Qujaku @ Dürer Kert, Budapest, 2018.09.03
Qujaku played in Budapest for the first time back in 2015 (still under their original name, The Piqnic) as a weird and unexpected detour during their first visit to the UK. It was a Sunday night and there were about 15-20 people in the audience and nobody ever heard about the band before. But at the end, everyone was completely blown away. All we had before were some samples on their Soundcloud page and while those were nice, they were nothing really special actually. Kinda average shoegazey stuff, but the live set was something completely different. A lot more like a wild and wonderful trip to the land of guitar feedback and the grooviest kind of psychedelic rock. By the end of the show I labelled them as “one of the best new bands to emerge from the Japanese underground” and I still stick with that statement.
Shorty after that they changed their name to Qujaku and their releases since were a lot more like the music they played at their concerts: the heaviest kind of psychedelic rock, with a bit of a shoegaze and krautrock influence. They returned to Europe a couple of times, I went to see them in Brno in 2017 (live report here), we did an email interview shortly after that and eventually we started to talk about a possible return to Budapest. And it finally happened this September, during their recent EU tour, promoting their new album, their first full length as Qujaku. Of course they are still not really well known, but this time, with heavy promotion we managed to get some 60+ people on a Monday night, which is quite okay, and yet again: everyone was completely blown away. They were joined on stage by their UK friends, The Contact High, a duo playing instrumental krautrock and a local band, Indeed, playing a mixture of grunge and stoner rock and these two provided a perfect warm up for Qujaku, whose show was trippier than ever.
They mostly played tracks from the new full length that came out for the tour, so we didn’t really know the tracks except the album’s opening feedback monster, shoku no hakumei, that was already up on soundcloud and of course Keiren, which was originally released as the title track of their 2016 EP. But their concerts were never really about individual songs, they were always a lot more about the whole flow of the show, the trip they take us to, all the changes their music goes thru, their more peaceful, almost ethereal passages, followed by mind-blowing detours to psychedelic guitar noise. And they delivered all that better than ever. Their sound changed throughout the years, it became more complex and refined, but they remained as edgy as ever and even though their shows are still not too long, usually clocking somewhere around the 50 minute mark, they are so intense that they never leave you lacking at the end. They are really one of the best Japanese live bands around nowadays and as I said it before now I say it again: if they keep up this incredible quality, both on their releases and as a live band, they will be soon up on the same level as acts like Boris or Mono. Check the gallery below and also a video of the show’s closing track, Keiren: