Japan Nite 2013 in Los Angeles

live report - 04.18.2013 20:01

With a dynamic line-up ranging from funk and jazz to bluegrass and pure rock, Japan Nite 2013’s tour showcased talent not to be missed.

Tucked away in an alley just a few steps from the buzz of light Hollywood traffic was AMPLYFi, the venue for Japan Nite’s Los Angeles show. About thirty minutes before show time, its inconspicuous light green door opened for early concert attendees, and the stairs that led from it gave way to an intimate room filled with eclectic ornaments and soft light that altogether set a whimsical yet casual tone. However, as the southern California sky dimmed, the cool spring breeze turned brisk and more concertgoers trickled in, the lights dimmed and the musical wonders of Japan Nite crept into AMPLYFi one-by-one to warm up the atmosphere.


JOSY

Although JOSY arrived just after the proposed starting time, this guitar-less female four-piece wasted no time in bringing a whirlwind of playful, intense energy to the house. Right away their spunk could be felt in vocalist cumi’s clear, feisty voice. “Welcome, Los Angeles! Welcome to Japan Nite!” cumi enthused with arms wide open. “We are JOSY!” Though the first number elicited a slow response from the crowd, eventually the band’s enthusiasm grew infectious and audience members waved their arms from side to side in a short surprise slow-jam rendition of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, bobbing their heads to subsequent funky numbers.

Depending on the song, cumi would play the tambourine or cowbell and sway her hips to the swing-like jazz and rock beats from drummer nanohana, while bassist non grooved along. Keyboardist mami could be seen attacking the white keys with pizazz in several seemingly spasmodic but impressive charged concentrated bouts, and sometimes cumi would join her in a keyboard duo. After an aggressive, dance-inducing finisher filled with solos, jumps and whistles, the four members blew kisses to the cheering crowd and exited the stage.

Set list
1. Bosom Buddy
2. Keep on, shinin’ on
3. YEAH!YEAH!YEAH!
4. Catch me
5. TO THE LIGHT

ChihiroYamazaki + ROUTE14band

The high left from JOSY continued in ChihiroYamazaki + ROUTE14band--though in a mesmerizing, instrumental-only performance. Keyboardist Hana Takami started off the group’s set with a blisteringly delicate solo before smoothly transitioning into what soon became recognizable as Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker. As drummer Satoshi Yamashita, guitarist Miz and bassist Koji Yamamoto joined in a hushed manner, trumpeter Chihiro captured the spotlight in a sparkling gray dress with the main melody, almost singing with her instrument in a duet with Hana on the keyboard.

The unexpected spurts of tempo and rhythm changes present in the cover were only a teaser of the group’s ability to keep things fresh. Whereas the driving, rock-like Shelri featured a wicked bouncing of melody between guitar and bass, the slower trotting pace of Ninjin combined with a warm trumpet and tip-toeing keyboard brought to mind sweet, summer days, and if brought out a soulful trumpet that seemed to cry out to the world. The end to the dynamic set list arrived in the form of Japan, where Miz surprised the crowd by jumping onto a platform and performing a solo with his guitar behind his head. With the increasingly louder hoots and whistles received after each song, ChihiroYamazaki + ROUTE14band definitely satisfied the crowd.

Set list
1. Waltz of the Flowers
2. Yozora no Trumpet
3. Shelri
4. Ninjin
5. if
6. Chinese Dance
7. Japan

Pirates Canoe

After weathering a minor rocky start of microphone hiccups with grace and a soothing fiddle, the three ladies of Pirates Canoe were finally able to start their performance and seamlessly whisked the audience away on a journey through the bucolic hills and mountains of Appalachia America with their three-part harmony in Love Shack. Guitarist Reika then introduced fiddle player Kanako and mandolin player Sara and talked about touring with Japan Nite. Reeling in the already captivated crowd even further, Reika asked, “Would you like a slow or upbeat song?” “Slow!” Thus, the soft-spoken, plaid-clad trio rendered the crowd speechless, wrapping around them a rustic, tender melody that eventually had audience members stomping their feet and clapping as the tune turned into a bright, merry jig. The light atmosphere didn’t last long, however.

