It has been over five months since I’d last seen LOCAL CONNECT live, at a tiny livehouse called Taiyou to Tora in Kobe. They were playing on my birthday, again, so I had to go. It had also been months since I’d last seen them play.
I watched as new faces swarmed to the front row, excited to see the band play. I remember what that was like, how previously it wasn’t as easy for them to fill the front row with enthusiastic fans. How some of the ‘veteran’ fans remained behind watching, enjoying the music. I felt like the tables were turning, how I was understanding, appreciating more. Still caught up in the music but remaining rooted.
I watched as girls sobbed quietly, wiping away tears as they tried to keep their eyes fixed on the band. Bringing the band towel to their eyes, they wiped the tears away and kept watching, listening, as vocalists Daiki and ISATO belted their emotions into every note.
I watched as ISATO pranced the stage with practiced ease, the familiar movements as he leaned forward to the crowd, as he mimed actions to go with the lyrics. I watched Daiki, the soul of the group, giving it all he had into every phrase, every strum of his guitar and every word he spoke during their MC.
I watched the band’s dynamic on stage, drank in the atmosphere and I remembered, of a band past that once was everything I knew – fade. LOCAL CONNECT felt like fade, they felt like the warmth that spread in your body as the music took hold.
Fall Out Boy says it best:
You know time crawls on when you’re waiting for the song to start. So dance along to the beat of your heart.
The energy and electricity is always so engulfing at every live, you feel it in every thump of the beat, every clap, every time you thrust your fist into the air. Each note you hum, each sway of your body, each tap of your foot. For just that moment everything becomes one pulsating beat.
I live for the rush, adrenaline and emotional connection at every live I go to, which is why I started moving away from the carefully crafted pop acts with flat, emotionless tunes. Away from the perfected images, choreography and the need for props and distractions from the lack of musical ability or connection. In large venues where I stood next to fans who seemed not to even enjoy themselves, and I wondered why they were even there.
I miss fade. I miss each and every member of the band, and what I miss most was their dynamism on stage. They were always amazing, each and every member adding more and more into the mix till it was overflowing. I feel like I found a bit of what I miss from them in LOCAL CONNECT but each band always has their own unique quality that it would only be limiting and disrespectful to try and compare the two.
They have grown so much, LOCAL CONNECT. From the small Kyoto band I knew as H”palty, now they play with a renewed strength, name and presence which has only kept growing. Each member of the band feels like they’ve come into their own, they’re so in their element now it’s such a joy to watch. I asked how some of the new fans found out about the band. Unsurprisingly, their stint with the ending theme for Ore Monogatari brought a whole new wave of popularity along with it. Heck, their new album even got pirated and available for download on the internet. If that’s not a sign of them making waves I don’t know what is.
Covers of their hit Shiawase no ari ka (幸せのありか, “Where Happiness Hides”) are all over YouTube and their songs have made it to karaoke systems.
I feel so proud of how far they’ve come. You know, suddenly at the live as a friend of mine introduced me to other Japanese fans, they all had this sudden flash of recognition. “Ah, I’ve seen you before!” they say and as confusion fills my face they mention that they’ve seen me in that YouTube video where I interview Daiki. So now I’m “that girl from YouTube”, which amuses me.
I love their music. As my friend Shannon would say “WHEN YOU FEELING DOWN (LOCAL CONNECT) GONNA MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER” which is what categorizes a lot of their songs. My favourite from the first major album “Kako tsunagu mirai” (Connecting the past and future) is…I have no favourite because I love all the tracks. There’s lots of their previously released stuff like Cosmoloop and Fallmaker but new tracks like Kimi no migi te (Your right hand) and Tsugi no sekai e (Toward a new world) round up what I think is a pretty damn amazing feel good album to listen to.
I prefer the previous album release of Cosmoloop because ISATO’s voice sounds less nasal there but it’s an amazing song nonetheless. They closed their set with Cosmoloop and watching them on stage I knew I would miss it terribly when I left.
The encore was Omoi, negai, utau (Thoughts, Wishes, Song) a limited release single that just resonates. “I’m not as strong a person as you think I am” are the opening lyrics and it’s a song about finding your way in life and supporting and being by your side to help you through.
“Before going back to home, come to see us!!” Daiki tweeted in English, replying to my thanks for an awesome show. He’s really just a dear, always talking to me and thanking me for coming. He loves practicing his English and it is just the most endearing thing ever.
You know, when bands are huge you love them in a slightly different way? I enjoy GACKT and ONE OK ROCK but there is just a different kind of appreciation you have when you have actually seen the journey of how a band has grown. They’re fighting so hard for their passion and it shows. When you’re big you fight a different battle.
19 July 2013 was the first time I saw H”palty live and fell in love. Just like how on 27 September 2012 fade carved their way into my heart (heh, horareta indeed).
“Don’t forget us!” Daiki mentioned when we were chatting after the live. “I’ll never forget.”