The Royal Hall Of Industries turned into Little Tokyo last night as the venue played host to the first leg of Ksubi and Kirin’s Big In Japan extravaganza. Downsizing considerably (in square feet at least) from last year’s space, the cavernous CarriageWorks in Eveleigh, the venue still felt huge, eerie and semi-vacant like a barren contemporary art gallery in Moscow or something. It was pretty fantastic, all that space.
The performances, which could largely be described as experimental Japanese performance art, were mostly fantastic too. Highlights included Osaka’s Shabushabu – a DJ, noise artist and karaoke enthusiast whose hype man meets game show host schtick was entertaining, endearing and flat out ballsy. Dude was like the Iron Chef of “putting yourself out there”.
Sound artist Atsuhiro Ito perplexed everybody by making noise from a UV light hooked up to a variety of distortion pedals. We later learned that the fluorescent light was an instrument called an ‘optron’ which Ito had fashioned himself. This is precisely one instrument more than any of us have ever invented.
Artist and designer Yoshikazu Yamagata (who has worked for both McQueen and Galliano) hosted a fashion show that featured models such as Dan Single’s Dad. The designer showcased wares from his own label writtenafterwards and draped models in voluminous cotton sheets and wigs that were fashioned into wizard beards and face obscuring mops. He also re-purposed fabric rolls as magic walking staffs to create a cross between Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf and what I imagine God to look like.
But despite the other artists’ kookiness, imagination and obvious technical ability, the highlight of the night was Nisennenmondai an all-girl krautrock group who breathlessly transported hundreds of Sydneysiders to the blossom lined streets of Tokyo (via Cologne). Measured, disciplined and sinewy – the band owed an obvious sonic debt to the reductionism of This Heat and the groove-based drone of Neu! but managed to forge a sound all of their own. They were fantastic.
You can check out photos from last night’s party here.