Tokyo day 1: 20000 V shocked me out of jetlag

After working a 24 hour shift at the hospital, heading straight to the airport, flying 12 hours direct to Tokyo all with a combined 4-5 hours sleep, I arrived @ Narita airport dazed and with my circadian rhythms woefully confused. Though it wasn't so bad b/c the flight was oversold and Air Canada bumped me up to executive class where they have the futuristic space pods with fully reclining seats. Even though I should have taken the opportunity to sleep like a baby for the majority of the flight I stayed up and watched The Other Guys (LOVE this scene) and SALT. The Japanese movies Air Canada chooses for their flights are often exceptional but this time it was a samurai flick that I chose to ignore. I watched a few episodes of the Mentalist (season 2) which is a kickass show despite the off-putting title. I highly recommend the Mentalist as a show with exceptional writing, dialogue and dry humor. I'd say it's better than CSI (which I don't really watch) and maybe even better than Dexter (at least the last couple seasons). Which reminds me. I should let you guys know that it is extremely unlikely there will be a NMFT tour in May. I should have decided on the line-up of bands before arriving in Japan but I got really lazy and essentially stopped bothering to ask bands a few weeks ago. For example, nisennenmondai already booked a European tour in May and Rin Toshite Shigure already have their "Virgin Killer Suicide" tour scheduled in May. Japanese bands plan their schedules VERY far in advance. Last month I asked you guys to give me input on selecting the bands for the potential tour in May. It was actually more of a test/guage on how much interest there is on another tour and how much you guys are actually willing to help when I ask for it. Given the lack in number of responses and comments like Jonathans'

@Steve – yes I did leave out Suisei and チーナ simply because I haven’t got around to listening to their music enough to form an opinion yet…I pretty much have this huge backlog of music that I have to listen to that I keep forgetting about the ones you post here…

I decided that if you guys don't give a sh*t then neither should I. After politely asking, Jonathan couldn't even take 5-10 min to watch a couple embedded youtube clips and give his impression. There was "this huge backlog of music" that he HAD to listen to (for his J Indie 101 homework assignment?) that he couldn't take his focus away from to help me out. Not to mention the rest of his comment about susquatch/the band apart tells me that he didn't put much effort into reading my post either.

An email that might take me 2-5 min minutes to compose in English takes me 1-2 hours to write in formal Japanese. My conversational Japanese is not bad but it's a real pain in the ass for me when it comes to proper grammar and use of Kanji. It actually takes a lot of time and effort just to invite bands over email (reply back and forth).

If you guys can't take 5-10 min to write some comments then why should I spend extensive time and money on a tour that is guaranteed to lose $25,000 or more even if it sells out each show. So I stopped taking the time to invite bands and ended up using my free time to hang out with friends, go to the gym, watch Season One of the Mentalist and play Katamari Forever hahaha among other sh*t. I remember when Katamari Damacy first came out I thought it was the dumbest game ever (based on the premise, not on actually playing it). The Mentalist and Katamari Damacy both go to show that prejudice is ignorance and you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

So I'm in Japan right now with the mindset of having fun and planning for a tour in May is on the backburner. There's still a very small chance of holding a tour in May if I can find 4 bands quickly but there's also a good chance I may never do another NMFT tour since I could use all the time and money I would waste on future tours to travel to Japan/Korea more often, buy a new car, spoil on a girlfriend etc. =)

As soon as I arrived at Narita Airport I took a 90min bus to the hotel in Shinjuku, checked in, dropped off my luggage and booted it by subway to Higashi-Koenji 20000 V. The old 20,000 V in Koenji was arguably the best livehouse in Tokyo before it was forced to close down due to a fire @ the izakaya upstairs. The new 20,000 V opened last month and it was my first opportunity to see a show at the new location. There were actually multiple shows I wanted to go to: - Shall We (Not) Dance? vol 2 @ O-nest w/ Kulu Kulu Garden, Oyamada Souhei (of andymori playing solo), Kirihito, Kowarekake Tape Recorders, Eiko Ishibashi - viridian, keytalk and some other bands @ Shimokita Era - uhnellys @ Shinjuku MARZ - Halcali & Hige @ the newly opened Shibuya WWW. Hahaha. I went to see Hal Cali perform in Chicago and New York 2 years ago and became friends with them. Haven't had a chance to see them in Japan but I'd love the opportunity to meet them again and say hi. I'm not even embarrassed to say I like Halcali b/c their earlier works were incredibly creative, fun and simply rule.

