Nakigao Twintail: Em (live)

I raved about this band earlier in the year, using them as an example to demonstrate the attributes that underground music has that an idol group cannot. It was a long post that was misunderstood by J-pop fans who chose to read it as a simplistic “rock is better than pop” attack from an indie elitist (which I admit I am, but that’s not what I was doing there) rather than the nuanced call for underground music, which has lately been having a drawn-out love affair with idol pop, to take stock of itself, look at its own strengths again, and start having a conversation about what “authenticity” means once more. Nakigao Twintail were partly chosen because of who they were — at seventeen years of age, they were the same age as most of Momoiro Clover Z, and they share some of the same energy, but because of the different types of groups they were, the results in all areas of their music diverged massively. Nakigao Twintail did everything themselves, and the rough edges and naivety in their songwriting show that, whereas Momoiro Clover Z are far more polished, musically sophisticated and professional, but in the end, they are a product. This isn’t a criticism, it’s just a bald statement of what the difference between the two groups is.

The other reason I chose Nakigao Twintail to write about was completely irrelevant to the point I was making about idol music — simply that I had just seen them a few days before and they had blown my mind, and that’s what I want to talk about here. They were playing at Utero in Fukuoka, the venue run by the bass player from Hyacca, and the event had been the final date of the release tour for my label’s Dancing After 1AM compilation album. Harajiri from Hyacca/Utero had called me prior to the event in a frenzy of excitement, saying that he’d found an absolute gem of a band and asking for permission to book them. Not knowing what he was on about but trusting his judgement, I’d said sure, go ahead.

Arriving at the venue for the soundcheck, I’d found five teenage girls bobbing around the venue in the funkiest shoes. One of them refused to take off her sunglasses even in the gloomy, cramped subterranean live hall, while another was painting her eyes to look like either a ghost or a panda, I wasn’t sure, before dashing off to the shops and returning with hundreds of safety pins, with which she proceeded to mutilate the pyjamas that she was wearing (I forgot to say, she spent the whole gig in her pyjamas). Of the other people playing, me (the DJ), TKC (the other DJ), Kobayashi Dorori and Hyacca had been out until 7AM for the previous night of the tour in Kumamoto, and Mir had arrived in Fukuoka from Tokyo night before and immediately gone on the lash, so there was a stark contrast between the jaded vibe that us older sorts were giving out as we went through the motions of the rehearsal and the sort of club summer camp adventure atmosphere that followed the girls around.

The gig started and everyone started to perk up, then after a while Nakigao Twintail started playing and the reaction of everyone in the room was unanimous. In the clip here, you can’t hear much applause because everyone was still picking their jaws up from the floor. People weren’t really dancing or going crazy like they did with Hyacca later, because Nakigao Twintail’s set was more like some kind of event that just happened to you, not something you participated in. It was like being punched in the face.

You can’t separate how young they are from what they did, because it was integral to the experience. It’s the kind of thing you can only do when you’re a teenager, or at least you can only do in this way. As an older musician, you’re making conscious choices to behave in a certain way, to pitch your performance this way or that, construct the music in a certain fashion, and the message you send is tinged with cynicism or irony. “I don’t care about doing things the proper way,” is what you’re saying, when actually you care very much indeed — you care enough to break those rules onstage, in front of a crowd of people. With Nakigao Twintail there’s no statement because they genuinely don’t care. It was raw, unbelievably silly and a complete mess, but it was still one of the most inspiring things I’d seen in a long, long time.Nakigao Twintail: Em (live at Utero,”Dancing After 1AM” release tour final date, January 27th 2013)


Filed under Live, Live reviews

10 responses to “Nakigao Twintail: Em (live)

  1. UltimateMusicSnob

    Primal scream music! I seriously doubt this band has been through “Plastic Ono Band”, but this song comes from the same place: Stay with it to 3:25, Lennon takes it over the cliff edge. This band appears to *start* where that track left off. This song is so far out there, it’s starting to overlap “music” with “performance art”. Not that conscious or studied, I understand from the notes above, but that’s the impact–what they’re doing, their stage choices, have assumed equal or greater importance than the next note or chord they’re going to play.

  2. khch

    I loved your previous post about Nakigao Twintail and how the emerging so-called alternative idol scene is becoming a threat to the indie/rock scene. It really put into words the situation that I underwent (and I’m still undergoing) where I feel Momoiro Clover Z’s live performances are on the level or even outperform many rock bands and how to reconcile liking them with some of the problematic aspects of their image and idol culture. I feel like this only becoming a bigger problem because now we had Momoclo perform at Ozzfest (even though they probably showed up some of the Japanese bands on the lineup) and metalheads flocking to BABYMETAL.

    As for Nakigao Twintail, I’m intrigued by them just as I was when you wrote first about them. I definitely see why you draw a parallel between Momoclo and Nakigao Twintail, especially the emphasis on the silly chaos that both have. That and one of the members of Nakigao Twintail in that video is wearing a Momoclo t-shirt. 😛

  3. UltimateMusicSnob

    I hope great performances and great music keep getting made, whatever the circumstances (working for a despot monarch, for example, in 19th century Germany). But BUSINESS is the ultimate adaptable machine. If Twintail or bands like it finds an audience and sells some tickets and CD’s, then BUSINESS will find a way to commodify and replicate it, utterly regardless of what the content is. If that kind of music-making as a genre makes a huge pile of money, then BUSINESS will produce a gargantuan finely tuned money machine out of the genre–precisely what idol music (and a lot of other genres Western and Asian) is, yes?

  4. This is amazing. I don’t suppose they have released anything that would be possible to buy from overseas?

    • They’re going to stop existing from this summer because they’re all preparing for university entrance exams. I tried to get them to record something, at least one song for a compilation album, but I doubt it’ll happen. The only chance is if they play Utero again, I might be able to bribe the sound engineer to secretly record them!

      • That’s too bad, though there is something very 物の哀れ about it I guess. Hope to see more posts about this kind of bands.

  5. perfumeophile

    i can’t remember the last time i saw so much cacophony and chaos in such a concentrated burst.

    beyond that, i lack the cultural understanding or critical vocabulary to comment further.

    thanks for posting this.

    • UltimateMusicSnob

      LOL, I think you just pinned down *precisely* what they were going for, they should be very happy with a response like that. Frankly, considering how much noise and aural assault rock music is already capable of, it’s quite a feat for them to find the edge and go beyond it.

      • Yep, it makes the most sense if you see it as a bunch of kids smashing up their toys just because. Which is of course exactly what makes it so awesome.

  6. Makes it hard for me to figure out where the secondary dominants are, though… 🙂

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