Thursday, October 27, 2005

How not to behave in public

Last weekend I went to possibly the worst concert of my entire life. It started fine, the setting was a rather delightful restaurant in central osaka in an old wood-beamed building where they regularly have live music by local amateur bands. You can listen and eat at the same time (though I am still having problems with warm beef fat). I was there with some fellow foreigners, a French guy I know who lives in Osaka, and a friend from the UK who just arrived to teach english in Shikoku and was visiting Osaka for the weekend.

It started out fine, with a fairly good if slightly cheesy guitar player, followed by another couple of similar acts, the last of which was a chap in a backward baseball cap and "Thrasher" t-shirt, who played a guitar arrangement of "somewhere over the rainbow" and various beatles songs. So far so inoffensive, we had after all just turned up without knowing what was on programme.

The final act though stole the show, and I mean that in a bad way. It was a young Japanese guy, with fluffy toilet-brush hair, dressed head to toe in beige. He had three chunky Korg synthesisers set up, and from the moment he started playing to the end, almost an hour later I think, it was absolutely impossible to keep a straight face.

You know the "demo" button on keyboards, or the background music on a nintendo game from about 10 years ago, it was like that. Or worse. Think John Shuttleworth, with more self-confidence. I can't really find the words to describe it but lets just say that birdsong sounds were involved at one point. Musical Vogon poetry. Not only this but he was prancing about with grand gestures and an expression of such smug ecstasy on his face that it was utterly impossible, for me at least, and my friend for the UK, to adopt the usual respectful serenity expected during a concert.

I obviously still have a lot to learn from the Japanese, since almost everyone else in the room sat through the whole thing with a look of resigned tolerance on their faces, though near the end there were one or two cracks in the facade. They could clearly see us cracking up, though the man himself was so absorbed in his magnum opus that unfortunately he wasn't put off by our rudeness.

My French friend managed (just) to keep a straight face as well, he can speak Japanese, and knew that the whole evening had been arranged by this performer, and most of the audience were his friends. And he just cares a bit more about not being totally disrespectful in front of a room full of strangers I guess. It didn't help at the end though when he asked the guy if he had a CD, while one of his entourage gave me really odd looks.

We made a swift exit.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

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