By now, the return of CHON’s successful Super CHON Bros tour from last year is likely over. Spanning over 25 dates, the tour was a flying success in giving fans of Tricot a chance to mingle with larger scale instrumental acts like Polyphia and CHON. Playstation Theater is known for housing a number of famous Japanese artists from time to time, for example, acts such as ONE OK ROCK in 2013 and 2015, and the GazettE in 2015.
On June 8, Japanese all-girl math-rock band Tricot gave it their all to capture new audiences and make an impression abroad touring with and opening up for instrumental rock giants CHON. Within the audience, from overhearing other people’s conversations, there were equal amounts of hype for each act. More people had known about Tricot than I had expected, and upon them trotting out and waving, many fans excitedly cheered back. With an excited “We are Tricot from Japan!” from vocalist and guitarist Ikkyu, the band began to perform their first song 18,19.
Despite being a foreign band playing amongst bigger-known western acts, Tricot showed no problem with performing confidently and interacting with the crowd through means of gestures. They would throw their hands in the air along to the beat of their music and dance around, which encouraged the audience to do so as well. I could tell that the crowd, while not too crazy, had many people who were already into Tricot prior, and quite a few intrigued fans who were sort of bobbing their heads to the music.
The recently appointed replacement drummer Yoshida, while kind of hidden in the back, was still extremely energetic while playing the drums, headbanging and creating a good stage presence for himself. Tricot chose well with the five songs they were allowed to showcase. For novice Tricot fans, it would be easy to recognize the songs as they were mainly popular singles with music videos on YouTube, and all fell in the same sort of mid ranged energetic rock song, with the only exception being Potage, the slower song of the five played.
When finishing the set, Ikkyu again spoke and said “We hope to come back again. Arigato!” and excitedly trotted off the stage as the crowd cheered in response. Tricot, while being a lesser known band in the states, still managed to successfully hype up the crowd for the next coming acts.
Next, the stage transitioned and got itself ready for its next act, TTNG. TTNG, a band from the UK is the oldest band of the four acts and is well established within the emo and math rock scene. While sporting a simple setup on stage, they were an interesting act that played predominantly mellow sounding music with dancey math-rock inspired sounding guitar riffs, and a vocalist who sang in a style that was reminiscent of mid to late 2000s emo.
While maintaining sugary sweet sounding guitar riffs, the songs can sometimes manage to feel poppy or dancey, like their first song Adventure, Stamina & Anger. At times, I felt as if the tones of the guitar and even atmosphere of certain songs like If I sit still, maybe I’ll get out of here reminded of me of bands like Uchu Conbini or even the more recent releases from Baroque, such as Planetary Secret. Hank, the vocalist had no problem interacting with the audiences, and often talked in between songs, and once even during a water break. “Sorry, if I start to sound tired, touring every day really has an effect,” he said in between chuckles and sips. The final song of the night Whatever, Whenever, created a great atmosphere for the end of their set, a slow and emotional one fitting for the band as they said goodbye, and walked off stage to cheering fans.
Polyphia, without a doubt, brought the most hype and energy out of any of the acts that night. They sure can put on a crazy good show, and they know it. They give off a pretty cocky atmosphere, and totally own it which is pretty amusing in itself. I saw Polyphia open up for the band Dance Gavin Dance back in 2015, and they have evolved quite a bit since then. Whereas in 2015, they wore simpler clothing and were a little quieter, and gave off even a somewhat nerdy vibe, in recent days they’ve transformed into flashy performers with a taste for modern street fashion.
Clay, the bassist took the spotlight for most of the band’s MCs and hyping people up in between songs. “I love what you guys are doing in the audience, but I want you guys to crowd-surf the fuck up here and kiss me on the mouth,” he said, hyping up the crowd in between a song. And as you expect, some brazen girls AND boys, ran up the side of the stage and gave him a kiss. Despite Polyphia and CHON both being instrumental at their core, the fans and audience didn’t let that stop them from going all out. No death metal vocals or chuggy crunchy guitar riffs? No Problem. The audience opened up pits for Polyphia’s groovy and high energy songs, and even for CHON’s bubbly, pristine and cheery melodies. Their latest song, G.O.A.T. translated way better live than I would have expected. The intertwining of digital beats alongside with the drumming and guitars were well balanced, one not sounding more overbearing than the other, and the atmosphere and overall vibe of the song created a great energy that had people headbanging and swaying.
CHON definitely has the coolest, most relaxed and energetic stage presence I’ve seen. Their set consisted of extra lighting panels, and big amplifiers took up most of the stage. Although the members were not moving around a whole lot, they manage to pull off crazy technical riffs while maintaining a chill atmosphere. Their Homey album is quite a summery, relaxing, and easygoing album compared to its predecessors, and mixed with the colorful stage props and lights and the big screen showing their music videos while they play, they really brought their album to life in a live form.
The audience still does not hesitate to mosh or form a pit, even though CHON’s music is not considered conventionally “heavy” music. I watched as the audience formed a playful wall of death, inviting and unintimidating. Surprisingly, they opened with the last song of the Homey album, Wave Bounce, which I expected to be played as a closing song or encore song. The drummer, Nathan, is just as mindblowing live as he sounds on the album. CHON’s setlist spanned throughout most of their discography, playing a nice balance of songs of Homey and songs off previous releases.
Seeing CHON for the second time, all I can say is that their concerts are good fun. There’s always such a positive atmosphere of audience participation with the songs, whether it’s singing the guitar melodies along with the song, or chanting back at certain parts of a song. Can’t Wait is CHON’s only song with a vocal track that I know of, and when that was played as the first encore song it had everyone singing along, as Erick sang the vocal lead.
All in all, this was a great concert filled with many diverse sounds within a genre of instrumental music whether it be math rock, Jrock with pop sensibilities, or progressive metal. Each act had their own distinct and unique stage presence and felt fresh each time, which is something I look for and respect, big time.