Thursday, April 24, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Fast Cars in Japan!

Again thanks to 1977 Records, the same label that brought The Kids to Japan a couple months ago, arranged for the UK power pop/mod revival group The Fast Cars to play a string of shows across Japan in celebration of their 30th anniversary. The band is know for appearing on the same bill as Joy Divison, The Jam, The Rezillas and other power pop, punk and post-punk acts of the day. In Japan, they were backed by some of Japan's best punk and new wave revival bands including Water Closet, NanoX and the Romanes.

I saw the Fast Cars at their Saturday nite show at Shinjuku Red Cloth. When I arrived, pogo-punks, greasers and parka sporting mods crowded the joint watching The Romanes, an all-girl Ramones cover band, who played a set of rough but appreciable classics! Then the spastic organ-powered neo-wave group NanoX took the stage making a few pogo-ers quite happy.

(S. Takahiro---->Bass---->Nanox)

The Fast Cars played a set that included their classic repertoire with songs like "The Kids Just Wanna Dance" and "Every Day I made Another Mistake" (the lyrics ironically foresaw their cult popularity in Japan!) alongside songs on their new album Well... You Started It! The Red Cloth show was particularly lively with spiky haired punk girls jumping on stage and stage diving. After much "We Want More!" cheering, the band came back out to do an encore that included covers of The Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols and The Undertones.

(The Fast Cars live at Graf in Hakata!)

After the show, The Fast Cars showed their appreciation by meeting and taking pictures with the audience. Another special thanks to 1977 Records for bringing a great classic band to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Mindless in Translation

Last month I came across a Myspace bulletin announcing a free Mindless Self Indulgence show in Roppongi and figured I'd go check it out. I listened to them nearly 8 years ago when a college party friend played "Bitches" all around our dorm floor and a bunch of us went out to see them at the Chance in Poughkeepsie. My friend ended up becoming their publicist and quite successful in the NYC goth/shock rock scene. Anyway, being from NY and having this connection, and also the advantage of it being a free show, I headed out to Roppongi for my first time.

(Japan Promo Spot)

I made it from the station past all the hustlers to the club, to find a line of Japanese and foreign teenage alterna-kids waiting in a line which started shortly moving. Despite it being a "free" show, in Tokyo you still gotta pay 500 Yen for a drink ticket. Another cool thing was that MSI were the only band on the bill, so the kids got into it right away. Admittedly, I'm not up on their new material, but I was happy to hear some of songs that I knew from the college days for nostalgia's sake.

Afterward, the band hung out with the audience for pictures and autographs. I introduced myself and Pacifiction Records to the guitar player Steve and he surprised me with his Taiwanese language ability... he learned GAN INIAN (meaning"Fuck Your Mother" in English) from a Taiwanese elementary school classmate. That being said, Mindless would be a great act for the Formoz festival in Taipei.

Monday, March 17, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Taiwan indies in Tokyo

While The Wall was hosting a plethora of foreign bands in Taiwan, a couple notables from the Taiwan indie scene visited Japan for a couple shows. Unfortunately, I'm always the last person to hear about these things and I missed them.

First up, post-rock/slowcore group Sugar Plum Ferry played at a free Nike sponsored event. Yeah, kinda strange, but you can check up on it at this website:

Interesting to note, they were on the bill with Hisham Akira Bharoocha a.k.a Soft Circle and formerly of Black Dice. On this page there is a link to an interview with him on my friends' NYC-based webzine which can be read here:

The second Taiwanese band to come play in Tokyo last month was the mod-style folk pop groove group Won Fu. This is one of Taiwan's most successful indie groups and one of my favorites. Promoting their new release in Japan, Won Fu played three shows in Tokyo at Club 251, Club Quattro and Shinjuku Marble as well as a spot on the NHK Radio program Asia Pops Sounds. you can read up on Won Fu's adventures in Tokyo on the On the One indie music blog:

Hopefully, next time some Taiwanese indie bands come to Japan, I'll know about it beforehand.

BORDER CROSSING: Head Phones President in China

OK, I'm a little late on this entry, but I figured I should mention it. Head Phones President have been friends of mine since I met them on tour in NYC in the winter of 2006. Following my move to Japan, I kept in touch with the band and arranged to have them play at the Formoz Festival in Taiwan and the Pacific Media Expo in LA. This past February, I was invited to tag along with Head Phones President to Beijing, China. Unfortunately, I didn't have the extra time or the cash, so I didn't go and I can't give many details.

(HPP in China)

They journey started in Shibuya at Club Quaatro where Head Phones President opened up for LA metal band In This Moment. Then both bands headed to Beijing to play the Yu Gong Yi Shan Live House. You can see some pictures on the HPP Blog and get more details if you can read Japanese. I wish I could have gone myself, but I was just honored to have been asked. Cheers to HPP!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


This past February saw a lot of "border crossing" action at Taipei's premier live music venue The Wall. Unfortunately, I don't live in Taiwan anymore and can't give all the details, but at least I can acknowledge the bands that made the trip and give credit to The Wall's management for bringing more desperately needed foreign acts to the off-the-beaten-path island.

First up was the gender-bending ex-Pierrot Japanese duo LM.C who made their second trip to Taiwan since performing at last summer's Formoz Festival. Next, the Austin, Texas based instrumental post-rock band Explosions in the Sky performed no doubt to the delight of the vast Taiwanese indie rocker college crowd with their unique tri-guitar ensemble. In 2004, I saw Mogwai at the Autumn Tiger fest, so Explosions' presence fits the island's scene. Three nights later, The Wall was visited by a couple Hong Kong bands: Alt-metal rockers 戳麻 (Chock Ma) and experimental shoegaze group Elf Fatima who had previously contributed a song to Lobo III, a Taiwan indie compilation series. Actually, Elf Fatima's Jesus & Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine influenced sound has recently begun to captivate me.

(Explosions in the Sky at The Wall)

Closing the month was a double date appearance by The Plastic People of the Universe, a Czech group originating in the late 60's representing the Prague underground and fighting against the country's normalization period when the communist government cracked down on the Arts. The Plastic People performed at the Spirit of
Taiwan festival held last year on Taiwan's 228 Peace Memorial Day. This year they played on February 28th as well, leading me to believe there is some political agenda equating their struggle in the Czech Republic to Taiwan's own opposition to communist China's grasp on the island's independence. Being a fan of 60's world psyche and garage, I would have loved to see this band, especially after reading that they are influenced by NY avant rock like the Velvet Underground and The Fugs.

Let's give a round of applause to The Wall for organizing these diverse events. Seeing that the Canadian baroque pop indie collective Broken Social Scene is coming this month, The Wall has more coming in the way of foreign artist.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Shorty Cat at Benten's Wacky Wild Party

I when I found the flyer for a Benten Label Wacky Wild Party, I was ecstatic. My introduction to Benten bands nearly eight years ago was a Wacky Wild Gift sampler I found at the Rhino Records store in New Paltz, NY as a college student. Many of the groups on the comp have since disbanded, but the flyer in hand listed three of those fabled bands on the bill, namely, Petty Booka, Noodles and Lolita No.18. And to boot, this Wacky Wild Party was held in celebration of Lolita No.18's 18th anniversary, with perfect coordination, on February 18th! Also, participating in this nite of girl punk fun was Shorty Cat, a cutesy, street punk/riot grrl influenced Korean girl band who I had stumbled across about a year ago. I quickly shot Audrey Benten a myspace message asking to be put on the advance ticket list at Shinjuku LOFT and voila, I was on my way.

I arrived 15 minutes after 6pm while Teenager just started their set. They are a three piece with a very definite Lolita influence but have more back-and-forth vocal interaction between the bass player and guitarist. The highlight for me was when Misia of Droop joined the Teenager girls on the Flamenco A-go go song "I'm Your Mom." The Benten spirit felt alive! However, when they finished, I realized I missed Petty Booka's 10 minute set. I was a bit crushed and tried to drown my sorrow in a quick cup of beer from my drink ticket.

