Doki Doki Festival


Naomi Suzuki, Beckii Cruel, ColorsUK & Budo÷Grape

Sugden Sports Centre & Zoo
9th November 2013
Written by Rachel Yarwood
Photography by Lorna Ransome

Every two years Manchester plays host to musicians from the UK and Japan as part of "Doki Doki Festival". For this years' festival, the game has been upped as convention goers are treated to four acts for the afternoon music and dance showcase in the venue Zoo, before the bonus after-party in the evening. 

The first act to come onstage is the multi talented Naomi Suzuki who starts her set with wonderful vigour. 
Naomi's set treats us to not just the energetic and bouncing pop songs, that have gained her national and now international fame, but also a couple of charity songs released in aid of the 2011 Tsunami victims, the theme song for "Iczelion" and even "Taga Tango" which is the theme song of her own home city of Fukuoka. 
"Taga Tango" and "You're the best partner" especially brought the mood of the afternoon to a high. Both these performances were the highlights of Naomi's performance, which also saw members of the audience being invited onstage, a very nice touch indeed to help the crowd follow the dances.
For her debut in Manchester at Doki Doki Festival Naomi sings and dances with positive charm and grace, hitting the music showcase off with wonderful charisma, giving her music to us to "bring us all together" and "make us feel happy". 
Second to the stage is Beckii Cruel. Not just your straightforward dance performance, Beckii introduces each song and group she uses for her dance routine with a clear passion for the music and the dancing as a combined unit. Giving her audience a medley of older pop and new, including the always catchy (although possibly annoyingly so…) "Danjo". Beckii's performance today highlights an appreciation of song and dance from a commendable range of pop from Japan.
Straight after we have a complete change of scene. Performing a tremendous 10 song set, plus two MC's, ColorsUK mix up the afternoon with their heavy and melodic punk rock style. ColorsUK, fronted by vocalist KenG, start the show with a dark intro as they hype themselves up before taking us into "Dawn" their first full-length song. Immediately the tempo is upped and the melody and rhythm flows brilliantly giving us an upbeat and surprising follow on from what we might first have anticipated from the opening instrumental. 
Unfortunately though the crowd did diminish after Beckii Cruel's performance, which is a shame for those who could not stick around to see ColorsUK for their debut show.  The band gave us great showmanship, attacking each song with passion of true rock musicians.  Taking the stage with a powerful aura enough so that the remaining people couldn't help but keep their eyes locked to the stage and fist pump the air at all the appropriate moments. 
Finally to end the performances on a high, in a return of the energetic pop genre, Budo Grape take their places to introduce their own 'avant-garde' style of pop.
As the second band of the day and also treating us to full set, Budo Grape take the stage by storm. With their highly energetic music and their spirited characteristics onstage, each of the band's members gave it their all and delivered a fantastic finale. 
Performing songs such as "Kiss too shy", "Super Pain" and "Sutten Kororin", from their newest album released last year, the band are full of life and it does not take long, especially with the beckoning of leading vocalist Quminko, for members of the audience to have a boogie of their own from the seasoned convention goers to the younger children in the venue who are clearly enjoying themselves immensely to the group's infectiously catchy music. It would be hard to say who was having a better time... the band or the crowd?
What is definitely clear though is that Budo Grape have made a good and lasting impression, even calls of encores were to be heard, which means later tonight the second appearance for the after party will see them being appreciated with equally enthusiastic support.