Though perhaps far past their prime, The Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. continues to carry on their free-spirited way of life pertinent to the beatnik soul collective that the group helped found over two decades ago.
The Japanese psychedelic/noise band, who have played a significant role in the psych revival of the past two decades, performed at the Larimer Lounge on Monday night. Though I had the feeling that the band may have lost some of its muster since their heyday in the ‘90s, their bohemian personality and genuine passion for live performance made for a unique show experience.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan opened for the headlining act, a five-piece psych/metal band whose diabolic guitar meddling, dark organ sounds, and powerful vocals effortlessly captured the attention of the crowd and got them moving. Faces painted and wearing decorative costumes which resembled traditional Japanese attire, their performance had a theatrical and often menacing tone as if the music was tapping into some ancient oriental mysticism. But the strange and experimental attitude of the band was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the following act.
The Acid Mothers group is just a small part of the larger collective led by founding band member Kawabata Makoto. “A group of social dropouts of every description – musicians, dancers, artists, farmers, channellers, ex-yakuza, mermaid researchers and professional vagrants” as the band describes it. So, as the group began to gather themselves onstage to set up their equipment, it was clear each member jived with the nonconformist mantra of the collective.
Kawabata, with a head of long unkempt hair and casually touting a pair of paisley bell bottoms, oddly unpacked his gear out of a grocery basket showing perhaps how he never felt the need to buy cases for his equipment. Likewise, the band’s vocalist, Mitsuko Tabata adorned themselves with a purple cape and orange wig while Higashi Hiroshi played synthesizer; not touching a single key throughout his performance. It seemed he much preferred the alien-like whirring of the machines pitch generator.
Drummer Satoshima Nani humorously came dressed in runners shorts and a loose workout shirt. During the show he pounded relentlessly behind the kit; so much so that he broke his sticks halfway through the set and by the end of the night, he was drenched head to toe in sweat, which explained the runner’s getup.
Together the band was a curious group of misfits who in every action displayed just what the AMT collectives motto states, “Do Whatever You Want, Don’t Do Whatever You Don’t Want!” In their largely improvised set they similarly denied any of the usual trappings of traditional rock performances. And in winding psychedelic jams, they would regularly devolve into ear-splitting noise freakouts or relax comfortably into tranquil sonic meditations.
However, despite the youthful energy of the music at certain points during the evening, the oldest members of the group did show their age. Kawabata often would lean against the wall providing relief from standing for so long. And on one occasion, amid Higashi’s long white hair, you could see him wince as he rubbed his sore back. They may have been long past their prime, but their performance surely was one of the most energizing I’ve seen in recent months.
Before the show, I spotted Kawabata hard at work on his computer, most likely plugging away at the multiple AMT projects he is apart of, and as soon as the show ended the band ran to the front of the club to run their merch table. It’s plain to see that nearly 24 years after their start in 1995, they remain true to their carefree and untroubled beginnings with the AMT soul collective as the band continues to tour the U.S. independently. Over the next few months, be sure to catch them live as they make their way across the country as part of their 2019 North American tour.
Keep up with The Acid Mothers Temple here.
All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.