Fantastic Life! is Squealer's printed catalog, and includes
reviews, interviews, musings and ruminations on all things Squealer.
This is the electronic archive.
High Rise Conquers America: A Tour Diary
by Butch Lazorchak
"Since the early 80s, bassist/singer Asahito Nanjo,
seizure-guitarist Munehiro Narita and various drummers have
been exploring the outer limits of chaotic heaviness and roaring
velocity. The band is loosely identifiable as psychedelic punk,
but their bombastic, distorted rush is smarter and more substantial,
full of darkness, corrosion and unstable energy."- New York
With all due respect to Motorhead and the Dead
C, the Japanese band High Rise is the world's greatest extant
hard rock band. In existence with its two principle members
(bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo and guitarist Munehiro Narita)
since 1986, the band is a ferocious mixture of Blue Cheer's
spiky speedrock and the extended live workouts of Cream. Due
to job and family commitments in Japan, the band members' ability
to tour has been extremely limited, and it wasn't until October
of 1998 that they made their initial foray to U.S. shores on
a tour that encompassed a grand total of four performances (San
Jose, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia). Thus, their announcement
of a March 2000 tour was greeted with cheers from all corners.
As their American label head, the responsibility of arranging
the tour fell to me, and as I was also in need of a 'vacation',
I volunteered to drive during the east coast portion of the
journey. It was only a small step more to take notes and document
the whole affair.
Boston, March 12
Boston is the third show of the tour, after appearances
in Seattle and Minneapolis. The band's schedule is brutal (a
show every day for 9 days straight, with plenty of plane flights
in between), but Narita's job as a fund manager in Japan restricts
his ability to travel, and this time frame is all they can spare
for a tour until who knows when. The band flew into Seattle
on Friday March 10, and their show that night at I-Spy with
Kinski was a rousing success, with close to 350 people in attendance.
The next night's show in Minneapolis was hampered by a concurrent
Flaming Lips show (in a discouraging trend for rock music in
general, the Lips show at the 7th St. Entry actually began at
6 p.m., and was over by 10 p.m. so that the club could clear
out and set up for a 'techno dance night' later in the evening...).
Despite all the potential distractions, the High Rise show,
by all accounts was a good one, and best of all, no missed flights,
no lost luggage and no disasters (so far, anyway).
Boston's Logan Airport looks great on the map
(it appears to rest so snugly on its perfectly shaped outcropping
in the Boston harbor), but is a disaster in person. At least
the roads leading to Logan are disastrous; narrow, ill-marked
tentacles that twist and turn through the city's North End.
During the trip to the airport I actually fantasize about other
cities' isolated suburban airports with their wide access roads.
However, once through the gauntlet that is Boston
traffic, Logan turns out to be no problem. The weather has been
the only downfall to the early stages of the trip; 33 degrees
and pouring down rain. But on this evening, it's merely cold
with a slight drizzle, so loading in and out won't be a total
disaster. The band is in good spirits upon their disembarkation,
and I'm pleased to discover that Koji Shimura, their traveling
companion from their last tour (and an employee of the Modern
Music record store in Japan, the home-base for P.S.F., their
Japanese record label) is their current drummer. Nanjo is also
traveling with his girlfriend Nana, so we are a party of five.
The band members turn more than a few heads with
their attire, which while not exceptionally outlandish, pretty
much screams 'rocknroll band'. All three band members are dressed
head-to-toe in black, and Narita and Nanjo both sport leather
motorcycle pants. Nanjo's hair hangs down in long, black strands,
and his purposeful stride and nicotine-stained grin give him
an impressive air despite his diminutive stature. Narita and
Shimura are both restrained in comparison; they speak infrequently,
and then with an air of wizened sagacity. Shimura, being the
drummer, also has an endearing goofiness. Japanese guys dressed
like this in an American airport make most people pretty curious.
While I would bet all the money I have that nobody in the Boston
airport could have positively I.D.'d the band, anybody who saw
them knew they were somebody.
The mistaken first impression is that High Rise
have difficulty understanding English (and thus, by American
definition, are a bunch of idiots) due to the fact that their
verbal English is rather halting. In fact, the opposite is true.
They understand English exceptionally well, and their knowledge
of American cultural history outstrips the majority of natives.
Of course, I didn't always realize this, and it took me a good
bit of time (basically, the entire first U.S. tour) to figure
out that I didn't have to shout at them or treat them like children
to communicate. They are perfectly capable of taking care of
themselves when traveling abroad, to be sure.
