Live Report Exclusive

blank paper at HYPER LIVE, London

10/09/2022 2022-09-10 02:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN

blank paper at HYPER LIVE, London

Can you keep a secret?


© ChrisN
Rumours swirl around the true identity of blank paper. The enigmatic group, originating from a mysterious alternate future reality known as Earth Twin, are fronted by the unknown characters C45P3R and T3R354. Despite only crossing over from the virtual world in late 2021, the mysterious newcomers embarked on a whistle stop Western tour this summer, hitting France, the UK and Canada. Having appeared as guests of honour at Japan Expo in Paris for their world debut, they headed to London to perform at HYPER JAPAN’s HYPER LIVE music event.

The Evolution venue buzzed with anticipation, awaiting blank paper’s arrival. The video screen above the stage gave the audience the convoluted sci-fi back story to blank paper and their musical medicine, SOUNDRUG. As the primer concluded, the artificial intelligence from an alternate-future virtual Earth was downloaded and installed on the HYPER LIVE stage. The physical forms of blank paper, C45P3R and T3R354, emerged from the darkness, dressed all in white, styling big baggy doctor’s coats, wearing hoods that obscured their eyes (and their identities) from the curious crowd. C45P3R’s was topped with unruly dreadlocks, while T3R354’s sported a cute pair of floppy rabbit ears. They were flanked by two more masked white-clad figures, known only as Hazama, who ran everything from their laptops.

blank paper kicked things off with their latest single, High Legacy. Its rapping, industrial verses backed with booming pop choruses got the crowd going straight away. T3R354 might've been the one who resembled a lop-eared bunny but it was C45P3R jumping all over the place, getting the crowd bouncing too. T3R354's white coat, worn unbuttoned and off the shoulder, swirled like a superhero’s cape as she spun around in time with the beat. The HYPER LIVE stage wasn’t the biggest, but it focused the action and everyone got to see the chemistry between C45P3R and T3R354 as they switched back and forth, whipping up the audience's excitement.

The big screen switched to a Union Jack version of the blank paper logo for the new song BPM. This ‘blank paper medicine’ is strong stuff. Its mix of ingredients — rock, rap and EDM — delivered immediate results, sending a wave of positive energy through the venue.

There was a pause after the breathless, high energy opening as another Hazama spoke on behalf of C45P3R and T3R354 in synthesised, robotic English. The disembodied voice explained blank paper’s mission to perform at HYPER JAPAN and to get their picture taken at Abbey Road. Apparently, even AI constructs from a future virtual world can’t miss out on that photo opportunity.

Hazama-san confessed to a slight problem: as blank paper have only released two singles, they didn't have enough songs to perform for the HYPER LIVE audience. There was no need to worry, though, as the crowd were promised some cover versions of popular songs that everyone might be familiar with.

Sure enough, they were familiar songs. Dropping a less-than-subtle hint about T3R354's true identity, they covered Kumi Koda’s BACK-ON-produced 2018 hit Guess Who Is Back. If that left concertgoers with a pretty good guess as to who it was in bunny ears, blank paper dropped an even heavier hint about C45P3R’s identity with a rendition of BACK-ON's 2014 hit Strike Back. Did the crowd notice the remarkable resemblance of C45P3R’s snaggletooth grin to Kenji03's? And while we're at it, was that the voice of his BACK-ON partner Teeda rapping on the backing track?

Another pause came and the big screen delivered blank paper’s manifesto, introducing C45P3R and T3R354 and explaining their unique approach to songwriting. Using social media, they ask their fans, or “sympathisers”, what ails them about modern life. Then, democratising the composing process, they offer them the choice of which chord progression, intro or riff to work into a song that will become the SOUNDRUG remedy.

Now that everyone had been introduced, blank paper got back to business with another new song, Prescription M.D., followed by BACK-ON's Nibunnoichi. Both were a little mellower than the full-on blast of the set’s openers. They switched it up again for the R&B style fans are so used to hearing from Kumi Koda with real Emotion, her "Final Fantasy X-2" tie-up and first top-ten hit from 2003. While T3R354 was the centre of attention, C45P3R and Hazama had fun taking turns with a mobile phone on a selfie stick, relaying video of the excited audience onto the big screen.

blank paper saved their debut single Enemy for last and the crowd found an extra level of energy from this last dose of musical medicine, joining in with the “Scream It Out! Scream It Out!” refrain. It was a killer finish to an all-action set. C45P3R signed off with “We are blank paper! Arigato London!” and T3R354 showed everybody some love with a cry of “Aishitemasu!” before being cheered offstage.

Given everyone’s suspicions of who they were actually watching, it shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise that blank paper absolutely smashed their UK debut. The true identities of C45P3R and T3R354 might be the worst kept secret in the J-pop world, but they’re having fun with it anyway. Just as Superman and Clark Kent are never seen in the same place at the same time, Kumi Koda and Kenji03 posted pics of themselves on social media doing touristy stuff in the countries where blank paper just so happening to be performing, with C45P3R and T3R354 lurking in the background, so it surely can’t be them, can it? Whoever they turn out to be, their musical medicine is just what the doctor ordered.

Set list

01. High Legacy
02. BPM
03. Guess Who Is Back
04. Strike Back
05. Prescription M.D.
06. Nibunnoichi
07. Real Emotion
08. Enemy

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