Call me ignorant, but I really didn’t know what shoegaze was until a few months ago. Or more accurately, I’d never heard of the moniker, though I was keenly aware of the concept: a subgenre of alt-rock that was so flippant, it made Kurt Cobain seem like Freddie Mercury.
I’m not saying INORAN’s 15th anniversary of his solo career on March 15 was exactly shoegaze, though elements such as the heavy use of distortion pedals were certainly there. What made me immediately think of straggly-haired guitarists preoccupied with their untied Converse was actually the audience, mostly because, well, they all looked like straggly-haired guitarists preoccupied with their untied Converse.
INORAN is most famous for being one of the guitarists of LUNA SEA, a band known for their finely-tuned ability to move even the most frigid hearts. Their audience is somewhat reflective of the band, with nary a dry eye leaving any of their shows. You can call a LUNA SEA fan dramatic, expressive, and overly sentimental, and that’s also the band in a nutshell.
But INORAN is a different story. Stepping out on the dusty rugs set up on stage, INORAN looked all the bit the blasé rocker. His backup band was even less extravagant, each wearing simple T’s and jeans. The candles places haphazardly around the stage made the whole atmosphere feel like you just entered your friend’s cool older brother’s basement apartment a la Trent from Daria. He’ll move out as soon as the band gets signed, but in the meantime, help yourself to some leftover pizza.
I hate to state the obvious, but one listen to INORAN’s music and even the least savvy listener will know exactly who his influence is: the one, the only, the slightly clichéd at this point Nirvana. The first number, “No Name”, might as well have slapped the audience in the face with an ironic smiley face with X’s for eyes. The guitar may be more complex that your typical Nirvana tune, but it’s still relatively simple and chunky, playing at a rhythm that allows the audience to bob their heads with all the enthusiasm of a gaggle of zombies. INORAN’s even got the signature marbles-in-my-mouth thing going on as he occasionally slurs English and bursts out with random frustration.
Reaching past the glaring similarities, INORAN is his own man and brings his own voice to the genre. Songs like “Santa Ana Afternoons” feature a cool, repeating bass, while venturing into melodic pop rock for “Sennenka”. Bringing out his acoustic guitar for “Leslie”, INORAN completed the picture of just a couple of guys jamming. The guitar sounded raspy, like the action was too high and who could be bothered to fix it? The rest of the instruments added layers to this song, as if they were trying out some new riffs at that very moment. It felt real, organic, and true to the mood of the audience.
When INORAN announced the upcoming release of his new album, the audience gave him a half-hearted applause, as if clapping took away parts of their souls. And that’s cool. OK, I’m not so good at pretending to be – let alone actually being – dispassionate, but INORAN is the perfect voice for those chill times when your emotions are stuck on shoegaze levels of giving a fuck.Official INORAN website – http://inoran.org/app-def/S-102/wp/en/