No trouble getting to the club through the maze
of Cambridge, and we arrive at the backdoor at roughly the same
time as the Major Stars and Abunai!, the stage companions for
the evening. The Major Stars are the latest incarnation of the
Wayne Rogers/Kate Biggar rock armada, and they are loaning equipment
and joining High Rise for the entire east coast leg of the tour.
This first night is an acid test of compatibility, both instrumentally
and socially. Luckily, Rogers and Biggar are the most affable
of psychedelic warriors.
The duo have a long history in the indie rock
scene, from the Crystallized Movements to Magic Hour, and they've
operated the Twisted Village label and store for more than a
decade so they've seen most everything (the diary of their U.S.
tour with the Japanese band Ghost was partly the inspiration
for this diatribe). In pre-tour conversations, Biggar's only
concern was that the members of High Rise might find the Major
Stars amplifiers to be a bit 'too small'. I assured her that
I had seen the Major Stars play, and that their amplifiers were
capable of whipping up a pretty voluminous roar, but wouldn't
you know it, the amps were immediately a subject of concern
among the High Rise members. Size does matter, at least when
amplifiers are the subject, but High Rise soon determine that
the gear is more than adequate by subjecting us to an ear-bleeding
Still, everything's happening in a rush. Straight
from the airport to the club, and then almost straight on stage
for a soundcheck. No time for a real sit-down meal, so Shimura
and I head to McDonald's across the street, and I later pick
up some take-out Chinese food for Nanjo. (In so many ways he
is a man who knows exactly what he wants, and what he wants
to eat he will eat during the entire trip: fried fish, shrimp
fried rice or canned ham.) The hectic pace isn't especially
conducive to a great show.
The Middle East downstairs is a cavernous place
with a capacity of 575, and it can seem empty even when half-full.
It's also a prime example of the 'paid professional' side of
the indie rock circuit. Just like the old 9:30 club in DC, the
Middle East is populated by guys (and gals) who have seen it
all and aren't afraid to advertise it. Plus, there's the special
Boston spin on the rock-club employee; tattoos, Misfits tee-shirts
AND pork-pie hats. This Sunday evening, the downstairs seems
especially inhospitable. While there is a decent turnout of
over 100 people, the sound gets lost in the subterranean rafters.
The band seems off its game, breaking a bass string (!) and
generally not being as 'on' as I've seen in the past. Nanjo
later states that this was a "20% High Rise show". I'm sure
that the group will regain their momentum in the next few days,
but it's still a bit of a let-down on my first night with them.
Luckily, we've got a decent place to stay with
Joe, the drummer for Abunai! Abunai! write lovely, melodic proto-psychedelic
tunes, and play them with all the manic energy and geeky good
cheer of the fully, newly committed. They look as if they may
have wandered out of the fields of Glastonbury '73, but irregardless
of their gnome-ish countenances (or perhaps because of it) there's
a subtlety to their work that the majority of contemporary psych
bands fail to comprehend. Despite the mellowness of the High
Rise performance, there's a positive vibe all around, and we're
soon on our way to Joe's place to bunk up.
Joe is currently 'between situations', but it's
apparent that his previous jobs left him in pretty good stead.
He's a gracious host, and we're able to linger over the paper
and coffee the next morning, with one exception: he has a none-too-pleasant
meeting with his ex-wife scheduled. With obvious relief he's
able to delay the encounter, then returns to his daily routine;
a dervish-like whirl between dully glowing computer monitors,
servers, email programs and the like.
We finally get out into the streets for a series
of misadventures in the tourist trade. First, we're foiled at
a graveyard purporting a 360 degree view of the city (closed
for the winter? Since when are dead people 'closed'?), then
burdened by an overly lengthy journey for a guitar store.
We muddle our way through the preliminaries and
head for the main course; Harvard Square for lunch and a visit
to Twisted Village. Figuring out where to eat is always a challenge
(largely due to Nanjo's gastrointestinal particularities), but
we're eventually sated and ready to shop. The band is enthused
about the store, and Narita exits with a couple of CD's by the
Michigan '60s psych band the Litter, Shimura buys up the entire
Lee Hazlewood catalog, and Nanjo purchases vintage CD reissues
that I would characterize as 'underground' even by underground
standards. I already knew from interviews that Nanjo is blessed
with an encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock, but he is equally
at home discussing all manner of jazz as well as film. Damon
and Naomi happen to be visiting the store at the time, and they
congratulate the band in Japanese on their successful performance
of the night before.
