Review – Acid Mothers Temple at the Media Club, Vancouver, May 10 2014
– by Thalia Stopa
The sounds at the Media Club Saturday evening far exceeded the size of the venue – from the get-go, the show was an experiment in pushing the limits.
From Boston, Massachusetts, opening act Perhaps reminded me of another technical emo band from my teenage years, At the Drive-In.
The four frizzy-haired members played an impressive hour-long set of experimental rock, only once pausing for a simultaneous water/beer break and drum solo. Though all are excellent musicians, the overall sound and influences seemed unfocused, and the singer’s theatrics and miming were at times a little distracting. But if these guys can hone in on a singular vision, there is no doubt that their sound could fill a Vancouver stadium.
Japanese rock collective Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O have been together, in various incarnations, since 1995. The current five-member group are half-way through their North American tour for Astrorgasm, released earlier this month. Previous shows have included founding member Kawabata Makoto hanging upside-down from the ceiling while playing his guitar, and rumor has it that they ended one of their recent performances by setting their instruments ablaze.
Compared to the opening band, AMT were a subdued bunch; however, the five long-haired musicians, though petite in stature, exude a much larger stage presence.
Singer/bassist Tsuyama Atsushi demonstrated the capabilities of human vocals by stretching his voice to impressive heights, then plunging down into guttural chanting that had me momentarily straining to locate the didgeridoo (not present). Even whilst clucking and yodeling, Atsushi maintained an impressive composure and content expression, as if to showcase the talent effortlessly exuding from his mouth and fingers. At one point he even pushed the plainest instrument – a recorder – to its limits.
Behind the synthesizer, Higashi Hiroshi‘s regal white mane was the stage centerpiece – occasionally tossed back gracefully, or sideways with the drama of a tree bending under a sudden gust of wind, then returning to its upright position without a raised eyebrow.
AMT pulled the audience into a psychedelic trance, their sound filling every orifice and melding inner and outer space. The show climaxed with Makoto playing his guitar upside down and into ecstacy. Finally, he hung the exhausted instrument from a duct over the stage.
Makoto unstrung his instrument for the band’s encore, led by more high-pitched vocal tremors from the throat of Atsushi the human instrument. Although nothing went up in flames, I wouldn’t have been surprised if each and every instrument had spontaneously combusted.