Club Goodman: Electric Rock in Electric Town
Think about spots in Tokyo to catch a rock gig, and you’re likely to turn to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shimokitazawa – in fact, pretty much anywhere besides Akihabara. But believe it or not, the so-called electric town does have one venue where, night after night, musicians wail on their electric instruments.
The space, located on the north bank of the Kanda in the basement of a guitar shop, is called Club Goodman (55 Kanda-Sakumagashi), and they’ve been hosting rock shows for the better part of two decades.
I headed for Goodman on February 13, which marked the first leg of a Tokyo mini-tour by Fukuoka-based post-punk trio Zutto Nazo (stylized z/nz), in town to promote the release of their first album, Nanka Festa.
I made it to Goodman just in time to catch the second act, solo artist Kei Miyamuta , who uses loop pedals and a drum machine to fill in his sound, a kind of repetitive, maximalist fuzzed-out guitar rock, before exploding into solos that had him lurching across the stage.
Next up were TADZIO , a female two-piece who wear cat masks and play stripped-down garage rock with some wonderfully simple lyrics, most of which contain too many naughty words to repeat here. Not to be outdone by Miyamuta, TADZIO’s vocalist/guitarist (known only as Leader) spun around on the ground during one magnificent electric blast.
Next came hardcore band VOGOS , whose lead singer, in true hardcore tradition, lept off the stage and went prowling into the crowd, getting up close and personal. The whole set lasted all of about 15 minutes (about the perfect length for a hardcore set) before the drummer took a flying leap into the kit.
Less on-stage antics from veterans of the Tokyo scene Bossston Cruizing Mania , who have been together in various forms since 2002. Their sound this eve was a bit more stripped-down (though no less cool) than when I’d last seen them a couple years ago.
Finally, the stars of the evening, z/nz, hit the stage, playing all the tracks off their post-punk, This Heat-inspired album.
z/nz are a three-piece, but instead of the traditional guitar-bass-drum set-up, they’ve got two guitarists, Tori and Sassy, who trade sonic barbs in that sharp, high register favored by so many post-punk bands. Drummer Toya fills in the rest with his impressive drum expertise, and the whole thing is rounded out by all three members barking into their respective mics, creating a frontman-less group that’s a trio in the truest sense of the word.
The crowd was clearly into this mysterious group from Kyushu, calling for an encore, to which Toya responded, “sorry, we’re out of songs” before eventually being persuaded to just repeat one they’d already played.
“So this is Tokyo,” said a bewildered, grinning Toya, bringing to a close a fine night of rock in electric town.