ANTICON, DJ SPOOKY, DJ KRUSH, DJ DISK, SHING02 - Liquid Room, Shinjuku - Tokyo
Dai from Trieight, his friend Nick from London, and myself arrived in Shinjuku around 1 am. The show was taking place at a well-known Tokyo club called Liquid Room. After taking the elevator up for seven floors and going through a small line, my jaw dropped for the first time that night. That is when I saw the size of the place. I`m so used to the indy scene in the US, that I had totally forgotten venues this huge even existed. But more than the size of the venue, it was the fact that it was packed to full capacity that really blew my mind. I mean, take this show to any major American city and you won`t fill a place half the size of Liquid Room. So it was crazy packed, it felt like the damn Up in Smoke Tour, or as Dai would put it "Shibuya station during rush hour". And that`s how things looked when I stepped in the arena with my "it`s on" attitude.
I spent the first hour and something going back and forth in the bar section of the club, checking out kawaii girls and adding a couple of jintoniku (or gin and tonic for the Japanese impaired) to the sake I had drunk earlier that night, in the company of my girlfriend and her lovely friends. I was kind of high on the fact that I had just moved to Tokyo, an old dream of mine, so it felt great just vibing to the cool atmosphere. While levitating (sort of) from one corner to the other, I noticed a few interesting things. Firstly, Japanese heads love their indy ish. I mean, they seemed real dedicated. Almost all of them were wearing their favorite groups` or labels` t-shirts, whether Def Jux, Anticon, Living Legends, Brick or JKC. Secondly, girls were killing it. You could only bow down to their fashion sense (or obsession in some case), sexy haircuts, and nice manners (no I`m not talking about Shibuya gals here, more like Aoyama chic cuties). No disrespect to girls I saw at indy shows in the US, France or Switzerland, but I wish Liquid Room girls weren`t confined to Tokyo. Well, according to a good friend of mine, Finland is the same. Speaking of girls, the second jaw dropping moment of the night came when I saw some cuties take off their shirts so Sole could sign them. I think I even saw him sign some girl`s stomach but I`m wondering whether this was real or a hallucination, which abuse of rice alcohol often leads to. Ironically, Sole also signed some kid`s Def Jux t-shirt. Anyway, let`s get back to the show itself...
While contemplating the interesting crowd and chatting with the good people from We Nod (super dope record store in Ebisu), I missed Dj Disk`s set as well as most of the Dj Krush and friends set (I had already missed the Shing02 set, which took place before I even got to Liquid Room). Still, I managed to get a glimpse of the Krush set, which was pretty cool but a bit too mellow for me. The place being way too crowded, I went back to my wanderings in the bar section. Luckily, I bumped into Dai (I had lost him at some point), who took me to that dope v.i.p. corner with a perfect view on the front stage, minus the sweating crowd. Can you say fresh? Spooky came right at this moment and got busy with his ecclectic mix. Weird electro stuff, drum n` bass remixes of PE classics, reggae, straight hiphop ish, turntable wizardry, that subliminal kid took me by surprise with a fat ass set. The crowd was hype and graf artists seemed inspired by Spooky`s selection. Oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention that there was a little area reserved for graf artists to express their feelings with the good old fat cap. This is often the case at hiphop shows in Japan. With energy at its peak, the crowd was finally ready to welcome the headliners: the infamous Anticon crew.
I think it was around 3.30 am when the Anticon army (better yet the Navy) stepped on stage for its Japan debut in front of a a very excited crowd. To rep the controversial label/crew, six men had flown from the US. Namely, live poet Sole, big dude Alias, weird ass Dose One, greenthinker Why?, former Atak message board legend Pedestrian (who here remembers the entertaining Pedestrian vs. Busdriver posts on the forum of westcoast underground kingpin P-Minus?), and SP killer Jel (whose new album, "10 Seconds", was released in Japan by Trieight). Their set started with Sole going at it with his solo cuts. He gave 100% for an incredibly intense performance which pleased his numerous fans. Now, let`s be honest, I wasn`t much into it. Not quite my cup of tea some would say, but at the same time I couldn`t help but feel happy for both Sole and the crowd. Indeed, Sole put his heart into it and the fans gave love in return. And that`s a beautiful thing. I need also to mention that Why? and Dose were doing the backs in typical Greenthink fashion, with weird chants and psychadelic stylings. That was a definite plus. Alias came up next and did his thing with a little less intensity than Sole, which somehow made it easier for my sake-infested brain to digest. Things got a little confusing at some point, when beats went crazy with excessive drum patterns. Anyhow, Pedestrian soon followed with some rather funny stuff. He kind of reminded me of Paul Barman (Pedestrian fans, please, don`t get offended). I took a break, discussing French hiphop and the Parisian scene with Nick, and then got to check Dose and Why? perform. I could hardly describe their presentation, but Duran Duran on acid, or Bizzy Bone meets Led Zeppelin come to mind. Whatever that means. It was the most enjoyable part of the show for me. They even did "It`s Them", which was one of the only songs that sounded familiar to me that night (which make sense since the Them album is the last Anticon album I have actually listened to). If I`m not mistaken, they did some more cuts with the whole crew to conclude the set, but I was pretty much in a coma by that time. I should certainly not forget to mention Jel, who held it down on the MPC with an astonishing precision.
So that was it. As a whole, the Anticon`s crew first performance in Japan was a success, and a deserved one too, seeing the love they put into it. And while I`m not, myself, a huge fan of their work, I found it always great to see independent artists be able to travel around the world and share their music with the fans. Not to mention, it was hard not to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Anyway, once we got out of the club, Dai gave me a ride home (thanx) and I felt asleep with the quickness as soon as I hit my Shinanomachi apartment. I`m not Oshea Jackson, but let me tell you: it was a good day. Or night for that matter.