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Model Plants / Skyfisher  venue: Live Inn Rosa  place: Ikebukuro date: December 25th (Sat)


Watching from my vantage point somewhere to the left of the giant black pillar, bizarrely placed directly in front of Live Inn Rosa's already weirdly angled stage, Young 100V open impressively in a kind of colourful new wave stylee that will quickly set a precident for the rest of this Christmas event although, also setting a precident for the rest of the evening, the wackiness and persistent attempts at subtle-as-a-brick comedy soon grates somewhat. Still, sneer if you must but this is the sound of Tokyo in all its incoherent, tasteless, gaudy squalour; desperate to get a reaction out of the dulled and desensitised masses and willing to sink to any means no matter how cheap to get it. When it works it can be magnificent, but Young 100V don't quite work, yet.

Katou Kensou, on the other hand, does work. How it works, however, is more difficult to poinpint but perhaps the key point is the way that he does everything with a completely straight face, from the moment he arrives on the stage performing his "Devo corner" with a small furry toy through shuffling costume changes, a cheerleading display by his lovely assistant, who he then proceeds to duet with dressed in a giant dog costume and then further into the realm of the unbelievably absurd with... Well anyway, as with all good comedy, the timing is impeccable, but there is also pathos in the sometimes pathetic figure that he cuts alone on stage, and the perfectly deadpan delivery leaves a slightly sinister aftertaste.

Unlike Young 100V, Super Get Get Two tip the balance of the comedic garnish and the meat and potatoes of pop music more towards the protein and carbs, but like Young 100V, they lose me fairly quickly, thanks to a lack of variation in the material, and a lack of depth to their punky new wave pop. It's still fun, but it needs more cohesion before it can engage on a more consistent level.

Metrofarce are the kind of band that in the UK would be dismissed simply and easily with two words: "The Levellers". Here things seem rather more complicated and there is a big crowd of hopeless lost souls happily bopping away to their unapologetically Celtic folk rock, but they still manage the difficult feat of being both boring and irritating all at once. The backing singer is enjoying herself an almost indecent amount as she prances around like a children's TV presenter on a lethal speedball of prozac and acid and for some reason they seem to have Worzel Gummidge on vocals. Oh, my dear Lord, he's got a tin whistle! Death, where is thy sweet release? Their set feels twice as long as the other bands as well, perhaps thanks to the fact that their set is twice as long as the other bands. Yuck.

So. That was painful. Fortunately, Yamamoto Naoki provides a noisy lead back into a world where rock music is raw and physical, squeezing screeching noises and feedback from his effects-heavy electric guitar. I don't feel like I've had my soul saved or anything, but at least I don't want to commit an act of senseless, bloody violence any more.

Much better, and grabbing the honours as the first genuinely, musically terriffic act of the evening, Miami follow Katou Kensou's lead by playing their bizarre techno-acoustic hip-hop pop totally deadpan, and when they are joined by members of Young 100V, including a horrible/wonderful keytar solo, the two Ais rock out with stony-faced seriousness, challenging the audience to either call them stupid or to accuse them of mugging desperation. Of course, the fact that Ai Kajiya really can sing and the fact that she really is a brilliant violinist helps ensure that they get away with all kinds of stuff that less talented peers might get crucified for; and the fact that Ai Kobayashi is a really good rapper with a super-dry couldn't-give-a-fuck attitude to her on-stage performance ensures that tonight Ikebukuro loves Miami.

As if further proof is needed that a combination of pure musical talent and utterly straight delivery is the only way that one can get away with such sonic japes as we have been plagued with tonight, Skyfisher open their set by launching directly into a note-perfect cover of "Jump" by Van Halen complete with joyously bouncy keyboards and wiggly guitar solo. More importantly, they don't drag it out, and for the rest of their set they zap us with wave after wave of tight, focussed, spiky, punkoid new wave synth-pop. It's unrelenting and frenetic, but each song stands alone with no excess and no ideas repeated, and singing drummer Takashi Nakayama keeps everything relatively down-to-earth and XTC where Tokyo new wave of new wave peers like Polysics occasionally fly off into squeaky-voiced Plastics-land.

Model Plants were probably really good, but by four o'clock in the morning we're not in a position to tell with any degree of accuracy. It's pop music, which is a good thing, I think there were some tunes in there, which is also a good thing, and they encore with a cover of The Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get?", which must be the first cover version of the evening that is genuinely cool and genuinely non-ironic, so props to them for that as well. - Ian Martin, Jan.02.05.

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