“It’s about the urge to drown out your inner weaknesses with the guitar,” says Masashi Imanishi, guitarist for Osaka band Lemon’s Chair. “There’s a sentimental aesthetic to it that’s about picturing scenery through sound, but I don’t really have a strict definition for it.”
He’s talking about the shoegaze genre pioneered by U.K. bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Ride in the early 1990s. Shoegazers were so named because band members would stare down at their feet while playing live because that’s where all the effects pedals they used to craft walls of feedback were. While the term “shoegaze” was initially derided by artists, it is widely accepted now.
Imanishi and his band are the minds behind Japan Shoegazer Festival. The event first took place in 2011, and the latest edition will be held Oct. 26, 27 and Nov. 4.
“Twenty years ago, I remember people listening to shoegaze more as a part of U.K. rock in general,” Imanishi says. “I think it’s much more popular now.”
Imanishi and his band have now expanded the event from two cities to three, by adding Nagoya alongside Osaka and Tokyo. Each city will feature a different lineup, with Lemon’s Chair playing all three.
In Nagoya, Tokenai Namae will merge keyboards and Showa Era melodies with more traditional shoegaze sounds and male-female duets reminiscent of a lo-fi Supercar. The show also features Miiiia, a dream-pop duo playing with a drum machine.
The Osaka show will feature Hiroshima’s Flower Triangle, one of the more electronica-tinged acts of the festival, and Kanina, a self-described “post-classical, ambient band,” who is sure to please fans of post-rockers such as Mogwai and Mono.
The Tokyo lineup includes boy-girl melodic pop trio Plastic Girl In Closet, and Sugardrop, whose sweet melodies contrast nicely with heavy riffs. Tokyo also boasts a number of special guests, including veteran groove-metal band Cocobat, and Cruyff in the Bedroom, known as “The Japanese King of Shoegazer,” who recently released a greatest hits album that covers 14 years of history.
“In shoegaze there are many different colors,” Imanishi explains. “Some is like J-rock; some is Miku-gaze, which uses composing software and Vocaloid; and there’s instrumental, sentimental shoegaze like Lemon’s Chair. I hope people will be able to feel that at the festival.”
Japan Shoegazer Festival takes place at Club Vijon in Osaka on Oct. 26 (1 p.m. start; ¥2,500 in advance; 06-6533-7411); at Daytrip in Nagoya on Oct. 27 (12:30 p.m. start; ¥2,500 in adv.; 052-241-5019); and Koenji High in Tokyo on Nov. 4 (12:30 p.m. start; ¥3,500 in adv.; 03-5378-0382). For more information and a list of bands performing, visit www.lemonschair.wix.com/high-fader-records-.