Farm Party #5 at Asagaya Gamuso 3/20/2011
After the major earthquake and resultant horrifying tsunami destruction of March 11th, a lot of gigs were cancelled in Tokyo. There were many cogent reasons to do this – though the capital had got off lightly in terms of damage and injury, there had been widespread disruption to public transport, power cuts, panic-buying in shops and the flight of some from the city fearing radioactive doom. Add to this the feeling that it might not be appropriate to bop around to pop when others in the country were suffering so greatly, and you’ll understand the quandary Tokyo Gig Guide and Abikyokan faced. But we did the event as planned, donated the proceeds to the food charity Second Harvest, and were able to shake off some serious blues for a few hours.
Abikyokan played, of course, with members Craig “Exotica” Exton and me DJing along with my lovely Belgium Internet partner Brendan Smith, but the highlight of the night for me were the performances from Makino Eri’s impromptu cover band Best Friends and the mighty TropeN.
Eri and her gang of fiercely talented lad musicians whipped up a storm of dancing and grinning with their stunning covers set which rocked King Crimson one minute, soothed with Suicide the next, and ended with an incredibly funny, funky, Italo-wise cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”.
First bands have it tough – but not this one. The audience was on their side from the start and I’ve very rarely seen a band perform with such cool, sexiness and assurance. Massive hit.
If Eri and her Friends’ tunes helped us forget about the abiding melancholy of these times, TropeN rather brought this darkness and sadness to mind, but with the redemptive quality of the best pop music. Recent TropeN has seen them up the bass and dub influences, and return to the restraint and nobility of their early days. The new songs are instantly catchy, though tangibly deep and yearning, and their older tunes are constantly re-invented sonically by Ozaki Keita and sung with ever greater confidence and zeal by his partner Chie. The only thing that could make it better would be the return of Chie’s sexy, confrontational dance routines – the performance aspect of TropeN seems to have given in to shyness, perhaps. Overall though, a super gig from one of the very best bands.
Abikyokan’s mood, then, would’ve been between these two – equal parts goofiness and bottomless pain. We put a few musical feet wrong, as you can hear in this recording, but the audience went so wild for us I wanted to cry. I’m not the one to assess my own band’s quality, but I think the songs we’re performing these days are the best of our career, the new songs excite me, and the decision to bring back our uniform of black ties and our first ever song Comatose Baby was a good one.
ANN STEEL – My Time
TELEX – Eurovision
THE CLOCKS – Wake Up
THE WAKE – Talk About The Past
PAUL MCCARTNEY – Temporary Secretary
MAX TUNDRA – Coming Up
SIMON BOOKISH – Synchotron
THE SOFT MACHINE – We Did It Again
YOKO ONO – Why
BRIAN ENO – Strong Flashes Of Light
MICK RONSON – Only After Dark
Huge thanks and love to all! xoxoxoxo gra