Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blue Badge Guitar Pop Party

Kawaie of Humming Parlour. Posted by Picasa

Winnie or udon?

That was the tough choice that faced the hundred or so people gathered at the Shibuya O-Nest club to attend the Guitar Pop Crazy Summer! party on Sunday night. Organized by Mr. Higuma, the young owner of the ultra-cool Tokyo guitar pop record company Blue Badge Label, the event brought together the great indies bands Spaghetti Vabune, Winnie, Murmur, Humming Parlour, Metro and Choco (actually the solo unit of Spaghetti Vabune’s singer Cheechoco), plus Oka Hitoshi, the singer of Sloppy Joe.

The concept of the evening was a traditional Japanese summer festival: Mr. Higuma encouraged participants to come dressed up in yukata, and about half a dozen girls did so, showing up wearing the bright-colored cotton summer kimono, while Mr. Higuma himself wore a stately blue man’s yukata. Like a festival at a Shinto shrine, there were booths at the side that sold sweets, water balloons, and, this being a musical event, CDs by Blue Badge bands. Shows alternated between the bar floor on the 6th floor and the stage floor on the 5th, and the party-goers walked up and down the stairs outside that looked out to the love hotels next to the O-Nest.

A major schedule conflict occurred, however, at 7:15 PM. At that time, Winnie was to play at the 5th floor stage, but at the same time on the 6th floor, there was to be a live demonstration of a guy making udon, the wheat noodles that are one of Japan’s two most popular types of noodles along with soba. Which to see: Winnie or udon? As the udon guy poured flour on a table and brought out dough to begin pounding it, many in the crowd stayed to watch, taking a pass on Winnie. I did too at first, but after a few minutes rushed downstairs to see Winnie.

Guy cutting udon noodles. Posted by Picasa

It was a good choice, because Winnie played their lovely girl-guy vocal pop songs with much feeling, and it was a satisfying show. But between songs the band talked about how they would have wanted to see the udon making demonstration too, and at one point we could hear a steady thumping sound from above, probably the sound of the udon guy pounding the wheat dough with his hands before cutting it into noodles with a knife.

Murmur at the O-Nest. Posted by Picasa

Though all the bands were good, one band that impressed me in particular was Humming Parlour. I should note that its two members, Ms. Kawaie and Mr. Ito, are friends, and we invariably meet each other at advantage Lucy shows, because we are all Lucy fans. However, even if I didn’t know these guys, I think I would have liked their performance tonight. Ms. Kawaie looked gorgeous in a bright red yukata, and put plenty of emotion into their pop songs, while her partner Mr. Ito played the acoustic guitar with precision and confidence. They’ve released one song in the highly recommended Blue Badge Label compilation Guitar Pop Crazy!, and hopefully will bring out more songs to the world.

Humming Parlour at the O-Nest. Posted by Picasa

No comments: