Edgar is a member of the CoFesta Ambassadors and was also recently appointed as Cool Japan Ambassador by the Japanese Government. As part of his work, he has been invited to Live Shows of different Japanese artists and he’ll be sharing his thoughts about the current Japanese music scene. If you are interested in knowing more about Japanese music, please follow his reports here at Living Japan.
Live Report: Coming Next 2016 at NHK Hall, February 11th, 2016
If you are a fan of Japanese music, the Coming Next concert is an event that you definitely cannot miss. Every year, eighteen upcoming artists and outstanding new performers participate in this show, giving you the opportunity to listen to the latest trends and rhythms of the Japanese music scene. I have to say that, although it was a very entertaining and interesting show, you have to be a real music lover as the concert lasts around 5 hours, covering all genres, from the latest pop artists and idol groups to the hardest rock and the most gangsta rap of the Land of the Rising Sun. We can say that the Coming Next is a comprehensive review of the best and newest music that Japan has to offer.
Still, in order to keep this article short and straight to the point, I will focus on which, on my opinion, where the best acts of this year’s edition of the Coming Next show. Even though I listen to all types of music, I must admit that my preferences might be more inclined towards rock than pop; still I’ll do my best effort to be as objective as I can. For those of you who would like to take a look to all the artists that participated on the Coming Next, I’ll put a list of them accompanied with the name of the songs with which they participated. Now that we took this out of our way, let’s start with the review.
7.- BLUE ENCOUNT and LOCAL CONNECT: Keeping a classic rock-pop approach, the second with a tone a little bit heavier than the first, I am sure that all rock fans can enjoy of both of these bands. BLUE ENCOUNT introduced themselves to the audience with their joyful song “Day x Day” followed by a more nostalgic approach with the power ballad “はじまり” (Hajimari/Beginning). LOCAL CONNECT on the other hand, engaged with the public in a total opposite order, starting with a calmed tune by performing 幸せのありか (Shiawase no arika/Whether there be happiness) and gradually move towards a more dynamic rhythm with コスモループ (Kosmo Ruupu/Cosmo Loop). Although I really enjoyed their music and the way both managed themselves on the stage, I have to admit that it seems that both are very young bands still in search of their own unique sound, the one that makes you identify them over the rest of the artists on the J-Rock scene. Don’t get me wrong, BLUE ENCOUNT and LOCAL CONNECT are a very good rock bands and I am sure that we’ll be listening more of them on this 2016.
6.- fhána: Of course, this list could not be complete without a little bit of AniSong and Fhána seems to be the new upcoming talent of the genre. The group formed by Junichi Satō (composition, synthesizer), Yuxuki Waga (composition, guitar) and Kevin Mitsunaga (composition, sampler) started as an indie project in 2012 using different guest voices until singer Towana joined the band. The following year they were signed by Lantis and their debut single was “ケセラセラ” (Ke Sera Sera/Que Sera Sera) which became the ending theme of the anime 有頂天家族 (Uchouten Kazoku/The Eccentric Family) what opened their way as the new talent of the anisong genre. Their cheerful and optimistic music matches perfectly with their performance on stage and the good vibes they get from the audience, especially when singing.
5.- Alaha Meiri (安良波明里): What can I say about Alaha Meiri? She is gorgeous, has a beautiful voice and very fun and entertaining choreographies. The moment she put a step on the stage I knew that she had the potential to become more than just another “pop star.” In general, her music keeps a very positive vibe and I can truly see each of her songs as a celebration of youth, which should not surprise us if we think she’s only 22 years old. Another thing that I like about her show is that she aimed to have a “girl next door” look; avoiding to showcase herself as an unapproachable diva and creating a very appealing image, allowing her to engage better with her audience having a friendly appearance that makes you feel closer to her, as someone you can easily hang out with at a party. Unfortunately, there’s something that I didn’t really enjoy about her presentation, reason why she’s not in a higher position on this list. I was having a great time listening to her performance (that included the songs “You! You! You!”; “RIGHT NOW”; and, “21 ANTHEM”) when suddenly the melody change from a nice cheerful pop beat to dubstep. Honestly, I don’t know which was the reason for her producers to do this, but I really think it was unnecessary and breaks the mood, especially during a live show. Meiri has everything to be a star, don’t try to push rhythms and styles just to make her “engage” with the younger audiences.
