SiM @ Nippon Budokan, (Nov. 4th, 2015)

270-degree surround reggae-punk
Live Report @ NipponBudokan 2015.11.04

A few hours before their first and last show at Nippon Budokan, SiM vocalist MAH tweeted that 4 years ago to that day, the band had performed their first one-man show at Shibuya’s O-West. At the time, he said, he had not even entertained the idea that the band would be playing a sold out show at Budokan. Stadium shows on that scale don’t come easily to bands leaning towards the heavier end of the rock spectrum in Japan (although Def Leppard filled it up the following Monday), but the show was sold out, and the stage set up in the stadium had taken full advantage of having such a huge space at the band’s disposal.

SiMSmack bang in the centre of the arena, a nine-sided stage ringed by a runway meant that the band had a 270-degree audience on three levels. Those on the floor of the arena were bull-penned into 4 standing sections and everyone else was seated on the 1st and 2nd floors above. When the lights plunged the stadium into darkness a video on the screens above either side of the stage saw the band leaping from the walls of an animated castle and one by one make their real-life entrance to the arena in a stutter of strobe lights, smoke and explosives through a metal-toothed maw at the back of the arena.

SiMSiM deal in an idiosyncratic mix of reggae-punk mixed up with hardcore breakdowns, metal guitar solos, and vocoded lyrics that, fortunately, aren’t laid on too thick. In fact, they do everything their lengthy self-definition says on the tin. Opening number “KiLLiNG ME” was a perfect way to kick-off the show, with its head-banging guitar riff and a sing-a-long mid-section that had 10,000 people joining in. With “KiLLiNG ME” coming from 2011 album “SEEDS OF HOPE”, “CROWS” and “psycho” were a great update to the SiM sound from their most recent single. “CROWS” had a nu-metal edge to it with some killer breakdowns and “Psycho” took on a mischievous horror-ska vibe that was in parts reminiscent of Offspring bop but then tore into screamo, and was superbly lit by spotlights that shot up through the floor of the runway as guitarist SHO-HATE and bassist SIN strolled about it. SiM“GUNSHOT” was also a stand out song – a pop-ska bopper peppered with glitch and dubstep bass drops to keep everyone on their toes as they danced The Monkey along with MAH. The show kept upping the ante as the hits came thick and fast, billows of flame bursting forth during “Existence”, and “Set Me Free” instigated what may well have been Budokan’s first and last simultaneous surround slamming pits.

SiMMidway through SiM took things in a different direction entirely and played two acoustic songs. “Same Sky” was made of the perfect mix of whimsy and heartbreak for an acoustic rendition, followed by a salute to The Beatles played in a low-key hush with “Come Together”. The quiet didn’t last long though. After a brief pause, drummer GODRi came back on stage and launched into a drum solo lit from above by pulsating white spotlights, and accompanied by bursts of flame. And if that wasn’t quite enough for one drum solo, GODRi was hoisted above the stage on wires to literally air drum, throwing Peter Pan style poses during each dramatic pause.

SiMThe band’s two-hour show was a magnetic, raucous and groovy tour through their 11-years of blending the fun and groove of ska and reggae with the ape-shit elements of hardcore and screamo. With a solo show booked for next year at Yokohama Arena, SiM are going to continue punching in the heavyweight bracket – a place well deserved and all the more anarchic for it. They’ll be playing this coming weekend not the first day of Ozzfest, alongside the likes of Crossfaith, Meaning, One OK Rock, and Korn. Go get your violent two-step on.


KiLLiNG ME/ WHO’S NEXT/ CROWS/ phycho/ ANTHEM/ GUNSHOTS/ Amy/EXiSTENCE/ Murderer/ Set Me Free/ Same Sky/ come together/ Blah Blah Blah/ JACK.B


Rum/ Get up, Get up/ f.a.i.t.h

Official photos by Yasumasa Handa(Showcase), Yuji Honda and Kohei Suzuki

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Laura Cooper
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