The Best Band You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of !!! (Part III)
Rock and roll is vital music. If it isn’t vital and immediate it is making a false claim. That appellation of rock and roll to the music and performance of Hans Condor was, I found out, apt.
Time: October, 11th 2015. Place: Rocket’s Club, Downtown Osaka, Japan. After Hans Condor, King Brothers play their set. The guitarist crowd surfs through at least half of the material. Towards the end of the set, the drummer lobs his kit, piece by piece, into the crowd. The band wades off-stage into the undulating wave of audience members. Their stage antics narrowly raise the ante on those of Hans Condor and the crowd is definitely into it, but the music doesn’t connect on the same primal level as that of the raw power of The Condor. This seems odd on the face of it, as King Brothers is a Japanese band whose music is relatively popular in Japan and would most likely be more familiar to the audience. But the vitality present in their set was tenfold in that of Hans Condor.
Finally, Guitar Wolf takes the stage and audience involvement increases significantly as the frontman and guitarist, Seiji ‘Guitar Wolf’, belts out classic hit after hit. I realize now that audience recognition can occasionally have the opposite effect of limiting energy. Especially, if every song is eminently singable and the crowd exerts energy on that task rather than moshing, slam-dancing, and other such activities. But not so for this band who play all aggro and get that energy feedback loop going strong with the crowd.
The highlight of their set for me was when Seiji launched himself offstage into the crowd and landed square on the bridge of my nose. It wasn’t a high point in some masochistic sense, but because of the novelty of the experience. I remember feeling numb to the pain as the roaring blood came rushing into my face. At that point, I redoubled my efforts, pushed him high in the air above my head with the help of a few others, and sent him surfing along the crowd. If you haven’t already, check out their garage punk anthem “Jet Generation” for some context into their sound and energy.
Buzzed, bruised, and beaten, I left the show with a scratched camera lens, bent sunglasses, and a broken watch. (I dropped my camera at one point, but the maxim that the Japanese do not steal anything held true and I found it again between sets at the bar where someone had turned it in as lost.) But also with a few t-shirts and stickers, joy in having made some new friends and discovered some new bands, and a sense of having done something somehow both vital and ephemeral, compelling and inconsequential, life-or-death and trivial.
The old toad Bukowski called Proust a light-weight author because he never dealt squarely with matters of life and death like Faulkner, D.H. Lawrence, or himself. And maybe he’s correct as far as literature goes as it is more of a tangible art than that of playing music live. But maybe the key to this whole rock and roll thing is writing in sand. Writing, scrawling sonic odes in a deathhand that spreads as waves through space, thinning out their signals all along the way until they become indecipherable and inconsequential. Etching moments of the deepest grief and the highest exultation into dense fog-banks of memory only to be forgotten in time or in the final equalizer. The Stooges did it. The New York Dolls and The Dead Boys did it. Guitar Wolf did it. I hear Jesus Lizard could do it. And so could Hans Condor.
(To Be Continued)