This time, Pirates Canoe sent the audience sailing through the seas with the spellbinding Siren’s Comb and lively Bowsprit Game. In the former, while the strumming of the guitar mimicked ocean waves and Sara and Reika’s harmonization whispered in like the wind, the mandolin and fiddle evoked wistful, gray morning skies and a three-part lyric-less harmony held the audience hypnotized in an eerie state of peace. The journey then came to an end in the latter song, an instrumental finale teeming with adventure on the high seas that left the crowd spirited with cheers and applause.

Set list
1. Love Shack
2. Shenandoah
3. Siren’s Comb
4. Bowsprit Game

Jake stone garage

With a slight air of bravado, alternative-garage rock trio Jake stone garage took to the stage and immediately started pummelling out hard, impressive licks and beats during sound check. Unfortunately for their opener, Kick the fake, sound difficulties were frequent and actually caused the group to stop playing. After a fix and quick restart, though, the three members definitely made sure to rock the house. From guitarist-vocalist Satoshi Watanabe’s aggressive, fuzzy riffs to Tsukasa Nishi’s unhinged, headbanging bass play and Hideaki Iwanaka’s mercurial drumming, Jake stone garage provided the venue with a raw, full sound that had audience members cat calling and flinging rock signs left and right.

After a rather upbeat, funkier version of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Satoshi introduced the band with, “We are Jake stone garage from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan!” to which Hideaki chimed, “Do you know (its) famous beer?” At that point, the set list became even crazier. The eight counts before bone ack certainly didn’t prepare new listeners for the ensuing mad solo fest. Each member displayed their skills with relish, most notably Satoshi, who meandered about the stage in contorted playing positions, and Hideaki, whose overwhelming drum solo had audience members gasping in awe, as well as for breathers. While talent and charisma in Jake stone garage are clearly there, a more dynamic set list may have been better to showcase a possible broader range.

Set list
1. Kick the fake
2. Libido
3. Smells Like Teen Spirit
4. bone ack
5. Himitsu
6. SHAKE YOUR HEAD
7. Rattle snake shakes

FOUR MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT

“Hello! Good evening,” FOUR MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT frontman Eli Taylor greeted. “Don’t park at Astro Burger.” The latter was met with chuckles-- it had been mentioned before every act (the venue is located nearby the burger joint, and any cars from non-patrons parked in specially-labelled parking spots would be towed). Though Eli and bassist Yusuke Ikegaya were missing regular guitarist Kenta Hayashi, a supporting drummer and guitarist accompanied them throughout Japan Nite 2013’s tour.

From the cruising, rolling sound across the drum toms to the funky bass to the twangy, lyrical guitar licks and staccato, rap-like cadence of the lyrics, FOUR MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT had an uncanny resemblance to fellow southern Californian-made band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Despite the similarities in sound, however, the band’s restless energy and instrumental chops made for a great show that brought out a huge response from the crowd. Vocalist Eli could be seen lightly headbanging around the stage, grooving with the music and gesturing out the lyrics with taut, synchronized movements. On a sweet note, before the last song of the night, Eli called to attention that it was the birthday of their sound man Bryan and Jake stone garage’s Hide and had everyone sing the tune. With such positive atmosphere and sound in the room, it wasn’t hard to like FOUR MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT.

Set list
1. Don’t Want That
2. Death of a Dream
3. Inside of Your Mirror
4. Kiss
5. Brothers
6. 3 Legged Horses
related artists
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Pirates Canoe 03/23

Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band   FOUR MINUTES TIL MIDNIGHT   Jake stone garage   JOSY   Pirates Canoe  
Los Angeles, CA - United States of America
AMPLYFi
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