Sunday, February 16, 2014

Enban winter fest 2014: Report from day 2

What: Enban winter fest day 2
Who: A bunch of weird performers - see below

Unfortunately I couldn't make it to day 1 of the Enban winter fest and for various reasons I only managed to see the first half of the second day on Sunday the 16th.
What I did see surprised me and reminded me why the Enban run event can keep packing out the large (relative to tiny enban) O-Nest venue in Shibuya for two days at a time, twice a year. Rumour has it that this event may have been the last Enban festival to take place at O-Nest due to the takeover of the Nest venues by entertainment empire Tsutaya. If so it's a pity because the two floors of O-Nest work really well for the mix of bands and smaller, weirder acts which Enban's Taguchi-san likes to throw together for the festivals.

All of the acts I caught were great. Kami-sama (神様) kicked things off on the 5th floor with their weird power pop and agressive / conflicting stage banter. After them, I headed up to the 6th floor and caught Asuna playing with Taku Hannoda (半野田拓) - a great match up which veered between Asuna-style drones and Hannoda's mischief making guitar noise jolts, with  both members of the duo being equally involved in both styles.

Back on the 5th floor, I was surprised by an energetic and compelling performance from the new(?) duo hangaku (半額) (which means "half price"). The duo is made up of Suimingu Aoi (碧衣スイミング) (ex of kakuni (角煮 )who I only know from an old enban released 7" split they did with Oninko) and, as I was informed by an ever knowledgable friend, Tetsunori Tawaraya (俵谷哲典)  from 2UP a well liked "post punk" two piece in Tokyo. A cheap looking keyboard was slammed about by Ms. Suimingu (whose first name is, at a guess, a stage name, and a transliteration of the word "swimming") set to a patch that reminded me of the bagpipes. This nasty sound floated above the bass samples triggered by Mr Akinori in  rather thrilling fashion. Vocals were yelled over top simultaneously by both band members, and dances were performed. Although it feels somehow a little familiar, and at times a little artschool, there is no denying that this is good stuff. If these guys had been playing in a small room to a bunch of drunken salarymen, it would have been one of the best concerts ever. As it was, it was pretty great.

After those rock and roll thrills, I headed up to the 6th floor again and encountered one of the oddest performers I've seen in... a fair while. Musuki Aruvavo Lee (ムスキ・アルバボ・リー) puctuates his puny guitar songs with bizzarely stylized vocals barked out at a rude volume. I (no doubt wrongly) imagine this approach is somehow linked to the "serif" imitation interludes found in kabuki songs and the like where the singer changes their voice to bring a certain character to life. Actually, I really have no idea what this guy is doing, but with his pink hair and strategic mic placement he really killed it. A thrillingly weird performance.

The last thing I caught on the 5th floor was the super group Pegasus. The only two members I can put my finger on are Saya from Tenniscoats and Jun from Ju-sei, but I'm pretty sure others in the group are from well known Tokyo acts too. Essentially a 6 person choir with a guitar/guitar/drums backing band, these guys sounded wonderful a cappella, and really soared into the stratosphere when the band and the choir hit crescendos together. It was charming to see the members struggle to suppress the fact that they were digging the music they were creating. It was all they could do not to look at each other and yell "fuck this is cool!" when the vocals and backing hit a sweet spot.

Unfortunately, I ended up leaving at this point and not returning for the second half of the show as I'd planned. But the afternoon line up was so good, I hardly mind the fact that I didn't catch the evening acts. If this is indeed the last Enban event at O-nest, it was a great way to go out.  

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