Saturday, August 16, 2008

Waffles, Freenote, Obon, Advantage Of Being An Indie Fan

After all these years it's still a trip to go to a live house and find, standing next to me, one of those musicians I've listened to with love for so long. That's an advantage of being an indie music fan—though, to you, a musician is other-wordly, a genuis that creates sounds that energize and brighten your days, that person hasn't yet become inaccessible, disappearing into the haze of fame. Instead, this person, who is like a Beatle to you, is someone you can talk to. It's an asymmetry between your appreciation of the artist and the world at large's lack of recognition of the same person. So, it's always a shock when, after seeing a favorite band's show for the first time, I see the musicians walking across the hall like normal guys, even though in my estimation they are anything but.

I had one of those moments when, after the Waffles and Freenote show at the Que, I went to buy the Waffles' new singles, and the people that sold it to me were...the band's vocalist and guitarist. Wow...

At their show they played those new songs from the singles as well as old tunes, including “Rhythm” and “Tokyo”, the latter of which singer Kyoko Ono dedicated to all of us who stayed in the city during the Obon holiday.


Freenote is a band I was expecting to hit the big time a few years ago but that hasn't quite happened, which means we can see them at a little place like the Que rather than all those horrible huge music halls. And that's a treat, because Freenote's vocalist Chikako Hata—that girl can sing. She's got an earthy voice that nevertheless soars.

Between songs, talking about Obon (when most Japanese go back to their hometowns to worship their ancestors), she said her home is a Buddhist temple in a small town and when she was a girl she made her granddad promise her that she wouldn't be wed to another Buddhist priest. Seeing that she's a rocker now in Tokyo, maybe that promise was kept. I saw her at a post-show party a little while ago, and found her in person to be super-polite—wonder if that's a result of her upbringing in a Buddhist temple home, the thing she wanted to escape when she was a kid?

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