After almost losing Nanjo in a grocery store,
we all climb in the van for the trip west to Easthampton.
Easthampton, March 13
The drive to Easthampton takes place with little
fanfare. The beautiful mountainous terrain of western Massachusetts
reminds me of home in Blacksburg, but the desolate 'downtown'
of Easthampton has a more depressingly Appalachian ring. The
area surrounding Easthampton is known as the "five college area"
(Amherst, UMASS, Smith, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke), so you
can generally count on a decent turnout of students at Flywheel,
the night's venue, even though Easthampton itself doesn't actually
host a university. However, we happened into town during spring
break (a fact that I luckily did not learn of until we arrived
at the venue), so there was some apprehension as to what sort
of turnout we might expect that evening. Flywheel is an artspace
rather than a bar, and from the looks of it, they've made a
tremendous effort to create a community space that actually
seems to have a community attached to it. When we arrive in
the late afternoon, we find a curious mixture of people, ranging
in age from 15 year old mohawk punks to middle-aged relics.
Nanjo jokes that we will have to pass the hat, but I've got
a premonition that all will go well.
However, things don't go so well on our drive over to the hipster
town of Northampton. We almost get in a pedestrian/vehicle 'mishap',
then find that a promising record store, Dynamite, closes at 6 p.m.
(for the record, I could never live in a town whose record store
closed at 6 p.m.). The only bookstore we see turns out to be new
age-y with heavy perfume in the air (and no bargains), and
Northampton is looking pretty uninviting and time's a-wastin'. As we
head back to the van we pass a drugstore, and suddenly the entire
Japanese contingent takes an immediate detour, eyes wide. 'Japanese
love discount stores' Shimura helpfully explains, as I check my watch
and count the cans of Vienna sausages happily shoved into little
Back to Easthampton, and the dinner issue rears its fried-fish
encrusted head. The place next door to the club is unfortunately
closed, so we're sent off into the hinterlands with no guide. The
Chinese place is closed, Subway is a last resort, a so-called fish
restaurant has no customers and looks sketchy. We finally settle on
the slowest Italian restaurant in the universe, and enter a David
Lynchian landscape inhabited by "waitresses" and "food". After a
near-eternity, we rush back to the club only to discover that we've
missed Frost Giant, nutty western Massachusetts guys doing their take
on Krautrock (one member, Chris, works at Byron Coley's Ecstatic Yod
Mill Outlet record store).
People are streaming into a jammed Flywheel while we set up our
table of merchandise in the lobby by the front door. It's a little
difficult to wend our way through the crowd, but it's even sillier
for the bands. There's not even a raised stage at Flywheel; the bands
just set up on the floor and go at it. Eventually there're so many
people packed into the room (over 120) that it doesn't really matter.
Everybody can feel it.
In the lobby we can't see a thing, but we can feel (and hear)
plenty well, thank you very much. The Major Stars, being relatively
local heroes, get an enthusiastic greeting and rip through a very
satisfying set. High Rise comes on and just smokes the crowd.
Narita's eyes are rolling up into the back of his head, and sweat is
flying off of his contorting body. The crowd is going nuts, and
people are actually dancing; not just the usual headbanger,
devil-horns-in-the-air gimcrackery, but real live movement. It's an
incredible catharsis for both the band and the audience. High Rise,
after their tentative show the night before, unload huge, viscous
blobs of pure rock power on the crowd, and the audience soaks it all
up with an ecstatic glee, astutely knowing in-the-moment that they're
experiencing history in their small, isolated space in their small,
isolated town. Incredible.
Our evening's lodging is with a rather "spiritual" gentleman named
Atendrya (a name given to him by his yoga teacher), in his rustic,
but plenty spacious, place just across the street from the club. A.T.
(as he likes to call himself) appears roughly forty or so, and speaks
in a wide-eyed mixture of parables and self-empowerment-speak that is
so earnest I want to cry. There are hints that his history has some
potentially interesting twists, but I'm a little too tired to be
fully interested, and I'm more concerned that he doesn't confuse the
High Rise guys with his overzealous attempts to be gracious. He did
shoot some excellent video of the show (video that will no doubt
appear on Nanjo's La Musica label in the near future as High Rise USA
Tour Volume 1), and we stay up late checking it out.
