Oct 31

[live report] I Love the 80s…Still

There was a time when a man’s worth was measured by the overall space his hair occupied in the universe. They called it the ’80s, for some reason or another. The music was loud, the women kicked ass, and Aqua Net became the singular cause for global warming.

Like some of you, I was far too young and my hair far too flat to fully enjoy this period. But there are some ways we can relive the era we never really lived through in the first place. Omega Dripp, a young up-and-coming band with looks not too far off from Motley Crüe, sponsored a hair and glam revival at Shibuya WWW in Tokyo for Omega Dripp Presents Glamourous Boogie Night vol. 6 –CHARGEEEEEE- … Birthday Party on October 11. This show featured mummy-kei band bulb, zebra skin-clad Közi, and no-clever-tag-line-needed legendary Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, each backed up on drums by the birthday boy himself, Charge from Omega Dripp.

Bulb featured that rare bird in the visual scene: a female vocalist. Dressed in white rags, she squealed and waved her arms, looking more like a kitten lost in a pile of laundry than the scary mummy chic they might have been going for. The music itself was fun, even diving into the deep and meaningful end of the music spectrum with some of their slower songs.

Former Malice Mizer guitarist Közi performed next, bringing his brand of industrial while wearing a zebra-print muumuu. (My aunt may have had a rug that looked exactly like it in 1988, but I’ll have to search the family photo albums for evidence.) Looks aside, Közi presented a set that was somewhere between a head-bang and a pop dance move; the guitars ground away while a synthesized beat kept some semblance of sanity to the otherwise incomprehensible melody. The music was all over the place, but that only made it all the more interesting.

Headliners/hosts Omega Dripp were up next, kabuki makeup from hell and all. While the looks were all reminiscent of a bygone era, the music was actually quite with the times. Sure, the guitar riffs could easily have fit in a hair metal album, but the tone went more with today’s visual kei bands. The vocals from the wilted mohawk-sporting Keita are nasal, with the occasional scream-bark we’ve all come to know and love, but the focus is still on how catchy the melody is. Visual kei fans will eat these young men up, and at the same time, old school hair metal heads will appreciate the homage to their fallen heroes.

Being a young band, Omega Dripp could use a mentor to show them how this metal thing was done back in the day. And who better to look up to than master guitarist Marty Friedman? OK, I realize Friedman was with Megadeth in the 1990s, but play along here. Friedman has become somewhat of an adopted uncle in the Japanese rock scene, collaborating with everyone from Luna Sea to Nana Kitade.

As wondrously retro as the other acts that night were, none of them could compare to the musicianship at Friedman’s fingertips. While technically astounding, it’s obvious that Friedman simply possess the natural gift to rock out. He poured every ounce of his talent into both the most grandiose guitar licks, and the most minute and seemingly unimportant details. The venue was small and the audience consisted mostly of young girls who probably weren’t quite sure who he was, but none of that mattered. With a grin on his face and the occasional joke in English (while tuning his guitar: “I bought this in tune!”), Friedman took that concert to a whole new level.

Omega Dripp appeared for one last encore while Charge attempted to body surf, and the show came to a joyous yet exhausted conclusion. I can see why the ’80s ended. All that noise, makeup, and hairspray must have driven some rockers to drugs just to escape all the chaos. But in occasional doses, we can still milk the ’80s aesthetic for just a little bit longer.

[svgallery name="omega_2011"]

Photo Credit:  Koichi Oshima, Kayo, Jamie
Official Omega Dripp website – http://1sh.jp/?id=omegadripp
Official Marty Friedman website – http://www.martyfriedman.com/
Official Közi website – http://www.kozi-info.com/

1 comment

  1. Jen Wang

    First fairy kei, then the return of X Japan and Luna Sea, and now new hair metal bands… whoever said the 80s are coming back was definitely correct!

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