4.- サンドクロック(Sandokurokku/Sand Clock).- Let me tell you something, Japan is in love with acoustic ballads. Since the first time I came here I have met many people who looks forward for career in the music industry and the majority of the amateur live shows I have been invited everybody performs acoustic ballads, and even if they are talented musicians and singers, in the end the majority of them tend to sound very similar (which explains why only a few can make it to the big leagues). This is not the case for Sand Clock. The acoustic duo formed by Amane Takita (滝田周/keyboard and vocals) and Yoshiyuki Nagata (永田佳之/guitar and vocals) has a very unique and unmistakable sound that anyone can identify as soon as the first notes start to play. From my point of view, their music represent the jubilee of life, from the happiness of falling in love, the nostalgia of a past high school summer or the sadness of losing someone. All of them form part of life, and all of them should be appreciated at maximum… this is the message and feeling I get from Sand Clock’s music. My favourit songs are 君はファンタジー (Kimi ha fantashii/You are a fantasy) and “Room”. Once you listen to them, you’ll understand what I am talking about, definitely a can’t miss.
3.- Shiggy Jr.- The guys (and gal) of Shiggy Jr. just want to have fun and enjoy life. Their sound has a lot of influence from the 70’s and early 80’s soul and funk scene, and if you like to shake your body and feel the groove of the music, Shiggy Jr. is the band for you. The moment the first notes of “Listen to the Music” and “サマータイムラブ” (Summer Time Love) you just feel like dancing and shake your whole body to their rhythm. I just love the positive message and vibes that you get from listening to them. You could just feel all this optimistic energy feeling the NHK Hall during their performance and while the whole audience was clapping and swinging. I already add them to my playlists and I am pretty sure once you listen to them, you will too.
2.- Charisma.Com: Breaking with all paradigms and stigmas, the duo formed by MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi started their career in 2011 and they are finally getting the attention that they deserve. Their big breakthrough single “Hate”, released on 2013, allowed them to get to more mainstream audiences and opened the way for them to be able to participate in many major music festivals such as Rock in Japan and Moteki. I have to admit that, when they came out to the stage the first thing I though was “great… another pop act that uses a DJ” but I was completely mistaken. Their music is formed by amazing electronic beats that matched perfectly with their furious and venomous lyrics. Together, Itsuka and Gonchi have a fist of dynamite that is ready to blow. As their name emphasizes, both of them are very charismatic on their own way, it is hard not to get excited and crazy when MC Itsuka is holding the mic or to stop yourself from dancing to the electronic rhythm of DJ Gonchi. They are strong, they are feminine and they are breaking the established ideas about gender roles in music.
1.- Gacharic Spin: Honestly speaking, picking up an audience after a 5 hours concert and make them jump, clap and cheer is something only a group like Gacharic Spin could achieve. The thing I liked the most about them is that you can see they love playing music and being on the stage, but most importantly, that they are having the time of their lives every time they perform. Their music is energetic and strong, happy and merry, but at the same time furious and powerful. Gacharic Spin’s show has everything, the music, the dance; the lights… all your senses get hyped as soon as the first notes come out from their instruments. My favourite song is 赤裸ライアー (Sekira Liar – Naked Liar), in which bassist F Chopper Koga performs an incredibly funky jam to the rhythm of drummer and vocalist Hana, accompanied by the melody and energetic moves of Keyboardist OreOreOna and the rocking riffs of guitarist Tomo-Zo, all of it complemented with the amazing dance moves of dancers Mai and Nenne. On my opinion, Gacharic Spin is the most promising artist of this 2016, you must keep an eye on them as they surely are full of surprises.
天月-あまつき- (Amatsuki-Amatsuki-): While not particularly my cup of tea, I must admit that this is an artist that many people can enjoy, especially girls who like handsome kakkoi guys. If you want to know where to start you should listen to his song “Hello my Story.”
白波多カミン (Shirahata Kamin) with Placebo Foxes: Kamin Shirakata is a very talented young lady with a really beautiful voice, however, from my point of view, her songs are filled with nostalgia and kind of give me general feeling of sadness. If you haven’t guessed by now, I usually like to hear to happy cheerful music, so this is why although I think she is an incredible performer, I can’t completely connect with their tunes. If you want to know more about them listen to their song 姉弟 (Kyoudai/Siblings).
If you want to look for more music, here is the complete list of the permformers of the Coming Next 2016 concert: