Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE HARPY's USA Tour - A Winged Tale of Estrogen & Eyeliner from Japan

So I finally did what I've been talking about doing for a longtime. I booked a Japanese band in the NY area and went on tour with them, at least for most of the shows. When I wasn't spending time with family whom I hadn't seen in nearly two years, I was chauffeuring Japanese girls band THE HARPY's around, taking them to sights of interest and wheeling so that they got the most out of their trip. Many might recognize guitarist Satomi and bass player Maki from their previous band the infamous Falsies on Heat. For a year now both have been writing new frenzied material with a drummer named Tomo who they conned (without much difficulty) into dressing like a punk rock girl, eye liner and all. The result being a hot buzz band that's won a Fred Perry sponsored contest and released a single on the indie label Due. RECORDS to coincide with their recently completed USA tour which brought them from NYC to upstate NY, the backwoods of Connecticut and back. I'll go into some fine day-by-day details from here...

9/11 - QxBxRx presents... @ CAKE SHOP, Manhattan, NYC

No I didn't actually make it to this one, but I heard from Satomi some interesting details. Falsies on Heat played this party when they came around two years ago, and The Harpy's were welcome to join the city's gateway into the queer underground & metrosexual garage subculture. This time round featured a burlesque show by curvy badgirl Li’l Miss Lixxx and local bands Triple Hex & Boogie Brains. I was also told that Kerry Davis from the Red Aunts (Maki and Satomi started out playing their songs in a high school band) was in attendance at the Cake Shop.

9/12 - Lady Bree Presents... @ DON PEDRO BAR, Brooklyn, NYC

I met up with my old friend and cohort from high school days Chris Webber (, who occasionally acts as a tour photographer when I have a Japanese band the NY area. We rode the train down from Port Jervis to NYC and walked in the rain to Other Music then took the L to Bedford Ave and hoofed through Williamsburg to the place where Pass Out Record Shop used to be. Oh well, it's gone.

Then met up with my folks and my sister for her birthday dinner at The Lodge before heading to the show at Don Pedro's around 9pm. At Don Pedro I met Lady Bree, hostess for the evening, Phil & Matt who were helping The Harpy's get around in the city, and Hitomi, drummer for High Teen Boogie. And another friend, Anna Bananarchy, from my days at Radical Records also showed up to see her friends in Devil Eyes, the first Canadian band to cross paths with The Harpy's on this tour. Devil Eyes were killer friendly, and played a hip set of indie punk tunes that included a cover of Please Don't Touch (I bought the 7"!). The Harpy's had no need to adjust to playing on tour and proved themselves infinitely more than capable of holding a lazy Sunday nite crowd's attention. The final band, The Back CC's were the main draw and killed with organ-powered garage punk and frantic stage action with rubber chicken heads! The drive home upstate was a drag, but at least we had a day off before picking The Harpy's up in Manhattan for a Tuesday afternoon road trip.

9/14 - Pete's Warehouse, New Paltz, NY

Drove down to Manhattan with Chris and picked up The Harpy's from Matt's place. On the way out of the city, I fumbled a bit and let the GPS take me through the Holland Tunnel, getting slightly lost in Jersey City then taking a slow and hardly scenic route through north Jersey. Finally made it to my folks place where we had some Bud Lite and deli subs for lunch. Showed them around the house and my Dad's roadhouse barn, which would be like an estate in Japan (Tomo literally flipped out like a hyperactive anime character when he saw the pool!), but with wild gardens & hillbilly junk lying here and there. Then we headed up to High Falls (Tomo, being a country boy, nearly got lost in the brush with Chris), Rosendale (we went on the rail trestle despite it being closed for safety reasons) and finally Pete's house on the outskirts of New Paltz.

(Rosendale rail trestle)

At Pete's house we pretty much waited around for Los Doggies to arrive with amps and set up. At first I was doubtful that anyone would show up on a Tuesday nite, but apparently the big warehouse in the middle of nowhere has a big draw just on word-of-mouth. By the time Pete's band NCM started, a group of teenage crust punks, hitchhikers on their way to rainbow gatherings and old guard New Paltz pirates had emerged out of the woods with about a dozen dogs ready have a rock 'n' roll party! Lighting was a non-issue and Los Doggies played an almost instrumental post-punk set in the dark with flashlights flickering from across the musty expanse of damp warehouse and dreaded heads of dancing crusties. When The Harpy's blitzed through a perfect set heightening the grooves of the dancers with their dogs weaving frenziedly between shifting bodies. During "5x6" I shot off a couple cans of silly string into the crowd right when the music picked up and then all the kids continued to party, slugging warm whiskey, singing folk tunes on an accoustic and wrestling each other, well after the climax.

