URBANGARDE Visits Psychiatric Hospital for Special Concert

Jesus Figueroa

Members of Japanese rock band URBANGARDE accepted the invitation of a Nagano hospital to perform for patients in the psychiatric ward and nursing home on August 21.

Vocalist Yoko Hamasaki and keyboardist Kei Ohkubo performed songs requested by the patients plus some of URBANGARDE’s original songs.

One of the doctors said, “The world of URBANGARDE is closely related to the field of psychiatry.” 
URBANGARDE eagerly accepted the invitation, but it was the first time the members had actually visited the institution, so both the doctors and performers were eager to see the result.
“Normally, only families of the patients could visit the closed ward,” the doctor said, “so this was a special opportunity to inspire creativity.”
Performing for over 100 patients and staff, Yoko and Kei received a warm response from the audience, many suffering from severe mental disorders and severe dementia.

The visit was featured in the local newspaper Nagano Nippou.
Yoko said, “I used to do volunteer visits to hospitals and nursing homes with my chanson teacher before I joined URBANGARDE, so this visit felt like an opportunity to go back to my original point. It was my first time to go into a closed psychiatric ward, and I was a little nervous about the patients’ reaction. Once I started singing, everyone was so focused and gave lots of applause so I was very moved. The doctors and nurses told me that it was their first time seeing the patients concentrate that much and it was impressive, and that some were crying. The people at the nursing home knew some of the songs, and they enjoyed the music as singing along and clapping their hands. I was happy that they welcomed us."
“Many of URBANGARDE’s lyrics are related to psychiatry,” Kei said. “But personally I had never had a chance to interact with patients with severe cases. During this visit, I heard about many things like current treatments and I actually interacted with the patients. It made me realize that psychiatry is not understood correctly by the general crowd. I’d like to help if there is something I can do in the future.”
The doctors expressed their gratitude to the band members after the concert.
“I’m very thankful that they visited the hospital and nursing home. Seeing the patients who can never sit still because of their conditions not move at all for 40 minutes while smiling and listening to music was a very emotional sight for the medical staff. I’m sure that this was a rare, precious, important experience for them as well. It made me realize the power of music.”
Yoko said, “I appreciated this opportunity to visit here as a member of URBANGARDE, and I hope to continue this type of activity. To everyone at the psychiatric hospital in Nagano, thank you for giving us this opportunity and this precious experience.”
URBANGARDE recently made their American concert debut at this past June at A-Kon 2015 in Dallas, Texas, following the release of their disturbing single, Coin Locker Babies.

URBANGARDE present UTSU FES (“Depression Festival”) 2015 in September 4 and 5 at Tsutaya O-East in Tokyo, featuring guests PASSPO☆ and NO GOD.

URBANGARDE is a self-described “Trauma Techno Pop” band, mixing male and female vocals, outrageous performance-art visuals, and daring social commentary. After completing three independent albums, they released their major debut singles “Skirt Kakumei” and “Tokimeki ni Shisu” from Universal Music Japan in 2011, followed by their first major-label album release Mental Hells. URBANGARDE’s 2012 album Geiger Counter Culture achieved the number 10 position on the daily Oricon chart in Japan and made the top 25 on its weekly chart.

In 2012, URBANGARDE ranked in the top 5 J-Pop artists on the French TV program “Japan in Motion” (NOLIFE TV) and made their French live performance debut at Toulouse Game Show (TGS). URBANGARDE returned to France in 2013 for Japan Expo and released their greatest hits compilation Koi to Kakumei to URBANGARDE, featuring the song “Tokai no Alice.”

URBANGARDE’s latest album Utsukushii Kuni was released in June 2014 on their new label Tokuma Japan Communications, featuring artwork by renowned Japanese painter Aida Makoto. The same year URBANGARDE released music videos for “Sakura Memento” and “One-Piece Shinjuu”. in 2015, URBANGARDE released the single “Coin Locker babies” and made their USA debut at A-Kon in Dallas, TX.

Vocals: Yoko Hamasaki
Vocals: Temma Matsunaga 
Guitar: Shin Zeze
Keyboard: Kei Ohkubo

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