It was last Thursday when I attended the Japan stage of Music Matters 2014, where the 3 bands: Cream, the Oral Cigarettes and Naoto Inti Raymi came to Singapore to perform for about 35 minutes each. You would have seen who these 3 performers are from a previous entry, so I’ll dive down to the live analysis.
Overall I would say this is a far cry from last year. It had Flumpool and SID, so there was obviously no comparison. The main difference, I think, is that the performers this year weren’t as focused on singing properly as they were on making us all excitable. There was a lot of cheering, shouting, asking us to sing along, until it struck me that they weren’t singing many of their better tunes. Maybe it’s also something to do with the discomforting heat that they chose the much easier songs to sing, but it basically felt more like watching a series of stage circus performances than actually listening to professional singers.
That said, both Cream and Naoto had a large crowd of fans who came to support. I guess this would be a memorable night for them, because I would think indie fans get even less of a chance than us mainstream fans to see their idols live on stage.
The woman in Cream, Minami, wore a gigantic bra and baggy exercise pants. I kid you not. It is a strategic gesture on her part, as the weather is simply unbearable, but it was still quite distracting to see her necklace over her cleavage and her bared stomach dripping with perspiration. And when she’s jumping up and down you swear those pants are going to come off. Oh, and she tied her hair into 2 buns on her head. 1 side of her hair is a lighter blonde while the other side is brown, so it’s rather artistic.
What’s going for her is that she speaks English really well, with an American accent to boot. And she’s quite friendly so the atmosphere was still nice. The rapper guy spoke less but he wore his trademark sunglasses and his rapping was of course pretty good. There was 1 dumb song where they kept going “sake and sushi, sake and sushi, sake and sushi” in English. So you can see what I mean by the kinds of low-quality songs you hear on stage.
However, 1 memorable song they sang, which was their last song, was Shooting Star. Minami belted out the “shooting star” part with great strength, but for some reason always needed to kneel on the ground when she did it. Like as if she can’t sing powerful parts while standing up.
The Oral Cigarettes
Well, I frankly didn’t expect much more from the Oral Cigarettes anyway. There was one time when they asked us to chime “maou … something… sanjou” which supposedly meant “the demon lord has arrived”, which was the first line of their next song or something. Which is quite dumb because I’m sure nobody really wants to mutter this line repeatedly. Sounds almost cultist. Then again, their band name isn’t particularly clean and pure anyway.
But yeah, this is absolutely a band that’s just starting out. They don’t have any spectacular songs yet. Oh, and the guitarist has the most stupid action. He likes to basically lift his leg in the air, put it down again, then lift it again. It makes him look like a dog about to pee! I’m sure that someday their managers will tell him to stop doing that.
Naoto Inti Raymi
First thing I noticed is that he must be hot under that cap, scarf and jacket. Unfortunately that is his style. He also brought along 4 men as backup dancers and did what looked like a bunch of comedic routines. You know in Japanese videos you sometimes have people behind doing absurd dances while you sing? That’s what those men did. I mean yeah they danced well, but you get the feeling the whole thing is not very funny. They are energetic though, which is good.
Naoto himself is pretty okay I think. He doesn’t have very many fast songs, so he’s got to sing some slower ones. He did a Japanese rendition of that Coca Cola World Peace song. I forgot its name but you should look it up. So yeah, it wasn’t altogether bad, but his songs are a little bit too country for me.
Before Japan Night began there was a band doing an opening act, called the Juveniles. The Juveniles sound perfectly English, so it’s hard to believe they’re French. However, they do look distinctly French. The vocalist has a nice boyish look, and he looks cute rummaging his curly hair often. However, there came a time when he started doing it a bit too often, and I started wondering if it was on purpose. There was also a black, I believe, who did something nifty with these electronic plates that make noises when you tap them.
Come to think of it, the entire band is made up of some strange instruments. There are those plates, and there was a keyboard, and there was a weird radio transistor-looking thing that the vocalist would fiddle with and make the sound higher or lower. There was once he made it so high and loud that everyone just covered their ears. So, yeah, not entirely a comfortable experience.
At the end of the performances the bands would say that they wanted to come back again. We would of course politely cheer, but I would think to myself, “please come back only if SID isn’t intending to come back; I wouldn’t want you to take their place”. Or Flumpool or Weaver, really.
But still, this is a good chance to get exposed to Japanese up-and-coming performers. I do look forward to seeing who would be coming the next time.