Japan Nite

SXSW showcase reviews

Japan Nite
by Shelley Hiam

Japan Nite

Elysium, Friday, March 15

Don't let the name fool you. Kao=S banishes carnage: graceful, passionate, but controlled, fusing epic rock sensibilities with Noh theatre formality. The voice of Kaori Kawabuchi – fox-masked singer, katana-wielding dancer – weaves into Daisuke Kaminaga's flutes. Glimpse the combat boots beneath her kimono, the frontwoman back-to-back with guitarist Shuji Yamagiri like smirking Toxic Twins. Then she launches an Iron Maiden-esque soar, while Jack Tsugaru-Syamisen, his foot on the stage monitor Steve Harris-style, brings power chord instincts to his three-stringed shamisen. If Kao=S belie their name, then Jake Stone Garage embrace who they are with a cocky, too-cool-for-school sneer, all greased up with four-to-the-floor jittering rock & roll – Creem cover stars in the making. Josy could be their sorority neighbors, one horn section away from being a classic party band. Like an Animal House crush come to life, the female quartet sway and rock with Japan's full-hearted love of Sixties pop, shining with a Korg verve. Pirates Canoe are their milder, meeker little sisters. Like their home Kansai region's cherry blossoms transplanted to Lake Woebegone, their lilting harmonies are scented with charm. Abandoning their Captain Hook aesthetic for some Texas chic, their acoustic trip to the "Love Shack" promised hand-holding and gentle smiles.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
A Giant Dog
Toy (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, Aug. 25, 2017

Summer Jams Clearance Sale, Part 2
George Kinney & the Golden Dawn
Rebel Heart (Record Review)

Greg Beets, Aug. 18, 2017

More by Richard Whittaker
10 Sentences About Austin You Should Only Ever Say Under Your Breath
10 Sentences About Austin You Should Only Ever Say Under Your Breath
You can think it... just don't say it

Aug. 23, 2017

Alex Jones' Caffeinated Conspiracies
Alex Jones' Caffeinated Conspiracies
The nutcase makes an acquaintance with "Seattle's finest"

Aug. 21, 2017

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)