Thursday, 22 March 2007

03/19/07 - trace feast vol. 5 @ Shimokitazawa Club 251

by dokool

Music has the power to soothe many things - the body, the mind, the soul, and the ego, particularly after one has gone through a 2+ hour Japanese final on the same day.

It's with that mindset that I journeyed to CLUB251 on Monday night for an unusually inexpensive (1700 yen, incl. 1 drink) live show with an old favorite and some new surprises.


The Venue
CLUB251 is a basement livehouse located about a 5-10 minute's walk from the south entrance of Shimokitazawa Station, accessible via. the Keio Inokashira Line and the Odakyu Line. As with most livehouses, the bar (located just inside the main area) is the main chokepoint, but the band merchandise tables are in a square formation and are all pretty accessible.

It's a decently-sized place - much bigger than some of the dives I've been to and maybe a little below Shinjuku ACB Hall. I estimate there were 75-100 people there, with room for more. Video screens line the left wall (when facing the stage), and during intermissions they drop down a projector screen and show music videos of the bands that are performing. The stage is wide and has no guardrails, which means anyone can jump onstage (or jump offstage, for that matter). Crowd was definitely a mix of fans, mostly due to the varied lineup, but certainly skewed towards the night's headliner.


The Bands

The Bawdies - With their image (and musical stylings) inspired by the Fab Four (down to the matching suits and mop tops!) as well as other 50s-era doo-wop bands, these guys were the surprise act of the night for me. They performed a solid, energetic set that had their fan contingent (all female, many of them dressed to match the era) shimmying and shaking from start to finish. They even had their latest single printed on vinyl. Cheaper than the CD version, even! Gotta love it.

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Iro (pronounced Eye-ro) - Quiet, mellow folk-type band that would not be out of place in GARAGE or even Shinjuku Live Freak, but seemed so in 251. To be fair, their low-energy set contrasted greatly with that of the Bawdies', so they had that going against them. The crowd seemed to dig it, which is the important thing in the end. I ended up trashing half of my photos of them because there was so little movement so as to make them all look the same. C'mon, guys, stage presence!

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MOTORMUSTANG - Driving hard rock that verged at times on thrash metal. I couldn't tell you a single lyric that was sung over the course of the set, and you'd likely be hard-pressed to find someone in the audience who could. Oddly enough (given the makeup of the audience, see below) there wasn't a mosh pit at any time during the set. They chose the minimalist route for designing their stage lighting, which was incredibly frustrating for me as a photographer but I endured (mostly by taking very few photos - take that!).

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マーガレットズロース (Margaret Drawers) - Strange, I think, is the word I'd use to describe this bass/guitar/drum trio, and the name only has a little to do with it. Solid musicianship by a band that at times took itself either too seriously or not seriously at all. The lead singer (as well as his bassist) both went into self-induced convulsions at the end of their final song that hinged on seizures. Quite odd, but quite entertaining as well. Worth a second listen, in my opinion.

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The Cherry Coke$ - I first discovered TCC$ through someone's post to the Tokyo Japan LJ Community - I was not disappointed with them the first time I saw them (about two months ago at Shinjuku ACB Hall), nor was I on this night. TCC$ come from the same tradition as Flogging Molly, the Dropkick Murphys, and the Pogues (the latter is especially relevant - the liner notes for Rouse Up include a translated quotation from Pogues frontman Spider Stacy). All seven (!) members of the band are Japanese, but from their love of Guinness to their mastery of Celtic-inspired rock, you'd never know from simply listening to them. Excellent 10-song set that inspired the crowd to mosh and stage dive throughout, and after some encouragement the band came back on to perform their spirited version of Auld Lang Syne for an encore.

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Awesome show overall, well worth the trip and one more venue to scratch off my ToDo list.

Links:

My FlickR set of the show
CLUB251
The Bawdies
Iro
MOTORMUSTANG
マーガレットズロース
The Cherry Coke$

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