But I'm so glad I stuck with my decision to go to 20000 V to watch: HerniA, otori, VOIVIVAV, steiner, and tacobonds. And the first person I see when I get to the club... Ian Martin (Call & Response Records). I didn't even tell him I'd be going to this show, it was pure coincidence and moreso the fact that it was the best show in town despite the thoroughly underground nature of the line-up.

First up were HerniA. No-wave/post-punk/thrash in yer face, LOUD and with a sense of humor.

Next were otori Ian gave me the heads up that their performance was going to kick ass and he was absolutely right. They look like they may still be in high school but my guess would be freshmen at college/university. Whatever the case they are pretty damn good for such a new/young band. Ian has them playing at his next event. If I had to give a comparison as to a band they resemble, Melt Banana comes to mind when otori goes into blazing HC mode and frenetically screamed vocals but otori actually has alot more variety and jazziness to their post-punk sound so MB isn't a very good comparison at all. Watch the clips on their myspace and feel free to articulate a description of their sound in your own mind. For what its worth (the video is super dark), here's some video footage I took last night of them performing "メタ" The gruffness of the singer's voice reminds me a bit of Mariko Goto (ミドリ). According to Ian, the band put out a want-ad for a singer. She responded to the ad saying that her favorite bands include Yolz in the Sky and hyacca and the band knew then and there that SHE had to be the one. hahaha. Any girl who loves Yolz & 百蚊 is pure awesome in my books too. I mentioned the NMFT tour to them and told them I might like to invite them at some point down the road. Ian advised me against inviting them for May until I'm fully committed to a tour and have more bands concretely in place.

VOVIVAV played next. Although I was interested in all the bands playing last night VOVIVAV were probably the biggest reason I chose this event over all the others. The singer is incredibly sexy in that afrirampo/mariko goto/DODDODO freaky wild kind of way. =)

The bassist and drummer wouldn't be out of place as members of ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE. VOVIVAV is a really fun band that you definitely have to watch live as opposed to listening on CD. I chatted with Nico, the singer, after their set and she's really cool/down to earth. I plan on watching them again AND hununhum AND umi no yeah! plus sh*tload of other crazy/great bands on Dec 27 @ Shindaita FEVER.

here's my clip of VOVIVAV from last night:

Batting clean-up was steiner As much as VOVIVAV ruled on the strength of Nico's wild sexiness steiner tore it up with pure chops and musical genius. Ian loved otori but he had to admit that steiner one-upped everyone (except maybe tacobonds) that night. He declared that if he were to build a band (he actually has at least 2 of his own) steiner would be the prototype. The guitarist gets such a lush, bright tone from his guitar and the drummer is sh*t hot. The bass has some serious fuzzmuff distort and they play some non-pretentious mathy, jazzy, David Bowie-esque post punk that is too brilliant for me to adequately describe with words.

And 2000 V saved the crowd favorites for last: tacobonds

tacobonds have been around forever and they are truly one of the most beloved bands in Tokyo's underground scene. Crowds always go nuts whenever they perform. The opening chords to "Ficton" never fails to get the audience in a frenzy. There weren't too many people at the show last night but there was still a lot of energy when tacobonds performed. Nico of VOVIVAV was yelling and pumping her fist in approval.

Last night was a truly awesome show. Despite the lacklustre turnout it was thoroughly entertaining and memorable (kinda like one of my shows hahaha.) It's too bad a lot of people missed out on such a great event. A show that good should have been sold out since 20,000 V probably doesn't hold more than 70-80 people if that.

Tonight is MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS' final show with Chiemi in the line-up. Botchan (Kubota-san, MOTFD's manager) has me on the VIP lis which is great b/c I would have benn SOL trying to find a ticket. It'll be a fairly emotioinal show for fans of MOTFD. Coincidentally, tacobonds are going to be touring with MOTFD in March. Rumor has it that MOTFD may even perform as a 2-piece without a guitarist!! That might actually give an interesting sound that emphasizes Natsuko's mean, chord heavy bass. But apparently they haven't decided whether they'll go that route but it is being seriously considered.

Tonight should be a great show. I secretly also want to check out an event at Kichijoji WARP where Naruto of Qomolangma Tomato&Wakita of miscorner/c+llooqtortion formed a side project band called Rainy Renin. They're playing with FAR FRANCE. But there's no way I'd miss MOTFD's show tonight. I don't think I'll be stagediving tonight since Japanese kids are smaller and the casualty count would be too high. =)

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