(Dogs and New Paltz pirates at Pete's warehouse)

 9/15 - SNAPPER MAGEE'S, Torrington, CT

Loaded up the family van with amps, drums and gear, then drove up to New Paltz with my hippie biker Dad (who The Harpy's instinctively called Papa!), picked up the the band at Pete's house (with Tomo already in full drag attire) and headed out into the wooded hills of western Connecticut. I was actually bit nervous driving into such uncharted hillbilly wilderness and hunter cuntry with a faux drag queen in the back seat. Especially since we had plans to stop for something to eat on the way. We found a Subway on the NY/CT border and the young Indian clerk seemed really interested that we were all coming from Japan; and he did give a sideward glance at Tomo when he heard us discussing sandwich toppings!

Finally we made it to Torrington for my first visit to Snapper's at this location. I've been familiar with the one in Kingston, NY and previously booked Falsies on Heat where they infamously supported one of punk rock's biggest aberrations The Murder Junkies for a one-shot gig two years ago. This year, The Harpy's were thrown on a bill with Rehab for Quitters, a Canadian band with a penchant for loud fast punk'n'roll, and i,fanblades, a trio up from Delaware whose sound borders on baroque punk and progressive hardcore. Before the start of the show, Travis from Snapper's got us invitations to go on air on WAPJ-FM, Torrington's own independent radio station! We walked two blocks down with Rehab for Quitters and waited in the lobby while they did a short interview. Then Satomi and I went into the studio; one of the world's coolest DJs Sketch asked us questions about the tour and played a couple Harpy's songs on Connecticut radio!

We got back to Snapper's and The Harpy's immediately set up and started to play after checking levels and and a quick sound check. They grasped the attention of a lot of kids unready for it and went beyond the expectations of a couple of Japanese culture heads including a sole lolita fashion girl and a roly-poly bag-piper named Ken who did a little Egyptian dance while trying to get the rest of the crowd psyched up! Oh and since I decided to drive home, "Pa Pa" had decided to suck down a bunch of The Harpy's drink coupons! It was a raucous set that left an amazed audience needing more and The Harpy's did a one song encore hardly satisfying the Wednesday nite Snapper's regulars.

As if the saga ended there...! As mentioned before Rehab for Quitters, the second Canadian band to appear on The Harpy's tour, killed it with my drunk old man cheering "That's awesome!" repeatedly! Assisting the band with getting their drinks, I kept my eye on Tomo, who, with miniskirt and eye liner, did a convincing kawaii. I had to just let it flow when the bartender asked, "What'll she have?" Luckily by the time i,fanblades came on, people had figured it out (I guess) and Tomo had been happily dancing with the jubilant Ken, aforementioned! Then i,fanblades' guitar amp head caught on fire causing a silent uproar in the bar and lead to an improvised bass and drum jam to which Tomo grooved too nicely... He was finally compelled to jump on stage announcing "This is Japanese famous song!" and then proceeded to rap Blue Hearts lyrics to the i,fanblades jam! Something like this:

one! two! three! four!
thank you!!!!

I realized Tomo truly has no fear! Papa swaggered over to me and shouted, " I have hope for this world!" Satomi just said he's BAKA! Then I had to drive everyone home for two and a half hours with The Harpy's yelling "YOPARAI! " (or he's drunk!) at my Papa!

9/17 - SNUG HARBOR, New Paltz, NY

Woke up, had scrambled eggs & toasted bagels and cream cheese before beginning yet another road trip. Seeing as the weather was overcast and rainy, I popped The Vaseline's in my car CD player and we took off for the Galleria mall on the way to New Paltz. Pointed out cheap gags at Spencers, manga at Borders, they got lost in H&M for half an hour... Satomi emerging with piles of bags of clothes! and Tomo curiously dashing through Forever21... If only they were exchange students when I was in high school! Then we headed up to New Paltz for comic and record shopping... made a pilgrimage to October Country. Then had some sad news when I stopped by Jack's Rhythms, Jack Goldberg the longtime record peddler of Main St. had passed while fighting brain cancer. Sullenly we moved onto the 68 Main Co-op where I saw some of the kids who came out to the warehouse show on Tuesday and then headed across the street, making the New Paltz rounds to Rhino Records. After rapping with staff there and buying some souvenir postcards, we headed to Bacchus for some delicious southwestern by way of Hudson appetizers and our first beers of the evening. Still having time to kill before Los Doggies arrived with gear, I gave The Harpy's a tour of the 300 year old stone Huguenot Houses and the church graveyard along supposedly "the oldest street in America." Maki wanted to check it out but, being after dark, Satomi got scared, Tomo and I were carefree and found places to pee in the bushes! Then we decided to wait at Snugs for NCM and Los Doggies to arrive and set up. By 11pm things were underway and NCM had started while the place was filling up. Then The Harpy's commandeered the stage getting neo-hippie regulars and townies alike grooving to their infectious rhythms and off-beat grrrl pop. They planned an extra long set, so that by the time they did "5x6," the crowd was hyper and yenning for more! After they wrapped it up, Los Doggies blasted out with a bit of Nirvana Paltz, something I had not seen yet since they usually reserve only for Halloween! They began their set with covers from Nevermind and then finished up with original Los Doggies experimental fare. By that time a few old friends and cohorts from old New Paltz days sauntered in as I was sobering up ready for the long ride home. I left The Harpy's at Pete's house, telling them I felt depressed, even knowing that they're gonna play my Mystery Mondays show right after we all get back to Japan!

