Friday, May 04, 2007

Tokyo Music On Melt-Banana Etc. Show

I was debating with myself about whether to write about the May 1st show featuring Melt-Banana, nhhmbase, Clisms, Yolz in the Sky and Shift at the Akihabara Goodman, but then I found that blogger template-mate* Tokyo Music had already done a very fine job reporting on it. Check it out. I especially liked this part about Melt-Banana:

According to Wikipedia, Melt-Banana singer Yasuko Onuki's vocal style has been described as "a rabid poodle on speed". After their set (this was the first time I'd actually heard any of their music - am I allowed to write a blog on Japanese music after such a confession?) I was trying to figure out what to say about them when my girlfriend trumped both my half-arsed notes and the anonymous critic cited on Wikipedia - "The music was OK but she sounds like Alvin and The Chipmunks going through teenage angst." 'Nuff said.

For my part, slight differences of opinion with Tokyo Music (but let a hundred flowers bloom, etc.):

1. The Goodman show was the third time or so I've seen nhhmbase, but I still don't get them. I can see they do sophisticated, occasionally beautiful music, but are they that special?

2. Tokyo Music didn't like Yolz in the Sky from Osaka because of the vocalist, but they were my favorite act of the night. They were like Suicide meets the Stalin, except on a record mistakenly played at 78 rpm--I have a major weakness for that sort of sound (maybe to make sure their influences were obvious, Yolz's guitarist actually wore a Suicide T-shirt).

3. I'd seen better gigs by both Clisms and Melt-Banana. Clear & Refreshing's Ian, who was in the audience, said Clisms (pronounced Chlistmas...) is best when the audience is completely drunk and radiating good vibes toward the stage, and that seemed true enough. As for Melt-Banana, for the full experience I think you need to catch them at an even smaller live house like the Shelter, and stand at the front so that at climactic moments you can see the female vocalist's irises swing like a pendulum inside her eyeballs like a Balinese dancer's.

Tokyo Music also highly recommended Shift, but I left before their show started. I seem to often miss out on their shows...


I said at the top I debated whether to write about this event--that's because, tell the truth, this event was another one of those unpleasant shows I touched upon in my previous post, and I wasn't sure whether writing about it was worth it: just too many people packed into a small, smoky space, and the Japanese live house dynamic was at work where, during the show, people in the audience had invisible but inviolable territories marked out for themselves, so that if you wanted to walk over to buy a beer or go to the bathroom it was a bit of a struggle because people didn't want to cede you their space to let you pass; the weird but typical result of which was that everyone went to buy drinks between sets, resulting in massive lines; of course, you could ignore the routine and shove your way to the bar, but that would be uncouth and out of line with the Japanese sensibilities I've developed from being in Tokyo too long (reading this outside of Japan you might not get what I'm talking about, but I think people who've been to their share of Japanese shows would understand).

Is it that hard to design a live house where it's easy to buy a drink even when the show is crowded?

Maybe because of Golden Week, there was a fair number of English-speaking foreigners in the audience, and I overheard one Japanese guy tell another: "I think the gaijin-san are here to see Melt-Banana". 'Gaijin-san'! Thanks for the politeness even in a private conversation not meant to be eavesdropped!


* RE my blogger template: a recent, positive review of Japan Live started out saying something like, 'its generic blogger template may lead you to think that it doesn't contain any valuable info, but nothing can be further from the truth'... Hmmm, I've sometimes wondered whether I should customize the template, but I never have, because 1. I'm lazy, and 2. I actually like this generic template with its dark colors, and think it's appropriate for the subject. Any thoughts?

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