12 Tokyo Garage Rock Bands to Party with at the Halloween Ball

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For those whose aural diets are lacking proper amounts of reverb, twang, serious fuzz, high volume and heavy feedback, Tokyo’s garage, punk and surf scene luminaries from the Back From The Grave collective are putting on the 30th Anniversary edition of their renowned costumed Halloween Ball.

For the uninitiated, garage punk music is known for its embrace of modern primitivism and a lean, loud, stripped-down and guitar-based aesthetic. While often viewed as being at society’s fringe, Tokyo’s scene is lively, creative and tolerant — welcoming newcomers, outsiders and foreigners.

Over 50 bands are scheduled including such legendary home-grown outfits as Guitar Wolf (pictured above), The Great Mongoose, Kinoco Hotel, MAD3, The Neatbeats and The Go-Devils. US bands The Mummies (infamous for their demeanors and repartee with the crowd) and Phantom Surfers round-out the lineup. In-between live acts, the music continues courtesy of DJs from around the world and throughout Japan. Feel free to wear a costume, earplugs are recommended.

Photographer Mark X Farmer has chronicled Tokyo’s garage punk scene for years, supplying photos of these 12 bands performing at this weekend’s Halloween Ball.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Guitar Wolf

Extreme, loud and extremely loud, the grandfathers of Tokyo’s garage punk scene coined the phrase “jet rock ‘n’ roll” and have released 12 albums and toured the world since their debut album was released in 1997 by US independent label Matador Records (Pavement, Interpol, Queens of the Stone Age).

Photo by Mark X Farmer

That’s a NO-NO!

Powerful, crisp and naughty, this quartet with a spooky and deliciously sinister edge is led by vocalist and organist Kei Yoshida, mixing the psychedelia of the ‘60s mod scene with power pop and rock ‘n’ roll.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

The Minnesota Voodoo Men

This three-piece, Tokyo-based band developed a well-earned reputation for wild live performances with their mix of R&B, rock, surf and British beats amplified by stunningly solid guitar work by Fabian.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Mr. Death

Trashy, raunchy, sleazy and cheesy, this legendary figure of Tokyo’s underground scene (pictured left with You Poison) has been “tempting treats from the land of exotica” since before the days of MySpace.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Jackie & The Cedrics

Born in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward in 1964, Rockin’ Thunderbolt Enocky (pictured with drummer Miracle Kiss) is a master guitarist whose groundbreaking technique is a treasure to behold. Enocky has been active with legendary surf band Jackie & The Cedrics since they released their first single in 1993.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Stompin’ Riffraffs

This hard-working quartet has been delivering destructive killer tunes with blast beats and an explosive guitar sound since releasing their first album Horror Show in 2011.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Texaco Leatherman

Known for breaking the extreme limits during live shows, this garage rock band, which blends psychedelic, punk, hardcore, metal and junk, have only released one full-length album despite trashing the stages of Tokyo’s livehouses for more than three decades.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

The Fly and His One Man Garbage

Put your feelers together for this fuzz-drenched, one-man blues wrecking crew, who might or might not be a registered living national treasure of Japan.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

The Highmarts

Formed in Tokyo in 2013, this trio inspired by the ‘60s group sound and ’70s punk just released two new vinyl EPs available throughout Tokyo and Japan, continuing the tradition of Japanese garage rock with the primitive fuzz guitar sound made famous by The 5,6,7,8’s.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

The Let’s Go’s

Mentored by Guitar Wolf frontman Seiji Anno – father of The Let’s Go’s bassist Sakura – this hard-rocking, hard-partying trio in matching cherry-red leather have been bringing intense heat to the stage under multiple lineups since 2006, with guitarist Coco being the lone mainstay.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Tokyo Cramps

This Japanese tribute band to American psychobilly innovators The Cramps relish in villainous camp humor, sexual double-entendres and retro horror and sci-fi iconography that would make the late Lux Interior proud.

Photo by Mark X Farmer

Vivian Boys

This trio based mainly in Tokyo’s western suburb of Koenji deliver all elements necessary for Japanese garage rock. Nao-Nao’s drumming power and finesse make her a sheer force of nature and her Enka-inspired vocals are hauntingly beautiful. You can hear and feel Honda Suicide’s love of modern minimalist composers in his axework.

Check our event listing for full details.

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