Show Review: April 10th MTM Presents The Shamisenist, Robert Taira Wilson, Tokyo Sapiens, Eva Kestner
It has been 13 months since we last paved our way with the folks at Shibuya 7th Floor. A cosy venue tucked in the heights of Dogenzaka lofty back roads. You’d be forgiven for never having noticed it as it’s only entrance is a single lonely elevator. But once you ascend, the charming and far-spanning view over Shibuya may have you wondering why you’ve never been here before. It is genuinely a gorgeous sight, especially at night time.
The harlequin of love and hope, Eva Kestner, opened up the night with a lovely and reserved set of Taiko performances. Some erred towards the traditional with a few songs that wouldn’t have felt out of place at a temple or during a matsuri. While Kestner’s skill is indelibly in Taiko, the dueling piano and shakuhachi accompaniments definitely vied to steal the performance, as beneath the coarse beating drums they weaved a wonderful dreamy web that caught the audience off guard.
Speaking of ‘Off Guard’, the man whose impetus ultimately brought this night together, Robert Taira Wilson, was second up. Of all the artists performing, tonight perhaps meant a little more to Robert, as 7th Floor was the last venue he performed at with MTM before COVID turned our world upside down and all of our machinations to proverbial dust. Ever the professional, Robert swaggered through his set effortlessly. Unsurprisingly COVID only fueled Robert’s musicality further as Robert opened his set with a few new songs to the delight of his loyal fans. Of particular note, was a rendition of one of Robert’s originals as he was joined on stage by Eva Kestner and The Shamisenists’ lead man, Jack. The song breathed differently as Robert’s British folk sensibility found itself re-crafted under a slightly more traditionally Japanese guise. Suffice to say, it was easy to find a place of zen while listening.
“Once this is over, we will tear through the villages and metropolis of the world with our own [re: tokyo] matsuri”. These are the words that adorn the inside of The Shamisenists' [re: tokyo]. This was the promise that Jack, Yuji, and Kyouhei made to themselves and their fans at the height of COVID’s merciless arrival. Tonight The Shamisenists began making good on their promise and demonstrated that they are by no means at all, a one trick pony or a novelty act. It is in the live arena that the punk essence of The Shamisenists is most apparent, as we saw lead shamisenist, Jack, and bass shamisenist, Yuji, sacrifice a string each to the effort of making an unforgettable performance. Jack and Yuji often found themselves flying through the air while shredding their gained out 3 string riffs. Kyouhei himself took centre stage for a couple of come-to-god heavy as hell drum solos. The real stand out moment for me was looking back and witnessing the audience jumping up and down to these 3 string mentalists, like a scene from an Ozzfest or Lollapalooza. Truly unbridled fun.
Last up to bat tonight was one of Tokyo’s best kept secrets, Tokyo Sapiens. They hit the stage running in typical fashion with titanic steam roller riffs and coursing liquid lava solos. Heads were banged and horns were thrown in the air, Morohead’s Lemmy would’ve easily been proud to share a stage with such acolytes of Rock ‘n’ Roll. But Tokyo Sapiens themselves are not so one dimensional as they treated us to a new song of their own. It would’ve been easy to make another shredder of a track, but somewhat surprisingly Tokyo Sapiens have obviously been enjoying additions of a progressive/psychedelic element to their repertoire. A burly bass riff leads the way, bringing to mind Tool’s Justin Chancellor’s almost towering efforts. Overhead the guitars almost slip and jangle with an almost erotic and tropical charge, as if Santana developed a taste for Grunge. What is truly striking about Tokyo Sapiens is how incredibly tight they are as a unit. They are completely in sync, as if they have never heard of missing a beat, no doubt this is a homage to hours of hard work and practice coupled with a love and care for the music and message they want to convey. It is safe to say we look forward to seeing what Tokyo Sapiens chooses to do next, no doubt it is absolutely badass and a lot of fun. Whatever the case, hopefully after tonight, the secret is out, Tokyo Sapiens are gonna tear it up.
Another show draws to a close and every passing moment that is enjoyed is missed and can not be replaced, but More Than Music is far from done this April. We are dedicated to bringing you more and more of those moments and we will not stop until you are satisfied. There are more shows and more music to be enjoyed, so come on out. You never know, you might find a new favourite artist.
April 17th MTM Presents: Josiah Hawley, Laya, OSHIN, Elliot Cormack
April 22nd Craft Beer Unplugged with Robert Taira Wilson
April 24th MTM X Aries City Presents: Jumeaux, Afrodyty, SLOPE UP SESSION CLUB
May 15th MTM Presnts: Omni Sight, Demsky, Ry