(Shorty Cat's MV "With the Punk")
Being divided by two stage areas, this show at Loft had a festival feel with people migrating back an forth. Next up was Arinco Gang who fill the room with enough cute pop showing exactly how Ketchup Mania's influence has spread like, well, a derailed ketchup tanker. Soapland Momiyama picked things up with their tantalizing cave woman garage rock. While I grooved to Azarashi (MAGO +Sammy)'s set of electronic bongo/theremin driven pseudo-exotica, I surprisingly ran into a recent friend... Billy Trash from Ed Woods! He recommended the next band Who the Bitch, easily the most danceable group of the night. Radicals from Osaka, dressed to the ninety-nines, played a fun rockin' set girl punk tunes. Seeing Noodles, for the second time in Japan, I thought they are always pleasant with their surfy hooks and softer indie motifs. Throughout the nite I noticed quite a few Japanese street punk kids with studded leathers and heavy eyeshadow, I kinda figured they came for Shorty Cat and I was right. With diverse audience giving them a warm reception, these girls punched through a bunch of rambunctiously cute punk ditties leaving everyone shouting for more despite the fact the ladies of the evening were up next, Lolita No. 18 that is. Now I count Lolita No. 18 as one of my all time favorite bands and Masayo continues to sing in her deliciously grating voice but, being a fan of the old songs, I can't seem to get into the recent live shows. It pains me to write anything remotely negative, but I thought for their 18th anniversary show I would hear some of the classics like "Bobby Tank" and "Tokyo Mushroom" and their unforgettable renditions of "Rockaway Beach" and "Hang on Sloopy (sic)." But I guess it's something to Masayo's credit to want to move forward with her band. Nonetheless, it was a cool scene for Lolita No.18 to bring all the bands that played on stage for a Wacky Wild encore with "Saloon," everyone's all time favorite!

After the show, I met up with Pheobe from Shorty Cat and got some CDs for Pacifiction Records. After the show, I met up with Pheobe from Shorty Cat and got some CDs for Pacifiction Records. Two nights earlier they played another border crossing show at Nakano Moonstep with One Man Stand from the UK alongside local bands like Rough Stuff, Springers, The Prisoner, Drex and The 100-Hooligans.

For some pics of this show, visit this Flickr account:

For more info about Shorty Cat. visit the following links:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Mike Watt in Japan

In recent years, I've been into going out to see the legends of punk rock. A couple years ago, I went to CBGB's and met Captain Sensible, dare I say the closest thing I could have to an idol?! If I listened to the Damned much in high school, I was definitely attached to Mike Watt and the Minutemen in college. I remember I picked up Double Nickel on the Dime at the Salvation Army across from my share house, what a find! And around the same time a free jazz nut named Space Noodle started crashing illegally in the small "living room" connected to my room. He lent me a copy of Watt's solo album Contemplating the Engine Room, often described as a "punk rock opera" paying homage to the Minutemen as well as his father who served in the Navy. My own grandfather had been in the Navy, so I guess growing up around pictures of him in his uniform at Grandma's house endeared me to this record.

So when I heard about Mike Watt coming to Japan, I was ready to go see what it would be like. I knew, with exception of his recent activity in the Stooges, he wasn't doing much in the way of punk rock, but I was ready to see him wail on the bass! And I chose to go the show where Melt-banana was the opener! The name of the place is Highti, not a live house at all, but a warehouse performance space connected to some artists house off-the-beaten-path near the Arakawa River. After bumbling my way around the neighborhood, I finally stopped a taxi driver who used his GPS to show me the place was two blocks over! He wouldn't even take me there and I had to walk, getting lost again before finally finding the place. I actually pride myself on my sense of direction, but Japan seems to mess with my built-in radar.

