Hotel Mexico, one of Japan’s best-kept secrets, was imported directly to Soda Bar from Kyoto this past Tuesday.
Getting a hold of any of Hotel Mexico’s notably limited releases strewn across the Web is an especially difficult endeavor for even the most dedicated fan outside of the band’s home country, so their brief Californian tour in support of their first full-length release. Her Decorated Post Love, offered a chance for a few lucky San Diegans to nab some rare merch and catch a glimpse the group in their in all of its glory.
The reclusive five-piece has reveled in obscurity for the last several years, releasing only a small collection of calculatedly cloudy EPs and cassettes. Although the standout blog track “Dear Les Friends” and their most recent single ”A.I. in Dreams” are pop gems in their own warped right, they fail to hint at the sheer technical force that overcomes the group's carefree aesthetic in a live setting.
In the flesh, Hotel Mexico forego their assumed role as the Japanese prophets of Ariel Pink to instead harness a distorted intensity similar to that of country-mates Boris, while maintaining a firm grasp on the poignant melodicism that carries the charm of their hazily recorded mixtapes. Attribute it to either vocalist Ryuyu Ishigami’s channeling of the heart-wrenching bellows of post-punk overlord Ian Curtis, guitarist Hitoshi Kikuchi’s ability to pedal stomp his way through pristine shoegaze motifs or drummer Masaaki Iwamoto’s deadpan demeanor behind the kit, but Hotel Mexico was hands down the coolest band in town on March 5.
The night started off with a diverse pair of sets by San Diego electronic rock projects Bruin and We are Sirens. Bruin delivered a chilled-out beat and guitar collaboration in stark contrast with the brash brand of electro-pop that was We are Siren’s opening set. Sorry to say Hotel Mexico stole the show, but those two added a few extra flavors.