(Photos by Kelly Ocock)
The Japanese House, comprised of Amber Bain, graced the Park Theatre stage last Fri- day, Feb. 24. Doors to the Holland venue opened at 7:30 p.m. to an extensive line of fans and curious music-lovers. The open- ing and main acts both featured talented women, who are making their mark in the music scene in different ways.
Smoke wafted onto stage as members of Hope’s Concert Series team introduced the musical guests for the night. Blaise Moore, who was backed by two men playing drums and synthesizer, had a set consisting of R&B sounds mixed with electronic undertones.
Moore is an artist originating from Toronto, Canada. Upon coming onstage, her white “pleasure” shirt and feisty attitude suggested she was not okay with stereotypes. Many of her songs centered on men who had used her and underestimated her intelligence. The lights emphasized the mood, changing color in accordance to the tone of each song. Moore smoothly belted out each edgy message and remained impassioned throughout the setlist. At the end, she thanked the audience and The Japanese House for inviting her on tour.
Audience members chatted excitedly in between sets, while Bain and her fellow musicians prepared to take the stage. The band travelled all the way from Buckinghamshire, England, so they were ecstatic to be able to play for an audience like ours across the ocean.
Most of The Japanese House’s popularity until now has been from their two tours last year with well-known indie-rock band, The 1975. Bain’s band’s unique style is characterized by androgynous, synthesized vocals and electronic beats mixed with drums and guitar. Bain switched between guitars throughout the set and played on the synthesizer, while smiling and engaging with the crowd. She maintained her mysterious signature style, while keeping hair in her face and singing in elusive, synthesized vocals throughout the entirety of the show.
The Japanese House made sure to play songs from each of their three albums “Clean,” “Pools to Bathe in” and “Swim Against the Tide.” Most songs were slow and easy-going, but there were also hits like “Cool Blue” that were upbeat and al- lowed people to dance.
Bain was the star of the night, singing and interacting with the audience in a sweet, infectious manner that had everyone captivated. For the last song she put down the instruments and walked across stage, singing and taking pictures with audience cameras they handed her. She presented a pure and beautiful love of music, while defying all female musician stereotypes. Bain spent almost the entire concert on an instrument, her lyrics were thought-provoking and poetic, and there was no trace of makeup on her face. At least half of the audience members were male and her performance was enjoyed by all—inclusive of all tastes and interests.
At the end of the night, Bain told the audience how sweet they were and that she was sure they would return soon to play again. She left stage to tumultuous applause and fans that were still eager to hear more.
The final concert of the semester was this past Monday, Feb. 27 with Josh Garrels and John Mark McMillan. After the wonderful and diverse performances that took place this academic school year, there are sure to be more exciting shows next year. Some of this year’s artists could return, too.
Be sure to check back on the Concert Series’ web page next fall to see updates on the newest musicians coming to campus.
March 5, 2017 @ 8:49 pm Anonymous
Articles like this are what perpetuate this strange stigma behind women excelling in music. While I assume this article was written out of joy that women are fronting bands more and more, and playing instruments more and more that used to be considered something only men did, the only thing it does is make it seem strange that a woman is doing so. While its great that’s happening, the best thing to do about it is either simply report it the same as any other concert the Anchor covers, or write an actual opinion piece about women in music, rather than just a halfway in between article only drawing more attention to the fact that these women fronting groups are away from what used to be the norm. If you want to really make it easy for women to be free to be musicians of any kind, stop stigmatizing them.
March 6, 2017 @ 8:11 am Annah Duffey
Hey, thanks for the comment! I’m glad you’re passionate about this topic, because I am too! I think I’m going to respond one sentence at a time, to make sure I address all of your great points. Firstly, you describe this stigma as “strange” and while I agree it’s becoming less of a problem today, I would say there’s still a bit of a stereotypical hump women in music, especially frontwomen, have to overcome in order to become successful in the music industry and attract diverse audiences. However, there are plenty of popular women (as I’m sure you know) doing quite well in the music industry, including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, among many others. So while it is less of an issue today, it’s not unheard of or “strange” that there has been a stigma from some people.
Both acts of the concert were headed by women and pointing that out is not intended to make it seem strange but to simply inform that they were both headed by women. While there are more female musicians and soloists now in the industry, many of the top ladies, while incredibly talented musicians, do not play instruments. So to point out that Bain was playing an instrument is not meant to imply that it is an oddity, but to inform that she was playing an instrument during the concert, so women musicians are capable of singing the entire time if they wish or playing an instrument the entire time if they wish. But I apologize if anything came off as if implying “strange,” because that was never the intention.
Yes, there were some adjectives that were a little opinionated like “sweet” and “infectious” that might not have needed to be in the article, but other than adjectives, I have to respectfully disagree with you. There was no strong opinion in this article. The part where you may have felt unnecessary attention drawn was probably “Bain spent almost the entire concert on an instrument, her lyrics were thought- provoking and poetic, and there was no trace of makeup on her face. At least half of the audience members were male and her performance was enjoyed by all—inclusive of all tastes and interests.” But none of that is actually opinion. Bain was on her instrument all but the last song, if you listen to any of her song lyrics, they are poetic, she did not have makeup on, there were males comprising over half the audience, and everyone I observed was enjoying the concert. I hate that women in music have to deal with any stereotypes, but there are stereotypes still around even if they are not as prevalent. Bain did defy those stereotypes, which is why I stated that.
Finally, I would absolutely love to make it easy for women to be free to be musicians of any kind! That’s one of the reasons I want to work in the industry! I would love to just throw all of the stereotypes out of the window right now, but sadly that’s not up to just me. But I will try my hardest to keep pushing that women can do anything, especially in the music industry. I also have to respectfully disagree with you; I was not at all stigmatizing them. To stigmatize is “to set some mark of disgrace or infamy upon” according to the wonderful dictionary.com and I was definitely praising these ladies! They are incredibly talented individuals with a lot going for them! Thank you so much for hearing me out! The cool thing is we don’t have to agree, that’s the beauty of argument. But I think we both agree female musicians are pretty rad and that’s what matters most! Have a great day! (: