Guitar Wolf Get Down And Dirty

Japanese punk rockers kick out the jams at chaotic show.

SAN FRANCISCO — The audience didn't speak much Japanese, and

Tokyo punks Guitar Wolf didn't speak much English, but on one level, they

understood each other just fine.

The common language at the Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday night was rock

'n' roll.

After guzzling a ceremonial preshow beer, Guitar Wolf's singer/guitarist

Seiji cast the empty can aside and riled up the crowd with a chant of

the universal rock mantra "Hey! Hey! Hey!" before crashing into the title

track of Jet Generation (1999).

The leather-clad trio also includes Billy (a.k.a. Basswolf) and

Toru (Drumwolf) — all go only by their first names. They careened

about the stage as they crashed through a set of down-and-dirty rock,

straight from the garage. They shouted out countless classic rock calls

to arms: a Ramones-style "1,2,3,4!," a rockabilly "Bayba, Bayba!" and

the defining "Rock 'n' Roooolllll!"

Alex Walker, 24, a fan from Oakland, Calif., said he was worried for the

band's safety, though, as it tore through screeching, distorted songs

such as "Teenage UFO" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Fujiyama Attack" (RealAudio

excerpt).

"Guitar Wolf were just so out of control!" Walker said afterward. "I wasn't

sure they were going to be able to continue. All the equipment was breaking,

and they were rolling around in broken glass!"

Perhaps that explains why after the overheated guitarist removed his

shirt, he put his leather jacket back on.

The members of the band all wore leather pants and sunglasses and played

loud and loose. They sometimes shouted lyrics while yards away from their

microphones. Fans at the front ate it up, often commandeering the mics

for themselves.

Walker's friend Graham Brown, 25, also from Oakland, said the band seemed

anything but tight. "As 'apart' as possible is the idea," he said. "I

don't think it's about 'together.' "

During a thrashing, barely recognizable cover of Detroit punk forebears

the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," Seiji yanked a reluctant fan onstage,

handed him the guitar and turned him loose. As Seiji thrashed about and

shouted unintelligible lyrics, the new recruit gamely tried to match the

rhythm section, but to no avail. Off-key and off-kilter, the song continued

for several noisy minutes, until Seiji reclaimed his instrument.

Guitar Wolf also covered the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

and Eddie Cochran's rockabilly classic "Summertime Blues."

During their opening set, the Woggles, from Atlanta, displayed a garage

sound of their own, influenced by early soul, blues, surf and rockabilly.

The simple, shimmy-intensive sound had many in the crowd shaking it to

catchy, rhythm-based rockers such as "Tear Me Down" (RealAudio

excerpt).

Clad in matching turquoise tuxedo shirts, members of the quartet made

several excursions into the crowd, wielding tambourines and harmonica in

a style reminiscent of a gospel revival.