2011/12/15 - After a painfully busy 24 hour work-shift with no sleep I fly direct from Pearson Int'l to Narita airport. Manage to get some much needed Zzzz's on the flight and watch 1.5 movies, Larry Crowne and part of Crazy Stupid Love. 2011/12/16 3:30pm - when I arrive in Narita it's already the next day. It is also uncharacteristically cold. Cold enough I freeze my nuts off, thaw them out in my coat pocket before reattaching with Xylish gum. From Narita airport I take the bus to Shinjuku station. I arrive in Shinjuku at ~5:30pm, walk to the hotel carefully without bowling pedestrians over with my suitcase, check in to my room, take a quick shower and boot it to Shinjuku MARZ where グーミ are holding their record release party.
kooreruongaku are 1st up. They're a great band whose music straddles indie-pop, shoegaze and post-rock. The male Gt/vocalist sings with an effeminate high pitched voice (I offered him some Xylish gum) but in a style that's not too irritating or trite. The songs are creatively arranged switching up melody, tempo and intensity to masterful effect. I didn't take any video footage but here's an old clip by someone else of "幸せで終わる不思議の国" which is my favorite song by kooreruongaku.
Mothercoat went on next. No matter how many times they reinvent themselves and their music they remain one of the best live bands to watch in Japan. Since NMFT vol 1, one thing I've noticed is how much guitarist Ninomiya So is playing with added confidence and showmanship. I remember the first time I met him he introduced himself as mothercoat's new guitarist and he apologized for not looking the part of a member of a rock band. He still looks like the IT guy in your office, but he's superbad with an axe in his hands:
the 2nd clip is mothercoat's new song "post." It has an odd bluegrass/country vibe to it but sounds f*cking awesome.
Partway through mothercoat's set I had to leave temporarily and rush over to Shibuya O-west (30 min train & walk) where group_inou were hosting a show with guests nisennenmondai and Sick Team. When I arrived nisennenmondai were on stage playing that new song with Masako on keyboards that I'm not particularly fond of. But they follow it up with jizz-inducing renditions of Mirrorball, Fan and ikkyokume. Seriously, how can you watch Sayaka Himeno obliterate on drums and not fall completely in love?
By the time nisennenmondai finished it was already 15 min away before グーミ were about to start at Shinjuku MARZ. So I had to leave O-West without watching any of group_inou nor discussing plans of bringing them to Canada. But group_inou are still at the top of my list of bands for NMFT vol 4. I'll get a chance to see them at Countdown Japan on the 29th.
So I rushed back to Shinjuku and グーミ were only on the 2nd song of their set (Paranoid Park). The show had such a great vibe because the majority of the audience were close friends of each other and alot of us were in グーミ's music video for "地球はまるい" The stage was decorated with balloons that made their way into the audience and were then volleyed and bumped around by the crowd as グーミ performed. グーミ is such a soulful band with emotionally powerful music that those who become fans are often enamoured to a hardcore degree. So the crowd really got into it with plenty of dancing, shouting and band-audience interaction. My only complaint was that the set was too damn short. They played each song off their 4th album "Everybody is on the way to the Happiness" and "Satellite" off the 3rd album.
setlist: 1. 地球はまるい 2. パラノイドパーク 3. ペンギンペイント 4. プレーン 5. サテライト 6. 最上階 7. everybody is on the way to the happiness ---------- 8. 50年 (encore)
(this is by memory, I might have mixed up the order of songs in the middle).
My friend Lana (from Toronto) had to work until 9pm and made it to MARZ to catch the last 30 sec of 50年. She was choked because those 30 sec were damn impressive and I had really hoped she could make it in time to see more of グーミ.
Ryotaro (Kulu Kulu Garden), Vish (my show reviewing correspondent), Lana and I then went to eat yakiniku at Jojoen since we were all starving. The three of them had to catch their respective last trains but I ended up going to Toriden for the show's uchiage (after-party). I drank with members of mothercoat and グーミ and we talked about going to Canada together again. Those guys stayed there and drank until 6am but I was jetlagged and sauntered back to my hotel(right across the street!) at ~2am.
