After the events I attended in Osaka I was slated to move to Okayama and begin my exchange program. It was about two weeks before I was going to my first gig, but in that time I had plenty of things to do to keep my occupied. Nevertheless, this was my first time to catch a live during my four month stay and I was really looking forward to seeing Plingmin again, even if I wasn't thrilled with the rest of the lineup.
(For the record, i saw them last year but for some reason I never wrote the Live report...I ought to do that !)
I wasn't sure who would be up first at the gig, since all of the bands seemed to be equal levels of popular, and if they weren't then I had no idea where they stood amongst each other. There wasn't a huge line outside or anything, and soon I found my way into Pepperland, conveniently located right outside my campus and a walk from my dormitory.
Pepperland was unbelievable. It was probably one of the smallest live houses I've been too, yet if you check on their website they house some of the bigger bands that play concerts in Okayama. The floor looked like it could fit about 100 people or less. This was a very good thing, and I immediately loved the intimate atmosphere the club gave off and the fact that the staff were all very cool and not total idiots.
I noticed that another band was added to the roster: an act I hadn't heard of called ゆがみ(Yugami). Another artist to sit through for what was already a fairly long lineup...ugh.
Besides Plingmin, Yugami actually ended up being my favorite act that night. The three members sat on the floor of the stage, hidden behind the barricades put up by the staff. The lights were nearly all out except for maybe one or two small ones, giving the place an intimate, campfire, night time feel to it. Yugami is three members, one on the Ukelele and vocals, the other on percussion(really interesting stuff, xylophone, little toy drums, etc.) and lastly a keyboard player. They blew me away. They used a bunch of really interesting effects in their music and didn't just get grounded in some recycled, everyone has heard it already, sound. Their stuff was fun, inventive, new, and fresh, compared to a lot of opening acts I've seen and I thought they were wonderful. The vocals were so soft and gentle, and it only added to how intimate the performance was. They play shows in the Okayama area quite frequently but aren't really known outside of the town. I'm hoping they get more attention as I really think they deserve it.
After Yugami, ほたる日和 (Hotaru Biyori) came up on stage. I tried my hardest to get into this band but one thing held me back: the vocals. I just could not get used to how the guitarist had this really high pitched, nasal, unnatural sounding voice. Their performance didn't leave me thinking otherwise. I was still put off by his vocals, but thankfully their music was fantastic, vocals aside. I enjoyed them, they were a pretty good band, but if the female bassist could sing more and the vocalist just change their style they could be a lot better.
Plingmin hit the stage next and I was quite disappointed they weren't going to be the last act that night(meaning: no encore for them!). Their album ended up being one of my favorites last year that came from left field and totally blew me away. I ended up really enjoying their set last year as well, and this time they were equally wonderful on stage. Their energy was still there, they seem to always play a really great gig and are full of emotion while up there, from the guitarist on the left who was nearly on the floor bashing his head to Yama-chan's hopping up and down on stage, they never seemed to do anything without putting their all. I love Plingmin a lot for taking the initiative to not just be another lame, pop band and instead actually work to make great music.
I was feeling kind of down that plingmin was already over but I decided to stay for the last two bands. Next up was Qwai, a fairly new quartet who were already on a major label churning out records. I didn't think I would enjoy them very much and their performance, though energetic, didn't do very much for me. I thought their sound wasn't very exciting and not anything different that you haven't heard so many times before. But they at least made their concerts exciting by being really into it.
カラーボトル (Color Bottle) were surprisingly last, and two older women in the back were screaming through their entire set. Their first CD was lying on my computer for a long time without a listen but when I finally did I loved it to pieces. They had an amazing vocalist, that could really belt out some pretty awesome notes on the mic when asked to and the band had a bit of soul/funk mixed into their sound that made it a lot groovier than other boy bands. Sadly, they didn't play any of those songs last night but from what I saw the band still did belt out soul/funk influenced songs and the vocalist still sounded great, but it sounded like they weren't as keen on their talent as in the songs I had heard from them before. I was a bit disappointed in them, but then again, at least they still did what I loved about them...sometimes.
One of the sad things I learned about Pepperland that night, too, was that being such a small live house with little storage means that everything has to go outside. Yes, outside. The poor bands had to sell their goods that night in the freezing Spring cold(I can't even imagine what it would be like in December), and equipment gets put out front between sets in the middle of the sidewalk(!!!). As I grabbed Plingmin's DVD/CD of their one-man show in Nagoya last year(the day after I saw Shachi at the venue next door), Yama-chan asked if it was my first time to see them live. Before I could answer, she quickly stopped me and said it wasn't, insisting she had seen me before. I refreshed her memory and she quickly remembered who I was: the guy who told her the MC at their show in Shibuya was the best English he had ever heard. She quickly got the guitarist to speak to me English and we chatted for a few minutes. I told the bassist of plingmin how great of a DJ he was at the Shibuya event and that his music choice was really great; I don't normally dig western music but the stuff he was spinning was really great, indie sounding stuff. He told me that he was participating in a pretty big event but that he was still very amateur-ish, so he was really glad I liked his DJing. He's apparently great friends with Chatmonchy's bassist, since she also does DJing sometimes.
The members and myself were all freezing out there in the cold(poor Yama chan), so I decided to head back to my dorm. I said thanks a lot to all of them, and I really hope they play more gigs in Okayama. They mentioned that this was actually their first ever here and I hope they come back!