Accessibility: 3/5(had trouble finding the train line to take, but that’s likely Google’s fault)
Venue: 5/5(they offered a free shuttle and cheap bus services between the venue and station; I could easily travel from stage to stage; merchandise was available until the final performers)
Audience: 4/5 (depended on the band, but overall everyone was participating—there were a lot of dance-pits. Not mosh-pits, but….just nearly.)
My Metrock experience started at 6:30 am, but I didn’t make it to the actual venue until around 1. That’s partly my fault, as I had missed my train by a MINUTE (that Japanese punctuality is no joke, man!) I got to Osaka by around 11, as it takes about 2 hours from Nagoya on the Kintetsu. However, the moment I reached JR Namba, my initial frustration turned into a sense of hopelessness as I went in circles between stations trying to find the correct line.
For those of you who don’t know Osaka Station, many different trains leave from the same platform, all bound for completely different places. This is ultimately what kept tripping me up and resulted in me arriving at the venue with stress lining my features. However, the moment I stepped through the gates, the bright green “Metrock” wristband now tied around my wrist and the setlist in my hand, I’d forgotten all about my train experience.
While I, unfortunately, missed the artists before 1, walking just a few minutes from the main gate, I was surprised to find the alternative rock band, Brian the Sun, sound checking their instruments on the stage ahead. I felt that the fact I’d been just in time to see them was a reward for the nonsense from just minutes before. At least, that frame of mind was my way of sort of cooling off.
Anyway, the performance from the band was high-quality, as usual, and there were more fans donning their merchandise than I’d seen in the past. They finished their short set with ‘Rock ‘n Roll Pop Gang‘, a crowd favorite. Since I’ve written a post a whole blog post please follow this link: Who’s Brian, though? for more information on the band.
Moving onto the next band: The Oral Cigarettes. I first came across them in my Youtube recommendations about a year ago and fell in love. Their lyrics are extremely difficult, but the more I listen to them, the more I get this sort of…emo-rock feel from them. If you like bands like My Chemical Romance and The Used, you’ll probably dig these guys.
Unsurprisingly, their popularity is high, as they played on one of the bigger stages. What was most impressive about their performance was the audience interaction. Although I have two of their albums, I never considered myself a huge fan and felt guilty for not being able to participate. Everyone knew what to say and how to dance—it was incredibly impressive. Towards the end of their set, they played their new single: “One’s Again“, along with crowd favorites like “Hey Kids!”
After that, I grabbed some yakisoba for lunch, which wasn’t too bad considering what you usually eat at festivals. During that time, I was able to hear a bit of the jazz group, シンリズム. They reminded me a lot of THE NATSUYASUMI BAND or a chill version of ゲスの極み乙女, so if you’re a big fan of either of them, you should definitely give these guys a listen. They use a lot of different instruments like tambourines, trumpets, an acoustic piano, and a Jamaican steel drum, ultimately lending them a sound you’d expect to hear at a resort. Even if you don’t like jazz much, they’re easy to jam to for those grueling study sessions or particularly hard days at work. Here’s the video for their song, “FUN!”
Checking the setlist, I noticed I had time to see a bit of the heavy rock group, BLUE ENCOUNT, which is a name I’d often saw, but never got a chance to listen to. To my surprise, their audience was so large that they bled out towards the “Green Hill Stage” sign several meters away.
The Green Hill stage was the largest stage saved for bigger names. I didn’t catch their entire set, but I stayed until the end and had even moved closer to the stage to get a better listen. The song that got my attention was 「もっとひかりを」, which seemed to be a crowd favorite as everyone but me screamed the lyrics with their fists in the air.
After the energy of BLUE ENCOUNT, I was surprised to find the relaxing appeal of the pop group, 雨のパレード (Rain Parade). I waited at the stage for forty minutes, observing the band as they did their sound check. What I found hilarious was how obvious who was part of the band and who wasn’t; all of them donned these long black shirts and straight haircuts, with the exception of the long locks of the guitarist. But looking at them, you’d expect to see them inside a poetry cafe! Still, I wasn’t quite prepared for the how soft-spoken the vocalist was, which is what actually won me over. Paired with the sensual guitar and addictive beat, the gentle vocals make for an extremely hypnotizing experience.
What I found most interesting about this group was, despite having a vocalist, they were almost kind of like an instrumental group. During their song “Tokyo“, the four of them jammed on their instruments for a good few minutes. They seem to play off each other, rather than have one leading instrument, which might be why I ran to buy their album so quickly. Anticipate a post on these guys soon!
After this rather sensual experience, I moved to the Bay Field stage to see レキシ (History), a comedic pop group with the main attraction being the vocalist, who donned an afro and a kimono. During the festival I noticed people holding these plastic stems of wheat and it was during this performance that I realized it was part of レキシ’s fan interaction. Fan interaction here was…THE BEST. The vocalist threw a variety of objects into the crowd for them to toss around, including three inflatable sharks. He’d also prepared some props and dance moves, making the set a good and hilarious one. All of their songs were fun, but “Shikibu” was one of my favorites. If you ever get the chance to see these guys, they definitely deserve a listen. They’re a lot of fun!
The final performance I saw was the skater-punk group, WANIMA, and knowing the energy and large fanbase of this group, I knew I’d be walking into a large crowd. And boy, you thought the crowd for BLUE ENCOUNT was big. I literally couldn’t see the stage! Luckily they had projectors and a strong sound system so I was able to hear them clearly, but there were so many people. The moment the band came on stage, everyone erupted with overwhelming cries of praise. Although they were the last band playing on that stage, everyone managed to muster the energy to dance for their entire set, despite the crowd’s fatigue and sunburned state. The band itself is really fun, as they often cracked jokes and made faces at the camera, creating a more intimate experience with their fans. It was definitely a gesture I hadn’t seen at all that day, so it was really heart-warming. Their song 「ともに」is a crowd favorite, but most of their songs carry a lot of the same color and energy, making them really good for those gray days.
Despite the rough start to the festival experience, I left with my head buzzing from post-concert adrenaline.