MO’SOME TONEBENDER/Lolita No.18/Hystoic Vein/oh sunshine/white white sisters/ZUKUNASISTERS, SXSW 2011, March 18, 2011

"The End of the World" referred to in Murakami Haruki’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is not an apocalypse. Rather, it’s a point where "the world can go no further."

MO’SOME TONEBENDER was the end of SXSW 2011 for me. I snipped my wristband on Saturday afternoon, skipping out on the final night of the festival. Part of it was exhaustion, but mostly, I didn’t think anything else could top MO’SOME TONEBENDER. And I didn’t really want anything else to try.

I’ve known about MO’SOME TONEBENDER for a long time, but I was too enamored of NUMBER GIRL to pay much attention to them. I wish I had because they fill a void that NUMBER GIRL’s dissolution left. Not content just to hammer at their riffs with single-minded precision, MO’SOME TONEBENDER throws in sampled strings, garage rock riffs and sometimes even a dance beat into their music — sometimes all in one song.

A lot of bands on the Japan Nite bill had impressive sets, but MO’SOME TONEBENDER topped them all. Diving from one song to the next, the band didn’t give the audience a single moment to catch its breath, and by the end of it, the only thing that could be said was, "Holy fuck!"

MO’SOME TONEBENDER sold a custom-made compilation for the show, containing that night’s set list. Some live bands don’t translate well in the studio, but that’s not the case here. MO’SOME TONEBENDER has recorded 13 albums and is about to release a career retrospective. That’s a lot of music to explore.

I’ve seen Lolita No.18 before, and I didn’t really think much would change since the last time. So I opted to rest my feet out on the patio. The Sister/Benten label has a steady roster of all-women punk bands, of which Hystoic Vein fits right in. After attending Japan Nite for more than a decade, this roster starts to blur.

oh sunshine cooled the evening down with a sultry, ’90s alt-rock set featuring bilingual singer Emily Connor. Sorry, no Tokyo Jihen pyrotechnics from guitarist Hirama Mikio. The duo have a great rapport, and Connor owns the stage. The music didn’t compel me to part cash for some merchandise. Connor remarked how hot it was in Austin. It had only reached in the upper ’80s. Girl, come back in July.

I don’t like live electronica sets mainly because there’s nothing to see, and I had my fair dose of skepticism about white white sisters. The band went on stage with their name projected on a white sheet draping the stage. Then the set started, and the visuals started in earnest. Video art director Tajima Kouta never takes the stage, but his contribution to the band is every bit as vital as Matsumura Yuyu’s tortured guitar playing and Ishi Kazumasa’s complex drumming. Musically, white white sisters are definitely descendants of Boom Boom Satellites, but the visual component adds that dimension missing in electronica sets to which I’ve been subjected before.

ZUKUNASISTERS had the unenviable task of getting the evening started, and the band’s classic soul sound set the right tone. Lead singer Emi has studied her Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, and her burnished singing had enough grit to give the music some edge. It was tough not to feel good after they left the stage.

Comments

  • Id says:

    Hahaha, I like Mo’some, but I can only stand listening to their albums Rockin’ Luula and Super Nice since they’ve got the best variety of styles. I’ve got a few others, but they’re too lo-fi for my tastes and that’s definitely why I can imagine some people not liking them at the onset. (I recall you not really like garage-y rock or something to that effect) I really do love the experimentation on their albums though, they’re sort of like Boris in that you really have no idea what to expect going into any of them. Their album Check Out World was really interesting too with the use of sampling and electronics, but I just find myself replaying パーティーは続くよ over and over again.