Thursday, October 4, 2007

Melt-Banana at Earthdom (Shin-Okubo, Tokyo) on September 30, 2007

It's a chilly, rainy Sunday (the final day of September with October already in the air) evening in Shin-Okubo, just one stop west of Shinjuku along the Yamanote Line. You walked first in the wrong direction, bumping umbrellas with Tokyo citizens all the way, squishing in wet shoes, before doubling back to find Earthdom, a basement live house in the Lisbon Building. It's an unassuming place, the night's concert heralded by a simple sandwich board sign:

You stand at the front of the line, edging your way down the steps as more concert-goers show up. Put your wet umbrella in the convenient beer crate. You won't need it inside:

This is the door you go through. The black and white tiled floor seems like something out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the door could open into a kitchen for all you know:

Instead, you find yourself in a dark club, about the same size as the Caledonia back in Athens, Georgia. The crowd is eclectic but skewed heavily to the punk side:

Four bands play before Melt-Banana's set. After the last group edges off the stage to cries of "Encore! Encore!" from some of the foreigners in the crowd, the stage is eerily bereft of human activity, anticipatory:

The crowd is squeezed in as tightly as possible, bodies mashed up against the railing in front of the stage:

Club employees acting as roadies come onto the stage and begin preparations. Then, Rika (the Melt-Banana bassist) emerges from the door to the right of the drums and makes her way through the snaking cords and cables to her station, stage left:

Yasuko comes out at about the same time and checks her vocals set-up. She has a hunted look on her face, probably caused by her large, intense eyes and sharply defined cheeks:

They've done this thousands of times. Rika straps on her bass, plugs in:

Agata, wearing his trademark surgical mask, begins his preparations for assaulting his guitar:

He tunes but soon enough he will be attacking his instrument with a controlled fury that defies archaic concepts such as "playing" and "music:"

Meanwhile, Rika continues her pre-flight check with practiced calm and efficiency:

As Rika adjusts her bass, Yasuko surveys the crowd. In a matter of moments, she will in an almost offhanded way incite them into frenzied activity. You wonder if this is by design or accident; is it merely the inevitable result of Melt-Banana's joyful musical aggressiveness:

Rika continues to tune as the anticipation builds. She is responsible for much of the structure of each song, along with the drummer:

Preparations approach completion. The band waits for the right moment to begin:

Rika tests her instrument:

The ultimate moment is almost at hand. It has become an almost tangible object; you may very nearly reach out and grasp it in its approach:

At this point, Yasuko steps to the microphone... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...


Space Cyclops Digital Recordings said...

Man the way you describe this. You should be writing their liner notes.

Joel Bryan said...

Thanks a heap! Yeah, that would be a dream come true... I wish I could do some t-shirt designs for them, too.

I'll be checking in to see how your site is coming along!