Flower Children 2

The Moon Stomp in Koenji is smaller than most American kitchens, and it really does have a kitchen, where sweet-smelling pizza and hot spicy curry are getting cooked up, but what’s really cooking is the music. Descend from the streets into that tiny smoke-filled club, packed with kids in hats and T-shirts, and music is feel-good, giggles-provoking and so harmonious Japanese-style it’s like soaking in sudsy lukewarm tubwater. Merrychan is a trio that performs original Japanese-language versions of Cuban and other Latin music. Hearing Japanese sung and yelled in Latin fashion is somehow funnier than you’d think. Speak about identity crisis and parodying Japan’s imitative modern music scene! See how “Gerohaita! (He barfed!)” almost sounds Spanish? It’s that wit in not taking oneself too seriously that makes these musicians rise above their otherwise proficient but pretty hunkydory (I mean, how could a bunch of Japanese kids beat Los Van Van?) musicianship to something unique, and something definitely entertaining. No wonder the crowd (of about 30, half of them members of the other performing bands) is ecstatic. Funyakotsu-ting was a geeky looking pudgy guy with glasses and a T-shirt with a picture of a donkey that said in English: “Bad Ass.” He sang/narrated/even performed karaoke with a guitar. A far cry from a demonstration of musical technique or artistic message, the almost-freak-show “otaku” performance exudes a strange utterly disarming charm. Several fans sat in the front row with multicolored light-sticks and swayed them in time to the music on one tune. Most straight-ahead but just as hippie-spiritied was Cigarette She Was , a folk/pop band led by guitar-strumming singer Teruyuki Kawabata (in photo above on top of flower as a flower child should be). The groups were selling their CDs for something like 200 yen, the equivalent of $1.50. Admission was 2,500 yen for an all-you-can-eat meal-included evening of music. Japan is so affluent and peaceful the dreams go on without a reality test as they do in other parts of the world. Young Japanese are rejecting the older generation’s definitions of a proper “salaryman” life (preferably at a big name company). They will earn their keep (freeter-style or otherwise) but play/laugh at Moon Stomp.