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Haru Nemuri And Jaguar Jonze At The Echo, Saturday, October 22nd, 2022

Haru Nemuri
Haru Nemuri

It’s good to try new something, expand your mind and get off the beaten tracks. I had never listened to the music of the two female artists who performed at the Echo on Saturday night, but I was not disappointed. And I probably can speak for everybody who was attending the show: the energy and enthusiasm were so intense from start to finish that Japanese artist Haru Nemuri was touched to the point of tearing up by the end of the show.

Jaguar Jonze and Haru Nemuri are two fierce performers, and they took this Saturday night by storm. They both captivated the audience with a loud pop-experimental sound and a defiant performance that only equaled the passion that these two women inspired.

Taiwanese Australian Jaguar Jonze opened the show with songs from her new album “Bunny Mode” – “Who Died and Made You King,” “Man Made Monster,” “Cut,” “Punchline,” and “Trigger Happy” – that she performed with electrifying energy. If the title of the album is referring to a survival tactic that she used to adopt as a survivor of childhood abuse – the freeze response of a frightened rabbit – the lyrics reflect anything but a passive attitude. The self-empowering songs were fierce and worked like repeated attacks on oppressors and abusers of all sorts, while triumphant Deena Lynch, her real name, would scream “All that power lead to all that pain/But in the pain there is a power” and break free. Moving like a flash in her sexy Stella McCartney catsuit, she sounded invincible with a powerhouse soaring above a blend of angular guitars, punchy electropop beats, and industrial textures without forgetting strong poppy hooks.
This was her first show in Los Angeles – she is also part of the lineup of the next School Night at Bardot – and she explained that the pandemic interrupted her touring plan, but she was glad to be finally there with her bassist Aidan, in default of her full band.
She didn’t hold anything back, her performance sounded like an emotional liberation with anger-charged lyrics and the participation of the crowd during “Cut,” an unapologetic number, shouted in unison by everyone at the right moment. Some songs had a more atmospheric feel, with layered textures, and she even brought a flute into the mix during “Rising Sun.” She closed her too-short set – everyone was asking for more songs – with a sensual cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box,” a song interpreted with a modern electronic vibe, which shared the same cathartic emotion as her own songs.

Haru Nemuri was certainly another bold woman and a complete surprise for someone like me who is only familiar with J-pop when it comes to Japanese music. Haru performed like the riot grrrl she is – she uses the label on her social media – and her restless and breathless stage presence was a scene not to be missed. If the songs often started like ambitious pop tunes, their fluid dynamism was soon evolving into a transporting experience, a complex and loud sound slowly building up with throbbing textures. Meanwhile, Haru was haranguing the crowd standing on a step, her long arms stretched to the ceiling, twirling like a ballet dancer or screaming like a hardcore frontman. Her style was quite unique, sometimes spouting lyrics in a high-speed rap – she self-described herself as a poetry rapper – sometimes unleashing a metal-like primal scream that would leave her out of breath. She performed without a band but the raw emotion that transpired from her performance was intact, and she revealed herself to be quite an unexpected leader. During “Sekai Wo Torikaeshite Okure,” she jumped above the audience with her long gold skirt and crowd surfed like any punk rocker.
She was singing in Japanese (and without any visible setlist), but it’s safe to say she did songs from her newest album, “Shunka Ryougen” – which roughly translates to “spring fire lighting the field ablaze” – such as the powerful “Déconstruction,” and one of the rare English-speaking titles “Who the Fuck is Burning the Forest?” Her unique blend of rap, hard rock, experimental noise, and J-pop had a euphoric effect on the crowd and her raging, firing, passionate delivery, sprinkled with these incredibly furious wails, was a riot. “Why are you so energetic?” She asked us with an innocent laugh. The beauty of the show resided in these unexpected juxtapositions, upbeat sweet J-pop, high-velocity rap, and shrieks of fury, a reinvention of alt-pop with an experimental edge and plenty of ideas, while her poetry (from what I have read) examines mostly external or internal destruction or déconstruction (a reference to French philosopher Jacques Derrida) “whether to the environment, to authorities, or self-inflicted upon herself.” Between songs, she was talking a lot, and constantly laughing, visibly very happy to be back in LA, after an early visit in March, as she told us.
The least I can say is that Haru Nemuri was as convincing as her performance was genuine. Everyone chanted “Three more songs” before the encore, which made her laugh while she thanked us for the thousandth time. “Tonight, I have received a lot of love from you, so I am hoping I gave you a lot of love too,” she said between the crowd’s loud exclamations. She did her three more songs with the same alluring abandon and cathartic breathless energy which was perfectly reflecting the existential anxiety of her songs. “You made me alive,” she said while tearing up and laughing at the same time. It takes a lot to be moved by a performance in a language you don’t know at all, but Haru’s sincerity and extraordinary stage presence did just that.

 

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