Friday, December 02, 2005

Kitchen Gorilla Nearly Loses Voice

My first show back in Tokyo was The Kitchen Gorilla at the Shibuya Lush on Friday night to celebrate the release of their new mini-album. Such shows are called reco-hatsu, short for record hatsubai kinen, and they are festive events that fans flock to see. And I’m definitely a fan of this rock trio with a funny name—I’m becoming a bigger fan by the day.

Their new mini-album is called my voice. The voice it refers to is Kitchen Gorilla singer Kayo’s—info I read about the album says that she underwent surgery last year to remove a polyp in her throat that threatened to take away her voice. Heavy stuff for anyone, but especially for the vocalist of an up-and-coming rock band. The songs in this new CD touch on this experience.

The surgery was a success, thankfully, and I’m very glad for that, because I love Kayo’s singing. She’s one of the Japanese female singers whose voices I adore. Others are…advantage Lucy’s Aiko’s, for sure. Spangle call Lilli line’s Kana Otsubo’s, and Orange Plankton’s Yumi’s too. (In one of those mind-blowing developments that sometimes unfolds in life, advantage Lucy’s Aiko told me recently that she read about Orange Plankton here in Japan Live and looked up the band’s sample MP3s on their website. She liked it—the singer has a pretty voice, Aiko said. One of my grand dreams now is to organize an event featuring both of these two great bands.) Asako Toki, formerly of the Cymbals, has a beautiful voice, and so does a solo artist I like called Ricarope.

In short, there are many girls whose singing I dig, but Kayo’s is high up there. Hers is high-pitched, coquettish, and animated, like the voice will separate from her body and run away on its own.

How wonderfully she used that voice again in the Lush show! The band played mostly songs from the new album, ones I’d heard for the first time, but despite my unfamiliarity with the tunes I loved every minute of the show. As I’ve written before, there’s something different and outstanding about The Kitchen Gorilla. Listening to a good song of theirs for the first time after putting up with the bland fare of other bands’ music at shows is like finding a piece of pearl on a Tokyo street.

After the encore, Kayo said ‘love you’ in English to the audience. She also said the band’s going on a national tour with about a dozen stops, and jokingly asked everyone in the audience to go to at least five of those shows. That, unfortunately, probably won’t be possible for me, however much I like the band, but I’ll certainly try to make it to their gig next Friday at the Shinjuku Red Cloth.


By the way, the Lush, the new club where the band played, is THE hardest live house to find that I've ever been to in Tokyo, tucked away in the basement of a nondescript building in an obscure alley in Shibuya.

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