…Five Six Seven Eights! Saw the 18.104.22.168′s not two hours ago, and never before have I been to a show that I desperately wanted to love to meeses and pieces, but had to settle for rock’n'rollus interruptus.
The first two hours were great. The show started 30 minutes late, as any proper rock show should, and the club – Shelter in Shimokitazawa – is a quintessential Tokyo rock club, which means dark, crowded and barely a stage for the band to get their jiggy on.
Then three of the sexiest middle-aged Japanese ladies on the planet took the stage in matching dresses and fiery attitudes. They were right up there with those other Japanese Ladies of Rock, Shonen Knife.
They belted out some of their better-known faves, the head boppin’ “Ittsusho Ni Itai,” the could-be-a-diner-classic “I Wanna Be Your G.F.,” “Teenage Mojo Workout,” and the song that gave them serious international legs, “Woo Hoo!” from Kill Bill.
Not that they didn’t have serious legs before. With those gams, I think I’m in love.
According to other reviews I’ve read in the past, their name comes from the four decades of rock that they draw on for inspiration and the occasional cover song. But most often, they sounded like a beautifully unbalanced and wild, inspired fusion of 50′s, rockabilly and Ramones-flavored punk. Power chords were stalked by a doo-wop chorus with a garnish of Johnny B. Goode via Dick Dale on the end.
A bit of Hendrix riffing on this song, a Yamanote-carload full of guests – a keyboardist, a vocalist, a guitarist and even a harmonicaist – donating some 80′s-style re-interpretation of 50′s surf rock on that, and then the 45-minute encore just killed it all.
Instead of the usual three or four minute blistering, enthusiastic rock, we got slow, plodding, almost exhausted musical meandering. One guest rhythm guitarist looked as bored on stage as she would in bed, and the guest saxophonist – toodling away on a hideously tie-dyed horn – was irritating.
Some girls next to me were nodding their heads and doing something that I think might have been dancing, but could’ve also been narcoleptic twitching, so perhaps they enjoyed it. But the big, rockin’, knock-’em-dead encore that I was expecting from such an explosive set never materialized. Had I left before the encore, this would’ve been an A+ show.
Still, the 22.214.171.124′s are not a live act to be missed. To have that contagious energy, great music and sexy charisma for $20 is the best deal you’ll ever find in a Tokyo “live house”.