Plasticzooms @ Mondocon, Budapest, 2017.04.22
Plasticzooms finished its longest-to-date European tour on the 22nd of April in Budapest, at the Spring edition of the local anime & pop culture convention called Mondocon… well, actually with me being in charge of the show. Unfortunately guitarist Tom Takahashi was missing from the gig as he went down with some nasty virus infection a couple of days earlier and had to skip the tour’s last two dates, but the rest of the guys did their best to make the concert sound as perfect as possible: they recorded all the guitar parts back in the tour’s base in Belgium before departure and they played those from a laptop, channeled thou a guitar amp, so they could be as close to live guitar sound as possible.
It was the underground new wave band’s first time in Hungary and they were quite different from the (mostly visual kei or anime related) acts that played at the previous conventions, but fortunately the audience loved the show. The show that I honestly did not exactly know what to expect from musically: I got hooked on the band back in 2009 when they released their first album, Charm, an instant classic filled with dark, but groovy underground club favorites, that took their cues from ’80s post punk. However for its subsequent releases the band abandoned the dark post punk and went for a much more lighthearted synth pop / new wave sound… which is still present at their latest album, but they also started to incorporate many new influences into their music there, so, I really had no idea which sound will dominate the show.
The show centered around their latest, untitled album as they played nine of its ten tracks, along with a couple of old ones, that included a few surprises. There were only two older album tracks, Crack from Critical Factor (2013) and KMKZ from Starbow (2012), however they played two single-only ones: BUG from 2010, which turned out to be the oldest song of the set, and a pretty obscure one, Time In The Cellar, which was the B side of a special, limited release in 2015. And besides these they also played a truly excellent cover of To Cut A Long Story Short from Spandau Ballet… that they ended up playing again as the sole encore song (I guess due to Tom’s absence the number of songs they could play were limited). And interestingly, even though the set list did not include anything from Charm, still, the overall sound was probably closer to that album than to anything else they did since: it was all pure, groovy, heavily new wave influenced party rock with a somewhat dark tone. The older tracks were rearranged, while the new ones sounded much more edgy than on the album and delivered a real punch here. I’m pretty sure that most of the audience wasn’t that familiar with the band’s output and they mostly stayed for the show out of curiosity, but after just a few songs, pretty much everyone in the hall was dancing and partying. Earlier I just heard stories about what a great live band Plasticzooms is, but it turns out that all those stories were true. And while the new album is an interesting, but not perfect new chapter in the band’s history, the tracks themselves are definitely a great addition to their live repertoire.