Thursday, April 5, 2012

A peak into the Okayama Live Scene

It might be safe to say that when I was in Okayama I spent most of my time at the arcade playing games. But if I wasn't there on a given night you were sure to find me hanging out in Pepperland, a club as old as great music itself located on the street just outside the University campus.

On this blog I've mentioned the live house too many times to count. Over 50% of the concerts I attended were at this little hole in the wall club.

I just so happened to come across their youtube channel recently that I'm really excited to share.

Okayama Pepperland on YouTube!

For anyone interested in listening to bands that reside in Okayama they have a plethora of videos of all kinds bands skillfully belting out a million kinds of different genres of music. I think it's safe to say that this is a perfect example of not just Okayama's live scene, but about what one can expect from the Japanese live scene in general across Japan: a collective of skilled musicians and fresh talent that are separated by their choice of musical genres but come together through a love of sharing the stage and putting on a great performance.

Recently I have been really digging the set of an artist I saw towards the tail-end of my trip who had just started plying gigs as a band: Luzhin. None of them are new to music or even the live music scene in Okayama, though: each of them plays in a band already and this is something of a side-project for the members. I'm not sure if I've said enough about Yugami, probably my favorite discovery in Okayama, but their bassist also rocks the bass in Luzhin. More reasons to love these guys.

When I first saw them they were only three members, but the second time I saw them(the last band of my last gig in Okayama), they added the guitarist on the far right. Since then, it looks like they've written a lot more song and gotten a lot better, jamming way more smoothly and in rhythm. Their music is really all over the place: the first song is one I've seen before, this definitive groove running through the entire song laid down by the rhythm mixed with high, unpolished shouts and angular guitars. 僕らの田舎(bokura no inaka) is also similar, with this defining, excellent beat running through the song in the same way and accompanied by a bad ass pianica. But songs like Satellite monkey(#2, the guitar riff here is too good) and Neo-Aco Tengoku(#3) borrow a lot from guitar rock and are reminiscent of bands like asian kung-fu generation and base ball bear: they've probably been influenced by the same bands (like the Pixies or Gang of Four) but are way more skilled at utilizing this influence to their advantage and writing fresh composition these major label acts have left behind for half baked cookie cutter pop songs. I think they have a lot potential: they write songs that are creative enough to keep listeners on their toes but have a lot of really well written pop songs with great melodies that can satisfy the masses.

This is only one of the great discoveries I've made in this channel. You can see so many other great bands at their finest: who knew that the iPhone could take such great live videos? I'll be having looking through all of them and I hope you all stay up to date with the channel to see a lot more of what makes up the live scene of Okayama.


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