(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.