Last Sunday saw London-based punk-rockers COMANECHI and BO NINGEN make an impressive return to Japan, with intense headlining performances at STYLE BAND TOKYO, an event held at Club Asia in Shibuya. Supported by four worthy Japanese punk and post-rock groups, this show was one not to be missed for fans of all things punk and hardcore.
The evening was opened by drum and guitar duo NINGEN OK, an instrumental post-rock band hailing from Kanazawa. Members Takurou Yamashita and Ken-ichi Sakagushi have been playing live shows since 2009, and released their debut self-titled album last October.
Next up we were witness to the dark and ominous energy of ZZZs, with a stunning and passionate post-punk performance. Personally recommended by Thurston Moore, this all-female experimental trio from Osaka formed in October 2011, and were quick to get touring and recording. After releasing their first EP “Prescription” in December 2011, the girls embarked on two massive US tours in 2012 and recorded four-track EP “Magnetica” last December with a 14 February, 2013 release date.
ZZZs were followed by Tokyo’s gothic post-punk band PLASTICZOOMS, a fashion-focused group which seems to become more popular by the week. Fronted by the flamboyant, style-obsessed Sho Asakawa, this five-piece band regularly plays shows around Tokyo, combining gloomy goth-pop tunes with a stylish and slick performance. Their first album “Charm” was released in July 2009, followed by the much more poppy offering “Starbow” in October 2011.
Another incredibly fashionable group THE NOVEMBERS took over the stage next, with a refined and energetic performance. This four-piece shoegaze/post-hardcore band formed in 2005, and have since released three full length albums, the latest being in 2011. Spattered amongst these is an array of EPs – a testament to just how much creativity and musical talent this band has to offer.
Next up came the band that everyone was dying to see – and for good reason. Described as a “savage art-punk” band, COMANECHI have been playing shows since the mid-2000s, and it’s easy to see why they’re in such high demand. This energetic three-piece from Hackney is fronted by the intimidatingly talented Akiko Matsuura, who usually plays drums while simultaneously delivering an assaulting vocal performance. Having now adopted drummer Charlie, Akiko was free to unleash her full unbridled performance purely on vocals – truly a sight to behold. The band released their debut album “Crime of Love” in 2009, followed by a split 10″ LP in 2010 with four-piece Glasgow noise-rock band Divorce. Comanechi’s latest effort “You Owe Me Nothing But Love” was released on 14 February, 2013 to excellent reviews, timed nicely with their Japan tour.
Finally, here came the headliner – the notorious, psychedelic acid-punk band BO NINGEN. Their performance was definitely one to hang around for, as the band has earned quite a reputation for their live performances. For the opening track, the band’s frontman Taigen Kawabe stood on the foldbacks, looming over the audience, pulling ape-like faces at the crowd as he played, while the rest of the band went mental on their respective instruments behind him – and this was just the beginning. The rest of the show was full of an intense energy that was enough to turn even a usually tame Tokyo audience into a thrashing pit of people. Bo Ningen translates to “stick men” – an apt name for these four impossibly skinny fashionistas. You’d be forgiven for thinking this long-haired, lanky quartet magically appeared straight out of the 70s, and this image certainly ties in with their musical style. Based in London, the boys came together in 2006, playing live shows all over the country before releasing their debut album in 2010. Their 2nd album “Line the Wall” (already released in the UK) will be released in Japan on 27 February, and it’s an album not to be missed.