NOW PLAYING JAPAN LIVE Showcases androp, Official HIGE DANdism & Vickeblanka

do not reuse-- international
Kayo Sekiguchi
NOW PLAYING JAPAN LIVE brings together some of the top J-pop acts May 28, 2019, at Studio Coast in Shinkiba, Japan.

Some of today's hottest J-pop acts took the stage Tuesday (May 28) at Studio Coast in Shinkiba, Japan, for the third installment of NOW PLAYING JAPAN LIVE.

The NOW PLAYING JAPAN project aims to create new music trends through streaming, and the latest showcase featured popular Japanese bands androp and Official HIGE DANdism, plus singer-songwriter Vickeblanka as the currently hot "NOW PLAYING ARTISTS," and up-and-coming duo maruritoryuga as the winner of the "STARTERS MATCH" streaming competition.

Actor Yudai Chiba was the host for the evening again, following his successful first two stints, keeping the crowd engaged in-between performances with his insightful commentary on pop music from the viewpoint of an avid listener.

Vickeblanka kicked off the event with his power-pop number "Urara," immediately delighting the audience with his charming persona. He went on to perform a compact but well-balanced mix of dance tracks and ballads that highlighted his high-pitched vocals and distinctive musicality, setting a high bar for the acts that followed suit.

Next up was maruritoryuga, a young pair who currently boast 300,000 followers on social media. The rising stars won the right to perform in NOW PLAYING JAPAN LIVE in the streaming competition leading up to the event, boosted by streams from teenaged fans. The duo -- 22-year-old vocalist MaRuRi and 21-year-old singer-songwriter Ryuga -- seemed slightly nervous at first because it was their first time performing at a venue of this scale, but drew in the crowd with a captivating live rendition of "Kimagurena Shigure" and managed to finish their showcase on a high note.

Pop rockers androp elected to present a relatively subdued but inspirational set this evening, opening with their hit ballad "Hikari," a long-running fixture on the Billboard Japan streaming chart. The four-member band built up momentum with the groovy mid-tempo tracks "Blue Nude" and "SOS!," then performed a couple of familiar favorites, "Voice" and "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!," before wrapping up the set with another ballad, their latest single, "Koi."

While also a four-member pop band, Official HIGE DANdism headlined the event with a bang, bringing along five other musicians to add an extra keyboard, percussions, and a horn section to its usual piano-centered formation. The band had the crowd partying to flamboyant renditions of "No Doubt," "Tell me Baby" and "Pretender," currently at No. 1 on Billboard Japan's streaming chart and No. 2 on the Japan Hot 100.

Before wrapping up the two-hour event with the rollicking top 10 hit "Stand By You," frontman Satoshi Fujihara stressed that the song was meant to be a connection between the band and fans. "We want to see you all again at a concert," he said. "So we'll close this set with our song that ties the audience and band together!"