Texas House of Blues locations recently welcomed Live Nation’s “Asia On Tour feat. MIYAVI” on April 14 in Dallas and April 15 in Houston. The consecutive evenings delivered an unforgettable cross-cultural music experience, introducing new listeners to proven artists from other countries while simultaneously treating them to world-renowned musician MIYAVI’s “Firebird” world tour. MACG Magazine had the pleasure of attending both evenings’ shows, and we hope you will enjoy reading our coverage as much as we enjoyed writing it.
Kiha & The Faces
A fan of South Korean entertainment since 2012, my knowledge of Jang Kiha was limited to his work in radio. It was not until the announcement of this tour that I listened to Kiha & The Faces (장기하와 얼굴들) and realized that it was the same gentlemen who, in 2008, created the quirky song “Cheap Coffee (싸구려 커피),” a song I came across going down the rabbit hole of music on YouTube in 2014. Well hello, a full band! Named for their lead vocalist/producer and using the term “the faces” as a nod at often being called the “best looking on the indie scene,” I listened to more of Kiha & the Faces’ music and found myself eager to watch them perform live. Will they sound as crisp as they do pre-recorded? And what about that talking/singing delivery of Kiha’s, is it intentional? Confirmation came as soon as they hit the stage.
Kiha & The Faces are not some obscure indie band from a small country with a lot of entertainment heart. They are an established alternative act with enough smooth charisma to have once bested Taeyang, member of global phenomenon BIGBANG, for 2009 Korean Music Awards Netizens’ Male Artist of the Year and taken home awards for Song of the Year and Best Rock Song for “Cheap Coffee.” Their sound is eclectic — fun and funky, not quite hipster, or retro, but certainly that of their own. Not to mention, the ways they interacted with the audience — encouraging singing along, favoring one hand in the air, as if bouncing a giant ball to their music over clapping — was unique. You could almost hear a wide range inhale of surprise and relief when Jang spoke in English to the crowds. (Some Americans forget that bilingualism is a thing. Forgive us.)
The audience embraced the live instrumentation as Jang sort of bounced to and fro, never off beat but not quite dancing either, with his trademark singing style shining in his native tongue and in English. Crowd favorites were certainly “The Smell’s Gone” — with it’s catchy ba-ba-ba chorus bit — and “Mine (내 사람),” giving way to a quick lesson in how to pronounce a phrase in Hangul. The band also covered former American rock band Talking Heads‘ song “Once in a Lifetime” in a way that was true to the classic and their band’s character, further creating new fans before their 45-minute set came to a close.
After the Houston show, our team rushed over to the band and greeted them in Korean. I revealed my limited edition tour shirt from under my press wardrobe and joined in a mutual “AYE!” of excitement. My fangirl feels were pulsing from missing my opportunity roughly an hour earlier to say something to them as they rushed past me in the audience on the way to their artist lounge. Each member greeted us back in English with a Konglish mix of handshakes, bows and a high-five, which seemed befittingly throwback in a world of fist bumps. “This is our first time in the United States,” Jang shared while noting that there are tour stops in Canada as well. The group looked enthused about the possibility of a future interview with MACG Magazine as we briefly talked more about their experiences in the States.
“I know you worked in radio, so [doing quick interviews] isn’t hard for you,” I mentioned to Jang.
With a slight smirk, he replied, “You know everything about [us].” Please anticipate more information as this is in development!
To learn more about Kiha & The Faces, visit their social media accounts below.
Holy moly, Slot Machine rocks. Let’s establish this fact right now.
The band from Bangkok started their set with “MRt.” the powerful final track from their first all-English album, “Spin the World” (2016), and jaws dropped everywhere. The song’s first line, “Came out of nowhere,” rang true, as no one was prepared for the vocal strength of lead vocalist Foet and his band! As they moved from one track into another, jumping from English to Thai, the crowd went from shocked to newly invested fans in no time.
Slot Machine has been active for well over 15 years and has earned several wins since their 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards nomination for Best South East Asian Act. A quick search of their music shows evolution in their sound over the years, but they manage to maintain a classic soul rock vibe. They have produced seven albums and represent Thailand with pride. Not to mention, they looked insanely coordinated and edgy at the same time. (Our team has a soft spot for guitarist Vit and former drummer Ker, who showed our team much love!) Quintessential rockers, no doubt. Each song was refreshing, but back-to-back jams “Sky Burning Stars” and “I Know, I Know” were absolute standout performances. Each song oozed with emotion.
Right before their final song, Foet energized the audience once more with words of encouragement: “No matter who we are, where we came from…our true nationality is mankind. Our true religion is unity. Our true power is love!” We promised them after the show that we would come see them in Thailand some day, to which they said, “If you do, we’ll perform for you!”
To learn more about Slot Machine, visit their social media accounts below.
Lead Vocal: Foet Instagram
Bass: Gak Instagram
Guitar: Vit Instagram
Drum: Auto Instagram
“Hello everyone, I’m Miyavi. Can you pass me my Machine?”
Watching MIYAVI perform live is overwhelming. The gifted musician, the world’s “Samurai Guitarist,” plays a set as if he’s in a private jam session and the audience stumbled upon it. It’s a form of voyeurism, honestly. As he slapped the figurative plasma out of the Machine (his electric guitar), the audience rocked out. Meanwhile, I was brought to my knees. If you are like me, a person who believes that the guitar only rivals the human voice as the most beautiful instrument known to man, then you would have been caught up in the rapture of Takamasa Ishihara, too.
The Osaka born, half-Japanese and half-Korean artist played songs from years gone by and the tour’s title album, “Firebird” (2016), with insane vigor. For 15 years, he has given no less than everything he can muster up with each live performance, and Dallas was no different. Miyavi is tastefully political and passionate about his family, the world and music — and wills the guitar to articulate his feelings. In fact, he is very aware of the power of music and creativity. “I don’t know how much we can do with music, but as long as we can create, I want to creating something,” he shared.
Miyavi performed remixed versions of some songs, such as the teasing chords of “She Don’t Know How To Dance,” and taunted the sassiness of “Dim It.” He lunged into the crowd, taxing the strings of his guitar, making it scream and cry with a sly grin on his face. He was kicking musical ass, and it was amazing.
Although there was much to ask when the time came to speak with him, I had one pressing question — one that needed confirmation since I became a fan of his in 2013. “Your style … you’re self taught, aren’t you?” He looked at me, a memory of more than half of his life spent with the guitar flashing across his face.
“Yes. But I’m still practicing.”
Ashley Griffin is a diverse writer, blogger and YouTube Personality. A nomad at heart, Ms. Griffin currently resides in Houston, Texas. Find “Multifacetedacg” on YouTube and shoot her a message on Twitter.