Recap of 2nd week in Japan
Better late than never (right Ymane? yes you get a shout-out in my blog).Shows I went to: Feb 21: OWARIKARA / YOMOYA / LOVES / SuiseiNoboAz @ Shimokita BASEMENT BAR Feb 21: birth / talking dead goats "45 / camellia / high tension sex girl / Mahiruno / 猿ダコンクリート / Clean of Core @ Shimokita ERA
This was one of those crazy nights where I went back & forth between venues ~15 min walk away from each other in Shimokitazawa. I started the evening off at BBar watching OWARIKARA. Some friends told me they've toned down their on-stage antics and are focussing on playing more seriously now. Well I guess that was more or less true but they still like to have fun at the end of "Sunabo"
After OWARIKARA I booted it to ERA (sorry YOMOYA!) in an attempt to catch Osaka's talking dead goats "45. Unfortunately I just missed their set but this is what they would have been like:
I stayed at ERA to watch camellia (nice ambient post-rock with guitarist who also plays keyboards) and high tension sex girl (also from OSAKA, next vid):
Then came the ever awesome Mahiruno.. who stole mothercoat's drummer!! =)
After Mahiruno I made it back in time to Basement Bar to watch most of SuiseiNoboAz:
Then I headed BACK to ERA. I missed out on 猿ダコンクリート but was just in time for Clean of Core !!
CoC's drummer made cream stew for the people at the show. That was my dinner for the night (I had 2 bowls). Apparently, the drummer used to be quite "chunkier" but lost 50 lbs in less than a year. He actually took his shirt off during the encore and is pretty ripped. Maybe I should go on a cream stew diet and take up drumming in a post-rock band to lose weight too. hahaha. Clean of Core were pretty awesome. I love bands that put the drummer up front since their dynamic style is often hidden from view in the back. CoC's drumming is definitely one of the highlights to their live performances. It was pretty nutty going back and forth but I got to see most of the bands I wanted and have no regrets.
Feb 22: moja / highered-girl / wozniak / te_ri / ガガキライズ / 神さま @ Shinjuku Motion Feb 22: キングヌラリヒョン / プラハデパート / 箱入り気分 / toufu / Kulu Kulu Garden @ Shimokita BASEMENT BAR
Once again 2 shows in one night but no travelling back and forth. I started off at Shinjuku Motion where they had a GREAT concept in which each band performing consisted of 2 members, one of them playing drums. They also had the bands perform right in the middle of the dancefloor so you could see them up close from anywhere in the club.
Kamisama are a cult favorite in Tokyo but they're a bit too off-the-wall and lacking in skill for my tastes. (Wait.. did I just dis God?) wozniak went up next .... and blew my mind just like they did last year in Kichijoji. The drummer starts off playing guitar riffs that he samples and loops together. Then he puts down his guitar and shows his incredible acumen on drums. The bassplayer has incredible chops but since last year he's upped the ante by learning how to play keyboards with one hand and tap/play bass with the other AT THE SAME TIME. I can't stress enough how absolutley amazing these kids are to watch. I'd love to see a wozniak vs nisennenmondai show. (note: the following vid doesn't capture wozniak at their best.)
I considered going straight to BBar this night but damn was I glad I caught wozniak. Out of all the bands I saw this trip they stood out near the top with mow mow lulu gyaban. Highered Girl played next and I quite enjoyed their set. The female drummer is absolutely ferocious.
I really wanted to watch moja. Especially since I never had the chance to see them when they visited Toronto. The female drummer in moja is also incredibly fierce. I chatted with her and she seemed to really enjoy her experience coming to Canada. They were the last band scheduled to play so I had to miss them in order to support Kulu Kulu Garden at BASEMENT BAR.
After a short train ride to Shimokita, I found myself at BBar (again!) in time for Praha Depart. It was my first time seeing them and I had high expectations because everyone and their grandmom kept telling me how awesome they are. Well they exceeded my expectations and I agreed never to doubt my friends or their grandparents. The guitarist wears a sari, the female bassplayer croons with an enchanting wail and the drummer is just simply amazing. I took some video but haven't upped it to Youtube so watch this instead:
Kulu Kulu Garden closed out the night and it was a treat getting to meet Ryotaro's and Kotone's parents. They were quite boisterous and constantly stagediving/crowdsurfing... hahaha j/k. I'm not sure if they're truly into the music with KKG's high degree of aggression but it was nice of them to come and support their kids. KKG played a new song called "Aliens" that sounded quite nice. They ended their set with my 2 fave songs "Tori" and "agezen suezen"
Feb 24: I was having dinner with my brother at a wicked yakitori place in Aoyama thinking goomi were scheduled to play at 9pm. When I got to Shimokita 251 at 8pm I found out they had already played at 7pm (My friend who organized the show told me goomi would play at 1900h which I misheard as 9pm. My mistake. But seriously, who the hell outside of the military communicates time colloquially in 24 hr notation.) At least I got to watch creepy pop who sound like an awesome combination of FAR FRANCE, Motorhead and MONO.
