2011/12/21 - I heard Tsuda-san (Owarikara Ba) started a side-project that pays homage to krautrock pioneers Can. The name of his new band is BIN (which means "bottle" in Japanese). Tsuda looks a bit like Damo Suzuki... in a fistfight with Bootsy Collins so the development of this project is not the least bit surprising.BIN consists of: Tsuda Fuhimiko (OWARIKARA) - vocals Kameda Taku (OWARIKARA) - keyboards Hatakeyama Kenji (H Mountains, ex-FAR FRANCE) - guitar Takahashi Kyouhei aka Tonjiru (ex-FAR FRANCE, Kulu Kulu Garden) - drums Sato Zembu (Tokyo Karan Koron; ちくわテイスティング協会) - bass Wataru Miyata (otori) - bass En-chan - sax
All I can say is やばい！！ Bin were playing a show at Shinjuku Motion that I would have killed to attend but I had already made plans to travel to Osaka to watch tricot.
The shinkansen ride to Osaka took three hours. Part of the fun of riding the bullet train is picking out an "ekiben" (train station bento box) I went with an omurice bento:
Tonight's live was held inside a massive shopping mall at a venue called Abeno Rocktown. Rocktown is fairly new and still has that "new car smell." It's sleek with a tall stage allowing great sightlines from anywhere in the room. The sound is also spectacular. The only problem is it feels more like a miniature Zepp Tokyo than a true livehouse such as 20000 V or Shelter. Music fans in Osaka are famous for their boisterousness but because of the innocuous atmosphere of the livehouse itself most of the audience seemed uncomfortable making noise.
tricot was the first band to perform. They got the show to an energetic start with the song "爆裂パニエさん"
At a regular venue the crowd would have been going apesh*t but because we were inside a shopping mall everyone was on best behaviour. tricot's music is a cross between 9mm Parabellum Bullet and the band apart... except it's three girls shredding on guitars and bass (with a male support drummer). The four are incredibly tight as musicians and play with lots of passion and intensity. As mentioned, the main reason I came all the way to Osaka for this show was to watch tricot. 赤い公園 has become my favorite band and for the next tour (NMFT vol 4) I've been looking for another female-fronted band of similar calibre. Alot of fans of Akai Ko-en are also fans of tricot and this catalyzed my interest in them.
What makes 赤い公園 such a great band is Tsuno Maisa's powerful and emotionally intense songwriting. Effortlessly weaving the catchiest melodies with supremely dark, twisted undertones. Her songs are profoundly intricate, full of surprises and stark contrasts with unrivalled attention to detail.
Comparing the two bands, tricot are impeccibly tight, fantastic musicians who play with the same impassioned style as Akai Ko-en. However, Akai Ko-en are much further ahead in the songwriting department. tricot write songs that are effective in flaunting their impressive musicianship and technical chops. They take these songs and play them with a sh*tload of energy and intensity and lead singer Ikkyu does her best to animate the vocals with "whooooahs," wailing and screaming. But underneath all the guitars and bombast the songs lack the sophistication and substance to impact you emotionally the way Akai Ko-en's music does.
Having said that tricot are awesome to watch live just based on their talent and energy on-stage. They're one of the friendliest and funniest groups of musicians I've ever met. Ikkyu has a strikingly crude, zany and warped sense of humor that's rubbed off on the two other girls, Hiromi and Kida. (just watch their monthly Youtube videos!) If they harness and incorporate more of that "off-the-wall" spontaneity and creativity into their music I think they have a really bright future.
Other bands that played this night include:
Mugwumps - I was expecting straightforward pop/punk but they've evolved to add shoegaze/post-rock/ 凛として時雨-esque riffs to tweak up their sound. They were surprisingly good.
環ROY - emcee/lyricist who plays his own beats without a DJ. I didn't really get along with him at the uchiage.
Qomolangma Tomato These guys were my favorite band ~3 years ago but I lost track of them somewhat after "Camouflage." They've recorded a new album which will be released ~April 2012 and half the songs tonight were off this album. Qomolangma write some of the most powerful, heartfelt songs and I'm glad to see they're still going strong.
This event was curated by a 22 y.o. guy named Shogo Habata. He organizes a ton of shows and also started writing his own 'zine named Snooze Mag. You can download issues of Snooze Mag for free here. Snooze Mag is incredibly sleek and well designed with awesome photos. Even if you can't read Japanese it's worth taking a peek into. Especially if you like tricot since Ikkyu goofs off in her own column each issue. Issue 0 features キドリキドリ and issue 1 has a great interview with tricot.
After the show we all went to Za Watami (an izakaya chain). I have to reiterate that the members of tricot are some of the most personable, laid back and hilarious people you will come across. Their music is a little bit generic compared to bands I've chosen in the past for the Next Music from Tokyo tours but they're fantastic musicians with great stage presence and energy and awesome people to boot. I know Geoff and Vish aren't too happy with my choice but I've asked around and lots of people in the scene including Qomolangma and Owarikara have nothing but great things to say about tricot's music and live shows. As it stands, tricot are on the roster for NMFT 4.
2011/12/22 - This was an incredibly busy night where I went back and forth between two shows in Shimokitazawa and a show in Sangenjaya. I started off at an event called "Borderless" (at Shimokita Club 251) which was partly curated by one of my friends. The concept of the show was to invite bands from all over Japan (but primarily Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Kobe where the event organizers reside) and unite band and audience members regardless of regional, financial, social borders. Bands of all types played irrespective of genre and there was homecooked food being served all night. I caught the first two bands, Memento森 who came all the way from Kobe and johann (from Kashiwa). mementomori are a phenomenal live band whose sound and stage presence I would describe as a hybrid of OWARIKARA and uhnellys but that would be selling them too short since they have their own unique style. I saw them earlier this year in Osaka and if they didn't have 6 members with two drum kits I would strongly consider them for NMFT in the future.
Right after memento森 were done on stage in front of us, johann started playing on the floor right behind us. (I love set ups like this!!) I had never heard of johann before but they KILLED it! They play straightforward, highly melodic and powerful instrumental rock in the vein of And So I Watch You From Afar
(sorry for the darkness of the footage)
After johann, I booted it to Shimokita Garden (~2 blocks away) to watch a bit of Kominami Yasuha and to say hi and give omiyage to Tsuno Maisa (Akai Ko-en) and チーナ. チーナ wouldn't start until ~9pm so I then took a cab to Sangenjaya Heaven's Door to watch 385.
At Heaven's Door, 打首獄門同好会 (aka uchikubi), URBANフェチ and 385 were having a 3-man show. The three bands are connected by the fact that the guitarists of 打首獄門同好会 and URBANフェチ both take turns playing support guitar for 385. I missed Uchikubi's performance but caught the tail end of Urbanfeti's set (who have now have a female bassplayer in addition to a female drummer).
Ousawa of Uchikubi played guitar for 385 this time around but I heard that Noda Kouhei of URBANフェチ joined later on for a twin guitar attack. Their was a great crowd response for 385.
I caught 3.5 songs by 385 then had to leave to make it in time for チーナ's set at Shimokita Garden. It's great to see members of Akai Ko-en and チーナ going to support each other's shows. チーナ put on an amazing performance and everyone notices a huge change in them since returning from Canada as they play with more intensity, confidence and power. Hajime (ex- Midori) currently plays keyboard for Kominami Yasuha. I had a chance to talk with him and Kawano Kenta (drummer for Owarikara) who tries to catch any shows where 蜜 (mitsu) are performing. After チーナ, I went back to Shimokita 251 and met up with my friends Lana, Hiro and Yuri. We watched mothercoat put on funky, high-intensity set that had the crowd going nuts. Then we went to Za Watami to get something to eat. Yes, I was just at a Za Watami the night before in Osaka!! We took quite a bit of time at Za Watami so I missed out on 六畳人間 who are known for their crazy performances. The band I really wanted to see this night went on last at 3:30am. It was viridian from Nagoya who I am STRONGLY considering for NMFT vol 4. I loved them as a 3-pc band but haven't had the chance to see them properly since they added a bassist. Unfortunately, for this event's show they were going to do an acoustic set. Just before viridian were about to start one of my friends felt faint/sick so we decided to take her home. Even though it would have been nice to see viridian I was getting hella tried myself and welcomed the opportunity to go home and get some sleep. :)