Tag Archive | concert

Wherein the future is discussed.

So it’s been a few days since I quit drinking. I haven’t really had much trouble staying away from it though. Everyone’s been pretty supportive and that’s really helpful. Most are still in the “eggshell” phase I think, which is when friends of the alcoholic try to act very carefully around the recovering addict lest he shatter into a million pieces at the slightest gust of wind or whiff of booze. It’s sweet but unnecessary.

I have been staying up much later than I would normally, however. It’s not such as bad thing though as I’ve been trying to focus on where I want to go in the future. I’ve only got about two months on my current visa at the moment and a less than solid footing on my renewal chances. So things are a little nervous which is the best time to quit drinking, of course.

I’ve been trying to focus that energy that was usually suppressed by the warm fuzzy blanket of spiritous liquors on something productive. To whit I’ve got it into my head to try and learn from scratch how to use the various products that Adobe has to offer in the realm of creative computer wizardry. This is an expensive proposition, however, as even the most basic package they offer can cost over $1000 if you want to buy it outright. I think it would be a good investment in skills for the future despite requiring a level of investment higher than most developing nation’s average income several times over.

I mean I have the money, but it’s hard to complain about spending it without coming off as callous. I digress.

I’ve been dabbling with iMovie for a little while now. Nothing special but I’ve learned the system well enough that the actual creation of the movie takes very little time. It is a little limited in its ability to correct problem footage which is a shame because my camera is pretty crap. So you can see what I’m talking about, this is a movie I shot last month of a band I’ve talked about before briefly. Kazumi Struts:

Now the video quality was pretty junk, though a lot of that is my camera, but it looked pretty bad until I added the filter to make everything kind of dark. That seemed to help the focus for some reason. Also it is easier to make a smoother video. I guess that’s key, simple is best when it comes to iMovie.

This one I made in Adobe Premiere Elements. A much more robust, though still hamstrung program. It’s not exactly the full version which is probably well beyond my scope at the moment. Keep that in mind. I am in no way good at this stuff. But it gives me something to do instead of drink so I’ll take it.

This clip is a bit longer as I could make a few more clips look good enough to leave in. Some were so bad that I had to cut them. Given the video quality on display here you know that’s pretty bad.

Premiere felt like it could do more but was harder to wrap my head around. A lot of the adjustments to quality had to be left to the program itself. It could be that I just haven’t figured out how to do manual control of things like color saturation and sharpness but there was at least some option for it made obvious in iMovie. Also Premiere is a beast of a performance hog even in the limited form. It would lag on occasion, crashed once, and took over two hours to process and upload to youtube.

It’s obvious that Adobe has more room to grow I’m just worried my little macbook air won’t be able to handle anything more intense than a grainy iphone movie from the bottom of a well at midnight. So yes, expensive hobby I’ve decided to pick up.

I want to try out the polling feature of this blog space so I’ll pose this question:

I’ve also been on a bit of a workout kick with Fitocracy. Which is kind of fun.

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Tokyo Live Showcase: Blue Line Redux

You might remember this band from the last time I talked about them. Everybody’s first time at anything is usually a rough experience. I mentioned what I felt was a lack, or let’s say a lower than expected level. These are my good friends though, I don’t want to be mean. But yeah, felt a little flat.

Of course, two people were having serious colds and it was the first time in front of a live audience. Also, earlier in the week I had gone to a crazy wild 80s fueled jump fest. Different vibe for sure.

That’s why I was happy to see them pull it off so well this outing. The band seemed far more settled and energetic. I’m not good at understanding or talking about music. It’s like art, I may not know it but I know what I like. Or something along those lines. I think what I mean is, it doesn’t matter what level of energy that you’re going for, it matters if you get there. Punk rock to classical the audience is going to notice if you’re off and things aren’t clicking. A lot of people I know that play will sometimes complain about levels being off or missing a beat on the upturn with a half step. Or I could be just making those words up.

Point is, it’s good that artists focus on the little things. I like to write, sometimes people tell me I’m good. I think everything I do is garbage that I smear on the page with hands covered in matters unspeakable. More to the point, if I use the same word in two separate sentences in the same paragraph I freak and have to change it. I’d compare this to missing a note in a song even though I don’t know anything about making music. The energy of the group is more akin to the mood of a piece of writing. An out of place note or word can startle the viewer but as long as they’re enjoying the work as a whole then it’s easy to forgive. But when everything is off it’s harder to get into something.

I’ll let you make your own decisions on that part from the media below but I thought this show did a lot better capturing the “mood” than the first one. Good job guys. You can like their facebook page over here.

I haven’t been updating near as much as I used to or wanted to. Gonna try and fix that tonight by using the delayed publish gizmo WordPress has. Since it’s an experiment you might see nothing, or an extra bonus post or two depending on how inept I am at the process.

-Jimbo

Tokyo Music Showcase: Taoyame Orquesta

Taoyame Orquesta [sic] is a big band. Seventeen people big. (Maybe more, I had trouble counting from the crowd, more on that later.) Also Big Band in the music sense. An all female troupe, I went to see them because one of my students is a member. Personally, I thought the show was great. Powerful energy and soulful singing with even a bit of comedy thrown in to the mix. I wish I had more footage of the band but the venue doesn’t allow cameras or photos or fun.

Well maybe not the last one, but the dude running the swag table was a little more gruff telling me to stop than he needed to be. Kind of killed the mood.

Which leads me into the worst part, the venue. In a word, sucked. In a few more words, to be fair it only was terrible because of massive overcrowding. See, my student’s band was part of a two band set. The other being Gentle Forest Jazz Band. It would seem the leader of this band is also a bit of a TV star so lots of people came out to see them. The club is a small place called “Loop” in Daikanyama. The set up is one large empty space in front of the stage and two narrow staircases along the sides leading to the bar and bathroom area. Problem is the walls along these hallways are low. So people can stand next to them and watch the show. They are only about a person-width wide to begin with. Cue subway level congestion when trying to get anywhere in the place.

It didn’t help that pretty much half the fan base that showed up were tall hipster dudes in hats. So seeing the stage from my place in the back was tough. Next to the swag table taking up a tenth of the available space.

Long story short, venue fail. I left after my student’s band finished their set, which was excellent. Some of the songs felt straight out of a Bond movie or a 60s gangster hot spot. Very cool and I will certainly try and catch another show. Just hopefully in a place that doesn’t make me want to chew my foot off to escape.

I really need a better camera.

1/30

Tokyo Live Showcase: Disco Inferno

It was hot for October. That annoying level of heat where you felt a bit too cold in a T-shirt but too hot in a jacket. If you wore jeans like I did then you might get the trickle of sweat down the back of your knee if you did any amount of walking but you’d begin to shiver if you stood still. A fucked up paradox of a weather pattern.

By the time I’d stepped through the doors of the “What The Dickens” bar in Ebisu, I’d been through a marathon private lesson schedule, coffee and indian curry dinner with an excellent friend of mine, and a few beers in between. I was bone tired and arriving at a time I figured would qualify as “fashionably late”. However, the bar was only about half full, though as spacious as it is there were still a large number of people. I purchased my first drink of many and found one of my friends connected to the band. They had been asked by the management to push the show back an hour so the late arrivers like me could fill in.

It was a good idea. By 9pm the place was packed. Squeezing through the crowd was an exercise in subtle mind control. In America it might be proper just to push through and make space no matter how many sharp elbows need to be thrown. This is also a good way to get into a bar fight. In Tokyo a more subtle slithering is required. Be sure to smile and throw out a “How ya doin?” if personal space gets a little too tight.

Eventually the band took to the stage. Disco Inferno. Not the song, that’s the band name. An interesting mix of incredibly talented musicians with names like, Buddy Love, Magic Man, and Princess Giggles. They each swear to me, under the giant afros that they have to a man (or woman in P. Giggles’ case), those are their real names. After several beers I choose to believe them.

Disco Inferno plays three sets. This is not the most common configuration that I’ve seen in my limited experience. Perhaps the alcohol and experience of being there in the moment lead me to see other things, but the show seems to be almost literary in nature. By that I mean the three sets follow a loose three act structure. Introduction, build up and rising action, climax and downward resolution. End each break with a cliffhanger.

Whatever it is it makes for a hell of a show. I don’t even like disco music really, but I enjoy everything that comes out of this band. The energy is ecstatic. If anyone at said show reads this, I must apologize for disappearing in the third set. The heat generated by all of those rabid fans crushed my already weakened constitution for the day and drove me to seek some semblance of solitude.

Trust me though, it was kick ass. Pictures and video to follow. Sorry about the shit quality as my camera is rather weak-sauce. And with the video I was more concerned with rocking out in the crowd than taking a proper video.

Tokyo Live Showcase: Blue Line

I’m not much of a music critic. I also only go to concerts if I know someone in the band. Fortunately I seem to have acquired a number of musical friendships over the last few months. So last night I went to check out a new band by some of my friends called “Blue Line”. They’re a triple vocalist set-up with a more traditional Jazz band in back. Right now they sing mostly early to mid 90s R&B/Hip Hop songs. Makes for a very interesting idea.

I really like the venue as well. A smallish bar out in Higashi-Kanagawa (or Tanmachi depending on where you’re coming from) that always has some local band playing a good gig. The owner is even in another band by a friend of mine. I’ll have to make a post about them next time I go to one of their shows. Of course concerts are a bit damaging to the old wallet. Not because the cover is outrageous or anything but bar price beers can add up. I dropped about 5000 yen last night. That’s why I only go to bands featuring people I know. Even if I don’t like the band (hasn’t happened yet by the way) I’m still supporting my friends.

The show was good. A nice mix of songs and I liked the four-piece band way they did the music. As a layman when it comes to music this style doesn’t bring to mind the image of guitars and drums, so I felt it was a fresh take. I will say, even though I know (hope) that some of the people in the band will be reading this, the energy level was lower than I expected. I chalk that up to being the first time the group performed together live and that one of the vocalists was sicker than a dog in a Canine Sickness competition. One of the songs was completely unrehearsed because of said illness but the owner of the bar jumped in to provided some pretty great back up. I liked that a lot and it showed how good the group was musically that they could do something off the cuff like that. But that’s the nature of Jazz.

So if you’re in the Tokyo area check them out. Though if you’re in Tokyo and reading this blog the chance you already know these guys is pretty good. So come out next time!

Gallery and video to follow, comments are more than welcome.

Tokyo Live Showcase: Blue Line

I’m not much of a music critic. I also only go to concerts if I know someone in the band. Fortunately I seem to have acquired a number of musical friendships over the last few months. So last night I went to check out a new band by some of my friends called “Blue Line”. They’re a triple vocalist set-up with a more traditional Jazz band in back. Right now they sing mostly early to mid 90s R&B/Hip Hop songs. Makes for a very interesting idea.

I really like the venue as well. A smallish bar out in Higashi-Kanagawa (or Tanmachi depending on where you’re coming from) that always has some local band playing a good gig. The owner is even in another band by a friend of mine. I’ll have to make a post about them next time I go to one of their shows. Of course concerts are a bit damaging to the old wallet. Not because the cover is outrageous or anything but bar price beers can add up. I dropped about 5000 yen last night. That’s why I only go to bands featuring people I know. Even if I don’t like the band (hasn’t happened yet by the way) I’m still supporting my friends.

The show was good. A nice mix of songs and I liked the four-piece band way they did the music. As a layman when it comes to music this style doesn’t bring to mind the image of guitars and drums, so I felt it was a fresh take. I will say, even though I know (hope) that some of the people in the band will be reading this, the energy level was lower than I expected. I chalk that up to being the first time the group performed together live and that one of the vocalists was sicker than a dog in a Canine Sickness competition. One of the songs was completely unrehearsed because of said illness but the owner of the bar jumped in to provided some pretty great back up. I liked that a lot and it showed how good the group was musically that they could do something off the cuff like that. But that’s the nature of Jazz.

So if you’re in the Tokyo area check them out. Though if you’re in Tokyo and reading this blog the chance you already know these guys is pretty good. So come out next time!

Gallery and video to follow, comments are more than welcome.

Tokyo music scene

Just some friends and the odd stranger or two doing what brings them joy in this world. Hope they don’t mind me posting this up here.

Sorry it’s mostly crappy iphone footage. The content is great, the medium not so much. I tried to spice it up a bit in the old iMovie thing that I just discovered.