Monday, July 30, 2012

Vasallo Crab 75 At The 251

It felt like a while since I was last in Shimokitazawa.

Walking down the stair of the south exit, for the how-many-hundredth-time?, I went down the main street, past the cafe smelling of overheated coffee. Coming up were girls, and some guys, in yukata, headed for the Sumida-gawa fireworks festival. Did this street always have this many chains? My memory is uncertain, but two decades ago when I first visited, it seemed this town was all mom & pop shops.

It was a long time too since I'd been to the 251. My friends' bands had grown up, so they mostly play now upstairs at 440, the mellow cafe.

I used to go to the 251 a lot around 1999, when shows were a salad bar of melodic punk and Shibuya-kei pop groups. There was a night when Qypthone (Shibuya-kei) and House Plan (punk) were on the same bill, and Chinese-Japanese model Hana, a friend of Qypthone, was in the audience (both bands are now M.I.A.). Wearing an orange windbreaker, immediately recognizable at the time, Hana stood shyly in the corner. I found out later on TV that her hobby was to look at Buddhist sculpture--her term was she was 'meeting' the statues--and she teared up when she saw them.

There were tables and chairs at the club tonight, and family from a white-haired grandma to a little girl in a red T-shirt sat to watch their bands. Something was missing for me with the opening bands, a lack of originality and/or Japanese-ness, but then when Vasallo Crab 75 came on, exploding rock, funk and pop, all the ice that was there despite the summer melted.

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