buttonStars @ Shibuya Club Quattro (10th Jan. '09)

Shine bright when you can see them

      Club Quattro is not my favorite place to see a band. Oh, it's a great room if you're standing centre near the front of the stage, or centre towards the back, but the sight lines suck if you are anywhere near the sides. And the tiny happoshu beers, don't get me started. See, I take notes. I have to. I'm not one of these reviewers that can go to a show, stand in the middle where I would like to be, bob up and down with the massed, then go home and write everything off the top of my head without missing a beat. No, I need certain things. I need things like light, a place to set my notebook, room to read the set list. Anal? Yes. Unnecessary? No. Really, I just want to be able to see the band without much effort. ANYWAY...

      Okay, so first off ― absolutely NO rock and roll t-shirts were out. Not one. Maybe it was the sweater-and-jacket type cold that was lurking outside. Bummer.

Stars      I wasn't sure if this was an Ogre You Asshole crowd, or a Stars crowd but I did see a noticeable surge to the stage when OYA started up. After a short intro in English from singer Manabu Deto, the band kicked right into it. From where I was standing, I could see the lead guitar player. Only. And I have to say, I like lead guitar players who just play guitar ― no mics for vocals or backups, no stands to get in the way. They just do what their meant to and rock solid, and that's what he did.

      Vocalist Deto, though, seemed and sounded like a host of Japanese rock bands do these days ― whiny, nasally voices, almost girl-like, soaring for notes they can never reach. At least he was melodic in nature, rather than that other Japanese voice style, staccato. While Ogre You Asshole are commonly labeled as a "post-punk" band, they really just sound like a hippy prog rock band, complete with macrame knitted caps. Their whole twenty minute set sounded like it comprised one song with four breaks. I'll have to give them another listen at another festival sometime ― with the press they're getting now I wouldn't be surprised to see them at Fuji Rock 2009. They didn't do much for me at Quattro.

      After Ogre finished, I moved across to the other side of the room by the bar for a beer and another fractured view of the stage. It would have been perfect except for one giant post in the way that, once Stars came on stage, allowed me a view of the keyboardist Chris Seligman and drummer Pat McGee on stage left, and bass player Evan Cranley on stage right, but completely blocked singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Wily fellow that I am, I resolved this issue via various crane-necking and side-stepping measures that had the people next to me most likely thinking I was not "all there". They would probably be right.

Stars      And it was obvious the crowd was here for Stars, as it nearly doubled between the end of OYA and when Stars took the stage (not to mention the big "Woo!" that erupted as they did). For good reason, too: the band itself has been touring Japan the past few years in support of recent full length albums Set Yourself on Fire, which featured their first single "Ageless Beauty" and started to define a more rock-based sound for them, and last year's In Our Bedroom After the War. Of course, it helps that Milan, Cranley, and Campbell are also part of the blog rock superstar collective Broken Social Scene who tore the roof of the White Stage at Fuji Rock a couple years ago.

      They started by telling the crowd that they had some flowers and some songs and did we want to hear them? With that they proceeded to throw out the former and started to play the latter, opening with the suitable "The NIght Starts Here" followed by "Take Me to the Riot."

      As good as the turnout was, it was noticeably subdued. No real singing and dancing in the crowd even though the opening numbers were suitably rousing (in my notes it reads: "'Take Me to the Riot' rocked!"), no real yelling from the dance floor, and (gasp!) no real beer lineup. Stoners.

Stars      The event was a suitable showcase of the bands talent. Bass player Cranley was hard not to watch, bobbing and weaving about the stage, throwing more flowers out to the audience every once in a while, and constantly staying in the pocket. I swear I heard the guitar player throw in a little allusion to "Turning Japanese" at point, but I can't be sure now. I like to think it happened.

      A well organized set list that borrowed more from their older material than their current. They played "Bitches In Tokyo" right in the middle, just a few songs before "Ageless Beauty," which actually did get people singing along.

Stars      They played almost every song from Set Yourself On Fire, saving the title track and three more for the encore, plus all of the best bits from their latest, "In Our Bedroom After The War," as well as a few tunes from Heart and their EP Sad Robots .

      I found it strange that, all considered: a good performance, an incredible live sound with bass notes hitting hard, and a percussive rhythm that should normally have had the crowd jumping up and down, they just didn't seem to get people going. Maybe I was expecting to much. I found myself desperately wanting the crowd to get more into the theatrical pomp that singer Campbell brings to the stage. I mean, hell, they even dedicated a song to Haruki Murakami, every foreigners' favorite Japanese novelist! Now, if that won't get a lit-rock crowd gathered in Tokyo to see a top blogospheric band hyped, I don't know what will.

      So, let's see, to sum up? A good show. Great tunes. Stoned crowd. Shitty fractured sight lines in Quattro. Tokyo lit (lite) reference dropped. Not much left to say, except to paraphrase one of the band's songs: I'm not sorry went. I'm not sorry it's over. I'm not sorry there's nothing left to say.

report by jeff and photos by naoaki
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buttonmag files : Stars

buttonShine bright when you can see them(09/01/10 @ Shibuya Club Quattro) : review by jeff, photos by naoaki
button見えない繋がり(09/01/10 @ Shibuya Club Quattro) : review by ai, photos by naoaki
buttonphoto report(09/01/10 @ Shibuya Club Quattro) : photos by naoaki
buttonphoto report(09/01/10 @ Shibuya Club Quattro) : photos by naoaki
buttonphoto report(09/01/09 @ Shinsaibashi Club Quattro) : photos by takumi
buttonDim Stars, lit up by Broken Social Scene (08/03/06 @ Liquidroom Ebisu) : review by vicente, photos by hanasan
buttonベッドルームから世界の果てまで (08/03/06 @ Liquidroom Ebisu) : review by kemji, photos by hanasan
buttonphoto report (08/03/06 @ Liquidroom Ebisu) : photos by hanasan

The official site



check 'em? -->My Space / iTunes

The latest album


"In Our Bedroom After the War"
(国内盤 / 国内盤 + DVD / US import / US import - '12analog +DVD / UK import / / UK import +DVD / iTunes)
The previous works


"Set Yourself on Fire"
(国内盤 / US import / UK import / / UK import - '12analog / iTunes)

"Live at Lollapalooza 2006"(iTunes)
"It's Alchemy! - Single"(iTunes)
"A Lot of Little Lies for the Sake of One Big Truth - EP"(iTunes)
"Do You Trust Your Friends?"(US import / US import - '12analog / iTunes)
"Heart"(US import)
"Nightsongs"(US import / iTunes)

check the albums?

jeff's works

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buttonShine bright when you can see them : Stars (10th Jan. @ Shibuya Club Quattro)


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