Fire to Burn
Seven Reasons to Give a Fuck About a 33-Year-Old Garage Band
Twenty-five years ago, during its classic "big band" phase, Half Japanese was clearly the best rock 'n' and roll band on Earth. This idea is played for laughs in Jeff Feuerzeig's breezy 1993 documentary The Band That Would Be King, but there is a raw truth in it. I saw them play an in-store in North Miami, Fla., in 1983; I was 15 years old and had no idea that such a cacophonous swirl of sexuality, fun, naiveté, and menace was a possibility, in any art form. Thankfully--and yet to remarkably little fanfare--the big band reformed earlier this year at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and it is about to party this town down. The last few years, there has been a glut of indie-rock reunions, ranging from once-marginal acts such as Slint, the Vaselines, and Pylon to the weird phenomenon where bands are asked to play the entirety of an album they made 20 years ago. And even though Kevin Shields didn't ask Half Jap to perform Charmed Life at September's All Tomorrow's Parties fest in upstate New York, you should still care about this. So in case you don't, I'll list a few reasons why, and then I will number these reasons to make it easier to remember them forever.
This week's Floristree show is every bit as capital-I important as the more-publicized comeback shows from the likes of Mission of Burma, the Feelies, the Pixies, or even My Bloody Valentine. Of course, Half Jap never disbanded, but it rarely plays with Jad and David both in the band--and it's been many years since the original sextet all got onstage. I was lucky enough to catch this lineup at SXSW. Everyone was dancing so hard all around me, including members of Yo La Tengo and the broad from Times New Viking and that fake British guy from Psychedelic Horseshit. If you can hear Half Japanese play "Snake Line" and not jump around and smile with your entire body, you might as well just go ask to be cremated. You're good as dead already, bub.
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