RH in Tokyo: Aoyama Moon Romantic

This article is part of a series on the vibrant music scene in Tokyo’s various neighborhoods.

Walk around Tokyo’s trendy Aoyama neighborhood and you might stumble across Moon Romantic, a live house with eclectic programming. Home to numerous international acts, Aoyama’s Moon Romantic also has its own record label, Big Romantic Records. Moon Romantic is now in its 13th year of operation, with a sister branch (also named Moon Romantic) in Taiwan, and another branch in Daikanyama called Haremame Romantic.

Moon Romantic has a quaint ambience to it. A large moon serves as the backdrop on the stage; a cloth awning sporting tribal patterns hangs over the bottom floor; next to the staircase is a pillar shaped like a Chinese dragon. The venue’s design gives off a sophisticated and exotic vibe, in contrast with the grungy, DIY feel of the venues in Shimo-Kitazawa.

Tonight is the release party for Imperfect Lover, the debut album of Big Romantic’s newest indie pop group from Taiwan, Freckles. Opening for them is LUCKY TAPES, a City Pop band with funky tendencies. They’ve got quite the ensemble on the stage, with three horns (trombone, sax, and trumpet), a synth, bass, drums, and a backup vocalist. Aloha shirts are the uniform of the night, and their energy perfectly embodies the wild patterns that they’re wearing. This is the most populated show I’ve attended to date, with both floors absolutely packed.

It’s time for Freckles to play, and they bring an incredible, positive energy to the stage. It’s the first time the band has been outside of Taiwan, and their pure, unadulterated happiness while performing is infectious. They’re decked out in pajamas and play some of the most joyful bedroom pop I’ve heard in a while. The lead vocalist has a dynamic style to her singing; at times cutesy, powerful, and squeaky. As she sings the hook of their latest earworm, “Bad Habits”, the crowd of dedicated fans (both Taiwanese expats and Japanese locals) are sheer kinetics, exhibiting the most energy I’ve seen at a show in Tokyo to date.

<a href="http://frecklestaiwan.bandcamp.com/album/2015">秘密 / 2015羊年唱作金曲集 by 雀斑</a>

Artists from every genre come to Moon Romantic for gigs, so be sure to check out their website for their schedule before dropping by. Or, if you’re itching to be surprised, walk in on any random day and enjoy whatever they’ve got to throw at you that night.

James Gui is a DJ for RH, TDS, Jazz and Blues

*Article photo of Freckles