The Japanese House makes Cleveland debut

Kait Funk, Arts and Entertainment Designer

The Grog Shop, known well for its intimate and cozy setting, was the perfect venue for the atmospheric, synth vibes of Amber Bain, a solo artist otherwise known as “The Japanese House.” An indie pop artist from Buckinghamshire, East London, The Japanese House has released three EPs and has toured with The 1975.

The stage contained no decoration besides the customary red curtain of the low stage, which was particularly fitting for an act like The Japanese House. Armed with nothing but an electric guitar and minimal supporting instruments, Bain hypnotized audience members with a layered vocal technique coupled with soothing yet catchy riffs and hooks. This extensive layering of vocals is the staple of Bain’s signature sound, as her lower vocal range provides a unique and relaxing experience, unlike many other indie pop acts on the music scene. The crowd responded accordingly, the venue almost becoming too quiet at times when a pause in the song arose. This was not the type of concert for incessant screaming and jumping, but the lack of external excitement did not hamper the mood of the concert itself. It was refreshing to be at a concert to actually hear the artist sing, rather than an audience which screams and sings over the music. Bain made the ambience of the concert casual and fun, laughing and making remarks to the crowd.

Unfortunately, The Japanese House has only released 12 songs in total across the three EPs, “Pools to Bathe In,” “Clean” and “Swim Against the Tide,” so the concert only spanned an hour. However, Bain made sure to make each song meaningful. Every song has a distinct tone that marks it as one of The Japanese House’s, but each contributes its own feeling and character. Though emotions can be captured through the studio recording, the depth and resonance of the strong bass coupled with elements of synth truly made the most impact in the live performance. The Grog Shop was shaking with the strong and distinct beats of Bain’s instrumentals. Bain closed the concert with her well-known hit, “Still,” and each audience member felt free to sing along with the simple but captivating lyrics.

With the choice of minimal lighting and set, The Japanese House truly let strong vocals and instrumentals shine through. Both the calm audience and the chill mood of the venue contributed to a concert completely focused on the music. Bain kept the concert cool and intimate, making each audience member feel as if they were connecting with the music rather than an intense, commercialized production. This concert was definitely one of my favorites, mainly due to the fact that I could relax and appreciate the music without distractions of overactive crowds or a noisy venue. This show was a departure from other shows that I’ve seen at The Grog Shop, but I would absolutely recommend seeing an underground artist like The Japanese House there. The Grog Shop is the best place to see alternative artists, and the wide variety of artists and inexpensive ticket prices make it relatively accessible and always a fun experience. The intimacy and smallness makes each concert unforgettable, and The Japanese House is no exception.