It was quite the dance party at The Axis Club in Toronto with a headlining performance by ATARASHII GAKKO!
The four-piece Japanese girl group offered up a killer, pop-infused mix of hip-hop and jazz that delighted the sold-out crowd of 620 people.
Currently on their Seishun Tour – a Japanese word meaning youth – bandmates Mizyu, Rin, Suzuka, and Kanon were in the midst of zig-zagging the U.S. before travelling to Mexico City, and finally Asia. In-between (on one of their few Canadian stops) Torontonians made their way over to the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood in what was a balmy November evening.
Met with a line-up stretching around the block, the former Mod Club venue (now The Axis Club) had several fans dressed in school uniforms and tracksuits mimicking their favourite ATARASHII GAKKO! member.
Eventually taking the stage, things exploded in sound and colour and never stopped. A 55-minute runtime, to be exact.
Performance-wise, the show played into the archetype of Japanese kawaii culture – an aesthetic centered around playful elements and manga-characterizations (something I wasn’t aware of).
Hence their matching Seishun attire.
The songs themselves were sophisticated, rich with hyperreal J-Pop production but layered in City pop subtleties. Songs like Giri Giri and CANDY overflowed with high-octane choruses and funky basslines, seamless in genre-bending and irresistible in energy.
Apart from the music, the choreography was second to none. Each member meticulously brought their own indelible persona to the stage that was transfixing to watch.
In all honesty, the final moments concluded with a genuine spirit of joy inside the Axis Club. To have a dedicated Western fan base show up for ATARASHII GAKKO! speaks volumes about their popularity.
Even greater, it also speaks to the passion of today’s modern music fan.