Marble Sheep/Drive-by Shooting – Hildesheim Germany, Kulturfabrik Löseke (Buffo) - 22 November, 2007
From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)
On my way from the Psychedelic Network festival in Würzburg to Berlin, to catch the Nasoni fest the following Saturday, I made a pitstop halfway along, to rendezvous with the Marble Sheep/Drive-by Shooting tour in Hildesheim, a smallish city not far south of Hannover (home of the Scorpions). On the way, I managed to lose my passport on the train, along with some cash and other personal items. A big downer, that's for sure, but I wasn't going to get too stressed out about that, because that stuff wasn't going to keep me from attending this concert. (I'd worry about my upcoming flight to Denmark later.) The Kulturfabrik (Kufa) is housed in the old Löseke paper factory, nestled between two merging lines of the railroad in central Hildesheim. Like many such places in Germany, the building is host to a number of different bars and halls of various sizes, the Buffo being one small room in the basement that could maybe hold 80 comfortably. Good beer was to be had for a reasonable price, and amazingly they didn't even ask you to pay a deposit on the glasses and mugs. Nevertheless, I made sure not to break their nice tall Weissbier glasses.
Drive-by Shooting hail from Berlin, a trio with both stoner and punk tendencies. Desert rock with a Detroit attitude. Short, two- to three-minute songs, loud, fast, and angry. Guitarist Angel also handles all the group's vocals, sung in English in aggressive style. Decent enough stuff, that helps to get your ears warmed up, but not exactly my taste. The one song I knew going in, "Too Weird To Arrest," came to my attention via a Nasoni Records promotional CD. This one has a kind of ZZ Top riff, and seems to be one of their best songs in terms of composition. I'd been hearing it on my iPod from time to time over the last couple months, and it was nice to hear this one live too. Drive-by Shooting fit at least a dozen songs into their 45-minute set, full of energy, attitude, and all at high volume.
Drive by Shooting
Marble Sheep is touring around Europe supporting their newest release 'Message from Oarfish' (as always on Matsutani's own Captain Trip label), but on this night they featured songs from the last four studio albums, going back to 'Stone Marby.' This album ended a hiatus for the band, following some different directions that the band had taken towards the end of their initial phase in the early 1990s. With varying degrees of success. For instance, the live recording 'Psychedelic Paradise' was full of long Grateful Dead-like hippie-psych jams, which were actually quite a good listen (despite me not caring for the Dead). However, I remember studio albums from that same time (such as 'Twiga') that were pretty depressing affairs. Poor attempts at making the music more mainstream. The reborn Marble Sheep, post-2000, has gone back to their roots in freak-out psychedelia, not quite so manic as Acid Mothers Temple, but in the same neighborhood.
The set started out with a couple new songs from 'Oarfish' like the grungy garage-rocker "From the Centre" and the more uptempo "Mana." Then we heard "Count Five," which like much of the set was heavy on the guitar and noisy, the pair of drummers (which can never be perfectly in synch, which is why few bands try it) making the whole performance a little loose. Which, frankly, with this sort of anarchic heavy-psych rock, isn't necessarily the worst thing. The overall sound was a little bright, despite the fact that the very tiny Rie Miyazaki can more than hold her own on her (relatively) oversized bass. "Last Race" was one of the few on this night that doesn't quite go over-the-top, having rather a more laid-back bluesy riff that is actually quite catchy. Bandleader Ken Matsutani (V,G) doesn't have the prettiest voice in the world, but he's got a deep, smoky quality to his singing that works quite well with this kind of material. Next, we got the noisy freak-out of 'Rain,' the twin guitar attack of Matsutani and Tak going full steam once again. "Fla Fla Heaven" is a bouncy fun psych-rocker...now we're ready to party! It was around this time that Tak went AWOL only to reappear in costume as the band's signature mascot, Marby the Sheep. Following a golden oldie (from the late 1980s) "Ancient Wind," the 65-minute set finished up with one from the new album "Raise the Dead" (a psychedelic wall-of-sound), capping off a raucous, noisy guitar-psych fest that was quite fun.
The concert was not well attended, drawing only two dozen or so faithful on this cold Thursday night in late November. Hildesheim is not a very big city, and it wasn't likely that many in the area would be too familiar with the Japanese psychedelic scene. But those that did come seemed to enjoy the loud, fast music, and the good excuse to have a few beers and forget the day's troubles. Despite the sparse attendance, both bands put forth their best effort which is always nice to see. It's always a big letdown when you see a band that doesn't care enough to play their best just because the crowd didn't show. Drive-by Shooting and Marble Sheep obviously just like to play for whoever wants to listen, or maybe just for their own enjoyment. Either way, it was nice to share the evening with them.
Drive by Shooting web
Marble Sheep Web site: www.marby.or.tv/index-e.htm
Reviewed by Keith Henderson