Tag Archives: rock

BIGPAPA aka BIGMAMA’s Tour Finale

BIGMAMA, a five piece rock-pop band based in Tokyo Japan, just recently finished their tour throughout Japan to celebrate the release of their latest album 君想う、故に我在り. They are made up of a unique composition for Japan, with a violinist being a major component of the band. They are considered to be an emo-rock band here in Japan, though in my personal opinion they play very pop-like tunes, with beautiful melodies and a voice that accompanies it wonderfully. BIGMAMA consists of; Kanai Masato (vo/gt), Kakinuma Hiroya (gt/vo), Yasui Hideto (ba), Higashide Mao (vi/cho), and Ibe Riado (dr).

Although their tour finale was dated to be June 15th, there was a separate secret tour finale on the 16th to celebrate father’s day. On this particular day, the band appeared not as BIGMAMA but as BIGPAPA, for…well, father’s day. On this special day in which we honor our father’s, I was invited to go see this band play for the first time.

 

To be honest, I have had no previous experience with this band. Aside from a couple of drinks and a long intoxicated conversation with one of the members on a cold December night and a copy of their latest album, my knowledge of this band was far from lavish. Yet, I found myself sitting on the 3rd floor balcony overlooking the arena and stage surrounded by friends and business partners of the band.

My first show. I was quite excited about this show, to be honest. After getting lost on my way to the Tokyo Dome Hall, when I finally arrived at my destination, I was welcomed by the sight of a myriad of youths sporting black tshirts with the bands name printed across the chest. I had listened to their songs before hand, and I quite like the album, but I was not expecting to see so many people wearing the typical attire one would don in Japan for punk band shows (ie Dickies shorts with the band tshirt and sneakers…clothes that show support for the band while still being comfortable enough to participate in moshpits and crowd surfing).

As I sat on the third floor balcony in my comfortable plush seat, I had a clear view down in the arena where people moved about, resembling the image of a beehive split open for viewing with the worker bees clustered in the small space provided. To be honest, it is quite disgusting looking. Humans are odd creatures.

As the arena lights began to dim, the crowd cheered and I sat up straight in my seat with anticipation rolling through my nerves. Each member walked onto stage, bowing towards the crowd before picking up their instruments in their designated spots. The lights went black and in the next instant, there was a blast of music and bright colorful lights painting the insides of the Tokyo Dome Hall.

The band introduced themselves at BIGPAPA, a different band from BIGMAMA, who came together today to play this show. The audience laughed and went along with their little charade of being BIGPAPA. I did not recognize most of their songs, though they played an exceptional show with an amazing light performance. What intrigued me more though, was seeing the crowd’s reactions to these songs. How people would sit on top of shoulders, singing on the top of their lungs until the climax of the song when they would thrust their bodies back as a sea of hands would reach up to support them, carrying them towards the stage before they rolled down into a black hole. While this seems to be a common act at punk show concerts, it was an alien spectacle for me to see so many crowd surfers during these catchy pop tunes. I quite enjoyed this gap of music and action.

In the middle of the show, the vocalist asked the crowd if it was anyone’s birthday. Hands shot up in the crowd and a path opened up like the red sea to lead the individuals up front.

“Staff, please detain these individuals!” Kanai said. Once everyone had been taken backstage, poppers were passed around. Soon, the birthday boys and girls were led up on stage where they lined up next to the band as the band began playing their birthday song. Higashide, closest to the group, made sure to smile and interact with them as she played the violin, sending girls into fits of tears and spreading grins across everyone’s face. At the peak of the song, an explosion went off as gold confetti streamers rained down into the arena. I quite liked this “tradition” that the band had, allowing their listeners to feel special on the day they were born. It was very different from many of the other bands I have seen.

The show ended before satisfaction broke surface, and the crowd attempted to start a slow clap in the dark. The slow clap would speed up quickly before dispersing into a million jumbled claps. Sitting above the crowd, it sounded like I was at the ocean, the waves crashing down onto shore. Soon the stage lit up as Kanai walked out onto stage. He spoke about his thanks for the fans and asked if he could play in the crowd. A cheer mixed with hysteric screams erupted and with that, he disappeared off the stage, reappearing in the midst of the crowd. He serenaded an acoustic ballad to all the fathers; thanking them for the support and unconditional love they provide their children. After the song, he returned to the stage through an arch the crowd created for him with their arms. A couple more songs were played before they waved their goodbyes, once again, disappearing off the stage.

