Anyone who has ever been to the Harajuku precinct in Tokyo may have at least have some idea of what happens when Japanese youth culture absorbs and mutates Western ideas of art, music and fashion into their own forms and shapes – strange and wonderful hybrids emerge.
Adelaide audiences now know, first hand, what is created when a Japanese band meshes a predilection for a Ramones-styled sonic attack with an inhibition-free stage presence. You get a group committed to total sonic anarchy.
Legendary Japanese power trio, Guitar Wolf, despite having been on the scene for over 30 years, obviously do not like to leave anything in the tank.
Their music does not care for virtuosity, it is simply a means to achieving a state of mind. It is brutally loud, manic and relentless, with wave after wave of feedback. There are instruments being pounded against whatever surface is at hand.
The three members of the band, Seiji, Toru and Gotz, unite together with a primality that forces all to surrender before it. And their Adelaide audience did just that – dissolving into a writhing, sweat-soaked mess for the duration of the band’s full-on performance.
Bassist, Gotz, threw himself, still playing his instrument, high into the mosh on more than one occasion; riding on a sea of willing hands around the venue. Frontman Seiji followed, before dragging one audience member up onto the stage and having her thrash his guitar for an entire song whilst encouraging her to leap around in semi-unison with the band.
Whilst there were snatches of melodic familiarity amidst the sonic barrage – a primitive version of Summertime Blues was bludgeoned out at one point, for instance, and later there was an encore of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There that also emerged from the maelstrom of noise – the point was not to spot the riff, it was simply to surrender to the energy.
Guitar Wolf ratcheted up the energy levels to exploding point at this gig, and it proved impossible to resist.
Following this aural carnage, The 188.8.131.52’s delivered a more sedate, but nevertheless just as intense and cool a set as their raucous predecessors had done.
This was the second night in town for the band, and the set second time around was much more focussed and balanced than had been the case on night one.
Whilst much of the set was the same as the previous evening’s, there were more uptempo numbers to keep the crowd engaged and happily involved.
Guitarist and lead singer, Yoshiko, clearly enjoying herself, encouraged us all to join in with her whooping chorus of animal noises, revelling in the spontaneous and enthusiastic responses she received.
Bassist, Akiko Omo, formally dressed, and elegantly poised for most of the time, launched into occasional bursts of primal screaming, while drummer Sachiko Fujii, laconic and unexpressive, provided a relentless backbeat throughout the set, punctuated by some impressive aerial flourishes with her drumsticks.
Again, as with Guitar Wolf, old rock classics were hybridised to create new versions, and songs like Hanky Panky were reimagined as new surf guitar, power-pop juggernauts, as a result.
On the evidence of the last two nights, Adelaide has an insatiable thirst for Japanese alternative music and maybe promoters should look to bringing these bands and their peers across on a more regular basis.
Earlier in the night, Adelaide emo band, Superdose Gangway, gave the early crowd a well-played but, given the style and approach of the bands that were to follow them, a somewhat misjudged set of originals along with a Gwen Stefani cover.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 4 stars
Tokyo Jet Daze – A Japanese Punk Weekender, Night Two was presented on LVL5 at The RCC on Saturday 29 February 2020