gsj1977"s Profile Page

Monday, August 11, 2008

Silver Elephant 30th Anniversary Festival

After Saturday's exertions at Summersonic, I was shattered as I hauled myself out of bed and shuffled toward Kichijouji early on Sunday afternoon. The Sex Pistols were still ringing in my ears, and my feet and legs ached from all the drunken jumping about. Quite good exercise in retrospect. Stepping Stone was brilliant.

Anyway, Sunday was about heading down to Kichijouji, ostensibly to see Eddy who Graeme and I had seen before. This time I ate a hearty Milano sandwich in the smoking area of a local Doutours coffee shop, and then wandered about lost for a while. I discovered a large and inviting Book Off here, but didn't go in (too dangerous for the wallet).

The event was starting rather early at about 4 pm, and it transpired that the venue, Silver Elephant, was holding a party to celebrate 30 years of existence. And that we would be watching no less than 8 bands. And most importantly, 2,000 yen entrance came with not one but 3 marvelous drinks tickets meaning 3 beers set me back merely an extra 300 yen. Wonderful stuff.

And so I set up camp on the stairs, which is pretty much the darkest corner as you will know if you have ever been there. In fact, the place is pretty small and much of it could be claimed as corner, but still. I shuffled the usual pile of fliers and smoked some of the free cigarettes handed out the previous day by some bastards.

Soon enough Amazon kicked us off in straight-down-the-middle Indie territory. Shades of England's North West abounded and it was all very nice. Amazon, in short, were quite good, and seemed to have a couple of tunes. Actually the song "Thailand" is really nice - you can hear on the MySpace and download from the band's website.

And watch Amazon perform "Thailand" here, in one of my customarily poor-quality videos of the event.


Next we were treated to andymori who are very much a Japanese Arctic Monkeys. Now I'm a little circumspect with all this direct comparison stuff, but trust me on this - andymori are a Japanese Arctic Monkeys. Take a listen to "everything is my guitar" here and then tell me it ain't so:

But they were good alright. It was a very energetic performance from the guys, as you can vaguely make out in the video below (I move the camera after about 30 seconds so you can actually see the singer). Also pretty loud so you can't hear it very well! Ha. Serves you right for going to see Coldplay instead ;)

Clearly they have something of an asset in the singer, who gave a cracking effort in the Alex Turner role and was declared kakkoii by the announcer woman afterwards. So I would say this is a band with some kind of chance to become quite big.


The video of Eddy is much better, as I had moved higher up on the stairs for this gig. And happily, Eddy appeared to be much better too compared to last time we saw them. On that occasion, Graeme noted that the three-piece were proficient enough but not necessarily possessing of anything special.

Now converted to a two-piece a la the White Stripes, and with some of the previous widdling cut away, Eddy passed a pretty decent melodic pop-rock act and seem to have crafted a few more memorable tunes. I am slightly biased because I have been listening to some Eddy CDs since the gig and the tunes are really quite nice - that's for the forthcoming CD round-up though (I swear!).

So it was all good stuff by Eddy and I was quite pleased about that, and fantastic folks too for the record.


Now the 706X were a different proposition and they just indie-rocked and shouted. They seemed to me fairly similar to Asian Kung-Fu Generation which is no bad thing as I have a lot of that time for that band.

The 706X:

At which point we had watched 4 bands and generally that is your lot most of the time. But today there were 4 more to go.

Harvey wall banger were the most un-indie band I have been subjected to over the last few weeks. One wouldn't be surprised to see them entertaining the crowd in, say, a large shopping mall or... a wedding party, or something. Power ballads were the object of the exercise and the singer certainly possesses a fine pair of lungs as you will hear on the video clip.

harvey wall banger:

Barubora / ばるぼら looked like they were going to be a reggae or ska band, but they weren't. They just did kind of quirky stuff.


As you can probably tell, by this point I was almost losing the will to live and it is taking so long to write this blog that I am suffering similar effects. I wonder if I might have enjoyed Cutting Orchestra more had they been on first or second, but as it was I think I had stopped paying attention a little, this being the tenth live performance for me in 24 hours. They were the type of indie band who sound like The Fall on a rabbit-hurting mission.

[aside: I've just noticed a guy on the Bulgarian volleyball team called Gaydarski - brilliant]

Cutting Orchestra:

And finally we had Chabo Choppu / チャボ チョップ who were a lot more lively and woke me up a bit. Not that I can be bothered writing too much about them at this time of night, but they were a 4 piece all girl band with big personality singer and tasty guitarist. You'll let me get away with that, won't you readers? Readers? oh...

