Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Imaike Go Now 2017 Day 1

A friend gave me a heads up about Imaike Go Now during one of my Japan trips and it just so happened to fall on a free day, so I arranged a short outing to Nagoya with the help of the almighty JR Pass. If someone told me I would be living in Nagoya years later to catch the event again, I wouldn't have believed them. But there I was, taking the subway a few stops over to Imaike the morning of the first day of the show.

The event was a single day gig in 2015 but this time around they had it going for two days. Other than that, the live houses were the same and the mix of bands also similar. It was rather uncanny having traversed these same streets and live houses before, only now the neighborhood is much more familiar to me.

Chiina @ 3-Star Imaike
I arrived at 3-star Imaike to get my wristband and see the first band of the first day, Chiina. I wrote about Chiina previously when I saw them in Tokyo and they've come a long way since then, releasing a few new records that I still haven't heard and collaborating with a bigger ensemble they call the Chiina Philharmonic Orchestra. I don't think I recognized any of the songs they played at this gig so perhaps that's why they didn't seem as fun as when I saw them right after they released the fantastic Granville, but they still played lighthearted folk music that made the audience smile.

HINTO @ 3-Star Imaike
Sparta Locals was always talked about among people in the overseas Japanese indie music loving community but like many other groups, they just never happened to make a big impact on me. The vocalist/guitarist of the band went on to form Hinto and while I never listened to them either they turned out to be quite good on stage. Lots of girls were in the audience but I couldn't see what was to attractive about the guy. I guess they really like the twangy guitar sound they happen to be known for.

Open Reel Ensemble @ 3-Star Imaike
The next act I went to was in the same club but this time the floor wasn't half as packed and people merely lined the walls, uninterested. But when Open Reel Ensemble revealed their repertoire of instruments--three old film reel machines hooked up to a central sound board unit--people began to take interest. The three fiddled with the machines like they were turntables, stopping, and rewinding various segments of a track. At one time they sampled the call backs of the audience into one of the songs, using the reel to record and play back our voices in sync with the track. The music was fantastic--I always enjoy electronic music live more than I think I will--and seeing three guys busy running back and forth to stop spinning reels and adjust the sound deck makes for quite a performance. Definitely a unique experience and a breath of fresh air from all the rock oriented groups I saw.

Klan Aileen @ Huck Finn
The two members of Klan Aileen dished out some abrasive, dark sort of rock music that doesn't sound anything like the straightforward sound their studio recordings have. All of the effects stripped away they come across as a lot more dynamic, the drummer pounding away and the guitars blaring. Then again, maybe it was just because I saw these guys while standing in front of the speaker...Anyway, they were definitely fantastic live.

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs @ 3-Star Imaike
I couldn't let the night go by without seeing Mass of the Fermenting Dregs. Natsuko on the bass is legendary for her stage antics and the band also puts on a stellar performance--it was hard to get a picture when they were all putting so much energy into playing the music. It had been so long since I actually put on a MotFD CD that I couldn't hum the melody to any of their songs but like magic I would suddenly find myself familiar with all the songs they belted out. I found myself engulfed in the soaring soundscapes as much as I was in waves of nostalgia, recalling just how much I used to listen to this band years ago but was only seeing live for the first time. It was a great way to end the night, and I came out of the club feeling like I got a lot more than I expected.

Triple Fire @ Tokuzo
There was still time to see one more band and I chose to see Triple Fire, a sort of comedy-band that didn't really take itself too seriously but proved to be really popular. Their vocalist staggered across the stage muttering more than he was actually singing while the three bandmen behind him were dead serious about the music they were playing. I can't describe their sound very well, but it was very calculated--nothing like the singer who was rambling on aimlessly to their accompaniment.

After a whole day of standing and running around I didn't realize how tired I was until I got home and it dawned on me that I would have to do this all over again the next day.

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