Hey all, we have the extreme pleasure of bringing you another on-the-scene concert report from the fabulous Miss Melissa Castor. Melissa was on hand for the US live debuts of two emerging Japanese rock bands, RIZE and fade for a fabulous night where East truly met West.
RIZE and fade at The Studio at Webster Hall
On Monday evening, “East Meets West” featured the U.S. debut of Japanese bands RIZE and fade. Even with this being both bands’ first appearance, each had dedicated fans waiting to see them perform in the Studio at Webster Hall in New York City.
After two local acts performed, RIZE took the stage for a 45-minute long set. By this point in the evening, a good crowd had gathered and pushed their way closer to the stage for RIZE’s arrival. With a mix of rock and rap sound, they started off straight away with an enormous amount of energy.
Despite having only three members, they made full use of that stage, never standing still for long. Bassist KenKen would frequently head bang, having his long dark black hair fly everywhere around him. Drummer N.K. kept the beat going steady and strong. Vocalist/guitarist Jesse would play facing KenKen when they had an instrumental break, which made for an interesting dynamic with KenKen’s long hair and baggy clothes and Jesse’s baseball cap, jeans and T-shirt outfit. For his first MC, Jesse said, “We hope you guys like our show. Thanks for coming out here tonight and meeting us in person. We are RIZE.” This band clearly meant business and cared a lot about their music and their fans.
The temperature in the room just kept getting hotter and hotter as RIZE continued on; fans raising their arms into the air, some singing along, and at one point a small mosh pit even formed in the audience, smiles on everyone’s faces. There was never a moment that everyone wasn’t jamming along, nodding his or her head with the beat or enjoying the show.
Towards the end of their set, Jesse cleared a path for himself from the stage through the fans onto the floor, a circle quickly forming around him where he would sing/rap to those around him. Everyone enjoyed this change of pace, this new unexpected movement. Fans freely took photos and called out Jesse’s name.
It should be noted that even though the band is from Japan and performs primarily in Japanese, they all speak perfect English and easily communicated their feelings with the audience. This night was about Eastern culture meeting Western culture, and both RIZE and fade personify this feeling. Their music crosses borders, having no boundaries. It was simply a night of music. Some songs were more rap-oriented with others being heavy on guitar and bass. It would be hard to pick one genre to define RIZE. They have a sound that can effortlessly appeal to an American audience, and RIZE did just that.
After RIZE finished up, fade members came out to begin setting up their stage equipment as eager fans looked on. The five-member band started out with their most recent single, “One Reason.” They wasted no time in showing off new songs.
Now, who exactly are fade, you may ask? As singer Jon Underdown explained from center stage, “In case you guys don’t know, we’re fade and we’re from Tokyo, Japan.” Formed in New York in 1991 before debuting in Japan in 2002, fade has recently gained notoriety due to vocalist Jon’s work with GACKT’s project, YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz. Like RIZE, almost all the members of fade speak perfect English -- which makes sense, considering three of the five members are American, four of whom having lived in the States for some time. More than a debut for fade, it was a homecoming.
“Thanks, New York, how are you guys feeling out there? This next song is a new one, it’s called, “Ever Free.” Even though it was a new song, Jon had the audience singing along to choruses of “Woah-oh-oh.” As Jon took center stage, bassist Noriyuki and guitarist Kansei would play passionately, gaining energy from each other with guitarist 5° (pronounced Godo) on the left moving forward, as well. Rui was not forgotten or left out either, pounding away on the drums.
The audience itself was even more diverse than what one would expect in New York, including Americans, Asians, as well as people from Venezuela and Brazil. No matter one’s mother tongue, music is a universal language that brings everyone together.
Jon announced, “We’ve been in the studio recording for the past couple months and we just finished that motherfucker up a couple days before we got on a plane to come over here. It’s very special for us to be here in New York City, in North America playing for the first time.”
Never afraid to interact with the audience or continue to talk while his bandmates tuned up, the vocalist informed the audience that fade’s new album should be out in June. He also asked Kansei how many beers he had before the show, to which the guitarist replied, “Four.” Kansei apologized for his bad English, but he could be understood by all just fine.
Before the fifth song of the night, Jon asked, “Anybody out there ever hear a white boy sing in Japanese before?” to which many people cheered, and Jon replied, “Really? Wow, that’s a surprisingly large amount. If there’s a chance that you haven’t, this one is called Cosmicalism.” In contrast to the earlier songs of the night, which had been entirely in English, Cosmicalism was completely in Japanese. Even so, it still had fans singing along.
fade has a sound that can really be described as American alternate rock, but with a twist of something different thrown in. It could be due to the diversity of the members’ backgrounds and cultures that each brings something different to the table and results in the sound that is like a California roll of sushi. During one song, 5° even used a violin bow to play his guitar, which was unexpected, but wonderful.
Kansei took the second MC of the night, reminding the audience the event was sponsored by Asahi beer before he chugged a cup of beer himself, much to the enthusiastic cheers of the audience, spilling a lot of it but enjoying it, nonetheless. He grabbed a second cup and took a sip before giving it to a girl in the audience and the band moved on to the next song.
“Beautiful” was a treat to hear, a slower song off their 2005 album, “A Moment of Truth.” Jon talked about the earthquake that devastated Japan in March 2011, letting people know that Japan was healing, but still had a long way to go. “East Meets West” was not only meant to bring cultures together, but also as a charity event to help earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan who are not as fortunate right now as we are. “It’s so beautiful in my head…” the song goes, and he had the audience sing along. Jon would say the lyrics and have the audience repeat back. fade had performed in Toronto a few days prior, and Jon informed the crowd Toronto was loud, wanting us to be even louder.
The band left the stage after “Kings of Dawn,” but shouts for an encore quickly ensued, and the band obliged, returning to the stage for one last song of the night.
“Thank you, see you soon!” Jon said before the band left the stage for the final time that evening. Even after the show, the members could be seen around the venue, willing to sign autographs, take pictures with fans, or even just chat. The evening was a meshing of cultures and breaking barriers where all that mattered in the end was music. East successfully met West in the evening’s production.
1) The SUN
4) TELEVISION SONG
5) ROAD 2 LION
10) FAR EASTERN TRIBE
1. One Reason
2. Ever Free (New)
3. From the Heart
4. In the end (New)
6. Last Man Standing
7. So Far Gone
9. Kings of Dawn
10. Let it Go
~ Melissa Castor
Special Correspondent for The Diva Review,
March 26th, 2012
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