Tokyo Day 8: 38YolzNoboAz... and Young = Nisenjuunennomondai
I'm headed off to Basement Bar to watch SuiseiNoboAz; 385; and Young; Yolz in the Sky.Then after that there's an all-night club event @ Roppongi Eleven where nisennenmondai will be performing (hopefully not too late after midnight since I don't plan on staying for the whole thing.) The best part is the show costs 3000 yen plus a mandatory drink but people born in December get in free! I was born on Boxing Day. Yatta!! Gotta remember to bring ID as proof.
385 were the first band to go on and unfortunately for them the crowd was sparse at the start of the show. But those at Basement Bar early were treated to an insane 30 min of frenetic piano funk/HC highlighted by Miya's lightning-fast slap bass and gutteral screaming. This was my second time watching 385 (the first was when they played withGo!Go!7188 @ Shinjuku LOFT in Feb). Since then they've added a few new songs and have signed with Perfect Music Records. (Their 1st ep was released by Mariko Goto's label Hakai Music.) I spoke with Jun (keyboards) and their manager and they would love to come to Canada. So far their schedule for May is open. 385 are one of the bands I am almost certain to invite to Canada. Here's a very short clip from the show at BBar.
And here are some other youtube embeds to give you a taste of their ferocity:
After 385 it was Yolz in the Sky. This is a band I had been dying to see for a long time. I missed them at Tokyo Boredom b/c I had to go to Neutral Nation for a while and last year I almost flew to Hokkaido to watch them with Qomolangma Tomato but the flights were exorbitantly priced. To be honest I had numerous chances to see them in the past when they were playing shows frequently in Tokyo ~3years ago but at that time I wasn't as enamored by their music or any of the Less Than TV bands. I had checked their Myspace years ago at a cursory level, found the vocals annoying and the music derivative of the San Diego noise/HC bands I used to listen to back in the day like Clikatat Ikatowi, Angel Hair and Swing Kids. So for me Yolz in the Sky, Deracine, Accidents and the other Less Than TV bands that everyone in Tokyo was raving about seemed like the sh*t I was listening to 10-15 years ago and had outgrown. But ~1.5 years ago I gave Yolz in the Sky a much closer listen and fell in love. By that time they weren't doing shows as frequently and they never seemed to be playing when I was in Japan (which is a difficult feat considering how often I come to Japan). Also, over the last 2 years Yolz have changed their sound drastically from 85% Hardcore/thrash 15% mechanical/ambient/dance to a complete inverse in the ratio. Their new sound is quite awesome but I was choked I never got to see the older Yolz and the urgency and delightfully chaotic fury with which they ruled the stage:
The sound they created with their 2nd album "Ionization" is fantastic but most of the hardcore intensity is gone:
However, they sounded as sick as ever at this point and I would have killed to have seen them shortly after the release of "Ionization".
I think it was just before Tokyo Boredom when the bassist left the band. This led to a 2nd drastic change in their style as they developed an even more minimalist, droned out sound.
And since Boredom the drummer has switched to using a miniature digital drum set-up. At Basement Bar, they played 2 ~10min songs and their set was over before you knew it. I actually liked their performance quite a bit, especially the eerie guitar tones and the crescendos with which they finish, but me and 2 other people were the only ones dancing/moving the entire time. After the show I was chatting with a friend outside (he arrived from a different gig and came to BBar just for the uchiage.) Yolz were moving their gear outside and were good friends with the guy I was chatting with so he introduced me to the band. He told them how I was arranging tours in Canada and Yolz mentioned they would love to play in the great white north. (I have a hunch the singer may have been to Vancouver before since he used to always wear the Go To Heaven, Ski Like Hell shirt they sell at Whistler). (Unfortunately they didn't have the mock "Go To Heaven, Yolz in the Sky" T-shirt in my size.) All of us were going to the Fujii Yoshie Tribute festival at O-nest so we said we'd see Yolz in the Sky there in a couple days. Going back in time to the actual show, SuiseiNoboAz were the 3rd band up. The majority of their set consisted of new songs. More of the signature 'boAz sinister basslines, powerful drums and sick guitar lines played tighter than than the inside of the Yamanote train at midnight. Nori says they're about 2 songs short of recording a new album! They were a band I strongly considered for the very first tour. Ian felt I was nuts choosing Owarikara over 'boAz. I had promised 'boAz I'd bring them to Canada with FAR FRANCE earlier this year. After watching them tear the roof off of Basement Bar I more or less guaranteed them a spot for the tour next May. However, as I'm typing this I'm starting to have 2nd thoughts again. They are unequivocally great musicians who play ridiculously tight together as a unit, but their style of music is quite 'Americanized' and it takes most people time getting used to Ishihara's gruff voice and peculiar vocal gymnastics. I think their technical chops are readily noticeable and most people will respect them for their skill but few people seem to fall in love with 'boAz right away. I remember watching them at Dieundokai (an annual event at Shinjuku LOFT that Far France curates) and the audience wasn't into their music at all. But I'm sure many of those same audience members, after watching them a few more times have become fans. For