A week after the show in Yokohama, OLH held their big “New Name Concert” at WWW in Shibuya. Unlike Friday, WWW is a normal all-standing live house with tiered levels. I was naturally as close as I could be to the stage, but that was unfortunately a few rows of people back, as the place was already more or less full thirty minutes before the show. That said, I still had a great view of the stage, and was able to see everything clearly. I was closer than I was at Friday, and didn’t have a big column in the way blocking half of my view.
The opening act was an underground idol called Machi Akari. “Despite being a child of the Heisei era, my heart belongs to the ballads of Showa.” she writes in her introduction posted on OLH’s website. She put on a fine performance of quirky tunes written and composed by herself. The instrumentals were canned, tinny fair, in sharp contrast to her deep, Showa-influenced voice, with lyrics being deliberately strange, playful and slightly mean. It was a surreal and fun thirty minute peak into what she describes as “Machi Akari World.”
After making her exit, and some stage adjustments, a projector screen descended from the ceiling and a scratchy old Showa tune came through the sound system. Lupin III style typewriter text appeared on the screen. In pink.
“Tonight, you will be witnesses to history.”
The music swelled as the singer triumphantly announced, “Watashi no namae wa… kawarimasu. (My name will change.)” and the crowd went wild.
While I was unable to catch everything, in true OLH style, the video opened with a montage of videos and photos of aCky doing stupid things during shows (and one video of his dad rocking a sweet-ass pair of sideburns while singing on an old NHK program) run along with text that more-or-less asked, “You guys actually like this band?” The best bit of the montage was a fish-eye shot of aCky’s giant belly shoved against the camera.
The middle section of the video was beyond my comprehension and included clips from old movies and footage of Japanese bands from the ’80s performing. People were laughing, so I’m sure there was something to it! The video closed with runner-up entries for the band’s new name. Once again, meaning was lost on me, as there was too much text on the screen for me to read in a short period of time. Then, at the end, all of us OLH fanatics in the room–both old and young–learned the three words that would make up the new name for our beloved band.
Only Love Hurts
The band then opened with an explosive performance of the first track off Ongaku Girai, Ondo, Hitohada ga Hoshii. The intro to this live version gave each member of the horn section a chance to show their stuff with some killer solos right off the bat. The set was the same as the previous week, just with the order rearranged. This time around Kuchi ni Dashite Ne came with a sexual trumpet solo, further emphasizing the song’s inherent sleaze with a satisfying degree of audial hyperbole. One of the funnier moments was when aCky completely forgot the lyrics to Konya, Sugamo De. After completely bombing the first verse, he tried again for the second verse, but almost immediately exclaimed, “wait, this isn’t right either, is it?” upon realizing he was in fact singing the third verse. Looking away shyly, he took an angry and embarrassed swig of water. Later, during the performance of Tokyo (ja) Nightclub (wa), he approached an audience member near the stage and lamented, “What was up with Sugamo anyway?”
Since WWW is a serious business concert venue, unlike Friday–where there were some sound issues–every instrument came through loud and clear on WWW’s sound system. The lighting was strong, boldly illuminating all the players, and being close to the stage I was able to see all the steams of sweat running down aCky’s face, and interestingly enough, down the back of his hat.
aCky’s MC was as always a clever, self deprecating barrage of jabs–“We’ve always had the image of, ‘those guys are kinda sketchy.’ But with this new name, we’d like to put all that to an end. Also, it’ll make it easier for you when asked what you’re listening to. Instead of a dirty name like Omokage Lucky Hole, you can now say the stylish Only Love Hurts! People will probably like the “hurts” part because it sounds like “heart” (note: in Japanese those two words are pronounced identically) and they may think we’re a normal cute pop band.” I’m paraphrasing, but that was the general gist of it. Another funny bit was when aCky poked fun at Christel Takigawa’s use of “omotenashi” (hospitable) to describe the heart of Japan in her Olympic bid speech, with aCky claiming that the heart of Japan is actually “hashitanashi” (vulgar).
When called out by a member of the audience (not me, I assure you) aCky fired back with, “Please don’t call out. Between us guys and you motherfuckers is a deep, dark river that’s impossible to cross… Sorry, I didn’t mean that! Please forgive me? That’s my tsundere impression.” Among all the fun a games there was news that they’d be doing a movie theme song, which has since been announced. It’s called Chikyuu Bouei Miboujin or Earth Defense Widow. It looks like a sexy and silly tokusatsu parody, staring Japan’s “sexy onee-san”, Danmitsu. OLH’s song is called Ai no Xanadu… wonder how it’ll turn out!
Before the show started, there was an announcement that the band was to sell t-shirts with the new name emblazoned on them. They wore them during the encore, and upon seeing the design–OLH written in bright primary colors next to a crude drawing of a pig with a boombox in hand–I knew I had to have one. Right as the show ended, much like a Hajj stampede, people violently rushed to the merch table, fiercely claiming things for their own. I risked life and limb squeezing my way between a woman’s sweaty rolls of fat to get one. When I got there, XL-sizes were already sold out, but I’m good with an M, so all was well.
After getting dinner, while walking back to the station, I passed by the live house again. While passing by, I spotted a man clad in a completely pink sweatsuit, wearing two hats stacked up upon one another. It had to be aCky.
I said hi, and we talked a bit about the name change. Apparently he liked the name I submitted.
“That name you submitted… ‘Old Lonely Hearts’… I was actually a little torn between that and Only Love Hurts.”
He was probably just being nice, and I like Only Love Hurts a lot better anyway. I tried to tell him that their new name had a lot of punch, but I’m not sure if the nuance got through. Anyway, he looked tired packing up the OLH van, so I didn’t overstay my welcome and bid him farewell.
So yeah. Good time. Can’t wait for their show in February.