Sunday, March 19, 2017
There is Not Lazy and Not Lazy
I like the fact that Puffy is playing in the US after a fairly long hiatus and this post is probably going to upset some fans. I get that. Frankly, I thought they had all but abandoned fans across the Pacific. So the Not Lazy Tour does represent something of a surprise, I do take issue with calling it a tour much less dubbing it not lazy. This had been bothering me for a while and I could not put my finger on why exactly, until I saw Shonen Knife announce their US tour and I have some tough love to dole out which pleases me not at all to do so.
Shonen Knife's touring is the precise definition of Not Lazy. They do double digit cities on a nearly annual touring basis. They are a band that has never had the same success as Puffy in their native Japan. They have never had the same media exposure in the US like Puffy. They have not had a vastly power label like Sony supporting them. Yet Shonen Knife has far greater tours in the US.
The question I as myself now is why is that so?
This is less of a shot at Puffy than it is acknowledging that Shonen Knife (Naoko Yamano) is personally invested in touring the US. Not only does she seek labels to distribute her band's music, but she has laid the ground work for decades by touring the US. People obviously show up as it is not a charity. Ami and Yumi seem less personally invested and it would be my best guess that tours and many other things are handled by their people. Which may be a byproduct of their overwhelming success compared to Shonen Knife in Japan. It may also be that Shonen Knife has always been Noako's creation whereas Puffy is a group that was forged by Sony.
Perhaps it is an issue of personal investment and here is a rub as a fan of Puffy (more so than Shonen Knife, whom I like but not nearly as much). What Shonen Knife has done for decades cannot and probably will not be something Ami and Yumi can replicate. First the ground work is a decade behind Shonen Knife, but also it simply seems like it is not of serious interest to Puffy to do so.
The lines of thinking between Shonen Knife and Puffy seems to boil down to this. Shonen Knife approaches a US tour like lets see where we can play and put together a tour. Puffy approaches it by who wants us to play. I think it speaks to Shonen Knife having some personal investment in touring the US whereas Puffy takes a more passive approach facilitated by their people.
I do not doubt for one second that Puffy could have a twenty date US tour and do well. Puffy is arguably the best known band from Japan in the US, this might change over time as a band like Perfume makes headway... but for now a far lesser band, namely Shonen Knife is really Not Lazy and that is because Naoko Yamano has invested her energies into the US fans.
The smartest thing Puffy could do if they have any desire to invest in US tours is have Naoko Yamano manage their US tour dates and have Shonen Knife open for them. It would be a win-win for both bands.
All this said, I am sure Ami and Yumi will work hard to put on the great shows they have committed to. They are not just engaging, but also professionals. Perhaps if these dates are successful a door will be opened and there will be a new vector for them to apply their energies outside of Japan.
P.S. I like Puffy far more than Shonen Knife and it genuinely pained me to write all of this. I continue to listen to Puffy still far more than any other Japanese band and they hold the largest share of my Japanese music heart. Puffy has vastly more range and talent than most Japanese groups, but I acknowledge that there is little substitution for determination of which Naoko Yamano has in spades when it comes to the subject of US touring.