Here’s my translation of Masao Nakagami’s review of the 2/23 show at the Shelter from the Target Earth Blog. A commemorative show was held at Shimokitazawa Shelter, Teengenerate’s old home base, for the release of the “Get Action” documentary. Teengenerate, Youngones, Firestarter and Raydios played. The place was packed, the bands were excellent, the audience was crazy and it was a magical night for all involved…
Since last summer, I’ve had all kinds of stuff related to the Teengenerate movie to do like pamphlets and things like that, so I haven’t felt much like writing. What the hell have I been doing? I guess it’s been a lot of endless, ongoing discussions accompanied by drinking. There was a sneak preview at the end of the year and a preview for the press at the beginning of this year. So, although the movie’s finished, there’s still lots of stuff going on like live events, pamphlets, putting together a soundtrack, etc. I’m not exactly production staff but more like a collaborator, or like somebody who found himself on a boat that’s now rocking back and forth in a heavy gale.
Now that the film’s coming out soon and things are settling down, I thought I should sit down and write a bit.
There are fewer and fewer people who can write about Teengenerate, or really any other band for that matter. We’ve got tons of pictures and videos, but when it comes to words about a band, it’s mostly stuff like, “Wow” or “Holy fuck.” Those are just slang and epithets that are popular at the time. A snapshot or a video can convey the meaning better, but it takes time and effort to really write.
Aniki is a great writer but lately he doesn’t produce much, which is too bad.
Firestarter and the Raydios were scheduled to play a show at Shimokitazawa Shelter to commemorate the documentary coming out. Lots of people have said lots of different things about how the show was set up, but according to Keisuke and Sawa, the idea in the beginning was that it was going to be just the two bands.
The show was set up by TCO and it was going to be just the two bands to commemorate the film but of course if the two are playing… there was a chance Teengenerate would play but just like last summer, it took some serious twisting of arms. I wasn’t involved in this arm twisting but just thinking back on last year, it must’ve been a hell of an undertaking.
During the negotiations and mutterings, it was decided that Shoe would play drums. I like Greg’s drumming but at the end of the day when you talk about Teengenerate, it’s gotta be Shoe. I’m glad it worked out that way. Then, since two members of Teengenerate play in Raydios and it would be tough to go from one set to the next, they got Youngones to reform and play to fill in the gap.
At first, they kept the appearance of Teengenerate and Youngones a secret. It was just a show with Firestarter and Raydios. But the tickets weren’t selling out like they did last summer. Come on people, take the hint! Don’t make us come out and say it!
But what could you do? I think who took that with the most mixed feelings were Fink and Aniki. It was like, both moved on with their current bands but all people want to hear is Teengenerate. But in the end, Fink came around and was like, well, we made those songs too so I’m grateful.
But then we were worried if we announced Teengenerate was gonna play, there’d be long lines and people who couldn’t get in and stuff like that all over again. But this time there was over a month to buy tickets and I don’t think there were tons of people who couldn’t get tickets, or at least I didn’t hear it.
This time I made it on time with a new camera, since my old one got broken last time. I found something cheap used and anyway, it’s alright because I have other uses for it. It’s usually cheaper just to buy a used camera than to get your old one fixed. Of course, I’m the kind of person who uses stuff cautiously and I’d rather get an old one fixed. I was thinking, if I had the money, I’d get it fixed rather than throwing it away. But then again, a new camera… okay, sorry, enough about that.
I came a little early to talk to people and pretty soon the place was open. It got packed pretty fast.
First up was Raydios. Fink likes to go first. He doesn’t much fancy headlining. He always says, “We’re not that kind of band.” He’s been saying that ever since the very beginning. Apparently he suggested that Teengenerate play first tonight but everybody put the kibosh to that quick.
Fink says that doing Teengenerate again has made him appreciate all over the beauty of simplicity and that now he’s writing songs along those lines. Tonight, Raydios treated us to “My Baby’s Back” as well as some new songs. I thought “Do You Wanna Walk With Me” (which I put out on my own label) was especially good tonight.
While I was watching Raydios from backstage, a person I hadn’t seen for a long time suddenly appeared. It was Warabi of Wallabies Records. It has probably been around the breakup of Teengenerate when I’d seen him last and he was still the same ol’ Warabi. He hadn’t changed a bit.