Anyway, I paid my cover (really cheap for a Japanese show, only 1000 yen!), chuckle inwardly at the Uno card which is my free drink ticket and size up the area. I felt like I was at a warehouse gig in Brooklyn, that is if the ratio of Japanese to foreigners were reversed. But he decor was all there, random art on plywood walls, a weird swing with a pink hippo hanging over the front of the band area and a tribal charge of electrified guitars and saxophone blasts holding everyone's attention. The next band called 2up invited Mike Watt to play on a couple songs with them and surprised him and everyone else with a over of "Man without Nature,"which was enjoyable because nobody expected it, not even Watt who just went with it giving his best.

(2up with Mike Watt on the right, Photo taken from Highti's Blog)

Melt-banana played a set with their fullest intensity and it was pretty cool to see them so close to an audience that just jammed along to the fast-paced punky quirks and Yasuko's high pitched yells. After they played, I saw Yasuko hanging up some T-shirts to sell. I mentioned that I saw them in Yokohama a year ago and that Pacifiction Records now carries Doggy Style: The Dogs Tribute with Melt-banana doing "GST 483." I also mentioned Taiwan and if she would be interested in going there for some shows, and one of her friends said he went to the Formoz festival the previous year with YMCK... I said I was at the same show! It's a small rock n roll world!

So I went back in to see Mike Watt play with his improv group which consisted of Watt on bass, a drummer and a second bass player. While Watt put everything he had into the bass his little Rilakumma doll bouncing in his flannel jack-shirt pocket as frantic as he was bouncing on stage. The drummer occasionally shouted into the mic in time and the second bassist did some acrobatics forcing his instrument over a beam in the ceiling. Japanese punks, hipsters and cats of all kinds grooved to it all. And, Mike Watt proved he was The Man In Japan With A Bass In His Hand!

For hardcore fans, please dig Mike Watt's Japan Tour Diary on his Hoot Page.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: The Kids in Japan

The recent surge in reformed, touring '77 punk bands has dredged up many of the forgotten obscure sounds when the youth movement was sparking up all over th UK, Ireland and also mainland Europe. Well, at least in the West these bands remained obscure until labels like Bomp! and ROIR revive them; but in Japan, many of these acts have a continuous and ongoing fandom and when they finally make it over to tour, they are received by enthusiastic Japanese fans waiting patiently to take a snapshot with the band and get their original LP's autographed. It was like this for Nikki Corvette (a Japanese friend first turned me on to her garage punk sounds), The Dogs who were recently celebrated with a tribute album here, The Cannibals who joined Back from the Grave and The Stems who have had CDs reissued by two separate Japanese labels. It was no less the same for The Kids, the cheeky, untamed Belgian punk group who were known to have played alongside Iggy Pop and Patti Smith when they came to Japan for a two niter at Shelter in Shimokitazawa.

Honestly, I had not heard about The Kids before, but I had been listening to some of their old recordings recently. I'm also very interested in world punk, especially from the original punk era, so I was excited to see what it would be like. I learned earlier that The Kids were really kids when they started out, being between the ages 12 and 20, in 1976. They are also accredited to being the first Belgian punk band.

Their Sunday night set at Shelter seared many of their songs into my brain upon hearing them; I couldn't forget "Do You Love the Nazis?" "I Wanna Get a Job in the City," "Freedom, Liberty, Democracy" and of course "Radio Radio." After playing a very full set to a packed audience who kept yelling for more, The Kids came back out and played a double encore appropriately including Sham69's "If the Kids are United" and "Blitzkrieg Bop." Be sure to view The Kids' Japan video tour diary on YouTube!

The Kids were brought to Japan by 1977 Records, a local label that reissues many classic punk and power pop bands. They brought the Stems here last November and have organized events for The Fast Cars and Private Dicks later this year.

