Glay, the phenomenally successful Japanese musical group, was in town over this past weekend, playing the House of Blues Sunset Strip on Friday and Saturday nights, right in the midst of the Sunset Strip Music Festival hullabaloo that was going on all day. I was unable to attend either of the shows, but I did manage to find a review of the band’s visit to the Fillmore in San Francisco that took place Wednesday the 9th. Here’s some of what that reviewer, Kristy Evans, had to say:
It doesn’t seem like a year since Glay last played The Fillmore.
The Japanese pop/rock juggernaut returned last night for a second round of what looks like a regular yearly jaunt to California. The results – same as last year, part two.
Glay is the kind of band that doesn’t really exist in America, at least not any more. A good third of the group’s set consisted of sweet and arguably rather sappy ballads, with the remaining two thirds split evenly between upbeat pop songs and faster, more rock-influenced numbers. That’s always been the question with Glay – is it a pop band or a rock band? Where does it fit?
The musical diversity was also reflected in the band’s visual presentation. While singer Teru and guitarist Takuro looked like the music industry elder statesman that they are, with a rather understated personal style, bassist Jiro had a distinctly more punk look, and guitarist Hisashi looked like he belonged in a visual kei band.
Glay ran through a setlist that combined old favorites with some newer material. The songs seemed to have been arranged in sort of mini sets – first the pop block, then the ballads, then a quick run through several faster, heavier numbers. From a critical point of view they were really at their best when edging into the rock camp, but there was no denying that the audience loved those ballads.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Glay’s performance was that, unlike a lot of other Japanese bands who’ve played San Francisco recently, the group managed once again to draw in a wide cross section of the local Japanese American community. There were plenty of American fans, too, but Glay’s core audience here remains predominantly Japanese. It’s a cool thing to see, an example of the way the world seems to be shrinking perhaps, that a little slice of mainstream Japanese pop culture can find a home in a part of America that’s been home to a large Japanese community for a long time. The Fillmore is so close to Japantown, it seems fitting for the venue to be Glay’s San Francisco home away from home.
Check out the rest of the review if you want to read the whole article; it’s a pretty solid write-up.
I’m from the Bay Area, and the Fillmore is one of my favorite concert venues ever. It would have been a great place to see Glay, as it is literally across the street from JapanTown, as Evans points out. I had hoped to be able to check out one of the band’s LA shows, but I was unable to make it happen.
Evans brings up a good point when she says “…a little slice of mainstream Japanese pop culture can find a home in a part of America that’s been home to a large Japanese community for a long time”. Slim’s, a smaller concert venue/bar in SF also hosted a few J-Pop and J-Rock bands in the recent years, including An Cafe, Puffy Ami Yumi, and Miyavi, so there is obviously a vibrant enough audience in the city for these musical groups to play for. Glay is one of the most popular bands in Japan, and even though they can’t pack giant outdoor arenas and stadiums in the US like they can back home, they can still draw enough fans to make an impression on US audiences.
There really doesn’t seem to be much promotion or attention paid to J-Pop, J-Rock, and Japanese bands in general outside of Japanese-language media in this country, but perhaps there should be. Some American bands are huge in Japan, so someone must be doing a good job with international promotion….I wonder why it is that J-Pop bands are so ignored by most Americans, but I assume it has to do with the fact that most of us probably don’t know that they exist….merely because all we hear about through MTV and the usual media sources are American, English-speaking artist and bands. That’s a shame, but it is good to hear that bands like Glay receive some attention at least.
Here’s the music video for the song ‘However’, so you get a taste of what Glay’s all about