I headed down to Osaka today to visit one of my favorite venues, Kita-Horie's Club Vijon. My brother is in Japan and had wanted to go to a show, and the timing couldn't have been better as local shoegazers kipu kirota had planned this pretty exciting event. In addition to a solid lineup, it was great to be able to catch up with some good folks I've been fortunate enough to meet over the last couple years and to meet some new folks in person. Special thanks to my buddy, the other Matt, for taking some photos while my phone was dying.
We got there just in time to grab a beer and catch opening act Euphrates. I always look forward to seeing these guys live, but was a little surprised to see only half of the usual lineup take the stage. Tonight was a bit of a special set featuring their bassist on vocals and percussion and their usually animated guitarist sitting down with an acoustic guitar. I'll be honest that I was a little saddened to see that I wasn't going to be treated to the live set I've come to look forward to at seemingly all of these events, but the performance was great. The duo absolutely killed it with the acoustic performance of "Come With Me", always a fan favorite.
Next up was Fubuki (吹雪), the only band on the card I had never seen or even heard before. The Tokyo three-piece kicked their maiden live in Osaka off with delay drenched bowed guitars and blaring fuzzy bass, before everything sort of exploded into this big enveloping mass of sound. The instrumentation was phenomenal, and each of the three songs they performed was breath taking. When their first song, which transitioned from beautiful soundscape to raw, edgy guitar riff, to gut rumbling finale, wrapped up I felt like I had just run a marathon, and by the end of the set I was completely wiped out emotionally. Fubuki was by far the most pleasant surprise of the night, and a band I plan on getting around to seeing a bit more often.
Astro Attack, perhaps the most generally well-known band on the card was up third. They were sort of the life of the party with some really danceable tunes and the most active stage presence. I was pretty familiar with Astro Attack's music going in, though it was my first time seeing them live. The set was fun, the tracks were catchy, the crowd got pretty into it. The Kobe/Osaka band was a nice palate cleanser at this point in the show. Their performance didn't blow my mind, but it could just have been that Fubuki was a really tough act to follow.
Next up was the first of two bands I have really grown to love, Cigarette in your Bed. I've gushed about them pretty extensively in the last few months, including them in Muso Planet volume 5 and praising the hell out of their debut full-length album darkness. Though their debut album was produced with a little more of an "easy listening" feel in mind, their live show remained as up tempo and aggressive as ever. The grungy shoegaze trio came out of the gates running with lead single "Let Me Out" and proceeded to deliver a brutally loud and extremely pleasing show.
Ether Feels was the last band I was able to catch, and it felt like forever since I had seen them last. The first time I went to see a Japan Shoegazer Festival event, Ether Feels was there and something about their sound really stuck with me. Their frontman Tomo is as genuinely kind a guy as there is, and their music is light and extremely easy on the ears. As I had to hurry up to catch the last bullet train back to Nagoya, I was only able to stay for three songs. Fortunately for me, the last song of my night was my favorite from Ether Feels, a whimsical, feathery shoegaze track called "Annabelle". It was great to see them and I'm definitely looking forward to their new EP "Twilight Dreams" next week.
As is so often the case when I catch a show in Osaka, I was unable to stick around for the headliner. It is a bummer to not be able to stick around and support the bands until the end, especially in this case where Kipu Kirota had really put together an excellent show. Having heard a bunch of their recorded material I was really looking forward to finally seeing them, but it wasn't meant to be. There will definitely be more opportunities in the future though, as they have been busy gigging recently and are part of a really nice looking JSF Osaka event in September.
All-in-all, I had a blast. Club Vijon is a great venue, the bands all offered something a little different, and the crowd was great. With the Japan Shoegazer Festival dates set and their details being steadily revealed, this was a perfect warm up for some really good upcoming events. It was also a good time to catch up with the guys in cigarette in your bed for the first time since their participation in Muso Planet, and get a celebratory photo: