Friday, November 24, 2006
rock is dead. long live rock.
My future dream of becoming a rock star is a future dream no more. Yesterday I performed in a "live" here in town, as a member of the Blue Mountain Big Band. The joke being that the "big band" only has two members.
On vocals: yours truly.
On guitar: "Boss" Kagomi.
We started practicing about a month ago and got together maybe 5 times to rehearse. Boss is an incredible guitarist, and has been playing for 30 years. My skills? Well, I speak English.
At our first meeting, we chose a name and a batch of songs to sing. We whittled those down to five songs that we would perform in our 15 minute set.
I Will/ I've Just Seen a Face -- The Beatles
Complicated -- Avril Levigne
Sunshine of your Love -- Cream
Born to Love You -- Queen
It was tough figuring out what to play. Not just because of language barriers, but becuase of the challenges of picking songs that we both liked and that the audience would enjoy. For the most part, mainstream Japanese audiences like terrible music. The number one request from people that I get at karaoke is to sing something by the Carpenters. A request that is generally vetoed. I think I gave in one time in the interests of team building with a new JTE. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices. Which explains the Avril. Sorry 妹. Sometimes you just have to play to the crowd. However, both Boss and I are into the classic rock, so we got to play Cream. I was told that I could build my lounge singer act around that one.
The show itself?
Well, Thursday morning I hauled myself out of bed and went to sound check/ rehearsal. Conveniently, it was a day off work. I would have liked to sleep in, but I also got to listen to some of the other bands play. I was amazingly nervous. Singing at sound check was really not so much fun. All of my friends from town were there, making me even more nervous. I went home for some lunch, and to get all rock starred-up (aka put on makeup).
The concert started really early. By 3:00 people were starting to arrive, and the show started proptly at 3:30. I wasn't on until after the break, so I went out and watched the show with the ALT from a nearby town who came to see the show. I was much less nervous watching everybody else, but I also had some help from my good friend J. Daniels. Hey -- I was getting into the rockstar mood.
Boss and I had a quick run-through in the dressing room during intermission. All the other bands were standing around listening, tuning up, chilling out, doing whatever. It was the best relaxer ever. The other bands were really cool, and it was a good warm up too.
On stage, I was still nervous, but once I started going it was fine. I only forgot a few of the words... And how to speak Japanese. I was supposed to talk between songs for our band, but I completely forgot any Japanese I knew.
The rest of the show was really good. Lots of pop acts, a group of High School students, some heavy metal, a solo acoustic guitar, and a last minute replacement that consisted of three of the local kindergarten teachers. One of the other bands backed out at the last minute, so they stepped up and sang a few songs. There are a lot of very talented musicians around here. The worst act of the show was sadly the last act -- some woman from Sapporo who runs the charity that the concert was for. She played the longest, and probably the worst set of the evening. The highlight? Well, other than her butchering of Billy Joel, it was probably when the guy behind us started snoring. I was sitting with my friend Aiko, and we were both shaking with laughter, trying desprately not to embarrass ourselves further by actually laughing out loud.
After the show, there was of course an enkai. Somewhere in the vicinity of 50 people packed into one of the restaurants in town to celebrate a good concert. I was complimented on my skill with English pronounciation, and everyone had a good time. Unfortunately, maybe because I had brought another foreigner along with me, I was seated at the "important people" table, where I had to be nice to the woman who's set I had tried not to laugh through. Thankfully, she left early. I met up with my friends from the "fun table" later in the evening, where we continued singing late into the night. Too bad I had to be at work the next morning...
Next year? Boss promises that there will be more bands, and that maybe the concert will be held over the summer. If I'm still here, I'd love to do it over again.