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March 8, 2012 / chrissy

Chicago in Japan

I am originally from a suburb of Chicago.  I went to Shimokitazawa (Tokyo) to see one of my favorite Chicago musicians, Mike Kinsella, perform as Owen last weekend.  This was my first time seeing a foreign artist in Japan.  It turned out that the day before that was Chicago’s 175th birthday and also Mike Kinsella’s 35th birthday.  Neat!

I was wondering what it would be like to see an English-speaking performer with a Japanese audience.  It was interesting.  He kept making jokes that he knew they wouldn’t get, basically talking to himself, as they stood there quietly admiring him.  They could understand simple things, like when he said it was his birthday.  But most of it went over their heads.

He was drunk during his show and mentioned how it was a bad show at the end of it.  After everyone demanded an encore, he came out with a guy from another band, and they played a Dinosaur Jr. cover and another song I didn’t recognize.  Even though he made some mistakes, his voice was very clear and beautiful.

I spoke to him for a little while after the show.  As one of three foreigners, I was one of the few people there who spoke English well enough to do so.  He seemed really drunk and talked about how it’s hard to be foreign in Japan because you always feel separate emotionally from everyone else, even if you have friends here.  He was this mix of down-to-earth (“What do you guys do here?  Teach English?  Do you like it?  It’s hard, right?”) and snarky (“You want a picture with me?  Yeah, I was thinking that I really wanted a picture with you guys”).

I got to practice my Japanese because the friend I went with doesn’t speak much English.  I’m really bad at Japanese still, but I can have a simple conversation (“Do you like chocolate?” “Yes!  I eat chocolate every day!”).  We nerded out about getting to meet Mike Kinsella and how beautiful his voice was, etc.  My friend was really patient with my bad Japanese and really interested in American rock music.  It was so cool.

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