I almost had an “After Hours” kind of Friday night. Well, maybe not as crazy, but it could have headed somewhere. Had I been 10 years younger, not so tired from the work week, and a little more adventurous, maybe it would have happened. Instead, I just had a good night.
Friday I got to see the Basement Jaxx at a smallish venue in Shin-Kiba (Tokyo), Japan. Basement Jaxx are basically made up of two guys, Simon and Felix, and a lot of guests. They are primarily electronic, but their live shows are far more. I’ve seen Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, and Paul Oakenfold among others “in concert” before and found their shows really boring. Are you supposed to dance or look at the stage? I prefer to keep the DJs hidden and not the center of attention. Let the music speak for itself and let the audience concentrate on the important thing – dancing like mad and losing yourself to your friends, your significant other, and / or those you are trying to hook up with. I don’t need Mr. Oakenfold pointing at his greatness (himself) as he gets ready to twist another knob. Hey, I really respect what DJs do, but watching them manipulate consoles isn’t really a performance worthy of watching.
But, oh my, the Basement Jaxx are different. They had two percussionists, a trumpet player, three female vocalists (and one was a dancer too), a male vocalists, and a rapper. I small little entourage. They rocked the house, that’s for sure. Tomo didn’t have to be on the front row either (Yay!!!!) so we got to bop to the music without making new friends all around us. He wanted to see the full show, since he had seen them up close the night before.
We watched the show from our elevated position and bounced the whole night long. Last year, Tomo worked with the Basement Jaxx for a few days in Tokyo and had become friends with the tour manager. So, that meant special invitations to the after party as well!
Tomo brought them 3 bottles of Moet & Chandon because it was the final night of the tour that had been going on for the last year and a half. Wow, that’s one way to keep up a friendship. The tour manager brought us one of the bottles, and in the meantime Tomo’s friend (and my acquaintance) Taka and his friend Okinawa-jin (I forgot his name), and another guy tagged Yama-chan joined us. This is where the After Hours-ness of it kind of started. Yama-chan was rather harmless, but somehow got back to the party even though he wasn’t with our group yet knew Okinawa-jin so I think there might have been some pass passages. Yama-chan had an interesting pompadour, and reminded me a little of El Vez, or John Leguizamo in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. He had one of those unfortunate mustaches that try too hard but would be better shaved off. Hey, he’s Japanese.
Yama-chan was immediately recognized by some of the performers because there wasn’t anyone else like him in the audience. In typical Japanese venue fashion, there was a strict curfew so it was announced that the after party was moving to a club in Shibuya. And the After Hours adventure began. We managed to down a bottle of champagne, and Okinawa-jin pocketed a couple of gratis Red Bulls. Yama-chan had his plastic cup with beer in hand and we noisily made our way to the subway to meet up with the Jaxx party at the club. We must have been a motley looking crew, one guy in his suit after work, two normally dressed concert-goers, Elvez, and the white guy.
We thought we might actually beat the Jaxx crew because we were going by subway and that’s usually pretty efficient. The party was at Seco and apparently Simon and Felix were going to DJ for a while. When we got there, it was very confusing. There was already a party going on, and apparently it was some school reunion. Except these folks didn’t look old enough to be out of school. Maybe a junior high school reunion for college kids? Not sure. There were some young hipsters there so maybe it was some fashion school reunion. We sat there for a little bit and I felt really old and out of place and then Yama-chan started working the crowd. We were all getting hungry so we decided to go get some food and give the Jaxx some time to show up.
Of course, it was raining off and on, and now it was about 11:00 pm in Shibuya trying to find an open restaurant that wasn’t too crowded. Our first stop was a ramen place, but it was too busy. We went up one floor to another ramen place, but apparently they specialize in the stinkiest ramen imaginable and we couldn’t even make it to the top of the floor before being driven away by the smell. Oh, and by this time, another one of Taka’s friends, Onna-san (a woman who’s name I have forgotten), joined us. Now we were six.
We were able to find a place to eat and after waiting a while, ate and then went back to the club. We went back to the club, but it was still only the kids. We got the scoop that yes, indeed, the Basement Jaxx after party was supposed to be here but the other party won’t leave. And then two boys started DJing at the club! Oh my.
We went outside and noticed some others that we had seen at the original venue afterparty next door in a restaurant. I pulled the, “I’m a gaijin like you so I can appeal to you like a fish out of water” camaraderie with the foreigner at the table and he simply said, “They are eating upstairs.” Oh, OK, so the party was upstairs. At this point, a friend of Yama-chan had met up with us. I’ll call him Staring-chan (for reasons to come later). And now we were seven!
The club is part of a kind of group of businesses in the building called Shibuya Universal Society and they were in the RESPEKT restaurant. So up we went and it was clear that everyone was starting to chill and just hang out on the last night of their tour. And now the seven of us were just kind of hanging out on the fringes. We said, “Hello” to the tour manager and then grabbed some tables. Of course, I think we all felt obliged to order something, so the money continued to fly out of our wallets. We just kind of sat on the outside looking in, and Staring-chan just kept staring at me. Why? Hmmm, it must be my dashing good looks. Or maybe he was thinking, “What is that gaijin doing with this group?” Who knows.
The party was starting to break up, so we decided to go. But Tomo, sensing the time, managed to get Simon to sign his Basement Jaxx CD that he had brought along. Felix was on his way out. Tomo followed after him but found out that indeed he WAS going downstairs finally to the after party. Of course, many of the folks were very tired because of the tour, so a lot were going back to the hotel. We said our goodbyes to the tour manager and headed BACK down for the party.
We we got there, the party was raging on, with the two boys still spinning the tunes. So here was a pretty darn good famous DJ act in a club with some Japanese students controlling the house. I’m sure the kids had NO idea who these guys were. But my favorite part was when Tomo went up to Felix, and Felix was just boppin’ his head, really enjoying the music, not saying anything like, “What is this crap?” He looked to be having a good time. As we both noted today, he just loves music. Tomo got him to sign the CD cover and then we decided to leave.
Tomo has a professional relationship with these guys, and I think he wanted to get out of there before the growing entourage got too sloppy. He warned Taka and Okinawa-jin to watch Yama-chan and then we headed out. Of course, we missed the last train so we had to take a taxi back. Another 30 bucks gone.
Apparently Taka also posted on mixi (a Japanese Facebook-like service) at 1:47 am that the Basement Jaxx were playing a gig at the club. I wonder if any more folks came because of that?
The night had a bit of a, ”Where’s Fluffy?” feel as well from “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist“. Maybe love blossomed along the way for some folks, maybe it didn’t. I wasn’t there to witness that. But I had a good time and was still able to get some sleep.