Naeba Shokudo literally means “Naeba cafeteria.” The stage is a wooden deck at the back of a large noodle stall in the food court area. Most people encounter it while walking at night between the Green Stage and the Red Marquee as music coming from behind an improbably large clump of people half standing, half slipping on a miniature muddy-sloped ampitheater. It’s a little wall-less juke joint in the middle of the woods. Each night, 5 to 6 bands will perform from 6:45pm till 12:30am. They are (mostly) Japanese groups and tend to be well known professional performers — new or mid-range artists on major labels, TV personalities, veterans of esoteric club circuits, popular indie goups and so on. They also tend to be small, tight groups — hardly more than three people can fit on the stage — as well as upbeat purveyors of instant entertainment. In short, they’re a bunch of great acts who are too experienced for the Rookie-A-Go-Go, too raucous for Gypsy Avalon and for various reasons couldn’t fit on the festival’s bigger stages.
Saturday and Sunday nights, the stage will be opened by Hiroshi “Dynamite Tommy” Tomioka, something of a musical comedian with has long years of experience in the Japanese entertainment industry, early on as part of the visual kei band COLOR and later as boss and A&R manager of his own record label, Free-Will.
Here is a sampling of who else is playing.
Friday 7/22 at 20:10
This four-piece of young Japanese millennials goes in for bow ties, straw hats, Civil War era facial hair and other elements of heavy retro styling. They re-interpret American swing music from the early 20th century. Imagine a band playing on a riverboat or a saloon in an old cowboy movie, but cuter and in contemporary Japan. Very toe-tappy stuff.
Shinji Miyaki Band
Friday 7/22 at 23:50
A power blues trio, with standup bass and slide guitar. If they all had long beards, they might be the Japanese ZZ Top.
Smart Soul Connection
Saturday 7/23 at 22:40
This is sort of like Guitar Wolf, but with a harmonica. Super dirty lo-fi blues rock, blown through a little metal thingy you can put in your pocket. This music video (below) for some reason features a Rio carnival dancer, so just listen to the music.
Saturday 7/23 at 23:50
A duo, UK on acoustic guitar and MC Afro, busting out a weird but highly energetic combination of finger picking and emotive rapping. Who said it’s all about the bass?
DJ misoshiru & MC gohan
Sunday 7/24 at 21:30
Yes, this cutesy DJ has named herself after miso soup, and as much as music, the project has a sort of gimmicky foodie marketing aspect. But that hat with a fried egg breakfast set on the lid is just hilarious. She’s a Sony recording artist, but this Naeba Shokudo set will be the exact opposite of a controlled industry environment. For fans, pop culture fiends and curious onlookers, this should be good fun.
Blues. The Butcher
Sunday 7/24 at 23:50
OK, so you’re getting the idea that there’s a lot of blues on this stage. Sho nuff. This four-piece idolizes the BB King guitar sound, and the repertoire ranges from 50s R&B to the soaring energy of a 1960s soul collective.
Remember, these are just a few of the great bands on offer. See the full lineup here:
PHOTO: 鈴木 悠太郎
TEXT: Dave Frazier