Charanporantan: Retro for brunch

Cloudy with a chance of R&B. The coffee at the hotel sucked so we needed something to wake us up. Stone Foundation, a largish British band that plays original tunes that borrow heavily from Southern soul, opened the Red Marquee on Friday to a crowd that was up for that sort of thing, and so were we, even if the vibe was a bit too preppy for our tastes. Also, the horns used tablet PCs for their charts. Is nothing sacred?

Consequently, we left before the set ended so we could catch Charanporantan again at the Field of Heaven. We want to amend our previous comment. Charanporantan doesn’t strictly play kayokyoku, unless your idea of vintage Japanese pop is actually a mish-mash of all forms of pop, which is what they play. Fronted by sisters Momo and Koharu, the former born in Heisei, the latter in Showa, the group is dedicated to a very Japanese idea of showmanship, sharp, silly, and more irreverent than you might expect. With their all girl horn section and Koharu on button accordion, the arrangements are simple and flexible, and they moved easily from chanson to rockabilly to boogie woogie and even klezmer with tongue either firmly in cheek or wagging salaciously at any ridiculous taboo that occurred to them. At one point Koharu, who acted as sardonic master of ceremonies, introduced a song for “minorities,” in this case shut ins which in Japan are called “hikikomori.” The song, set to the Bay City Rollers hit “Saturday Night” exchanged the titular chant with “Soto de nai” (“always inside”). “We hate summer, too,” Momo added.

The crowd, relieved from the hot humidity by a cool, welcome drizzle, loved every minute of it, and were energized anew when the group was augmented by a real klezmer band, the Norwegian maniacs Rafven, for a version of “Hava Nagila.” Momo promised to drop in for the band’s set the next day. It will be another early show. Who needs caffeine? 

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