Pleasing the Pack at the Whisky

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From left, Tokyo Tanaka, Spear Ribs, Kamikaza Boy, DJ Santa Monica (rear) and Jean-Ken Johnny of Man With a Mission perform at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood last Thursday. (Photo by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

From left, Tokyo Tanaka, Spear Ribs, Kamikaza Boy, DJ Santa Monica (rear) and Jean-Ken Johnny of Man With a Mission perform at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood last Thursday. (Photo by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Arts & Entertainment Editor

WEST HOLLYWOOD.–Japanese rockers Man With a Mission are rolling their wolverine brand of progressive rock through Southern California this week, with more than a few stalwart fans from home in tow.

Michiyo Suzuki took an unofficial hiatus from her office job in Gunma Prefecture to tail the band to their concerts in Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and she’ll be at tonight’s show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim.

“I love this band, that’s why I’m here. I’m crazy about them,” she said as she bounced wildly to the thumping rhythms of last Thursday’s show at the famed Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood. She was one of at least two dozen of the wolf faithful who crossed the Pacific to follow the band.

The near-capacity crowd Thursday hopped and sang along enthusiastically to a collection of some of the band’s hits, as well as a supercharged cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

MWAM’s second appearance at the Whisky was the second-to-last stop on their 13-city American tour, one that lead guitarist Jean-Ken Johnny said has been a new experience.

“This is our first long tour of the U.S., so we’re just trying to get people’s attention,” he explained. “The first time we played here, hardly anyone noticed us, but this time, a lot people gathered and the place is full, so that’s progress, I guess.”

A refreshing alternative to the J-pop that is commonly exported from Japan, Man With a Mission is certainly a more turgid, primal – dare I say animalistic – affair, and wholly satisfying for it.

Johnny said the band has a full slate of dates to play in Japan over the summer, and this American tour proved considerably more successful than they had hoped.

“We’ve had a good start, but I suppose we have to hang on, keep pushing, and find what we can do in America. It’s getting better and better.”

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