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GUITAR VADER
@ The Water Rats 27/11/03

The first thing that really struck me about Guitar Vader was that they had a compere introducing them onto stage. The second was that they didn’t need one. People were by the stage, eagerly waiting, despite the girls from support act Mika Bomb attracting a throng of attention around the mixing desk. What was it I didn’t know about this band?

Guitar Vader are a three-piece hailing from Japan, and tonight was their first UK gig. However, as I now realise, they are one of the biggest “underground” bands that part of the world has to offer. Equally, just typing their name into Google reveals that they are far from unknown over here. Described by an English fan site as “the best at what they are”, they’ve had songs in SEGA and X Box games, and you can even download their tabs off the internet.

Their set up is the simplest of the simple - guitar, bass, drums - without anything more elaborate than a RAT pedal, or a song longer than 3 minutes, in sight. However, not only is this the height of fashion at the moment, in this case, it really works. In one respect they are the band Bis always wanted to be; they share that boy kinda singing, diminutive girl kinda screeching idea. With Bis, this was so sugar coated, and played over music so nauseating, it made you want to hurt those closest to you. Tonight Guitar Vader issue forth bursts of brooding, shouting, indie rock with loads of tempo, loads of fuzz bass, and clashing, ringing chords.

Whilst the band did look a little bit nervous on stage, they had no reason to. Songs like “Super Brother” stepped out of the ordinary by going into completely contrasting sections at the flick of a switch. One minute you’re in a plummeting lift, the next minute you’re on a Stairmaster. Whilst their music was not necessarily the most original, the flourishes they put into it made it special. Overdriven funky patterns on bass are a great way to keep you warm when it’s cold outside, and Yoshi makes Guitar Vader’s drums prolific where bands like the Hives would only be economical. Overall, good comparisons can be made with “Bossa Nova” era Pixies, and the really acerbic end of Supergrass.

Tonight it felt like the Water Rats was hosting an event, and that's how gigs should feel. Guitar Vader have mastered the art of having that burning desire to be bad ass rock stars, whilst being as cute as cherry pie (a trick Ash learnt years ago). People moshed, people sang, and when an enthusiastic Yoshi took photos of the crowd it was clear that they had been having as much fun as we had.

By Jim Brunsden

 

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