We didn’t say much to each other beyond, “Hey, how’s it going,” but I was surprised because I thought I’d somehow never see him again. It was totally Warabi whose support got Teengenerate and the scene around them started. He’s the one that showed me that there are other ways to support music than to play it yourself. It was purely because of Warabi, Iijima and Eimori starting their labels that I ended up deciding to start my own.
Raydios came offstage and just as I was taking pictures and talking with Warabi, Fink and Katsu, Firestarted kicked off their set. Today’s set showcased the pop side of the band, maybe to set it apart from Teengenerate’s set later. For whatever reason, it was a set of songs well-chosen. They played “Love Collector,” one of my favorites from the era around the first album, and a rousing cover of “Judy Judy Judy.”
In the years since Fink left, there has been a succession of guitarists. For the last few years, Keisuke has been filling his shoes really well. But with Aniki unable to play because of his finger, there’s always something a little lacking. Tonight, Aniki played guitar and this made it especially Firestarter-esque. Of course, I was a rabid fan of Teengenerate. Then, after they broke up, I became obsessed with Firestarter. For the last few years I’ve been so busy I can’t get out to shows too much. So, tonight’s lineup was wonderful for me.
I had to kinda wonder if the choice of two songs about the demise of radio, “Radios Are Dead” and “Destroy All Radios,” had something to do with them appearing on a radio program earlier to promote the movie. I think you could say the most apropos song they played tonight was “Jerry Midnight,” an unrecorded track about Jerry Wick of Gaunt who Teengenerate toured with and who died in an accident in 2001.
You could say that the Youngones were right in the middle of the Chloroform movement, but they weren’t anywhere near all the squabbling about what is or isn’t punk that went along with it. They were just a band that jumped up onstage and bashed out punk rock and roll, or at least that’s how I see them. If you listen to their records now, you get a feeling of simplicity, impulsiveness and raw power.
Yocchi now fronts the band Sunsett and because Azumi and Suzuki are in Raydios, it was decided to have them reform and play tonight. The explanation was that they were here to give Fink and Aniki a break before the TG set and thus the reunion was born.
I don’t know how many people were there to see them and I wasn’t particularly excited about it myself, but once they started playing, the energy went up. Hearing them play again, I remembered Yocchi’s distinctive howl: “WAAAAAAUGH.” That pretty much sums up the set. Their short set included their cover of “C.I.D.” by UK Subs and ended with their signature song, “I’m Me.”
The atmosphere tonight was really different than last summer. Last summer, people were waiting so bad to see TG but tonight on their home turf with Shoe on drums, the feeling was almost kind of relaxed. It was like the 20 years hadn’t passed and it was just business as usual. But of course, the four guys in front of me about to take the stage looked older and worse for wear (I know, me too).
But the feeling of business as usual was just an illusion. Tonight Fink opened the show by taking over Aniki’s usual gag of saying, “Good evening, we’re _______.” I’d heard Aniki telling Fink backstage, “You say it,” but didn’t really think he’d do it. It was funny to hear him say it. That moment smashed to bits the relaxed feeling and the band exploded into the first song.
The first song was “Mess Me Up.” Shoe’s drums were exactly like Enocky said in the movie, “Like a runaway steam train.” I said this a little in the movie, but it was Shoe’s drumming that pushed Teengenerate up to 90s garage punk speed and gave them that special character.
The set was pretty different from last year’s show, maybe because of limited practice time and the limits of Shoe’s memory of the songs. The biggest difference was that there weren’t many songs song buy Aniki or covers. They mostly played their most popular songs.
The set was short at just 11 songs. They stopped without playing “Get Me Back” and then came back and played it and “No Reason To Complain” for an encore with a buck naked Ono-ching joining them for “My GTO.” Ono-ching has been close to Teengenerate from the beginning and he joined as a guest during the recording of this song. Stark naked, he slashed at the guitar in his Johnny Thunders style and ended the set with a stage dive.
Then, they launched into “Wild Weekend” and it was the end. But they couldn’t stop people from shouting encore and they came back to do “Dressed In Black” again. It was like they were saying to the audience, “We have no more fucking songs, okay!?” and they were done.
Tonight’s show was to promote the film, but it was a great show and a great night all on its own. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about seeing Teengenerate again. I was there for Firestarter and Raydios. But the fans, many of whom came from far away, enjoyed the hell out of the show.
Some people were talking about, “Are they every gonna play again?” Nobody knows the answer to that but I’d say if you ask them to play again soon, definitely not. After more time passes, who knows? They might do it again. But for now, we got the movie “Get Action.”