Tokyo Damage Report

theatrical rock live:strawberry song orchestra, ryuuketsu blizzard, katsutori gakudan at CHOP

sunday february 20 , 2011, at ikebukuro chop

theatrical rock show put on by A La Mode magazine (who, if you're a long-time reader, recognize as the people who usually put on Gothic Lolita liveshows)

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1: gekijou guernica 場ゲルニカ

not very good art-rock with a whiff of emo. Too incompetent to be prog but plays with a sense of dynamics and bombast typical of prog.

best part? they had a Conductor. Baton and everything. Also a Para para dancer. The Bass is a mod? Huh??  Conductor jumped into the crowd and was all trying to conduct audience members but people just stared blankly. This made me think, though: What if there was a conductor pit? Like what if a bunch of knuckleheads with sleeve tattoos and batons started running in a circle while waving their little batons?

Their name means THE STAGE (as in theatre)  IS GUERNICA (a reference to the famous historical massacre). And  four different members sang. I asked if they played different roles, if it was like a rock opera they were doing. No. Apparently their reference to "the stage"was just fashion, not substance.


 

 

 

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band #2  : struggle A struggleA

Singer: looked like nina hagen, sang like Yoko.

Victorian hot-pants.

Japanese guy in Hitler costume taking pictures of same.

Much more serious / art and less glam/fun than most of tonight's bands. But that doesn't automatically mean they were bad!

Actually they couldn't play, but they did long songs with a one- or two-note repetitive tribal groove to it, so they turned their lack of talent into an asset. Everyone had hella echo, so even with only 2 instruments it sounded cool. All songs went like this: groove, noise, repeat.

Feedback guitar, throb tribal drums. Drummer – you can't see it in the pictures-  was wearing THE SAME EXACT OUTFIT as the singer PLUS A DEAD FOX AS A TOUPEE on top of her nest of hair.

 

I realized a thing during their set: Why is yoko Ono this chick that only ever gets made fun of but mike patton makes the exact same noises and he is a genius? Fuck that.

 

I wish they did surfin’ bird.

 

 

 

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Band #3 : ストロベリーソングオーケストラ

STRAWBERRY SONG ORCHESTRA

These guys have been going strong since the '90s. Their main influences are  avant-garde flamboyant theatre guy Terayama Shuuji, and the horror manga artist Maruo Suehara, and the whole Taisho era (1910s and '20s).

STRAWBERRY is  the main influence that other bands in this scene all copy. In the past – not that I've seen it – they put on full plays, spoken word events, spin-off bands where one of the characters in the play gets their own group for a one-time event, and other multi-media stuff, including a Strawberry baseball team. Like some Wu-Tang Clan shit where they sort of manufacture their own world.
 

Unfortunately this time, they didn't bust out with anything theatrical or any Japanese traditional instruments. They just put on a sort of generic visual-kei (glam rock) show.

The only “theatrics” were 2 cheerleader dudes – which used to be common in older days – called 応援団 (ouendan). Yes, dudes.


 

 

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and suddenly  . .. hitler salutes! I  have no idea. Their logo is four Ginsu knives bent into a swastika shape, with the kanji for "strawberry" in the center.

 

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band #5 – katsutori gakudann. 霞鳥幻樂団

 literally "hazy bird phantom music squad"

Best costumes of the night: basically a Rennisance Faire of all Japanese history. The banjo player (?!?) mixed samurai clothes with Yankii ('80s juvenile delinquent) styles. The shamisen player was a geisha in drag, the accordionist was an Eduardian-era foreigner with a skull, the drummer was a  lady in a Chinese-looking ramen-shop-worker costume, and the bass was a normal looking guy who kept playing “number of the beast” between songs!

 As you might imagine, this band does heavy versions of folk songs.

First song was really heavy Japanese melody, but the rest of their repitoire was light-hearted and western scales, even harmony iron maiden-style bits played on shamisen and banjo (the guitar was only rhythm). The songs mostly sounded Irish more than Japanese. . .More like flogging molly or dropkick murphys than anything else, despite costumes! Wild!

 

 

 

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band #6 – 120 minute sandwitch.  サンドイッチで120分

Matching wwII army uniforms with dr-seuss wigs.

Logo is Japanese flag with "puke" written on it.

Vocalist skipped in a circle round stage literally the entire time. As if he was chasing a monitor to put his foot on it but it kept running away.

