Shin-daita FEVER. That is the location for a school festival after school on a cloudy 7th of November in Tokyo and also the translation of the title of the event, 放課後の学園祭, Houkago no gakuen-sai. Lucie,Too have ensured a line-up such as like-minded young people with No Buses, The Songbards, Mom and Kusudama (くすだま). Five bands performing on one evening: it’s party time!
The ornaments show that it is time for just that. The entire building of FEVER is decorated with balloons and coloured flags. The prices of the tickets reflect that it is a school festival after school time. Students can come in with a hefty discount and this makes sure that most of the audience is made up of students.
You can directly go for a photograph in a coloured photo corner at the entrance of FEVER. Upon entering the live hall, you can opt for homemade cupcakes and the merchandise of the various bands. Lucie,Too even sells second-hand clothing they have worn. If you want to put yourself in a nice shirt, pants or skirt of one of the girls, you could get an original purchase for a very low price at that day. You also support the band by buying these clothes.
The party was opened by Kusudama; a group of four who were livening up the festival with a fierce impetus as regards the drums played by Utashiro of GRASAM ANIMAL and the bassist, who is also a familiar face, namely Kanako Sekizawa of Lucie,Too. With a fantastic support by the two guitarists, of whom one also sings: Sguruguruguru of the band 1inamillion and Kayo Otaki of the band UlulU (ウルル), the experience felt complete. The singer Kayo tries to get the highest notes out of her toes every now and then, which literally puts her on her toes. It sounds slick, even though it has to date been a one-time gig by a collection of interesting musicians. All in all, Kusudama performs 4 songs, all upbeat pop songs that warm up the audience just right for the rest of the evening.
Mom: A whole other genre, namely ‘Craft Hip Hop’ for the new generation! Mom is a young singer-songwriter who is not labelled as a rapper or a bandsman. Supported by a DJ who is full of passion and takes care of the music for the musician with a smile, Mom starts. He skips back and forth on stage and makes contact with the audience. The bass intensifies a lot with Mom, while four tracks are being played. It starts with an upbeat track, but Mom then directly shifts to the slower tracks, one of which even gives reggae vibes. The audience responds positively to the music but doesn’t make them really hyped up. The song Boyfriend is contagious enough to bring the audience to bop their head. Eventually, the arms of the audience go up. It gives the impression that Mom’s performance, in the beginning, can be seen as a kind of cooling off period, with the audience warming up right at the end.
While the next band is setting up, part of the song Stand by Me by Ben E. King plays: it’s showtime for the robot rock band The Songbards. Once the Songbards begin, the audience starts dancing immediately. It is clear from the start that many fans came for this band to enjoy the polyphonic group. The fine polyphony of the Songbards is really present during the track Inner lights, a highlight during the performance. Inner Lights can be found on their second mini-album, titled The Places, which was released a few weeks before this performance.
With the front three band members on guitar and bass, Yuji Matsubara, Kouhei Ueno, Atsushi Shibata, hiding their eyes with long locks, the long-haired drummer Yoshihide Iwata sometimes closes his eyes on fixed moments and keeps playing with a smile on his face. While it seems that the bass guitarist and the guitarists easily produce the music with their fingers, the drummer throws all his passion into the performance with crazy facial expressions. It makes for an interesting performance in which the feet are busy dancing on the dancefloor. The Songbards perform seven songs in total, many of which are upbeat and cheerful songs with some solidity in the guitar work. The band feels very inspired by The Beatles and that’s why they performed in the United Kingdom in August during the Beatles festival International Beatle Week.
A curly head hides behind bangs and glasses and an old pink Fender stands on stage. He, Taisei Kondo, is accompanied by a second guitarist named Sinya Gotoh, Bassist Saori Sugiyama and drummer Issey Ichikawa. It’s time for No Buses, a band whose name is a track of the Arctic Monkeys. What is immediately striking is that the singer, here and there monotone, often sings in English. The band does not perform convincingly at the start, the tracks seem to have the same build-up, giving them the feeling that they are similar. However, it seems that the audience can’t get enough of the performance and they listen to No Buses with their undivided attention. Only after half of the gig has passed does the band know to rock with different and upbeat tracks. The drummer has a lot of discipline, as he continues to play track after track, while sometimes the second guitarist knows how to drown out the rest. No Buses shows with their tracks, what they’re capable of, thus bringing the first part of the gig into oblivion. All in all, No Buses played eight tracks on the stage of FEVER, of which the track Trying Trying the most contagious song of this young indie rock band is.
It is then finally time for the organiser of the evening: Lucie,Too. A trio consisting of singer and guitarist Chisato Kokubo, bassist Kanako Sekizawa and drummer Naho Shibahara. These three girls know how to play light, sweet songs with a fine melody that threatens to linger in your head. That’s the work of Chisato. Maybe some people have already noticed when they are on YouTube looking for songs from the pop trio. Chances are they have ended up at a song by American indie rock band Now Now. We immediately know the origin of the band name Lucie,Too. (without a space)
Lucie,Too make pure pop songs that come off as sweet, but full of passion. The voice of Chisato can almost be called angelic with how it comes across to the audience on the stage of FEVER. Very clear. The bass of Kanako is very well present and Naho drums fanatically. The audience listens attentively and only focuses on the headliner of the evening. The tracks they perform are varied with upbeat songs and ballads, with some punk-like pop songs. Chisato is sometimes supported by the vocals of the other ladies, which enhances the songs. The latest release, exlover, is being played in between the other songs. It is also not being forgotten to perform the rest of the tracks during the performance.
The audience seems to be a little shy towards Lucie,Too, while Chisato and Kanako aren’t shy at all. Every now and then they play against each other as if they’re in a competition. The full capacities of the instruments are being released at the end of the performance and they are all jumping around. It ensures that the public also reacts by waving and clapping during the ending. Eventually the band encores with an extra song. The poppy songs of Lucie,Too are almost healing for the tired students. The public is refreshed and ready to take on the world after listening to this performance, especially after listening to the track Lucky. The performance of Lucie,Too tastes like more, but is a very good closing act of an interesting after-school festival.
Photography: Shoko Ishizaki (石崎祥子)