December promises to be a great month for rock shows in Tokyo, as bands squeeze into their schedules their final gigs before 2005 comes to a close. In the past a couple of people have asked me to tell them about good shows that are coming up, so here's a list of events I will either definitely go to or will try my hardest to see:
DECEMBER 11 - Swinging Popsicle, Auroranote, Up-Down at Shimokitazawa Club 251
This event is called "Hirata Family Festival", a reference to Hironobu Hirata, who plays bass for both pop band Swinging Popsicle and rockers Auroranote, and is a producer for Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy duo/musical unit Up-Down. In other words, he's the star of this event, which should have something for everyone.
DECEMBER 13 - Advantage Lucy with Milco and No Stars Innovation at Shimokitazawa Club Que
Lucy's last show of the year as a full five-piece band.
DECEMBER 15 - Mono, Kinski, midoriyama at Shibuya Club Quattro
I've never had a chance to see "melodic instrumental noise unit" Mono, but have wanted to for a while.
DECEMBER 16 - Ricarope at Udagawa Cafe Sweets
I've written about a past show by this soulful pop singer/pianist here.
DECEMBER 17 - Automatics and Ron Ron Clou at Shinjuku Red Cloth
Two great K.O.G.A. Records pop-rock bands. The Automatics is the members of Ron Ron Clou plus female singer Momoko Yoshino.
DECEMBER 18 - SGT, Afterpilot and others at Shibuya O-Nest
Two nice alternative rock bands.
DECEMBER 19 - Travelling Panda, others at Shimokitazawa Mona Records
Afrirampo and Watusi Zombie are also playing at the Daikanyama Unit this night, but I think I will go to see jazzy, funky pop band Travelling Panda, because they play live only rarely but are great when they do.
DECEMBER 22 - Vasallo Crab 75, Shugo Tokumaru, Tenniscoats at Shibuya Eggman
More on Prince-influenced guitar pop band Vasallo Crab 75 here. More on guitar noise wizard Tokumaru here. More on delicate piano pop duo Tennicoats here. This should be a musically satisfying show.
DECEMBER 23 - Advantage Lucy at Motofuchie Park "Festival Of Light"
Every winter, the trees in Motofuchie Park in Takenotsuka are strung up with festive holiday lights, and a small musical event is held to celebrate the light-up. Maybe because Lucy guitarist Yoshiharu Ishizaka is from Adachi Ward, where the park is, advantage Lucy has been invited to play at this event every year since 2003.
I missed last year's festival but went to the one in 2003, and it reminded me of amusement park show scene in Spinal Tap. Just as in the movie Spinal Tap shared the stage with puppets, playing right before Lucy at the festival was a group of child keyboard students. Being a park, the ground was muddy; behind the stage was a big poster for the event in bright red, like a Chinese Communist assembly. And being an outdoor event in winter, it was freezing.
Still, the band playing was advantage Lucy, meaning the music was lovely, and making the trip all the way up to Takenotsuka completely worthwhile. As it will be this year! Lucy will be playing as a three-person acoustic group, and the show is free.
DECEMBER 27 - Orange Plankton at Roppongi Morph
The last show of the year for piano pop quartet Orange Plankton, one of my favorite Tokyo groups.
Also playing this night is a group called Klik, with advantage Lucy's Aiko featured as a guest vocalist, at the O-Nest. That one sounds interesting too.
DECEMBER 28 - Plectrum and Toshiaki Yamada (of Gomes The Hitman) at Shimokitazawa Mona Records
Power pop quartet Plectrum is one of my favorite live bands in Tokyo, and they are great both when they rock hard at a live house and when they go acoustic at a place like Mona Records.
Beautiful voiced Yamada (I once described his voice as being like smooth calvados) plays emotional pop music for grown-ups.
DECEMBER 29 - K.O.G.A. Cover Night 2005 at Shimokitazawa Club Que
An interesting looking event featuring several cover bands consisting of professional musicians. I'm going to see Tennoji Fanclub, a Teenage Fanclub cover band consisting of "Norman" Takata (of Plectrum), "Raymond" Ishizaka (of advantage Lucy), "Raymond" Fujita (of Plectrum), "Gerard" Chigasaki and "Brendan" Kadota (of Ron Ron Clou).
DECEMBER 30 - The Kitchen Gorilla, Tokyo Pinsalocks, others at Shibuya O-Nest/O-Crest
Two excellent girl vocalist groups I've discovered recently, playing at the same event. Exciting!