I was introduced to Japanese music when I was fairly young thanks to anime and Japanese movies, but my exposure was limited to mostly pop and limited rock and punk songs. Japan Nite was a great opportunity to be exposed to Japanese indie groups such as Jake Stone Garage, Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band, Pirates Canoe, Four Minutes Til Midnight and Josy!
Japan Nite was held at The Independent in San Francisco, one of my favorite venues for small shows! Plenty of general admission standing room with tables and benches spread out along the perimeter for those who want to be seated. Best part is even in the very back you have a clear view of the raised stage, and can listen comfortably without the close contact of the GA crowd. Plus easy access to the bar!
I scoped out the merchandise table to make sure I knew where to buy any CDs from artists I enjoyed during the night, which came in handy as Jake Stone Garage took the stage. The opened up the show with intense energy especially from the bassist Tsukasa Nishi who sported the perfect hair for head banging. Meanwhile Satoshi Watanabe carried the performances with his powerful vocals accompanied by Hideaki Iwanaka on the drums. I loved their set so much I raced to the merch table as their final song was ending and grabbed the last CD available for sale. Lucky me!
Next up was a familiar face I’d met at the beginning of the night Chihiro of Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band. This group is a completely instrumental assemble band specializing in a fusion of jazz, classical and rock styles. I must confess, I’m a huge sucker for songs that feature trumpets and Chihiro plays hers BEAUTIFULLY. I especially enjoyed their arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy; gave me all sorts of nostalgic feels. And yes, I rushed to the merch table to buy their CD as well. I couldn’t resist!
JOSY, a guitar-less all girl band, came on next. These ladies lit up the stage with their enthusiasm and got the crowd on their feet and cheering. Kumi was especially energetic jumping from rocking the microphone to playing the keyboard. I’d love to see a full show of their songs and I was really disappointed I was able to snatch an album before they sold out that evening. Pirates Canoe brought the audience down with their more soothing brand of music followed by Fours Minutes til Midnight who closed out the show.
My favorite of the night was without a doubt Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band. The group’s carefree style of performing was a joy to watch and I couldn’t help but smile throughout their entire set. I hope they return to San Francisco in the future!
Be sure to catch Japan Nite in San Francisco March 24th! It’ll be held at the Independent again this year!
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