Feb 18, 2011.During the day I met up with my brother and we ate lunch at a Russian restaurant. The food was just "ok" but the waitress there was cuter than Ueto Aya. On this day I also bought a new phone: Lynx 3D SH-03C
I have an iPhone back home and thought I'd go with an Android for use in Japan. In hindsight after a days use, I probably should have stuck with an iPhone since the Android OS has many irksome design flaws. For example, it won't allow me to store contact information alphabetically. It will 'alphabetize' surnames written in Japanese but any English/Romanized surnames get sorted together arbitrarily (it's not even in the order I input the contacts, it's just completely random or utilizes some bizarre algorithm). So instead of scrolling alphabetically for a contact, I have to use the search function. The tactile response is sketchy and the OS allows far less autonomy in arranging the icons/widgets on display. I'm sure these problems don't exist on N American Android phones and most of the design flaws are peculiar to using the English version of Android OS on a phone designed strictly for use in Japan. Merpeoples Homepage
In the evening I headed to Shimokita QUE and caught Merpeoples. They used to wear gawdy, brightly colored dresses/shoes/stockings that hurt my eyes but now they dress more normally. To a degree the outlandish garb of past gave them a distinctive style and gawky charm but now the focus is shifted on the music. Since I first saw them 2 years ago, they've REALLY improved as musicians. The bass and keyboards are exceptionally solid. Their original drummer quit and they have yet to find a full-time replacement. They recorded their upcoming album with Reiko of Tokyo Pinsalocks as a temporary support drummer. Merpeoples are currently borrowing Mana-chan (far left in the black dress in the pic above) from 虚弱。 to fill in as support drummer (good choice!!) Since Mana is currently vacationing in Korea, Reiko joined Merpeoples again to play drums for this show. Sorry guys but I didn't take any video footage. For what its worth they played barefoot in white dresses. I don't think playing barefoot is something they always do. They just switch up fashion styles from time to time. To be honest, I used to think the idea of musicians playing barefoot on stage was pretty gross. But since playing barefoot is so ubiquitous in the Japanese music scene I've been desensitized to it. I'm just waiting to see what happens when someone steps on a rusty nail or gets a nasty sliver. "Sorry everyone, we're going to take a break to clean up the blood and administer a tetanus shot....
Merpeoples were the opening act. According to their Twitter account they said they'd start playing at 6:40pm. I arrived at 6:47pm... a little late but I shouldn't have missed much... right? In fact I was only in time to see them perform a grand total of 3 songs. What the blood? I still don't understand why they were given such little stage time. There were only 2 more bands left, Nacano and Pinsalocks. Anyhow, I saw them perform 2 new songs from the upcoming album and they ended with "CallCallCall" which is arguably their "rockingest" tune. After Merpeoples, I took a 10 min train ride back to Shinjuku to watch THE VITRIOL who were scheduled to play at 8pm @ Marble. THE VITRIOL were on my list of bands to catch when I was in Tokyo back in December. Unfortunately I never got the right opportunity back then and I just missed them the night before. It was my first time seeing a show at Shinjuku Marble (sister club to Motion and Marz where I go to all the f*cking time).
THE VITRIOL were decent for quite a young band. I mentioned earlier that they're 17-18 years old but I just double-checked their homepage and they're actually 19-20 yo. My mistake. They sound a lot like Chatmonchy did at around the same age. (Eriko Hashimoto's nasally toned voice cracked alot back then too but now she's developed much greater control and a smooth, primarily legato delivery. Hopefully, THE VITRIOL's singer can improve in the same manner. Personally, I like it when the singing has some flaws since it adds a degree of character. When the singing is "perfect" it sounds almost unnatural or lacking in sincerity.) Some bands subscribe to the dogma that bass and drums are meant strictly to maintain beat and shouldn't be intricate or flashy. I agree being the rhythm section takes utmost priority but I also find it painfully boring when the 'bassline' consists of 3-4 notes repeated to death and when the drummer sticks to 4/4 sig and trite fills. THE VITRIOL are far from being math-y but at least Kayo (Ba) attempts to throw some intricacy in her lines and the drumming appears to utilize compound/complex sigs from time to time. Their simplest song is actually my favorite though (which makes me sound pretty hypocritical). They played six songs this night but none of them were named "Super Space" I told Kayo that they neglected to play what I thought is their best song. She said they hardly ever play it now and I assume they're try to progress as musicians and write more challenging songs. But I hope they don't completely put it to retirement b/c it's catchy as hell. Don't worry, I don't plan on inviting THE VITRIOL to Canada anytime soon, but I am keeping an eye on how they progress as they seem to have the work ethic and desire to constantly hone their skills to become a notable band in the future. 2 years ago I would never have thought of bringing Merpeoples to Canada but they've improved by leaps and bounds in the interim.
