A Birthday Treat Just for Me: Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO
Live at the Fold at the Silverlake Lounge, Los Angeles, CA, 11 March 2002
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
Wow. It was my 35th birthday and I had the opportunity of a lifetime. No better birthday gift could be had. The Acid Mothers were playing that night! I have long been a fan of the theirs, but had yet to see them live due to rather bizarre health circumstances. But this time, I vowed, no matter how crappy I felt, I was gonna make it to the show, and so my friend Seth and I headed down to Silverlake, had some excellent, cheap Thai food along the way, and got to the Lounge around 10.45 PM. Perfect timing, it turns out, because the opening band (didn't catch their name, didn't care to catch their name. Not that they were horrid or anything, but just... mediocre. Thinking back I think they were Maquillado or something to that effect) was wrapping up their set. That meant the Mothers would be on momentarily!
The place was packed, unexpectedly - it was a Monday night after all. But it's a small venue, and this night there were more men than women (as I expected - people still find it strange that I like freakout music as much as I do, being a 'girl' and all). But Seth and I were very sly and quickly maneuvered ourselves into the front. I was almost on stage, and could have been if this chick hadn't parked her carcass on the edge of it as I hoped to do. But that was ok. We were definitely in the right spot at the right time.
Didn't take them long to set up. Which was surprising. How many shows have you been to where you just sit and wait wait wait for the next band to get ready to rock out? Sometimes just thinking about that makes me want to skip shows all together. Anyway, the line up for the night's festivities was Cotton Casino on vocals and synthesizer (and mixing board), Tsuyama Atsushi on bass and crazy throat vocals, Higaeshi Hieroshi on guitar, synth and electronics (he had this amazing touch type mouse-looking object that could distort the sound of his voice, or just react to the different closenesses of his hand. It was sooo awesome. I want one!), Uki Eiji on drums, and of course the ever irrepressible Kawabata Makoto on freakout monster crushing guitar. And once they hit the stage they started off hard and fast and never stopped. Indeed, they began with a cut off their latest release, the beautiful La Novia, which continued for a while. Cotton was all playing with distortion effects and raising/lowering levels of various instruments and really creating some out there variations on a good thing.
Meanwhile, this one guy in the audience kept urging them to play 'boogie' to which Tsuyama just laughed and laughed, playing off the heckler with "play beer?" and other silly retorts. As usual their humour came out throughout their set. After a little while of no boogie, though, the heckler left. Guess he didn't know what to expect. And didn't like it, either. Some people just have no taste, I guess.
The next song they segued into, "Pink Lady Lemonade" from their self-titled release had the crowd dancing as things quieted down a little. Not too much - Kawabata couldn't be stopped that night, and he was freaking out hard during the La Novia song and "Pink Lady...". Apparently a lot of sound problems and a broken guitar plagued him the night before at the Fold at the Derby in Los Feliz, so I guess he had something to prove to those who made it to both shows. Anyway, rarely a moment passed by that he or Tsuyama wasn't macabrely squelching out ever more incredible noise from his respective instrument, or else creating distortion and feedback galore. Meanwhile, Higeishi was a little more sedate, if anyone in the band could ever be called sedate, that is. But things were in a little slow down for a while, giving them and us a chance to recharge for their next segue into more La Novia stuff and "Blue Velvet Blues." Between songs Tsuyama regaled us with more silly wise cracks to and from audience members, until at one point all instruments stopped, and the band went into a heartwarming, possibly the best, version of "Row Row Row Your Boat" Seth and I have ever heard. Then they did some a cappella Japanese folk song, which was equally as impressive.
I was awestruck seeing them live for the first time, so it's hard for me to recall what songs they actually did play, except that they kept returning to "Pink Lady Lemonade," a definite crowd pleaser and yet more chances for us to commune with them in aural spirit. Cotton didn't do too much with vocals, she mostly played with her gadgets, very cutely slumped over them and moving her head to the music. But everyone else really put on a show, especially Ugi, who apparently Seth said was new to the line-up. Kawabata really went insane at times on his guitars, either playing by finger or stick or mouth. If you've seen them live you can readily imagine his antics, crazy hair swinging all over the place as he swigs beer and pelts out a chord or 11 or 13. If you only know them by their records, rest assured, once you make it to a show of theirs you will never forget the images the band creates.
After a while, during the last conception of "Pink Lady...", one by one they threw down their instruments and headed off stage. No! I was ready to cry! It's too short a set! But then I realized they had played frenetically for about an hour. And deserved a much needed break. And after a few minutes of respite, they came out again, to do one more song for us. This song was completely unfamiliar to both Seth and I so we imagine it is on one of the 95% of their releases he, I, Bob or Joe doesn't have. But it was amazing. Really focused on Tsuyama's throat singing, and capitalized on the frenzy of the combo perfectly. Crowd cheering wildly, they were in peak form for getting their message out.
Then, suddenly, it was over. Tsuyama made a joke that Kawabato needed a cute girl for the night, and Kawabato said, "We have merchandise. Please buy!" and they exited, stage right. Altogether I imagine they played for 1 hour 15 minutes, although the energy was so high and exhausting it seemed like an eternity. I was definitely not disappointed. I even treated myself to Tsuyama's limited edition 100 copy release of his playing all the instruments and using that madcapped throat singing CD as a present to myself. I wanted so much at their table; if only my wallet could have allowed me more. Joe, the night before, did get me Pataphisical Freak Out Mu!!! recently re-released on vinyl, with an extended version of "Blue Velvet Blues" that is just amazing, so now between those and the other releases of theirs I already have, I will be in fine form to recreate the magic of the show anytime I want to. If only I could have videotaped it, or at least recorded it on mini-disc, but oh well. An amazing show, the best Seth's ever seen them, and a wonderful induction into what I am sure will be many more trips to see them. And the birthday of a lifetime!
Reviewed by Diana Slampyak