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Miami / Niine  venue: Live Inn Rosa  place: Ikebukuro date: March 13th (Sun)

Opening act Cuberix are only on for a few songs, but manage to hint at interesting things, especially when joined on stage by a guest violinist. It's the kind of Japanese indie rock that usually comes in a package with a cold, grey-looking photograph of a suburban street on the cover, but if we must endure such things, it might as well sound like this.

Unfortunately Neutrino also rock a similar kind of schtick, but less interestingly. If you're going to be urban and alienated, I want to see you spazzing around like an epileptic and screeching incomprehensibly into your microphone while your bandmates jackhammer all kinds of kinetic electricity out of their instruments. This is music that's to boring to stay awake to, but too noisy to sleep to.

Audipop are a lot better. They're refreshing simply for the way that they write relatively straightforward pop songs. There's a quirky sense of humour underlying it as well, the importance of which becomes apparent on the few songs where they let it slip and the music starts to feel a little too familiar. The sound is pitched somewhere between the poppier end of American college rock and 1980s British guitar pop like XTC and The Monochrome Set (although lacking the bitterness and cynicism of either), and they ensure that the night isn't a total write-off.

Scooter shamble onstage looking mostly rubbish, and immediately set to work undoing most of Audipop's good work. I don't really know how to describe this kind of music. It's not punk, it's not pop, it's certainly not rock and roll. In fact I'm forced to conclude that this is not actually music at all and that Live Inn Rosa have mistakenly booked a bunch of window-cleaners.

Niine may or may not be rock and roll, but at least they are definitely music. They're fast, loud, and brimming with self-belief. The way that beneath the energetic, designer-scruffy exterior there are songs that manage to make girls moist with excitement whilst at the same time engaging their maternal instinct could see them getting it together as a kind of Japanese Libertines, although I'm sure the music industry will have them sniffing around for all the fans too young to be into Mr. Children before long. Enjoy them now while they're still fresh.

Which brings us to Miami. Surely soon to be absolutely massive, they have the image, the charisma, the tunes, the talent, the t-shirts, and they sound like nothing on Earth. In a world where serious bands take themselves far too seriously and end up alienating all but the most dippy and morose fans, and where fun bands don't take themselves nearly seriously enough and end up alienating everyone else with their self-consciously shitty music, Miami tower above so many of their contemporaries like some kind of miniature, lo-fi electro-hop colossus. - Ian Martin, Apr.17.05.

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