This started off as a Weekender joint, but I had one of those moments where you realize that you’ve been forgetting about idols that you really like simply because there’s too much dang idol and other stuff, and they’ve been a little off to the side of the radar, and whose fault is that but your own? Exactly.
Under Beasty, The Super-Indie Idols Who Could, one of those groups that I’ve pretty much always and pretty much always will champion if for no greater reason than their ability to prove that even the totally self-produced can make this wild game work, have had a pretty good ride of things over the years. They’re not even super-indie anymore, having hooked up with actual management along the way and gotten a strong enough budget to release stuff like this and put on decently sized one-mans.
So consider this a celebration of them, in a way, because this right here is what I wanted to Weekender:
The fine post-indie rock idols in Under Beasty did us all a solid with the teaser for their umpteenth single, “love pain,” and I’ll admit — because they sounded like their third or fourth shift in sound over the last couple of years, I was extremely apprehensive about the result. Like, would it even be good? It’s too easy to either hit a sweet spot as a unit or fall back on lazy tropes to get a release out the door, you know?
Ah, Under Beasty, as good and pure and true as any rock idol act in the game, all bootstraps and try-hard until they got picked up by a real-deal agency, and … well, I guess things are roughly the same still, except now their outfits are a little sharper.
Anyway! They had teased their upcoming single a little while back, with the live debut and everything, but now there’s a teaser version of the MV to sink your teeth into:
Who doesn’t like Under Beasty? Well, among those of you who know who they are, at least. Everybody likes UB! What’s not to like about a literally self-made unit that got picked up by a mid-major agency and just keeps on plugging away, and tends to have some pretty nice music to boot?
That’s what I thought.
So! They very conveniently shared a chunk of their live yesterday via Periscope right around the time that I went sniffing after them because, hey, it’s been a minute since the last Under Beasty post.
Good morning! When was the last time that we got to visit with Under Beasty? Technically April! That’s kind of wild; for a while last year, I was happily sharing new stuff and updates from them at what felt like a month basis. Then they went and joined up with Candy GO!GO!’s agency and started to change up their sound and they weren’t quite the same Under Beasty anymore, and literally when you consider the membership thing, but that’s neither here nor there.
What is here or there is this new song that they rolled out yesterday:
Friends, we have a lot of fun with the Monday Match Game. Sometimes it’s punny, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always, always … sunny? I ran out of rhymes.
Anyway! Last week, yami-kawaii obliterated yume-kawaii despite Tiffany’s protestations that they’re basically the same thing, thereby confirming that we’d rather contemplate mortality than have a heaven filled with fallen angels. Good times!
This week, the Match Game takes on a decidedly germane flavor. We’ve been talking a lot about indie idols, the kind that do it all themselves and make their own success on their own merits. There’s not a silver spoon or institutional advantage (well, probably some kawaii) in sight when these self-driven performers step into the limelight.
In this corner, throwback heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll idols whose success is so palpable that they even drag their own ex-members back into the fold; in the other corner, goofball stage antics and a musical smorgasbord from idols who actually fired their manager to take over their own affairs themselves.
You guys are going to be glad that I wagged my finger at Phillter when he told me about this epic account of his epic holiday trip to Shangri-la; imagine if this thing were all one enormous piece? Gracious. But this is Part III, and you can go look at Part I and/or Part II if you don’t already know the score.
December 26 brought with it a show I had been looking forward to for a very long time: Survival UB Visual Shock, Under Beasty’s 4th One-Man Live at the Shinjuku ReNY!
I pride myself on being a long-time fan of Under Beasty, one of the seemingly lesser known rock idol units. [Maniac: #IdolHipster] The group of four (Nagase Kaho, Haruno Yumu, Matsushita Ai, and leader Uetake Yua) is one I have had the great pleasure and fortune of seeing live before at the ReNY, during that show where I got my gear stolen.
The day before that show, during the summer, I had stopped by the venue to scout out the location, since finding the entrance to the ReNY is a bit of a pain. When I figured out where it was, I made a note and turned to leave, but I saw Kaho-chan herself handing out fliers in the lobby.
She saw that I was staring in what must have looked like shock (when you see something/someone that you’ve always wanted to see in person you tend to forget yourself), and stepped outside of the venue to ask me if I knew her. I said yes of course, and from there we had a small chat.
I couldn’t believe I was talking to an idol, she couldn’t believe Under Beasty had fans in America, there was a mutual cloud of wonderment hanging over the two of us. So, when I entered the show on December 26, I wondered if she would remember me.
