The Golden Week Tour has been a bit of a masterstroke by Damnably who have brought Japan’s Otoboke Beaver and South Korea’s Say Sue Me over the the UK for a quick five date sprint around the country on the back of releases for both bands on Record Store Day. In Japan the Golden Week is the longest holiday of the year and given that all members of Otoboke Beaver work full time, it’s the longest period they can take off. It’s very much the UK’s gain that they did.
As the tour whistles into Glasgow we’re treated to an opening set from locals The Breakfast Muff, a safe pair of hands and a perfect fit on this bill. I say safe pair of hands although Breakfast Muff’s punk racket sounds anything but safe. Tonight they’re as wonderful as always. Highlights include their menacingly brilliant new single ‘Baby Boomers’ and it’s flipside ‘R U A Feminist’ that closes their set.
Say Sue Me are an entirely different proposition. Their sound is mainly sun-drenched indie pop, perhaps along the lines of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Alvvays. The occasional song veers into fuzzier territory and I’m reminded of Jesus and the Mary Chain at times. Regardless of who they remind me of they are utterly charming to watch live. They sound pristine, they look like they’re having a fabulous time and it seems the crowd are too. I’ll forever be smitten by harmonies, hooks, punchy bass lines and driving guitars and Say Sue Me provide all that in spades. Come back soon.
Then it’s the turn of Otoboke Beaver and Oh. My. God. They’re a photographers dream, I’m pretty convinced I loved them before I’d ever heard a note simply because of the imagery on social media, limbs flailing, bodies all over the place, punk rock pandemonium personified. Thankfully their sound reflects all this precisely.
What strikes me first is the ludicrous levels of musical ability these girls have. They should be adorning the covers of every muso magazine in the world, stamping a high heel in the face of whoever the latest guitar hero dude is on the way. Their ability squeezes every inch out of their songs which are of the breakneck speed variety. There’s fragments of all sorts in here, hardcore punk, indie rock, sometimes verging on metal. Can you imagine Bis covering System of a Down? No, neither can I but I don’t think it’d be miles away from the sheer mayhem of sound Otoboke Beaver conjure up.
It’s frankly impossible to take your eyes off them even to simply catch your breath for a second. They’re like an exaggeration of something from the battle of the bands in the Scott Pilgrim movie but they’d wipe the floor with any of that cinematic nonsense. There’s a lot of posturing for sure, the performance is all rock posing, call and response vocals, stop-start songs, huge riffs, crowd surfing and to be this good it’s surely all been rehearsed within an inch of its life. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t come across as rehearsed, they carry and organic sense of chaos like they’ve arrived on stage, planted their roots and are now gonna spread across the venue like creeping ivy on speed, smothering every inch of the room and destroying anything in their path.
The language barrier is irrelevant with music this good. Between songs they’ve picked up enough English to explain they’re broke and we must buy their merch. “Now dancing, after shopping” and “We have no money, buy so no go back to work” seem to be the useful phrases picked up on tour. Their English is infinitely better than my Japanese and they say this between just about every song. Guitarist Yoyoyoshie leads us into another blast of music by screaming the band’s name into the mic and manically waving her arms like she’s trying to raise the dead into some kind of vengeful maelstrom. It works. Every time.
I’m not sure when I’ve seen a performance like this before, or when I will again but I hope Otoboke Beaver will be back. If not, that’s it, I’m packing my Glasgow bags and moving to Kyoto. These four girls should be superstars. Don’t rest until they are. ありがとう
Find Otoboke Beaver on Facebook.