Monday, February 04, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: Kou Chou Ching on Okinawa

Continuing my blog series on groups working with Pacifiction Records who cross borders, I'll talk a little about Kou Chou Ching's recent trip to Okinawa. I actually didn't attend this event so there's not much I can really say about it. After coming to Japan last Summer to play a show in Tokyo with underground Japanese hip hop artist Bubble-B, they maintained their connections, flew a brief 30 minutes from Taiwan to Okinawa and jammed with several Japanese DJs on the tiny tropical island. If you have Traditional Chinese character reading ability you can get details on their blog (

Kou Chou Ching come from Taiwan and they make sure you know it in their music which is made with local samples and traditional instrumentation from their native country. They have a forthcoming album, following up on FuKe, which will be available on Pacifiction Records shortly.

(Fan by a Torii in Okinawa)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back from the Grave 2008

Last weekend a two day Japanese garage rock event called Back from the Grave was held in Tokyo a two different venues, Red Cloth in Shinjuku and Club UFO in Higashi-Koenji. Years ago I was introduced to Japanese garage rock via the Tokyo Trashville and Hodge Podge Barrage compilations which featured now legendary acts like Teengenerate, Guitar Wolf, 5678's, Jackie & the Cedrics, Muddy Frankenstein, Mutant Monster Beach Party and Great Mongoose. Around 15 years ago, these bands among many others made up a scene called Back from the Grave, illustriously named after the Crypt Records LP series.

In recent years some of the old bands have taken a break or called it quits, but there has been a new wave of screaming big beat stomp trash rock n' rollers to step up and support the older Back from the Grave bands that continue to play around Japan. Last weekend, a two day Back from the Grave garage blast was organized to celebrate the Japanese release of The Cramps' Live at Napa State Mental Hospital. Featured at Red Cloth on Saturday nite were The Titans, The Fly (a one man... er man with a fly-head garage blues band!) and his go go girl assistant Miss Tarantula!, Los Rizlaz (Mexican luchador surf garage!), the astonishing Go-Devils, surf challengers Jackie & the Cedrics, psychobilly act Spike and Cramps A Go Go, a Tokyo-based cover band. The Cannibals, the UK garage revival "trash" band fronted by Mike Spenser, headlined on Sunday's show at Club UFO. Openers included, The Mighty Moguls (cavemen rock!), Thee Bat (wild rockers with British constable helmets!), 96Tears (mod revival sounds), The Bait Ones (stomp scream and a show for true Cramps fans!) and the Young Parisians (mimicking the effeminate look and dirty sound of the NY Dolls).

Being such an aficionado of 60's garage and Nuggets sounds as well as the Tokyo Back from the Grave scene, it's exciting when these types of shows come around. And while the classics rarely play anymore, I can't complain because I was lucky enough to catch them earlier: Guitar Wolf at last year's Rock n' Roll Summit, Teengenerate at their reunion show at Maxwell's in 2005 and 5678's on the beach at Taiwan's Ho-Hai-Yan Festival in 2004. And some bands just never get tired; Jackie & the Cedrics play a couple times a month!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

BORDER CROSSING: The Vickers at Anti-pop 2

This past weekend the Tokyo monster rock 'n' roll band The Vickers joined Anti-pop 2 in Taiwan for a three show mini-tour taking them to Groove City in Taichung and Lounge 808 in Taipei. Anti-pop is a recent drive by the Taiwan-based expat band Consider the Meek and their label Leek Records to get more foreign performers to play the off-the-path island country. Last November, the all girl pop punk band Akiakane played the first Anti-pop series and Kev Lee of Consider the Meek plans to organize such events about every 2 months in hopes of attracting more bands from Japan, the US and elsewhere. Opening up for the foreign headliner are several up-and-coming local bands that have included Rabbit is Rich, The Hand Knife (ex-B.B. Bomb), Kenny from Casino, the Hindsight, New Hong Kong Hair City, Faded Moment, False Arrest, Winsky, Casanova, Jindowen, Deadly Vibes and To a God Unknown.

