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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Laughin Nose at The Loft [2009 Back Post]

This post is the last “back post” from 2009. It basically encapsulates my impressions of the Japanese punk scene from my December 2009 Tokyo trip.

Laughin Noses at the Loft

TOKYO, December 27 — Before arriving in Tokyo, I heard a lot about the punk scene and the venue circuit called “Live Houses”. Live Houses are a group of venues that specifically cater to rock acts. For many punk and hardcore rockers, it’s probably the only suitable place to turn up the amps and shred some guitars.

Prior to this trip to Tokyo, I’ve never been to a Japanese Live House, so I had to visit one. After some online research, I discovered a place called the Loft. Located in the western side of the Shinjuku district, the Loft is supposedly the oldest and most well established venue for rock and punk music.

An Osaka punk band called the Laughin Noses was schedule to play. I knew very little about them but decided to go anyway.

I took the Chūō-Sōbu train (中央・総武緩行線) to Ōkubo Station (大久保駅) and walked to the Shinjuku district. It took some looking around to find the venue, and I got lost a couple of times. I finally found the building and a sign with the Lofts’ logo (see picture above). There was a “B2” above the sign which means it’s located in the subbasement (floor underneath the basement). This place is literally underground.

I paid my admission and walked into the subterranean venue. The Loft was grimy enough to remind me of some older New York venues.

The Tokyo punk scene was a trip. They were all dressed like 70s punk rockers. I felt like I step out of a time machine, and my natsukashii (懐かしい) was in full effect. I guess the 80s post-punk period and 90s grunge era skipped Japan entirely.

When I took a closer look at their 70s punk gear, the Japanese audience had pristine shiny leather clothing. They wore the nicest punk outfits that I’ve ever seen. At New York punk shows, I’m used to seeing people wear second hand clothes from the Salvation Army. This was a completely different mindset. I guess it’s kinda like cosplay where the fans have to “dress the part.” I also saw a lot of familiar black t-shirts featuring the Ramones, CBGBs, and New York City (à la John Lennon).

According to their Wikipedia entry, the Laughin Noses have been around the Japanese punk scene for near 30 years starting in 1981. Tonight their age didn’t seem to slow them down. They were completely metal on stage and thoroughly rocked the Tokyo crowd. Belley (山崎 健) did some serious guitar work, and Charmy’s (小山 祐) vocals were pretty awesome. His vocal stylings had hints of Johnny Rotten and Joey Ramone.

At several points in the performance, the audience got so rowdy that punches and kicks were flying in every direction. Even the lead vocalist got kicked in the face a few times from overly aggressive body surfers. He continued his performance despite receiving a few blows from the audience.

The Laughin Noses played an excellent punk show.

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