Friday night in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku—Dodging the African sex-club touts and weaving through the weekend crowd-thronged alleys, I made my way to the Loft, to see the 18.104.22.168’s, Supersnazz, and Mad3. It had been a while since I was last at the Shinjuku Loft, the king of Japanese live houses, not the biggest, but still the country’s preeminent venue, where even Southern All-Stars, the Toyota Motor Corp. of Japanese pop bands, once played.
I went to the show because I wanted to see the 22.214.171.124’s, a female trio whose biggest claim to fame is that one of their songs was used in Kill Bill. ‘Supersnazz’ also sounded familiar, and I wanted to see what they were like.
At the loft, there were more foreigners than just about any Tokyo gig I’ve been to—I guessed that was because of the 126.96.36.199’s Kill Bill fame as well as the fact that all three groups were fairly well known abroad. There were also dozens of Japanese rebel Brit-punkers, all wearing the same clothes—Ivy caps were the headgear of choice, and many had big chains hanging out from their pockets, connected to their wallets so they don’t get lost in the mosh pit.
The 188.8.131.52’s went first. They affected some in the audience like a pleasurable electric shock: a tiny Japanese girl in front of me screeched every time the band named the next song or played an intro to a song she liked, and she proceeded to hop around maniacally to the music. My reaction to their music wasn’t quite as intense, but I did enjoy it; their tunes were heavily influenced by 50’s rock, rockabilly and surf music (I think I read somewhere the numbers in their name stand for the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, their favorite musical decades).
Supersnazz was next, and this quartet completely knocked me out. A Supersnazz fan was born Friday night: me.
It wasn’t that Supersnazz was playing the sort of music I’d never heard of before; in fact, their 80’s-sounding garage pop-punk was eminently familiar. They played music that’s formulaic, but it’s a formula that I never get bored of no matter how many bands I listen to going over similar territory. It’s the hamburger of music: the ingredients may be more or less the same but there’s still the good and the bad, and when it’s really good, you get a craving for it from time to time, for all time. Two recent favorite bands of mine, the Kitchen Gorilla and myuuRy, also are these kinds of bands.
The group consists of two orange-haired girls, the singer and the bassist, and two black-haired guys, the guitarist and drummer. The singer, ‘Spike’, looks like a Japanese Chrissie Hynde with a Steven Tyler-like mouth. She bops around on stage, belting out garage punk, while between the song parts the guitar guy RIPS out solos. I found out later this band has been around since 1990. True veterans—I went out and bought a CD of theirs right away, Invisible Party, the first of many of theirs I think I will buy, and this show is also likely to be the first of many that I’m likely to see.
When the final band, Mad3, started playing, the front section of the crowd turned into a wild mosh disaster zone, and the spectacle was entertaining enough, and the band was good enough, that I considered staying for the whole set, but I decided to take off after a few songs, back through the grime and bright lights of Shinjuku on a weekend night. (Check out an insane photo of theirs here. And here's a good photo of Supersnazz.)