The Vickers, having previously played Taiwan at the Formoz Festival (I actually saw them for the first time at the Formoz 2004), were eagerly anticipated by Taiwanese punk fans and bands alike. Below are some pics I found on the Anti-pop myspace profile of The Vickers' performance at the 808 Lounge in Ximen Ding, Taipei.

(Rockin' Ryu)

Here's a list of links relevant to this article:

THE VICKERS' website:


ANTI-POP's Myspace:

(Chisato of The Vickers!)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Year End Review Part Three: Border Crossing

This is the final installment in the 2007 Year End Review blog post. Mainly, I've been writing about the great shows and festivals I attended over the past year. This final post will deal with specific instances when one or more of the bands promoted by Pacifiction Records made a trip to another country or when I attended an event or festival where a band from another country had been invited to play from another country.

I started off 2007 in Japan last year with members of Head Phones President. We all went to a countdown party where some of Anza's friends were performing in a kind of a posh J-pop musical review. It was a mild way to spend New Years Eve for me, but I was happy to be with new friends and seeing as I didn't have much money to paint Yokohama red. Anyway, HPP invited me out the following February to a big Street Rock and Shock Rock festival at Studio Coast called Independence-D. One of the reasons I mention it here is that Chthonic, the infamous black metal band from Taiwan played the same stage as Head Phones President. In fact, several of the big Japanese hardcore/ punk bands that played the two day event including Nature Living and FC FiVE I had previously seen on Taiwan at festivals like Formoz and Autumn Tiger during my stay in 2004. A couple other interesting connections to Taiwan include the fact that the Australian punk group Frenzel Rhomb shared the stage with Japan's Softball at the Say Yes to Taiwan fest in 2003. Also, the other major foreign act, Strung Out from the US is rumored to be included alongside Consider the Meek on a forthcoming Leek Records split. While the only band directly working with Pacifiction Records that performed was Head Phones President (and they didn't cross any borders) it's interesting to see all the other connections to Taiwan.

Following Independence-D, I wanted to fly to Taiwan for the Spirit of Taiwan Festival memorializing the 228 massacre but couldn't find the time or money. The big guests of 2007 were Akiakane from Japan, Muse from the UK, Strike Anywhere from the US, The Plastic People of the Universe from the Czech Republic and Punk God from China (currently in exile for playing at a previous Say Yes to Taiwan event). The featured Taiwan bands included Tizzy Bac, LTK and Chthonic.

However, I wouldn't cross the border to Taiwan until April's Double Pig Scream Scream. This being a major event, I'll try to just list the foreign bands I know that played last year. First off, I took a plane trip with the Tokyo poetry rock group Flight of Idea and hung out with them in Taipei before heading down to Kenting for the big fest. We hit up the Underworld, Mo-Relax cafe and we ate dinner at a restaurant run by the Taike (Taiwan Rock) band Chairman and managed by my old friend XiaoCool. Flight of Idea played a show with the Japanese avant rock group Groundcover who were also heading down to Kenting to play with us. When we finally got to the Kentington dude ranch resort (the site of the 2007 Spring Scream) the weather was perfectly overcast (no rain and no bright sun!). I remember randomly meeting Snoblind the ambient indie electronica duo from Hong Kong and the indie rock band Lowercase p from Boston, MA. As usual People's Records brought a slew of bands including girl punk duo Bubblelovele, punk rockabilly combo Hot Dog Buddy Buddy, Double Negative and Savas. Independently several Japanese were booked to play Spring scream. Flight of Idea amassed a bunch of spectators taken in by Azuma's charisma and the groove of the music. Groundcover astounded people with their wild noise rock and Green Pepe, a trio of Japanese girls dressed in white frocks and green face paint that made them look like Martian ghosts played kind of Osaka style avant rock. Some of the big names from North America included Mates of State, One Ring Zero, Attash and Girl + the Machine. There were several other bands from around Asia, America and Europe, but I can't list them all; you'll have to check the Spring Scream website for a comprehensive roster.

