Among them are indy favorites playing rock, punk, and some oddity sub-genres for good measure. Their costumes range from plain street clothes to full leather regalia, and then to traditional 18th century Japanese attire, weird mask free of charge. One thing can be said about this odd bunch from the Far East...
They couldn’t be more welcome.
The night’s event takes place at the Knitting Factory Hollywood, which is right next door to the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater where the Oscars take place. Inside, the Knitting Factory is very dark and very cramped. The stage is quite small and there’s really nowhere to get away from the crowd. But all of that makes for a pretty cool concert experience. The bands are within your reach and the crowd kind of forms into one synchronous moving body giving the whole show a very personal feel.
The first band to play was FLiP, a girl band from the tropic islands of Okinawa. They didn’t start out with a rush of excitement or a surprise music attack, but simply and calmly walked on stage and started tuning their instruments. Slowly the tuning turned into music, and then a full fledged song.
It took them about three songs to really get everyone going. And by the time they played their fourth, the crowd was more than pumped. They remind me a little of System of a Down with some Red Hot Chili Peppers thrown in. Vocals by member Sachiko were just awesome. She puts a lot of passion into her singing, and at moments reminded me of Kurt Cobain. Ya’know, if Kurt Cobain was a Japanese girl.
After they were finished, it wasn’t long before a stage hand brought out an LCD monitor and paced it on a chair facing towards the crowd. Something interesting was coming...
And I was right. A masked man in what seemed to be Edo period garb came out carrying all sorts of electronic goodies. This was none other that Omodaka, the techno wizard of tone. He performs with the help of his “band,” which includes an Apple MacBook Pro, a Nintendo DS Lite, a Sony PSP, a Gameboy Color, an awesome little touch sensitive gadget call a Korg Kaossilator, and the LCD monitor covering vocals, of course.
He started things off by playing Dig Dug on his modded DS Lite, and after losing his first life in the game, continued to create an amazing song from its theme music. The crowd just ate it up, loving every bite. But for being able to play his instruments with a simple tap of the finger, you’d think it would be boring to watch. Definitely not the case here.
He jumped around with his monitor girlfriend, strutted some dance moves with the PSP, and even let the audience play with his magical music touchscreen on more than one occasion. His performance was one of my favorites of the night, probably because is was so different compared to the others. But c’mon! The man can play the piano to perfection on a DS! How could he not be everyone’s favorite? All I know is that I really need to start putting my lazy good-for-nothing handhelds to work.
Off that high note, S.A. or Samurai Attack hit the stage. Thats when things got crazy. These guys are hardcore, no holds barred punk. The crowd erupted with excitement at the very sight of them. Those from the LA punk scene came out of nowhere and turned the audience into a wild mosh pit, with stage dives at every opportunity. Being in the midst of it all, I couldn’t have been happier.
Most of the band occupied the very edge of the stage. If you didn’t get knocked in the head by an instrument or mic, then you weren't having fun yet. Crowd interaction goes to an entirely new level when the lead singer stage dives every other song and welcomes anyone to come up and
sing scream along.
Next was Detroit 7. There aren't seven of them, and they aren’t from Detroit. But who cares? I saw them last year at this event and they never fail to put on a great performance. Theirs’ is music you can really headbang to. Guitar and vocals by Tomomi Nabana are very distinct and they give their music a really raw sound. Tomomi gets pretty into the music as well, as she aimlessly swings around with her eyes closed, plays the guitar behind her head, oh, and she’s barefoot the whole time.
Detroit 7 brings a lot to the table for this event and I hope they remain a staple of the line up because I don’t think it’d be as much fun without them.
Finally we have Sparta Locals who started off a little too slow for following Detroit 7’s set. But as they continued with their performance, the music went from indie to punk, and their energy grew until they were jumping around and stage diving as much as the guys from S.A. were. These guys were definitely the biggest surprise of the night. Kosei Abe on vocals put just about every ounce of enthusiasm into each of his actions. While Shinnichi Ito thrashed away at his guitar ultimately leading to its complete destruction and thus leading to a piece of Les Paul flying inches from my head.
In compilation, the five bands put on quite a show, with each of them expanding the night’s genre in their own way. This is definitely a show to check out next time it comes around, as it just keeps getting better and better. Personally, I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more if I was in a small room with a bunch of lunatics, but then again, I guess I basically was anyway.Photo Gallery: (38 images)
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