Jakarta was held on April 4, 2015. The music festival that promotes the greatness of the Japanese music scene to the world crossed the equator and arrived in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. This first overseas JAPAN NIGHT was a great success. VAMPS and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra have a lot of experience playing overseas and have played in Jakarta before. [Alexandros] had a huge buzz going into Jakarta despite it being their first time there. The three artists’ performances are sure to have left huge impressions on Indonesian music fans. The Kasablanka is located on the top floor of a giant shopping mall called Mall Kota Kasablanka. It is an event hall where world renowned artists come to perform. The 4000 capacity venue was packed on this day. Fans crowded the mall even before doors opened and showed how much anticipation there was for JAPAN NIGHT Jakarta.

HYDE of VAMPS commented, “The people here are passionate,” at the press conference that was held at noon on the day of the concert. That passion and energy was released as huge screams when the lights went dark in the venue at 7:15 pm. The giant screen introduced the day’s performers, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, [Alexandros], and VAMPS, one by one as the crowd screamed louder and louder. The video showed the first act, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, and the first overseas JAPAN NIGHT concert was underway.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra has played in Europe, Central and South Americas, and in the United States. The stability of their sound and performance energized the Jakarta crowd from the opening number. The band, which played in Jakarta for SOUNDS FAiR MUSIC in October 2014, seemed to have already grabbed the hearts of the local fans. The band’s sound, which is approaching its 25-year anniversary, was ska beats with a lot of variations. Instrumentals overcome the language barrier. The band’s influential sound was fierce and the floor shook with dancing and smiles. Yanaka spoke to the audience all in Indonesian as he grabbed the audience’s hearts and never let go for one moment. They played 10 songs, including hits like “DOWN BEAT STOMP” and “HI NO TAMA Jive”, over the course of a one-hour set. They left the stage amongst amazing energy from the crowd.

[Alexandros] was the second artist to go on stage. This was the band’s second JAPAN NIGHT performance. Their first one was for at Zepp DiverCity in October 2014. Their stunning performance there matched that of their co-performers, Sakanaction and VAMPS, and was still fresh in the overseas media’s minds. [Alexandros] was sprinting from the get go on this day. Bassist Hiroyuki Isobe shouted, “Let’s go, Jakarta!”, when they started with “For Freedom”. The boldness of his voice helped solidify their bond with the audience. It was hard to believe that it was their first time in Jakarta. Screams rose from the floor just from the intro guitar in “Run Away” during the middle of the set. Images of fans singing the words to the last song, “Adventure”, were projected on the giant screen. There were several moments where one could see how much Jakarta was waiting in anticipation for [Alexandros] to arrive. The band performed nine songs plus an intro. Yoohei Kawakaimi (vocals, guitar) yelled, “We love you! Jakarta!”, as they ended their set.

VAMPS took the headlining spot for this first overseas . It had been a year and half since their last Jakarta performance for . HYDE had played here in 2012 with L’Arc~en~Ciel for 20,000 people. Applause and screams were rampant even before VAMPS’ name was displayed on the screen. There was no question that this performance would be something special as promised. Of course, VAMPS showed no mercy either. They packed their set list with their best songs that are always sure to get the crowd going. It was almost enough to be worried about the stability of the floor of this huge shopping mall. The transition form “REVOLUTION II” to “VAMPIRE’S LOVE” was masterful. Women wearing hijabs shouted, “Bang on, stomp everybody” and stomped on the ground during the call-and-response” in “REVOLUTION II”. Some even cried to the beautiful melody of “VAMPIRE’S LOVE”. Music knows no nationality or religion. The encore was a highlight reel of K.A.Z’s delicate guitar playing, and HYDE’s shouting. After the performance, the Jakarta fans rushed to the front of the stage and watched VAMPS as they walked off stage. This was indication that the concert was a huge success.

JAPAN NIGHT Jakarta came to a close amongst great excitement and a sense of fulfillment. Three distinct artists, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, [Alexandros], and VAMPS, took in the enthusiastic welcome from Jakarta and gave it back with energetic performances. It can be said that this was the driving force behind the success of the concert. JAPAN NIGHT took a huge first step forward in promoting the Japanese music scene to the world.

JAPAN NIGHT will be held overseas again. JAPAN NIGHT Taipei (Taiwan) will be held on Saturday, May 23, and JAPAN NIGHT London (UK) will be head on Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11.

Coverage and text: Yasuo Kajiwara (BARKS)