I’ve been enchanted by Mushi Furuu Yoru Ni since watching the chilling video for their song Inu (犬) a couple of years ago. Since then their style has softened from emotive hard rock to alternative pop and, perhaps not un-relatedly, their following has increased exponentially. My boyfriend had first seen them live in Japan three years ago before they got big, in a small venue showing five bands for ¥1,000, so when we saw that they were playing a one off gig without support we were interested to see how their live sound had evolved.
The gig took place at a venue near Omotesando called the Aoyama Moon Romantic. It was worth going just to see this place alone. Even though the venue had ‘moon’ in the name, I didn’t expect it to actually have a massive projection of the moon. It’s set up like an enchanted forest at night in a way that isn’t tacky but draws you into the venue’s romantic world. I presume that artists usually perform on the stage, but seeing as this was a 360° in-the-round performance, the band were set-up slightly below the stage. Being the the gig geeks we are, we got there early and nabbed one of the tables on the stage and enjoyed some organic white wine in an oh-so-trendy wide glass to the Moon Romantic’s gorgeous, gentle pre-gig playlist. They got extra points for including some harp music with electronic backing. Anywhere that plays harp goes up in my appreciations instantly.
The music faded into some sampling of water and cicadas from one of Mushi Furu’s releases, taking us even further into the enchanted forest. The band opened with two new songs and I found myself thinking something mushy about language having no barriers because, despite barely understanding a word of singer Ari’s stirring opening rap, I found my eyes misting up.
The in-the-round set-up really allowed the band to connect with their sold-out audience as they moved into more familiar territory. The four piece outfit was joined by a backing vocalist, a keyboardist and rapper Gomess adding depth and a welcome freshness to their sound. Between songs Ari told us that she viewed the gig as a journey through forest by moonlight, exciting but scary. The band’s friendly energy, as well as being able to look into their faces and the compelled faces of our fellow audience, did make it feel as if we were all going on a journey.
After a string of rockers, they switched to performing stripped down songs by candlelight, including Inu, my personal favourite. Pianist Harakanako’s almost saccharine piano inflections in this live rendition might have seemed almost jarringly sweet to anyone who has watched the gruesome music video, but were actually appropriate given the heart-rending double meaning behind the lyrics.
After drawing us in with these softer songs, Mushi Furu pressed on with the hits from their most recent mini-album スターシーカ (Star-seeker), a more positive album than their previous releases. I said in my review of the first gig I went to in Japan that there appeared to be a lack of ‘woo-ing’ at Japanese gigs. I take that back. During the upbeat anthem to self-love, わたしが愛すべきわたしへ (To the me I should love), the audience stood up and danced like crazy. I have hardly ever seen an audience so reactive, yet so respectful of the music. There was a wonderful communal feeling as the crowd danced along to the final few songs. The band’s high level of energy was juxtaposed with a surprisingly subdued Gomess, staring at the floor during his freestyle rap on 同じ空を見上げてた, but the contrast was haunting and effective.
Gasping for an encore after the band left the stage, we endured an agonisingly long wait. I learnt that ‘encore’ in Japanese is indeed ancōru and they do chant it at the end of decent gigs. The band surprised us by returning to the stage to present drummer Ikumi with a cake as apparently it was his birthday. N’aaawwww.
After Ikumi blew out his candles, Ari introduced the encore 明星, which means morning star. “As we play this final song I want you to think about something special to you. We began this night entering a dark forest. Now dawn is breaking.”