LIVE REPORTROOKIE A GO-GO7/26 FRI
The lead singer greets the crowd with a “Konbanwa, minnasan! Yoroshiku!” (“Good evening everyone! Let’s be nice to each other!”), then Kotori quickly dive into their first song. The beginning of their set is launched by clean guitars that remind one immediately of early Death Cab for Cutie, or American Football (both on the Fuji Rock bill this year) but at a faster pace. A connoisseur of Japanese indie rock would also recognize bits of Japanese indie darlings Freezer Noize; from the first years of the 21st century. Clean chiming guitars embrace gentle vocals. The choruses possess a bit more of a raucousness, à la Blue Hearts. The second song stars with a heavy slow drum beat and vocals, before being covered by lightly overdriven guitars. Verses chime and slowly drive forward à la Weezer in “Buddy Holly”. Once again, they return to a Freezer Noize vibe. The lead singer occasionally sounds like Kazunobu Mineta of Ging Nang Boyz when he screams with enthusiasm.
The third song’s intro completely brings to mind slower numbers off of Death Cab for Cutie’s second album, “We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes”, but with a vocal that is distinctly Japanese in its sensibilities. Mid set, Kotori break hard into a Californian hardcore punk feel. As they wrap that song up and the adoring crowd goes nuts, the lead singer does some crazy old-school punk leaps into the air – with each leg going a separate way – and the band dives back into another track built for speed. A pelting rain starts falling hard at a forty-five degree angle on both the band and spectators alike, but the Kotori just rocks out harder, and with more resolve.
The bass player starts the next song off with eighth notes dribbled at a breakneck pace and the rest of the band jumps in as if convincing the entire world that moshing is not only a good idea, it’s the thing to do. Kotori starts the next song with an intro which is both heavy and odd in feel, before launching into a chorus of breakneck proportions and speed. Perhaps only grindcore could get faster. But, through it all, Kotori manages to hold onto tasty pop hooks. For all their love of punk rock aesthetics, however, this is also a band with mad instrumental skill; which they display with increasingly progressive tendencies as their set charges on. As if on cue, the lead singer starts listing all the diverse genres of music he likes; during a breakdown in a song; stating that he believes that all of those genres contain power. As they draw towards the 30-minute mark of their set, they are rewinding hard to the Death Cab for Cutie vibe with which they started their performance tonight, and the choruses are loud and anthemic emo. They end their set by furiously jamming on their last song’s chord progression with fierce 16th note riffing on the part of all members in the band. Then, they thank the audience in a hail of sweat and feedback before leaving the stage.