Whatever musical genre you can think of there's bound to be a group of its fans somewhere in Tokyo, and Swedish pop is no exception. It was no surprise that devotees packed the O-Nest on Thursday night to welcome Swedish indie-pop duo Club 8 in their first visit to Japan.
A longing for the exotic is one reason why, I think, many Japanese fans are into a group like Club 8 (though, of course, they love the music too). Somewhere in the music fan's mind there's a wish to be a blond, Swedish musician who goes on stage dressed in an all-white outfit (something you hardly ever see a Japanese person wearing), and acting friendly but a bit aloof in the face of adoring fans. Maybe in another life. And that's even if the person is happy or satisfied with his days in Japan.
This wish to be someone foreign isn't unusual outside of Japan, but it does seem to be an especially big thing here, for reasons that I'm not sure of. Do we have to go all the way back to the Meiji Restoration, catching up with foreign powers, etc., in search for an answer? Or is it a mental reaction to a society that encourages conformity, a way to keep yourself free by dreaming you are someone else?
In any case, Club 8 was a charming act (the vocalist Karoline said they've been wanting to come to Japan for something like 15 years), and their performance had this light and sweet feel you don't experience that often with Japanese groups' gigs. I don't have any empirical evidence for that, but I did feel it and many in the audience must have as well, and it made the time flow in a different way than usual.
Two Japanese bands opened for Club 8: my beloved 4 Bonjour's Parties, and a unit I've wanted to see for a while, Mondialito. From what I understand, the French-singing female vocalist of this latter duo now lives in Paris so they don't play in Japan very often—another 'emulating the exotic' thing? There was something regal about her whispery-voiced performance (a clear, chilly, mountain spring-like voice it was).
Maybe it was the way she stood erect in a velvety green dress while two seated guitarists and a wood bassist at her sides toiled away at their instruments. Or, perhaps it was the way that her eyes glittered dramatically throughout the show, looking down at her subjects (ok, audience...). She didn't bother spending too much time between songs communicating pleasantries. It would have been better if she didn't wave at her friends from the stage before the show—she should have marched on stage wearing, say, an ermine cape...