• Japanese Hardcore & Melt Banana

    28. Mär. 2007, 18:17

    Sun 25 Mar – Conquest For Death, Melt-Banana, Life, Fuck on the Beach, Gauze, Vivisick, Charm, UG MAN, Colored ricemen
    EARTHDOM in Shin Okubo is an underground club on a street running perpendicular to Meiji-Doori, the street that runs through Shinjuku. It's a Korean neighborhood with many restaurants and signs written in Hangul. I had an awesome plate of spicy Ika-raisu (squid and rice) just down the street from the club. The club itself is in a building with a free clinic (the kind you go to for VD cures) something I don't remember seeing in Tokyo before.
    I paid ¥3000 ($25 US, roughly) to get in plus a drink ticket. Not expensive by Tokyo standards. The first band to play, I think it was "Charm", blew my eardrums out and I was a bit concerned that by the time Melt Banana came on I would already be deaf. That turned out to be basically true. Even though I positioned myself away from the speakers for the subsequent bands my hearing didn't fully recover for almost 24 hours. Actually, I'm not sure it will ever fully recover.
    The show started at 5:30 and each band played roughly 30 minute sets. "Fuck on the Beach" (an unintentionally romantic name, if you ask me) was fronted by a man with a face as round as one of the chubby lucky seven gods found at temples around Japan. It was around this time that the pit claimed its first victim: a leather-jacketed punk crowd surfing was later seen bleeding from his head in the hallway. Ouch.
    Melt Banana was on by around 7:00 pm. There was a German couple, somewhere around my age, that clearly came to see them. Of all the bands that played that evening surely they are the best known outside of Japan. They played stuff from Cell-Scape and Charlie plus some I didn't know which I guess is from their forthcoming album "Bambi's Dilemma" (their song titles tend to be just as groan-inducing, they rock nonetheless).
    Yasuko O. expressed her gratitude and pleasure at being able to play in front of a full crowd (she did this in very polite and rather feminine Japanese which didn't surprise me). EARTHDOM is a pretty tiny place so this seemed a bit incongruous. Their set was far, far too short. Melt Banana was only a loose fit among the other bands: I wouldn't ever think of calling them hardcore. Didn't matter to me, of course. I loved them.
    Of the bands that followed "Gauze" really stood out. Robert from "Conquest for Death", the American band that headlined told me I should stick around to see Gauze and I think he was right. They were the band that most everyone was there to see. The crowd knew the songs and pumped their fists and screamed along at all the right moments. The area in front of the stage was the most calamitous I've ever seen although I have to admit never having been to a hardcore show before.
    I left after Gauze and before Conquest for Death which was unfortunate as Robert seemed like a nice guy. But I had a train I needed to catch.
  • Slayer at Lupo's

    17. Feb. 2007, 6:30

    Fri 16 Feb – Slayer, Unearth
    The opening act made me chuckle. One of the guitarists partook in a long slurp from a beer bong. Another twirled his axe above his head by it's strap. He looked like a drunk with a hula hoop. I felt like I was too old for this shit and started to wish I'd cashed in my ticket and gone to Sonic Youth, who are appearing tomorrow night, instead.

    Then Slayer came out. They started with "Disciple". It was gut-vibrating but the vocals were a bit low-key. I wondered if Tom Araya's voice was tired from touring or perhaps just age-worn. After the song the lights shone on the audience and Tom A. just stood there for a bit looking at everybody and quietly thanked everyone for coming seeing as how it was so cold outside and everything. I was pleased that he wasn't doing any beer bong hits or otherwise acting like a fool.

    The next few songs were tight and intense. Tom continued to look at the audience between every third song or so without saying much other than to introduce the next song. Still no beer bongs in sight.

    By midway through the set the band was kicking so hard and fast through both the new stuff like Supremist and old stuff like Raining Blood, the set closer, that it seemed the band had only been getting warmed up during the first half. Tom had no trouble screaming at this point and Dave Lombardo's drumming was devastating. I was sitting to the far right in front of guitarist Kerry King. I had no trouble hearing the details of his playing but Jeff Hanneman was on the other side of the stage and while the sound wasn't completely one-sided I couldn't get the same clarity in his soloing. Anyway, the precision of these four musicians playing as a unit was preternatural. I couldn't help but thinking that this was the real draw for me: these guys are just really, really good at what they do.

    "Angel of Death" was the final song in the encore. Dave's drum break in the middle was stunning. After they'd disposed of their instruments Tom, Kerry, and Dave came out and tossed guitar picks and drum sticks to the audience. I managed to grab a pick thrown by Kerry King. It made for a perfect ending to a pretty great show.