There is a festival atmosphere in Hachioji tonight. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what it is, but the massive festival going on all over the city might have something to do with it. Not that anyone told Tetsurou Suzuki, the sole member of tonight's Bonzo's line-up, who absorbs the news of the festival and then blithely and charmingly shrugs it off as none of his business. Shorn of his rhythm section, songs like "Girlfriend" are transformed from dry, witty pub-folk anthems into something more precious, fragile and self-depreciating. There's an overriding aura of 4am, philosophically drunken, bleary eyed, waiting-for-the-first-train melancholy to his songs that he counterpoints with rambling yet endearing monologues. Girls always say they like a man who can make them laugh, and after the show he is surrounded by a gang of nervously giggling and extremely pretty young ladies so at least some of them might have been telling the truth.
Daigoman is something of a legend in the Hachioji music scene, to the point where he is now able to recruit a different team of backing dancers for every gig he plays. His theatrical mixture of rousing, bemasked enka pop and bizarre, poorly synchronised onstage dance/comedy routines is entertaining and baffling in pretty much equal measures and the audience is never quite sure if it is supposed to be clapping or running for the doors in terror.
Lion Bus are a suavely dressed, nineteen eighties, made for video porn movie with guitars, hilarious stage moves and no tunes. They rock the Hachioji crowd though, and there's a gaggle of girls at the front who seem like they'd happily give up their virtue for a chance to appear in this particular grumble flick.
Which brings us to Abunai Nurse (they're dangerous, they're nurses, and they have shades and uniforms to prove it). Vocalist Noriko writhes around on the floor between songs, heavy breathing into the mic, muttering something about it being much too hot in here, and the temperature in the male half of the room duly rises several degrees. The music bangs on for about half an hour in a likeable Ramones stylee and special props to the bass player and the guitarist for remaining completely motionless throughout the set, except for a couple of economical, robotic dance moves.
Last up, and definitely providing the best hotpants and trumpets of the night, are The Dynamite Family Band. They've clearly decided to start out on a crowd pleasing tip, by launching straight into the official Hachioji City festival song, but from there it's a downward spiral, with the obvious joy with which they perform their songs counterbalanced by the general tediousness of the folk inflected near-ska that makes up most of the rest of their oeuvre. They're not even a real family. Filthy charlatans. -Ian Martin, Sep.04.04