It’s that time of year. The leaves have fallen and the spirits have risen. We all look forward to that special part of the year when the dead may walk, and this year a very special tradition of Nagoya live music has been reanimated… HallowFest!
Due to the global pandemic, HallowFest has been dormant since it last took place in 2019. That particular edition featured the likes of TROYL, Ghost of Matsubara, Bend’s, Sugar Riser, and Mosaic. Originally intended as a fun Halloween-themed local show, it became dedicated to the headliner TROYL’s beloved bassist, Isamu, who had recently passed away. It remains one of the most packed and festive nights that Shelter Rock Bar has ever seen.
With COVID restrictions easing in 2022, Small World and Shelter felt it was time to bring the event back along with the original co-organizer Tom Fallon’s blessing. Joshidai is a notorious nexus of Nagoya’s nightlife where Shelter stands as one of very few rock bars. Though in a rock setting, HallowFest aims to showcase a variety of Nagoya’s finest local acts.
On this evening, the schedule was divided into two sections: three solo artists and three bands. With the solo artists playing first, the acts of this night showed us a range of heart-felt, comedic, and experimental tunes that Nagoya has to offer. Opening the show was Hiroki who welcomed the crowd with original acoustic songs draped over by his unique song-writing and signature voice.
Next was May Chu Chu, a comedy legend whose Small World debut was long overdue. Known by some as “Aimee Clark” or “that British lady who’s always on stage somewhere”, she had the house dying of laughter with her staple parody songs that cleverly present observations anyone living in Japan can relate to. May Chu Chu always delivers, not just in terms of funny songwriting, but she also proves her worth as a strong vocalist.
Rounding out the solo acts was S. Shah. Many might know Steven Shah as the guitarist and singer of the local psychedelic stoner rock band, Blasting Rod. Though he wasn’t with his full band tonight, he was armed with a special pedal board and Orange amp that filled the house with a wall of sound that took us on an abstract journey into our next section of the night.
To start off our chapter of live bands was Lostnote. Lostnote are a group of Filipino rock guys living in Aichi who have found a home at bars like Shelter doing what they love most, playing music. These pinoys had everyone smiling and grooving to reggae tunes for the first half of their set, until they kicked it up into sixth gear with some 90s rock covers. A moshpit even erupted as the crowd couldn’t hold back for “Enter Sandman”.
Following Lostnote was the sensational pop/R&B/soul group Cheapwine Squad who surprised everyone by showing up dressed as five different versions of Spider-Man. If you can recognize the different Spider suits, kudos to you. You’re a true nerd. They blew the roof off with a wide range of recognizable, fun covers as well as their new original tracks like “Do You Want a Good Time”.
Of course Shelter was most packed with the headliner Crocodile Bambie. Their sound can be described as progressive doom metal with dirty stoner rock riffs. They are one of the most legendary bands of the local Nagoya metal scene and they don’t play often. Singer and bassist Yoshi Yasui was just portrayed by actor Yuma Kato in a film across theaters called “鋼音色の空の彼方へ“, centered around the history of his other band Outrage. Some fans came as far as Yokohama and the band did not disappoint. Even though they played one man short of their usual four-piece, they delivered with their groovy licks, their classic fuzzy guitar tone, and their ever-precise musicianship. They proved this night as they do every other night why they are kings of the city.
The real winners of the night, though, were the audience who got to drink loads while meeting and mingling with one another and enjoying Shelter’s signature Brazilian cuisine. There were Japanese fans of live music along with an equal number of foreigners from all around the world there for a good time. Who do you want to see at HallowFest next year?