(Baseball in Moscow)

Over the summer, I was supporting two big tours. The Pixies/Dirty Three stylized Australian indie punk band Baseball booked a major European tout which took them from Finland, down Russia, through Germany to Croatia, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and finally England! In the beginning of summer the Taiwan-based activist punk outfit Consider the Meek did a tour of Japan from Osaka to Nagoya, then Tokyo and back. During their stay in Taiwan they played a show with the legendary NYHC group Murphy's Law (interestingly, I had just seen my friends in Armed Suspects and Soul 4 Sale open for them in upstate NY a year earlier).

Mid-summer I would head back to Taiwan for the Formoz Festival, this time leading Head Phones President. Also playing the fest were my friends from the live dub, post rock project Six O'Minus booked along with the renowned Tokyo psych rock group Luminous Orange. This fest had so many diverse Japanese bands from Jrock to punk, ska, nu-metal, indie pop and video game pop. The big Japanese band names were Anna Tsuchiya, L.MC, Rise, Teriyaki Boyz, Quruli, Buffalo Daughter, The Aprils, YMCK, Aonami, Elekibass, Six O'Minus, Lumious Orange, Head Phones President, Yum Yum Orange and Ging Nang Boyz. Since I was mostly checking out the Taiwanese bands I hadn't seen in such a long time, I didn't see too many of the big acts, however, I wouldn't miss the Ging Nang Boyz show. I think they toned down their show for a Taiwanese audience because the songs had more of a classic rock vibe. However, Mineta did strip down and looked nicely like Iggy pop writhing on the big monitors by the stage side. He picked up an acoustic and did a rather suicidal sounding solo number before going back into punk rock insanity, running naked out to the audience, snatching an unsuspecting spectator's water bottle and lobbing it into the center crowd, getting him arrested and deported the next morning. Best performance from a punk band that weekend! Coming from the US were mostly indie bands with the exception of 80's metal legends Testament. Biggest name from US was Yo La Tengo, but Asobi Seksu and Dean and Britta from NY gave the audience great sets (even if they did play too early and soccer stadium felt like a sauna in the tropical humidity!). As for Pacifiction bands, Six O'Minus played a great set that got good reviews on the Island's Taiwan Nights website and Head Phones President managed to win over a large audience despite being unknown on the island; they even got an interview with local MTV. As for Formoz border crossing, I think that's it.... Oh I forgot, one day a stage was almost entirely dedicated to Korean metal!

Also during the summer time, ZMN Records in Taiwan sponsored a couple tours to China for their bands. During the first tour, Semi-Con and Duct Tape hit up several venues in Wuhan, Changsha and Beijing. Later in the summer, Stay Gold would follow in their footsteps.

(Kou Chou Ching battle with rhymes and puppets at Labu in Tokyo)

When Summer Sonic happened in Japan, several Taiwanese friends came to Japan to go to the festival and do some sightseeing. I hung out with members of Braces, Freckle, Kou Chou Ching and Children Sucker in Japan and Kou Chou Ching even played an all night underground hip hop/Miami bass show at Labo in Yoyogi... Their performance incorporated a humorous puppet show and adroit comedic samples, but compromised none of their dignity. A couple days later, the girls from Braces, Ben Ben from Freckle and Taisuke from Six O'Minus and I all had a party at an Izakaya.

(Chillin' in Brooklyn with Flight of Idea)

In the fall, I organized a NYC tour for Tokyo poet Azuma Yuichiro and his no wave/Beat generation influenced band Flight of Idea. With the help of Amy Uzi, Karate Rice, Rebel Night, Jake Noodles, Pass Out Record Shop and Frank Wood, I got them set up at some of the hippest places around town including Karma Lounge (Azuma solo), Cave Canem, Don Pedro's, Otto's Shrunken Head and an impromptu spot at a Pass Out Saturday show. I've been told that despite challenges caused by the language barrier, they were well received and people want them back!

