Skip Skip Ben Ben + Mugen Hoso
What is a Mugen Hoso? It sounds like a Scandanavian ice cream or a new German automobile, but no.
One may rightly think it is actually a joyful Japanese explosive, one that leaves a cloud of highly-caffeinated laughing gas in its wake. Could be.
Google Translate crudely converts their name as "unlimited run" . No, I don't know what that means either, but my guess is something like boundless energy, in which case it is spot on.
But it may be best explained by the band themselves, via their Facebook page: "We are MUGEN HOSO! Japanese 2 piece rock band. Gt.Igaki plays crazy and Dr.Taro plays crazy. Crazy plus crazy is equal to tooooooooo crazy."
But before this whirlwind hit, not necessarily a calm before for the storm, but a stirring of a more subtle intensity, was brewing.
Skip Skip Ben Ben , a 3 piece that makes more from less, seemed a perfect fit for the comfortable spacing of Witch House. As Ben Ben stood beating down on her minimalized drum kit, her voice floated up above us. Occasionally it reached its limit and slightly cracked, which made it all the more endearing. A sense of fragility can make things more precious; a break in the surface creates a realness. Underneath all this, a bad-ass bass line strolled forward, as guitarist Bonkit, on loan from Bowz Tiger, added touches of dissonance to descending riffs. A Sonic Youth / Velvet Underground vibe was in the air.
At midpoint, the 'ol switcharoo. Ben Ben reclaimed her guitar, Bonkit manned the drums, and tender, spacey arpeggios colored another dream. Their set ended with a few speedy, pounding rockers. Maybe the aggression was too much, as Ben Ben then informed us, "My teeth are bleeding." All you can do is laugh, and thus a surfy, cowboy trot commenced, playfully transforming into an old time rock 'n roll jam.
Skip Skip Ben Ben = good good sounds sounds!
Calisthenics are a healthy way to start your day, and why not your show, too? Mugen Hoso, stretching and dancing some jiggity-jigs by the drum kit, were gearing up, and with my heart beating faster in anticipation, so was I. What a lucky night it was last year when I witnessed their chaos at Underworld. I firmly recollect guitarist Igaki running up the walls, across the ceiling upside-down, and clambering back down the opposite wall, grinning wider than the Grand Canyon, and staying completely on beat with each note he furiously picked. It's like he was caught in a pinball machine and felt right at home.
And what's this? Tonight they are playing the intimate surroundings of Witch House? This I gotta see, more than half expecting the building to explode or collapse.
First pitch? A curveball. Second pitch? A changeup. I was expecting spitfire punk but their opening numbers were in fact southern style rockers à la Rolling Stones, complete with drummer Taro's perfect harmonies and a sing-a-long walk around the cafe. It didn't matter that people were either too surprised, too embarrassed, or shy to join in, Mugen Hoso themselves were singing and that seemed enough to make them completely happy.
The rock spasms couldn't be repressed for long, and soon Igaki was itching, twitching, and fit to burst. But if you went beyond the spectacle, if you listened, you could hear what was plain as day: that they are talented songwriters and musicians. A soft ballad celebrating sunshiny days or girls, or both, followed, as did a clearer homage to the ladies, as Igaki announced, " I like dancing girls!"
Singing girls are nice, too, and the band were joined by Varo vocalist Doll, who belted out a fun blues number. Then a ditty about cycling with your lady on the backseat, communicated beforehand in pantomime. Igaki had unshackled himself by this point and leaps, jumps, hops, skips, and flailings were increasingly possessing him.
"LaLaLaLaLa!" They're back in our faces again, a more successful parade the second time around celebrated by standing on chairs and concluded by literally bouncing off the wall, and a few rolls around the floor for good measure. He's equal parts Angus Young and Chuck Berry, emphatic to the extreme.
Can you say, "Encore?"
The band confirmed for me after the show that they had indeed toned down their set so as not to kill anyone or destroy anything (that's my emphasis, mind you). Considerate fellows, they were aware of their environment and took care to preserve Witch House for future generations. But understand this: it's No Holds Barred from here on out. You'd be a fool to miss the rest of their shows in Taiwan.