One of the bands generating excited whispers from those in the know amongst Tokyo’s underground music scene at the moment is this new wave-influenced garage-punk duo. The iciness with which audiences in Tokyo often treat new bands isn’t necessarily meant in an unfriendly way so much as that the only gigs a lot of new bands can get are weekday bookings where all or most of the bands are paying the venue for the privilege of playing and the friends or fans of one band have rarely heard of any of the other bands on the bill. The result is a small cluster of people feeling a bit awkward in a room much too big for them, surrounded by people they don’t know very well, so naturally the responses the bands evoke tend to range from polite applause down to dead silence.
One thing a band can do is to just say “arigatou” after each song as a cue to the audience that it’s OK to clap now. Audiences respond well to this, it makes them feel comfortable. The wonderful Living Astro quietly acknowledge the ends of their songs with no more than an embarrassed smile to the audience and a little nod, but this subtle cue is usually enough. Another approach is to revel in the audience’s discomfort and give them no cues as to how to behave whatsoever. Extruders seem to do this, and Sayuu do it in spades.Sayuu: Kappa
The stop-start nature of Sayuu’s music makes it hard to know when one song has finished and a new one is about to begin, so the band’s refusal to acknowledge the end of a track just adds to the discomfort. It also adds to the excitement in a certain way, giving a sense that the band are refusing to talk down to you, refusing to spoonfeed you. It tells you that they’re not going to make things easy and that they expect you to keep up. There’s a dry sort of humour to the way they present themselves and music that combines simple base elements in a complex, nontraditional way. The kazoo opening suggests a sort of snotty punk childishness, while the closest thing the song has to a chorus is a pretty simple garage rock riff over a stumbling rhythm. A lot of the music, however, revolves around treating all the instruments from drums up to vocal as pieces of percussion, which gives the whole song a taut, jittery edginess. As I said, these guys are being talked about a lot in the local underground scene, so expect to hear more from them.