Go to the Ghost of Nonfiction

[PV] susquatch - Ghost

A song off the relatively recently released full-length album "In This World" by the indie rock band susquatch. It's their first full-length, but the band already shows an incredible amount of depth in their music. Blending the musicality of post-rock/shoegaze and the airy and reflective tone in their vocals ultimately creates a sound that reminds me of other post-emo bands such as the defunct Bluebeard. So, if that tips your fancy, I recommend checking them out.

Yeah, a bunch has happened since my last entry. So much so, that I'm not fully confident that I can tell all of it properly in the limited amount of time I have to make this entry. (Technically, I'm supposed to be working on my final papers/midterm I still haven't handed in yet. But you know how that went obviously.) Anyways, I've gone to two different concerts since the last post. I'll start with seeing lostage on the finale of their tour for the recently released album "GO".

I'm not going to lie, lostage was pretty average to me. CLUB QUATTRO was a pretty nifty venue. The sound was pretty nicely set-up. The only complaint I have in regard to the venue is that the drink menu leaves something to be desired. I ended up going with a couple of kids from my program and, don't get me wrong, a good time was had by all. But, even though lostage played a lot of the songs that I liked from their recent releases such as "SUNDAY" and "Bonyuu", something felt missing from the performance. Then, I realized what it was.

Most of the songs that lostage ended up playing were from "DRAMA" onwards. I spend a good portion of the show, waiting/hoping for the band to push back a little further and perhaps play a song like "TELEVISION CITY" or to even a song like "DIG", which would be quite fun and energy-filled. But, it never happened. This ended up making the whole performance sound really..."same"-y. I mean, there were cool moments like bassist/vocalist Gomi Takahisa doing some stage diving. But, overall, the hard-hitting energy that drew me to lostage in the first place seemed absent. I mean, I guess I should have seen it coming, seeing as even though "GO" had some really nice tunes, it wasn't really all that hard-hitting either. Oh, by the way, I totally witnessed other gaijin besides me and my friends at this particular show. And, one of them totally took pictures of the band on stage with her cellphone. (In Japan, in most cases, you're not allowed to take pictures at live shows.) Needless to say, I was pretty peeved that she was doing it, getting away with it, and that I had no chance in hell to get away with it if I tried. Being Asian in a predominately Asian country can really suck sometimes.

Okay, onto Base Ball Bear at their show dubbed "Hibiya Nonfiction". I actually was kind of really late to this show, just making it in time before it started. But, I have to say that even though I didn't really have time to enjoy the view of the park so much as I was running to the venue, Hibiya Park is really nice. If you didn't know, the live took place at the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall, which is in the middle of Hibiya Park. Well, I eventually made it and I have to say it was ridiculously packed. This shouldn't have come to that much of a surprise, seeing as how Base Ball Bear is the most famous band (at least in Japan) that I've seen during my time here. But, I kind of wish I had made it there earlier so I could have gotten a better view. Either way, I've definitely never seen so many Japanese people doing the whole "synchronized pointing" thing at once. The band went through most of their hit songs and some older ones such as "YUME is VISION". They also played some new songs. (As in unreleased songs.) It was definitely fun to see them live. I was also able to get a view gifts for friends back home. Unfortunately, I decided to leave just a little early, so as to make it back at a reasonable time. So, I only was able to catch up to the second encore, which was pretty cool. Ended with "Matsuri no Ato".

Anyways, thus ends my experience with concerts in Japan. It has definitely been a pretty cool experience going to shows here. It should make for a good final paper for my Popular Culture class. (That's right, I'm writing about all this stuff for an academic paper. Kickass.) Hard to believe I only have about 2 weeks left here. But, it should be a fun time, at least after all my work is done. God only knows when that is going to happen.



Curly Ecstasy in the Mashed Machine

[PV] mothercoat - Curly Mash

Newest song from the indie rock band mothercoat off their first full-length album "Patchwork Shiki". The only other song that I've listened to from them was "galileo" off of the album "interphone", so I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to hear this one. It is much more of a playful and quirky indie pop song that borders on experimental/post-rock. It really reminds me of the song "STROBOLIGHTS" by SUPERCAR. The tone of the music carries through into the video as well, which is nice.

Apologies for the lateness in updating. It's been tough finding new things to post on. Plus, it's been getting kind of crazy busy with all the midterms and the upcoming finals. Ugh. Anyways, I'm sure some of you are wondering how my "ECSTACY IN THE MACHINE" show went. It went, um, swimmingly? Yeah, even though I had a paper and a presentation to do the following day, it's probably the most at ease I've felt at the Japanese concerts I've been going to. And by at ease, I mean not feeling totally awkward while desperately trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing.