I picked up my reserved ticket (you can email most groups before a show and reserve a ticket for a cheaper price than buying the day of), bought the ever-necessary drink ticket, and walked into the venue. I was just in time for this show, as previous plans during the day extended to the very last minute, so there was no time to try to get any merch. I figured there would be plenty of opportunities after the show, so I threw my bag in a coin locker [Maniac: Yes, you did.] and entered the hall.
It was packed. The ReNY is one of the better-sized venues in the hard-idol circuit. It isn’t by any means a stadium, but that number of people felt like an enormous crowd. And good for Under Beasty, they deserve an audience like that.
People saw that a foreigner was in the crowd and were in minor states of disbelief, followed by immediately shoving me towards the front, for which I was extremely grateful. I got my light wand I had purchased earlier in the day in Akihabara for this occasion, ready to go with my favorite member’s color, pink for Ai-tsun, just as the lights dimmed and the show began.
They brought out all the heavy-hitting songs that I expected, threw in some songs I didn’t even know they had, and did a fair bit of MCing. The crowd ate up every minute of it, all of us getting lost in the call and responses, the coordinated movements, and the clapping rhythms.
The halfway point of the show was ushered in with lights dimming and background music coming up for the girls to go take a water break … or so I had thought. But no, it was time for some vocal solo songs from the two major voices of the group, Yua and Yumu.
Yumu was first, and did a slow-paced rock ballad with piano accompaniment. Her voice is the richest of the group in my opinion, with lots of little layers to it that build up to some amazing crescendos when she is singing solo pieces. You could see small tears dropping from her eyes due to the emotion of the song as she gave the stage to Yua before going off to take her own break.
Yua’s solo piece was a slower jazzy-vocal-solo piece. Just piano, with a brushed snare if I recall correctly. Her singing voice is higher-pitched and joined with the piano lines well. No tears of emotion came to the hard facade of Under Beasty’s leader though, this girl has the mind of a strategist for sure; cool under any kind of pressure. And since Under Beasty is a self-managing group, I’m unsurprised.
These two vocal songs showed off one of Under Beasty’s best points: the voices. It is very easy to tell from the singing parts in their songs that all of them are professionally trained and take their vocal work seriously. It can be obvious when an idol group isn’t really vocally up to snuff, and may hide that fact by gimmicking something in, but these girls are nothing like that. Personally, I think Yumu has a powerhouse of a voice that could be up with the likes of Su-Metal on any day of the week, but I digress.
After the break came some more powerhouse songs, including my personal favorite, “Raven” from their first single:
These, along with the signed frisbees and streamers of shiny ribbon that exploded into the crowd, woke everyone up and led quickly to the end of the show. The lights dimmed, the girls waved and said thanks as they walked off of the stage.
But of course it wasn’t quite over yet. With a chorus of “ON-KO-RAY!” (how the Japanese say “Encore”) repeated for a few minutes, the girls came out and did one final song, which I believe was “Black Jet,” one of the title songs from their latest single. It, of course, blew the house down and ended the show perfectly. After the song, the girls each thanked all of the people for supporting them thus far, and emphasized very strongly that 2016 is not the end of Under Beasty, that 2017 was going to be an even bigger year, with (and this has yet to be confirmed by anyone officially) the possibility of a nationwide tour. If that were followed through with it would be a HUGE step for the group, so I hope it does end up panning out for them. Who knows, they may even come to Shikoku!
After the show, I was unable to pick up the towel or T-shirt I wanted, but I was able to pick up all the versions of their new single, and get photos with all of the members. Apparently Kaho had previously spread word of me being their fan and attending a show of theirs because all of the girls told me that they heard about how I had talked to Kaho and thanked me for coming all the way back to Tokyo for this important show of theirs. I also met one of their promotion guys who knew English really well. We had a nice chat about various things, and exchanged contact info. So who knows, maybe we’ll be able to get more Under Beasty info into the community’s hands at some point!
[Maniac: I demand an interview. With the members. Not the guy.]
I headed home that night still spinning with such joy … that I got on the wrong train, went half an hour outside of Tokyo, barely realize it in time, catch the last train back into the city, not quite make it to the stop I needed, and have to walk about two miles back to my hostel. That just goes to show you how great the show was, though. Tomorrow was another, however, so I needed to get some rest.
Check in next time for what ended up being an unexpected show, but a good one nonetheless!
[Maniac: Phillter lives in the Kansas of Japan. Ain’t nobody touring the Kansas of Japan.]
Fittingly, right after getting to report that Under Beasty was in fact not only no longer indie to the core, having joined Candy GO!GO!’s One-to-One agency, but finding out that they did it a little while back and it just escaped this guy’s notice–
You guys, “Black Jet” is out in video form! Almost missed it!