Me pre-show in front of the Harajuku Chanel store….all the jokes about me being one of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku girls come full circle.
On Sunday a couple of friends and I went to the “Beat and Experiment” live event of the at the famous Laforet department store. The concert? show? was part of Laforet’s 30th anniversary live series, and it was totally mindblowingly innovative and eccentric and weird. And really really extremely good.
The first artist was 宇治野宗輝 & The Rotators (sorry to those who can’t read Chinese characters on their computers). It was really bizzare. The set was pretty much the artist controlling this huge noisy contraption (pictured) with a console….one switch made a blender whir, another made a fat brush hit the strings of a bass guitar. At first he wasn’t even on stage so we were just all staring at this really loud cacophonous…thing that made no sense. As soon as he took stage and started manipulating the contraption, however, a beat became decipherable….it was pretty janky, comprised of drills and violin bows and broken records, but it was a beat, all right. The best part, however, was that he wheeled out a cart with a carton of milk, strawberries, a banana, and a can of Dole fruit on it, and started throwing them into the blender in rhythm to the beat. At first he didn’t put the top on the blender and the poor videographer in the front got splashed a little. At the very end, he put the top on and handed out cups of smoothie to the audience. I was at the very front so I got a strawberry 😀
I was ecstatic, but one of my friend’s comments afterwards was, “Uh, doesn’t that kind of thing just not make sense?”
Next was Copy Smiles, which was just as weird as 宇治野宗輝 & The Rotators. It was pretty much just two guys with wires attached to their faces, and they would twitch their faces which would move the wires which would in turn make electronic noises….and they would do this in a beat as well. It was sensational, hilarious and mindboggling. They were so expressive, and the beat wasn’t bad as well…
Here’s a video if you’re too confused. Start from the middle.
Next was Shing02, a dj and mc who did a little bit of both during his set. He was introduced by a guy in a chef’s outfit who announced the set list as a menu, which was pretty novel! The set started with salad of “Lift the fog up”, something tuna “栞”, and I forgot how he mentioned the rest. Something about caramel. But anyways after Shing02 was done with the set, he said, “デザート欲しい人！” “Who wants dessert?” Which of course to us audience members who would have been rabid and screaming if we were not Japanese (the show was very quiet, polite, and well-mannered) was a resounding “YES!”, and dessert was his famous “Luv Sic part 2”. He was amazing and really connected with the audience. His performance was bilingual which was cool because it meant that I could understand all of his songs.
Then came Optrum, which was also really experimental. Optrum is a two-piece group that is comprised of an air guitarist/pedal manipulator and a drummer. The set was all about aesthetics. The drum kit would emit green lights when hit, and the other guy held a bundle of fluorescent lights that would flare up when he would hit these pedals, which would emit brash electric guitar sounds in unison with the flares. It was trippy and visually really exciting.
Video explanation for where my words do not go…….
FINALLY WAS DJ KENTARO. God, was he amazing. Dj Kentaro is world famous because he won the 2002 DMC technics competition, which is a technical skills competition for turntabling. He is famous for being able to really quickly switch between records, scratch, drop the needle at certain key places for effect, and manufacture really danceable, scream-worthy beats. He was so good it was almost godly. He was probably the best part of the evening. He was totally shredding on the turntables, it was absolutely ridiculous, he was like a complete computer program (albiet a really adorable computer program packed full of soul) and he had all of us proper Japanese kids dancing around and screaming out hearts out. He was absolutely crazy out of my mind nuts. Best of all he had a great sense of humor, any moment not spent swiftly attacking console dancing around and smiling and being really cute accepting compliments on this red cap with tassles he was wearing!
The video below is of him in 2002, but seeing him live was no comparison….start from 2:46 ish.
After him me and my friends were blown out of the water with his incandescent awesomeness and headed out into an empty Harajuku to the train station. It was so weird how empty it was……normally Takeshita street is suffocatingly packed with people.
The homies….both total hip hop fiends. The one on the left had a shirt on that said “compton”. I don’t know where he got it, but I just thought it was funny….
Empty empty empty. Almost as bizarre as the performance.