Japanese Karaoke Afterlife Experiment
Sat July 17
120 NE Russell

IT'S A HUGE CLICHE but going to Japan is like landing on Mars: Skyscraper-size TV screen billboards; shoebox-size sushi diners; food that looks like plastic farm animals; all-night video arcades.

Preemptively striking, I brought a crapload of crazy records when I went to Tokyo this past spring, but none were nuts enough to match the city. Japanese Karaoke Afterlife Experiment aren't actually from Japan--they're from Rhode Island, like fellow two-piece Lightning Bolt--but their music runs part and parcel to big-city Tokyo.

Live, JKAE is down for mania right off the bat--electronic hum fills the club as the keyboard is plugged in, turned on, and turned up. The drummer test-rolls a delicate speed patter, while the keyboardist--they're both wearing bandanas over their mugs--releases a piggie squeal of future noize and the two come to life, honking and squelching and squirting all over each other.

But then silence. Song over. The band breathes, sweat rolling down their tensed wrists and onto their weapons.

Bunk bunk bunk bunk--a hollow, canned trance beat kicks in and the next song begins--only this time it's more measured, a dance track. Electro riffs squiggle out like baby snakes and then hellfire comes down with piano solo speed slaloms and Viking heroic blast beats and suddenly you're dancing like a chicken eating breakfast! Peck! Peck! Pa-peck! PppppehhhhhhCK! They're sweating and you're sweating and the girl next to you is air-drumming and shaking her head side to side 'til she looks like a blonde-headed cyclops. And WHAM, a new song. You're stomping your feet into the basement floor like you can kick right through it, and maybe you can, what with JKAE behind you, and their righteous 2004-blows Bush-era-frustration/pressure release which is so much like standing on the hood of some monkey's Hummer and kicking out the windows while your friends cheer. Japan? Portland? Rhode Island? Noise? Dancing? Fun? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and, yes!