With a rough, raw and raucous hardcore-punk edge and a balls-out live show, Red Bacteria Vacuum have become one of Japan’s most revered underground bands. Formed in Osaka in 1998, the trio — Ikumi (guitar/vocals), Kassan (bass/vocals) and Jasmine (drums), none of whom use a last name — routinely blow the speakers at venues across the country (not literally of course, that would cost a fortune) with their fierce stage workouts.
The band relocated to Tokyo in 2002. Over the course of three albums and mini-albums, their sound has evolved from its brash punk beginnings to feature harder guitars, meatier rhythms and occasional sequenced beats, smeared with a layer of mischief.
But while their CDs are pretty cool, it’s on stage where Red Bacteria Vacuum really come into their own. They screech through their set with the momentum of a runaway train down a steep hill, with little or no need for dynamics or other namby-pamby softy nonsense. Ikumi’s face as she roars into her mic is a blend of unshaken focus and extreme relaxation, as if she knows she could do this in her sleep but she’d rather be wide awake. Kassan, meanwhile, hunches over her bass and physically attacks it, before throwing back her head between songs and screaming “Enjooooy!” in English to amuse the crowd.
Red Bacteria Vacuum have toured the United States several times over the years; in March, they were whisked away to Australia to play on the mammoth Big Day Out festival tour; and from June 29, they will return to the U.S. for 29 shows over six weeks as support for rock heavyweights A Perfect Circle, featuring onetime Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, and Maynard James Keenan of Tool.
That’s going to be some serious exposure. But before Red Bacteria Vacuum embark on their extended stateside jaunt, they will present Panic Junky, an event at the tiny Basement Bar in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, on June 17. The bill also features poptastic punkettes JinnyOops!, warped riff ‘n’ rollers The Harpy’s, hard-edged Shiina Ringo worshippers Hystoic Vein and more.
This is your last chance to see Red Bacteria Vacuum before hundreds of thousands of American fans claim to have found them first. Probably not wise to miss out.
Panic Junky Vol. 22 takes place June 17 at Basement Bar in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo (6:30 p.m.; ¥2,000;  5481-6366). For more information, visit www.red-bacteria.com.Red Bacteria Vacuum