Radwimps Dazzles the Crowd in San Jose on First U.S. Tour

On the music scene for over 20 years, veteran Japanese rock band Radwimps raised their global profile when they released a soundtrack album in 2016 for the internationally successful animated film, Your Name, which reached #2 on the Billboard World Albums chart. Director Makoto Shinkai credited Radwimps’ music as a key component toYour Name’s success: “It really propelled that film into a worldwide social phenomenon.” This also marked the beginning of the group’s multiple collaborations with director Shinkai, creating music for his subsequent films, Weathering with You and Suzume. Only days after the U.S. premiere of Shinkai’s latest film, Suzume, Radwimps kicked off their first ever U.S. tour at San Jose Civic on April 16th. The band had ambitions to embark on this tour in 2020, but COVID-19 prompted a three-year delay, which only heightened fans’ anticipation to see Radwimps live.

Opening the show with lights that flashed and fanned across the stage, the band made their appearance onstage, visible only as silhouettes. This mysterious visual paired with the twinkling harmony of synths created an atmosphere of adventure and wonder, as if traveling to another world. The song’s bridge instantly had the spellbound crowd steadily clapping along, and there was an immediate sense of unity that made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself; it was awe-inspiring. “Grand Escape” from Weathering with You was the perfect way to welcome the audience to a night that dove into Radwimps’ diverse discography and the band’s ability to immerse listeners into a marvelous world of their own making.

It was clear the crowd was primarily here for the group’s work featured in Shinkai’s films. Giving the audience exactly what they wanted, Radwimps dedicated a significant portion of their setlist to these songs. From Your Name, they performed “Zenzenzense,” which incited frenzied dancing in the crowd and “Theme of Mitsuha,” which earned a silent and focused attention to the beautiful piano melodies. They also had the crowd passionately singing along to “Nandemonaiya” and illuminating the venue with their lit phones for “Sparkle,” which features dreamy lyrics of earnest yearning. For the cherry on top, fans were treated to a tender performance of “Kanata Haluka” from Suzume as clips from the film played on a large screen, bringing concertgoers into the film’s story.

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While Radwimps is more well known as of recently for their sentimental music, the band made sure to showcase their older, punk rock tracks as well. Shaking the crowd out of their reverie, the group performed “DADA,” which features an edgy sound with a driving electric guitar motif and rapidfire chant-like delivery of nihilistic lyrics. “Oshakashama” built on this intense energy, expressing the stupid, egotistical, illogical and destructive nature of humans to quick and nimble guitar melodies. Seamlessly moving into a battle of the instruments, guitarist Akira Kuwahara and bassist Yusuke Takeda took center stage, ping-ponging zesty solos until drummers Mizuki Mori and Masafumi Eno joined in on the fun. This vibe switch-up may have caught some concertgoers off guard, but it amped the energy in the venue to an all-time high.

To end the night on a high note, Radwimps jammed to “Summer Daze,” a summer anthem that compelled listeners to dance and cheer without a care in the world. The repeated guitar riff was soothing and entrancing, lulling concertgoers into a euphoric trance. What better way to close the show than with a relaxed yet upbeat melody that makes you feel like the good times will never end.

Click on the photo below to see all our photos from the concert on Facebook!

Mai Nguyen

Editor-in-Chief at Asia Pacific Arts.
Feel free to send me a note on Twitter to @hellomailee.

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