Monday, May 28, 2007

JRock Revolution Recap

Well, it was certainly an interesting weekend. Kate, Sandra and I made it down to Los Angeles in time for the first night of JRock Revolution. As we arrived, the line stretched around the block, largely filled with late-teen, early 20s folks dressed for the show in styles vaguely reminiscent of Sakuracon, though without the key blades. Our mezzanine seats gave us a fine view of the stage and as we sat down the video screen in front of the stage was showing footage from the last concert of X Japan, a band that the show's organizer Yoshiki (who live's in LA, thus the venue).

At 7:00, the video screen went away, the lights went down, the curtain went up and the screams from the crowd went even higher. It was like a Beatles show in the early 60s high pitched and loud! The bands were good, generally ranging between pop rock and speed metal and pretty much uniformly avoiding ballads. I thought it was interesting that with only one exception, the bands were very similar in instrumentation - Bass, drums, vocalist and either one or two guitarists and the guitarists generally shunned guitar solos.

The exception was the most interesting act of the whole show. Miyavi played third on the first night and it was pretty clear that it was going to be different when the band consisted of drums, bass, a DJ, a beatboxer, a tap dancer, a visual artist and Miyavi on acoustic guitar and vocals. Miyavi's guitar style is much closer to funk bass playing, a combination of thumping and slapping the guitar to get a very percussive sound that meshed well with the rest of the band's funk/percussive bent. Check out the first part of this video to get a sense of his playing style. While the rest of the bands were like watching bands play through their top hits, the Miyavi segment was a SHOW. Kind of like watching Prince in the early days, lots of energy and the band was tight and kickin'!

Kate and Sandra were even more impressed with the Alice Nine show which finished the first night though I suspect that you would really need to know the band's songs and backgrounds to differentiate. To me, they were all very similar with the exception of Miyavi. It was fun watching which instruments they were playing and letting Kate know which guitars and basses I have that they were using. Les Paul's are still very popular as are Fender Jazz Basses and Paul Reed Smith guitars. Interestingly, the only Stratocaster that showed up was for the last song of the last band on the second night. If you know the difference between a Strat and a Les Paul then that probably gives you an idea of the type of music that was played.

The second night was a little different from the first. The bands were darker and leaned more towards metal than pop rock and the crowd was also more punk looking than the pop Lolitas of the night before. The bands were still good and our location behind the sound board (always the best place to listen) limited the screaming so it was much easier to hear the bands. I ended up liking both shows much more than I thought I would though I think the peak was 1/2 way through the first night.

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