Photo Jun 16, 8 18 59 PM[the view from the 3rd floor]

The crowd was still not satisfied as the ocean clapping began once again. Soon enough, they were rewarded for their long bouts of clapping as the band returned onto stage to make a couple of announcements. The re-release of their first three albums and a new single.

“And with the release of our new single,” Kanai teased the crowd. “We will also be playing at Akasaka BLITZ for three days in November to commemorate this release!” there was an outburst of cheers from the crowd. A few more words were exchanged before the band sprinted through the last 100 meters of their tour.

 

It was my first BIGMAMA show, and what can I say? I was not disappointed. They played songs I knew, some I recognized, and many songs I didn’t know, yet I was still able to enjoy the whole performance. The atmosphere within this large space, it was just so electrifying.

After the show, I had the chance to go to the after party in which I was able to talk to the rest of the members who were very welcoming and humble. Happy announcements were made and many smiles and laughers were exchanged.

Photo Jun 17, 3 01 33 AM[My guest pass with Takinuma’s pick and Kanai’s essay book. Thank you for the gifts!]

Thank you, BIGMAMA, for providing me the opportunity to attend your show. It was spectacular and I would definitely recommend people listen to their music, and if you like it, go to their show. You will not be disappointed.

 

BIGMAMA:

HP http://bigmama-web.com/index.html

Twitter https://twitter.com/BIGMAMAofficial

 

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
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Atsuo of Japanese Rock Band Atsuo Claims Japan is ‘Brainwashed’

Japanese rock band, Boris, has been making waves abroad but the three-piece rock band also has quite an immense fan base back in Japan. Still, this hasn’t stopped band drummer, Atsuo from stating that his homeland is “brainwashed.”

Despite the obvious fatigue from Boris’ US tour, Atsuo, the drummer shares his tale of music with an interview with Christopher James of Perth. Japan may have its’ share of Japanese performers be it rockers or pop artists but not all sections of Japan may be welcoming.

“It’s like they’ve all been brainwashed,” explains Atsuo, adding, “Don’t have ideologies,” or something like that. I think Japan is full of complications. It’s really twisted; beyond twisted. Like the music scene and the music business, the structure and atmosphere is completely different to any other country. I think it’s a distinctive country; very distinctive.”

Like Atsuo’s taste in music, the Boris’ drummer also highlights Japans’ distinctiveness with his decision to become a vegetarian.

“There are many vegans amongst musicians, and when we collaborate together, I just thought I’d make a gesture to get rid of any walls between us. It’s something I started for the music.  And now, you know, of course I like animals too. I can’t really go out to a restaurant in a group of just anyone in Japan. In both American and Australia, it’s very possible to have people of differing values or ideologies sitting around one table and eating together. But in Japan, the atmosphere is that unless you share the values, you can’t join the table,” explained Atsuo.

Even with the wide fan base in Japan, Boris flies to various countries abroad for their performances where almost no one speaks the native tongue.

And if the world still goes round… (それでも世界が続くなら)

The epitome of emo bands in Japan, それでも世界が続くなら (Soredemo Sekai ga Tuddukunara, aka SoreSeka: roughly translates to “if the world still continues on”) stood on a dark colorless stage singing out every teenagers darkest fears. The majority of their songs never go past a steady medium and the vocalists raspy voice sounds strained, as if holding back tears. Yet, every word rings through the air and echoes into the audience.

“We aren’t adults and we aren’t children” vocalist Shinoduka Masayuki shouts into the darkness where the crowd stood captivated by the bands sound. There isn’t laughter nor cheers of joy during the performance but an understanding silence about the harsh world of adolescences. It would be a difficult ordeal not to be drawn into this dark world the four artist paint so well with their instruments.

Lined up at the front of the stage stand young teenage girls who cry as they sway to the music these boys have created for them. Towards the back, an older generation stood solidly, as if nodding in agreement to the broken hearted love songs and hardships of being stuck in the middle of growing up.

This is my second time to hear this band play, but this is the first time to actually listen to their songs. And while a larger portion of their songs contain lyrics about death, there is still a sense of hope layered between the words.

During the emcee, Shinoduka asks the crowd what “death” is before continuing onto a story that he had heard earlier that day. His difficult to decipher mumbles fit the atmosphere the band had created perfectly. A dark muddled, very emotional, feel. Shinoduka apologizes and thanks the crowd before carrying onto their last song which, unlike their other songs, is upbeat.

Mesmerized, no one took their eyes off of the stage during their show. Who could possibly tear away from the band when the lyrics are begging for suicide? Or when they are about someone close to you wanting to die while you keep stopping them out of love, but having conflicting feelings about your decision to stop them. If this does not scream out emo, then what could possibly be emo?

