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Jan 30

[live report] fade –You Can’t Compare Apples and Fried Chicken

I have to make a promise upfront; I will not compare fade’s vocalist Jon to his alter ego in YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz. Still,there is bound to be some overlap in the melodies at the very least. After all, they are the same person.

Maybe I can’t exactly promise that. Perhaps a more reasonable pledge here is to not make this entire article a play-by-play comparison between fade’s two-hour plus King of Dawn LIVE TOUR 2011 Tokyo show and the 30-minute YFC pose-off I saw at October’s V-ROCK Festival last year. The latter was my first glimpse of Jon, and it was hard to mentally remove him from Gackt’s massively toned shadow. However, after seeing him play with his own band, performing the music they wrote for themselves, and milking the screams out of their particular fan base, I now know it might be a matter of comparing apples and fried chicken.

Fade’s performance at Shibuya WWW on December 20 was much less about showing off some killer abs than I expected. The band debuted in 2002, but there’s still something shiny and youthful about them. Guitarists 5° may be covered in amoeba-like body art, but that image betrays their fresh, pop-punk sound. Songs like “Ever Free” are light on aggression, and reminiscent of the early naughtieswave of undemanding post-punk that just might be around the corner for a comeback. It may be an oxymoron to call them refreshingly nostalgic, but I just did. And yeah, I just said I’m nostalgic for the ’00s.

That being said, these simplistic guitar riffs and undemanding vocal melodies are actually where fade fell flat to my ears. The mood seemed too flippant and I found it hard to connect. While there are certain aspects of the band’s music I would rather skip over, these might just come down to taste rather than the actual skill of the band.

Luckily, this was the exception to the rule.  Most of their songs have a deeper, richer tone that borders on the theatrical. “Kings of Dawn” diverted attention from the more repetitive guitars of a couple previous songs and instead focused on the layering. With a more prominent bass providing the foundation, Jon’s voice was able to soar, displaying an emotion some other numbers so desperately needed. Even in the more punk songs like “Reality Lost,” the contrasting guitars created texture and soul beyond the typically shallow aggression of most groups in this style.

And that’s where the comparison to YFC comes in. Jon’s on-stage persona might be fun to watch when he’s flexing and mugging alongside the King of Flexing and Mugging, but his charisma felt more authentic with fade. His voice itself is slightly different, with less vibrato and more of a gravelly roughness to certain syllables and beats. With the smaller venue and the fact that the fans were there explicitly to see fade, the atmosphere was more intimate.

But like I said, apples and fried chicken. Jon is his own vocalist in fade, and while some of the music sounds vaguely reminiscent of Gackt and YFC, I might just be brainwashed from my past life as a fan of the G-man. There may have been some disconnect between my lead heart and some of lighter numbers, but the emotions ran deep with the majority of the concert. For those few stragglers, it might just be a matter of warming up to the band, and I hope audiences will be able to do that when fade plays at Toronto’s Canadian Music Fest at the end of March.

Fade Official website – http://fadeonline.com/
Canadian Music Fest – http://canadianmusicfest.com/