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group_inou

by Shawn Despres

Special To The Japan Times

Tokyo-based duo group_inou are one of those acts that seems like a perfect fit for the Fuji Rock Festival, which is held annually in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture. This summer will mark the band’s third time at the event.

The act first showcased its hip-hop/electronica hybrid (with a dash of chiptune to keep it fresh) at Fuji Rock in 2007, when an impressive performance on the Rookie a Go-Go stage earned the pair an invitation back the following year. For its sophomore appearance, group_inou was scheduled to play the Day Dreaming stage. Located at the summit of a mountain, fans and bands alike must take a 20-minute cable-car ride to get there. group_inou was enjoying the scenic journey to the top when a bee flew into the car. The band and support staff began to panic, and one crew member almost fell out as everyone tried to shoo the insect away.

Luckily, a “chased by a bee” story wasn’t the highlight of the duo’s time at Fuji Rock. During their set, MC CP danced wildly across the grassy performance area, ferociously spitting out lyrics while beatmaker Imai flailed around behind him on a smorgasbord of gadgets. It’s the kind of genre-hopping, amped-up performance that Fuji fans live for.

Odds are high that group_inou will be slotted on one of Fuji Rock’s bigger stages this year, but before the festival rolls around, fans will have a few chances to see the band on a smaller stage.

In May, group_inou has solo concerts in Osaka and Tokyo in support of its new “Monkey / Judge” double A-side CD single. Both of the songs will be on the duo’s third full-length album, which should surface in autumn. Later this month, the band will travel to Canada for shows in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal with Japanese peers Zazen Boys, Charan-Po-Rantan and Praha Depart for the “Next Music from Tokyo Vol. 4″ tour. Concert-goers can expect to hear material from 2008′s “Fan” and 2010′s “_” along with a sneak peek at some of group_inou’s new cuts, too.

group_inou plays Shangri-La in Osaka on May 12 ([06] 6343-8601) and Liquidroom in Tokyo on May 13 ([03] 5464-0800). Both shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets are ¥3,000 in advance. The band will also perform at Join Alive in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido, on July 22 (ticket prices vary) and at the Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 29 (ticket prices vary). For more information, visit g-a-l.jp/group_inou.