Words and photographs by Aki Fujita Taguchi
Proofreading by Yosuke Taguchi
Swiss rock band YOKKO made a second appearance in Japan and I had a great honor to photograph them again at Tsutaya O-Nest in Tokyo on Tuesday night. The first time they came to Japan was in 2017 for supporting their second album ‘To the Fighters. To the Boxers’, which was released in March 2016. I was allowed to photograph their two shows at that time. Their beautiful melody and the great personality of each member really touched my heart and I was looking forward to seeing them again.
YOKKO was formed in Bern, Switzerland, in 2011. Their music style is often called as indie, pop, rock, alternative, and so on. However, they named their sound as ‘Atlantic Wave’ by themselves. I think it was a good idea because it is far better than to be categorized by someone else. And it speaks their specific sound very well. The words ‘Atlantic Wave’ make me imagine their dynamics and deepness of the sound which encompasses many different styles.
Should I explain about their band name? I suppose so. The band name ‘YOKKO’ comes from Japanese name Yoko. They were planning to play internationally from the first point. So they researched a name which anyone in the world can pronounce easily and found a Japanese female name Yoko. Wirth adding ‘K’ to it, the band name ended up naming ‘YOKKO’.
After they made a big success with releasing two albums which climbed to top 10 on the Swiss album charts, receiving a Swiss music award, playing over 300 shows in Europe and Japan, they went on a hiatus. Some embarked on a journey, some focused on writing music. Each member took a time to rethink his life and music. And, they are back!
On this tour, keyboard player Timo joined and supported the band. On the first note, I realized that they dramatically changed since 2017. Their earlier work had a much more pop feeling which was good of course, because we felt the simple joy of music in it. There’s no reason to deny pop-rock music. However, they must have found their way to go more deeper. Their sound has changed heavier and darker. The lighting was also dark and that made my shooting a little bit challenging.
Actually, their set list was almost filled with two EP’s released this year, ‘Soliva’ and ‘Soliva Ⅱ’. The atmosphere was totally serious and dark throughout the night. Many songs have both very calm part and explosive part. I felt the big dynamics is the most impressive part of their updated sound. That was well received by the Japanese audience. They often got excited on the explosive part.
Beautiful and powerful voice of Adrian was amazing and I was impressed by his emotional stage behavior. Although he is a lead singer, he stood on the left side on the stage throughout the show. This might be one of the results of their style changes. Phillip’s rich guitar tone have been the core of their sound since 2017, and I felt it became more and more significant.
For the last song in their encore, YOKKO walked down the floor and performed ‘Calling All Gods’ from the first album ‘Seven Seas’ as an acoustic version. That was such a good mood and especially touching.
In a conversation with singer Adrian after the gig, he said he once deleted the pop elements of their sound, and after the hiatus, he wanted to go much more deeper and darker. I loved their updated sound which echoed through my head.
It was very nice to see them in this intimate gig, but I believe they deserve a far larger audience. That’s why I take pictures of them and write a gig review. If you haven’t seen them yet, I highly recommend to go to their show. These guys are a band to watch out for in the future. Luckily, they will come to Japan next year for the event of 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Nothing about live performance is confirmed yet, but let’s make it happen!
Keep your eyes peeled for more updates!
Adrian Erni (Vocals, Guitars) / Philipp Treyer (Guitars) / Mats Tröhler (Bass) / Domenic Schüpbach (Drums ) / Timo Loosli (Keyboards, supporting member)
1. Fear Of Trembling / 2. Skyfall / 3. Diamonds / 4. Purple / 5. Boxer / 6. Thief / 7. Wondering Heights /8. Echoes / 9. Disclaimer / 10. Elder Flow /11. Forever Ago
Encore: 12. Bloodline / 13. Circle / 14. Calling All Gods
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