Archive for the ‘Babymetal’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 13, 2019] Babymetal

I first heard of BABYMETAL back in 2014 when they were a massive WTF in the music scene.

Here was a band that played heavy heavy music but the singers were teenage Japanese girls who were totally kawaii and who sang in a distinctly pop style.  The 17-year-old metal purist in me would have been infuriated by this abomination to metal.

But my adult self things this is an amazing amalgam of style and one that is designed to shake people out of their comfortable bubbles.   Even if you balk at the singing style (and the dancing), the music is really really heavy.  Like, impressively heavy.

But the juxtaposition doesn’t end there.  Between the heavy music comes occasional moments of synthy pop goodness.  It made my brain explode the first time I watched the video for “Gimme Chocolate.”  By the time I watched it a second time I was hooked and was determined to see them live.

Back in 2016, I somehow missed that they were playing the Electric Factory.  I was seeing Mastodon there two nights before their show but when I asked if there were any tickets left, they had sold out ages ago.  Boo!  [Looking at that setlist I see they played seven different songs last time!]

So, three and a half years later they finally came back into town and I bought a ticket right away.  Actually, I was supposed to be away for the weekend so I bought a ticket for Sunday in New York City.  This would have been so much work because I would have just come back from a camping trip, I would have had to drive into NYC to a place I’ve never been and it was a Sunday night.  So I was glad the trip was cancelled and I could go on Friday night after all!

I arrived and ran past the merch hoping to get a decent spot, but it was pretty packed.  I managed to get behind some short people and all was well for the opening band.  Then, when Avatar left, somehow 200 people pushed their way in front of all of us who felt like we were packed in pretty tight already.  I didn’t step back at all but somehow twice as many people were in front of me.  Woah. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2019] Avatar 

I have grown to really dislike the Fillmore (which is not how I felt almost exactly three years ago).  The sound is always excellent and it’s a nice big stage, but I feel the venue is too big and, more often than not the crowd is really unpleasant.  I’m sure this is because I’m a priss, but I don’t need rude people around more interested in the bar than the music, me pushing for no reason (a mosh pit is a good reason to push, but not much else is), and talking through a show.  It’s especially irritating with quieter bands.   Fortunately, Avatar is not quiet.

I had not heard of Avatar when it was announced that they’d be opening for Babymetal.  I didn’t really know who would pair up with Babymetal’s brand of JPopMetal.  Rather than going for another Japanese metal band (of which there are dozens of great ones to choose) they went with a more theatrical outfit.  And if Babymetal’s stage show weren’t as spectacular as it was, Avatar would have blown them away.

Avatar is a metal band from Sweden.  They formed in 2001. They started out as a “melodic death metal” band.  I’ve never quite understood this phrase, but Wikipedia tells me

The genre combines aspects of traditional heavy metal [like] fast riffing and harmonic guitar lines, with the heavily distorted guitars, fast double-bass drum patterns and occasional blast beats of death metal. The vocal style typically combines harsh screaming and growling with melodic singing.

On their first two albums, singer Johannes Eckerström emphasized the growling vocal style.  They became more melodic (with some growling and some singing) and then for their fourth album, Black Waltz, Eckerström added a “Clown” persona.

Since then, the Avatar show has become a, quite frankly, amazing spectacle. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Built to Spill

After the last time I saw Built to Spill (which was amazing), I felt like I didn’t really need to see them again.  The show was excellent and I was right in front of Doug–an amazing vantage point.

Then he announced he was touring the Keep It Like a Secret album.  This is the album that introduced me to the band 20 years earlier and it has some of my favorite songs on it.  So yes, of course I was going to go see that.  It turned out that the Philly show was on a night I was busy (but I did get a ticket just in case–turns out my plans changed but then Babymetal announced a show for that night so I sold my BtS ticket for and went to Babymetal instead).  But this show at Starland Ballroom was going to happen the night before my plans anyway, so I grabbed a ticket for this show.

I have mixed feeling about Starland.  If you get there late–and it’s a popular show–forget about it.  When we saw Death Cab for Cutie, we were lucky to get in the door.  So for BtS I left really early and got there really early and was about the 17th person in the building.  So I had my pick of where to stand.

Last time I saw BtS, I was right in front of Doug Marstch, like right on the stage.  It was incredible watching him from so close.  And yet, due to acoustics, I could barely hear him at all.  So I told myself that this time I would stand back and enjoy the whole experience.  But things got the best of me.  First off, there was a gate, so I wasn’t going to be right up against the stage.  But more importantly as I stood back in a sweet spot, I watch all these tall people push past me and I couldn’t help myself, I had to grab a railing spot.  So once again I was right in front of Doug and his massive amplifier.  I could hear the vocals a little bit better than last time, but again, it wasn’t the same as hearing the full band.  And, honestly I could barely hear the second guitarist.  So, I have really learned my lesson for next time.  But again, it was so cool seeing him work his magic up close that I’m willing to overlook some things.

But NEXT TIME, for sure I will stand back.

Oh and check out this cool poster for the tour.


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internetSOUNDTRACK王蓉Rollin-小雞小雞(Chick Chick) [RONG “ROLLIN” WANG-“Chick Chick”]. (2014)

chickchickDon’t call it a novelty! You must watch it.

Is it a kid’s song?  I have no idea.  But it is mesmerizing.  I have now watched it about a half a dozen times and somehow it gets better each time.  Not as awesome as Babymetal (who are Japanese), but awesome in a wholly different (Chinese) way.

So far it only has 8 million views, the number must be increased!

[READ: November 15, 2014] The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Although I have been a fan of McSweeney’s from the very beginning, I have never faithfully read their online Internet Tendency.  Of course I have read the often circulated ones, and a few years ago I said I would read the old posts from the beginning (I didn’t).  Now I discover that in the years since I said that, the Internet Tendency has 283 pages of archives (with something like 30 entries per page).  Get moving on that.