In the morning A.T. cooks up some blueberry pancakes and I end up
as his conversation companion while the members of High Rise have a
band meeting. I'm never quite sure what to make of these meetings due
to my complete inability to translate Japanese. It's a beautiful
language, but it's also full of exclamations and hard vocal sounds
(Nanjo is especially expressive in this regard), and it's tough for
me to get an idea of even the general tone of a discussion. I imagine
that these guys are heavy into arguing during these meetings,
especially after the volcanic outbursts I witnessed during their last
US tour with drummer Shoji Hano. Eventually we've got a belly full of
cakes and a fond farewell under our belts, and we're off to New York
We've got the whole afternoon to relax prior to the show, and the
band members are content to simply sit and talk amongst themselves,
with no desire to rush into the city for sightseeing, shopping or
anything else. I can't imagine getting to New York and then just
sitting around somebody's apartment all day, but at the same time,
all I have to do during our trip is drive. For High Rise, each night's
performance is so physically demanding that the band members are
completely drained and spent when it's all over. It's all they can
do to completely rest and do almost nothing the next day. Plus,
what's New York when you've got Tokyo?
New York, March 14
Sunny and a little cool, we encounter no
traffic, and make it to our Brooklyn habitat with plenty
of time to spare. While we travel, I can't help but look
at the U.S. through our Japanese guests' eyes, and I begin
to understand the superiority that many Japanese feel about
their own culture vs. U.S. culture. After all, the United
States is a vulgar, dirty place when you get right down
to it, and I find myself making excuses for the hubris and
insensitivity of most Americans and the (relative) filth
of most U.S. cities. Not that the band members ever mention
anything about what they encounter; they are invariably
exceptionally polite, and hints of their reactions and true
feelings only slip out in small parcels.
We turn on the TV and find CNBC, with the latest financial news,
which Narita is instinctively drawn to. The yen is taking a beating
against the dollar, which will hurt these guys on their return to
Japan. In retrospect, this week is actually a transcendent moment in
U.S. economic history, as the stock market's volatility is just
beginning to affect the new economy companies, signaling the end of
Narita tells me that if he gets a promotion at his workplace he
won't have time to go on tour with High Rise anymore, and any
possibility of High Rise coming to America would effectively end. He
suspects it will happen within the next five years, and there's no
doubt which option he'll take. The life of a Japanese salaryman
always sounds murderous to Americans grown fat on their own ease, but
a Japanese businessman's life looks easy compared to the hardships of
trying to make it as a professional musician in the underground
economy, especially when you're one of the visionaries operating on
the fringe. Guys like Roky Erickson or Alex Chilton or Moondog or
Albert Ayler (or hell, most of the Squealer Music and Twisted Village
roster) probably never made (or will make) enough money in their
lives to be able to get off the treadmill. If you're fried enough to
become a legend, but jinxed just enough to never get the brass ring,
it might be a blessing if you can exit a la Johnny Otis or Brian
Jones. Great rocknroll was never made by careerists.
Which is one reason Narita is such a curious character. It's hard
to reconcile his manic guitar playing with his double life as a fund
manager. He seems a rarity even amongst musicians who are able to
juggle music and the straight life. Rarely has anyone been able to
make music as forceful and uncompromising as High Rise without fully
committing themselves to all the things, both positive and negative,
that come with the territory. The tightrope that Narita walks seems
an exceedingly narrow and precarious one.
In any event, after a couple of hours of leisure, it's off to
Tonic, currently one of NYC's best venues. The club's bookings got
jump-started a couple of years ago when John Zorn phoned them looking
for an alternative venue for a summer music series. Prior to the
call, the club had been struggling with no clearly defined sense of
purpose, but now they've acquired a cachet that makes it the venue of
choice for everyone from Keiji Haino to DJ Olive to Ken Vandermark
to, ummm, Ondar, the master throat-singer. The perfect place for High
We hook up with our friend Jordan Mamone prior to the show, who's
the catalyst for the addition of Paska on this evening's bill, an
addition to which we all feel a little apprehension. Paska is a
Finlander, apparently a controversial radio figure over there similar
to Howard Stern, who performs red-faced karaoke versions of
ridiculous songs such as "Stairway to Heaven" and "Like a Virgin" in
fifteen minute bursts of anarchic intensity and humor, shirtless and
intoxicated and with all the subtlety of a football hooligan after a
bad loss. Needless to say, his American Q-rating is practically zero,
but our fears are ultimately unfounded, as Paska (or Ari, which is
his real name. Paska means "shit" in Finnish) turns out to be quite a
charmer, and his opening slot performance is violently funny.
