How A Shoegaze Fest Made Me Realize Grunge Revivalism Exists

It was my second time to attend the annual local shoegaze fest, and I intentionally did not research much about the bands playing. All I really knew was there were local and Japanese bands in the roster, much like last year’s gig. That was good enough to convince me from my usual solitary weekends in Minhang.


Soft started the gig with sublime, classic shoegaze riffs that I decided to put my camera away for some time. I highlight “classic“, since having listened to the genre since the mid 90s, there’s a personal attachment involved here.


City Flanker went next, employed lots of guitar reverb, but veered away a bit from the staple signature sound of the night. The ‘band look‘ they went for seemed a little off (e.g. bassist was in seifuku), though, but that’s just me nitpicking.


Yukino Chaos (Tokyo) was an all-out grunge band. I still have a problem with the tag ‘alternative‘, so even if it would be fair to put that label to this act as well, I won’t. They had a fun set, and they were beaming with pride to also promote the Japanese bands from their scene, whose records and merch they brought along with them.


Broken Little Sister (Japan) had the longest set, did classic boy+girl duet shoegaze, and sandwiched in the middle, a Dubstar cover. I was all ears after realizing the first riffs was an intro to Stars, but the song fell flat with a vocal that just can’t catch up.


The White Tulips played at last year’s fest, and that night covered a bit more than shoegaze as well with their set. It was a welcome sight to see the Yuyintang stage a little more bare than usual with just three people, less theatrics. The band seemed to be a crowd favorite, too.

Kill My 27 (Osaka) played early morning, which doesn’t normally happen for any rock gig ’round here. Their soundcheck went far too long, and I was puzzled why I was hearing metalcore-sounding riffs. They were an all-female trio, donned all-black outfits, and the guitarist/vocalist’s Gretsch guitar was missing the tuning peg for the first string (high E). My interest was peaking, then they turned on a strong white light source set in front of the bass drum, and that was their only illumination for their set.


They were essentially a grunge band, but they a load of noise and drone elements seeping in. I don’t hear any Hole/Bikini Kill/Babes in Toyland influences here, since the vocalist delivered a softer, almost muted singing to go along with their raw, sludgy output. Obviously, they were my favorite act of the night, though it was a pain to photograph them. I got their record bundle (CD + tape), and tried to talk with Hitomi (vocalist/guitarist) about her playing with only five strings. I didn’t push the conversation any further, and I was just delighted that that Saturday night ended with me on a big, fat high.

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