A raucous bassist shouting at the top of his lungs, a guitarist who models himself on AC/DC’s Angus Young and a drummer dressed in nothing but a fundoshi (loincloth) — meet The Wemmer.
The Shizuoka-based band is typical of the energy of punk, hard rock and indie scenes scattered across the country. After touring in the United States twice, though, bassist and vocalist Takahiro Yamashita (22) wants his hometown of Shizuoka on the nation’s music map. How will he do that? Well, he’s organized his own festival, Fever of Shizuoka.
“After touring in America and witnessing the excitement of the music scenes outside of New York, it made me think that Shizuoka has the same kind of buzz, being a growing scene away from Tokyo,” Yamashita says. “I want to present my city’s music and culture to the world.”
While Japan has seen healthy rock scenes in other parts of the country before — Fukuoka’s mentai rock and Nagoya’s new-wave and postpunk scenes to name a few — the industry has been centered largely in Tokyo for the past few years.
With the help of his friends — all from Shizuoka and in their early 20s — the festival’s second edition will take place Dec. 7. It spans the entire city, with around 100 acts performing at 10 venues and on an outdoor stage at Ogushi Shrine in Aoi Ward.
Despite the local pride, Yamashita stresses that he hopes to draw punters from outside Shizuoka Prefecture.
“Everyone can come and have an adventure, checking out new places and partying full blast,” he says.
The event features big draws such as rock acts Guitar Wolf, Electric Eel Shock and indie hero Sokabe Keiichi. However, Yamashita has curated a selection of indie bands he thinks will impress including Shizuoka’s herpiano (“No-frills music with a personal touch, similar to SuperChunk”), Nara-based duo Red Sneakers (“Honest, life-sized lyrics with an intense sound”) and Osaka’s The Guays (“They’re still in their early 20s, but their live show is so powerful — they’re guaranteed to start a mosh pit”).
Looking past the rock staples, Yamashita has invited DJs and rappers to the festival, and one of his recommendations is Shizuoka-born rapper KMC. He’ll perform with MPC whiz-kid STUTS. Yamashita credits one of this Tokyo-based duo’s gigs as being the reason he got into hip-hop.
Having performed at the first Fever Of Shizuoka earlier this year, KMC (aka 28-year-old Kazuhito Yanagihara) has only good things to say about the festival.
“Takahiro stood up and created this with his own enthusiasm and it grew to involve hundreds of acts over two events so far,” he says. “Fever Of Shizuoka gathers a variety of artists, regardless of genre, is a great movement of music and culture . . . and it’s an awesome party!”
Fever of Shizuoka takes place Dec. 7 at various venues across Shizuoka. Tickets are ¥3,500 in advance. For more information, visit www.feverofshizuoka.wix.com/fosstylish.
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