Worst band. Not only were the Drums and synths pre-recorded. . .but even the vocals were milli vanilli style. 

 

 

 

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band #7 – blood blizzard 流血ブリザード 】 (ryuuketsu burizaado

Judging from their picture, i thought this   was going to be dumb visual glam band, but  turned out to be the most theatrical band of the night!!

Not in terms of costumes or strawberry-like attention-to-atmosphere, but in the  nuts-and-bolts way of actually having characters, a plot, a resolution, and etc.Basically they recapitulated the entire plot of This Is Spinal tap. Halfway through the set they broke up: Everyone went solo. and did solo songs one after the other. . .

 

The bassist did a vicious gakt parody, the guitarist did k-pop, the drummer came out doing some anime theme song and stripped naked. They all stopped their songs halfway through because they realized that they sucked.

 

Band reunited in order to do what they did best : throw much maxi-pads into the audience.  Then more guys got naked and threw sandwitch bread and condiments at the audience. Naked food fights erupted as the band members dived off stage and chased each other around the audience squirting mayonaise and ketchup at each other. Then the drummer ran and dived chest-first onto the concrete floor, and slid 15 feet on a lubricated trail of condoments.

 

After that, the finale: a show-tune.

Their songs hinted at punk, as well as bad metal, knuckle-dragging bosozoku hard rock, and a religious worship of X Japan.

My friend is working on a book about Japanese rock, and he said that one of the things he learned was ,Japanese don’t have that indies-vs-majors hatred like in west. These blood blizzard fellows seemed to really like street-punk, glam, and pop, but take none of them seriously, and kind of acknowledge that they weren’t real or good enough to excel at any of them. Their lack of "realness" made it possible for them to have fun playing around with different genres, which they WERE good at.

 

 

The bassist was hella bosozoku chick but post-apocolyptic style with Doctor And The Medics hair (?!?) and "hooker" written in sharpie on her ass cheeks.

 

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the guitarist was Road Warrior with gangster tats.

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above: the drummer put a lit firework in his mouth and  ran around with it.

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below: condoment fight.

below: the epic 15-foot condoment slide.

below: the encore – a broadway show-tune karaoke number!

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7 comments Tags: , , , ,

7 Comments so far

  1. tt June 13th, 2011 6:02 pm

    Where but in Japan can you see gigs like these?

  2. sephim June 14th, 2011 6:18 am

    I know, huh…

    I think it was summed up best with – "Japanese don’t have that indies-vs-majors hatred like in west. These blood blizzard fellows seemed to really like street-punk, glam, and pop, but take none of them seriously, and kind of acknowledge that they weren’t real or good enough to excel at any of them. Their lack of "realness" made it possible for them to have fun playing around with different genres, which they WERE good at."
     
    The majority of bands around the world are more concerned with copying already famous acts and trying to get that "contract" or make "money" than trying to do something different.

    I am often inspired (until my apathy kicks my ass with a "fuck that") to come up with ideas of crazy shit based on what I'm reading here. For instance, a musical about deaf people where all the songs are done with no music, completely in sign language where the actors do all that flailing arms/jazz hands Broadway musical dancing shit…

  3. tt June 16th, 2011 1:21 pm

    But in Japan, people actually sit down and write and rehearse that thing, sew the costumes and book a venue and perform crazy stuff like that in front of an audience, and the audience laps it up. Why isn't that possible anywhere else?

    (For one thing, Japanese rock bands don't have street credibility to begin with, they have nothing to lose. And then, the record labels aren't really patrolling the streets, looking for the next big thing or a decent copy of the last big thing, your band will probably not be your career, so you might as well have some fun. But I don't believe that's the whole explanation; I want at least two more good, solid reasons.)

  4. sephim June 16th, 2011 10:23 pm

    While not exactly groundbreaking musically, there's GWAR.
     
    And to a lesser extent, Green Jelly.

  5. admin June 25th, 2011 12:30 am

    @sephim, @ tt: exactly! why in Japan is rock opera a normal(ish) choice for a band? I’m working on it! I’m working on a whole separate website about theatrical bands but not done yet.

  6. […] WEB . . . : wikipedia, http://www.kagamimachi.com/main.html, myspace TDR REPORT . . .: HERE […]

  7. uREKSA August 3rd, 2013 8:24 am

    >the epic 15-foot condoment slide
    this is probably never going to eclipse anything I will ever see in my lifetime

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