SXSW 07 Music: Oreskaband Skanks Into My Heart

Oreskabrass.jpgDon’t worry, there will be much more posted about SXSW film, but I need to take a moment to clue everyone in on one of the more fun and interesting bands I saw on this trip. They’re called Oreskaband and they’re a teenage, all-female ska band from Osaka, Japan. Don’t snicker! They’re a real band, not some fake “girl band” put together by some canny producer, a la Malcolm McLaren. They got together in 2003 as middle school students and are now all 18 or 19. Their energy is infectious and they’re fun as all hell to see in a club.

During their shows at SXSW, their first ever in the US, they were bundles of energy, dancing around the stage and teaching the audience little bits of “Osaka-ben,” the regional dialect of Osaka prefecture. “I say thank you! You say: O-kini!” They’d shout, with the audience willingly following along. I was hoping it really meant “Potatoes are just like little brown monkeys that live underground” or some other gibberish and they were having fun with us, but no, it really means “thank you” and Oreskaband are simply guileless teenagers having a ball on their first trip to the US.
At the Thursday early evening Japan party (always a big hit at SXSW) the girls rocked the tent (as did many of their compatriots) leaving the SXSW industry crowd enchanted by (and tired from skanking along with) the youngsters from Japan. After their Japan Night show on Friday night, the girls were a huge draw, posing for pics and mingling with the mixed Anglo and Asian crowd…no beers please, they’re underage!
SakiRocks.jpgAs for their sound, it reminds me of The Toasters and many other NYC ska bands. Eminently danceable and full of the exuberance and bounce that comes with a good ska band. They even have a go at the Toots and the Maytals hit (later covered by The Specials) “Monkey Man” and the way they butcher the English lyrics is absolutely charming. They also have an English-language blog.
Here’s a song of theirs called….well, I don’t know what it’s called, as the CD I bought is in Japanese, but it’s catchy as hell. If you’re in San Francisco tomorrow (3/19), you wouldn’t be wrong to catch Oreskaband, along with their Japan Night partners HY, The 50 Kaitenz (think a Japanese Ramones named Danny, Dory & Bogie) GO!GO!7188 and the amazing Asakusa Jinta (more on them in a later post) at @ Independent.
Here’s a cut off their major-label debut CD, Ore.


Top, L to R: Moriko, Leader and Saki.
Middle: Saki rocks out!
Bottom, clockwise from right: Tae-San, Saki, Leader, Tomi, Ikasu and Moriko…I’m reasonably sure Tomi doesn’t know what the gesture she’s making means in the U.S….

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