Sunday night I saw a show that should have been standing room only in almost any venue. As it was there was plenty of room at the back of the Seward Café for four stellar, yet unconventional, musicians. Headline was Suzuki Junzo on tour from Tokyo. Apparently this was his second time to Minneapolis. Last time he played, it was more of a noise set; this time is was an eerie set of love songs. I only know they were long songs because a friend who speaks Japanese said one chorus told of a dear friend and a knife. It proves the point that song lyrics are always better when you don’t understand them.
Junzo started off loud and fast, more punk than noise but definitely with a forceful passion. He played guitar and sang. While the set contained other moments of loud, fast passion, most of the set was mournful and almost painful to listen to, because the songs seemed so sad. The guitar sounded almost country, not twangy but slow. His voice was raspy and guttural. He mentioned that on this tour most of his stuff had disappeared, adding that he didn’t want to disappear too. That sentiment seemed to inform the set.
Paul Metzger played banjo; sometime with a bow, sometimes more traditionally strumming or picking it. I have been impressed with Metzger’s music before but this was the first time I had seen him with a banjo; he’s amazing. Mostly I like to dance to music, but I was mesmerized and content to just sit and listen. Listening to him play is like listening to an opera – especially when he plays the banjo with the bow. It was like a duet with a high alto voice wailing and then admonished with a booming baritone. There was an old world feel to the music. I was transported. On the one hand I’d love to hear the story behind the music; on the other hand with out knowing the plot I feel like I’ve lived the ups and downs without knowing the details. I’m tempted to compare the stories unknown to melodies unheard; both have their own sweetness
Jesse Peterson played guitar. His sound was closer to cacophony of noise. There were again multiple sounds or tunes happening. This time the music seemed to drill down to a groove that made me think of motion overhead. While at time is was the steel sound of strings that seemed to resonate most strongly. The first song ended abruptly when Peterson declared that something was dead, referring to something mechanical with the guitar and sound system. Although I feel like the beauty of playing noise-inspired music is that you shouldn’t ever have to say something’s dead. The abrupt ending suited the rest of the song.
Erik Wivinus started up the show under the name Forgotten Works. In a different setting I could have happily danced to his music. The guitar had a twangy, sitar sound. The music had a world flavor, probably tied to the sitar feel but it was accessible and as I said danceable. I liked it and would have liked to have heard more.