In any case, LIQUIDROOM was nice as usual. A funny moment in the beginning was when Ahito Inazawa (the frontman of VOLA) made his way to the DJ booth to run it for a bit and, when people noticed it was him, all of girls got crazy excited and practically bum-rushed the booth. It was kind of funny to see how even Inazawa has rabid fangirls. It really seemed less of actual DJing though, and more of "Inazawa picks random songs he likes and he dances to them. If you like them, you can dance too". But, yeah, eventually, the opening band you're gold, i'm pink made their way to the stage. Can't say I really liked them at all. It was cool that the band had a bit of variety in their instruments. But, they had too much of a unrefined pop sound that ended up reminding me of a Hanson-type band that depends far too much on their looks and their soft and whiny harmonies.

After you're gold, i'm pink finished their short set, Riki Kinoshita from ART-SCHOOL had his turn on the DJ booth while VOLA set up. It was pretty much the same thing as when Inazawa ran the booth. But, I thought it was pretty awesome that Kinoshita picked both "SUNDAY" by lostage and "Coin Laundry" by OGRE YOU ASSHOLE during his DJ session. I was pretty into those two songs. Anyways, eventually, VOLA started their set. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed. I know this is going to sound bad, but I really dislike it when bands just play new songs and don't play any of the songs that they are known for. It leaves me trying to listen to the new songs and not getting into it as much. It didn't help that I wasn't really liking the way the new songs were sounding. There was way too much of Inazawa just dancing and not enough of the delicious twin guitar licks of the past. The one saving grace was that the set was started with "self-defense" moving into "An imitation's superstar". The closing of the set with "Mexico Pub" was pretty awesome too. But, seriously, no "A communication refusal desire" and no "Principle of machine" made me sad.

As I had that long paper and presentation due the following day, I decided that it would be best if I had left after VOLA. My sincere apologies to those who were interested in seeing how ART-SCHOOL was. But, anways, onto the crazy concert week that includes Base Ball Bear, lostage, and possibly even more. Yay. (Also, onto finals. Boo.)



Young Version OH OH


PV for the upcoming single "Young OH! OH!" from Japanese new-wave stalwarts POLYSICS. It's definitely pretty standard affairs from them, which, in this case, isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. The song has everything people have come to expect from POLYSICS: high-energy and infectious tunes. The video is also pretty standard POLYSICS with absolute fun randomness. I actually saw POLYSICS perform this song live at Hibiki Rock Festival last month and I have to say it was pretty awesome.

Last night was version 21.1. And now is the review. It was pretty different than what I was expecting. First of all was the absolute size of it. I've been to STUDIO COAST a couple of times now. Not only were there three separate waiting sections, but I also have to say that the stage floor and the upper decks have never seemed that packed to me before. It was definitely comparable to Hibiki Rock Festival in terms of size, and that show had at least eight bands. This one had only the three and a DJ, which leads me to the other difference. This was my first show where a DJ was present. When I finally got in, I really was surprised to find there was already music playing in the stage area. DJ HIROAKI MAEDA ultimately got to do his thing in between bands, which was awesome in filling up the break-down and set-up time.

The first band that went on was Sakanaction. I really have to say that, after experiencing them live, I have come to the conclusion that their music has to have been strongly influenced from the club scene in Japan. There were many times where I felt like I was in a Shibuya techno club. The opening with the song "Ame(B)" really hammered that point home for me. The crowd was definitely into as well. I've never seen that many people doing the seemingly everyplace synchronized jumping. It seemed like the entire crowd floor was jumping. This really surprised me, seeing as how I had thought Sakanaction was the least well-known out of all the bands on the lineup. The band really ended up impressing me, both in terms of crowd appeal and stage presence.

OGRE YOU ASSHOLE was up next, and I have to say it was a bit disappointing. Before giving people the wrong idea, getting the chance to finally see this band live was definitely awesome. The band brought a lot of their hit songs, kicking their set off with "Coin Laundry" and playing others such as "Flag", "Shiranai Aizu Shiraseru Ko", and "Pinhole". So, I can't say I was disappointed in this regard, although I was kind of hoping for other songs like "Mata Ashita" and "Omajinai". But, maybe because their music isn't very dance-friendly, the energy of the crowd seemed to have died down a bit. I do have to say though that the announcement that they were in the middle of recording seemed to have gotten a good response from OYA fans, including myself.

the telephones ended up closing out the show. And I have to say they couldn't have done a better job with that. Starting off with the infectious and VERY dance-friendly "Love&DISCO", it quickly turned into a ridiculously fun and very interactive set. My personal favorites were "DaDaDa" and the closing with "urban disco". Keyboardist (and cowbell player) Okamoto Nobuaki really stood out as well for his extremely manic onstage dancing. The band apparently also had an encore after their set, but, to be honest, I was just way too drained to stick around for it.

