Three Venues – Club Sensation, Zher the Zoo and Show Boat
I want however to take a moment and talk about three Venues in Tokyo/ Yokohama,
because a lot of the total experience stems from the layout and environment like
light- and sound engineering.
I think this especially called for after being at “live places” that represent the extreme
ends of the quality scale during this past week end.
Not in size or audience really, oh well to some degree maybe,
but for the general experience.
Friday I was in Yokohama at The Club Sensation
You can read about their history here:
This place is by far my favorite small place venue in the greater metropolitan
Tokyo area (Located in Hinodecho, Yokohama within walking distance from Sakuragicho).
I admit it I have not been to more than a teeny tiny faction of places in the greater
Tokyo area….. yet, but regardless it is my favorite spot.
Because the interior design is awesome, the staff super nice and Michiaki himself
shows great hospitality.
To make it even better:…. the sound quality is top notch!
I have seen different artists here such as
Ra:IN, Kyoji Yamamoto and CUTT.
All world class performers!!
It has that cozy, intimate feeling, where you want to sit and hang with your friends,
and listen to really good music over a few drinks and bar food.
This is a place I will definitely come back to again and again every time I’m in Japan.
Saturday i was at Zher the Zoo, Yoyogi as you can see below here on the blog.
This is more your typical live house. A dark smokey place where you can’t really see
who is in the room, besides the person next to you.
BUT this is one of my favorites in this particular category. The stage is just the
right size for musicians to move around a little, yet it is that tight feeling that you
want from a venue of this kind.
They have tables spread out, and the bar is close yet not in the middle of where people
need to pass. Lighting on stage has been a tad annoying for me when shooting videos
for example too straight out set, but not really much worse than the majority of the
other live houses in Tokyo.
Tables for artist promotions and merch is in the rear of the floor, meaning people who
are looking and buying or chatting is not blocking any pass ways either.
Photo above is me with Crazy Cool Joe (Bassist: Dead End)
at Zher the Zoo Saturday Jan 28th, 2012|
Last then, which I haven’t really blogged about yet, is Show Boat
I’m jumping ahead here since I haven’t posted anything about the Sunday Jan 29th
Live with Circuit9 YET….,
but I just wanted to use it as an example here of the other end of Live houses,
a place I did not like.. I mean I like the place, but from an audience point of
view it is horrible.
My negative feelings are probably also due to that such a good band as Circuit9
is doing a “one man show”, should have a place big enough for people to come see them without feeling like you are on a packed Tokyo Subway line during peak hours.
I’m casting no shadow at their performance, which I will write about in the next few days.
They are just worthy a better place IMO! Why on earth are they playing here
(edited 2018 Note .. years later I learned a lot about the social structures and dynamics in
Japan and that some places have greater influences and are more prestigious than others.
Tricky part is that you can’t tell from the looks of it or the quality of it. It’s all about who is who
on another dimension than quality)
Now if that is the case it would also be better if such a packed place at least
was designed to handle it.
– The bar is set in the back with very narrow ‘funnels’ to get to it,
– The floor area is smaller than the stage, or so it felt…
– The stage is deep and the sound amplification is on both sides really close and somehow… and yes I am definitely not a sound engineer here and talking from limited experience….
but it felt like I either could listen to them or see them. Somehow it felt like it came out
of synch because of the weird layout of the stage. Like the sound jumped around.
Luckily the drummer, in this case awesome Sakura, was set up a little higher on some
kind of platform, but he was still so far back (together with keyboardist) that they felt
like they were in another room behind the other three (the bassist, vocalist and guitarist).
Then to top it off, since this was a one-man (ワンマン – what they call a gig with only
one band performing, which is rare in Tokyo) , there are no breaks in the set-list (like
you do when there are other bands performing), so you could only visit the bar before
or after the gig. Which is what everyone did!
With all that many people in the poorly designed space it was like a grid-lock in Manhattan
at peak hour….
Their gig wasn’t that long (if you compare it to a gig when you see 5-6 bands in a row)
and the looooong time waiting in line…and then taking the glass with me to continue to
chat with a nice Japanese fellow… staff came after about 5 minutes and said they
are closing and we had to leave, and no she did not do this nicely, but was rather rude.
Maybe if a favorite band of me came here I would still consider going, but better yet,
I will tell all my favorite bands not to play here ha ha ha
Maybe they even read this blog… who knows? and maybe I have misunderstood
something? ( I had as you could see in the edit above and I will write about that later in
a book I am now writing 2018).
Important addition / edit!
After a few comments I feel it necessary to add a few lines here.
Regarding the last review, I have received a few saddened comments from Japanese readers. This is an interesting culture difference in action here, and I want to make sure
that everyone get this right, and that no one misunderstands what I write.
This review was about the places, more specifically with a bias about physical lay-out
and audio/visual ability and quality of a venue.
I have not yet written any blog about circuit9, but will do so in the next couple of days.
They are skilled performers and as you can see from the little I do mention above,
I liked what they did and Sakura is for example a world class drummer.
Not every venue is really good, and not every venue is the same, saying this out loud,
and especially stating that you do not like something, is something I have noticed
Japanese people rather not read or see or do… it is a cultural difference for sure.
Dear Japanese readers my sincere apologies to you. I’m honest here, when I
tell you that I am sorry . Unfortunately the internet is international, and here all kinds
of behavior and writings occur. If I instead kept quiet, and avoided writing anything negative,
then I would probably hear from American readers that hey why didn’t you tell me you
didn’t like it.
So no matter how I do this people will comment back to me and being unhappy!
For example in the US, my experience is that people rather say:
“I like this, but I don’t like that!”
So if we all try to accept different ways, it is of course the best.
However this is difficult and we often act out of habit!
This means that I have a habit of writing, “I don’t like this!”, instead of keeping quiet.
A Japanese person, on the contrary, has the habit of staying quiet, instead of telling the world, “I don’t like this!”.
This does not mean our feelings really differ, or that some people are better than others,
all it means is that we have different habits and behaviors. Different ways of telling the
world how we feel. Also Westerners tend to have a bias towards verbalizing feelings,
where often Japanese tend to show in actions or body language how they feel.
As long as we understand this and have a forgiving and apologetic attitude,
we will be fine and remain in peace.
Thank you All, and I hope I haven’t hurt anyone with my blog.
It has never been my intention!
If you have comments about this please do not hesitate to send me an email: