2012.10.04 THE★米騒動 vs HINTO @ Shimokitazawa SHELTER
THE★米騒動 (The Kome Soudou = The Rice Panic) is a 3pc band from Sapporo, Hokkaido whom I've been interested in for a couole of years but never had the chance to see live yet.... until Oct 4. Same for HINTO. Great band I had yet to see live.
Shimokitazawa Shelter is a tiny club that holds about 150 ppl max... and that includes a bunch of people standing on the stairway with absolutely no view of the stage. I was worried that tickets to the show might be close to sold out so I bought advance tickets through Lawson a couple nights before the show. To my surprise I got ticket #28. Did that mean attendance at the show would be sparse?
Doors opened at 630pm and the show started at 7. I arrived just before 7 and... CRAP the venue was almost completely full. What? The? Blood?! I grabbed a beer, saw open spots near the front and managed to maneuver my way to a decent position about 3-4 rows from the stage, Since THE★米騒動 were throwing this event, HINTO went up first. They took their bloody time getting ready and the show started closer to 730pm.
HINTO is the new band that arose from the break up of the legendary Sparta Locals. It retains Abe Koichi (Gt/Vo) and lead guitarist Itou Shinichi from Sparta Locals and adds Hayashi Tabasa (bass) from SCARLET and Hishitani Masahiro (ex-HIGH VOLTAGE... which were an AWESOME band btw!) on drums.
When HINTO took the stage I immediately noticed Tabasa and how sublime she looked rocking the bass. Countless bands utilize a fmeale bassplayer as eye candy and HINTO are shamelessly culpable. But the girl can play so who gives a f*ck! I've watched Tabasa's own band SCARLET play a couple times and got a picture with her a few years back:
I wrote a post about her in a thread called "Dope Female Bassists" at another website and I'll always remember this rad photo:
Okay enough digression. Getting back to HINTO... um... yeah, watching Tabasa on bass is already well worth the price of admission. ;) How did HINTO sound? Like Sparta Locals trying to be Base Ball Bear. Ohhh SNAP! But before Rob comes after me with an AK-47 and a rusty machete, let me elaborate further!
Sounding like Sparta Locals is self-explanatory and Abe's charismatic emotive vocals spill over to his new band. Itou's jaw-dropping guitarwork acts as both backbone and centerpiece to HINTO's signature sound. Although the wah pedal and wankery can get a bit excessive, Itou's guitars are the highlight of most songs. However, compared to Sparta Locals and especially with the newer songs HINTO have adopted a mainstream arena-pop/rock sound. It's as if Abe is catering the style to appeal to the teenaged mallrats that predominate at big music festivals like Rock in Japan and CDJ. Analagous to Chatmonchy who started off playing powerful emo-shoegaze then changed to overly "genki" arena fluff. HINTO's music definitely still has an edge to it. Itou's axemanship and Hishitani's drumming can be brutally powerful. But the majority of the newer songs have a cheery, festive, mainstream-matsuri sort of vibe. And with Tabasa resembling Shiori as token female eye-candy on bass, HINTO reminded me of Base Ball Bear when they played these 'jiggy-er" types of songs. Having said that I was extremely impressed by how tight the band was. Everyone, including Tabasa, can play very well incorporating intricate lines that mesh together perfectly without missing a beat. Definitely an elite group of musicians with Itou's skill on guitar standing out the most.
(note: this is not my footage and it wasn't from the show at Shelter)
Also, I had heard that HINTO tend to be static on stage gazing at their shoes and naval lint but that is definitely NOT the case. They were energetic and played with a ton of passion. Especially Abe and Itou who never seemed to stay in one spot. Overall I was quite impressed with HINTO's set. To the point that I would consider bringing HINTO to Canada for NMFT (but they're not near the top of my list) It turns out that their new manager is the young kid whom I met last year who organizes shows in Osaka and writes his own 'zine: Habata Shogo This makes it much easier to potentially invite HINTO since Habata and I already know each other.
And some AWESOME news, Itou's other band: fresh! are FINALLY going to release a new CD... next month!
And Tabasa's main band SCARLET are in the recording studio and will likely release a new CD in the near future.
Although getting to watch HINTO was a great bonus, my primary reason for attending this show was to watch THE★米騒動. And judging by the audience reaction when the Rice Panic walked on stage it was clear that the great majority were here to see them as well. The Rice Panic is an extremely young band which was formed by three high-school classmates in Sapporo. And not too long ago because they all turned 20 this year and tonight was actually the bassplayer's birthday! Being such a young band they also have young, boisterous fans. So in hindsight, maybe HINTO's set tonight was catered to a younger crowd and they sound a bit more sophisticated/mature on normal nights.
Anyhow, compared to HINTO, THE★米騒動 had a much louder, faster, powerful sound. Very surprising since both the Gt/Vo and bassplayer are fermale. In fact, there are very few predominantly female bands that rock as hard as THE★米騒動 with the same degree of technical skill. In terms of style they sound like a less spazzy Usotsuki Barbie or 八十八ヶ所巡礼 with masculine (ie husky) female vocals. Lots of stop/start hardcore madness, watertight rhythm and abundant charisma especially from Ishida Minoru who would climb onto the front barricade, raise her guitar and yell "Shimokitazawaaaaaa!" on more than one occasion. THE★米騒動 put on a fantastic energetic and loud performance but their songwriting is a bit run of the mill. A few songs stand out but the majority recycle rock cliches and despite their eccentric style the songs seem to lack the creativity and freshness of eg 赤い公園. Having said that they're definitely a candidate for NMFT because not since BLEACH and Mass of the Fermenting Dregs has there been a (mostly) female band that kicked your ass with this much power and skill. I just wish they'd step up their game a little in the songwriting department and then it would be a no-brainer.