Josh Parsons Ocotober 4, 2013
In recent years, Japan’s colossal rock ‘n’ roll ambassadors Guitar Wolf have toned down their nearly endless world tour. Now 26 years after its formation, they have returned to Toronto for an intimate night of painfully loud music and bizarre stage antics.
This time around, the trio were booked at the Hard Luck Bar on Tuesday (October 1st); a cozy second floor conference-room-turned-guerilla-bar that was hardly a third of the size of the venues they typically inhabit. I’m not going to lie – I wore earplugs. It’s tough to admit, but to say that the show was going to be loud was an understatement. The trio are famous for their blow-out sound, and the screeching feedback is enough to make the bravest eardrum shudder.
The Tuesday night set began with a bumbling roadie hastily assembling a projector screen at the very front of the stage. He then proceeded to project a stream of Guitar Wolf’s wildly hilarious music videos, showcasing a love of North America B-movies, zombie flicks, Kung Fu and, of course, blistering rock ‘n’ roll. Our palates had been wetted, and the tension in the crowd reeked of leather and anticipation.
The trio finally walked on to the tiny stage and, after yelling a couple incoherent slogans, launched into a thundering, monolithic version of its latest single “Beast Vibrator,” from the album of the same name. It was full-fledged sonic warfare and the airwaves crumpled under the deafening distortion. In no other way can one be so literally moved by music, albeit in the most brutal and visceral way.
Within seconds, frontman and guitarist Seiji was sweating more profusely than the drip of a Brita filter while the bassist, U.G. “Bass Wolf,” was literally kicking the crowd back. In fact, they hardly stopped playing for more than a few seconds during the entirety of the set, tearing through such classics as “Jet Generation” and “Teenge U.F.O.” without flinching.
The band returned for a whopping three encores, the first of which culminated in a frantic performance of “Fujiyama Attack” and provoked the audience to chant along and thrash about. The final encore featured the infamous on-stage human pyramid routine, using the audience as the base. Seiji surmounted the bodies with mic in hand, having just enough time to belt a few lines before his shoddy engineering project crumbled beneath his rock ‘n’ roll immensity.
It was a gloriously absurd ending to a ridiculously deafening concert, with the trio quickly scurring in to a changing room, as if in fear of the energy they had just unleashed. They should be proud knowing that the imprint of fearless rock ‘n’ roll has been burnt into the minds (and eardrums) of a fresh batch of eager Torontonians.
(U.G. “Bass Wolf”)
(Photos courtesy of Aaron Joo)