The June edition of HOSTESS CLUB WEEKENDER at Studio Coast in Tokyo featured a healthy scattering of bands including Simian Mobile Disco, Blonde Redhead, Joan As Police Woman and Cat Power. But the first act we caught were London’s electro monoliths SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO. Since forming in 2005, the duo consisting of James Ford and Jas Shaw have released four studio albums, most recently their fantastic offering Whorl. This album was the basis for their Saturday set, played in its entirety from synth-laden beginning to record-skipping end. Abstract retro visuals provided an appropriately entrancing backdrop for their performance, the pulsing wavelengths and perpetually morphing geometrics perfectly synced to the music. For the most part, the crowd was a gently ebbing sea of partygoers, but when the duo descended into their bass-heavy crescendos after an almost cruelly lengthy build-up, the audience responded with great waves of enthusiasm, cheers and hands raised above heads.
A soothing change of pace after the invigorating performance by SMD, New York’s BLONDE REDHEAD put on a passionate set full of hits from their 20-year musical career. Since forming in 1993, the trio have recorded eight studio albums and are set to release a new effort titled Barragan later this year, from which they treated fans to three tracks during their Saturday performance in Tokyo. They opened with Falling Man followed by Dr. Strangeluv and closed with Equus, a song written about Kazu Makino’s horse riding accident in 2002. Despite the change of pace from the previous act putting some to sleep, the smooth and dreamy performance of Blonde Redhead was a suitably calm and atmospheric one.
Jolting the early crowd into consciousness on Day 2 of HOSTESS CLUB WEEKENDER in Tokyo were the UK’s high-energy rockers THE BOHICAS. Only signing to Domino records last year, the quartet are relatively new and yet have an array of tours lined up and a considerable following. A surprisingly eager and lively crowd greeted the four-piece from Essex, the crowd growing particularly rowdy each time they’d announce the next song, sometimes even in Japanese. Leather-clad leading man Dominic McGuinness was hugely successful in whipping the crowd into a frenzy at all points, the highpoint for many being when they closed with their two biggest hits, XXX and Swarm.
Next up was five-piece noisy hair band from Brighton TOY, who brought the psychedelic shoegaze vibes back to Studio Coast. The group have two studio albums under their belt and have played support slots for The Vaccines, The Horrors and The Heartbreaks in the UK. The five-piece consisting of Tom Dougall on guitar/vocals, Dominic O’Dair on guitar, Maxim Barron on Bass, Charlie Salvidge on drums and Alejandra Diez on synths, put on a solid performance on Sunday despite some technical difficulties with the keyboards. The group closed their set with Join The Dots, and are now currently touring Europe.
The next act, and the highlight of the entire festival, was undoubtedly JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN. Where every other band on the lineup offered only arbitrary greetings to the crowd, JAPW’s charismatic energy-ball of a leading lady Joan Wasser immediately warmed the stage, thanking the audience for waiting and explaining that they’d just arrived from Brooklyn to be there. She was joking with crowd members throughout the set, building a rapport with a huge group of people instantaneously. Her raw and passionate performance was a stark contrast to the sometimes robotic offerings of the other performers.
During one track, she somewhat clumsily transitioned from playing keys to violin mid-song, never ceasing to sing, and building up the song into a huge crescendo of keys before breaking away into a lull where she played the violin like ukulele. She made a point to introduce all of the band members throughout the set, and at the end the four graciously bowed, thanking the audience profusely for having them play in Tokyo.
CLOUD NOTHINGS were up next, and brought a lively post-rock vibe to Studio Coast last Sunday. They were very much a no-nonsense performer, only briefly greeting the crowd in a rather surly tone before getting down to business and smashing out an array of excellent, energetic rock songs. The set consisted mostly of tracks from latest album Here And Nowhere Else, however they closed with No Future/No Past from their third studio album Attack On Memory. The indie three-piece is the brainchild of Dylan Baldi, who began the project on his own before requiring a full band due to the popularity of his music. Since then, Cloud Nothings have released a total of four studio albums and toured extensively around the world. The group was certainly well received by its Tokyo audience, boasting the title of “only band to see people crowd surfing” for the entire two-day festival.
The last act for Hostess Club Weekender was the wonderful Charlyn Marshall, better known as her pseudonym CAT POWER. She broached the stage after a lengthy buildup of the intro to The Greatest, reaching the edge of the stage and deeply bowing as she shuffled sideways, spanning the length of the arena before finally starting to sing.
We last caught Cat Power at Fuji Rock Festival last year where she also headlined, however her performance last weekend was noticeably better held together. Her signature awkward yet personal style still prevailed, her left hand stuck in her pocket and head tilted to the side as she crooned. Although opening with the same two tracks (The Greatest and Cherokee) as well as closing both instances with Ruin, the Sunday evening performance was a show set apart by a hearty six cover songs. Marshall sang her own renditions of Lord Help the Poor and Needy by Jessie Mae Hemphill, Silver Stallion by The Highwaymen, Angelitos Negros by Pedro Infante, I Wanna Be Your Dog by Iggy And The Stooges, Sea of Love by Phil Phillips and finally Shivers by Rowland S. Howard, the only cover track she also performed at Fuji Rock. She now has a handful of dates lined up including shows with Eddie Vedder and The Pixies