Japan Underground Launch Night

live report - 03.13.2011 20:01

A new Japan-style club night comes to London promising an evening of fun including a performance from visual kei artist, HITT, and JaME was there for the first night.

On November 17 2010, a new club night came to London. Refreshingly for a Japan-themed event, there was no over emphasis on either anime or visual kei - those two fallbacks for Japan events - and the night was better off for it. The attendees were a shockingly normal bunch, a welcome surprise at Japan-pop culture events and drew good numbers from London's Japanese community. Of course there were a few cosplayers and lolita types, but the whole event felt rather normal, a good sign for the continued success as a proper, bonafide club night.

That it was not an overly anime styled event had attracted people's interest. One attendee said the event description made it sound intriguing, more Shibuya and less Akihabara. There are not many Japan style club nights in London, so to see one being set up that could feel like events in Japan was a real plus. A few had found out via anime websites but it was pleasantly 'otaku' free.

As the crowds mingled and the event got going, the DJs played an interesting mix of Japanese music ranging from pop to rock, although it also felt like a bit of a strange mish mash, going from saccharine Hello! Project J-pop one moment to heavier Abingdon Boys School rock the next.

The live music was equally varied, beginning with the surreal experience of Ten, hailing from South Korea and Japan. Their mix of sound did not sit well with the general evening and most of the audience begun their set a little confused by the disorientating mix of sound. Nestled next to the mainstream music the DJs had been playing, the band came across as uncomfortably arty. Eventually the audience began to warm to the duo, and as their music became less abstract some toes began tapping to the beats and drew closer to the stage less warily than before.

Ten had warmed up the night though and afterwards the dance floor filled a bit more. The drinks were flowing and the karaoke room in particular was heating up. A drop of alcohol, they say, increases the confidence and karaoke is a good test of that. It was certainly proven by the karaoke as the song queue filled the machine to capacity. Props to the two who ran the karaoke, putting up with endless requests and some drunken wailing of Bon Jovi. That's not to say all was terrible, as one guy gave the room a frankly awesome performance of Rip Slyme's Funktastic.

Back in the main room, visual kei act HITT took to the stage. HITT is an interesting artist, hailing from Japan and making visual kei music, although he describes his key influences as being the Sex Pistols as opposed to say Miyavi. Musically though HITT was an interesting blend of poppy visual kei. Even though he lacked a band, his vocals were strong and his melodies solid, with an almost 90s vibe to his sounds. At points his music recalled Versailles and Gackt, with heavy drumbeats combined with grandiose orchestrated synths. One song even captured the feel of Gekka no yasukyoku, transporting every fan in the room back to 1998. Another track began with gunshots, as HITT feigned death before coming back with a crowd singalong of 'H.I.T.T HITTo' to the tune of Queen's We will rock you.

He was a hit with the crowd, who screamed with all their fangirl might for the diminutive rocker. Performance-wise, he reminded a little of Miyavi, with similar body language and gestures and the ease with which he captivated his crowd. Headlining the event, HITT's music fit neatly with the feel of the night as well as ensuring the dance floor remained filled with people until the end at 1am. The music became a bit rockier at this hour, with popular visual kei songs from Plastic Tree and DELUHI among others to follow HITT's performance. Judging by the numbers who had stayed, either dancing or singing until the close way-past last train time, the night had been a real success and a recommended event to Japan culture fans in London.
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HITT 11/17

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