2012.11.10 Live music marathon

The itinerary: Shimokitazawa ERA: sgt /OVUM / Razooli / oakq Shimokitazawa Club QUE: Alaska Jam/KUDANZ/tricot/Jeepta Shindaita FEVER: fresh! / WRENCH / 虚弱。 Shinjuku LOFT: Tokyo Boredom!!!

Before heading to Shimokitazawa I decided to go to Zankyo Shop in Shibuya to pick up chouchou merged syrups’ new demo. Running the shop today was my friend Tabata whom I first met in Osaka during one of sgt’s shows. He is one of the most passionate music fans you will ever meet. He’s always standing in the front at shows being uber-expressive in his support of all bands. (Try to pick him out in this clip. It’s pretty obvious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXIxe-ja1VA) And in this clip he’s the one on the right jumping up and down later on with fists raised http://www.nextmusicfromtokyo.com/?p=1786 )

At Zankyo Shop they employ an interesting system where 1-2 albums are copied onto a CD-R and the identity of the artists is concealed. A large table is littered with different CD-Rs each with handwritten descriptions of the music… but again no names of artists or bands. You pick the CD-Rs that interest you or ask Tabata for his recommendations and then you take the CD-Rs to a listening station. If there’s something you like enough to purchase you ask Tabata to bring the actual CD it corresponds to. Buying music at Zankyo Shop is like going on a blind date.

In addition to chouchou merged’s demo I ended up liking and buying the newest releases by te’, うさぎさんの片耳ちょんぎったろか and musiquo musiqua.

After Zankyo Shop I took the Inokashira train to Shimokitazawa . My first stop would be ERA since sgt were playing early at 6pm. Tabata said he’d try to close up shop early and head to the show as well.

Correction: before ERA I stopped by Club QUE to find out what time tricot would be playing. And by coincidence the first person I run into is Kida, tricot’s lead guitarist. It’s good to see there are no hard feelings after I dropped tricot from NMFT4’s roster. She tells me that tricot will perform roughly at 8pm. Unbelievably… PERFECT! That means I can watch sgt @ Club ERA @ 6… saunter over to Club QUE for tricot @ 8pm then take a short train trip to Shindaita FEVER to see fresh! @ 9pm.

At ERA I immediately run into the members of sgt: Akashi, Ono and Narui. To the heartbreak of every guy who watched sgt in Toronto, since NMFT3 Narui Mikiko has married Uozu Kei (Z, as meias) and given birth to a cute baby boy named Sen.

Also, since NMFT3, guitarist Taoka Hironori has left the band and former guitarist Mukaiyama Toshitaka (who has his own band called nego) has returned temporarily in support.

And joining sgt on keyboards tonight was Kiyota Atsushi of Mouse on the Keys.

Before the show Narui-chan tells me I’m lucky because they get a longer 40 min set for tonight’s show. But I’m thinking… 40 min? … for you guys that’s probably just enough for 4 songs. Hahaha.

Setlist: 1. 再生と密室 2. cogeco 3. ライマンアルファの森 4. 銀河を壊して発電所を創れ

Damn. But the surprise was they played “銀河を壊して発電所を創れ” in it’s 15 min entirety since they know it’s my favorite song.

The latter half of this song is UNF*CKINGBELIEVABLY GRAND. At least three multiple-eargasm-inducing crescendos : 8:47, 10:07, 13:15. How can anything this sublime and breathtakingly powerful exist in a world that worships audio shite like Gangnam Style.?! This song alone made my entire trip worthwhile.

After sgt’s set, I hung out with Narui-chan and baby Sen, watched a bit of OVUM’s set (Narui warned me they’d be LOUD and they definitely were) and then made my way towards Shimokita Club QUE to watch tricot.

While tricot were setting up the DJ played a song by the Telephones and all of a sudden the crowd started to cheer in the direction of some dude wearing funky shades and a hat to my left. It turns out it was Akira Ishige, the singer/guitarist for the Telephones and he waved to the crowd to say thanks.

tricot played an exceptionally aggressive set tonight with all three girls taking turns making their way off stage and performing right amongst the audience. What’s always impressed me about this band is how inhumanly tight they play together and how they really know how to warm up the crowd with their sense of humor, charm and ebullient energy.

Kida-chan wore a KEYTALK t-shirt and had on a facemask due to a cold with absolutely wicked sore throat. Her voice was so quiet and raspy my own throat started to hurt just listening to her. Ikkyu and Hiromi joked that this is how Kida normally sounds like. (note: Kida’s the lead guitarist. Ikkyu, the singer’s voice was just fine.)

Setlist: 1. MATSURI 2. 夢見がちな少女、舞い上がる、空へ 3. アナメイン 4. C&C 5. G.N.S. 6. テレキネシス 7. 爆裂パニエさん

tricot.. plain and simple.. tore Club QUE.. a new asshole. I still think their songs are a bit generic and soul-less but they still manage to exalt their performance into something ferociously entertaining. I talked to the manager and we’ll see if tricot can come to Canada in May.

