The 50 Kaitenz
Rock’n Roll Is Not Dead!
By Thomaxe Goze
On November 20th & 23rd, Osaka’s very own Garage Rock superstars graced the stage of Piano’s in NYC to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their critically acclaimed debut album “50 Kaitenz no Gya!!”.
Originally released in 2006, the record just got a 10th anniversary reissue/remastered treatment, and the 50 Kaitenz decided the occasion deserved coming back to NYC for the first time in 10 years.
It seemed quite logical for a band who penned the greatest Ramones tribute song (along with Motorhead’s R.A.M.O.N.E.S of course) to make a stop in the city that birthed some of the most influential acts of the 70’s.
Incidentally, on Monday November 22nd I was at Bowery Ballroom to see another Japanese group, the Stompin’ Riff Raffs, whom I had not seen in 3 years since we had played on the same bill at the Delancey. After the Stompin’ Riff Raffs’s show (which I shall write about in another article) as I was hanging out with their keyboard player Miku, she introduced me to Danny of the 50 Kaitenz who was also at the club with the rest of his band.
Danny said I should come check out their show the next day, so I replied that I’d stop by (which is what one usually says to bands when invited to a show. Yet, more than half the time, people are just saying it and never show up).
But guess what? The next night I did show up, and boy did I not regret it.
The band, which John Holmstrom (Punk Magazine) has described as the closest thing you could see to the early Ramones shows, certainly did not disappoint.
Danny waving a $90 electric guitar (picked up in town a couple days earlier) that he made sound like a million dollars, Bogie on the drums/vocals and Dory on bass/vocals, put on what I’d describe –without overdoing it- as one of the best rock show I have ever seen.
The 50 Kaitenz stormed the club and took the entire audience along with them on the Rock’n Roll rollercoaster of a lifetime.
Not only was the music performed with heart, soul, and guts…but absolutely no ego was involved at any point. The 50 Kaitenz were clearly there for one reason, and one reason only: the love and need to play…and we all certainly could feel that.
Talented musicians always flirting with comedy in their act, the boys from Osaka know how to own a stage, reviving the true spirit of original Rock’n Roll…you know? Back when rock was just plain fun, cool, and made you dance. Well, there you go, that’s the 50 Kaitenz, and they got the whole room smiling, dancing and singing along.
In the audience I met Maya, a young Japanese fan who flew all the way from Atlanta just to see the band.
I decided she deserved to have an extra-special night. She was shy and didn’t want to bother the 50 Kaitenz, but I told her to let me do the introduction. We walked to the back and Danny immediately recognized me, exclaiming “You came!”. I introduced him to Maya who could take pictures with them.
Later, I was at the bar chatting with her and I spotted John Holmstrom. Next thing you know he was signing her set list. The three of us chatted about the old NY scene we love(d). A New Yorker, a French guy, and a Japanese girl…if this doesn’t prove the power of music, then I don’t know what will.
As the bar was getting empty, we went next door to meet up with the 50 Kaitenz, and from then on it all felt like family. We all talked for a long time as if we were old friends.
It was about 2:30 in the morning when Maya had to leave, so I walked her back to where she was staying. She was flying back to Atlanta the next day, and I was quite happy to have helped her make some lifelong memories. She reminded me so much of myself, I always went to shows alone, I always was a bit too shy to try and talk to people I came to see, and often I traveled from far too…but I remember fondly the times some other kind souls took me under their wing the same way as I did for her. In fact, in helping her having a special night, she certainly helped make my night very special.
After saying goodbye, I went back to the bar where I had left the 50 kaitenz and found it closed. I figured I’d take a nightly walk through the East Village and see if I could find them. I figured that if I did not, it was ok, I had had a great time already.
However, my instincts were right as the guys and their crew/friends where exactly in the only place I was going to look in: Manitoba’s. So, we hung out till 4:30 in the morning, and the rest is history.
I feel fortunate to have played a small part in a fan’s special night, and that rock’n'roll gave me some new brothers somewhere on the other side of the world.
New York City was lucky to have these guys back in town for a couple nights, because lately it’s been looking grim, music-wise, in the city that was once the vanguard of a scene that influenced so many people around the world.
It sure isn’t what it used to be.
But the 50 Kaitenz are certainly doing it right, with passion, talent, and a much welcomed sense of humor.
If –just like me- for a minute you have wondered if Rock’n Roll is dead: Buy their albums, go see them live. There’s more than just hope here, it is the real thing.
Oh, and one last thing…I mentioned that the 50 Kaitenz wrote a Ramones tribute song…it’s called “Thank You For Ramones”. Well, I trust that one day some kids who saw these guys live (and subsequently started their own band) will cover that song and change it to “Thank You for 50 Kaitenz”….in fact, they probably already are.
Thanks to: 50Kaitenz & crew, Maya, John Holmstrom, Stompin’ Riff Raffs, and the Gods of Rock’n Roll for getting us all to meet.
50 Kaitenz Discography:
“Vinyl Change The World” 2016.
“Do You Remember?” 2012.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter” 2012.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Sekairyokou” 2011.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Magic” 2010.
“50 Kaitenz no Bikkuri!!” 2009.
“GeGeGe no Kitaro” 2008.
“Let’s Go Sanbiki!!” 2008.
“50 Kaitenz no Biribiri!!” 2007.
“Money! Money!” 2007.
“50 Kaitenz no Gya!!” 2006.