Friday, June 11, 2004


Tonight I was planning to go to a DJ event featuring Yoshiharu Konishi, the creator of Pizzicato Five's music. Konishi is a big collector of obscure pop and jazz records, and listening to his choice disks at the event's tiny venue, the Organ Bar in Shibuya, seemed a good way to spend a few hours of an evening. But I ended up not going -- there was a time zone problem.

I'm used to Tokyo 'live house' time. Shows at live house rock halls start early, with the opening band usually hitting the stage around 7 P.M. They wrap up about 10 P.M. in most cases. The bar where Konishi's event took place, on the other hand, opened at 9 P.M. I got to the club around 9:30 after wandering around wasting time in Shibuya, but when I entered, there was no door man and no customers, and there was just a DJ (not Konishi) playing some music.

If at 9:30 there's no one, I thought to myself, then the club probably won't start filling up for another hour or so at the earliest. Even then, Konishi, being a big deal, might not play his records for another hour or two. That means what I'd come to listen to possibly won't happen until midnight. I wasn't sure whether on a Friday after a long week of work, I'd last that long.

Maybe it's just conditioning, but I prefer the shape of an early rock show night to a DJ club event night. In an early rock show night, you have a few drinks during the show, then when it's done get food and more booze, sometimes with the band members, and collapse after a few hours. In contrast, when people go to a club late at night, what do they spend all the hours in the evening before the show doing? Do they watch TV? Do they have dinner? But if they drink during the meal, wouldn't they be burnt out by around 3 A.M. or so? I like the rocket-like progression of a Tokyo rock show evening where your excitement is built up steadily by the music, you fly high in celebration after the show, then come crashing down to earth in a few hours.

My guess is that the rock live houses start and close early because for one thing, many of its customers live an hour or more away by one of the Tokyo commuter trains, and they need to leave at a decent time. A DJ club is a different matter: there, people go assuming they will stay until morning to catch the first train of the day home. Different life style choices.

I'd been to Organ Bar before to see the band Qypthone, and there was the same issue. The bar had opened at 9 P.M. but even after midnight the band hadn't played and we decided to leave because we'd simply run out of things to talk about and do. The event made me uncomfortable in the same way as a cocktail party filled with strangers. Qypthone used to play early shows at rock clubs until a few years ago, but now in Tokyo they appear to perform exclusively at the Organ Bar. I'm not sure why they made that change.

One of these nights, though, I want to go to the Organ Bar sufficiently late with enough energy to party into the early hours of the day, and see Qypthone and Konishi. Fortunately, their shows are held every month.

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