly combining great melodies with chaotic hardcore energy and Ariga & Arai's sick guitar combo attack. This was followed by "旅に出たい、と言って" which sounds even better live especially the explosive bridge starting at 8:20 mark
setlist: 1. rooftop 2. 旅に出たい、と言って (Tabi ni detai, to itte) 3. in Philadelphia 4. SEARCH 5. サンライズ (Sunrise)
Half their set consisted of unreleased new songs! Love the guitar chord progression and soft yet speedy jazz drumming in the intro to "SEARCH." And the classic emo/HC feel of "Sunrise" peppered with modern tricky math instrumentation that scorches with almost as much hot fire as "rooftop."
At the end of the video you can tell that bassist Masato Hara is feeling unwell as he kneels on the ground barely conscious enough to perform. The claustrophobic nature of being encircled by the crowd, jetlag and the foreign environment caused Hara to have a profound panic attack and he wasn't able to continue performing. He did awesome until that point facing his anxiety and it never bothered his performance again during the rest of the shows on tour. Massive props to Hara for doing his best! But it's a shame the folks at Soybomb never got to see the final song. The pièce de résistance they were saving for last: a new song called "nagisa" that ends in a massive wall of shoegaze thunder and postrock chaos.
Here is a clip of "nagisa" performed in Tokyo in February:
They've been fine-tuning "nagisa' and it sounds better with each performance. The version they played in Vancouver was absolutely INSANE! The first half of the song is a bit lengthy but the second half more than makes up with it's infectious vocal harmonies and guitar adrenaline overload. I would have loved to see the Soybomb crowd go nuts to the ending of "nagisa."
mothercoat stepped up next to showcase their quirky weirdness, tight chops and hit-you-when-you-least-expect-it explosive power. setlist: 1. goodbye 2. nipple cider 3. trickster 4. u.n.o 5. gods 6. waltzheimer
I mentioned it in the clip above but Vincent Yip filmed all the footage seen in these clips at Soybomb. He did an amazing job of capturing the band, crowd and especially the atmosphere of the show. Thanks Vincent!!
mothercoat really changed the vibe with their unique quirkiness and funk. Jun's drumming is so effortlessly badass and creative it's a shame mothercoat doesn't showcase it as much in the newer songs compared to old. But the drumming at 9:50 mark is a brief example of how much he can shred on skins like it's nothing at all.
"trickster" has MAMMOTH power in its twin guitar wall of noise although that aspect wasn't channeled loud enough through the speakers. mothercoat played an abridged version of "trickster" sans the uber melodic outro that showcases Jun's fierce and jazzy drumming. But the abrupt segue into the mathy and emotive u.n.o was pretty damn brilliant and reason enough to cut "trickster" short.
mothercoat's superb musicianship shines on their new song "gods" and they ended their set with one of their all-time best songs, "waltzheimer." It's too bad the crowd didn't have the foresight to groove to the song the way the audience got down in Tokyo but the crowd did make lots of noise and fanfare at the end of each song.
However the folks sitting at the ends of the halfpipe were pretty comatose. lol. SORRY since a few of you are my friends. If you look at the clips these people sitting are almost all Asian. So you guys are making Asians look like lazy hipsters who are too cool to make noise or move around when the bands are giving it their all. ; )
The bands were killing it but the audience wasn't reciprocating with enough movement and energy so I took matters into my own hands. otori were up next and I would be damned if the crowd was motionless during their set!
So I introduced otori and to get the party started I crowdsurfed at the end of my introduction:
Vincent also had the sensibility to move to a spot where he could capture the more boisterous section of the crowd who weren't afraid to boogie down and jump around. Even if it meant shooting the band from behind. Near the tail-end of "suru communication" a few members started yelling "COMMUNICATION!!" in a mini call & response with Sae Kobara. I thought that was pretty awesome.
setlist: 1. 学習 (gakushuu) 2. suru communication 3. アティチュード (attitude) 4. 当たり障りたい (Atari sawaritai) 5. xxx 6. メタ (meta) 7. 反解釈 (hankaishaku) 8. 反転 encore: 9. 543
I love the angle Vincent got for the above clip getting right into Sae Kobara's grill. Props to the Asian dude wearing the Happy!Mari T-shirt lol! Props to Masaya (otori's bassist) for rocking the THIS IS JAPAN t-shirt. (THIS IS JAPAN are good friends of otori and I am actually considering them for NMFT in the future.) The new song "Attitude" is classic no-wave material that would make James Chance smile. I like how it has so much tension bubbling under the surface. It never explodes but has a subtle ferocity to it. "当たり障りたい" is so repetitive yet effective in how it teases you into eargasm when it briefly changes gears in short bursts. Audience members who don't speak Japanese trying to sing along by yelling "..ritai!!" was also touchingly awesome. The instrumental song "xxx" showed the audience that otori can get FIERCE and that Sae Kobara can get busy with the Kaossilator.
Jason Widra, owner of Soybomb said "this was the best thing ever." I agree. "メタ" has the perfect mix of blues, no-wave, noise, hardcore and raw emotion and despite it's instrumental simplicity it just builds and f*cking DETONATES at all the right moments. Arguably my favorite song.
