non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

Posts tagged “Nishie-Fuku JAM

Towards the Last Stop in the Line

It’s the start of the last week and we have just flown over the coast of Japan for the final shows of this trip. It’s been epic. Are we sick of it,? No. But are with sated with our lot? Yeah, we think so. It’s been incredible.

The week began in Seoul: two shows in the city and one at a festival on the island of Ganghwa.

The first show was a single bill performance, just us at the Hapjeong space of Mudaeruk, a two levelled cafe/exhibition/perfomance space that’s receptive to the more adventurous musicians around Seoul. It’s a small but super enthusiastic audience and feels like playing at party for friends. Kona, the venue proprietor, is very welcoming and offering us food and drink. She also invites us to taste-test her prototype kimchi fried rice. We think it works.


Something that has been really interesting to observe on this trip has been the frequency of connections women in the audience have made with Chrissie after the performances. During a show we witnessed their intense and attentive concentration on what Chrissie was doing and as soon as a show finished Chrissie would end up in big conversations as women asked questions and shared their own stories and aspirations.


Next up is a return to the Strange Fruits Seoul. We have played here before and had a great time and were very happy to return. It’s a four act evening. First up is Wifi Cellphone Kidz, a two-piece playing frantic and joyous pop music with rapid rapping over beats. 2nd is Maluihan. Beautiful melodic and expressive drumming with supports and communicates with the guitarist/singer. The songs are interesting, a brooding rock feel but composed using a local musical dialect that is particular to the singer’s cultural heritage. It’s an enthralling amalgamation. Next up GoryMurgy playing manic and frenetic tunes, high energy and antics and definitely uplifting. We round off the night and were entertained by the best interpretive dancing to our songs. Energy makes energy and one compels the other along. Following the show we go a few shops up the road, then down the stairs to complete the evening consuming kimchi and squash pancakes while downing copious quantities of the local alcohol and chewing over local politics.

 

A day off. Mostly we just crash. We’re both courting head colds and grumbly guts and the lack of sleep is taking its toll. Thankfully the schedule has room for a day like this.

After a large injection of sleep, we pile into our friend Ian-John’s car and make the two-hour trip up the road to the island of Gangwha to play at the Remember Love Camp Festival. The festival is located at a isolated location in the hills. It’s an annual festival, free to attend, promoted only by word-of-mouth and has a reputation for partying all night. It’s wide, all embracing line up of 40 acts of singer/songwriters, electronica, DJs, rock bands , noisy improv and bands playing well known classic Korea psychedelic songs. We play mid-evening and the party goes boom! A high dance party from kids to grand parents. It’s the first time we have ever had anyone breakdancing and twerking in the front row. Joyous!

Our friend Kaori from Tokyo is also playing. Her set is programmed as the last band before the DJ’s start. We spend the evening talking and drinking, watching the other acts and discussing the Tokyo leg of the tour. Kaori is the organiser of the Tokyo leg, produced a short split cd with us and her band Goofy18 will play with us on our last show. The evening rolls on. Staying awake seems less of a conscious choice and eyelids droop. Many are now sleeping in tents, we are in a hall sleeping on the stone floor. At 2 a.m we give in and get some sleep. Kaori is already there asleep. At 4am, we wake to the sound of Kaori’s roaring bass lines from the stage. We peel ourselves off the floor and head back to the field. And there is Kaori, lights, volume, dance moves, massive voice giving it her all prerecorded backing tracks. She rocks the small and engaged audience and we are totally impressed. It’s super exciting to see someone perform with such commitment and focus with so little sleep. It leaves us totally inspired! Such a powerhouse!

Returning to bed around 5 we rise soon after at 8am, and begin the journey back to Seoul to catch our outbound flight to Tokyo. In our heads, the journey will be a short one. The reality is less kind and we arrive at our accommodation just after 10pm.


To mark the beginning of these last three shows of the tour in Tokyo, we sit outside the Nakano backpackers, a cheap beer from the 7 Eleven across the road in our hands. This is the last week. The culmination of 14 months of preparation, planning, introductions, conversations, budgeting, problem-solving transport and connections. The city seems to breathe out with us. The sky flashes and roars, first with lightening then with thunder. There are intermittent-rising sirens of ambulances, or other emergency vehicles nearby. Slowly moisture tickles the skin and turns phone screens into prisms of rainbows. The flashes overhead continue. It’s humid and brooding. It’s quite lovely.

It’s great to return to Tokyo with a sense of familiarity. We reconnect with Kaori in Nakano, and catch a train to the first show at Club Doctor in Ogikubo. Four bands play, and it’s really nice to be in an environment where most of the performers are women. Two of the bands are new to us, the first called Height and the second named Channeling!!.

The final group is NA/DA. We played with them last time. In this cosy venue where the proximity of bands to audience is nearly nonexistent, their intimate performance captures the crowd.

One key feature of shows here is their early starts. It’s not unusual for a concert to begin at 6.30 and be finished by 10.30-11ish. Practical reasons influence timing. The need to catch a train home to some corner of this massive city.

Next day we meet with Kaori who wants to take us to Shinjuku, to the music shop that is carrying the split CD. It one shop in a seven floor building that is only music shops! One floor is avant-garde, another prog rock and another metal. So much music to thumb through! After that we gather our gear and head back to Nakano to Bar Aja for the second gig.

20190820_1447234526182381822584542.jpg

It’s our second time at Aja, and this is our penultimate show. A tiny venue in which 20 people would be a full house. The stage/music equipment area is greater than the audience floor space. So needless to say its a close, intimate and very friendly show in which all bands have two members only. Really nice as well to once again get to play with 5W1H.

The final day dawns and holds the final show. Today mirrors our last trip to Tokyo in which we play the pro-space of JAM in Nishiefuku. The line up is monster! Finally we get to see Kaori in Goofy 18, this time with a new drummer. Next is the mega awesome Electric Mongoose UFO Factory. Two kit drummers, a percussionist a tap-dancer plus bass, guitar and keys and sounds. A massive and impressive set, fantastic compositions, executed with significant skill.


HAIGAN the monster harsh noise/rock group came third. A new drummer gave the set a more of a rock feel rather than metal sound. Bombastic from the outset it is an unrelenting cascade of wall on wall of noise. 13 minutes into their set, one of the main singers, who at this point had been out in the audience writhing around, suddenly stops and appears distressed. Somehow in the swirl she has dislocated her right shoulder. The show pauses and rescue services swiftly arrive, from the Fire Department, and escort her to hospital.

The Devil and Libido explode onto stage refocusing the show after the previous singers public and painful experience. A duo of bass and drums playing complex hard rock tunes have the task of drawing folk back in. Mission accomplished.

Our turn arrives. Our full stop. It is a big, full sound on this impressive rig. The lights sparkle and all those still present are right there with us, 25 minutes of explosion and then its over! We loved that this was the show to finish on, that these people were here, that we felt among friends. We feel satisfied with our lot.

68678743_2454696184617543_8426830047838470144_o.jpg

Farewells scatter out, some at the venue, and then others in ones and twos as people who travel back with us by train leave at different stations. We are left on our own at Nakano around midnight. Weary, but sated, we walk back to the backpackers with our gear. Our final navigation will be in a few hours first to the airport, then across airspace, and finally around the bays of our neighbourhood to our small home on a hill at the edge of our small city.


Epilogue:

It’s over, and we’re back home in long sleeves and pants sitting by the fire. It sounds grandiose to say the last 12 weeks have been extraordinary, but it would be dishonest to call them anything else. We are left with some small artefacts collected along the way and a lot of photos. But most precious are the endearing memories of shared experiences of conversation, food, fluids and music. We are inspired by the energy and actions of many in their own environments working to make something happen, sometimes out of nothing. Everybody who has helped out and participated in any way, our deepest thanks and appreciation to you.

If you’re ever in Aotearoa New Zealand, hit us up!


First we take Waseda, then we take Nishie-Fuku

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.

DmqxbfMUcAASbEj

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.


Image

HELLo Tokyo, HELLo Seoul [archive]

Tokyo Korea draft2 poster.jpg

Huge thanks to Stefanus Endry Pragusta for the image for the poster… Awesome!

Tour Diary

Part 1: Nakano Rock n Roll
Part 2: First we take Waseda, then we take Nishie-Fuku
Part 3: The Han Joo-Slingshot-Nosebleed Drumroll
Intermission: Walk! This! Way! – Run DMZ
Part 4: Hongdae Homerun


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


So incredibly excited about the pending excursion into Tokyo and Seoul. Both will be new experiences for the sterile roadshow. Years ago when we returned home from our first central European tour we stopped off for a weekend and Ditzy Squall played couple of shows in Osaka and Kyoto, the sterile band at that time had found itself in a reorganizing phase. So super stoked that now its happening for real.

So firstly, MASSIVE thanks to Kaori, bass player for Goofy 18 [who we are playing with twice] from Tokyo, and Ian-John Hutchinson from Seoul for all the help and assistance in support us to make this adventure possible.

We met Ian-John when the South Korean experimental music collective Bulgasari recently toured New Zealand Aotearoa. We are looking forward to reconnecting with them on their home soil.

Tour Dates