Saturday, July 09, 2005

Missing Plectrum

Plectrum at the Que. Posted by Picasa

Plectrum’s show Saturday night at the Que was their first without Naoki Kishihara, aka Kicchon, on bass. The band had announced earlier that Kicchon would go on an extended leave of absence. It’s not clear when, or even, if, Kicchon will return to Plectrum. I roughly know the circumstances of his departure, but maybe it’s best just to say that he had a life to live, and playing in an active band like Plectrum didn’t fit that life well.

Taking Kicchon’s place for now is Manabu Chigasaki, known as Chiga-chan (they all have nicknames), a skilled bassist who also helps out advantage Lucy. A friendly guy, Chiga-chan lives with two stray kittens he brought into his house that he named Aloha and Mahalo.

It had been three months since Plectrum last performed, and it was good to see again how the group can get a whole club going with its energy. But there was something missing. Kicchon’s absence was noticed.

In the past, Kicchon served as a sort of counterweight to the rest of the band at shows, standing quiet at his usual spot to the right while the other three went wild, a slight grin on his face that was somewhere between mischievous and amused. He looked relaxed, compared with the fire of the rest of the band. But when their shows hit climaxes, Kicchon was as intense, in his way, as the others, and that transformation, and the joyful unity of the four, was always invigorating to watch. Those things will be missed.

I was lucky to be able to see Plectrum at their very best, during their two visits to Seoul and at numerous shows in Tokyo. Those performances reminded me of the power of rock music. After shows I’d chat with Kicchon, and through him I became interested in a number of bands of my own country that I knew little about or hadn’t paid much attention to, like Yo La Tengo, Tortoise and the Beach Boys.


I decided to walk to Shimokitazawa from Sangenjaya to get to the Plectrum show, a 20-minute walk in the drizzle that is a constant presence in Japan’s June and July rainy season.

On the way to the club I saw a small shop that makes and sells traditional paper lanterns. On the floor to the side an artisan sat, painting a red character onto a white lantern. Further on I saw on the side of the road a Jizou Buddhist statue standing inside a wooden box, wearing colorful sashes. I also saw a drinking bistro with the name ‘Sui-Tarou’, or ‘Drunk Tarou’ (Tarou being a boy’s name), as well as a dining bar with the worrisome name ‘Knock On Wood’.

If someone visiting Tokyo has a bit of free time, I'd suggest spending an hour or two just wandering around any residential neighborhood, because there are lots of fascinating and unexpected things of beauty and humor.

Ally Kerr from Glasgow. Plectrum and Apila performed with them at the Que. Posted by Picasa

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