Friday, 10 October 2008

Radiohead Oct 5th @ Saitama Super Arena

I happened to have a ticket to Radiohead's show on Sunday but wasn't sure whether to go or sell the ticket. I had to think; do I really like Radiohead?
I remembered buying the Creep single on cassette when I was in high school and then copying Pablo Honey from the library. My mum is an aerobics instructor and used Creep in her classes! I had a look around and realised I had all of Radiohead's albums except that Thief one in some form or another. Was I a fan but didn't know it? Or was I denying it because I felt too indie to like a band that was so immensely popular? I decided that while I wasn't a huge fan, I did like them enough to go along to the concert.

Although I've been to countless gigs in my life, this, excluding festivals, was by far the biggest one I have been to. Saitama Super Arena was super enormous and from my seat the band was super far away and super small. Unfortunately, the big screen beside the stage wasn't utilised although there were some nicely directed live images of the band projected on screens behind them.

Before Radiohead, Thom's buddies Modeselktor came on to play an extremely short set which most people ignored. Sitting in seats watching DJs play 10kms away = strange. The Björk remix was pretty cool.

A 30 minute break before Radiohead came on allowed me to swill some beer from paper cups and try to join in the buzz of excitement passing throughout the crowd. Most of the audience jumped to their feet and cheered, signaling that the band had appeared on stage. By the time I stood up and caught a glimpse of them, they had already launched into 15 Steps from their latest album. After straining my eyes and regretting not bringing along those binoculars my mum had sent me for my birthday, I saw that the band were all wearing black clothes except Thom's bright red pants. Without much speaking except for arigatou, 15 Steps was followed by Airbag, Just and There There.

On one side of me were a bunch of very enthusiastic people from Hong Kong and on the other side were a couple who remained seated and motionless as if they were at the cinema. I thought about getting them some popcorn.

I had expected some big light show and pyrotechnics and all that, but there were no explosions and the light show was confined to the stage. Placed around the band were giant beams like organ pipes showing coloured lights. During the song Everything In It's Right Place, the word “everything” could be seen moving across the beams. For Idioteque, definitely one of the highlights, there were broken white bits of light like a crazy computer game. I tried in vain to take photos with my mobile phone as I hadn't brought my camera, thinking it might have gotten confiscated, but it turned out that cameras were okay. Not that any good shots could have been taken from so far away anyway. Idioteque was surprisingly followed up with Fake Plastic Trees. Another surprise they had played earlier was Myxomatosis. It seemed no way near being loud enough for the impact that seemed necessary for songs like the next one, Bodysnatchers. My ears weren't even ringing after the show.

A piano was wheeled in and out for some songs like All I Need, another highlight. In fact, a lot of the songs I enjoyed hearing the most were from In Rainbows. The guy next to me made a good point that they play their new songs with passion and meaning making their obligatory oldies sometimes sound a bit tired. They didn't play Karma Police or Creep, songs I regularly destroy at karaoke, but did play some hits like My Iron Lung and Paranoid Android.

Everything went so amazingly smoothly. The songs were carefully ordered to control audience tension and balance slow with fast, old with new, quiet with loud. I think there were two encores, though I couldn't tell if they were encores or if the band was just taking a break. Anyway the second encore was Go Slowly, My Iron Lung and How To Disappear.

In quite a buzz after the show as the thousands of fans streamed out, I found that I had quite enjoyed myself and was glad I had decided to go.

By the way, I don't have as amazing a memory as it seems; I found the set list here.

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Monday, 6 October 2008

tenniscoats & secai, d.v.d

tenniscoats and secai

saya and secai

takashi and secai

sayao-nest 29 sept 2008

This was a 'two man live' meaning there were only two bands playing, and that meant they could play long sets - a rarity in Japan.

I had been to O-Nest on the previous night and seen Jimanica play an amazing set, just him on drums and triggering samples from his kit. Tonight he was joined by Itoken and YMG who make up the unit d.v.d. In d.v.d, Jimanica and Itoken trigger visual samples from their drums, along with visual artist YMG on laptop and electronic toys. It's hard to know whether these guys are primarily a band or a digital art project. The music is a tight math-rock-like percussion extravaganza with digital sounds. Still managing to stick tightly together, they sometimes compete against each other with simple computer games like pong and pinball which are triggered by their drums and projected on the large screen behind them. At one point, YMG produced a Tenori-on and announced that he wanted to show Japanese technology to the Live From Tokyo documentary crew from America who were filming the show. I was surprised to see a musician actually using this toy live, though I suspect that Yamaha must have given it to them.

If you know me at all, you know that I love Tenniscoats.
Saya and Takashi Ueno make warm, japanese free-folk-naïve-pop. Saya, with her sweet if unconventional voice and analogue keyboards, and Takashi's original style of playing guitar, saxophone and all kinds of instruments. I've even seen him play the harp! Anyway, tonight he stuck to the guitar and the duo were joined onstage by another duo, Secai.
Secai are NSD and Dasman and together they make atmospheric abstract breakbeats (secai - mammoth mp3). Tenniscoats are known for great collaborations such as with Tape and DJ Klock, Saya with Nikaidoh Kazumi and Satomi from Deerhoof, and Takashi with almost everyone in the Japanese music underground.
With Secai, they've hit upon a beautiful combination of ambient sounds, beats, and the Tennsicoats sound. I was lost in their sound world throughout their long set of songs mostly from the new Tenniscoats & Secai album, causing goosebumps, goofy smiles and slow body-swaying from the audience. In the last song, Saya suddenly held the microphone out to Kiyokazu from Andersens who was standing in the front row and who tried to sing along with the song with help from Saya. It didn't really work out and Saya left the stage in a ball of embarassment. I was glad some of the usual charming Tenniscoats clumsiness could find its way into the performance.

A great interview with Saya can be found at Tada Music, where you can also hear their song 'baibaiba bimba' as well as a bunch of other good Japanese music.

Tenniscoats & Secai are playing again on October 28th.

Tenniscoats are playing this Thursday, October 9th with Tape from Sweden. Details.

Takashi is playing with Gutevolk and Kazumasa Hashimoto on October 12th and 13th.

He is playing with Ignatz and LSD March on October 27th and 29th.

Saya is playing with Mimura Kyoko on October 21st.


tenniscoats & secai

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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

miaou, jimanica, .plot, epic45

o-nest september 28th 2008










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