Kansai Scene Magazine


The Pillows

Internationally acclaimed Japanese J-rock trio

Originally formed twenty years ago in 1989 as The Coinlocker Babies, The Pillows have gone through as many musical directions as line-up changes. With roots in indie music, the band drifted in to an unexpected jazz direction in the ’90s, however this wasn’t to last. The band eventually found much-deserved commercial success with 1997 release “Please Mr. Lostman,” which is a play on words of Beatles track “Please, Mr. Postman.” Consequently, the band rarely plays any pre-“Lostman” tracks, seemingly leaving their early musical experiments in the past.

2006 album My Foot was well received not only in Japan but right across the globe. Their international success is partly due to their music being used for manga animation series Furi Kuri (sometimes romanized as Fooly Cooly). With a growing fan-base outside Japan, The Pillows toured Mexico and the US, and also have a US website for English fans (plus another site in Portuguese).

On their travels, the band managed to pick up a mascot in England. “Buster-kun,” a small toy they found in a London shop, frequently appears in videos and on T-shirts, with the band’s fans now affectionately known as Little Busters. Whether new to The Pillows or a diehard since 1989, this hi-energy rocking three-piece will never fail to disappoint an audience.

Zepp, Osaka. Dec 15, 7pm, ¥4,200. Tel: 06-6341-3525

Yo La Tengo

US Indie Rock Trio

Yo La Tengo–what’s that name all about, then? In 1962 during a New York Mets baseball game, center fielder Richie Ashburn ran for a catch whilst shouting to his fellow fielder, Venezuelan Elio Chacon, “I got it! I got it!” Unfortunately, Chacon only spoke Spanish, and the heavyweight Venezuelan ran straight in to Ashburn. From there, Ashburn learned to say “I got it” in Spanish–“Yo la tengo.” At least we know someone is a Mets fan.

Since their debut album in 1986, Ride the Tiger, the band has had fantastic reviews but mediocre sales. This hasn’t put them off. Famed for their huge repertoire of covers, every year the band plays live on a New Jersey radio station as part of an annual charity fundraiser. In 2006, the band put out a double album of takes from these radio shows, spanning eight years. 2006 offering I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass was described in Entertainment Weekly as “shaggy, dreamy, cuddly, and explosive,” which is a pretty accurate description. The album contains some real gems, including the ten-minute jaunt of “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Godkind”, with its hypnotic rhythms, guitar feedback and vocals that are almost lost in the overall sound–a real dreamy head-nodder. If you're out looking for something a little different, then Yo La Tengo is the band for you.

Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 14, 7pm, ¥6,000. Tel: 06-6535-5569

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant

Movie screening of the band's last concert

It’s nearly fifteen years ago since I first came across Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. The venue was The Boston: a small bar and live house in northwest London. I was playing guitar in the second billed band of the night, and while sound checking, we were told the main band of the night had “come all the way from Japan but had no equipment, and could they borrow ours.” We gladly obliged, and ended up sharing a dressing room with “the elephants,” and later joined the small audience to watch their set. A lot has happened to Thee Michelle Gun Elephant since that first UK gig. Sadly, the band lost guitarist Abe Futoshi to an acute case of hematoma earlier this year; this movie is the bands last live performance, and also includes backstage footage.
Although not strictly a live performance, if you have no plans for Christmas day, then enjoy a great band on the big screen–and remember a great guitarist.

Garage Rock. Taku Taku, Kyoto. Dec 25, 7pm, ¥2,000/¥2,500. Tel: 06-6341-3525.

Wei Wei Wu

Contempoary Chinese erhu player.

Chinese violinist Wei Wei (now resident in Tokyo), began playing classical violin at just five years old. Practicing Western music at a time when China was going through a cultural revolution resulted in her father, then a well known Shanghai composer, drawing the curtains of their home to encourage as little public attention as possible.
Wei Wei persevered, and at age nine years, began attending the Shanghai Music Institute; this road inevitably led her towards a professional career in music.

Refreshingly, Wei Wei Wu now uses the Chinese erhu two-stringed violin, which contradicts traditionalistic routes of many other erhu players. Album Wei Wei Wu Plays Burt Bacharach epitomizes her musical range, and she has been described as a mixture of jazz, classical, world, Chinese and ‘60s Euro-contempo.

Her debut album Memories Of The Future was released in 2002, and her second album Shanghai Red swiftly followed in 2003. This work led to an invitation to record with acclaimed Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, which she gladly accepted. Wuu is no stranger to distant shores, and thrills audiences around the globe with her unique talent.

World/Erhu. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 5, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥5,000/¥6,500. Tel: 06-6342-7722

Live Listings

Finch/Funeral For A Friend.
Rock. Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 1, 7pm, ¥6,700. Tel: 06-6535-559.

Strung Out.
Rock/Authority Zero. Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 2, 7pm, ¥5,775. Tel: 06-6344-3326.

Alice Nine.
J-Visual Rock. Namba Hatch, Osaka. Dec 3, 6.30pm, ¥4,725/¥5,250. Tel: 06-7732-8888.

Asian Kung-Fu Generation.
J-Rock. Zepp, Osaka. Dec 4, ¥4,300/¥4,600. Tel: 06-7732-8888.

T.M. Revolution.
J-Visual Rock. Zepp, Osaka. Dec 6, 2pm and 6pm, ¥5,800. Tel: 06-7732-8827.

Earth Wind & Fire.
Disco Funk. Namba Hatch, Osaka. Dec 7 and 9, 7pm, ¥9,800/¥11,000. Tel: 06-6341-4506.

J-Pop. Grand Cube, Osaka. Dec 8, 7pm, ¥8,000. Tel: 06-7732-8888.

Dianne Birch.
Pop-Rock Vocal Songwriter. Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 8, 7.30pm, ¥6,000. Tel: 06-6281-8181.

J-Rock. Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 10-11, 7pm, ¥4,000/¥4,500. Tel: 06-6341-3525.

Mr Children.
J-Pop/Rock. Kyocera Dome, Osaka. Dec 10, 7pm; Dec 12, 6pm; Dec 13, 5pm, ¥7,350/¥7,875.

J-Pop/Rock. Big Cat, Osaka. Dec 10, 7pm, ¥4,500/¥5,000. Tel: 06-6341-3525.

The Stylistics.
Soul Vocal Group. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 11-12 and 14-16, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥8,000/¥9,500. Tel: 06-6342-7722.

Guns ‘N’ Roses.
Rock. Kyocera Dome, Osaka. Dec 16, 7pm, ¥6,000/¥12,500. Tel: 06-6362-7301.

David T Walker.
Soul Guitar. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 17, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥7,000/¥8,500. Tel: 06-6342-7722.

Brutal Truth/Converge.
Rock. Big Cat, Osaka. Dec 17, 7pm, ¥6,800. Tel: 06-6535-5569.

Madina Lake.
Rock. Club Quattro, Osaka. Dec 17, 7pm, ¥5,500/¥6,000. Tel: 06-6281-8181.

Yuki Koyanagi.
J-Pop. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 22-23, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥6,000/¥11,000. Tel: 06-6342-7722.

Al McKay Allstars perform Earth Wind & Fire.
Disco Funk. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 24-26, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥8,500/¥13,500. Tel: 06-6342-7722.

Arrested Development.
RnB/Hip-hop. Billboard Live, Osaka. Dec 30-31, 6.30pm/9.30pm, ¥6,900/¥8,400. Tel: 06-6342-7722.

Compiled by Phillip Jackson

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:: news

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