Monday 30 November 2009


I recently discovered a very handy website called LiveHouse☆Map which shows videos of people walking to livehouses from the nearest train stations.
Livehouses are often difficult to find and the maps are hard to decipher, so if you watch one of these videos before you go to a livehouse for the first time, you should feel more familiar with the route. Remember, you can also check Google Street View too.
LiveHouse☆Map is in Japanese but isn't too hard to follow even if you don't understand the language.
It seems to have some connection with the pop band Cosmic Airplane whose music can be heard in the background of the videos. I think the guides are members of the band too.
There are currently guides to 67 livehouses and while that is only a fraction of the venues out there (for example, Tokyo Gig Guide lists 340 venues), it is quite an achievment and includes all the main Tokyo clubs. I have added links to them on the livehouse pages of Tokyo Gig Guide.

Here is my favourite video. It's directions to Fever, which is directly in front of Shindaita station. He just crosses the road!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday 19 November 2009

Lightning Bolt

Fever in Shindaita (one stop from Shimokitazawa) is a new and promising livehouse. A decent size, though sold out and jam-packed tonight, with a side bar outside the live area which you can escape to during dull bands. Before the show, lots of gig-goers were hanging around the front and the nearby convenience store drinking beer so let's hope complaints from neighbours don't have any effect on the place.

First up were legendary Japanese masters of noise Incapacitants who I was very excited to finally get the chance to see. Wow. Ever since I first came to Japan, I'd been wanting to see some real live pure noise music, and I have seen a lot of live noise since I've been here, but this, these guys, they are it. Two older guys with side parts, regular workers during the day, who have been making noise since the early eighties. There were loads of odd effects, feedback, sheets of metal, bizarre microphone-things, and the they were encouraged into further craziness by the fans at the front (mostly by Dave). I loved the guy on the right's (Fumio?) T-shirt with a crossed-out musical note printed on the front.

Ten people spread out across the stage for the next band, Surfers of Romantica, and they all looked like a hodge-podge collection of members of skate-punk, funk, rap, hippy, kraut-rock and jam bands. They ended up sounding heavily influenced by the last couple of Boredoms albums, but not quite as interesting. The songs never seemed to actually start and the singer did lots of posing but hardly acually sang. It was time to try some of the beer in the other bar.

DMBQ did their usual hilarious loud psychedelic rock 'n roll freak out with all the best rockstar poses and wah-wah solos. For the last song they managed to get the drummer and his drumkit on top of the crowd and actually play! Madness.

We knew that Lightning Bolt wouldn't be playing on the stage so we tried to position ourselves in a place where we would be able to see them, not knowing where they would set up. Somehow I managed to find myself directly in front of the drummer, spending the whole set struggling to hold the people back behind me and not fall onto the drumkit. All-out loud craziness. Sweat everywhere. They played songs from their new album, some from their old albums and lots I didn't recognise. Loads of energy and noise. Brian Gibson just stood there all nonchalant as he played wild sounds on the bass and banjo strings on his instrument through all those overdrive, octave, wah and effects pedals. Brain Chippendale went wild on his two snare, no high-hats drum setup being held together by the audience members in front of him.

I could hardly hear the next day.

Labels: , , , , , ,