It a wonderful thing to wake in a new and unknown place, when you are there voluntarily and with willing. And we are both of those things
Our plan is to meet with Motegi, drummer for Goofy18, and to get lunch at a local udon cafe. It’s a short walk to the tiny, beautiful and bustling cafe where we wait in line outside till a table is free. When a space becomes available we find ourselves sitting looking directly into the kitchen where we can watch the kitchen staff all fulfill their role in the assembly of spectacular food. It does not disappoint. Afterwards the plan is an afternoon of slow mooching among the crowds of thousands. So we head back up to Nakano Broadway and meet a few more of Motegi’s friend. We go up and down the levels looking at all manner Manga and anime characters, interspersed with food, fashion and some freaky items. It’s a cool place.
The afternoon concludes and we must prepare for the next show. Soundcheck, or 30 minute rehearsal times as is the expected norm here, are tightly scheduled and ours is at 6pm in a bar in the Waseda district. Our soundcheck is at the end of the schedule as we’re the first band to kick the event off. So we part company with those at the markets and head back to the backpackers to gather all our stuff, then spin through the city towards Waseda to the venue on the trains.
Waseda RiNen is another underground venue. It’s been open about 6 months. We kick off the evening in usual fashion, it’s a nice explosive set. Its hard to gauge if a band like ours often plays at a place like this, but what we offer is enthusiastically received.
Next is Papalion. A psychedelic rock trio playing tight original compositions with a nod to the late 60’s, and at other times it sounds like a strong confident nod to the US band The Meatpuppets…at least thats what we think.
Following is Haiti from Limbo. A larger band, 5-piece, with a harder mid-70’s groove, however the drummer played with the attack of a committed metalhead – all power and mightily solid.
The last act for the evening is Danzetsu-koryu. They sound somewhere between a harder rock and roll monster, The Monkees and late 90’s grunge rock. The singer guitarist plays ballad-folk-like tunes and then collapses in to a wall of hearty riffs, a spritely bass player moves all over the fretboard and a powerhouse of a drummer smacks seven shades of shit out of the skins. Immense Fun! A pleasantly diverse evening of sound. We leave to the sounds of Leonard Cohen droning from the bar PA.
We amble back through midnight Tokyo to find a fast-food joint to eat hot chips on the footpath before rest. Waking to the last day, we collect ourselves and meet with Motegi again for more food before we make our way across town to the last show.
The venue JAM in the area of Nishie-Fuke is flash! Impressive P.A, super helpful stage staff, and the biggest venue to date. We will be the last of five acts.
Opening the evening up is Goofy18, playing to a room of friends. Kaori has been key organiser for this tour, and alongside these shows has orchestrated a battalion of takoyaki cooks for this night. Takoyaki are small round pan-fried balls mostly of octopus, but theres a selection of vegetarian takoy[less]aki as well, to be cooked outside the performance space – popular and delicious. Goofy18 set is hampered by some early technical issues with the bass, but the lack of sound is swiftly remedied and the party begins in full.
Second up is Haigan. A massive band, two guitarists, bass, electronics, drummer, trumpet and two vocals. A loud confrontation assault of improvised death-mental/grindcore/manic escalating wall on wall of noise and howls, screams, roars of vocals. A Boredoms 2.0. Frenetic and never static. It’s an intoxicating tsunami of sounds, except these are ecstatic waves and we feel fully exhilarated afterwards.
Next is the Electric Mongoose U.F.O Factory, a 6-piece unit with two kit drummers, a tap-dancer to add additional percussion, bass, guitar and electronics. A wildly impressive instrumental group playing tight, complex and insanely groovy tunes, the tap-dancer front and centre stage directing time-signatures to the band to respond to immediately, mixing up the 3s, 4s 7s, 5s and more.
NA/DA is forth is the line-up. Drums, gat/vocals, and cello. A darker gothesque brooding set. Trying to find references to describe what they sound like we come up with a reference point somewhere between the Cocteau Twins and Nine Inch Nails, maybe a bit of the repetition of a Philip Glass track, a sniff of Joy Division.
Then our turn. It’s a real pleasure to play on such top quality equipment. We plan a more assertive set given the context of some of the other acts. And it delivers, the new songs are really finding there feet and punch. Encore is also an order of the day, it’s a gleeful end to a short tour of Tokyo. Afterwards we meet loads of folk on the floor, we manage to sell almost all the quota of merch we budgeted for this leg. Then we have beer, and more Takoyaki, and many swift introductions and departures, but with the hopeful conversations that we will meet again mid-next year when we plan to return.
It’s late when we get back to the backpackers. We have to pack before grabbing four hours sleep before heading back to the trains to the airport. We need to be up early to navigate, and hopefully avoid the worst of, the ascend rush hour traffic. Next stop Seoul.
Massive THANKS to Kaori Ogasawara for the fine organizing,and to Motegi Su for sharing the lunch-times with us. We hope to see Goofy18 in NZ one day.
About one week after September 11, 2001, the band called mr sterile Ensemble, played it’s first show at Valve on Vivian Street, Wellington, using guitar, trombone and drum accompaniment to the poems of mr sterile. The Ensemble became the Assembly several months after this show, incorporating an evolving concept in the delivery of a musical, creative, and political ideas.
Stretching from a two-piece guitar and clarinet duo, to the wild seven piece including cello, trombones and rock band, playing a cabaret styled punk circus, to the jazz-skronk of stripped down drums/bass/guitar & sax, to the current refined two piece. The group has always diversified in sound-exploration, but the message has always been constant.
Now the group is a two piece, bass, drums and vocals. Always easy to identify via the considered and dynamic onstage identity, remaining assertive in sound, we feel some significance that at this tenth birthday we revisits its original core of two, after a decade long and epically adventurous journey.
It has been a moveable feast, a constant and circulating arrangements of instruments, personal, costumes, and sounds, leaving four audio releases, a book, and a bunch of other erratic merchandise and detritus in its wake. Debris scattered from Wellington, to the stages of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Java, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, & Mangaweka, the Assembly has entertained and amused, established connection and relationship, and entered into a global network of d.i.y creative and adventurous music makers.
On October 14 Friday, the mr sterile Assembly invites you to Happy, on the corner of Vivian and Tory to celebrate with us ten years of racket.
We would be honoured should you like to come along and entertain your evening with our celebration.
A massive thanks to everyone who has ever been involved over the last decade – performers who have added their creative energy, artists who have shared their vision, fellow bands and performers who we have played alongside, and all the folk we have met and chatted with along the way. It is a huge and wonderful list.
Sharing the stage with us this night are friends Nervous System, Jabroniz, +DJ P-Pants.
Entry $7 (unwaged/low-waged) $8 (better than minimum waged)
Kick off 9.30ish you know the drill
Come along, we are officially feckless teenagers!