For months I’ve been wanting to see We Are Band Nerds, an alternative hip-hop outfit The Red Empress (Callie Dee) had been telling me about. Lee Allen, the talent buyer at Lola’s, told me they would be taking the stage Sunday night at 10, but when I got there, I found out they were a no show. Instead, these weird guys from Tokyo were on stage. The band was called Loka — Kihiro (vocals), Ken'ichi (drums), Miro (bass) and Riu (guitar) — and the name is Sanskrit for “world” or “universe.”
Kihiro calls the genre EDM (electronic dance metal), and, while that’s a creative name for it, I don’t think that covers it. From the bottom up, the foundation of this mess is Ken’ichi’s brutally intense drumming. The man does double bass flurries that knock the wind out of your lungs, and the rest of the percussion is precise without being soulless — all the while spinning sticks and flailing about. Watch the videos of “Perfect Enemy” here. The band is beyond tight, and it starts with those drums.
The drums and guitar are unified to such a degree that it’s often hard to pick out the individual sound in the sonic blur. It’s the performance of the whole thing as the sound moves from metal to nearly jazz to pop that is so impressive.
Loka is finishing the last part of its first American tour, with shows still to go in New Mexico, Nevada and a big finish at the notable Viper Room in Hollywood before the band heads home. But this isn’t Kihiro’s first visit to the U.S.
“I’ve toured in Texas a lot with my previous band, Supe,” Kihiro said. “We played SXSW, Austin, Abilene, Lubbock, El Paso, Dallas, Fort Worth — my drummer got arrested in Carrollton. He got scammed, he got caught for forgery — he got out, he’s all clear.”
In Fact, Kihiro lived in California for a while. The song “Perfect Enemy” was about a friend from that time.
The crowd at Lola’s was small, a dozen or so, but enthusiastic. They cheered wildly and a few bought some merch. But Loka played the show like it was playing a stadium.
“Days like these [in Japan], where the crowd is very few people, they’ll applaud a little bit,” Kihiro explained. “But in America, they’ll raise their voice, cheer — if you’re good, they will do that for you. The reaction, the speed of reaction is so faster. That’s the big difference.”
Loka will be back in town I’m sure. Meanwhile, check out its music at http://www.loka-official.com/discography/ .