Vancouver weather, Kansai rock and Shimokita yakitori on a hectic night.
My flight was grounded for an hour to fix minor repairs before lift-off.I arrived in Narita ~4pm to overcast rainy weather that reminded me of Vancouver. It was a quick process getting through customs and retrieving my checked-in luggage from the baggage carousel. At 4:19pm I was ready to make my way to Tokyo proper in Shinjuku. I caught the 4:20pm limo bus just in time. AWESOME! Unfortunately, rush hour traffic prolonged what would normally be a 75 min ride to ~100 min. I got to my hotel a little past 6pm, checked my email, found out thai kick murph were playing 1st at 7pm, and left Shinjuku for Shibuya at 635pm.
This photo was taken at midnight but this is what rainy Shinjuku looked like last night:
It only took me 20 min to get to Shibuya LUSH. So I had 5 min to buy some wacky flavored onigiri (rice balls) at a nearby combini (convenience store). I went with 2 kinds: tuna w/ mayo and tsukune (minced chicken) with raw egg on top. I think it's crazy you can buy packaged rice balls with raw egg on top. You guys probably think I'm crazy for ingesting it.
thai kick RULED so much. Since they were the first band, the crowd was a bit thin (maybe 30 people at most and a bunch of those were members of other bands playing that night). It was my first time seeing them perform as a quartet after Wajima Kei quit the band. Wajima was the dominant personality and unofficial leader when he was in TKM. He is one of the most hilarious guys you will ever come across. The crazy sh*t that would come out of his mouth whenever he emceed between songs always made for memorable sets when watching thai kick in the past. So how are they without Kei? As awesome as ever!!! I do miss Wajima's comic relief but guitarist Uchiyama Hiroto is also hilarious. He's shy and reserved but recognizes that someone needs to step up now that Wajima is gone. He does his best to lighten up the atmosphere and the crowd understands he's the type that normally doesn't talk much. So if he says anything remotely funny the crowd will laugh to respect his efforts for trying. The rest of the band acts as straight man to his awkwardly presented schtick. thai kick murph retain their fun, quirky personality even with Wajima Kei absent. To compensate for the loss of Wajima's humor and 2nd guitar, the band also improvise and rock out more at times. Futoshi lets loose on drums with insanely sick and powerful fills characteristic of his other band, Artless Note Uchiyama gets trickier on guitar and Etsumi is as jaw-droppingly sick on bass as ever. But the highlight HAS to be Miyau Yo's sublimely commanding vocals that captivate all that listen.
thai kick played 2 new songs and they both sounded AMAZING. The first was incredibly jazzy and smooth but with some brief hardcore breakdowns thrown in. The 2nd was a slow tempoed piece that builds to a powerful crescendo. What I love about thai kick murph is that their music is undeniably pop but with unorthadox arrangements, incredible quirkiness and a razor-sharp edge.
Unfortunately I didn't take any photos or video but here is the setlist: 1. Put your hands up!! (old footage when Kei was still in the band. Really showcase Yo's vocal talent) 2. telekinesis 3. 新曲 (new song) 4. ダイシャリンニーニョ 5. 新曲 (new song) 6. タイキックオリンピック (thai kick olympic)
It was a short set. Maybe they played one more song that I forgot due to jetlag but I'm pretty confident with the songlist and order. I said 'whaddup' to the band, gave Miyau a NMFT vol 2 flyer, told them I still intend to bring them to Canada one day, and booted it to Shimokitazawa BASEMENT BAR on the Inokashira train line.
I could have crammed myself onto the greater than full capacity express train (direct to Shimokita) but decided to take the next train which was a local (4 stops to Shimokita). I could have saved myself 10-15 min if I forced my way on the express train and in hindsight I wish I did b/c when I got to BASEMENT BAR it was just ~810pm but I arrived in time only to catch the last song of キラキラファンタスティック 's set. キラキラファンタスティック (kira kira fantastic) is a side project with Mariko Goto (ミドリ) and 道下慎介 (LSD March). The final song kicked ass with a ミドリ-esque freak-out at the end. I wish I had arrived in time for the whole set. Unlike Shibuya LUSH, Shimokita BASEMENT BAR definitely had a sold-out crowd. There were so many people the walls were sweating. The show had started quite early (5pm) so I had already missed 太平洋不知火楽団 and Che-a but I've seen both bands before numerous times. After キラキラファンタスティック, next up were living legends from Osaka: Watusi Zombie Watching the show I found out later that the girl in front of me dancing like mad would end up being the drummer for the headlining band: N'夙川ボーイズ. Mariko Goto also ended up watching the show standing in front of me. She cheered pretty hard for her fellow Osakans as well. I think it's GREAT when musicians in bands, especially successful bands, are still willing to watch the show from within the audience and express themselves as fans. Watusi Zombie play energetic garage punk. Nothing too sophisticated but they really endear themselves to the crowd with their charisma and energy. They invited up as many audience members that could fit on stage as they themsleves (minus the drummer) played on the dancefloor.
It's showmanship like that which makes watching shows in Japan so fun.
When Watusi's set ended I tapped on Mariko Goto's shoulder and thankfully she recognized me immediately. Mariko is actually SUCH a nice person off stage you wouldn't believe she's the crazed frontwoman for ミドリ. I brought her some chocolate maple crunch from Canada as a souvenir. We talked about the NMFT vol 3 tour for next April(?May) and they are definitely still on. (hell yeah!!) At one point the DJ played Diana Ross' "You Can't Hurry Love" and Mariko couldn't help but sing along. She even cajoled me into to singing along with her (and I HATE singing in public). hahaha. I stayed behind to watch half of N'夙川ボーイズ's (N'shukugawa Boys) set. On the very first song they decided to copy Watusi Zombie and invite audience members on stage.
They were another great band legendary for their crowd interaction and energy. The Gt/Vo Marya is from the infamously craaazy band King Brothers
I could only stay for half their set b/c I was meeting up with members of sgt. and Kenta of susquatch to discuss the tour next month. On my way out of BASEMENT BAR, an incredibly cute girl recognized me and said "Hi!" I didn't recognize her at first with all the make-up but it was U-chan of audrey shoes. She was there drumming for her new band Che-a though. Did you know that she was asked to drum for MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS before Yoshino Isao joined? How awesome would it have been if U-chan ended up MOTFD's ful-time drummer. She said that audreyshoes and Che-a would love to come to Canada. I got a pic with her. She had her serious "face" on with no smile. hahaha.
I met up with Akashi (Ba)and Ono (Dr) of sgt. as well as Kitazawa-san (sgt.'s manager) at Basement Bar and we headed over to a great yakitori place nearby. Kenta of susquatch joined us later. We didn't actually discuss the tour too much. They gave me a bunch of CDs and some T-shirts for prize giveaways and college radioplay. It was mainly good times drinking beer and shochu and eating tasty yakitori.
Crap I have to go now. Meeting up with my brother and hopefull have some time to hang out with my cute nephew. I also have to meet up with MOTFD's manager later today. Plan to watch a show tonight. Either
1. Charan Po Rantan @ Sam's Bar in Yokohama or
2. PaperBagLunchBox / Che-a etc at Shibuya LUSH