Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sexy, Retro 'Lady Spade' At O-Nest

Lady Spade dance to 'sexy and cute spy music'.

Lady Spade sing 'retro Japanese cabaret style'.

Lady Spade put on 'dramatic and cinematic entertainment shows'.

Lady Spade look like girls imitating 60's Japanese idols who were imitating Motown stars.

They go-go severely in see-through skirts.

They are serious, flirtatious, funny, retro, and out of this world.

They are jet-set superstars-in-the-making.

They stop mid-dance-pose to let worshipping fans photograph.

The Lady Spade are planning world conquest at their secret underwater HQ.


This was a dancing, outgoing crowd at the O-Nest. Twenty-something fans of techno and pico pico pop, they were a different breed from the usual introverted live house music nerds. Which is what I am, but it was still good to see young guys who are different, who don't see anything strange about expressing their excitement, and who smile at strangers, even foreigners.

DJ-ing between band sets was Yuppa of Hazel Nuts Chocolate. What a high it must be being Yuppa. An illustrator, who's also released two wonderful albums, Bewitched and Cute. A fashionable girl who, on the side, spins funky records as a DJ. Apparently living fully the life of the Tokyo young (though of course it must have its share of boredoms and burdens). Guys gathered around to dance and see her DJ selections. On the mike she asked everyone to buy the DJ drinks, and the guys brought her beer, cocktails on ice, tequila shots, lining them up in front of the turntables, and she went through them all.

One thing I like about this scene is the people seem into exploring older music. The Lady Spade and their old spy movie-sounding tunes and kayoukyoku. Also at the event was Motocompo, a duo in day-glo stripe fashion who play sing, guitar and keyboard 80's new wave-sounding tunes. And I found a flier of a unit called Salome Lips who describe themselves as a 'Heisei kayou band' influenced by 60's and 70's kayoukyoku, mood kayou and movie music (Heisei being the era of the current Emperor's reign, started 1989). Maybe from a somewhat different scene, but Asakusa Jinta also makes brilliant music that borrows from streetcorner brass bands and other 19th and early 20th century sounds. There's a wealth of beautiful, surprising music out there. Musicians and music fans ought to pay them a visit.


Salome Lips' flier, by the way, contained an interesting reference. It was an advertisement for a record of theirs to be released in March, called Theme of the Atami Hihoukan. The flier somewhat artlessly translates 'hihoukan' as 'sex museum', though it literally means 'museum of hidden treasures'. And what are these concealed precious things? The treasured parts of men's and women's anatomy that don't normally see the day of light. The flier says these 'treasure museums' were built in the late-70's and early-80's in various onsen spa towns. The Atami museum mentioned still exists, and this being 2009, has its own website, which contains a layout of the displays, including: whale reproductive organs, 'figures' showing the '48 positions', ukiyo-e prints, among other things. Piped in the background in the museum is mysterious mood music that the flier says is hard to get out of your head once you listen to it. Salome Lips, in their record, are doing an “unprecedented, shocking” cover of this music, according to the flier. OK, they've piqued my interest!

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