NEW YORK, March 16 — The Knitting Factory (74 Leonard Street) was ground zero for the Japanese music atom bomb called Japan Nite. Japan Nite, a one-night Japanese rock festival, unleashed four hours of hard Japanese rock on a New York City crowd.
Performers included: SCANDAL, The Emeralds, Petty Booka, Ketchup Mania, Detroit7, and THE BEACHES.
The night started with the candy rock sound of the all girl band, SCANDAL. SCANDAL wore Japanese school girl uniforms as they got the rocked the small stage. They got the audience excited and literal hopping in waves. They sang pop candy hits like "Space Ranger" and "Playboy". It was a great start to the Japan Nite Festival.
The next act was completely metal. The Emeralds took the stage with rock attitude. The Emeralds are a stripped down three man punk explosion. They were completely filled with raw energy and a loud sound. They took the audience to another level of rock nirvana. The audience was completely lost in the aggressive rawness of songs like "Talk about Love". Akio’s drumming was awesome. Osuke was entertaining, and Kazuya was metal. They were definitely one of the best acts on the Japan Nite ticket.
The third act was a little unusual. After a high spirited punk rock session, two incredibly cute Japanese girls walked on to the stage with ukuleles. They were Petty Booka. They wore matching western styled dresses and cowboy hats.
The audience looked a little puzzled. The girls began to sing country and bluegrass tunes while playing ukulele. The audience was stunned. They didn’t know how to react to two Japanese girls singing classic country and blue grass songs. Judging from the colorful Mohawk haircuts in the audience, they were probably not expecting a Japanese country act. Some people went to the bar in the back of the Knitting Factory. A couple of audience members tried to imitate a country ho-down with little success. I thought Petty Booka was a very cute and very cool musical act even though they seemed a little out of place.
Ketchup Mania, a veteran Japanese ska-punk band, was the next act to take the stage. Ketchup Mania rocked hard, and the rockers rejoined the audience. Their music is a mix of ska-punk attitude and pop sensibility. It was clearly evident that they had a strong New York fan base. I noticed audience members singing along with their signature hits like "Real Yaayo". Hiro’s vocals were amazing.
During Ketchup Mania’s set, a mosh pit began to form, and it took up the entire floor. I’m usually a big support of kicking ass in a mosh, but it was ridiculously stupid. The Knitting Factory is a small place. The audience floor is tiny, and the mosh pushed all the non-mosh audience members against the walls. In a larger rock-only venue, mosh pit rules the floor and let the weak at heart beware. However, Japan Nite was an eclectic musical event with a mixed audience of punks, rockers, pop fans, and weeaboos. There was no place for moshing.
After Ketch Mania’s amazing set, they were followed by Detroit7. Detroit7, another veteran Japanese punk band, tore through the place with no-frills punk music. Their music is simple garage punk at its finest. The shoeless Tomomi Nabana was intense in her vocals and guitar work. The band was electrified, and the audience responded with their own energy. They definitely rocked the venue with a killer set. Detroit7 preformed hits like "Beautiful Song" and "Shot My Right Temple". They were definitely one of the major highlights of the Japan Nite line-up.
THE BEACHES closed the night with their unique reggae sound. They provide the hard rocking Japan Nite with a soft landing. They jammed until midnight, and the audience was exhausted.
Overall, Japan Nite was an awesome mix of Japanese rock, pop, punk, ska, and country. Japanese music rarely gets any exposure in an American music market that is saturated with Anglo-American acts. It was an awesome night of live music.