Feb 25: I have to admit that mothercoat weren't at their best when I saw them at Shindaita FEVER but they were in magnificent form this night at Shimokita Shelter. I got some decent footage but I still don't think anyone's ever managed to capture mothercoat's true greatness on stage in video format. Hope that can be rectified during the Next Music Canada tour. =)
Feb 26: SuiseiNoboAz / the mornings / henrytennis / uhnellys / caroline rocks @ Shinjuku Motion Feb 26: thai kick murph / STELEOGRAM / パブリック娘。 / トレイス / 夏目知幸(シャムキャッツ) @ Shimokita THREE
SuiseiNoboAz were holding part 2 of their record release party and this was clearly the marquee concert of my entire trip. I have never seen Shinjuku Motion so packed other than at Swan Song Council. Unfortunately I only had time for caroline rocks and the mornings. Even if you don't particularly like the mornings' music simply watching them perform once will make you an instant fan b/c they are the hardest working, most energetic and fun band in Tokyo. And their music has grown on me considerably so consider it a "double win." I must have watched the mornings a dozen times in the last 4 months alone which is quite a feat considering I don't even live in Japan. the mornings = the life of the party & the after-life of the after-party. God bless the mornings.
It was painful having to leave such an awesome show prematurely but one of my all-time favorite bands, thai kick murph, was playing on the same night and I had heard rumors they would be breaking up soon. The original members of thai kick are all in their final year of University and about to graduate in May. Cute bassplayer Etsumi has been offered a very good job far from Tokyo and Kei who is the life's blood of TKM has expressed sentiments of not continuing with the band after graduation. Thai Kick Murph are NOT breaking up for certain but if the rumors became true their show at Shimokita 3 would be my last opportunity to see them... EVER. So as much as it killed me to skip out on uhnellys and SuiseiNoboAz I booted it to Shimokitazawa after the mornings' set.
To be honest I didn't expect much from any of the bands aside from Thai Kick; however, Public Musume were quite entertaining bringing to mind a Japanese version of hip hop legends the Pharcyde. Natsume Tomoyuki of Siamese Cats (shamukatsu) was absolutely hilarious playing an acoustic set and getting the audience involved with a loop-pedal experiment in which every member in the crowd had to grab the microphone and mention a food item. Tomoyuki would loop together every food item blurted out until the audio sample became a schizophrenic melting pot of noise. It was so simple but a work of genius. For the record my contribution to the auditory madness were the foods "niboshi ramen !!" and "cheeseburger !!" lol.
It was already great fun leading up to thai kick (the loop pedal madness orchestrated by Tomoyuki was going on while TKM set up) but when the band intro'd with their absolutely sublime new song "プチャ" I knew I was in for an unforgettable night watching a band I love possibly for the very last time.
I didn't bother taking video b/c:
a) it's rude
b) you can't truly enjoy a performance while filming
If thai kick does break up I wish they would at least studio record "プチャ" onto CD-R because it's such a jazzy and emotionally powerful song that has become a favorite of mine.
They played my other favorites "telekenisis" "Faust" and "Thai Kick Olympic" and the night would have been perfect if I got to see them perform "Lotus" at least once before they (likely) break up.
I spoke with the band and gave them an impromptu speech on how I truly believe they are destined for greatness, that I love their music to death and that I would be crushed if they disbanded after graduation. And
if when I invite them to Canada if they've broken up, they'll have to reunite just for my tour. =P
Hopefully thai kick murph continue past graduation but it wouldn't be the same without Etsumi on bass.
And without Kei, thai kick's entire persona would change drastically since he does all the fantastic emceeing between songs.
After thai kick, I jetted back to Shinjuku Motion and arrived just as SuiseiNoboAz ended. So it looked like I was there the whole time, hahaha. I will have many opportunites to watch Boaz again but hopefully it wasn't my last time seeing thai kick. If it is then at least I managed to convey my best wishes to them and watch one final outstanding performance.
