LIVE REPORTNAEBA SHOKUDO8/21 SAT
Indie Rock fit for Movie Screens
Umineco Sounds’ set started with Japanese festival drumming piped in from the PA system. Then, the band abruptly commenced delivery of their early-Weezer sound; which had to be downtuned to achieve that heaviness. It smelled like the streets of a beloved big city, and tasted as comforting as a bagel with cream cheese. Here, in the woodsy context of 2021’s Rookie a Go-Go stage, with the pine bows and Christmas lights serving as decor, this band’s performance felt like an early festive present; something we could open later on our web browsers. A few dozen people who were closest to the stage danced to the engaging groove, while the other half of the crowd sat down to take the music in.
Automatically diving into their next song under a flood of blue lights, as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist tuned his guitar, the intro drew on, creating an ambience which was at once both urban and oddly fresh. Umineco Sounds are a band without artifice. Their stage clothes would doubtlessly double as their street wear; each member sported a t-shirt and jeans, and no two of them matched. Clearly what matters to this band is the music at hand. This was surely the case for their lead guitarist on stage right, decked out in his black Bauhaus t-shirt, who rarely looked up from his red Jazzmaster.
The following song started with minor-key down strumming from the lead guitarist before the drummer brought in a driving eight-note beat. And, together, the lead guitarist and lead vocalist provided idyllic wistful harmonies. The chorus that followed provided a lovely sonic assault as a wall of sound built on guitar chords. This drove some young women at the front of the stage to dance with euphoric abandon. Umineco Sounds may answer the question “What would happen if Rivers Cuomo and Kurt Cobain had a baby?”. But, this baby came out lovelier and braver.
In between two songs, the lead singer thanked everyone who came, and those who wanted to but couldn’t make it. And then, Umineco Sounds dove into a slowish indie-rock track with lovely harmonies like the previous song. And, for all its intricacies, something in the harmonies harnessed America’s “Horse with no Name” in the verses. The choruses also provided 70’s stadium-show drum rolls, and fantastic driving chords. Part of what lended this number its perfect timelessness was the fact that the lead singer had swapped his electric for a vintage acoustic.
Twenty minutes into their set, Umineco Sounds dove into a song with verses composed on an odd time signature, and even the choruses sat in 9/4. But, the die-hard fans at the front of the crowd continued to dance, unfazed.
With fifteen minutes left in their set, the band took a short break to tune, and the lead singer said, “It’s amazing that we’ve been a band for ten years!”. He then spoke briefly of his TV career, which he dismissed by saying that he was never really famous.
The band then served up a dreamy slow love song with piles of reverb and heaviness on the floor tom; as the drummer played with mallets. For the number that followed it, the band returned a bit to their heavier sound, but only at about 50%; hovering more in an early-Radiohead space, with more adventurous chord choices. In truth, the track’s hook resembled Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” being manhandled by Sonic Youth. As the glow of the stage lights hit their faces, the dozens in attendance nodded slowly and solidly; digging the dish that was being produced.
As a light rain began to fall on the faithful crowd, Umineco Sounds tuned up and announced that the next track would be their last of the night. As the lead singer picked a pretty melodic pattern on his vintage acoustic guitar, he sang a gentle romantic story of saying goodbye to a beloved someone, and not being able to sleep in Tokyo. After about four verses, the whole band joined him for a repeating chorus and a vamp out which was gradually built into a heavier and louder assault; befitting a movie-script ending. As the drummer drove home a number of 70’s drum rolls, and the lead guitarist noodled away, the tempo increased ever so slightly, and the faithful up front danced as if hypnotized. The band then played their last thundering hits together, and drove into a stadium ending, despite the small Rookie stage. They ended their show by thanking the crowd who gave them a standing ovation.
[Photo: 10 All photo]