buttonShort Circuit w/ Asparagus
@ Shibuya AX (24th March '03)
Speaking from experience, there are few better ways to start off a week than with a good old fashioned rock n' roll show. A couple hundred folks in their teens and early 20s decided to put this theory to the test by heading to Shibuya AX on Monday night to check out Short Circuit's Strange World, Wandering Mind tour.

Kicking the evening's festivities off was Asparagus. Taking the stage as Michael Jackson's classic "Beat It" blasted over the loud system the Japanese trio instantly got to work. Blasting their way through their first number, "Just Go On", the band had the audience jumping around, crowd surfing, and dancing with their infectious mix of punk and emo.

The first three songs of their set were played in quick succession. After completing their third song, fittingly enough titled "Stop Me Now", the group took a short break to tune their instruments in the darkness before the lights came up and front man Shinobu Watanabe addressed the crowd. Although I had no idea what he was saying, the majority of the crowd was laughing pretty hard during his three minute speech so it must have been pretty good.

Although many enjoyed the comic interlude, the break seemed to hurt the momentum that the group had been building. Over the course of the next several songs the activity in the crowd began to slowly decrease and the chatter began to increase as the audience began to lose interest in the performance. The music began to sound very repetitious and at times uninteresting. With little movement on stage by any of the band members, there wasn't even anything to really look at to try and keep focused. Watanabe did manage to get a rise out crowd during two more long speeches, but ultimately it wasn't enough to keep the show moving along.

Luckily, the group was able to rebound and get things going again with the melodic punk track "Wander Around". Sounding similar to American emo bands such as Saves the Day and New Found Glory the song instantly caught the attention of the crowd who wasted no time getting back into the performance by dancing and pogoing around. The band followed this up with strong performances of the hard rocking songs "Happiness" and "Fallin' Down" before leaving the stage.

Asparagus' set started and finished on high notes but was definitely lacking something through the bulk of the middle section. The guys are talented musicians, but they don't have enough strong material or stage presence yet to fill an hour long set. Cutting out half of the 12 songs played and shaving twenty or so minutes off would have made their show much more enjoyable.

After a short intermission the three guys in Short Circuit sauntered out on to the stage shortly before 8:30 pm. They began to tune their instruments as "s.w.w.m.intro", the lead track off of Strange World, Wandering Mind, played in the background. The lights dimmed and all began to produce loud noises before two rows of flashbulbs temporarily covered the band in white light as they launched into the very poppy "Our Daydream". The kids up front were dancing, pumping their fists and crowd surfing as the group made its way through three more upbeat rock songs before stopping to say good evening to the crowd. Speaking briefly to the audience, bassist and lead vocalist Naou Hara appeared much happier singing than he did speaking. As a result, other than the occasional "arigato" there was little between song banter during the ninety minute performance.

Their lack of speaking ability was more than made up for by their music and entertaining stage show. Mixing elements of pop, rock, emo, and at times punk, the group has a knack for creating extremely catch songs. Hara has a good voice and strong stage presence. Belting out phenomenal, well written pieces such as "Self Portrait" and "The Letter", he was one of the driving forces in keeping the concert moving at a good pace. Guitarist George Kurosawa looked like he was having a great time as he danced and bopped around on stage in sync with the kids on the floor with reckless abandon. His backup vocals on many of the tracks played created excellent two part harmonies between him and Hara. Not content just being a side man, he also assumed the lead vocal responsibilities for a song halfway through the show. Drummer Moriyasu Maeda did a fantastic job of pounding away on the skins and providing the occasional backup vocal or two as well.

The only downfall occurred during the middle part of the set as things seemed to begin to drag a little. Maintaining an energetic pace for ninety minutes can be extremely difficult for more established bands, let only for a very young group who has only been around for a few years. A slightly shorter set may have kept the momentum that the band was working so hard to maintain and would have avoided the short lull in an otherwise good show.

Like their predecessors though, they were able to get back on track though with the combination of the razor sharp guitar driven "So Empty" and the hard hitting "Break Your Wall" from the 1998 EP of the same name. They paused for a moment to thank the crowd for coming out and to extend their gratitude to Asparagus before unleashing two more cuts from their most recent album. Ending the show with the record's closing track "Hello", amidst cheers, chanting, and even singing they quickly returned from the shadows of the backstage area for a two song encore before packing it in for the night.

All in all, not a night of rock and surely a better way to spend a Monday night than sitting in front of the TV. Both bands definitely could have benefited from the less is more approach as shortening their sets would have made strengthened each of their performances and made them much more enjoyable. Note to all musicians out there, there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving them wanting more.

Asparagus-- set list --

Approach Me
Just Go On
Stop Me Now
Too Young
Head For Downtown
Your Lovely Doll
Far Away
New Song
Wander Around
Fallin' Down

review by Shawn Despres

Short Circuit-- set list --

Tomorrow Morning
Rainyday Blues
Walk Slowly
The Answer
If I Could Sing Like Him
Stand By Me
Bluebird In A Small Cage
The Letter
Thanks & Goodbye
The Moment You Shine
(Everybody) Needs A Little Love
Here, There and Everywhere
We're Here
A Song For Celebrate
So Empty
Break Your Wall
Little Hands

The official site of
Short Circuit:

Their label, 3P3B Force is ;

If you know anything about the oficial site of Asparagus, please let us know.

shawn's works-->2005


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buttonno title : Short Circuit w/ Asparagus (24th Mar @ Shibuya AX)

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