His presence helps contribute to the sense of event surrounding
the show. The advance press has been ecstatic, and the club is
completely sold out, with crowds turned away at the door. In the
lobby, ticketless fans jockey for position to catch a glimpse of the
show inside, while the crowd spills out the door onto the desolate
stretch of Norfolk Street upon which Tonic sits.
The red velvet curtains of Tonic's stage only hint at the heat
being generated below, with both the Major Stars and High Rise
playing hot and proud, but I'm in the lobby with the sideshow of
industry hotshots and rock cognoscenti, and a merchandise table
that's constantly overrun, and I miss most of the action happening on
stage. Still, I can tell by the happiness on everybody's face that
the show has been a big success in every way.
Nanjo rounds off the evening back in Brooklyn by passing the
canned ham around for all to take a glorious, triumphant forkful.
Philadelphia March 15
The next day in New York is a casual one; record shopping (all of
us) and selling (Nanjo, with a huge bag of his La Musica rarities to
the downtown stores). We finally get out of the city around 3 p.m.,
but we're dangerously low on gas and pull into the first New Jersey
rest stop on the Turnpike, only to find the longest waiting lines
I've seen since the energy crisis of '73. Miraculously, we also
encounter the Major Stars at the same rest stop, so we ask them to
pass the word along that we'll be late arriving at the Philly gig..
Of course, this being Philadelphia, we shouldn't have been in any
hurry to get there. When we finally pull up at the club around 10 we
find things are moving along at a snail's pace. The Khyber is an
oddly-shaped place near the revitalized waterfront of Penn's Landing.
The area is full of little restaurants, and I imagine that it's
pretty jumping on the weekend, but it's relatively sedate outside on
this Wednesday night as we stand around waiting for everybody to get
their shit together. They love to pack bills in Philly; besides High
Rise and the Major Stars, tonight's lineup includes the Bardo Pond
offshoot Prairie Dog Flesh, another band called Naradhama, and yet
another band that features the club's booker, Tyler. Five bands seems
a little extreme, especially for a Wednesday night and especially
when the first band doesn't go on until after 11 p.m., but Philly
rock fans seem to know what to expect, as the club is pretty empty
until 11, but then fills up rapidly.
I suspect that on any other night I'd be enthusiastic about this
army of rock, but in the cramped quarters of the Khyber, with plane
flights in the morning, I'm just anxious for it all to end. Still,
the show was a good one. Naradhama is a one-man electronics army,
with a semi-circle of effects pedals surrounding the satanic operator
in the center. Prairie Dog Flesh might as well be Bardo Pond (the
membership of both bands is exactly the same), though it may open up
their "channels" to perform under a different name. If anything,
P.D.F. take the Bardo rattle and hum to even more far out extremes.
The Major Stars play perhaps their best show of the tour, and when
High Rise finally finish up at around 2:30 a.m., Nanjo staggers off
the stage in exhaustion, muttering 'no encore' over and over as he
crawls into a chair, completely spent.
I keep getting all manner of omens that things aren't quite right,
but then again, it could just be Philly itself, which has wigged me
out since the days when my grandmother lived in Center City. The post
show clean-up could have been anti-climactic, but that's when all the
really weird stuff began to happen. The van was parked several blocks
away, and sometime during the evening, with everyone going in and
out, a door must have gotten unlocked. I soon figured out that you
don't leave your doors unlocked in Philly on a Wednesday night,
because when I opened up the van after the show there was somebody
sitting inside! A homeless guy had climbed in and proceeded to
ransack our luggage and any boxes that were available, seeking
plunder. All I'm thinking when I discover the guy is that I'm going
to get shot, but he seems as nervous as I am. "It's not what you
think, man; I'm just homeless," he mumbles from the far back
passenger seat, and upon request, he climbs out of the van and scoots
furtively down an alley. He must have been bummed when he realized
there was no cash to steal (and no drugs from this straight-edge
crew), and despite all the mess, there was nothing missing. Still, it
shook me up, and everyone was a bit freaked when I returned to the
club and told them what happened.
Still: no blood, no foul. We get packed, bid our fond adieus to
the Major Stars, and head to the Bardo Pond compound in North Philly,
through dark streets littered with trash and the occasional spectral
presence of a midnight drug addict. The Bardo encampment is a magical
oasis amid all this despair. There's something nicely reassuring and
secure about their large loft space (once we're safely inside the
security fence that surrounds the turn-of-the-century former
sweatshop), and the strains of Loren Mazzacane Conners send me
swiftly off to dreamland around 4 a.m.