There are many bands in Japan who consider themselves “emo” but in my book, they are too happy and upbeat to be “emo.” When they sing of happy endings and love stories, it is not…emo.

…or is it?

SoreSeka, however, is just…

Emo.

From their black shaggy hair and their black clothes to their songs, this band is the picture perfect example of a Japanese emo band. Their lyrics are very powerful and full of depressing and dark features, it only enhances their style.

0702_01

Make sure you are prepared to be touched by depression when listening to this band. For depressions cold hands will caress your cheek continuously and give you chills with their songs.

But of course, all in a good way.

If that is possible.

For a band to be able to cause silent tears to flow in a crowded venue, that is definitely something. Not very many bands in this country are able to do this.

Soredemo Sekai ga Tudukunara, I raise my white flag, you have wooed me into a dark world during your performance.

For true emo music, definitely keep an eye out for this band.

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
Facebook: www.facebook.com/junko.yoshimaru.12

それでも世界が続くなら
HP: http://www.soredemosekaigatsudukunara.com/home5.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/soredemosekai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/それでも世界が続くなら/329263983826043

“King of Psyborg Rock Star”, a death that astonished many

Hideto Matsumoto <Matsumoto Hideto>, more commonly known just as ‘Hide’, was born on December 13, 1964. He was once an extremely popular Japanese musician, but due to an unfortunate event, he passed away on May 2, 1998.

Matsumoto was primarily known as being the lead guitarist of the popular heavy metal band, X-Japan from 1987 to 1997, but also occasionally was a songwriter, contributing some of his composed songs such as the single “Scars” to the band. X-Japan, also known as just ‘X’ from 1982 to 1992, was one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while being on an independent label, and is also credited for playing a major part of the visual kei movement, being one of the bands to pioneer it. Visual kei refers to a movement among Japanese artists characterized by the use of eccentric and sometimes flamboyant looks. It usually involves unusual hairstyles, striking make-up, and elaborate costumes that are often, but not always, coupled with more feminine looks on men.

king_of-psyborg

His solo career took off when he had took place in an art film and recorded with one of the members of Luna Sea. In 1994, he oversaw the production of the first release on his own label. In the same year he also recorded and released his first solo album, Hide Your Face, in which in addition to songwriting, he played most of the guitar and bass on the tracks and provided all the lead vocals for it. In 1996, his second album was released, and in 1997 when X-Japan disbanded, he formally named his solo project ‘Hide with Spread Beaver’. Also in 1996, he formed a second band known as Zilch, that included some American and British artists.

In 1988, it was a dark and devastating year for fans, for it was the year of his death. After a night out drinking, Matsumoto was found hanged with a towel from a door knob in his Tokyo apartment. During the week of his death, five teenage girls tried to kill themselves while playing X music or wearing X merchandise, and of the five three succeeded. At his funeral, 50,000 fans mobbed the streets and by the end of the day 60 were sent to the hospital. Nearly 200 more fans received medical attention in first-aid tents after either passing out or injuring themselves in some other way. In one case, a girl tried to slit her wrists with a plastic knife.

Here is a quote from a radio-and-video-show host, Bryan Burton-Lewis, who toured with Hide as a disk jockey:

(Disclaimer: the quote is taken from an article in The New York Times, which should be fully credited to Neil Strauss)

”The wake was sad,” he remembered. ”I was sitting in there for two hours, and all you heard outside was kids screaming from the bottom of their stomachs. They sounded like demons. In Japan, the image that we have of the X audience is rural kids going through a rebellion phase. They put their life into being X fans: they dress like it, they breathe it, they all talk about how he gave them something to live for.

”A lot of what Hide did was grotesque. He’s talked about suicide in his records for five years. But the fans who followed him always knew there was a Hide behind that who was a very solid character. He was very outspoken about freedom and doing what you want, and he took on a fan who had a rare bone marrow disease as a personal crusade.”

Despite his death being ruled officially as a suicide, many of Matsumoto’s friends feel certain it was not. Many of them remembered him as a person who would go out of control when he was drunk, getting himself in trouble and yet having no knowledge of what he did the next day. Under these circumstances they believe his death was a drunken accident.

Even if Matsumoto Hideto has passed away, he is still remembered today with his music and reputation of being one of the few who have changed and shaped the image and genre of visual kei and his impact on culture and the music industry will never be forgotten. He has a museum built in his honor and a remembrance concert takes place every year.