Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deaf Night (Finally Reviewed)

Finally, my long promised review of Deaf Night. Check it out!

I showed Akko the pictures I took of her band, Deaf, a few weeks ago, and she was really impressed. She told me she was hosting an all-night music event in Nishiazabu and that I should come and take pictures. The event was the 10th installment of Deaf Night, an all night party with a lineup of DJ's and rock bands scheduled from 10PM till dawn in Nishiazabu's Colors Studio. Like Sleeping On The Dayshift, Deaf Night was attended by the who's who of the Ruby Room scene. Between acts, I was hanging out with guitarist Jerry (who it turns out is endorsed by Fender), Kiyo who spins dub under the moniker DJ Smokiyo, and a host of other friend's and acquaintances from around town. There were tons of people in the audience I recognized but hadn't talked with before. Some of them kept eyeing me and were probably thinking, "I've seen that freakish Gaijin before..."

Being on the guestlist had its perks and downsides. Akko didn't hesitate to let me know that she let me in for a reason. Whenever I was standing around, she would come up to me, hold her hands up, and snap a few imaginary pictures. She was fairly stressed out running around and keeping everything in order and I could sympathize having run quite a few big shows myself. Anyway, I got the message and took tons of great shots. It's cool that my photos are gathering some attention but next time I'm definitely charging a fee.

First up was Kovsuke, a songwriter from Kyoto. Accompanying his guitar strumming and calm music was a video installation put together by his friend. On stage, his music was soft and his presence was shy and reserved, but it served the low key atmosphere well. The night was just beginning and he left a little room for things to grow. Later on, well past midnight, I saw Kovsuke kick up his boots a bit and get into some of the other acts. He has an international background and a cool dynamic. He also does Brazilian Capoelia which from my perspective gives his music a bit of a tropical flavor.

Next on the roster was Allies and Aces, an intense heavy metal/hardcore band. These guys certainly looked the part. The singer had chains and flannel and the lead guitarist had shoulder length hair, tight jeans, and a flying V guitar. Both of them also had monster chops. (I am always one to appreciate good sideburns.)

As I experienced yet again after their set, if you go up to the grungiest of Japanese rockers with full-on tattoos, leather, and metal studs, and tell them you liked their music, the will bow with the same humble pride of a Japanese grandma. I still get a kick out of it.

Up next was Android Beach Party, a band with gaijin on guitar and drums, and a Japanese on bass. Hands down, they had the quirkiest music at the event. Their lead singer, Chris, was like a punky David Byrne with a Zappa-esque sense of melody. One of their songs was particularly memorable, "Gamma Ray, Gamma Ray, Take me far, far away." It was from this tune that I started to get their music, but the track suddenly ended just as it was getting good. Most of their songs were short and quirky, rather than fleshed out, but judging by their stage presence, that was definitely the vibe they were going for.

In the front line, Android Beach Party had some serious musical ability. Matching Chris' unique sense was the Japanese bass player who is actually an instrumentalist in the Tokyo installment of Blue Man Group. After the show, he was eager to prove it to me when he pulled out his camera and showed me a photo of his head in full on blue facepaint. On the other hand though, the drummer was a bit sluggish and stiff. I think they would have been better off if I jumped in for a bit.

Like Allies and Aces, my camera was finding the next band, Triol, just as photogenic. The lead singer had a knit cap and leather jacket, as if The Edge from U2 turned Japanese and joined The Ramones. The bass player, Jun, is a Ruby Room regular, and I must say, for being in his early 20's or so, he has a sick handlebar mustache. Of course, Triol wasn't all looks. They had some sick straight ahead rock music to back up their visual vibes. I know I'll be seeing them again.

It was well past 3AM by the time Deaf took the stage. Since Akko arranged the event, she had a great following waiting all night for her to play. While Ruby is significantly tinier and more intimate, Colors Studio has a way better sound and lighting system, which in turn was a really good match for their ambient and noisy style. The colorful lights were turned low and would slowly morph as the music progressed. The lighting at Ruby, in contrast, is always...how can I say...well, just ruby.

Backtrack a few posts to find out more about Deaf. One of my friends said they are the most attractive band in Tokyo. I thought the comment was a bit sexist, but I appreciate the point since it is always cool to see girls in rock bands. Female rock musicians are quite literally outnumber at least 10 to 1. Unfair considering the prowess of some of my favs; Pat Benetar, Stevie Nicks, etc...

Appropriately, the last band scheduled for the the night was Sleepy Head. It was pushing dawn when they plugged in and we were all holding our eyes open. I'm pretty sure this wasn't irony since their music is a mix of ambient sound and shoegaze rock, a vibe well matched to the daze I felt for having stayed out all night.

They are well matched to do a set with Deaf. Both groups play the same style of rock but fill different niches. Deaf's pieces are generally minor mode and sparse while Sleepy Head utilizes denser layers of major mode harmony. The flowing sonic texture of good shoegaze music is truly intoxicating.

All allegiances and middle school truces aside, Sleepy Head was the best band in the lineup. Indeed, I picked up their demo quite a few weeks ago at another show and have since been meaning to see them play. I wasn't let down in the least, but I do hope to see them again soon at a more reasonable hour.

And finally, after what I would bill as a successful night of Rockin' Out in Japan, I made it back to my apartment and snapped this picture at sunrise.

1 comment:

Adam Gold said...

anyone there playing the real-deal funk? i think of you every time i hear bambi.