Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sakerock, Tucker, Kiseru

I went to see the Sakerock/Tucker/Kiseru show Thursday night because I was in the mood to see a few bands I knew nothing about, and also because I liked these groups’ names. Kiseru is the thin pipe that old folks smoke with in Japanese historical dramas on TV—a curious name for a folk duo. And the sake in Sakerock is the name of Japanese rice wine. I could see where they were coming from—knocking back a few pints of sake has made me felt like a rock star on several occasions. The show seemed to have promise, so I headed to the Shibuya Quattro, which was packed.

Kiseru was up first. The duo played vaguely psychedelic folk, and it was good, pleasant music, but sweet-singing two guy folk units like Kiseru (duos like them seem to be a popular sub-genre in Japan now) always remind me of that singer in Animal House whose guitar is destroyed by John Belushi at the stairwell…

Next up was Tucker, who was a crowd pleaser. He started out DJ-ing, but also played a mean electone organ, and also nibbled at the electric bass and guitar and drums. At one point he played a bass part and put that on a loop, moved to the electric guitar and did the same, then ran back to pound the drums, becoming a one man punk band. Tucker seemed to like a retro sound, the sort of music you’d hear in silent movies, and he covered music like the Pink Panther theme and the song “Tequila”. It was like a 21st Century Neo-Tokyo vaudeville show. At the end, for the climax, Tucker set his synthesizer on fire.

The headliner was Sakerock. They seemed to combine jazz with kayoukyoku, popular Japanese music, and I kept on thinking they were retro in a Taisho Era (1912-1926) sort of way. Maybe it had to do with the way the vocalist played a trombone wearing a hakama. The singer was better when he sang and scatted than when he blew the trombone, and what’s the point anyway of listening to a passable trombonist at a crowded Tokyo live house if you can see amazing jazz players at much more comfortable jazz clubs? I didn’t stick around until the end of the Sakerock show, but while I was there I had a good time. And I liked it that nearly a thousand young Tokyoites showed up at the Quattro to see a band that seemed to have time-warped into Shibuya from an earlier era.

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