2011/12/17 - Vish was the one who introduced me to the band きのこ帝国 (kinoko teikoku). They're one of his favorite bands and I happen to like them a lot now too so we decided to go to Shibuya Yaneura to watch them play even though there was a much better show going on at Koenji UFO Club.
きのこ帝国 were the first band on at 7pm. They kicked off their set with "退屈しのぎ" which is my favorite song by them.
They played all 5 songs off their "2nd album" (more like demo or ep!!) (Their 1st "album" is a CD-R with just one song "退屈しのぎ" which is also on the 2nd album!!) Unfortunately they didn't play the following song which isn't on the album and happens to be my 2nd favorite:
Their short set was finished by 725pm which meant we could boot it to Koenji UFO club and hopefully catch part of Praha Depart's set which was scheduled to start at 745pm. Actually, we didn't leave until about 7:35 b/c I wanted to buy きのこ帝国's CD and talk to them about NMFT and potentially coming to Canada. The drummer was really nice but the female guitarist was a bit flaky. hahaha. Also, Vish is 100% certain the singer is female but I'm still on the fence.
It took us 40 min to get to Koenji UFO club. I thought for sure Praha Depart had finished but I think they started a bit late because Vish and I managed to catch 3 of their songs. One of them was a new song:
I actually like them more as a 3-piece. They have songs where Mai-chan plays bass and ones sans-bass so Mai can bust loose dancing which she happens to be really good at. Vish was REALLY impressed by Praha Depart. Praha has always been a band I've strongly considered bringing to Canada. However, they're doing an awesome job on their own having toured NY and Philly in the US and numerous cities across Europe this year. Praha are an excellent band with an exotic and POWERFUL sound, sh*t hot drumming, and Mai is pretty mesmerizing as soon as she steps on stage. Not too sure about the sparkles and make-up though. But yeah, Praha Depart may very well be part of the NMFT vol4 tour in May 2012. Even if they aren't they're coming back to NY in March 2012 and will likely tour Europe again as well.
After Praha, came otori. They're the other band I wanted Vish's opinion on since I've considered them for NMFT as well. To be honest, I think they could use a little more seasoning since they've only around for ~one year and don't have too many songs in their repetoire. But everyone in the scene expects big things from this band in the near future and they have the talent and mentality to create some exciting music. Vish loved the drumming and Kobara Sae's aura and swagger but at this point in time Praha were clearly the superior band. Here's a short clip of otori's newest song:
After otori's set Vish and I scooted over to Ramen Tetsuya which serves authentic Sapporo style ramen and is considered one of the best ramen shops in Tokyo. My bowl had a shoyu (+miso?) base and was pretty good but I prefer pure tonkotsu or shoyu-tonkotsu hybrids. Furthermore, it was my understanding that classic Sapporo style ramen is miso-ramen garnished with butter and corn so I was a bit confused at the supposed authenticity.
I wolfed my ramen before Vish had even pried apart his chopsticks. I wanted to head back to UFO Club to catch some of クリトリック・リス 's set. They're an infamous duo from Osaka who basically put on a comedy show set to music. Unfortunately to fully appreciate their performance, a strong grasp of Japanese language and pop culture is necessary but I understood a few of the puns and jokes. They're also known for performing in just skimpy underwear and for being one of Mariko Goto's favorite artists.
The final act was トリプルファイヤー (triple fire) who had curated the event. They're a really young band who are already causing a ruckus in the scene as one of the bands to watch out for in the years to come. They look like four kids who look more at home killing time at an Akihabara maid cafe. The singer in particular looks like the illegitimate love-child of Gilbert Gottfried and Kazunari Ninomiya.
But these guys are badass! The bassist is siiiick. The singer is all squinty-eyed and nerd-like but carries a swagger that boasts "I crush more ass than Ron Jeremy and can b*tchslap Chuck Norris while eating a sandwich at the same time." The guitarist (Torii) stays completely stationary with a deadpan expression even when playing riffs at a ferocious pace. And the drummer can hold his own.
And this has to be one of the most hilarious displays of an audience arm-twisting the band for an encore even though the band has completely run out of songs to play:
There's also an awesome coincidence in that the guitarist's name is Torii and the abbreviation for トリプルファイヤー (triple fire) is "トリ" (tori). So the crowd kept yelling "Tori!!!"
Two days in Japan and I've already been to 4 shows. :)