I bail to kouenji and watch my man Proghoe's band. The gig is in this amazing hippy store. The place is roughly the size of a Honda Civic, and the walls are soundproofed with giant Hello Kitty and miffy quilts. The ceiling is draped with literal chains of little girls’ panties and totally dirty filthy stuffed animals. Pictures of bhudda and Japanese flags compete for the remaining space. No one can see the band because it’s so crowded, yet a 6-foot-tall stuffed animal sits on the couch in the most prime viewing spot, and no one dares sit on it.
My kind of place!!
Still it’s pretty awesome. Best non-stuffed thing about the place: there’s NO SOUND MAN. Just band and amps. AND THE SOUND IS 10 TIMES BETTER than those other clubs where they have expensive sound boards and pay someone to work them. It’s just as I always suspected: THE SOUND GUYS IN JAPAN’S JOB IS TO MAKE EVERYTHING SOUND WORSE. It’s a cultural thing I guess.
But all was not cool. I went to check out Proglyhoe's show just because he’s my friend. Not only did he NOT hook us up with cheap tickets, but he didn’t even introduce me to one of my favorite rock stars who was chilling out front. My man, he was just talking with the RUINS’ Yoshida like 5 feet away from me, but he couldn’t be like ‘yo, Yoshida-san, have you met my crazy gaijin friend?’ Not to sound like a total dick, but I NOTICE that stuff. Don’t be all like you don’t notice that stuff when it happens to you.
The first band is all camper van Beethoven. Just kind of folk rock with fiddles and psychedelic bits. I’m sure they’re saying something like ‘doko doko biru-san imasuka?’
The second band looked like a ruins-style outfit: bass and drums only. But the weird thing is, they had no chops at all. The drummer in particular was missing the snare altogether a lot. But they didn’t TRY to be super technical prog wizards. They just did simple repetitive stuff that made the most of the sparse instrumentation, and were enjoyable. Best part: the SET LIST. I was so enthralled with the set list, I was reading it from across the room because it looked like a FLOW CHART. It looked like some huge physics equation. The drummer has her own unique notation system, and I made her show me the paper afterwards. Of course, I had drank no small amount by that time, but I remain convinced that even dead sober I would have had the same reaction.
The third band is my man’s band. Japanese guys playing traditional irish music using speed metal instrumentation. This is a brilliant fucking concept, marred only by the fact that they can’t play for shit. I’m sure everyone in this band is also in 3 other bands and they can only practice once a month or something. But still, they’re trying to do this million-miles-an-hour jig stuff, and they can’t even remotely pull it off. Like, half the noise was pick-hitting-the-string-sideways kind of noise. Also in fact they weren’t trying to be speedmetal, that was just a rumor. They were all having retarded amounts of fun though, so that saved the show. Bands that are actually grateful to be on stage are ? surprisingly ? astonishingly RARE, I’ve found. also important, a decidely-NON-irish-trad dancer. whose ears were on fire, and who drew the attention of many a young hippy with her left boob, which kept falling out of the bikini. note to aspiring hippy chicks: just because that vintage bikini top looks neato, doesn't mean it will fit you. especially if it was made for white-people-sized boobies.
Fourth band: U.G. MAN. These guys just fucking KILLED EVERYONE. I was ready for another little folk band or whatever, but these guys just did like 6 hardcore songs in 5 minutes, trashed the joint, scared the hell out of the little bovine college students who had been standing totally still the whole time, and then bailed as fast as they came. I was like, damn! Then I learned that the band was like 11 years old??? Jesus, they really know how to make some rock.
The guitarist in particular had the best faces I have ever seen. And I’ve seen COLORED RICE MEN. U.G. MAN’s guitarist’s guitar-face makes Yingwie’s guitar-face look like a mannequin on xanax. U.G. MAN’s guitarist’s guitar-face is enough to make every single employee of Guitar Center just give up their pathetic dreams of stardom and go back to 7-11. it’s so fucking severe, I’m not altogether certain you can even CALL it ‘guitar-face’ anymore. It’s in its own realm. It looks vaguely like if Bruce Lee were freeze-framed in the middle of some brutally intense karate maneuver and then plugged into a Photoshop filter set on “pinch/distort/KILL EVERYONE” and then the resulting .jpg was shown to a little baby fresh from the woumb, scarring him for life, the expression on that baby’s face would be like half as fucked as the U.G. MAN’s guitar-face.
Fifth band: some sort of intentionally-bad, not-trying indie-pop band who the less said the better.
After that we all went to the bar. The bar was just booty wack. Like 190 yen for sochu. Not bad. But they only fill the cup up ? the way. What the hell is that about? Who can get drunk on that? A LIZARD??? And they are equally stingy with the food. Luckily the woman I’ve never met before in my life but is now sitting next to me smuggled in a 4 gallon jug of sake and she gives me free refills. This despite the fact that I told her “anatano atama wa sugoi chisai.” (you have an astonishingly small head). The guy across from me starts yelling some inebriated gibberish and suddenly we’re talking about catfights. It turns out he works at the catfight shop. Jesus, does anyone in Tokyo NOT work at the catfight store? He’s screaming something about female wrestlers, and motion girl takes advantage of her spectacularly small size to dive under the table to safety. I start yelling in Spanish, no, wait, Japanese: “ha! You are a rabbit!” I swear I didn’t PLAN to be in the bathroom when everyone else was paying the check.
It was fun I guess . . . I mean it was DRUNK. But the people weren’t that cool or interesting. Perverted yes. But actual maniacs? I’m not so sure. After that, my supposed friends let me drive home drunk. Granted I was on a slow-ass bicycle, but I could still be gradually killed in slow-motion. On the other hand, how could they stop me? they can’t take my car keys. What are they gonna do? Confiscate my HANDLEBARS?? Threaten to rip the playing cards off of my spokes??
—- Japanese-version-of camper van Beethoven with Chinese fiddle and, in lower left corner, Chinese kazoo-clarinet thingy.
—- the band's set-list-cum-flowchart is way more interesting than watching them live.
—- also, note the decor. Filthy stuffed animals, Buddha next to miffy, next to Japanese flag, next to Ganesha, next to Tinky Winky. Oh, and what's that on the roof?
—- Japanese kids playing irish traditional music using speed metal instrumentation. Also, I forgot the band name.
—- Irish band's dancing girl with flaming ear. Look close.
—- my man, Proghore.
—- Irish guitarist. Next to him, is The Most Emo Kid In The Planet. Also, that is an exact replica of me at 15 years old.
—- U.G. MAN. The best punk I've seen in a long time.
—- BEST GUITAR FACE!!!
—- Here, deciding what face to make next. Also, rocking.
—- um, if you can't tell, art from the walls of the live house.
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