By DARREN YAMASHITA
Looking to carve their own path in the male-dominated world of heavy metal, Japanese all-woman band Nemophila performed at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on March 8 as part of the North American portion of their Seize the Fate tour.
Consisting of vocalist Mayu, guitarists Saki and Hazuki, bassist Haraguchi-san, and drummer Tamu Murata, Nemophila describes themselves as the “soft and fluffy band from hell” overlaying a cute and stylish persona while playing heavy metal music.
Formed in 2019, the group gained notoriety on YouTube, covering several all-time rock and metal songs (and one tune by K-pop group NiziU). After releasing a few original singles, their debut album, “Revive,” was released in 2021.
After a delay opening the doors to the public, the band appeared on stage at 8:30 p.m., wearing T-shirts of some of the top metal acts (except for Murata’s choice of a Paolo Maldini AC Milan jersey). True to their “soft and fluffy band from hell” character, the members took time to smile and wave to the crowd as heavy entrance music blared over the sound system.
The band opened with blazing guitars and a death metal growl from the title track of their new album, “Seize the Fate,” which was released last December. The frenetic pace continued with “Raitei” and the noh-inspired “Enten,” which is backed by a shamisen and noh performer Tsunao Yamai. In between songs, Mayu and Saki took turns speaking to the crowd in English.
Mayu, who returned to concert action only two months after having a baby last November, bounced around the stage the entire night, interacting with the crowd and band members. Her voice was strong through the end, seamlessly transitioning from death growls to soaring lyrics.
At the midway point, Mayu exited the stage while the remaining four musicians revived their YouTube roots by covering an instrumental of Michael Schenker’s “Into the Arena.” They followed that up with an impressive medley of Nemophila songs, with Saki and Hazuki trading guitar solos, Haraguchi-san accompanying smiles and laughs to the crowd with her bass riffs, and Murata driving the pace with an unending supply of lightning drumbeats.
After ending their hour-long set with the English version of “Dissension,” the band returned for a three-song encore, beginning with a curveball. The band donned sunglasses as Mayu pronounced, “Let’s all dance together!” for the more rock-friendly “Night Flight.” The entire band swayed in rhythm to the song (even Murata in her drum seat) as members of the crowd joined in with the choreography.
The softer interlude was short-lived, as the head-banging re-commenced with “Revive” and “Oiran.” The group took their bows at 9:50 p.m. after performing 15 songs.
After beginning their North American tour in Roseville, Nemophila traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego to complete the California portion of their tour.
Photos by DARREN YAMASHITA