Stadium arcadium

In Photo: BeatMotors

column-Rodel Alzona-a differen viewROCK ’N’ ROLL is alive!  Its pulse is coming from Japan.  Wait.  Did I just say Japan?  Cue in Deadpool’s confused look here.

I was not at the Madonna concert.  Never really planned on going there, in the first place.  And even if someone were magnanimous enough to give me free tickets, I would have politely declined.  Or maybe sold the ticket to the highest bidder.

Her concerts represent everything that is entirely wrong with live performances today.  The music is almost entirely lost in all the production gimmickry that is being placed on her concerts.

If you have not noticed yet, most of those that have songs on radio-station rotation today, those that I call disposable pop music, they rely so much on gimmicks, most notably the booty variety.  And please do not get me started on the lyrics of their songs.


I hate Maroon 5.  They were probably the last proper band that could do a lot of good in improving the mainstream scene.  And yet, they choose to take the easy path.  Listen to their debut album Songs About Jane and then compare them to their subsequent albums and you will know what I mean.  To me, they represent all that is wrong with bands today.

I am also shaking my head for the monstrosities that were created by the social media and reality shows, which have given so-called artists and bands instant gratifications along with their 15 minutes of fame.

Masashi Akiba
Masashi Akiba

After almost accepting the fact that music, the really good ones, along with the artists and bands that represent them, are long dead and gone, a miracle happened.

You see, I found real darn good music on Sunday.  Before darkness crept over the city, I raised my two hands way up high, fist clenched and shouting at the top of my voice in pure jubilation. Real good music was still very much alive and kicking.  Thank you Japan!

It was late afternoon, but I felt like the sun had just shined and new day has began.  I just experienced 40 minutes of pure nirvana from a Japanese band that just blew away everyone present during the Spinning Manila J-Pop Live concert in White Space Makati City.

BeatMotors is the name of the band. They were the opening act for the event that featured two iconic anime musicians in Joe Inoue and Diana Garnet. 

Honestly, I had basement-level expectations. But seconds after they walked onto the stage wearing black and white Jollibee inside shirts to go with their built-in rock-star appeal, my eyes widened and I could feel my spine tingling.  I knew right then that it was going to be something special.

BeatMotors blasted their way through a nine-song set list carrying the swagger and confidence of a real rock ’n’ roll band in every sense of the word.  They worked their butts.  They were clearly having a great time.  They made that afternoon something memorable.

Although I could hardly understand what they were singing, their performance was one for the ages.  And it was free.  Take that, all you Madonna fans. 

Anyway, the band’s sound, at least to me, was a cross between The Stereophonics and Oasis.  But they were more like Oasis with their cockiness. Oh, but they were also charming and were smiling a lot like The Beatles in thier early years.

Oasis, The Beatles, well you know how the story goes, right?

The band told me that The Beatles and The Ramones were their main influences.  They got their name from a tag on a bag Paul McCartney was supposedly carrying when he toured Japan.

Going back to their concert, their vocalist and guitarist Masashi Akiba was eyes f_ng the audience all throughout.  I swear, if he was not in a band, this guy could instigate a riot anywhere and anytime he wants. 

Heck, at the end of their performance, when he removed his guitar from his shoulder, I was half expecting him to set his guitar on fire, or destroy it by hammering it against the drums.  He was a total showman.  The kind of front man you rarely see these days.

Their lead guitarist Tetsuro Kimura was awesome with the guitars.  He was a good foil to Masashi. I did not see that much pedals on his gears, but his work is amazing.  And that smile could get him any girl he wants. 

BeatMotors rhythm section of Johnny Yanagawa on bass and Takahiro Shikano on drums were no pushovers also. 

Johnny was the quiet one, but plays a mean bass.  His signature was present in all of their songs.  Takahiro, on the other hand, had that Ringo Starr persona with his playing style and the way he smiles and bobs his head.   

Collectively, they represented all the right reasons individuals form a band, write music together, record them and take them out on the road for people to hear.

BeatMotors was formed in college 12 years ago.  They were friends from way back, that wanted to start a band.  Heck, they probably did not know how to play their instruments when they started.

Currently, they are signed to Sony Music Japan and have released seven albums, including extended plays.  They have constantly toured Japan and have a fairly large following there.

Japan is a country that I remember back in college, my friends and I, used to make fun because of how bands there play.  From what we saw then on cable, Japanese bands gave over-the-top performance, that came across as cheap imitations.

There was no soul to their music then.  You can hardly feel any vibe and band connection with the audience was hardly present.  Things do change for the better.

Over the years, I have added Japanese bands Dragon Ash and The Naked Surfers to my collection.  I also have most of the albums of Fantastic Plastic Machine and Emy Fujita, both on an all together different genre, but good music, just the same.

Thank you BeatMotors for reassuring me that good music is still very much alive and kicking and it is probably only the radio stations that are afraid of playing them.

BeatMotors is heading to Myanmar after their Philippine performance.  Rock on dudes!

For comments, suggestions and reactions, I can be reached at [email protected]

Image Credits: Rodel Alsona

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