My rearranged route includes more travel delays, and I
finally arrive in Austin at 7:15 p.m., figuring there's still time to
rush over to the festival headquarters, but return to catch High Rise
collecting their luggage. Of course, the festival has no record of my
registration, and after a frustrating hour I still don't have my
(essential) festival badge. It's now almost 9 p.m., an hour after
High Rise's flight is due to arrive, and I'm fully stressed on my
maniacal drive back to the airport. I'm praying that the band members
know to stay at the airport until I arrive (after all, where else are
they going to go? ), but luckily for me their flight from D.C. is
delayed, so I end up arriving on time.
Austin March 16
We awake at a leisurely hour, unaware that all of our
good fortune is soon to come crashing down. I'm flying to
Austin for the South By Southwest festival (SXSW) separately
from the other members of the band. My flight leaves the
earliest and it will give me several hours in Austin to
check in to the hotel and festival, find the club and still
get back in time to pick up the rest of the band when their
plane arrives at 8 p.m.
I suppose at one point in time, (perhaps in the days of
Roger McGuinn's fascination with the jet-age sound) airlines
were held in high regard, and air travel was an exciting
prospect. Those days have long since passed, and I can't
imagine an industry that has lost more respect among the
American people than the air travel industry. I feel pretty
ripped off whenever I fly, and I suspect that a lot of other
people feel the same way. As I probably should have
expected, my travel plans get rearranged almost immediately,
with a canceled flight and an hour delay. On my way to the
gate I encounter a crowd of paramedics and a woman,
apparently the victim of a heart attack, laying on the
Philly International floor. She's prone and undressed, with
the medical attendants in the last throes of an attempt to
save her. It's a really eerie sight, and I don't feel
especially comfortable about my own travel plans after
I rush breathlessly to the gate as the passengers begin to
disembark. It looks like a Young Life convention, as a huge crowd of
wholesome-looking teenagers gets off the plane, and the High Rise
members are lost amongst the baseball caps and Tommy sportshirts. I'm
relieved when I finally catch a glimpse of them, then confused when I
see that only Narita and Shimura have gotten off the plane. When I
sprint up to inquire about Nanjo and Nana's whereabouts, Narita can
only repeat 'bad, bad, bad', and I discover that 'bad, bad, bad' is
Nanjo and Nana were bumped from the flight in D.C. when the plane
got overbooked. This flight is the last one into Austin this evening,
so there's no way they could rearrange flights and make it in time to
do the show. They are forced to stay overnight in D.C. and then catch
a flight directly to Los Angeles the next day to hook up with the
rest of the band for the High Rise show in Los Angeles. That's what
happens when you book a tour tight; everything's got to work out just
right (especially the things that are out of your control) or you're
liable to get screwed. It's unfortunate that we got screwed in Austin
I'm totally bummed, but I keep imagining the band members'
difficulties at the airline counter in D.C., trying to explain why
they absolutely have to be on the flight, but also aware that they
are operating without work permits and thus potentially in danger of
getting into a sticky international situation. Plus, the frustration
of dealing with airline minions who no doubt didn't take the time to
really understand their situation. I'm still not exactly sure why
Nanjo and Nana were chosen to be the people to get bumped off the
plane, but no matter how you looked at it, High Rise wasn't going to
be playing at SXSW this year.
I lingered in Austin for the remainder of SXSW while High Rise
continued on to Los Angeles and then San Jose for their final two
shows. I suspect that my disappointment over High Rise missing their
show may have affected my feelings, but I was unenthused with what
SXSW had to offer and spent more time keeping up with the NCAA
basketball tournament than I did checking out shows.
By all accounts, the High Rise shows in Los Angeles and San Jose
were great, with former Stooges' sax player Steve Mackay joining the
band on-stage in San Jose, and Nanjo sticking around the Bay area
after the others had left for a pair of shows by another of this
combos, Ohkami no Jikan, and a couple of solo performances. A couple
of thousand people got bullrushed by High Rise, and I doubt that the
crowds in Easthampton, Seattle, New York, or any of the other stops
will likely forget the experience anytime soon
I went back to Blacksburg with visions of fried fish and canned
ham dancing in my head. And they're still dancing.