LIVE REPORTNAEBA SHOKUDO8/22 SUN
LITTLE BLACK DRESS
Little Black Dress Aims to Please the People
Little Black Dress’ set started with Japanese matsuri (traditional festival) drums playing over the PA as the band’s members walke onstage; the keyboardist wearing a white t-shirt and black hat, the bassist in a black t-shirt and black pants, a female lead singer/guitarist at center stage with a white t-shirt and red tartan shorts, a female backing vocalist on stage left wearing a matching white t-shirt, a barely-visible drummer to the back of the stage, as well as a guitarist behind the backing vocalist wielding a sunburst Stratocaster.
The lead vocalist at center stage took a bow and yelled “Hey, are you having fun?” as the drummer and bassist kicked off the first song with solid uptempo funk. The lead singer sang in high-pitched strident tones as she strummed on an acoustic guitar that remains inaudible in the mix. The vocalist to stage left kept the tempo of the song on the twos and fours using a tambourine. Despite the fact that it was lightly raining, and that the benches were all wet in front of the Rookie a Go-Go stage, dozens of fans sat and stood near the stage, to show their faithful support; protected by ponchos and rain hats. One enthusiastic female fan sitting right in front of the stage even braved the precipitation without any hat or hood whatsoever. The overhead stage lights then turned red and bathed the whole band in a fiery glow. As the song crawled to its end, the lead singer called out “Konbanwa! We are Little Black Dress!”. And then, the song came to a final halt.
Before the next song started, the lead singer put down her acoustic guitar and picked up a sunburst Telecaster with a maple fingerboard. She then addressed the crowd and told them that, if they got cold and wet, that they should treat themselves to a hot beverage or a tasty hot meal afterwards; that it was important to take care of their health above all. And, again, she thanked the crowd for listening to her band, reminding the audience that they are Little Black Dress. Afterwards,, she said that – in this beautiful natural setting – she was going to present a medley to us called “City Pop Medley”. Then, as the lead vocalist played funky Nile Rodgers-style chords on her Telecaster, the band followed her in a lounge funk style, and the overhead stage lights once again glowed in a bright green color. As this happened, all of a sudden, as if by a stroke of luck, the rain suddenly stopped falling on the crowd..
With fuchsia lighting illuminating the stage, Little Black Dress delivered a mid-tempo lounge-funk number which played out like vintage J-pop. In terms of proficiency, the band members all held their own, and could no doubt get work in any lounge; as well as perhaps support work for other musicians, or jingle gigs as well.
Seven minutes into their set, without taking a break in between songs, as the last strains of lead vocals died out, the drummer was already counting the band in. A handful of middle-aged – and older – men, both sitting and standing, danced and clapped to the beat. The lead singer then asked the crowd to all do the same, and most in attendance complied. She then introduced all her band members, and gave them eight bars each to take an individual solo. Little Black Dress is proficiently polished for the middle of the road which they seem intent on following. The lead singer’s vocals are also sufficiently polished to suggest that she has graduated from some manner of music college; probably with a major in performance. As the funky vamp of the song’s ending drew on, and the lead singer attempted some Mariah Carey-style vocal runs, she smiled at all her band members, and the audience seemed to appreciate her positivity. As the track finally came to a thundering stadium ending, the dozens of fans who braved the rain applauded Little Black Dress enthusiastically.
The vocalist then said that her band would be performing at Blue Note Tokyo in October, and she invited everyone to come to see them play. She then spoke about how so many people were following Fuji Rock on YouTube this year, and that this festival is something that stretches its legacy out into the future. So, she invited her fans to enjoy it to the maximum.
The next song bore a very strong resemblance to Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” by the way of J-Pop arrangements and processing. And, the green stage lights overhead reflected the lead singer’s positivity.
For their last song, Little Black Dress’ vocalist said that the next number would be a single they are releasing in September, and to please buy it if you like it. It came across as an odd mix of J-pop, lounge jazz, and ska, with melodious screaming on the chorus. The dozens of fans on the rain-soaked benches in front of the Rookie stage clapped in time like metronomes, swaying their shoulders from side to side. This music seems perfectly suited for placements in TV commercials; maybe for automobiles. One can easily picture an average Japanese family driving off happily into the sunset inside the latest car by a major manufacturer, as one of these songs play on. After the drummer drove the last track of the set to a thunderous stadium ending, Little Black Dress’ lead singer yelled, “Thank you very much, Fuji Rock! We hope to see you next year!”. And, the crowd that had braved the rain for Little Black Dress then dispersed into the waiting night.
[Photo: 10 All photo]