This weekend was the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Love Rock Festival (PLRF) here on Okinawa. If you are not familiar PLRF is the biggest rock and roll event on island which is hosted each year on the first weekend in July. This two day event is unlike any other on Okinawa. Local bands who set the stage for rock and roll here on Okinawa are featured as well as some other bands from around the country. The event is also family friendly (for the most part) and ton of fun! This year is a tradition for many music enthusiasts on the island and we are no exception. This year, however, because of prior obligations we chose to only attend one day which turned out fine because our favorite (and soon to be favorite) bands were playing on Saturday (the day we chose to attend). Let’s go over some of the talent.
The first band to perform was a new artist who I have spoken about before in other posts. She is a 13 year old who has always had the dream of performing at the PLRF since she was 5 years old. To be completely honest I was not skeptical of this young girl when I first read the article but she did blow me away seeing her live. We knew that she was going to be a good performer because she made it through the audition but I had anticipated she would be on stage singing with the band and it would be a great accomplishment and a good performance. Nope, I stand corrected. Not only was this girl a good singer BUT she was also doing it while playing the drums. . . yes that’s right what a talent! She told her story which was very cool but then she tells it again, in perfect English. Is there anything that this girl can’t do? Of course she has a lot of years ahead of her and I am sure that this means she will only improve and achieve greatness in the future. Keep it up Sakura!
The second band is one of the bands that I could not wait to see and it one of the reasons that I go to the PLRF each year. ZUKAN is a band who comes from Okinawa and are extremely proud of their home town of Kin. (You can see many images of Kin in the video above.) They are extremely energetic and always ready to bring an exciting show playing with the crowd. This year they brought out watermelon for the crowd and sprayed everyone with a squirt gun before throwing it into the crowd. Regardless whether you understand what they are saying you can’t help but tap your toes and dance. The music is in my opinion very representative of Okinawa not only in it’s feel but also in some cases with the use of “eisa” both in the dance that they do and encourage the crowd to do and in the lyrics themselves. It’s a lot of good fun and they certainly did not disappoint this year. They never do!
The third band was one that we had not been familiar with before. I am not sure if they had played PLRF before but if they had it was not within the past 5 years that we have attended. They were very good and we enjoyed them quite a bit. None of the music was recognizable to us but that didn’t prevent us from tapping our toes and flapping our fans to the beat. There is a female guitarist or bassist (I really could not tell from where I was sitting) who had fantastic presence and did a great job. It was very cool.
陸奥守吉行 was my favorite band of this entire show. I hate to go ahead and put that down here so soon before I finish talking about the other bands but there is no use in waiting until the end. They had me in the first 30 seconds of their performance as they started all walking out onto the stage and I saw that the sanshin was being played (I am a huge fan of the rock/classic Japanese style music). The fact that they were all dressed in these beautiful Japanese style samurai outfits also added to the appeal of 陸奥守吉行. Once the set started it was all over I was hooked and I needed to get more! The lead singer had a voice that I just can’t get enough of and combine that with the sound of the sanshin and mix in rock and it’s all over. The music is catchy and the stage presence was just fascinating. I would honestly love to say more about 陸奥守吉行 but to be completely honest there is nothing more to say. The sound was amazing, the performance was amazing, I will be searching for their CD once I get back from Tokyo.
D-51 is a pop group from Okinawa which consists of two main guys. They are usually not very interesting to me because I am not into the type of music or the style of performance but this year my might was slightly changed. Usually they perform with a background track and although they are energetic on stage the performance never really stands up to the rest. This year, however, they surprised us with a full band and background singers which was a great surprise. This had made the performance much more energetic and lively. There is something better about live performances which I enjoyed quite a bit. Although the band does not rank high on my list of favorites (sorry D-51) I did enjoy their show this year better than the previous years.
The first time we saw Civilian Skunk it was last year at the PLRF and they were good then and super cute (they all matched from hair all the way down to their shoes). The music was good but you could tell by their stage presence that they were new to this. They were confident but more into playing music than they were into working the crowd. This year all of that changed. Civilian Skunk has moved up to the top of my “favorites chart”. They worked the crowd and have developed their own style. This year they were not matching like last year but they were all dressed fashionably which was super cool because you could tell the personality of each and I think it made them all more comfortable on stage. The show was great and they have already made leaps and bounds. I certainly think they will keep gaining popularity among people here in Okinawa and hopefully expand beyond the island.
