Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chatmonchy and Electric Eel Shock

I'm a week behind on posts. My apologies.

On Tuesday last week, I swung by Shelter in Shimokitazawa to check out a double bill featuring two incredible Japanese bands, Chatmonchy and Electric Eel Shock.

Chatmonchy is one of the hottest modern rock acts in Japan. Walk into Tower Records, HMV, or any other major record store, and you will find their latest albums prominently displayed. Their 2009 album release, Kokuhaku, with it's incredible range of moods and sounds, is one of my favorite Japanese rock albums. I've been eager to see the band live for some time.

Chatmonchy's appeal is their seamless blend of cuteness (in the girlish/feminine sense) and intensity (in the guitar driven rock 'n' roll sense). The band is an all female trio featuring Kumiko Takahashi on drums, Akko Fukuoka on bass, and Eriko Hashimoto on guitar and lead vocals.

Eriko's shimmering vocals are soft in tone and reach a high register; in some sense, she sounds like a grown woman with a girl's voice. Her soft-spoken persona was even more evident on stage. Her stature was shorter than I imagined and her youthfulness (all the members of the band are in their mid-twenties) was quite evident. Between numbers, she talked to the audience in a shy, almost hesitant manner. This was in stark contrast to the depth and maturity of the band's songs.

Bassist Akko embodies the band's rock 'n' roll personality. Like Akko from GO!GO!7188, she displays a true performers spirit, hoping up and down the stage during the band's more intense numbers. When I met her at Ruby Room a few months back, she was frank, upfront, and not the least bit shy.

Check out the video for Sekai ga Owaru Yoru (The Night the World Ends)
My personal favorite song, Kaze Fukeba Koi
This one is also pretty cool. Renai Spirits (Love Spirits)

Electric Eel Shock is another story all-together. The first time I saw them at Shelter was actually back in early 2009 when the band opened for Bo-Peep. Eel Shock's blend of in-your-face indy rock and heavy metal definitely turned the heat up a notch after Chatmonchy. The band is aggressive and almost rude. In Chili-Pepper's fashion, the drummer plays naked with nothing but a tube sock covering his extremities. During their classic number, "Bastard" the band wasn't shy about accusing each and every audience member of bastardry. Check out the videos to see what I mean.

Metal Man

It was an awesome night and I think it will be quite a while before I see such a diverse and talented line-up of bands share one stage.

Here is a photo of Eel Shock that I snapped at Shelter a year and a half ago.

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