So, yes, version 21.1 definitely ranks as the best show I've gone to in Japan so far. Not only did I get to see three awesome bands and have a great time, I also got an awesome free sticker out of it as well.



Eyes In The Darkness of Crazy Amounts of Work

[PV] BUDDHISTSON - Eyes In The Dark

One of the songs off the impressive album "SLOWDANCE -wisely and slow, they stumble that dance fast-" that was released by BUDDHISTSON earlier this year. It had been a few years since BUDDHISTSON's last release, so I suppose the slight shift towards a more pronounced heavy distortion in the guitar shouldn't surprise me that much. But, for the most part, both the song and the rest of the album keeps the main core of BUDDHISTSON's sound the same and strongly focused on the airy vocals of lead vocalist/guitarist Shima and an overall light and reflective atmosphere in their music.

Let's see, the past week has gone by pretty crazily. It seems I won't be going to the pillows show. I went to pick up tickets about an hour and a half after they went on general sale, but apparently, they were sold out. I'm still going to try and see if I can still make the show and at least check it out the day of. But, man, I can hardly believe how quickly that show sold out. It seems that the pillows are much more popular here in Japan than I had expected. Still, looking forward to the rest of the shows that I'm going to though, so it's not an earth-shattering problem. Looking forward to the OGRE YOU ASSHOLE/Sakanaction/the telephones show that is coming up this Saturday in particular. Expect a concert review for that coming up in the near future.

Besides that, other crazy things have happened. I randomly bumped into John at Roppongi while I was meeting up with Wesley for lunch. It was pretty cool seeing both of them. Also, work has really been piling on as of late. Right now, I'm supposed to be writing the first draft of a 3 minute presentation that's due tomorrow for my Japanese class. Also working on a huge skit that my whole class has to present to the whole school in a week. I also have a midterm coming up for my Japanese Popular Culture class coming up on Friday. After that, I have a pretty sizable midterm paper for my Japanese Urban Society class that's due next Tuesday. And then, I have a presentation on Japanese jazz that I have to make for my Popular Culture class for next Friday. And then, a few weeks after that, I have finals. And then, I'm done. CRAZINESS.



Black Markets and Blue Seas of Okinawa

[PV] 9mm Parabellum Bullet - Black Market Blues

Newest release from the increasingly popular melodic hardcore punk band 9mm Parabellum Bullet. It doesn't feel like too long ago that I first discovered this band when they were just coming out with their first mini-album "Gjallarhorn". But, the band has definitely grown a bit since then, perhaps a bit more so in popularity than musically. Still depending largely on their hard-hitting yet still infectious riffs and impressive overall raw energy, the band can draw connections to similar acts such as THE BACK HORN. However, with this new song, I have to give some credit that the band is trying to deviate at least a little bit as the song manages to create a slight salsa feel if you want to stretch it.

Yeah, first of all I have to apologize for the lateness in the posting. The week has been a bit busy since I got back from Okinawa. And I have to say that the Okinawa trip was definitely worth it. It would be really hard for me to go through everything that we did in this one post, so I guess I'll just talk about what I thought were the highlights of the trip were for me. All of the food that we ate was really nice. Getting the chance to play a sanshin (the Okinawan version of a Japanese shamisen) was a real treat for me too. I really was having way too much fun fooling around with it, while everyone was learning the song we were going through. Very tempted to purchase one, but it was really just too expensive. (Even more so than the guitar I bought.) Visiting the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium was also really awesome. I don't think I have ever seen a fish tank as impressive as the main one that can be found inside that aquarium. Getting free time on Kokusai Street was also really nice. I have to say that overall though, spending time on the amazing beaches at Okinawa was definitely the real highlight of the trip. Definitely a nice break from the city life of Tokyo.

Oh man, part of me can't believe that it's already June. I only have about a month and a few weeks left in my program. With that said though, work is definitely piling on as many of my classes are in that midterm period. The one positive I could probably take from June is that it is the month where I am going to the most concerts. I am currently planning on going to a grand total of 5 shows over the course of this month. Actually planning on going to 3 on the last week of the month too, which will be really nice. Pretty damn excited about all of the shows I'm going to as well...

6/13 - version 21.1 (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE, Sakanaction, and the telephones) @ STUDIO COAST
6/24 - SYNCHRONIZED TOUR (the pillows, The Pees) @ CLUB QUE
6/26 - GO TOUR (lostage) @ CLUB QUATTRO
6/27 - Hibiya NONFICTION (Base Ball Bear) @ Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall

Yup, June should be a fun month when I'm not getting my ass kicked by work.