Number Girl was, and is again, one of the best bands in the Japanese rock scene.
Before becoming a festival mainstay fronting the sensational Zazen Boys, Shutoku Mukai had already firmly cemented his rock-legend status with the short lived but deeply influential band Number Girl. During their relatively brief run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they managed to inject a sonically and lyrically hard edge into the pop mainstream of the time, and inspired a generation of bands to come along the way. Fortunately for all, they are back on the scene and headed for Fuji Rock.
Their sudden breakup in 2002 came as a shock to all, and while most members of the band continued to have fruitful artistic careers, the band’s absence was a great loss for the Japanese music scene. Fortunately, a few years back a wistful (and drunk) Mukai decided it was time to get the band back together, get on the road and make some money. To the delight of old fans from way back and new ones getting their first taste, the band has done just that. Their White Stage set on Saturday is one of the festival’s most anticipated, and will undoubtedly prove to be one of the best received.
With song titles like Pixie Dü and Iggy Pop Fanclub, it isn’t very hard to guess where a lot of Number Girl’s musical inspiration comes from. The vocals are barked and snarled as much as sung, and the instrumentation is as melodic and complex as it is raw and propulsive. They are one of those special bands that manage to blend a punk aesthetic with real musicianship, creating songs that are hard-edged and danceably visceral at the same time, taking the jarring but natural tempo and tone change of their post-punk forefathers and marrying it with a natural sense of melody and structure which allows their music to edge close to pop in its infectiousness. In a word, they rock.
Early in their career they established themselves as a band to be seen live, and audiences are finally being given a second chance to have this experience. They have had some bad luck with festival dates since their reformation, namely their slated debut at 2019 at the Rising Sun festival in Hokkaido being called off along with the whole first day of the festival due to typhoon. But here’s hoping their White Stage appearance more than makes up for this, giving a whole new generation a chance to experience this giant of a band back on the throne.
Find out more and don’t miss them at Fuji Rock.