Feb 27: KEYTALK／Fed MUSIC／susquatch／SOUND COSMOGRAPHY @ Shimokita 251 Feb 27: Molice / Pinky Doodle Poodle / Jonny @ Shibuya Ruby Room
I can't believe it's almost been a year since I last saw susquatch. They were one of the first bands I invited for the Canada tour but Kenta took too long in responding back to me. He and Maki are choked they can't play in May but they are near the top of the long list of bands I plan to bring to Canada if I manage to do more tours. I met up with Nathan of Hear Japan at 251. We were supposed to go watch Boaz the night before but it was sold out before he could get a guest pass. I was worried he wouldn't get into this show either b/c the venue looked like a subway car during rush hour that was packed way beyond capacity. Surprisingly he did get in partway through susquatch's set. susquatch were the 2nd band after SOUND COSMOGRAPHY opened with their Jamiroquai meets Studio Vanquish funky brand of guitar-pop. SOUND COSMO were pretty good. The girls went nuts over them. But susquatch were just flat out AMAZING. One awesome change they made is having Maki drum right at the front of the stage like Clean of Core. Kenta mentioned that Maki demanded that she get a chance to play in front and he said they'd try it just once. But now Maki loves being up in front so it looks like they'll continue this set-up from now on. Hearing susquatch open with "awakening at daybreak" was pure bliss. Then they went into "3 chords" and it was all I could manage to not shit my pants. Watching Maki drum is a sheer pleasure to behold. Kenta's guitar playing is alot more aggressive live and he also throws in a few snarls/growls when singing. The dude beside me was totally in a trance singing along to all the songs which I found bizarre since Kenta sings neither in English nor Japanese but a language he made up that just happens to sound a bit like English. susquatch's albums come with lyrics but they don't coincide with what Kenta actually sings. I'm still confused. =) susquatch also played a new song that killed and Kenta says they should have a new album or ep in August/September. Nathan and I stuck around for one song by Fed Music then jetted to Ruby Room where our friend Daniel Robson was DJing and organizing an event. However I promised Kenta and Maki that I'd come back for the uchiage. The Ruby Room was packed just as tightly as 251. I swear the walls themselves were perspiring. The main reason I came to the show was to support Daniel's event but it looks like he didn't need much help packing the place especially since Molice were playing that night. One listen to Molice's hit song "headphone" made me an instant fan so i was eager to finally see them live. I had seen clips of them play before and I always pictured the singer being more fun-loving/animated but she was in total tsundure mode that night which actually made them look cooler since she finally did cut loose at the end. It was awesome b/c she'd be stonefaced at times appearing as if she didn't even want to be there but then she'd crack a smile arbitrarily and progressively loosened up like Tsundure 101. =P Molice were great but as soon as their set ended I booted it back to 251 to meet up with Kenta and Maki. I love uchiages. Especially when there's good food in addition to bottomless drinks. Tonight they had an assortment of finger foods but the main treat was NABE!!!!!! Nabe. So simple to cook yet so tasty. Especially when you get to sit next to Maki who is playing drums with her chopsticks. Kenta told me that Nakano Pierre of Rin Toshite Shigure has a crush on Nakano Maki and sends her text messages all the time. hahaha. I'd love to see nakano vs nakano in a drum competition. One more reason why Kenta is awesome is that he loves Maps & Atlases. It was hilarious watching Kenta and Takemasa (Keytalk) hum and air guitar the intro to "The Most Trustworthy Tin Cans" Good times. Last time I hung out with susquatch I ended up izakaya hopping with them until 6am. I didn't think I had the endurance to drink another 5 hours with a paucity of sleep on the nights preceeding so I left the uchiage early. My picture and a little blurb about the Canada tour are in Kenta's blog. I'd give you the link but I look fat from eating too much nabe. =P
Feb 28: mow mow lulu gyaban / kacica / GEAR / マッカーサーアコンチ I was supposed to leave Japan on Sunday but I stayed one more night to watch mow mow lulu gyaban. There was a guy from Austria at the show and it turns out that we know each other on last.fm. He has actually brought a band from Osaka to Austria before and paid for half their expenses. It's crazy. He's like my Austrian doppelganger who has the same great taste in music and also tries his best to support Japan's underground music scene. I think I've already set the world record for longest blog entry so let me just say that mow mow lulu gyaban is perhaps the most awesome live band in Japan. They're at least the most fun and entertaining. Writing this one post has given me carpal tunnel syndrome. End transmission here.