After THE VITRIOL, I had the option of going to Aoyama Tsuki Miru but 0.8秒と衝撃。 had already finished and 昆虫キッズ were on last at ~9:45pm. I ended up heading back to Shimokitazawa. It was only 9pm so I thought I'd be in time to watch the majority of Tokyo Pinsalocks' set. But in fact, I only caught their encore "くるくるとぐるぐる" which is the title track to their recently released album. WTF?!! Seriously, what show ends at 9pm?!! Regrettably, I didn't actually see much live music performed this night even though transit time between venues was reasonably short. However, I did have a fun time at the uchiage. Tobita from グーミ found me in the crowd. Kobata was supposed to come too but he was sick. Tobita came to the show with Tanabe Masaki who is a DJ and a booking agent at Dragon Club in Yokohama. He booked グーミ and Pinsalocks together for a show a couple months ago and the 2 bands became friends. I took a pic with Charlotte and Sayaka of Merpeoples, Tobita and Masaki.
I called up my friend Hiroki, who is the older brother of Yutaka, bassplayer for Sebastian X. Ian was at a nearby show at Shimokita THREE so he stopped by as well. We didn't stay for too long because we all wanted to catch the last train back to Shinjuku but we had at least a few beers each.
Feb 19, 2011 So I managed to cross THE VITRIOL off the list of bands I was curious to see play live. Another band I had been interested in watching is 打首獄門同好会 (Uchikubigokumon Doukoukai = ?The club interested in prison gate beheadings). I came across their PV for "Delicious Stick" a couple years ago on Youtube:
Uchikubi are like the Japanese version of Spinal Tap playing metal-tinged hardcore with a light-hearted sense of humor. Their live shows are highly interactive and predicated on stirring up "gentle" mosh pits and having fun. The lyrics to most of their songs are just lists of things they like. They make Maximum the Hormone seem incredibly sophisticated. The cool thing about this band is there isn't a single pretentious bone in their collective anatomy.
I had numerous opportunities to see them in December but all their shows conflicted with ones that had much better line-ups. They dropped a new album recently which piqued my interest further... to the point that I took the shinkansen from Tokyo to Sendai and back to Tokyo just to watch Uchikubi and moja perform at Flying Studio. Earlier in the day I wasn't sure if I would follow through with the plan of going to Sendai since Z and discotortion were playing in Tokyo at Shindaita FEVER. But moja is another band I've always just missed out on and had been interested in seeing. Masumi is one of the fiercest female drummers around. I should have left for Sendai earlier in the day so I could at least check out the city a bit, but I've been to Sendai twice before so it wasn't a big deal. Instead I timed it so my 2 hr train ride to Sendai would arrive just after the show started (Uchikubi were scheduled to play @ 8:30pm, moja @ 9:10pm. It's awesome how Uchikubi list the timetable for all their shows. Wish more bands would do that. At least some are starting to twitter said info.)
I missed the first 2 local acts ねこが好き。 (I like Cats) and 魚の目 (fish eyes) but made it in time for the beginning of 雨ニモ負ケズ. They were pretty good as I had low expectations of the local bands. Ame caught me off guard with their 1st song "邪魔をするもの" They started off chaotic but they went into a keyboard driven power-pop ballad with properly sung female vocals. Then at the end the singer screams her head off but not in a way thats seems overly contrived. My video footage isn't so great so here's a clip of the song from a different show that the band have up on their youtube channel. (it sounded more kickass and intense last night)
For a young local band in Sendai, they were entertaining and interesting to watch. I like how the female drummer used double bass to give the tunes some umph.
Next up was another young local band: 勃発 (Eruption) They play blue collar punk with a sense of humor in the vein of 銀杏BOYZ and 怒髪天.
Singer crowd surfs @ 1:16.
It's not the style of punk I normally enjoy but they really brought the energy level up, warmed the crowd for Uchikubi and had great stage presence.
Uchikubigokumon-Doukoukai were up next and evidenced by the majority of the crowd wearing Uchikubi T-shirts it was clear they were the band most people came to see. They're simply a good natured, fun loving band that rock hard and don't take themselves seriously. They're competent musicians that develop an amazing rapport with the audience through their sheer energy and great sense of humor.
Here's a clip from someone else at a different show:
and here is some of the sh*tty footage I took from the actual show:
U-MAI-BOU! U-MAI-BOUUUU! U-MAIIIII-BOUUUUUUUU! I love this song. For the record, the "delicious stick" I got was cheese flavored. I haven't opened it, I'm keeping it as a souvenir. hahaha.
The show was running almost a half hour late and moja were the last band to play. Masumi started unfurling a large placemat in the middle of the dance floor. F*ck yeah, it appeared they were going to play off stage and right in the middle of the audience. But dammnit! that meant they would take forever to set up moving the drums. The last shinkansen train back to Tokyo was leaving in 15 min so unfortunately I couldn't even watch one song of their set. This is the 3rd time I've been to a show of theirs where I had to leave before they played or they had finished playing when I got there. Not to mention they played in Toronto and I didn't even know about the band at the time. Here is a clip of what moja sound like:
It was shitty I had to miss moja again but I'm sure I'll have the chance to watch them again in either Japan or some part of the world as they play in other countries quite frequently. Despite missing out on Masumi's crazy-ass drumming it was worth the ride up to Sendai for this entertaining show.