If you were on the Yamanote Line on the night of the 31st, it had better been to head into Shinjuku Loft for their all night Halloween concert!
The Loft has two stages separated by a sound proof door, and while that sounds like a good idea on paper, when the club hits full capacity it bottlenecks into a wall of immovable rebels without a clue who clog the sides of the narrow hallway like fat in an artery. Upon entering the venue you have the choice of two paths, so choose wisely my friend, for your decision will shape your musical destiny.
Halloween parties always bring in the most gregarious people from all around. The DJs kept people’s feet moving between sets with a mix of malt time classics and garage rock, but even the grooviest skirts can’t keep bopping for eight hours straight. The walls became lined with unconscious heaps of those who gave too much too early.
I was perfectly content to take this opportunity to re-charge with the silver-age horror and sci-fi trailers projected onto the stage. Anybody know Monster that Challenged the World?
The night was also host to something I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with outside the States—Scene kids! Since this was Halloween I can forgive people for putting on airs in trying to look cooler than the other guy, but there’s no excuse for the awkward atmosphere of everyone sizing each other up as they came through the door. Keep your egos at home kids.
To call the 188.8.131.52s the biggest disappointment of the night would be misleading. I wasn’t expecting a life-affirming thirty minutes of music, but it made my heart drop to see the mothers of Japanese garage rock lack the energy to pull together a coherent set. Is it age? The flu? If anyone’s seen them recently, do chime in to let us know they were just having an off night.
Thankfully The Mummies were there to make everything all right again. The scrutiny of the staff was surprising, however. The band couldn’t afford to have the equipment damaged after fronting the cash to fly themselves out to Japan, so the organizers pushed the crowd back and warned us not to get too rowdy. While I don’t judge the success of a show by how many liters of beer are thrown onto the stage, the phalanx of staff pooh-poohing crowd surfers kept the revelry below the expected apocalyptic levels. The kings of budget rock still did their thing, however, even with forces conspiring to contain the mummies’ curse.
Sometimes you are pleasantly sideswiped by some unknown band that kicks more ass than the headliner. Hell-Racer was that band. With their leather biker hats, iron crosses and eye shadow, they were something between a glam version of Marlon Brando in The Wild One and extras from a Suehiro Maruo manga. They weren’t shy about refurbishing every rocking riff from the 50’s and 60’s with a thick coat of reverb and distortion, but that’s the point! Any band that can seamlessly slip a couple bars of The Munsters theme into a song deserves your time.
LOS RIZLAZ were another unexpected treat that I would have liked to have seen come out before I was dead on my feet. Having never considered myself a sax guy, the last few shows I've been to have forced me to reconsider my position. Even if you think the luchador gig is played out, these guys have such an authentic vibe that you can't help but smile.
Call me an old man if it gets you off, but the night would have been far less grueling had the DJs turned it down a notch. The dance floor was a graveyard past midnight save for a few straggling ghouls, so who are they trying to fool? Unless you like having to communicate in screams and wild hand gestures all night, in which case you're ruining it for the rest of us.
Wandering the backstreets of Kabukicho waiting for the trains to start was surreal. Here's all the hosts coming off work hee-hawing at our costumes, when they're the ones wearing a fake set of skin every day. Get with the program, Japan! You were made for Halloween.
This is the only shot we managed to get at the show. We were given a warning to put our camera away, only to see everyone else in the club taking pics left and right. Shiiiiiit.