Nagoya by a hair
Right now I have 15 min to decide if I want to stay in Tokyo and watch some of my fave bands: the Mornings, Thai Kick Murph, otori and KKG as well as the DARARS and Kaisoku Tokyo. They're playing 5 min away from my hotel. Ian will also be around.My other option is to take the shinkansen to Nagoya to watch viridian and 385 play @ Club Rock n Roll. It's crazy that they're playing together since they aren't in the same music circle and they happen to be 2 of the bands I was going to bring in May. viridian played an acoustic set when I saw them in December which was kind of... meh. But their usual performances kick extraordinary amounts of ass so I want to see if they're still as good as I remember them being because I might invite viridian or 385 to Canada in October.
A combination of the Mornings, Thai Kick Murph, the DARARS, Kulu Kulu Garden and otori is obviously the better show (assuming I went back and forth between MARZ and URGA). Not to mention these shows were < 5min walk away from the hotel I'm staying at. However, I prioritized planning of NMFT vol 3 over my own personal enjoyment and spent $200!! to take the train to Nagoya to watch viridian and 385 instead. Viridian has always been near the top of my list of bands I wanted to bring to Canada. Their music is extremely soulful, melancholic yet inspiring, soothing for the most part but intensely powerful at times. However, they have a few things going against them: firstly, they live in Nagoya which is quite far from Tokyo and secondly, they have average stage presence although they can be very intense when you least expect it. More importantly, although I have seen viridian play 5-6 times in the past (all great shows!) most of those shows were over a year ago and the last time I saw them was in December when they did an acoustic set which to be honest was rather weak.
Anyhow, at the last minute I made up my mind and decided with the show in Nagoya, but before I took off I thought I'd walk over to Shinjuku MARZ and URGA to say hi to the Mornings, thai kick murph, KKG and otori during their sound checks. As soon as I walked out of my hotel, I ran into Shingo of the Mornings. He was on his way to PePe department store (which is connected to my hotel) to get some new effect pedal connection cables. In ~ 10 seconds he managed to convince me to stay in Shinjuku and watch their show(s) which were guaranteed to be off the hook. I wouldn't have to waste $200 and 4 hours commuting between Tokyo/Nagoya for a show that wasn't going to be nearly as good. Plus I'd be able to party with the bands in Tokyo afterwards. He even added his opinion that 385 kinda suck. hahaha. (I think they're pretty dope though). So I went with Shingo to PePe's music equipment section while he purchased some minor gear. PePe actually has a dope music section with a great selection of guitars/stomp boxes etc considering it's just a department store. (If you're in Canada there is no way you'd find something on par with Long & McQuade or Steve's inside the Bay or Eaton's!!) Afterwards, Shingo and I decided to get something to eat. We walked around Higashi-Shinjuku but the whole time I was re-evaluating if I made the right decision to stay in Tokyo. I changed my mind again and told Shingo I HAD to go Nagoya. It's true $200 is a ton of money to spend just for the sake of commuting to a show but viridian is a band I am considering spending ~$5000 to bring to Canada. I needed to evaluate viridian properly and make sure they were still worth inviting to NMFT vol3.
It was about 5:30pm when I left Shinjuku for Tokyo station where I would board a shinkansen leaving for Nagoya at 6pm. I arrived in Nagoya at 7:40pm. The show had already started at 6:30pm but there were 5 bands that night with viridian on 3rd and 385 on 4th. It took me a while to take the subway to Sakae station and walk the rest of the way to Club Rock n' Roll. I ended up reaching the club at around 8:15 pm. Of course when I got there the club was packed and viridian was almost finished their set!! The only 3 songs I saw them play were "Oto no Shower", a brand new song and "Color of Life" Their performance was solid but they didn't blow me away as they have in the past. The biggest surprise is they added a bassplayer. They used to be a 3-piece with no bass at all. The absence of bass in their music gave them a uniquely melancholic and "cold" signature sound. Not to mention they would now be 33% more expensive to bring to Canada with an added member. In my opinion the bassplayer added almost nothing to the performance of pre-existing songs. However, my friend Ymane (aka Substance) who loves viridian complains that although they have a great sound their style doesn't change much between songs. The addition of a bassplayer will now give viridian much more opportunity to experiment with new soundscapes as they write new songs. The downside is they look like a regular band now and the absence of bass was part of their original appeal. Since I was near the back during viridian's set and didn't have much of a view I didn't take any video footage of viridian. But I have video from older shows. Here they are performing "MYC" when I saw them @ Kichijoji WARP in Dec 2009: And "Little Soldier" from May 2009 @ Shinjuku Motion:
The members of viridian are extremely nice people and should be easy to work with. My heart sank a bit when Hitomi said she's never heard of the band Natsumen though. When I asked Yuu if he could pick a band to go to Canada with he said he'd choose susquatch. Hell yeah!! Great choice, although I already brought them during vol 2. It turns out viridian and susquatch played together on Jan 16 and became good friends. Yuu thinks susquatch are one of the best, most underrated bands in Japan. He also thinks Nakano Maki is a ridiculously good drummer. Nakano Pierre (Rin Toshite Shigure) also gushes over how awesome Maki-chan is, so that alone is evidence that Nakano Maki is one of the dopest female drummers around. Even though what I caught of viridian's set was slightly lacklustre, I listened to their latest mini-album "Signal" over and over again on the shinkansen and it is such a great f*cking album that I know they could amaze the Canadian crowd if they picked the right songs to perform. So viridian remain on the shortlist of bands I want to bring to Canada.
Next up was 385. This was my 3rd time seeing them. Even though I've seen viridian twice as many times I actually have a much better grasp of what 385 are capable of as musicians and performers. They are exceptionally talented, hit you with a lot of force and zaniness but I can't help but compare them to ミドリ. 385 are great but ミドリ were probably the most entertaining band EVER to see live. So with 385 you're getting a 3rd rate version of ミドリ. This is actually more of a comment on how truly mindblowing ミドリ were as opposed to any sort of criticism towards 385.
Wicked slap-bass, lightning speed keyboards and frenetic, powerful drums. Rinse and repeat with screamed vocals. They remain on the list of bands I'd like to bring to Canada with the footnote: it was almost ミドリ
The final band to go on was a local band named ワッペリン (Wapperin'). They were the curators of this event that invited all the bands who played this night. I was very curious to see what kind of band would have such awesome taste and insight as to invite viridian and 385 (since I had originally planned to bring these 2 bands to Canada in May as well). =P I previewed the songs on their Myspace page before the show and didn't expect much from this young, local act. But if there's one rule I've learned about Japanese bands it's that they can sound like sh*t on CD and still be really entertaining live. ワッペリン are a very young band who haven't mastered their instruments yet but they play with a sh*tload of energy to make up for their simple garagecore sound..
The following clip is f*cking hilarious. It's ワッペリン doing a cover of viridian's "夕凪連鎖" It's f*cking horribly done, but the fact they played it is beyond awesome. The Gt/Vo of ワッペリン actually requested viridian to play this song tonight (which they did and I unfortunately missed). It's definitely one of my favorites as well. Even though ワッペリン butchered the song (I doubt they spent more than 5 min total rehearsing it) they definitely covered it in their own style and it was great that they played it. Hitomi (viridian) got a huge kick out of too.
I regret having missed the 2 awesome shows in Tokyo with the Mornings, thai kick murph, otori, Kulu Kulu Garden, Kaisoku Tokyo and the Darars. But the Nagoya show was an important decision-making necessity for NMFT so I still feel I made the right decision. And I still had a great time even though I spent more time commuting on a train than watching bands perform.