the NMFT tour I need bands that make an impact right away since the audience will only see them once (maybe twice in Toronto). I'm not looking for bands with gimmicks and you can't please every one, but I'd like for each band to have a core group within the audience that is floored and passionately moved by their performance. For example, not everyone liked グーミ or susquatch (b/c they're not punk/HC enough) but a considerable portion of the audience fell absolutely in love with these two bands. Same goes for Owarikara, mothercoat and sgt. (MOTFD were almost unanimously adored). I'm not sure SuiseiNoboAz would leave a profound impression on audience members right away. I think SuiseiNoboAz are a great band but when it comes to choosing bands for NMFT I'm extra cautious. I'll be watching them again at Swan Song Council and will have another chance to hear their new material and re-evaluate them. After which I may kick myself for even having second thoughts. The only problem is Swan Song will be a partisan crowd and everyone's going to go nuts for 'boAz like they do at Boredom. Here is some footage from their show at BBar:
Here's a clip someone took at this year's Tokyo Boredom highlighting how intense they can be:
The last band to perform was and Young... . Twin guitars, no bass and a female drummer who is incredibly cute when she smiles and pounds away at her toms at the same time. They play slower paced, psychedelic garage and aren't the most dynamic band (unusual for Osaka bands who are usually crazy and very interactive on stage) but they received the loudest crowd reaction all night. Not quite what I'm looking for in terms of the NMFT tour however.
After the show at Basement Bar I slowly made my way to a swank dance club called Roppongi ELEVEN to watch nisennenmondai. When I arrived there was already a huge lineup to get in. I should have realized that a nightclub as popular as ELEVEN would be difficult to get into on a regular night and that having James Murphy guest DJ would make admission even less likely. Good thing when I got there at ~half past midnight that's considered early for clubbers and the line moved quickly. As I mentioned, the show was free for people born in December (hell yeah!). But I did have to buy a mandatory 2 drinks. While in line I made friends with some guys visiting from Sheffield, England. They were in Tokyo just for the weekend for a graphic design showcase they opened at an art gallery nearby. They chose to come to ELEVEN arbitrarily because it was in the area and were floored when I told then nisennenmondai were playing. A couple of them were huge fans of Japanese groups like the Boredoms, Boris, Acid Mothers and of course... nisennenmondai. I ran into the members of nisennenmondai and talked to them briefly but it was way too f*cking loud for either of us to communicate effectively. Thankfully they were set to perform early at 1:30am according to the guy at the front. Eleven consists of 2 levels each with a bar and a large dancefloor downstairs. I couldn't see a stage anywhere so I didn't know where nisennenmondai would perfom. I killed time hanging out with the guys visiting from England but decided to heck out the dance floor for a bit. I could hear some analog drumming as I got closer and then realized nisennenmondai were already playing at ~115am. Luckily they had just started their performance. I hadn't noticed the stage before b/c it was initially so dark in the dance hall area. Actually, almost noone realized that nisennenmondai had started as there was barely a crowd in front and the trio were like chameleons that seemed to have appeared out of nowwhere. Instead of a guitar, Takada used a synthesizer so the music just blended with the DJ music in the background. It wasn't until Himeno started drumming more forcefully that the dancers noticed there was actually a band on stage. More and more people flocked to the front.
After the first song with synthesizer, Takada switched over to guitar.
I find it difficult to believe that the type of crowd that frequents ELEVEN and would come to see James Murphy would know about or be interested in nisennenmondai but without question the crowd f*cking LOVED nisennenmonai.
You can't tell from the clip above since it was the beginning of their first real song but the audience got progressively louder and wilder as the band played on. Unfortunately, security caught me videotaping the band with my digicam and told me to stop right away. But believe me they played a short but blistering set. They played the 1st song with synths, "Fan" and "Ikkyokume" and that was it. No "Mirrorball" which is their most popular and infectiously danceable song in their discog?? Oh well. I didn't feel interested in staying up all night to watch James Murphy so I left right after nisennenmondai. Leaving the club I noticed there was a MASSIVE crowd of people waiting to get in. I was warned that if I left there would be no chance of me getting back in but I was fine with that. The biggest headache was trying to find a cab in Roppongi after 2am. The trains stop running at 1am and all the drunken salarymen and scantily clad hussies are looking to hail cabs right around this time. There were plenty of taxis around but all were reserved and accounted for by phone reservation. I tried for half an hour before realizing finding a free cab would be next to impossible. I walked towards Shibuya hoping it would be easier to hail a cab as I got further from Roppongi. When I actually reached Shibuya I finally did get a cab and it made my trip back to Shinjuku a lot shorter. So the shi*tty part is that I walked for 30min before successfully hailing a cab but the great part is I saved about $25 on cab fare and burned a bunch of calories. =)