Wednesday, January 31, 2007

OKI Kicks Ass


Last night M & I went down to Asahikawa to see the final show on OKI's Ainu Dub Band Japan tour, and man, what a great show. I'd only seen him do acoustic sets before, so it was a first for me to see him with a full on band and dub set.

Defo a different crowd, too. The two times we saw him play before were both at the Kawamura Ainu Village, which is more of a museum w/ a performance space. The crowd there is normally a quieter mix of young & old alike (especially little old Ainu ladies who do upopo), with only a few hippies/groupies that normally show up and attract more attention than whoever's on stage. Don't get me wrong now...more power to 'em I say. Their own version of public interpretive dance actually takes the emphasis off me as usually the only foreign barbarian in the house, so groove on there, Moonbeam. In anycase, seeing as the show was in a full on club, definitely a younger crowd last night, with a big contingent of groupies and most people there packed in & heads bobbin'. Surprisingly enough, a few biddies showed up, but were none too pleased that there wasn't anywhere for 'em to sit, as one lady was all too willing to share with us prior to the show starting. Interesting moment o' the evening: we were making our way into stage area when we passed one of the Ainu elders that I've seen several times at the previous shows. She looks at me for a second, turns away, then does a full on double take, with this look of "Wait a tic...I don't know any gaijin! Why do I know you?" written all over her face. "Have we met before?" she asks, and I say, "Um, yeah. You've probably seen me over at the Ainu museum." She replies, "Oh. I guess we have met then." and shuffles off mumbling something else that neither M or I can figure out. Ohhhkay.

Anyhoo, the show starts about 20 minutes late, and when OKI and the band walk on the stage, the groupies pretty much went wild. While, like I mentioned before, it was a total kick ass show, the first song was just sorta...well, odd. As the band was tuning their instruments, this kinda weird, trippy, dreamy number with bits of upopo chanting by Umeko Ando was playing at full volume, and it seemed like the entire crowd did a bit of a collective "huh?". It was also echo-y as all hell, and I know that dub uses a shit-load of reverb, but maybe it was just a skosh too much. Once they got tuned up and into the first set though, things picked up and everybody started to build up a bit of steam. One of the best songs was a totally trippy piece that sounded like drum & base/tribal, but without the use of any synths or sound boards and really showed off how good the drummer, Takashi Numazawa, really is. The whole crowd just sorta stood there with their mouths open watching this guy go to town. Yes, he's that good, so if you ever get a chance to see him, don't walk, run!

After a quick break, they started the second set and it turned out to be the best part of the show by far. For one of the opening numbers, OKI was playing the mukkuri, a bamboo jew's harp and swear to God it sounded like it was coming straight off a mixing board. After that the drums and base kicked in and man, the place was jumping.

The band finished their second set, but the crowd wouldn't let 'em off that easy, and they came back for an extended encore w/ OKI on the bass instead of the tonkori. By the time they got to the 3rd song of the encore, it seemed like they were just getting started and the crowd was eating it up, but a) thanks to my bum knee, my entire right leg hurt like a bitch and b) I had to be at work at 8AM this morning, so we cut out a bit early.

Of course, we couldn't just leave empty handed, so on the way out, we figured we'd pick up one of the CDs they were selling...but went a little overboard and bought 3...and a sticker for my snowboard. Oh well at least they threw in a few extra stickers for free.

And how do you top off such a big night out like this? Why, a classy drive-through stop at Micky D's of course! Hey, it was one of the only places open at 11:30. Come to think of it, last night may be the first time I've ever gone through a pick-up window in Japan. Well, there's one more thing to cross off the "to do in Japan" list.


  1. Hey!
    Great blog!And seems like you have had a wonderful time at the concert. The bamboo harp is amazing isn't it!When I was at Shiraoi, I was quiet shocked to see that something like that can creat such a wide variety of noises!(though I couldn't stop laughing inside...the sounds are wierd!!!)

    Anyway, about the GW, sounds like you guys had so much fun!But I guess camping in May is not a good option by the looks of the alcohol consumption!ドライブお疲れ様!

  2. Hi ya, Kiki & thanks for the comment!

    Yeah, the mukkuri is a pretty wicked little instrument, huh? I can kinda play it, but nowhere near like what OKI was doing. Maybe that should be one o' my new goals...

    As far as GW goes, was a bit of a long drive, and I didn't really feel it until the last 2 days, but thankfully Boy Genius & I always got along fairly well and never seemed to get on eachother's nerves. Ah, friendship. *grin*