Nakanoshima Outdoor Festival
Osaka, Japan • June 6, 1999
Crazy man crazy. The Loco Loco festival had it all, shish kebabs, fajitas, Korean BBQ, Indian curry, import beers, cocktails, magic mushrooms, and a shitload of bands. Free music fests like this are a rarity in Japan, and it was a real treat to spend a day in the sandy park watching a stream of original musicians rock it out in front of our daydrunk eyes.
The show started off with some Japanese thrash from Guano. Not bad, but too early on a Sunday to hear so much power. ODD really kicked the Loco Loco fest off with their estranged and eclectic sound. They impressed with a psychotic didgeridoo mixed with feedback feedback feedback from a feedbag of percussionists, horn players, bass and guitars. The music was a bit on the atonal stream of consciousness trip, but I mean that in a good way.
Some mellowed-out group code named 3.6 Milk took off as I reached a drunken state of hibernation. I really liked the way they melted Sunday to a chilled-out state of being, with an easy mix of light ska and poppy tunes. Very “non-Japanese Sunday” sounding.
After eating a fat-assed fajita and drinking too many bad Japanese beers, I realized Stone Edge from Nagoya was taking the stage. The male members of the audience wandered to catch a glimpse of the girly glam rockers. I figured that an all-female punk band in Japan would prove to be a thrilling excitement – especially when I saw their skimpy-ass outfits. However, their grooves did not tickle my shtick, and I have to say that they’re set was lacking originality, enthusiasm, and the glitteration that I expected from the foxy trio.
Minx was up next. A group of all British (?) foes from the big city of Tokyo, they played some sweet avant pop that got the kids dancing. Their snazzy matching gas station outfits are as cute as Mojo Nixon in the old days, and their fun, catchy, poppy tunes make you wanna take off those underpants and jump around. Definitely a lively pack; I think seeing them in a club would be riotously enjoyable, ‘cause their job on the big stage in front of a near-empty park was amazing.
A good couple hundred people showed up for the festival, and everyone accumulated to the stage for the cheesy dance contest and for the freshest act of the day, Far East Dragon Lee Thunders. This band took the stage in the flashiest fucked-up funk clothes I’ve ever seen. Japanese kids with afros and polyester? Bellbottoms and big glasses? The hoochimamma whose job was to shake it HARD? Man, this was weird. They opened with some HARD FUNKY SHIT that broke down into a tremendous spastic DISCO groove. AND GROOVE WE DID! Everyone got up and got into it, shaking their moneymaker ‘cause we was infected with this Japanese Junk. Sadly, it turned to junk right after the first song. The band went into a laborious set of quasi-Seventies grooves with the occasional disco tune. Their outfits started to make them look like Dread Zeppelin. Their intro was a fresh killer, the rest was like room temperature sushi….
It was growing dark, the long train rides home were menacing, the high of the day was running thin. Osaka’s own Tripod Jimmy took the stage, and I took an exit. I’m sure they played their usual HIGH ENERGY set, with the man in Leather Pants in the lead. They’re a good live act to catch if you get the chance, but not on a Sunday with a stack of shit to do in the morning.
Loco Loco was a unique and fun event. The quality of bands could be kicked up a notch–to make it more fitting with the name, some really OUT THERE groups should be recruited. Japan has plenty of freaks, so this can’t be too hard to do. But I’d really like to thank the Hand in Hand and Mukogawa folks for a splendid day in the park and some original, new music. Next year’s event should prove to be bigger and better and perhaps more insane. ◼