Having these best pieces in a book form is nice, as is anything with “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” printed on the cover.  Since I haven’t read all 8,000 entries, I can’t say what qualifies as the best.  Although I have to wonder if some of these were picked more for their contributors than their actually bestness.  (Take a look at some of the heavy hitters represented below).  Regardless of how these were chosen, it is an excellent collection of funny stuff.

When I finish reading all of the online pieces (in about two years), I will have more authority to say if these 50 are the best, but in the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy this very funny selection. (more…)

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stickhotSOUNDTRACK: BABYMETAL – いいね!- Iine!

babymetaI had to throw another BABYMETAL song up here, but what else to choose?  The options are astounding–the live version of “Gimme Chocolate!” where you can see them actually sing (and dance) along to the headbanging band?.  Or “ド・キ・ド・キ☆モーニング – Doki Doki☆Morning” which shows the band actually playing (although they are covered head to toe in skeleton costumes and has a chorus like Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”.  Or even “Death” which opens with some super heavy metal chords and chanting has the cute little girls singing about death.  But I chose this song whose name I don’t even understand-even the English part.

It has fast heavy guitars but the song is primarily taken over by staccato vocals and melodies.  It has one of the girls processed into death metal vocal.

And then comes the chorus which is nothing but pure J-pop–frenetic and treacly.  And then, at 1:35 (yes this has all been in about 90 seconds) the three girls start rapping. Yes.  Then at 2 minutes the whole thing reverts into the heaviest of death metal growls and a wild and catchy guitar solo.  By 2:45 the song has turned into a super fast rave up with pogoing.  And your brain just turns to mush as you want to dance along.  Surrender to the power of BABYMETAL, before they graduate from junior high.

[READ: March 5, 2014] Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog

The second Stick Dog book follows the same basic format as the first one.  And I have to admit that while I laughed, I found it a little bit samey.  I hope the third book can keep the freshness factor).

It lacks the amusing narrator introduction that the first one had (there is some, but it’s much more brief).  And, surprisingly, the book is 40 pages longer.  This time Stick Dog and his friends are after some hot dogs.  The book is lengthened because each time there are possible ideas for the dogs to have, Watson really runs with them (it was a highlight in book one).  This pads out the book quite a lot and even the narrator makes a (quite funny) joke about delayed gratification.

But indeed, there were some very funny sequences and scenarios.  And of course the mocking of the drawings is very funny (the pancake or UFO picture is very good).

This time, instead of getting hamburgers from a family, the dogs are after hot dogs from Peter, the man with the cart that says Peter’s Frankfurters.  (There’ a very funny sequence in which the narrator explains that the dogs, or at least Stick Dog, can read and how they can do so).  How are these hungry dogs going to get the hot dogs from Peter? (more…)

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stickdogSOUNDTRACK: BABYMETAL – メギツネ – Megitsune (2013).

baby My friend Lar introduced me to this colossal mash-up known as Babymetal just yesterday, and I am utterly hooked by this completely fabricated band.

The visuals absolutely make this song what it is, because without seeing it you probably can’t imagine what is actually happening.

This song is a super heavy thrash metal song.  Even when a hyperkinetic keyboard riff gets laid over the top of it, it still maintains that thrashy sound.  Then three junior high school aged girls start singing.  In Japanese.  The lead singer has a great voice that fits in very well especially around the 90 second mark when the song gets very catchy and swerves into a pop metal vein.  The other two sing in very high-pitched, only-in-Japan voices.  Some time around 2 minutes she starts screaming (heavily processed) adding a  whole new dimension of noise to the song.  And we all like the break around 3:12 which has a brief spoken word section (man I wish I knew what she was saying).

And so this winds up being a meeting of death metal and J-Pop.  And your mind will explode when you watch it.  The video shows the three girls doing their best kawaii–being adorable, in school girl outfits–while headbanging.  And the musicians behind them are all wearing masks and playing traditional Japanese-looking obi and drums while shredding like maniacs.

Everything about this is so artificial that I just love it.  Looking for any info about them, really all you read about is the three girls, there is no mention of the musicians who play amazingly fast and precise shredding guitars solos and can also switch gears into pop and (on some other songs) dance and rap.  I have no idea what this song is about, but I am totally hooked on it.  I imagine this will be a passing phase, but man, what a fun one to get hooked on.

[READ: March 3, 2014] Stick Dog

C. wanted me to grab him this book at the library and then proceeded to devour it in a few minutes. Then he suggested I should read it too.  So I did, and I devoured it pretty quickly too.  Obviously the precedent of the Wimpy Kid books is at play here–a short funny book that combines paragraphs of text and simple drawings, but this story doesn’t really have anything really in common with the Wimpy series.  Because this is all about a dog.

Stick Dog lives alone in a tunnel (but Watson assures us not to feel badly for him).  He has four friends: Poo-Poo (C. loved that name) who is a poodle; Stripes, a dalmatian; Karen, a dachshund and Mutt, a mutt.  The very simple plot of this story is that Stick Dog and his friends want to steal hamburgers from a family picnicking in the park.  That’s it.

The joy of the book is listening to Stick Dog (the smart ones) and his friends (mm, not so smart) try to figure out how to accomplish this task.  Watson prefaces the story by explaining that he could just write “woof woof” but it’s much easier for everyone if he just translates it into English for us.  The dogs are easily distracted by squirrels and garbage.  But when they put their minds to it, they come up with over-elaborate plans (and are offended when Stick Dog points out their lack of common sense).  And just as they are sure to go on a plan that works, Karen gets lost in the tall grass, and the others spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to best remember her. (more…)

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