Generally punk and one-man band are not concepts that fit together neatly in a person’s mind. Also, one would assume that the real draw of a one-man band would be the skill of the performance, not the crowd-work and attitude around the edges. Especially when the performance involves playing violin and piano at the same time. But Tokyo’s EPPAI takes the anarchy and musical/comedic sensibilities of the Marx brothers and repackages it for the 21st century in the form of a punk one-man band performance artist.
He can be seen most of the year busking around Tokyo, Japan generally, or locales as far-flung as Dubai and Dublin. For years he has also been one of the few Fuji Rock artists you can see both in the festival and without even paying admission, right outside the main gate. In front of the toilets.
His sense of irreverence and playful antagonism is a breath of fresh air coming from the most seemingly innocent and unlikely of places. Expect wind-up chicks to be shot, party poppers popped directly into the mouth, filthy sea shanties sung in a way that almost seems family friendly and bystanders reluctantly pulled into the weirdness.
I recently spoke to EPPAI, and his breezy dismissal of convention echos the well-orchestrated anarchy of his performances.
Who are you?
What do you do?
I am a man who plays ten instruments at the same time. And also bites cans of beer in half.
Why do you do it?
Where are you performing at Fuji Rock?
In front of the toilets by the entrance. And at the Oasis.
We are, in our brief lives, given few opportunities to see a man who can’t even remember why he does it play ten instruments simultaneously in front of a public toilet. I highly recommend you do not let opportunities like these pass you by.
And yes, he does tear full beer cans in half with his teeth.
Be sure to check out his regular performances at the Oasis. And, of course, in front of the toilets.