Just before Flight of Idea headed out to New York City, met an original Australian retro mersey beat, 60's RnB, reggae band called The Basics. They were just coming back from a tour to the UK and I managed to snag some of their CDs for my shop when I saw them play at Club UFO with Supersnazz and nanoX (at the same time I snagged their CDs as well). In return, I got The Basics a slot on Azuma Yuichiro's Shibuya FM radio show "Everybody Knows?" (past guests have included local legends like Guitar Wolf and Shonen Knife as well a greats such as David Johansen and Joe Strummer). The Basics are also known for supporting The Bawdies, the Beatles style Japanese band on their Australian tour.

In November, I booked Head Phones President to play the Pacific Media Expo (PMX), an Asian pop culture convention held in Los Angeles. I arrived a day after HPP and found my way to the VIP room in the hotel where I received the best hospitality I could have asked for from the PMX staff; and to boot they were really cool to talk to about music! The expo had many events including discussions on manga, movie screenings, a Lolita fashion show, karaoke and guest speakers including anime voice actors and James Kyson Lee
of the cast from Heroes. Several of the bands on the bill included Candy Spooky Theatre, D&L, LiN Clover, Thee Out Mods, The Slants and Head Phones President. During my stay in LA I was also able to meet up with one of the bands I had been working with over the past year, Wolfgang Bang, a leather jacket punk band with Japanese members. I was really lucky and happy that The Slants were opening up for HPP because they were such great party animals! Actually Simon contacted me a year earlier due to my interest in Taiwanese underground music. My trip ended up working out well because I could touch base with Wolfgang Bang, make friends with The Slants and feel the satisfaction of bringing a beloved group like Head Phones President closer to their fans abroad.

Later that month, a group of Taiwanese came again to Japan for a mini tour by the Taike (Taiwan rock) band backQuarter. Because no one told me about the show, I missed it but I did go out with Bear and Yifun from Braces to a Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re show. Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re were hanging out before the show and I got to talk to them (I talked to them in NYC and at previous Tokyo shows) and I introduced them to the Braces girls... Mari was pretty excited and even ranted how she has fans from Taiwan and the US in the audience. During the show, she jumped out into the crowd and somehow the mic got shoved to Bear to hold while Mari screamed into it! Needless to say, the Braces girls loved it!

(Yifun & Bear from Braces with Mari from Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re)

Around the same time, Akiakane from Japan made a trip to Taiwan for the Anti-pop 1 concert series organized by Consider the Meek in conjunction with Chaos Punk and Vicious Circle. The second Anti-pop series is happening at the moment in Taiwan with guest supporter The Vickers, monster rock n roll from Japan.

While the Taiwanese indie/post rock trio 8mm Sky's US tour was shot down because of visa issues, Chthonic, ever-popular among metal audiences overseas, joined last summer's Ozzfest. Making American music fans aware of Taiwan's push for recognition in the UN with their "UNlimited Taiwan" protest song, the band played a NYC show at the Highline Ballroom entitled "UNlimited New York" amid protests supporting a coinciding petition from Taiwan to join the worldwide political organization. Local Asian fusion band The Hsu-nami, lead by er-hu wielding Jack Hsu, opened up for Chthonic at this date.

Throughout my first year in Japan, I also saw several classic garage, punk and rock n roll bands from foreign lands. The first was a show at Shinjuku Red Cloth where I went mostly to see Jackie and the Cedrics, but was glad to catch the spooky sounds of The Ghastly Ones, a band I had discovered years earlier in my search for garage and surf music. I saw the Stems, an Australian garage band from the early eighties and I didn't want to leave the show so early to catch my train home! By the way I hate Sunday shows! Lastly, the Dogs... forgotten mothers of Detroit rock! Next best thing to the Stooges... and they were preceded by the Go-Devils, Jackie and the Cedrics and the Gimmies! In fact this show was to support a new Dogs tribute featuring many classic and unforgettable Japanese indie bands.

Well that about raps up all the international music experiences connected to me. If I can remember more I'll add it later. And I'll definitely keep better tabs on my blog for next year!