Monday, November 24, 2008

Triple Header

I'm tracing my bout with food poisoning back to a sushi shop I ate at last Tuesday night before the Ruby Room open mic. Early Wednesday afternoon, I met a Yale friend for lunch. Not long after we parted I could feel that I was coming down with a fever.

Earlier in the week, I more or less promised both Kei and Akko that I would be at their bands' shows on Wednesday night. Additionally, Yugo was planning on doing a show with his wife, Mikko, at Diglight on the same night. I couldn't miss that one either. Shino from the Tokyo Symphony would probably be there and I had to thank her for the ticket (read a few weeks ago) and I had to thank Yugo and Mikko for taking me hiking, and maybe Tatti would be there too... In short, I had three shows I felt obligated to go to on the same night. Fortunately for me, they were all a few hours apart from each other. Not too pretty for the pocket change situation but at least I was on the guest list for Akko's group.

In the beginning of the week, I was solely worried about scheduling. Ironically, as soon as that issue resolved, the main problem became my health. I was starting to feel quite feverish so I took off from Ginza where I met my friend, went back to Ikebukuro, and napped for the rest of the afternoon. When I awoke I decided I might as well go out. I felt a bit better and it didn't seem all that great of an idea to be boarded up in my apartment all night. In retrospect, I'm not sure if it was a good decision or not. It was after I went to bed that night when I really started getting sick...

Anyway, back to the Triple Header, what you really wanted to read about.

Up first was Kei's band, Bankin Garu, playing in Higashi Shinjuku. I had seen most of the guys around the Ruby Room scene these last few weeks and their rock act was every bit as awesome as I expected. The band mixed between divergent moods in a way I haven't seen before. At times they were sensitive, with the lead singer belting lyrics and gently strumming his acoustic to J-Pop Rock harmonies. At other times they were straight ahead hard rock, with Kei taking a step forward and firing away with his custom made stratocaster. Perhaps the coolest surprise in their bag of tricks was their bass player who had more than a few super-funky slap solos up his sleeve. I've seen quite a few rock bands use a slap bassist, but none as tastefully integrated as Bankin Garu. It is definitely an asset for the group.

I would tell you more about their final few songs, but let me go to another show sometime when I don't feel like balls. I think my impressions will be more perceptive.

As soon as they were done, I was off to Yugo's set at Diglight, luckily 15 minutes up the street.

If you want know more about Yugo's music, read the entry titled, "Causality: Part I." I do have one thing to say though.

I wrote in an earlier post about how the Japanese are often categorized as talented 'immitators'. After all, I find myself as far away from America as possible, but here I am listening to all kinds of great American music. I think Yugo does well to break this stereotype. He opened his set with his own down-home porchside solo version of Ray Charles' "Georgia". I have to say his understanding and utilization of the song's harmony was far more profound than most Americans I've seen. I was positively mesmerized.

When I first met Yugo, he told me about touring in the American Deep South. He said that some of the older musicians he was playing with gave him a lot of grief. He thought it was because they were ashamed to be upstaged by a foreigner. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

Last up was Deaf. On the subway to Shibuya I was really starting to feel it. "しようがない" I kept telling myself which means sometime roughly like "tough luck" and "suck it up". The warm air from the Ruby Room did make me feel better though. I had just enough energy to make it through the night. Read all about Deaf's set from my last post.

Okay. I'll stop torturing myself for the sake of music. I honestly thought it was just a passing fever on Wednesday. The food poisoning thing wasn't till the next morning...

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