Japanese Loud Rock and Nu Metal party feat. Loka @Shibuya Vision

Japanese Loud Rock and Nu Metal party feat. Loka @Shibuya Vision


In the fashionable and party-loving Shibuya, Tokyo, everybody geared up for the last night of the week end on the coldish Sunday of November 29. Trying to make the audience at Shibuya Vision forget the looming Monday, but compromising by starting the show as early as 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Japanese band LOKA joined MADE MY DAY on headliner DIAWOLF's tour. All three performing bands successfully show cased the potential of the recent Japanese rock music scene to appeal not only to a Japanese audience, but also garner attention from international fans.  

LOKA still had some time to kill, however, as MADE MY DAY took on the job of pumping up the audience. The band stomped on stage and gripped the audience from the get go with aggressive metal. Their vocalist restricted himself to mastering the metal growls and belts, while the guitarist took it upon himself to sing melodic passages and the often easy to follow chorus parts. While the band tried to warm the Japanese audience to English lyrics that way, their energetic vocalist paced the stage with grand, flashy gestures, so that before long everybody was eagerly doing his bidding by moving along. The set list lacked variety a bit, so that their act did not have much of a dramaturgy, but the overall heavy sound, stage presence and the ever demanding pushes for more audience participation worked magic. In the end, even that shy Japanese girl in the far back, who stood clutching the fence behind her all the time, worked up the courage to show the metal sign with her fingers.

Enter Loka. Colorful stage lights and a rap-intro raised eyebrows as singer Kihiro, guitarist SIN, drummer KEN'ICHI, and a support bassist took the stage, surveyed the audience, ignored them then and started of their set with a loud thundering bang! as if saluting each other before a battle.

With an almost scary look the four came of strong right from the bat, with the crashing rhythms of “Slick”. Vocalist Kihiro, sporting his trademark base cap, started out almost spitting his lyrics, while the overall song build up to noisy loud rock. The melody, however, remained catchy - the fans flew in dancing mode right away.

Following up with “Calling”, Kihiro boasted his high range vocals, belying all doubts about his vocal abilities. The passionate man screamed out “Wake up everybody!”, but it will remain a mystery, who was addressed, as everybody was on their heels anyway.

And surely, LOKA know their craft. Started in 2012, the band consist of veteran musicians, who are eager to explore the depths of music. Influenced by American bands like KORN, Linkin Park, NICKLEBACK and Bullet for my Valentine, their love for breaking the limits of Japanese rock is evident. Their alternative sounds incorporates loud rock and metal, hip-hop and more, without unnecessary embellishment. Their sound is not voluptuous, not heavily overlaid, but rather clean with a sense for breaks and dynamics. Vocalist Kihiro has an appealing and decent voice, and a variety of techniques up his sleeve to make the most of it.

Unlike the cool and unapproachable image of their American counterparts, however, LOKA is a true fan's darling – all the while pretending not to be. On stage Kihiro is a sight to look at – slender and wiry, his movement of stage is fierce and focused. His gestures are sparse, but on point. And quirky. On a closer look, the cool band façade is torn down by constant give-aways, such as peculiar dancing moves of the front man or his silent grin. Or when he, such as during “Daedalus”, shoots hearts at his fans and makes them go wild through eye-contact, all the while somehow managing to not look cheesy. He is aided by guitarist SIN, who used the stage to its fullest, making fans on the fringes very happy and the rest, too, by flashing big smiles.   
All in all a LOKA show is a real party. As if shooting hearts was not enough, Kihiro teases the audience by pitting them against each other. “In Sendai there were even three rings!”, he announced in his review of their tour so far. “Can you do this, too? Come on, Tokyo, this is our home turf!” The concert scene is seldom graced with such a loud vocal protest as was raised by one male fan who shouted “Don't ya dare underestimate us!” back. Then, “Eden” started with an unexpectedly soft intro and Kihiro urged everybody with his lyrics “take a breath, close your eyes, listen to the beat” in a slightly husky singing voice. Before the band's eyes, brimming with glee, what had been a moshing place formed into dance circles that looked as if people were dancing around the fire place at a barbecue party, with the audience member's holding each other's shoulders and gently dancing round and round. In the small club they managed two big circles. At that point if wouldn't have been too weird if they had started doing the Can Can, too. Only they didn't. But to the intensifying rock sound they celebrated the song's feeling of “We are here, we are there, we are everywhere” and into this joyful atmosphere Kihiro dragged the last note and ended it all with a sudden, heartfelt laughing sound.  

The show was carefully crafted and so the level of rock and metal hardness was turned up some serious notches in the following songs “Club Rock” and “Shit”, only to end with heavy jumping and singing to “Tsubasa Trigger”. The band was so hyped up by that time, that Kihiro even stage dived into the crowd. Everything came to an end, then, with loud cheering and the front man reminding everybody: “We are LOKA”!

Judging by the audience participation one could forget that LOKA wasn't the headliner. The host of the day, DIAWOLF', however, took reign of the flow effortlessly when they finally appeared. The project made up of visual kei band A9 members Tora and Show introduced their fans to a new hard rock style, mixed with club music and EDM. They made the transition from typical visual kei band style to a broader kind of rock music, while drawing heavily on their visual background. Like this, DIAWOLF lead the show to a partying finale, with their EMD infused, happy rock music. By then, LOKA could already relax and enjoy the successful end of the show, to which they had contributed a great deal. 



in collaboration with: www.radio-diabolus.eu

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