Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vasallo Crab 75 & cruyff In the bedroom At Que

Vasallo Crab is evolving.

In the beginning they were two guitar pop guys who home-recorded a dreamy, mellow-out album called Flip Turn. Half a dozen years later, Vasallo Crab 75 are six people that move between pop and disco/funk, and are premier showmen. At Sunday's show, marking the release of their new mini-album Twelve Rays of Light, singer Daisuke Kudo brought about four trilby hats on stage, fussed big time about trying them all on during songs, tossed one into the audience, and, as the ensemble stopped playing he bowed deeply as he took off one of the hats, to reveal his skinhead.

Arm stretched, he held out the hat for a long, long, long time. Then, right at the moment he bent his arm back and plopped the pork pie back on to the parietal, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard all came back like an explosion. A scripted but still delicious moment. The crowd also went wild when violinist Kawabe-san ripped through a spiderweb-like Bach solo, as he always does, midway between a funky tune.

Having watched them for several years now and seeing them evolve, I got to thinking about the Stage, that magical space. The place that frightens even the most accomplished performers, from Elvis on down, and reduces them to nervous desperation before the show starts. The VC75 crew are ordinary guys in person, but they change when they shout out together in the dressing room and climb up to the stage. Does that space bring out something in them that is usually concealed? Or is it all an act? When I saw them the first few times, their performances were still rather shy, and I've heard people say they like that old, understated, guitar pop Vasallo more than the current crowd-pleasing, funk-infused version. I don't agree with that; they won't be going back to their old guitar pop roots, but they are creating something new instead, and I feel it's some of the most compelling live music being performed in Tokyo these days.


Before Vasallo was shoegaze/dream pop quartet cruyff in the bedroom, who I hadn't seen for several years. They are a good band but what helps them stand out is the Cheshire cat-grinning, flirtatious cool of the lead singer, who had an aura of someone who's been a lady's man since his earliest youth, and probably was one reason why the audience was about 70-80% female. He's a big soccer fan, as seen in the choice of the band's name and the big red Gamba Osaka sticker stuck on the front of one of his guitars.

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