In Which My Greatest Fear Becomes A Reality, And It’s Kinda Cool

May 22, 2010

I’ve made peace with the fact a lot of people in Japan stare at me and tend to notice me more. They should…I stick out pathetically, I’d stare at a huckleberry like me too if I could. Still, even being OK with this, I still have a few fears about standing out which I pray never ever become realities. Most of them involve speaking in public using Japanese. Yet one nightmare scenario managed to come to fruition recently…and it wasn’t that bad. I think.

Since I’m one of the millions of people running a music blog in the world, I go to a lot of concerts as “reporting.” Since I write about Japanese music, I naturally go to shows featuring Japanese artists. This usually means I end up being the only foreigner in the venue, an often tiny concert hall because I’d never actually see someone who is popular. I REALLY stick out in these situations. My big fear (because I’m a self-centered kinda guy) is that one day, a member of the band playing that night will notice me and decide to point it out to the audience or worse try to interact with me somehow. The closest this has ever come, in any country, was at an Art Brut show where lead singer Eddie Argos grabbed my hair and sort of held it for three seconds. I try to make this near-impossible situation more enticing by imagining the band inviting me on stage, followed by them asking me to sing a song in English, preferably “Private Eyes,” and I absolutely kill it. Following this miracle, I become a staple of the band and I finally get to live the unknown rock star dream I’ve always craved.

Thankfully, this never happens. I’m rightfully ignored. Until…DUN DUN DUN…today. I went to a music festival in Nara. Great time, some very good acts and one of the venues was in a hotel so it felt like a self-help convention. Anyway, one of the bands that played…name is all in Japanese, sorry…had a very crowd-interaction-heavy set. For the musically inclined, they were kinda like The Mae Shi meet a less labored Of Montreal stage show. For everyone else, they played kinda punky rock and mostly just went wild with the crowd, making everyone dance in a circle and hula hoop all while dressed real crazy like.

Early on, the lead singer of this band noticed me. While dressed as a giraffe (I didn’t get it either), he sorta looked at me and his giraffe head constructed out of cardboard nearly fell onto me. I dodged it. Later on, lead singer now stripped down to a gym singlet (I didn’t get any of it), led the crowd in various fist pumps and other gestures. He noticed I wasn’t doing it, and pointed at me to do them. I obliged. Fair enough.

Then he made his final costume change. He next came out dressed up as Elmo and proceeded to sing from the middle of the floor, everyone making a circle around him. He points at me. He then sorta comes towards me and pulls me into the center of the circle. I am now surrounded by all the other concert-goers, with a man dressed as a kids TV show character staring at me. Eeeeep.

He puts the microphone in front of my mouth. I guess I need to say something. I say “hello” in my fallback way meant to make people think “look at him, he’s pretending to be awkward that’s funny” when in fact I’m just honestly awkward and praying nobody notices. A nice greeting isn’t satisfactory though, as the singer makes an unidentifiable sound, most likely something in Japanese. He then thrusts the microphone back in my face. I stare at him confused. He shouts the gibberish/foreign language again. Mic back to me – I sorta make an “uhhhhhh” sound. Back to him, another shout. Back to me – I’ve decided at this point just to imitate him hoping this is a repeat-after-me drill. So I scream. He screams. I screams. He screams. I scream. This goes on a few more times. This finally ends. He moves away from me. I get the hell out of that circle. Show goes on, no more incidents.

So yeah…it was strange. Kinda cool in a “everyone look at me” sorta way. But still…strange. I got to shout into a microphone though, that was pretty sweet!

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