They could have been a jamband. They could have been a punk band. They could have been a percussion ensemble. They could have been an experimental band. They could have been a rock and roll band. They could have dropped any one of these bombs, but instead they drop them all. They are Zoobombs. Front man Don Matsuo was nothing short of an absolute entertainer. Being a lead singer, lead guitar player and bandleader is something that requires a certain charisma, stage presence, vision and image. It takes a certain type of person to hold this role and Don Matsuo is the epitome of the front man in a rock band. The key word for him is ‘energy’. Flying all over stage, falling to his knees, throwing his guitar over his head, playing basically every instrument on the stage. He’s got it. That thing that grabs the audience and makes them explode with energy, scream for a double encore and be completely enthralled by every second of the music performance. The audience loves Don and the live performance on April 26th, 2007, was no exception. Fans rush the stage just to touch his sweaty body. His endless charisma had everyone dieing for more and waiting for autographs after the show.
Unlike many shows in Tokyo, Zoobombs had full control of the audience and took them on an action packed tour through rock and roll, punk and jam/improvisational music. There were hands flailing in the air, people screaming and jumping every which way, and it felt like a rock show in America. Somehow the Zoobombs manage to break the “rules” of the shy, stoic music appreciation that seems to characterize much of the Tokyo music scene.
The energy exchange between band and audience was similar to that of any “live band” where people say you have to see them to truly experience their music. The band and audience feed off each other and create an impressive symbiosis of musical energy. This energy never stopped. Thirty to forty minutes before the show actually ended, I thought that Zoobombs had reached the maximum capacity for energy and it had to be the last song. Two multi-song encores later, the show ended and everyone was left trying to catch their breath and recollect themselves after the intense musical assault. Upon interviewing Matsuo, I discovered that he never prepares a set list, but rather lets the energy and feeling of the audience take him where he needs to go. He said that every music fan, even shy Tokyoites, want to go to a show and have fun. In many ways Zoobombs shows are not like other shows in Tokyo because people are not as shy or concerned with standing still and looking cool. It’s rock and roll, and it isn’t dead. Zoobombs recently came back from a tour of North America and they have plans get back on the road and tour Canada and Europe this year.