Das Boot (Photo By Gary Miller)
Das Boot, Fantasy's Core
The Limelight, Thursday 15
The ever-popular SXSW slate of Japanese bands kicked off Thursday with an ear-splitting, spittle-raining frenzy of punk sneer and soul swagger. Tokyo's Das Boot is a wiry young trio raised on a steady diet of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion fused with the flailing, lo-fi antics of Guitar Wolf. The drummer, who pounded away on a minimal kit of bass, snare, and floor tom, looked barely old enough to drive, let alone drink. As he and the bleach-blond, gold mask-wearing bassist beat out a primal garage-punk rhythm best suited to running into things, the charismatic singer/guitarist degenerated deeper into a contorted state of sexual psychosis with every song. The lyrics seemed to be in Japanese, but their slurred, grunted-out delivery made positive identification next to impossible. Fortunately, the caterwauling induced by mojo-related angst is way more universal than Esperanto. Between fits of spitting a spray of bottled water into the air and screeching somewhere in the range of Janis Joplin, the guitarist strutted about the stage with the cocksure preen of an arena-rock god. Such stage presence contrasted nicely with his everything-but-the-kitchen-sink playing style. Every time Das Boot knocked something over, a meticulous stagehand would appear to put it back in place. However, that didn't stop their set from ending perfectly with thrown-down guitars feeding back at high volume and the singer/guitarist deep-throating the microphone and screaming like a torture victim. Nagasaki's Fantasy's Core also had a penchant for R&B-scented punk rock, but the quintet's allure was heightened by the application of slapstick antics straight outta Airplane!
To start with, the singer was a bald guy wearing sunglasses with a thin white streak running neatly down the center of his face. His excellent dance moves seemed to be a fusion of kabuki and New Wave. When he wasn't feigning hara-kiri with a toy light saber, he pretended to play guitar using a racquetball racquet. Fantasy's Core switched tempos frequently from John Lee Hooker-style blues to Sixties soul to metal rap (!) as the singer smiled and wooed the crowd with a stage persona somewhere in between Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Robin Williams on a talk show. At set's end, he fell to the floor like Jack Palance at the Oscars and did several one-armed push-ups as the crowd cheered. All in all, a two-for-one Rising Sun Spectacle of E-Ticket caliber.