At Terminal 5 in New York City, eager Kasabian fans meet the opening act, Japanese acid-punk act Bo Ningen, with a cool reception. But a few epic hair swishes later, the crowd is swayed in their favor. And with only 30 minutes of airtime, not a second goes to waste.
Donning a long black gown, frontman and bassist Taigen Kawabe commands the band with incisive, high-pitched yowls, like a fantastic noise-rock wizard. Yuki Tsujii reels back and forth in a red gown, firing the neck of his guitar towards Kohhei Matsuda, who strums his own guitar violently along with half of his work shirt sloppily tucked into his jeans. Monchan follows their psychedelic wheedling with erratic and heavy beats. During the last song, Taigen stoops down to the crowd’s level and hoists his bass over his head, scowling and hissing at the flashing cameras. It’s approximately 8:31 pm when Taigen climbs atop an amp, and with few majestic sweeps of his arms, the band’s riotous set comes to a close.
In contrast to their ferocious, anarchic performance, the group sits in front of me at the Play Bar & Den in the Flatiron district, composed and very attentive. Hailing from four different corners of Japan, the quartet met in 2007, not in Japan, but as students in London. “I didn’t plan to start a Japanese band in the UK,” says Taigen, who moved to London to study sound design. “We were in bands with British friends before. It was unexpected in a good way.” After watching each other play in their own respective bands throughout the city, they decided to meet up for a jam session — which eventually turned into many dedicated sessions, lasting up to 12 hours a day. Soon enough, the band graduated from sitting dutifully through academic lectures, to rocking out in basements, stages and art exhibitions all over the world.