From garage rock to trip-hop, much like anywhere else in the world, Japan is home to a wide variety of music past the pop idols and enka singers. Over the years we’ve seen a plethora of new acts hit our shores to show UK audiences what they’re capable of, and with the help of the Federation Of Music Producers Japan, JAPAN NIGHT has brought four of the brightest up and comers in Japanese rock to London to play at the world-renowned indigO2.
Homing in on the sounds of mod rock since their formation in 2006, OKAMOTO’S have managed to not just copy the classics, but instead combine the best aspects of bands like The Who and The Jam with their own J-Pop twist. The youngest lads on the showcase, this group of 24 year-olds are electrifying on stage, bringing the highlight dance tunes of the evening with mod revival numbers and radio rock tracks like their latest single ‘Dance With You’. Pulling off a truly killer set, it’s good to see the genre is being kept alive even outside of the UK.
Ling Tosite Sigure
Saitama born post-hardcore/math rock trio Ling Tosite Sigure (literal translation Cold Seasonal Rain) is the most out-there band on the line-up, with sudden tempo changes and breakneck solos being the norm. Piercing vocals from gutarist Tōru and bassist Miyoko give their already distinguished instrumentals an edge, which is the make or break for new ears with some choruses leaning towards the side of earsplitting. Still the band’s untouched technical riffs, explosive break downs, and sharp melodies make them one of the leading Japanese music exports in recent years.
Though [Alexandros] aren’t exactly fresh faces to the UK music scene, joining Title Fight at The Great Escape back in 2013 under the name [Champagne], with new material and a seemingly new attitude, it was time to see the true side of Japan’s alt-rockers. Tricky to pin down, the band gave us catchy harmonies, shreds, and pop-punk riffs from track to track, as well as nods of appreciation towards the UK’s music legends with covers of classic Brit rock anthems Song 2 and Wonderwall. When in Rome I guess. Frontman Yoohei takes the reigns keeping the crowd on their toes, wrapping up their last set of the weekend by jumping into the crowd of towel wielding fans. If you didn’t get into them the first time they came around as [Champagne], now is the time to get in on the action. [Alexandros] could easily be the band to push modern Japanese music into the mainstream once again, but even if they don’t manage that momentous task, they still deserve your attention for their tight sound and on point showmanship.
Two of Japan’s most outstanding performers in rock of the last 20 years, HYDE (L’Arc-en-Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust), broke out of their cages once again to bring their Mötley Crüe-esque sleazy hard rock alter egos back to the London stage. Over the last few years VAMPS has quickly become a staple of Japanese rock here in the west, with an appearance at Download Festival, a successful tour with Sixx:A.M. across the US, and an upcoming UK tour with Apocalyptica this November. Backed by some of the most sought after rock musicians Japan has to offer, VAMPS let loose a set of high-octane metal tracks like ‘LIPS’ and ‘EVIL’, broken up by discography defining ballads like ‘VAMPIRE’S LOVE’. But where their musical talents shone, HYDE’s ‘sexy’ persona felt overdone to the point of being awkward, as he sprawled himself across the monitor, topless bar a revealing drape. Though in the end it’s about giving the fans what they want, and every song, sexual gesture, and guitar throw got the crowd raving, so they must be doing something right.
JAPAN NIGHT has successfully proven that Japan is home to bands with true potential to make it on the international stage. Each act demonstrated why they are more than fitting of the attention of audiences overseas and giving us hope for the future of the UK’s Japanese rock scene in the years to come.