Scenes from the Japanese Underground: Capsule Giants, Velvet Punch and Cruyff In The Bedroom live 12/2/01 at Heaven's Door
I remember vividly the day I first discovered the internet
radio stations at Spinner.com. It might have something to do with the
hour or so downloading pluggins trying to get the thing to work (the world
just wasn't designed for Mac users to get internet pluggins easily), or
may have been the rush one gets the first time they "stream",
internet radio was amazing.
Anyway, my first and main love on Spinner’s radio
dial was a station by the name of "Neo Japan" which specialized
in playing underground artists of Japanese descent (including American
artists like Sean Lennon). The station helped me develop one of my super
powers: the ability to name off lists of Japanese artists no one has ever
heard. Not that the music is bad, just obscure.
Now, I've gotten a little too used to liking artists
that for most purposes don't exist, which is why I was surprised to see
one of my old Spinner favorites, Capsule Giants (you have no idea how
many times people have tried to correct me when I say "Capsule Giants"
with the ever popular "Mad Capsule Market"), playing a show
five minutes away from my house.
On arriving to the concert, one of the first things I noticed was that Heaven's door was considerably more crowded than normal.
The show kicked off with Cruyff in the Bedroom, one
of the myriads of emo-core bands that has taken over Sangenjaya. To their
merit, their mastery of pop outshines the unpleasantries of emo. Like
most of the bands that night, they were tight, especially for a Heaven's
Next came the Capsule Giants, which even though I was
previously biased anyway, were the hit of the show. It's a shame they
got second billing as Capsule Giants is a band that has gone through a
drastic change in sound in the four or so years they've been around. Their
early albums sport a frantic, indy-punk style. However, an album I bought
a few months ago leaves in my head more of an emo-core sound, combined
with that quite, cute sense of innocence you get when you watch Smashing
Pumpkins music videos and don't listen to the words.
Yet, the band I found on December 12 was something else
entirely. The lyrics may have been sweet, I couldn't make them out, but
the sound was now something akin to The Cure without Fat Bob and his mascara.
The lead singer had the presence of a storyteller, a feeling conveyed
in the photos of that night.
The next two bands I'm going to lump together because
they didn't particularly offend or interest me. Strawberry is a pop-punk
outfit. On this particular evening they were not as practiced as they
could have been, which is why I think they ranked the worst of the show
(though certainly not bad). Meat Eaters also had poppy-core sound, though
I found them more interesting than Strawberry.
The closing act was a band by the name of Velvet Punch
which I had never heard of, but which I think I want to go see again.
Velvet Punch sported a slower sound, less pop and more old school college
music. Very cool!
To this day, I'm not sure just how popular any of these
bands really are. For example, although no one I have *ever* met has heard
of these bands, I was able to find two Capsule Giants' CD's and one Meat
Eater's CD in the Indies section of Tsutaya (despite their small selection).
Also, to reiterate, the crowd was quite large for Heaven's Door. In closing,
all I can say is to keep an eye out for these bands if you’re into
Japanese underground music, at least on the Capsule Giants and Velvet
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