First of all, I’m not an avid flumpool fan. As many know me to be C-Pop crazy, my J-pop/J-Rock exploits are limited, but my ears are nevertheless open to listening to any promising acts that I happen to cross paths with. And on a cool weekend evening in Singapore, it seems that flumpool was the next one on my list. Although I didn’t have much time to prepare in between mundane errands that took up my time in the days leading up to the concert, I thought to myself, ‘Well, if they’re good enough, I wouldn’t need to prepare anything to enjoy myself’. And some may call it laziness, but I prefer to call this principle of mine pure logic. I could go on justifying myself, but to cut a long story short, flumpool passed my test with flying colours.
Appearing without much fanfare to a cozy but passionate audience at Millian Singapore, the boys got right into it, kicking the concert into session with their latest single “Kaihoku” from their album “EGG”. I was immediately drawn into the song with its simple Brit-rock inspired piano riffs at the start, which slowly descended into a beautiful mess of punk rock drums and the exhilarating buzz of electric guitars. It seems the band took a while to warm up to the audience at first, with little interactions over the first few songs as they transitioned seamlessly between songs, diving relentlessly from one to the next in quick succession.
However, it was at the first break the boys took to talk to their fans that I started to become endeared to their friendly and amiable personalities. Lead vocalist Ryuta tried earnestly to converse with the audience in English, asking if “they were enjoying”, if they had bought the album and whether they liked it, about Singapore’s culture and languages and so on and so forth. Despite having to pause and think many times about how he would have to phrase that sentence in English and oftentimes coming up with embarassing yet adorable combinations like “who did you see us before” (he meant ‘which of you have seen us before’), he nevertheless persevered, touching the audience with his sincerity in wanting to interact with them. While I have seen many other artists attempt to cover up their lack of knowledge of a foreign language by re-using a rotation of words over and over, or even worse, not speaking with the audience at all, his taking a full five minutes to talk with the audience and overcome language barriers deeply moved me, and had me falling head over heels for them and their music.
Many of their songs, such as “Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You’re Romantic” and “Dilemma” seem simple on the surface, however are much more complex upon closer observation. The quintessential Japanese rock band, their songs often have a vintage feel to them, with that particular Japanese aesthetic, especially for songs on their previous albums. Unlike previous rock concerts which I had been to, their style seemed to present a lighter take on Rock which was more mellow and thoughtful than the usual headbanging, simple arrangements I was used to, with a little playfulness and optimism which I could really appreciate. And unlike other more ‘hardcore’ rock bands who usually boast a lead singer with a set of explosive, screaming vocals, Ryuta surprised me with his warm, textured voice. Although he did not have the piercing, almost hysterical screech characteristic of many other rock singers down pat and was not in the best shape that night, I nevertheless revelled in the fullness of his voice and his boyish charm throughout the performance. However, on songs such as “Kakusei Identity” and “Zettai Zetsumei” which were more traditional punk rock, the boys showed off their versatility as they strayed towards a more western genre of rock. But thanks to guitarist Kazuki’s songwriting, the world was flumpool’s oyster as they performed a diverse set of songs, with some lending themselves to folk rock or country influences (Dear My Friend), others bordering on electronica (Rinne) and of course, good ol’ J-Rock as previously mentioned.
But it seems, that not only do the boys find proficiency in different genres, but also different languages. I was especially surprised, and touched by flumpool’s sincerity as they sang not one, not two, but three Chinese-language songs; their own “Gu Dan (Tsuyoku Hakanaku)” and “Zeng Ming(Akashi)” as well as Mayday’s hit song “OAOA” which they rearranged completely. Despite at times not knowing what Ryuta was singing, it was still a good effort, and as they say, music itself speaks louder than words! Being able to hear one of my favourite songs by Mayday sang by flumpool truly had me overcome by euphoria by that point of the night. Furthermore, one of my favourite parts of the show was when Kazuki led the crowd in a rousing chorus of Singapore’s past National day song “Our Home Our Heart Our Singapore”, leaving fans in the audience giggling over his cheeky, yet thoughtful addition to the set. I was also especially amused by Genki and Seiji’s game attempts at Singlish, where they attempted to apply the word ‘Chio Bu (sexy lady)’ to the audience in the room.
One other thing which I noticed during the boys’ performance from the very beginning was their impeccable chemistry as a group. Without even looking at each other, Seiji was able to sense Ryuta’s slowing in the vocals and matched his pace; even a cheeky grin from Kazuki to Genki seemed to hold a thousand words as the latter nodded his agreement. Even as Ryuta sang, unlike other bands his body language did not indicate any wish to be front and centre, while each of the members stood their own ground, focused on doing what they did best. Their unspoken method of communication although used no words, caught my attention and left me in awe at their skilful and dynamic team spirit. It truly added to the performance and was unlike any other I had ever experienced live.
As the night wore on, it seems that there was nothing flumpool couldn’t do, with the atmosphere in the room becoming more and more frenzied even towards the end of the band’s official set. With electricity still crackling in the air, the band said their goodbyes (very unconvincingly, I might add) and headed off the stage, before jumping back on stage to the cries of encore from fans. They actually entertained three encores before Ryuta exasperated, but always adorable pleaded, “This is the really last song, ok?”, ending the night with a sweet performance of “Hydrangea”.
Although on the outside they look like a bunch of full-grown rockers, these guys have hearts that I am convinced are made of gold. I am not one to be easily won over by marketing gimmicks, but I am certain that these boys’ passion for music, and their goodwill towards fans comes from a much more sincere place. Just like their latest album “EGG”, their “WHAT ABOUT EGGs?” concert was full of heart. There were no fancy tricks, just the boys earnestly playing the music that they had worked so hard for with a crowd who was willing to appreciate it. So for an awesome night, bravo flumpool, you’ve found a fan in me!
2. Kakusei Identity
3. Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You’re Romantic~
5. Dear My friend
7. Zettai Zetsumei
8. Gu Dan (Tsuyoku Hakanaku) *Chinese Version
9. Kyou no Chikai
11. Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai you ni
12. Yoru wa Nemurerukai?
13. Blue Apple & Red Banana
14. reboot ~Akiramenai Uta~
17. World Beats
18. Zeng Ming (Akashi) *Chinese Version
19. Taisetsu na Mono wa Kimi Igai Miataranakute
20. Hoshi ni Negai wo
Photos courtesy of Amuse Entertainment