From Shimokitazawa it’s just one train stop away to Shindaita on the Inokashira line. I made it to Shindaita FEVER to catch most of fresh!’ set. Tonight was their album release party. Kyojaku had opened, followed by WRENCH.

fresh! is a super-group consisting of members of the defunct and legendary downy, SPARTA LOCALS, and MUSIC FROM THE MARS.

fresh! ‘s debut album has re-recorded versions of all four songs off the demo and just two new songs. Basically they only have six songs in their entire discography and they played them all tonight. They even made it clear they had completely run out of songs… BUT they requested the audience still to cheer for an encore once they exited the stage. The crowd obliged and fresh! returned to the stage to ‘play’ “やさしさサヨナラ” for the 2nd time. Only they weren’t actually playing. The point of the encore was to record a music video for “やさしさサヨナラ” with a lady performing a tea ceremony center stage, the band playing around her and the audience going wild.

This was my first time seeing fresh! play live. I had always imagined given the pedigree of the members fresh! to be a band on par with or possibly superior to NATSUMEN. But their degree of experimental prog wankery places them a lot closer to a band such as Lagitagida/sajjanu than it does the simpler, more melodic NATSUMEN. fresh! are a little too prog for my delicate ears and I prefer the smoother, warmer, melodious prog-lite of AxSxEx et al. But in terms of sheer skill, fresh! has more chops than a kung fu flick set in a butcher shop. These dudes can play.

After the show I chatted with Mana-chan of 虚弱。(ex-merpeoples) and finally got to see what Era Megumi from 股下89 looks like since she’s currently playing support bass for kyojaku.

WRENCH gave me a free album in double vinyl LP which I’d like to listen to but can’t since my record player’s in Vancouver. Although I missed WRENCH at FEVER they’d be playing again hours later during Tokyo Boredom.

I promised sgt I’d return to ERA for the uchiage. And if possible come back in time to see Narui play violin for oaqk.

Tabata (shaved head) is easy to spot in the clips above as well.

During the uchiage I spoke with Kiyota Atsushi about potentially inviting Mouse on the Keys to Canada in May for NMFT5. He already knew a lot about NMFT since sgt had nothing but great things to say about their experience in Canada and the tour. I was hoping to watch Mouse on the Keys the following day at Neutral Nation but Tatejima Yoko of harafromhell tweeted that they’d be performing at Shibuya LUSH at around the same time.

Kiyota Atsushi of Mouse on the Keys

I was having too much fun at the uchiage that I decided to stay for a while even if it meant missing the first few acts of Tokyo Boredom. I caught the very last train leaving Shimokita for Shinjuku. I went back to the hotel to drop off swag/merch, take a shower, and take a 10 min power nap. Then I walked over to Shinjuku LOFT but stopped to eat a bowl of ramen Jiro along the way.

I arrived in time to watch WRENCH, the band I had missed at Shindaita FEVER who gave me the free vinyl.

The organizers of Tokyo Boredom had assigned a pole dancer to perform on the floor during WRENCH’s set.

Here is s-explode:

Followed by Narui Mikiko’s husband’s band, Z:

They are one LOUD f*cking band. Here’s a much nicer clip to get a sense of what they sound like:

Haha! This vid brings back old memories of the bands I grew up listening to: Gorilla Biscuits, SWIZ, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Brains, Cap’n Jazz , Iconoclast and Clickitat Ikatowi . And what? KMD? Mr. Hood was the first hip hop album I ever bought…. right before “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” by ATCQ.

On Saturday November 10, after midnight (i.e. Sunday am) Tokyo Boredom was definitely the place to be.

I ran into Ian, members of otori, SuiseNoboAz,Sebastian X, ex-members of ruruxu/sinn, FAR FRANCE and most importantly bowl-cut dude from Nagoya. My friend Haruna was there and her boyfriend who sings in the band おまわりさん raped the left side of my face with his tongue. I’ll have to murder him when Haruna’s not around.

Shingo of the Mornings definitely had a good time:

I missed the Mornings since they were the first band to play at Tokyo Boredom. According to Shingo, both the Mornings and SusieiNoboAz have applied to perform at next year’s SXSW. I won’t even wish them luck because they should be no-brainers as selections for the festival in Austin. The Mornings might just be the best Japanese band to ever play at SXSW if (and when) they get the nod.

Tacobonds and Groundcover. were still left to perform but I couldn’t make it past Limited Express(Has Gone?) and snuck home at 4am to get some shuteye so I could be somewhat rested for the Neutral Nation festival starting hours later at 1pm.

For fans of underground Japanese music, Tokyo Boredom needs to be on your bucket list. It’s definitely something you should experience at least once to get an intimate sense of Tokyo’s post-punk/noise/no-wave scene. For me, it was my 5th time and I have to admit that my first experience (held at Tokyo University) was by far the most enjoyable and memorable. Tokyo Boredom was a major inspiration in getting me to start the NMFT tour. I wanted people in Canada to see how amazing the music in Japan is outside of the J-pop/J-rock they’re more commonly exposed to through internet and media. Although there’s a considerable difference in musical taste between myself and the organizers of Tokyo Bordeom we’re both trying to support the independent/underground music scene as best we can.

One of the interesting twists that Tokyo Boredom used this time was to avoid putting up a schedule. You couldn't tell which band was going to play when ahead of time. But they had placard girls telling you what the next band will be and on which stage.

Note to self: even though I may not actually use placard girls for NMFT... I can still hold an audition. hahaha.