Sometime in early December, Record Shop Base posted this on Instagram:
Essentially, Gauze and Crow were going to play a show that celebrated the 22nd anniversary of Record Shop Base. This is a bit unusual because Gauze typically announce a show that they’ve set up one month before the show occurs. That’s never enough time to arrange flights, hotels and all the other bits and bobs that one has to do to travel to see shows.
This show was in Tokyo, Japan at Fever – near Setagaya – a venue I didn’t know had a ton of shows, but apparently has punk stuff with frequency. Of course, we all know about Earthdom and Shinjuku Antiknock (where usual Gauze shows are held) – but Fever was new to me. Cool spot right across from the train station – making getting to and from the venue a breeze.
As we arrived Dudman were playing and as we got into the venue space, you could (or couldn’t rather) see the bands from the back. Dudman played their style of powerviolence influenced hardcore, certainly done competently, but didn’t really move me. Of course, if you compare Japanese opening bands to North American ones, typically the Japanese bands are waaay more together. You can chalk it up to work ethic, that most Japanese bands have to pay to practice, and venues having great backlines. The fact that even the most loose bands are very business-like in their approach to the music makes it seem like music is just more important. Dudman are no exception, there was no flubs, a level of precision that would make even a Swiss watchmaker marvel and a commitment to pummeling that few bands can approach, they were good at what they did.
Next up were NK6, who often were compared to Gauze-lite, and frankly I didn’t think still existed, but I was glad that they do! Live, they don’t have as much of a Gauze-a-like sound, but had their own take on classic 80’s Selfish Records style Japanese hardcore. OK, there may have been slightly similar to Gauze, but definitely had their own thing going on. Actually live, it felt more like late 80’s Lip Cream, with less guitar solos. Not surprisingly, they were excellent, and I hope that this wasn’t just a one-off, and there’s more NK6 in the future.
Eiefits were next, and next to Gauze, they were a band I was the most interested in seeing. I have a preference for bands that are in the now, while I’m not going to complain about bands getting back together, and I appreciate what goes on with reformations, I also think that all these old bands reforming aren’t allowing new bands to headline, develop their own audiences, and forces everyone in this reflexively looking back instead of looking forward. Now I do it too, but I try to firmly keep my feet looking at tomorrow rather than yesterday – which is why I wanted to see Eiefits so much – as the LP from two years ago was so good.
Live, they were able to reproduce the songs on the record as if you were listening to it a much greater volume, which was a great thing to see and hear. Female fronted punk, very much like Signal Lost.
A small break and then Crow started setting up – first thing we noticed that Iron Fist Tatsushima (GISM, Veihaiz, and several other bands) was playing drums for the band. Crow started with some show tunes playing in the background, then immediately launched into the set, consisting of early songs (from when Crow was based out of Osaka).
The set was pretty flawless from my vantage point, and blew past my meager expectations. The band was tight, the songs were as good as the records, and well, when Give Up All Hope was played, I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t moved to chant along.
Finally Gauze took the stage, set up and then melted my face for 20 minutes. A little backstory, I first heard Gauze in 1988 on the Pusmort (well we all know now it’s a Dogma Records release) compilation called Thrash Til Death. That record opened my eyes to non-English punk and hardcore, and how absolutely top notch it was. Over the years, I must’ve heard those five songs a lot. Then the Prank 7″, and a copy of Equalizing Distort… and then the Internet allowed me to hear the rest. I was living in the States when they did their 6 show U.S. tour, of course I was no where near the shows. So it’s been a long time coming. Last year we missed them by a week. I promised myself that as the members of the band have to be pushing into the 60’s for some of them, it only made sense to try to make it a priority.
And I’m glad I did. I had ridiculously high expectations and they were met. I mean, how can you look at the shows on YouTube over the last two decades and think, yeah, they’re just OK. So, yes, I expected a ton out of the band and they delivered. Absolutely machine like, Gauze tore through a set of new and old, at least one song that has yet to be released, and then, well, stopped and left the stage. As quickly and efficiently as they came, they went.