Disclaimer: I do not own a high quality camera, thus these photos aren’t top notch. If you started a fund to get me an SLR, I wouldn’t object.
I have no idea where Flake Records is or even what kind of music they actually sell, but based on their special “Tone Flakes Special” show at Osaka’s Sun Hall Saturday night I’m guessing they offer an “electic” selection. The six artists showcased ranged from laid-back “indie” rock to verging on hardcore to, uh, party rap. Then there was Cubismo Grafico Five, who jumped between four or five genres all their own and stole the show.
I rambled on earlier in the week about how I couldn’t decide whether Love and Hates were ironic trash or more focused than I gave them credit for. After seeing them live, I can safely say it doesn’t matter because these two put on one tireless show. Despite coming out in mismatched legwarmers, Love and Hates were very serious about putting on a breathless performance – they bounced around stage and rushed into the crowd like two over-caffeinated kids who had all-day to practice. Love and Hates did show off some instrumental chops by busting out kazoo, slide whistle, melodica and a squeaky toy (!). Most importantly, they had a good grasp on using the cowbell, which makes any music fifty percent more danceable. They also had a child-like obsession with throwing up the middle finger, which was endearing. Love and Hates half-assed nothing and put on a fun live show I wouldn’t miss out on.
Love and Hates’ also are part of the Twee Grrrls Club DJ unit who handled between-set music for the night. True to their name, the song selection veered towards indie-pop with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Vampire Weekend, The Drums and so on. Twee Grrrls even had their own mini-dance party going on in the corner, impressive considering Love and Hates earned the right to rest after their set.
Wednesday’s sound can best be summed up by the dance a group of girls were doing throughout the set – a hybrid of the Lindy Hop and a shimmy, it seemed ripped out of some bygone era. The trio’s music features verses but you’d be forgiven if you ignored them in favor of the big, bright choruses the group excels at. The lead guitarist and bassist share vocal duty and the two come together for the choruses to make the already huge hooks even more mammoth. Wednesday’s music would be right at home at some ’60s prom (as long as the administration were cool with a little fuzz) and the kids would dig it. Who knows what other moves they’d come up with.
Spread spent their set flirting with both hardcore and mall-punk, sometimes shifting from one extreme to the other mid-song. At their best they erred on the side of the former, the finest moments of their set featuring a metal-like “chug chug” running underneath Spread’s frantic blasts. At their worst they sounded like Sum 41. For the most part the band tried to appeal to all comers, being plenty noisy but retaining enough melody as not to scare away those frightened by body slamming. Spread definitely put on the hardest edged performance of the night, and get bonus points for having a guitarist who can bug his eyes out big when he’s shouting into the mic.
Based on the number of “Five” shirts I saw in the crowd, it seemed like most people turned up to see Cubismo Grafico Five. And they didn’t let the fans down. Cubismo and co. jump from idea to idea so rapidly trying to classify there music ends up being pointless. One song there ripping out a fast-paced hardcore number, next they pull out a slow jam, which they follow up with a precise math-rock number before leaping into a Cornelius-like (only artist I can think of remotely like these dudes) bit. One song alone saw them start up hardcore, slow down, pick up again, segue into reggae intermission and then combine all the previous elements together. Cubismo grabs your attention but it never seems boring – they are band bursting with ideas and they have the gall to try them all.
It helps that Cubismo seem absolutely enthralled to be on stage doing this. The group bounced around and even took the show into the crowd. Cubismo Grafico Five’s playful side showed up frequently, with lead singer Cubismo Grafico making all sorts of jokes and, at one point, the keyboardist jumping on top of his keyboard, creating one long digitized belch that had everyone in stitches. They closed out their set by doing a sorta barbershop quartet ditty that had all the members singing and leading the crowd in joining them. This show shot up my “best of the year” list pretty quickly.
Talk about a misleading band name. The Car Is On Fire take their title from the first line of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s debut CD, but this group isn’t post-rock, apocalyptic spoken-word or Canadian. This intimidating Warsaw group instead steps up to the mic and belts out…upbeat dancey rock ala The Whitest Boy Alive? Yeah, it’s a bit jarring at first, but once the surprise wears off you appreciate The Car Is On Fire’s consistently sunny swing. Dudes know how to work a crowd to – they got Sun Hall clapping along to nearly every song they played and on the final joint coaxed everyone to put their hands in the air. After the whirlwind that was Cubismo Grafico Five, The Car Is On Fire felt like a nice, danceable come down.
Jesus these kids looked young. Matias Tellez (and band) also brimmed with a youthful energy indicating he’s either thrilled to be performing or he wants to get laid. Regardless of the reason, Tellez and crew basically sounded like the Norwegian Phoenix, creating lovelorn softish rock featuring strut-worthy bass and the occasional sexy keyboard sound. The real standout was Tellez’s voice, which (besides sounding like a less awkward Thomas Mars) sounded super pleasant but carried an air of romantic frustration with it, the guy trying to make pillow talk but he’s got nobody next to him. Tellez and his band have a great taste for pop and can only get better with age, as the few less-than-stellar moments of their set were results of not being old enough to recognize they were dumb. Chiefly, letting the keyboardist rap about “not giving a fuck, not giving a damn” (take that dad!) and Tellez’s solo encore which came dangerously close to Jack Johnson territory.
Also, anyone know who this guy is? He was the “special guest” after the show and I think he was a comedian. He had people throw a box of Pocky at his stomach and opened a bottle of coke with his bellybutton. I want to hang out with this guy bad.