In a city like Tokyo, with more than 13 million people and who knows how many aspiring musicians, what does a band need to do to set their show apart from the others?
The Blackwoods event, hosted by Tokyo-based rock trio Golden, hopes to change the way Japanese audiences experience live performances.
“When it’s just watching bands perform, maybe two or three acts are the most an audience can enjoy before they start to get tired,” says Golden’s singer/guitarist Kota Saito. “By incorporating other artistic elements, I think the whole thing will be much more enjoyable.”
While other elements are important, Golden don’t have to rely on anything that might be construed as a gimmick. The band’s sound features interesting transitions from introspective spoken vocals into pained shouting, punctuated by sharp punkish riffs. It’s a style that makes you think you are listening to poetry as much as rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, their song “The Black Star Shining” is dedicated to poet Arthur Rimbaud, and Saito claims he’s influenced by early Fleetwood Mac.
Rounding out Golden are guitarist Tetsu Kojima and drummer Ryo Tashiro. There’s no bassist in the current lineup.
“I’m always looking for a new member,” says Saito. “If I find the right person for the band, I won’t hesitate to invite them to join us.”
Saito isn’t just looking for new band members, he’s got his eye on ways to change the format of the live show. That means other types of artists and media. “I want bands that are searching for their own meaning and not blindly following trends,” he says.
That support comes in the form of labelmate The Second Academy, who are coming over to Japan from Seattle for Blackwoods. Two other Japanese acts will share the bill, WoRds-cell and Terror Familia. WoRds-cell takes grungy rock riffs and groovy rhythms, and pairs them up with energetic, high-pitched vocals. Terror Familia is dancier, but still undeniably blues-rock. Vocalist Diana Chiaki should set them apart from the otherwise male-dominated performances of the night.
In addition to the rock ‘n’ roll element, there will be short film interludes by Yuu Kotani and a saxophone performance by Daizaburo Mori. This is an attempt to “incorporate other elements in order to avoid just being a bunch of bands playing,” according to Saito, who says he wants to add poetry readings, live painting and even social-activist booths to Blackwoods shows in the future.
Blackwoods takes place at Lush in Shibuya, Tokyo, on Nov. 30 (7 p.m.; ¥2,000). For more information, call (03) 5467-3071 or visit www.goldlore.net.