Feature - Back Numbers
Japan’s visual style rock, known as “visual kei”, has bodacious flair- bizarre to some, baffling to others, and yet building a substantial international fan base off the radar of many people in the music business.
Visual kei actually encompasses a fairly wide range of musical styles, from sugary pop to vicious industrial hard rock, and the costumes of the artists can range from dressing like little girls, to space aliens, to medical ward escapees, to drag queens, to 18th century aristocracy to merely gothy and guy-linered. What visual kei bands have in common is that they work hard to put on dynamic shows that will excite, entice and entertain their audience. And while some might expect that with so much effort put into the visuals that the music might be amateurish, many visual kei artists are equally committed to their instruments.
It should come as no surprise then that Japan’s well-groomed and well-rehearsed rockers are finding fans all over the world. While visual kei truly has international reach, that includes South America, Asia, Russia, and the far corners of North America, the countries known to have the most enthusiastic fans are Germany, France and Finland. In particular Finland, a country of only 5.3 million people, has a strong interest in visual kei, and Japanese pop culture in general, and a number of media follow Japanese pop culture extensively.
One of the manifestations of this is Tsukicon (http://tsukicon.fi/), an annual event dedicated to Japanese music and street fashion, that takes place October 17-18 and is expected to draw about 5,000 people. The event will feature live performances by the visual-kei bands SCREW, vistlip, Aicle, Dio -Distraught Overlord- and DJ SiSeN. Of the bands attending, none were formed further back than 2006, an indication that Tsukicon is quickly picking up on promising new bands. While it will be Aicle’s first show outside Japan, it will be Dio’s third visit to Finland, and they have also previously released their music in Europe.
The event is put on by JrockSuomi, which was formed in 2004. Driven largely by their personal interest, and despite lacking experience when they started, they have managed to successfully bring quite a number of well known visual kei bands to Finland, including LM.C, Plastic Tree, Ayabie, MUCC, and D'espairsRay.
Tags: tag it