Japan Nite 2011 at The Viper Room: Presenting 5 Japanese Bands You Should Hear Right Now
See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's gallery "Japan Nite with Mo'Some Tonebender, Lolita No. 18, Zukunasisters, Hystoic Vein and Josy."Read more about Japan Nite in Siran Babayan's post "SXSW Recap: Japan Nite Raises Money for Earthquake Relief."
Shannon Cottrell Lolita No. 18
For the past fifteen years, Audrey Kimura of Benten Records has been bringing an eclectic mix of alternative-minded Japanese bands to Austin for the Japan Nite event at South by Southwest. In 2000, she launched the Japan Nite tour, which follows the SXSW showcase.
Saturday night, we headed down to The Viper Room for the L.A. installment of Japan Nite 2011. Over the course of the night, five bands hit the stage and we can say with complete honesty that there was not a dud in the bunch. Yes, it was that rare night in Los Angeles where the bulk of the crowd showed up when the doors opened, stayed until well after the last band finished and hung out close to the stage for most of the night. In between sets, as the Tune in Tokyo pumped tunes from the DJ booth, the crowd briefly migrated from the dance floor to the area surrounding the merch booths.
There was no way we could pick a favorite band from Japan Nite. Instead, we left loving five bands-- Mo'Some Tonebender, Lolita No. 18, Zukunasisters, Hystoic Vein and Josy-- and humbly suggest you check out these artists too.
Of all five bands on the bill for Japan Nite in Los Angeles, Josy may have been the least familiar to fans of Japanese rock. They've been together for five months. Their discography consists of one single and their online presence is limited to a MySpace page with three songs and 23 friends. We think this will change soon.
Shannon Cottrell Josy
Josy consists of four young women from Tokyo-- Cumi, Non, Mami and Nanohana-- none of whom play guitar in the band. Instead, the sound revolves on Non and Nanohana's tight rhythm section and Mami's psychedelic keyboards. The Japan Nite website notes that the band members are fans of the Doors and, while that probably does influence the keyboard sounds, Josy has much more of a punk rock feel. Singer Cumi is a star in the making. She performs with tons of energy and seems to be quite aware of cameras in the audience.
Despite being first on a bill for a show that started at 8 p.m., Josy played for a full house and the reaction from the crowd was enthusiastic.
Hystoic Vein has a dark '80s vibe to them. Their songs are bass driven, and bassist Yukary is an exceptional player. Lyn's drums are fast, but never sloppy, and Youkaku's style of guitar playing seems to draw at least a little bit from early goth bands. Singer Inko delivers a very rhythmic performance. She dances through the entire set, oftentimes clasping her hands in front of her as though she were moving through water.
Shannon Cottrell Hystoic Vein
For as dark as the sound of Hystoic Vein is, though, the band puts on a fun show. Inko jokes with the crowd in between songs. At some point in time during the set, they threw a bunch of signed paper plates into the audience.