9/17 - Mr. BEERY's, Bethpage, Long Island, NY
9/18 - Lady Bree Presents... @ DON PEDRO BAR, Brooklyn, NYC

Missed these last shows because I was spending time with family, friends and neighbors. First, got a dodgy email from Lady Bree asking if The Harpy's were canceling at Don Pedro's, then got a frightening called Friday evening from High Teen Boogie's Nonlee asking what time The Harpy's were supposed to arrive in at Grand Central from Poughkeepsie... then called Matt and found out they were together and en route to Long Island and judging from the bits of data swirling around the interwebs, they had great shows at both venues with superb local NYC garage bands. Special thanks to High Teen Boogie and Lady Bree for arranging things this last weekend, wish I coulda been there, but barbecue food and potato salad was calling.

Epilogue - BACK IN JAPAN

So I been back in Japan for two days now, trying to manage jet lag and going back to work with keeping ahead of my upcoming event schedule. For anyone in Tokyo, please head to HATAGAYA HEAVY SICK on Mon. 9/27 for MYSTERY MONDAYS Vol. 3, Mystery Girls Part 1, feat. THE HARPY's vs THE DARLINGS! Also including guest DJs SACHI B (GO HONEY GO!) and KYOKO ( THE LEGS) as well as your host WAYNE MANOR (SWAMP FICTION) and his side-kick DJ MICHAEL (HEAD KICKED IN)!!!! Opens at 20:00 and cover is 1,200 yen (plus 1 drink)!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Last Sunday I hosted the my first event in Tokyo which I hope to make into a regular series. My idea for Wayne Manor's HOUSE of MYSTERY is to not only have a savage line-up of Japanese garage & punk bands, but also include sideshow entertainments during entertainments. So last Sunday we were graced by THE FLY's newest fling, belly-dancing princess SHAULA LEE... there was also an arm-wrestling contest featuring the fierce CHRIS the ARM-CRUSHER and little challenger DJ OKD of the demented duo YUKKUM YUKKUM along with psycho-weirdo DJ Mr. DEATH! At the end of the nite I pulled raffle tickets and awarded the prizes like a bobble-head Rat Fink and Doggy Style: The Dogs Tribute, with illustration by Rockin' Jelly Bean! Despite being quite busy 'n getting frazzled trying to keep all the bands on time, play my DJ sets and host these skits, it was all worthwhile!


It was also a Bon Voyage party for THE HARPY's who I will actually be flying to NY with for their US tour which kicks off next weekend! I jumped on stage and had an American beer KANPAI with Budweiser to celebrate. Les VIVIAN BOYS played next and gave a very European chic meets Japanese mystique performance. Next I passed out home-made Batman masks and played the original 60's TV soundtrack for a Bat-craze dance party just in time for THEEE BAT to blast a high-power cover of Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues!" THE FLY & his one-man garbage played his slick garage blues and invited rockabilly double bass & guitar men for a hot tune. ED WOODS freaked out like never before with a frantic room of trash followers, I think Billy showed us his entire collection of Batman dungarees before slipping around on the floor! And ANISAKIS finished up the night with their darkly hyper post-punk that ended in bloody fingers and fretboards. So despite my nerves on the edge of a hectic night, everything turned out very cool. My turbaned head is receiving vibes and I predict the HOUSE of MYSTERY will open its doors once again!


MYSTERY MONDAYS Vol. 1 - Punk Nite

So last week I started up a new regular event titled Mystery Mondays. The idea is to have a mini-live (or 2 band show) with a couple guest DJs every time. The first was more of a punk nite with the '77 punk and skinny tie New Wave style of THE LEGS, a relatively new band on the Tokyo scene that is still gaining ground.

The headliner SEE HER TONITE was a more melodic Japanese punk with a longer history in the Tokyo punk scene alongside bands like The Havenots and Water Closet. Both bands fit well together and I played a DJ set as The Stately Wayne Manor of mostly new gen garage punk, 77 punk and power pop. The guest DJ was Michael, a half-Russian Japanese kid who is a resident at the Dope Music Bar Foggy in Takadanobaba where he does a regular party called Head Kicked In.

The next Mystery Monday, this upcoming September 27th, is sub-titled Myster Girls Part 1 and will feature female-fronted bands THE DARLINGS and THE HARPY's (first show after their return from their US tour!). DJs will include KYOKO, drummer of THE LEGS and SACHI B who hosts a regular party called GO HONEY GO! at DJ BAR CHROME. I will post another blog about this soon!