SXSW Music Review: Heavy Extremes Fuel Tokyo Sessions
A revolving door of soundscapes
By Carys Anderson,
11:45PM, Fri. Mar. 19, 2021
Dark electronica, rap hype, and raucous psychedelia found a common thread Friday night, as Live Nation Japan brought D.A.N., Awich, and Millennium Parade together for Tokyo Sessions.
Like the dimly lit stage behind them, opening alt-pop trio D.A.N. offered a three-song set both haunting and airy, melancholy piano meshing with smooth drum grooves. Light percussion brought a tropical energy to “Floating in Space,” while “Bend” stuck to a slow, spider crawl. Electric cello from Jinya Ichikawa and dinging keys from Sohei Shinozaki in “Aechmea” recalled Kid A-era Radiohead, which singer Daigo Sakuragi’s Thom Yorke whine cemented.
A quick fade to black exchanged these chill-but-kinda-sad vibes with assured swagger as Okinawa rapper Awich (Akiko Urasaki) took the same Ebisu the Garden Hall stage. Cloaked in black and backed by hooded dancers, the poet jumped from a steady flow (“Whoru?) to pop-twinged melodies (“Bad Bad”). Peeking backing tracks in the latter proved her rap strong suit.
Creative collective Millennium Parade earned the closing spot immediately, the screaming horns of “Fly With Me” commencing a wall of sound that emboldened their five-song set. Jumping from rap verses to sing-along choruses, the psychedelic opener proved emblematic of the group’s many moving parts. Led by producer and songwriter Daiki Tsuneta – who sat in an office chair in the center of the circus, surrounded by computers, megaphone in hand – the group of musicians, film directors, and designers forged an audio-visual experience complete with animated babies dancing to flutes and saxophones.
A revolving door of soundscapes indeed. A lot’s going on here, but when extremity is the new normal, it works.