The first line of their Wikipedia entry calmly states: “Envy is a rock band from Japan.” Yes, they are. It’s absolutely correct but they’re so much more than that. Getting on for two decades as a band, the Tokyo quintet brought their expansive post-hardcore to Shoreditch for a rare appearance. As if we’d miss it.
Six things we learnt when we went to see Envy in London:
1) If there’s a good way of dancing to this kind of music, it hasn’t been made public yet. Certainly, nobody’s told Tetsuya Fukugawa. As the singer crouches down toward the stage in almost tearful silence before springing up in the throes of dramatic catharsis he gives the impression of a man possessed by his own thoughts. He’s out of control and has succumbed to whatever emotions are passing over him. It’s everything you want to see in a musician.
2) You know all those super-emotional hardcore bands that are popping up across the US these days? You know, the ones who labelled their movement, “The Wave”? You know: Pianos Become The Teeth, Touché Amoré, Defeater. Those bands. Well, Envy have been doing it for years and have inspired all of those bands. Such is always the way, however, Envy are at risk of being forgotten about as the new bunch flash in the pan. At least there is no chance of Envy being called a “hipster band”.
3) There’s a reason why Envy are on Rock Action Records. This band sounds so enormous. This band is so loud. This band is so inspiring. These are qualities that label founders, Mogwai try to instil into their own music. It’s a perfect fit.
4) The musical valleys and mountains that Envy create are extraordinary. From the restraint shown to play one note for a couple of minutes, building up a curiously relaxing tension the swoop into a furious discharge of melodic, discordant of rage. It’s a formula, for sure, and it’s one they use regularly but it’s they do perfectly and that’s what really counts. There are very few bands who can actually make you feel. Envy are one of them.
5) The volume really is something. Part Chimp sell their own earplugs so notorious are they for being a primary cause of tinnitus but Envy really aren’t that far off. How is it that some bands really do seem to turn it up to 11? It doesn’t really matter. In situations like this, it’s probably best not to dwell on the technicalities of why your knees/stomach/skull are vibrating.
6) The explosive encore of ‘Farewell To Words’ is a wonderful song to finish with tonight but it’s ‘A Warm Room’ that is the real finale. There are mutterings from some that it’s the best song ever written and everything that is great about Envy is encapsulated within this song. If you’re not sure whether or not to fall in love with this band, spare them seven or so minutes and watch the above video and make your mind up after that.