There were a lot of nice T-shirts (including my own Maps & Atlases "owl" shirt that apparently Ariga also owns!) but my buddy Hastings won hands down with his Fresh Prince shirt with monster-sized photo of Will Smith's face. Tall lanky dude crowd-surfing and landing crotch then ass first into すごい目立つ crazy white chick was also priceless. LOL. The crowd really got buck-wild but not in a violent way so it was fantastic to see and be a part of. Note: I was the one who hoisted Jessica (Chinese chick with glasses wearing the black NMFT5 shirt) up to crowd surf against her will. LOL. She enjoyed the hell out of the ride though. :) The ovation at the end and the screams for an encore: "ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!" led by NMFT vice prez Geoff Spence was awe-inspiring especially when you consider that otori were only the 3rd of five bands and shouldn't get the opportunity for an encore. But as if we were going to disappoint the audience especially when I was probably the one screaming the most for an encore! LOL
FIERCE! otori set Soybomb off and torched the remains. How were we supposed to top that? How?!
So the next band had their work cut out going after otori's already legendary performance at Soybomb. The crowd felt sorry for the suckers. Little did they know what was to happen next.
I declared to the crowd that as amazing as otori's performance was OWARIKARA wouldn't lose to them and would raise the bar even higher by rocking the f*ck out of them. "Yeah sure Steve. Whatever dude. There's no way the next band is coming even close to touching otori's status." is what 90% of the crowd was probably thinking.
Even I wasn't sure OWARIKARA would be able to pull it off.
setlist: 1. 踊るロールシャッハ (Odoru Rorschach) 2. マッチメイカー (Match Maker) 3. swing 4. マーキュリー (Mercury) 5. 夜戦ちゃん (Yasen Chan) 6. ドアたち (Door Tachi) 7. ガイガンガール・ガイガンボーイ (Gigan Girl, Gigan Boy)
Whereas otori are a music hipster's wet dream with their cooler-than-thou style and raw-yet-refined underground aesthetic, OWARIKARA on the other hand are signed to Sony and have a mainstream, arena rock quality to a lot of their songs.
So OWARIKARA despite the soulful and catchy rock energy of "踊るロールシャッハ" got off to a bit of a weak start with the underground heads in the crowd. But with each song the raw intensity, power and soulfulness of their music and live performance gained more and more fans amongst the audience. By the end of "swing" and the beginning of "Mercury" the audience were totally into OWARIKARA culminating in this final song which was unequivocally the highlight of the night:
Here's Vincent's black and white version along with the entirety of "夜戦ちゃん" and "ドアたち."
So those who were skeptical at first began to realize that OWARIKARA aren't mainstream posers but are true artisans and virtuosos of unadulterated, psychedelic, progressive rock.
otori killed it but OWARIKARA resurrected Soybomb and made it its complete b*tch for eternity.
Atlantis Airport was the final band of the night. After the unbridled energy of the first four bands the more melodic and chill style of AA was a welcome respite... or so I thought. Atlantis actually brought quite a bit of intensity and energy themselves but overall the tone was more mellow and a good way to end the night.
setlist: 1. 光と影の間 (Hikari to Kage no Ma) 2. ナイト・オン・ザ・プラネット (Night on the Parade) 3. 映画の中の出来事 (Eiga no Naka no Dekigoto) 4. Over the Rainbow 5. AnTi Pop ARt 6. アメノヒ
encore: 7. なつめいろ
One thing I neglected to mention during OWARIKARA's performance was that Hiroko Sonezaki of Atlantis Airport actually crowd surfed during OWARIKARA's set!!!! I have no idea how it happened. Whether it was of her own volition or some of the band members or NMFT staff put her up to it under duress. Anyhow it was both surprising and awesome and I wish I had taken pictures or gotten video footage of it.
Maybe it was because the four previous bands kicked so much ass but Atlantis Airport seemed like they didn't want to let the crowd down and played with more pep than I'm accustomed to seeing. There were a few people who admitted that they just couldn't get into AA's music. Too poppy. Too schmaltzy. etc. etc.
But most people seemed pleasantly surprised that Atlantis had some prog in their pop and had more edge than expected. Bono's super muffed-out dirty bass tone in particular gave Atlantis a filthy sweet sound. And their occasional chaotic bug outs like at the 8:32 mark above.
For the encore Atlantis played "なつめいろ" which has a great acapella ending and some phat basslines. If Sone walked into the middle of the crowd to sing the acapella I think the crowd would have went nuts (something Oomori Seiko does for one of her songs).
Sone was easily the most charismatic spokesperson amongst the bands. It was hilarious to watch her forget she was in Canada and start speaking in Japanese. I think having so many Canadians helping out with NMFT who are fluent in Japanese gave Sone the sense that most Canadians knew some Japanese. LOL. Her sly comment: "Canada is good... better?... BETTER than America!" was freaking priceless. The flubbing of English actually improved the comedic timing!
The first show of the tour at Soybomb HQ was an unequivocal success. Advance tickets sold out at both the stores and on-line and we squeezed 210 people into the venue. Admittedly the sound is much better at Lee's Palace and Divan Orange but the DIY underground vibe, unique set-up and raucous Soybomb local crowd make it the most fun venue to watch a show in Canada.
Thanks to Jason, Paul and the rest of the Soybomb crew for being such gracious and easy-going hosts and helping us put on one of the best NMFT shows ever!