Friday, October 31, 2008

Duglas, Yeongene, 'Tokyo Bandits', Advantage Lucy At The O-Nest

Very sadly, I missed advantage Lucy's 'one man' album-release show at the Que on the 24th, but the next night's gig at the O-Nest with the the BMX Bandits' Duglas Stewart, who was visiting from Glasgow, almost made up for it (though, if the world were perfect, I would have preferred to go to both...).

Great bands like advantage Lucy talk to you on stage, through their music. It's not all notes and beats. And we go to shows because we want to have a musical conversation.

In advantage Lucy's case the talk was a relaxed, quiet one, like you have after a big night. It was a short set starting with the somewhat sad song “Shumatsu (weekend)”, about spending weekdays alone and waiting for a weekend meeting (and now that Saturday had arrived, indeed, we got to meet advantage Lucy).

Apple-chomping, professorial-jacket-wearing Duglas' musical conversation might have been about making music into something to be shared rather than exclusive, with an international group of friends. So he brought with him from Seoul Yeongene, the singer and keyboardist of an indie band called Linus' Blanket, and joining him from Tokyo was Taisuke Takata, vocalist and guitarist of Plectrum, two long-distance friends and brilliant musicians.

I was touched by their rendition of 'Sing', the tune made famous by the Carpenters and written by Joe Raposo (who is no longer with us but whose music will live on for a long time, Duglas said), and which I believe I was forced to sing in a chorus in elementary school, but looking at the lyrics now I have to marvel at how simple and beautiful and inclusive the words are. Especially the line, “Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear/ just sing, sing a song” should be a rallying call for independent bands everywhere. (Though, having said that, I do think that it usually takes lots of experience and dedication before a band becomes able to 'talk' to the audience, as discussed above.)

The O-Nest was packed and the crowd cheered when popular BMX Bandits were played, sung with plenty of gesticulation by Duglas. It made me giggle a bit, though, that one of the lines in a much-applauded song was something like,'I don't care about fashion, all I want is passion', sung of all places in Shibuya, the nerve center of the Shibuya-Harajuku-Daikanyama Intensive Youth Fashion Production Zone.

At least part of the crowd probably had come specifically to see Yeongene, who's become an even more charming stage performer since I first met her in 2004 in Seoul, this musical prodigy who apparently can play back songs on her piano after just one listen. Duglas obviously adores her—he said he and his bandmate both wanted to write a song for her to sing, after she visited them in Scotland, and so they ended up writing a song together, which Yeongene sang at the O-Nest, a lovely tune. Tall, nonstop-gesturing Duglas and petite, shyly stage acting Yeongene made a fun-to-watch duo.

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