Saturday, May 28, 2011

Terayama Shuji Music Festival

I heard about Shuji Terayama a long time ago, but in one those things you never quite get around to, I'd never really read any of his plays or poems and other works of this avant garde writer. So, when I saw that there was going to be a 'Terayama Shuji Music Festival' at the Hatsudai The Doors club, and Asakusa Jinta was playing, I was interested. Plus, as a bonus, Panta, the singer of the legendary left-wing 70's rock band Zunou Keisatsu, or Brain Police, was also on the bill.

Terayama was active in the 60's and 70's, and a lot of the crowd in the small Doors club seemed to be about the age that they probably saw Terayama plays when they first came out. They were a quiet audience, with gray, fuzzy hair. Maybe they were once radicals, protesting, attending Brain Police shows, taking in Terayama's literary experiments. Maybe, to an extent, they are still radical, which is harder to be than, say, in your 20's.

It probably wasn't an easy crowd for Asakusa Jinta, accustomed more to playing for young punk fans, but they pulled it off, helped along by a few diehard fans in the audience who had come to see them, and getting polite applause from the Terayama followers.

MCing the event were a playwright named Ei Takatori, who had collaborated with Terayama and whose background is also interesting, with 'manga criticism' listed in his resume, and an idol singer named Mika Hashimoto, who is the 'chairwoman' of the School Uniform Advancement Committee, which is how I guess I'd translate an idol group called Seifuku Koujou Iinkai. I missed SKI's set, but they appear to be a group of about a dozen schoolgirl singers who motto is to be “pure, upright and beautiful,” according to their website. The special guest was the actress Hitomi Takahashi, a tall, somewhat fox-like beauty, who had been scouted by Terayama when she went to see one of his plays as a student in her school uniform.

Brain Police's Panta played as a duo with another guitarist. A 61-year old rocker with still-long hair wearing black clothes, Panta did an acoustic set, and the highlight was a song whose message confused me. It was a song that was ostensibly about a baseball team, and its nine players, but in reality it was about the nine hijackers of ANA's Yodo-go plane in 1970, the baseball theme invented to prevent the song from being banned. It seemed weird...I only have wiki-level knowledge of the Yodo-go incident, but the gist is a group of radicals took over the plane and had it fly to North Korea, where the nine would be able to join their comrades. It wasn't a critical song. If anything, it seemed to glorify them. Maybe the song made sense in certain circles at the time it was written, but, in 2011, it seems strange. I'm curious what Panta's take is on all this.

For the encore, all the performers got together and sang a famous song that Terayama wrote called , “Sensou wa Shiranai”, a beautiful, if somewhat sentimental song about a girl getting married whose father she doesn't remember died in the war. The title means, literally, 'I don't know war', but I guess the 'know' in this case means more than just knowledge or experience, and is talking about lives where war is no longer something that exists, at least not in Japan, for now.

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