Chabo Choppu:

Monday, August 04, 2008

Euphoria @ Zher the Zoo, Yoyogi

My Bloody Valentine brought out only two albums.

Two records whose aural impact lies somewhere just past the point of defenestration, in the infinite moment spent assessing the drop onto concrete far below.

In 1988, Isn't Anything came out. I have only just downloaded this album today, curiously inversely-inspired by yesterday's bands. It is, clearly, quite brilliant.

In 1991 came the album Loveless with which I am more familiar. This record is a pure case of cover matches the sound - it's red and blurry and tastes of cherries. And it only sounds like My Bloody Valentine.

Yesterday evening at Zher the Zoo in Yoyogi, I avoided being thrown out of any windows, although my efforts at buying cigarettes from the machine surely annoyed the staff. However the shadow, or perhaps the cherry ghost, of MBV hung large in the air amongst the dry ice and the red strobe lights.

Zher the Zoo

First up Kamiyui came at us with the velvet sledgehammer approach - a wall of noise, conflicting, twisting and burning, vocals drowning an inch under the surface of the murk.

There is something here with this band although I sense a bit of subtlety still needs to be found, a little more melody perhaps needs to be coaxed out of proceedings.

Kamiyui website

Texas Pandaa took a different approach, being the slow-burn build-up and ghostly-voice method of shoegazing rock. This band were singing in English, with two female vocalists invoking a Sundays vibe whilst flanking a shoeless and animated lead guitarist. And they were rather good indeed - I would say there is more than a deal of potential in this band as they have written some nice songs and are clearly a marketable proposition.

The devil will be there at night, suggesting they toss "Loveless" to one side and become pop-rock superstars. The bank manager might also think it a good idea. But for now, Texas Pandaa are crafting a beautiful noise and that is the way we like it.

You will note that I chose to video the one where they had the lights turned off for the first half of the song but happily they come on half-way through!

Texas Pandaa website

I stood behind the big pillar that graces one corner of this (very nice) venue for a beer and cigarette and returned to my position at the bar as Silent Three Trees came on. All were wearing hats, and then they proceeded to be absolutely brilliant. And then, having been absolutely brilliant for two songs, the singer says "This is our first gig." Well, my jaw damn near hit the ground. It's not particularly easy to compare them to anyone (and they were the least shoe-gazy of the four), so maybe it's best to let the music do the talking:

Now Euphoria are a band I have been acquainted with through MySpace for a few years, and I keep going back to listen to the majestic "Silent Roar" which you can hear here:

Euphoria MySpace

It has just as visceral effect I think as say, oohhhh, "Feed Me With Your Kiss". Or "Like a Daydream" by Ride who must also be mentioned.

The vocals are kept to a minimum with Euphoria and the focus is on musicianship. In many ways they remind me of the mighty Longview less the vocal melodies. Euphoria do soundscapes, you know? Pictures in sound. I thought they were brilliant.

There is a bit of singing on this one:

A new album "Silence in Everywhere" is out now and the band will tour as follows:

5/9 Rock 'n' Roll Nagoya; 6/9 Club Jungle Osaka; 7/9 Urbanguild Kyoto; 18/9 O-Nest Tokyo; 20/9 Hook Sendai; 21/9 Sandanista Yamagata; 27/9 Colony Sapporo

Euphoria website

I picked up a couple of Cds, the double EP release by Kamiyui and one of Texas Pandaa's albums. I'm panning to review all these CDs at some point soon. But for now, just take a look and tell me if you notice anything:

kawaii desu ne ;)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Will Pieschel

We're lucky enough to have a talented colleague in my new office by the name of Will Pieschel. Will played a 3 hour set at the Dubliner's pub in Shibuya last Wednesday evening, and had a few folks dancing about the terrace in the process.

Quite a feat of performance to keep going for all that time. Highlights for me were Should I Stay or Should I Go, Wonderwall and a storming effort on With or Without You.

So if anyone is looking to book a more than capable performer for the evening, Will's your man. I'm not sure whether he does weddings and bah mitzvas, but we can always ask him eh?

Here's a couple of clips, with Will ably assisted by Clayton and another friend on the horns.

I went to see Euphoria tonight in Yoyogi and saw another clutch of top-notch bands, but the write-up will have to wait until tomorrow as it is getting a bit late.

Until then...