Review and photographs by Aki Fujita Taguchi
Proofreading by Yosuke Taguchi
Generally, Japanese audience are thought to be reserved, however, I’m sure this night would be different. The day, 3rd of November 2019, was a special day for the Tokyo’s punk rock scene. Three legendary punk bands came to Tokyo and they knocked us out completely with their crazy performances. The punk event ‘Special 3 Man Show’ was held by the organizer Unionway Japan, which specializes in punk and hardcore music. The latest and cool venue Akabane Reny Alpha is located in the north area of Tokyo. On this night, tickets were deservedly sold out and the house was filled with fan’s anticipation.
Australian punk band Frenzal Rhomb kicked off the show. They were formed in Sydney in 1992 and their music is often referred to as skate punk and melodic hardcore. Their latest album is ‘Hi-Vis High Tea’, which was released in May 2017 as their 9th studio album.
The frontman and singer Jason Whalley is the only founding member of the band. At this night, he seemed to have a problem with his throat. So, another dreadlocked cool guy took the vocals mainly. He spoke Japanese very well and even translated Jason’s English into Japanese with a western Japanese accent. I heard that his name is Will de Monchaux, a former bass player of Osaka based hardcore band PALM.
Although Will was a substitute frontman, he satisfied the audience with his raw energy and playful performance. Sometimes, Both Jason and Will dived in and sang on the crowd. It was really fun to see that two tall singers with dreadlocks were interacting with the excited crowd. And, I could also see, lots of crowd surfers, moshing and circles breaking out around the floor.
Next up was the Swedish punk rock / melodic hardcore band, No Fun At All. The band was formed in 1991. Getting through several line-up changes and breakups, they are still active and attractive.
They opened their set with ‘Spirit’, the first track from their fantastic latest album ‘Grit’, which was released in 2018. It’s a lovely fast tune with a catchy melody and absolutely the best one to start their show. Their charismatic energy captured the audience from the very first. The agitated audience kept on crowd surfing and moshing with no break. As a photographer, I felt truly alive and happy that I was in the right place at the right time. They kindly allowed me to shoot the show and I was the only photographer in the photo pit! How lucky I was that I was able to capture these precious moments!
Their set was filled with their memorable hits plus a few new songs from their latest 6th studio album ‘Grit’. With their relentless performance, the audience got a better high.
After the short intermission, finally Black Flag took to the stage. The band started their journey in 1976 in California. As you know, after Black Flag has also gone through several breakups, reunions and frictions, the legendary guitar player Greg Ginn is the sole continuous member. They are often regarded as one of the first hardcore punk bands and also as pioneers in the movement of DIY ethic of the underground music scene. They are internationally respected and earn a cult following.
Can you believe that? In spite of their history of over 40 years and high popularity, this was their first visit in Japan. I felt very honored to be there to photograph them.
I think that the audience had a mixed feeling about Mike Vallely’s vocals, since the former singer Henry Rollins left a strong impression and influence on the band. Actually, one of my clients and her friend were uncertain whether to go to the show. I knew their feeling, but I also knew they would regret forever if they miss a valuable opportunity. So I urged them to go to see and experience it anyway. And guess what? They really enjoyed the show and loved the new singer.
Mike Vallely is an American professional skateboarder and also known as actor and television personality and many more. I hate to say that I had never seen him before, but I understood instantly he was a kind of professional through my lens. He knew how he looks like and how he should act, and made poses in front of my camera. And surprisingly, his brutal vocals fitted Black Flag’s classic hits perfectly.
They started the set with ‘Depression’ from their first album ‘Damaged’ released in 1981. Their set list was comprised of all the fan favorites. Especially, they played many songs from the first album, which was critically acclaimed.
The one and only guitar player Greg Ginn obviously had a charismatic aura on stage. Ginn’s signature guitar tone sounded great and the crowd seemed truly excited to see his expressive performance. Unlike the other punk and hardcore bands, Black Flag’s sound has various elements, such as blues, jazz, free jazz, spoken words, heavy metal, sludge metal, etc. That’s because the founder and primary songwriter Ginn has always been creative and experimental about his work.
The audience never forgot to enjoy singing along, while moshing and crowd surfing. Especially, ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’, ‘Slip It In’ and ‘Rise Above’ were absolutely fun and got the audience wild! The band ended their set with Richard Berry cover ‘Louie Louie’ and didn’t play an encore. However, legendary Jinn appeared the merchandise booth very soon. He was accommodating requests from his fans with taking photos together and giving an autograph on their records.
I was totally amazed at how chaotic and addictive their show was. If you’re not into punk / hardcore music, you might think it’s too simple. As I said, the live show is totally different from listening it in your room. You have to see their show if you get a chance. You will never regret. I guarantee!
For updates check out their websites and Facebook pages.
Frenzal Rhomb (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/FrenzalRhomb/
Frenzal Rhomb (Store): https://artistfirst.com.au/collections/frenzal-rhomb
Frenzal Rhomb are:
Jason ‘Jay’ Whalley - Vocals / Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall - Guitar / Gordon ‘Gordy’ Forman - Drums / Michael ‘Dal’ Dallinger – Bass / Will de Monchaux – Guest vocals (ex bass player of PALM)
Frenzal Rhomb’s set list:
1. Bird Attack / 2. Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re a Nazi / 3. Cunt Act / 4. Russell Crowe’s band / 5. I Went Out With a Hippy & Now I Love Everyone Except for her / 6. 5000 Cigarettes / 7. School Reunion / 8. Hate the Way You Hate / 9. Ballchef / 10. White World / Fraud / 11. When My Baby Smiles at Me I Go to Rehab / 12. I Miss My Lung / 13. You Are Not My Friend / 14. Bucket Bong / 15. Never Had So Much Fun / 16. Punch in the Face
No Fun At All (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/nofunatallofficial/
No Fun At All (Store) : https://www.lo-fi-merchandise.com/band/no-fun-at-all/
No Fun At All are:
Ingemar Jansson - Vocals / Mikael Danielsson - Guitar / Kjell Ramstedt - Drums / Stefan Bratt - Bass / Fredrik Eriksson - Guitar
No Fun At All’s set list:
1. Spirit / 2. Wow and I Say Wow / 3. Should Have Known / 4. Lose Another Friend / 5. Suicide Machine / 6. Runner’s High / 7. I Can’t Believe It’s True / 8. Growing Old, Glowing Cold / 9. In a Moment / 10. Celestial Q&A / 11. Beat’em Down / 12. Strong and Smart / 13. Where’s the Truth / 14. Out of Bounds / 15. Master Celebrator
Black Flag (Website): https://www.blackflagband.com
Black Flag (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/BlackFlagBand
Black Flag are:
Greg Ginn - Guitar / Mike Vallely - Vocals / Joseph Noval - Bass / Isaias Gil - Drums
Black Flag’s set list:
1. Depression / 2. No Values / 3. I’ve Had It / 4. Black Coffee / 5. Fix Me / 6. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie / 7. White Minority / 8. Six Pack / 9. Bastard in Love / 10. Room 13 / 11. Slip It In / 12. I Can See You / 13. Revenge / 14. Clocked In / 15. Jealous Again / 16. Can’t Decide / 17. Nervous Breakdown / 18. TV Party / 19. Rise Above / 20. Louie Louie (Richard Berry cover)
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