Culture: Tokyo Indie Bands Rock Vancouver

Culture: Tokyo Indie Bands Rock Vancouver

And now a taste of Japanese culture across the Pacific from AkihabaraNews Special Contributor Jordan Yerman, a writer and photographer who keeps wide swaths of his heart open for Japanese Street Cats, robots, taxis, and global pop culture’s debt to classical Japanese art.

Jordan went out for some live Japanese music last night:

J-Rock Lands on Canada

Next Music from Tokyo steamed into Vancouver to give the locals a taste of what Japanese indie rock is all about. Five indie bands tore up an East Van stage in front of a mixed crowd of expats, students, punk rockers, and music lovers looking for the next big thing. Well, they found it.

Atlantis Airport kicked off the evening with progressively old-school rock set. Vocalist Sone, with her post-Warhol vibe, set the bar extremely high with her energetic, inclusive performance: the audience acted as the rhythm section a few times, begging the question: does a band exist without anyone to listen?

The charismatic Sone fronts Atlantis Airport 

Next up was PENs+, whose members were barely old enough to get into the club. This group of 20-year-old students treated the crowd to a hectic set of indie rock, driven by intricately interweaving guitars.. As guitarist and vocalist Mao Ariga addressed the crowd in English, it was clear that her language teacher is Australian.

PENs+ makes its mark on Vancouver 

Despite John Lydon’s repeated attempts to kill it, punk is not dead. In fact, it’s been traveling across Canada in the form of otori. Underground rock surged to the surface the second Kobara Sae grabbed the mic. One cannot capture the otori frontwoman’s vibe in a still image. It just doesn't work. If you were to mix Petter Garrett’s and Snoop Dogg’s DNA, put it into a test tube, and shoot it into space to get bombarded with solar flares, you’d end up with Sae.

Next up was mothercoat, which sounded like what would happen if the Red Hot Chili Peppers were to meet Rage Against the Machine in a dark alley off Jazz Avenue.

mothercoat guitarist/vocalist/sequencer-whisperer gigadylan: that’s 1000 megadylans

The final act of the evening was OWARIKARA, who performed with confidence beyond the members’ years. It is not hard to imagine these guys playing stadiums. It was bassist Fumihiko Tsuda’s birthday, so he could borrow Phil Manzanera’s look if he wanted. And he did.

Fumihiko Tsuda welcomes you to Avalon 

NMFT is the brainchild of Dr. Steven Tanaka, a Toronto-based doctor who singlehandedly organizes and bankrolls the touring attraction, even accompanying the bands as the event’s emcee and roadie.

The tour visited Toronto (twice), Montreal, and Vancouver - with some bands returning to Japan the very next day. Aside from ringing ears and a slight hangover, these J-rockers left us with a valuable lesson: crowd-surfing is huge on the other side of the Pacific. Indeed, the crowd doesn’t even wait for the music to start, and band members seem to spend as much time afloat on a sea of hands as they do on the actual stage.

Mao Ariga demonstrates the fine art of crowd-surfing

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Special Contributor Jordan Yerman is a freelance writer and photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia where he writes for the Vancouver Observer and APEX Experience Magazine. We’re pretty sure he really likes Japan, and we're pretty sure he's one of the keenest observers of and commenters on the little things we residents take for granted. His other AkihabaraNews features include:

Check out his other work and learn about his ongoing Japanese street cats project at jordanmatthewyerman.com.