band contest in hekinan (碧南)
on december 18th, there was a band contest in hekinan, a city south to okazak and close to the nagoya international airport (chubu). this particular band contest seems to have quite a tradition, this year being the 24th edition although the events seems to take place in summer and in winter.
the bands were separated into two categories, junior and general. entry fee was 500 yen per person.
the band contest flag
we showed up slightly late and completely missed the junior bands. the first band we saw were HEAVY METAL HURRICANE in the general section who were as loud as their name suggests. they put up a good show but of course missed the taste of the general public by a wide margin, as always with heavy metal bands at such event, which is a real pity. but unfortunately hm is just not mainstream.
they were followed by ヤングビーツ (young beats), a solo-performer backed up by tapes. this guy has a nice voice but it's strange to hear "please treat your life importantly" from a 19 years-old wearing a suit.
Heavy Metal Hurricane
サトシバンド (satoshi band) played some nice party rock'n'roll and a good beatles cover before the break. the singer is actually the leadguitar player's dad. talk about family!
after the break, KARIYASHIKI entered the stage. their website is http://kariyashiki.com/ and they have an impressive history. currently working on their ninth album they have been featured on television before. they did some high-quality j-pop. the bassplayer had a weird way of finger-picking the strings but the sound was okay.
ぶぁーみりおん (ba-mirion (=Vermillion)) were next, featuring a female singer with what looked like extremly long legs.
one of the guitar players (the main songwriter for the band according to the leaflet) played a Ernie Ball Van Halen Wolfgang guitar and the first song would have made eddie shed tears, quite a banal song.
the second song was much more powerful and kicked ass incl. a guitar solo which would have had eddie wipe away his tears and smile again.
next on stage were マッスル・ドッキング・スクワッド (muscle docking squad), a trio.
the bassplayer was quite excellent and formed a solid rhythm section with the drums.
the problem area is the singer although his efforts were valiant. his guitar playing resembles nirvana / red hot chili peppers and he definitely likes to sing like kurt cobain.
it looked like he didn't enjoy himself much on stage. it was hard to figure out whether he was singing in japanese or english or both or in some other language.
in the short interview after the songs he confessed he was really nervous, one of the reasons why he didn't smile at all i think.
one of the jury members critized his clothing style, an area which i think the jury should not be concerned about especially since their casual look fit the music actually quite well.
then, Soul Vibrations entered the stage and i think they blew everyone away, although the only played one song.
a very-well arranged song, very distinct instrumental line and everyone knew how to play. the bass-player even popped a couple of notes, superb timing and adding a nice flavour to the song. this is definitely a band i would like to see live.
check out their homepage at http://soulvibrations.net/
the last contestant band was Average 26, who only played one song, a pop/rock-x-mas theme.
26 is their average age, ranging from 17 (the singer) to 44 (the guitar player and composer).
unfortunately, it was clearly visible that they formed especially for this festival as they lacked a certain magic.
after another break during which the votes from the audience were collected the previous year's festival winner THE CHELSEA played six songs and it was obvious why they won the previous year.
playing tight, interesting compositions, no lack of self-consciousness, very convincing.
their website is at http://chelsea-web.com/index.html
then, the jury announced the winners. maybe it's just me but i think the jury member with the hat and the glasses looks like a junkie. a true rock'n'roller then!
there were special prices for best drum performance in the junior section, longest tone in the general section, audience selection etc. but the important prices were best band junior and best general.
unfortunately, i don't remember who was able to collect the trophy for best junior band (i think it was 曲者クラス).
the winner of best band general turned out to be Soul Vibrations and I think they deserved it but that's always a biased opinion.
they collected 100'000 yen prize money and a trophy. as winner of the audience selection they earned another 10'000 Yen, a total of ca. 1300 Sfr. that day definitely made it into the band's top ten!
all in all a nice, entertaining event. the only complaint about the event is the sterility that seems to stick to all japanese events of this sort.
everything is just a little too organized to enjoy. check out the rules for such an event:
-please turn off your mobile phone or switch to manner mode
-please do not eat or drink inside the theater
-smoking prohibited in the whole building
(so far so good)
-there are no trash cans inside the building. please take your trash back home with you <<== !!
(not much of a problem because there was no bar of food stand anyway)
-taking pictures is prohibited if you use a flash (it disturbs the effect of the illumination) <<== !!
(first time i heard that reason)
congratulations to Soul Vibrations and well done!