Katchan Band. The Okinawa Legend. People come from far and wide to listen to the Katchan Band over at Jack Nasty’s on Gate Two Street or at least they did. Jack Nasty’s recently closed it’s doors (so I read although this could have changed) but the band played on at the PLRF this year. So what to say about Kachan band? If you like everything balanced, understandable and with proper function you are not going to like the Kachan band. They are known for doing something ridiculous, strange and humorous most of the time and in my opinion most people can’t wait to go and see how they are going to twist classic rock songs in a way that is going to make you laugh and sing along. This year the Kachan band started off with a woman in a black veil summoning via dance a large egg which was carried on a ritualistic looking platform by about 10 men and pulled by a man dressed like Moses if he were an inmate as he was wearing orange and tied with ropes to this large egg thing. The “egg” was brought down to the stage while the woman continued her summon and it got more intense the closer the egg got. Once the egg was on stage a man dressed like a middle eastern person (white robe with large veil over his head and the tight scarf which circles the veil to keep it on (I am sorry those of you of middle eastern decent I am not sure what any of this is called) comes out and begins singing “born to be wild”. The egg eventually hatches to reveal our legend himself who this year is dressed as a monkey with a top hat and exposing his bare bottom to the crowd. (I should mention that this is nothing new for the Kachan band lead singer/main attraction who is often doing something outrageous. He has with him his signature fishing pole with a flying stitch toy on the end so we know it’s him for sure, well because of that and the hat. The performance consisted of him singing various songs which everyone knows the words to putting his monkey spin on it grunting and giving an “ug” when the music would make it funny. This continues on the the entire set with the leader making sure that hey is commenting on the crowd. It’s a good time but I admit it might not be something for everyone. This was what I considered the best “performance” as it usually ends up being. There is something that has to do with the fun, recognizable music and all around ridiculous nature of the show which screams rock and roll to me.
Freddie oh Freddie, I can’t help but get excited each and every time that this band plays. Freddie Eto & Queeness is a Queen cover band made up of Japanese people. I honestly am not sure where they are from but they rock the house each and every year. The best part about all of this is that they take the performance to the next level. Although Freddie is short and quite a bit bigger than Freddie Mercury was he still keeps true to the movements, the way he walks all the way down to the way that he talks to the audience. That’s right he speaks in English and with an English accent. Does it get any better than that? The way that he plays with the crowd all the way down the the way that he interacts with other band members screams QUEEN! It’s a lot of fun especially for those of us who know all the queen songs by heart.
I am not going to lie I very much anticipated this band since I saw that they were playing. There was something about the picture of them on the flyer which interested me and then when I looked them up WOW I was even more interested. You don’t have to read Japanese to understand that the name of this band has the man symbol in it as well as “men” so what’s up with this? Well in short these girls are actually guys. Yeah that’s right no lady parts under those cute outfits. If you weren’t confused already this group does not even pretend to be girls at all. They all speak like men and are clearly a group of men who dress like women to sing and dance. It’s almost comedic, their act that is, especially the way that they conduct themselves which is clearly to show that they are men. The show started out, for example, with the lead singer demanding that everyone come down the the center of the arena in front of the stage because they came all the way from Tokyo. He was loud and used a roaring voice which was in and of itself. In fact he stated that he would be taking three minutes for everyone to figure out what they were doing and come down to be part of the crowd. There is a lot more that was said but my listening skills are not very good when someone is speaking as fast as he was. Once he started singing I was again taken by surprise when they opened with a metal song (not heavy metal but close enough for me to raise an eyebrow). They continued on with another exercise like song which was hilarious in my honest opinion especially because a lot of people who were exercising with the band. It was. . . ridiculous and great at the same time. Ultimately they kept us guessing the entire time which was great.
We ended up leaving after this band because we were beat by this time and we had seen everyone we wanted to. There were a few more bands that played this evening but we called it quits because we were both exhausted and in need of something cold and refreshing. Overall the event was great as it is every year. We didn’t go for the second day but I am sure that the bands were wonderful as well. I cannot wait for next year. I am hoping that some of these bands come back because I would love to see them again! So did you go to the PLRF? If you did leave your comments below!