Saturday, March 31, 2007

Asakusa Jinta, Back From The U.S.

Japanese “hard march” rockers Asakusa Jinta returned from their U.S. tour, and I went to see their first show back in Tokyo. Fans at the Yoyogi Zher The Zoo shouted 'okaeri!'—welcome home.

Sometimes I get overexcited when I see a good band for the first time, only to have my enthusiasm come back down from the stratosphere at the second gig, when the novelty wears off.

This wasn't the case with Asakusa Jinta.

If anything, I became an even bigger fan. Listening to their hard-driving set, my tiredness disappeared like a cannonball over the clouds. Swinging to their retro musical gems, my apathy melted away like an ice cube in boiling water.

Vocalist/bassist Oshow said the band stopped by Austin while South by Southwest was going on, and they played at an alternative festival called 'FXFU'.

“It was at a farm, and on the stage with us was a goat,” Oshow said. “While I was singing, the goat was in one corner, munching on grass. The farm owner said the goat became dumb listening to all the loud music. Our cables went through the grass with animal crap.”

Next to me in the audience were two little girls, and their dad showed them dance moves. They had fun. I like challenging, sophisticated music, but a part of me thinks that the best music is music that kids can enjoy too because it's so appealing and straightforward. Asakusa Jinta draws their inspiration from old Japanese music styles that are fairly obscure, and sound like no other band I know, but even children love their stuff.


Also performing was a band called babamania, who, I just found out reading about them in wikipedia, are 'best-known for their 2003 hit "Wanna Rock", which is known internationally due to its inclusion on the multi-platform video game FIFA 2004'. With a female singer, a male rapper/vocalist (wearing a white tuxedo jacket over sweatpants) and lots of dancing, they seemed to me like an Avex Trax group gone indie.

Before babamania's set, a band from Osaka I wanted to see performed: A.S.P., short for Associate Social Piano ('associate'? So does that mean they will change their name if they get a promotion?). Their female vocalist wore a red beret, a pink dress, golden spandex leggings, and red shoes (or some such combination, I don't remember exactly). They played an upbeat combo of rock, jazz and techno, and the red-pink-gold-clad vocalist was a good singer, though her way of singing, meant to highlight with her vocal skills what a free-spirited and sensitive individual she is, is pretty common these days.

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