SXSW Showcase Reviews
Reviewed by Michael Bertin, Fri., March 16, 2012
Japan NiteElysium, Friday, March 16
Dear Japan, what happened to the weird? And we like weird, that was the deal: We invite you over and you show us something musical that no sane person would concoct. This year, not so much. The strangest thing about openers the Rubies (from the Emeralds) was that it looked like the band ripped off its wardrobe from the lost and found at the Regal Beagle. Save for some howling (yes, howling), its Ramones-meets-The Partridge Family punkification of Sixties pop was totally accessible. Similarly, the mannish voice from the pixieish singer fronting the ballsy trio the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass isn't novel to anyone who's heard Screaming Females. By the time Kao=S brought its traditional Japanese folk to the Elysium stage, it was pretty clear the weird topped out with the names. Sure, the performances were excellent, particularly the openers giving up two hours worth of sweat in 40 minutes. And the Nokies! with its inverted speed-surf via Factory Manchester was also tasty, but Japan Nite usually means getting your mind blown. So please, when you come back next year, Japan, pack the freak show.