Friday 31 August 2018


Last night, I met up with Ryotaro from Looprider for Melt-Banana's show with doom monsters Nepenthes at Koiwa Bushbash. It was Ryotaro's first time seeing a show at Bushbash, despite it being possibly Tokyo's most reliably good venue in terms of its booking (and, in a nod to the small but important straight-edge demographic it sometimes caters to, serving really good vegan curry) and he dug it there, adding that it's a shame it's too far away.

This is an issue that comes up a lot in Tokyo, where most of the music scene is clustered around the western edge of the city and well-to-do nearby suburbs -- especially Setagaya and Suginami wards. Ryotaro and I both live out west, so going all the way out to the border with Chiba in the east is a long, uncomfortable train ride, and the trip back late at night is worse. Still, I head out to Bushbash pretty often and love the neighbourhood of Koiwa. I have friends out on the east side of town who sneer at west Tokyo as a superficial jewelry box for hipsters -- hey, I'm sorry we have all cool music, but no need to be a Bitter Betty about it! -- but it's true that east Tokyo has a distinctive atmosphere of its own. Places like Koiwa have an atmosphere that reminds me in some ways of Osaka, with a sort of dusty, seedy film over the place.

Anyway, I think people from west Tokyo should make the effort to go over to Bushbash more often because it puts on fantastic shows like the one last night. I was there really to see Melt-Banana because I wanted to talk to them about a show I'm planning to put on, but Ryotaro was interested in all of the bands. I arrived a bit late because of work, but he said the first band, Solvent Cobalt, were really good. Nepenthes include members of fellow doomsters Church and noise-rock maniacs Kuruucrew and featured all the usual growling vocals and Sabbath riffs you usually expect from doom.

Ryotaro is a major metal guy and we were both pretty impressed with the heavy stuff Nepenthes dropped on us, but he remarked he was starting to feel the limitations of doom and wondered if for the next Looprider album he'd have to pour all the doom tendencies he'd flirted with in the past into it just to purge it from his system and give him a clean slate to move on with the band.

As it stands now, Looprider are coming to terms with their new, slimmed-down lineup as a three-piece after the departure of their bass player. They played at one of Call And Repsonse's bimonthly "Indie Disco" events at Shimokitazawa Three at the beginning of August and rocked hard as a bassless trio. This is maybe becoming a thing at the label at the moment, with our next release being from another bassless trio, Nagoya-based band Velvet Ants, and another bassless trio Jebiotto just having finished recording a song for a split 7-inch with a band from the UK. Maybe that's the gimmick the label needs to really stand out in Tokyo's oversaturated underground music scene.

The two of us are putting music aside today, though, and catching the Tokyo opening night of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Shinjuku. Most people we know range from "too cool to be interested" to "ferociously hostile" to Marvel films and I can't be bothered to defend them, but sometimes you need to drop your indie defences and be completely consumed by some aspect of mainstream culture. The long-term plan for Looprider was always conceived as a sort of parallel with Marvel, with the band putting out a series of albums of apparently different genres, where the themes then assemble, Avengers-style, into one epic album. By this reckoning, My Electric Fantasy was Iron Man, Ascension was The Incredible Hulk, Umi was Captain America and then maybe whatever comes next is Thor.

The next Call And Response-related party is next Friday (September 7th) where our old Fashion Crisis DJ party is continuing its revival at its new location of Koenji SUBstore, with house DJs Ian Martin (me) and James Hadfield, plus guests DJ GIF県 (from Hanazono Distance) and Ponta (from hopi, eupholks) and live guest Musuki Aruvavo Lee. Check out the event's Facebook page here.

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