Thursday, September 08, 2005

Vasallo Crab 75; Shugo Tokumaru

As I headed to Mona Records to see Vasallo Crab 75 and others, I thought about how it had only been three weeks since I last went to a rock show, but it felt like ages. (I went back home to L.A.)

In mid-August, when I went to see My Way My Love, it was the peak of Japan's sauna-like summer. Tokyo was swimming in a sea of humidity, and on the streets Japanese women walked in short sleeves, a continuous stream of cream-colored, smooth-skinned arms. Now, at the start of September, a cool breeze swirled down from the sky. Autumn was approaching.

The show at Mona Records in Shimokitazawa matched the feel of the day well. It was a mellow acoustic evening, featuring Vasallo Crab, whose third album just came out, solo musician Shugo Tokumaru, and his Life is Records, a duo consisting of throwcurve's singer and NANANINE's drummer.

I had two main missions tonight. One was to buy Vasallo Crab's new album, Today is Tomorrow. The other was to see Shugo Tokumaru, who I'd read about on the Internet and had been wanting to see.

Catching Tokumaru live for the first time made the trip to Shimokitazawa worth it, in itself. A gaunt guitarist who was so soft-spoken it seemed the air conditioner could drown his voice out, once he started playing Tokumaru created his own musical cosmos. His art pop guitar playing sounded jazz and even flamenco at times, and he also went through a box-load of other instruments such as banjo, pianica, and a mysterious bow and saw combo. I'd never listened to music quite like his, and I felt that anywhere he played, whether in a cafe, or a big concert hall, or under a bridge, that place would be transformed by his sound.

Vasallo was just as energetic playing acoustic guitars as when they performed with amps turned on to full volume (one of the guitarists kept on suggesting to the audience, without success: "You can stand up and dance...if you like."). A good thing about unplugged shows though is that you can often hear the beauty of melodies and musical compositions more clearly than when the sound is on full blast. That was the situation tonight. I bought the CDs of Vasallo and Tokumaru on my way out of the door to a autumn-like evening.

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