Shimokitazawa, gigging and more gyoza.

On Friday I headed once again into Tokyo, Shunjuku area, although this time I was preparing myself for a night of live music, not a causal touristy venture. Only a couple stops from Shinjuku was my destination, Shimokitazawa, a hip and trendy area sprawled with bars and clothes shops fit for any hipster. There were two venues that were on my itinerary for the nights adventures as I was to see Teru’s band at one and another band he had introduced me to a few weeks earlier, Mouse On The Keys, that were playing at another. It was lucky that both gigs coincided at around the same time and in the same area of Tokyo, only 10 minutes walk from each other.

So first of all I tried to find the venue that Teru was playing at so I could find him and be put on the guest list. I followed the map that I had scribbled down the night before and reached the point where I thought the venue would be, although there were no immediate signs to show where it was. After getting directions from a man in a local bakery I managed to find the very unobvious entrance to the venue, only noticeable by a sign about a foot wide on some stairs behind a loading bay for an alcohol shop. These stairs led me down into the basement venue. Although when I got there I tried my best to tell people my situation and that I was looking for someone. After disturbing many sound checks I eventually came to the conclusion that Teru had not arrived and I should return later.

I took this opportunity to walk around Shimokitozawa and look at the many trendy shops situated within this area. This one shop I went to the owner became really interested in me and was impressed that I was an English teacher. His shop was wicked, the sort of independent skate/clothing shop that I love, so his conversation was welcome, which I ended by treating myself with a new hat. After this I grabbed some udon noodles and tempura at a restaurant, where my presence instantly made the cook jump from behind the counter to come explain the menu to me.

When trying my luck back at the venue I managed to finally see Teru just after he had finished a sound check. Here I managed to secure myself a place to the gig and meet the rest of his band. The venue was pretty likeable by the fact that is was a smokey underground hub underneath the cool streets of Tokyo. The act that started before Teru’s band, Capofteka, was a very intense noise emulating experience. Whatever this guy was trying to achieve it appeared pretty avant garde. Some of the sounds he integrated into his mesh of noise consisted of pouring metal balls into a metal dish and shaking a red balloon with things inside. When his noise creation subsided Capofteka readied themselves and jumped straight into an impressive performance, despite the lack of a substantial and unjustified audience, possibly due to being scheduled behind another 6 bands. It was still fun to see my boss rock it out.

After enjoying Capofteka, I congratulated Teru on his performance and said that I would catch up with him later at the other gig. Here I quickly dashed off and made my way hastily across Shimokitozawa to the other venue where I anticipated seeing Mouse On The Keys. Luckily I was in time and tickets were still available. The venue was squeezed on the 4th floor, which upon opening the door I was faced with a wall of people in a small cramped room . Although this is where I was not long later absolutely blown away by Mouse On The Keys, due to their ominous yet jazzy performance. Immediately after seeing them perform I rushed to go buy their CDs, where I bumped into Teru hanging out with his Tokyo and band associates. Word spread that I was interested in Mouse On The Keys, which led to a conversation with the lead pianist, a photo and a free poster, which I was most excited by. I stayed on and saw the bands that followed. These were some very interesting progressive screamo bands, maybe not so much to my liking but still worth a watch. When the gigging was finished I had to scrape enough time out of thin air to get home for the last train home to Kazo. Luckily this was possible.

Work was very casual on Saturday, it mostly consisted of me and Teru reminiscing about the previous night. It then turned out that the only lesson scheduled got cancelled making the most eventful part of the day a very minor earthquake, part of Japan that I have had to become quickly acquainted with. On Sunday I decided to have a relaxed and inexpensive day. So I hopped on my bike and toured around Kazo. I stumbled across a bootsale type happening at the local temple where a coin collector showed me the best of his collection, some of which were Victorian coins dating from the 19th century that were priced at 120,000¥, not a price for an adventurer. I finished my Sunday by making a large batch of gyoza as to perfect my technique so I could have a lasting supply.

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