Tourist: New York bands go on tour. They keep a diary. We publish it.
Au Revoir Simone spent two weeks in Japan in December. Playing shows, eating macrobiotic meals, hoping the deejay would play Peter Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folks’ and much much more. Read all about it (and see lots of pictures) below. And on January 11th, catch Au Revoir Simone at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square (for their Upstairs at the Square events series). Joining them in the lineup will be none other than David Lynch (seriously!).
Listen: Through the Backyards.mp3
watashi tachi wa “au revoir simone” desu.
this is our japan tour blog.
day one: New York to Tokyo
vocab du jour: “ohisashiburi!” long time no see!
Our fourteen hour flight was made much more bearable by the compassionate attendants who permitted us to each take up three seats due to our nearly empty plane. Heather watched an entire season of Malcolm in the Middle on her ipod, Annie knit two baby hats, and Erika watched the same movie three times and still found the time to teach Pilates to the back half of the plane. When we arrived at Narita Airport, Fumi, the owner of Rallye (our Japanese label), picked us up and took us to a hotel that was to become our home for the next few days. In our room were three little beds, three little robes, and three little slippers, like something straight out of Goldilocks. After we unpacked, we met Fumi in the lobby and he took us to a restaurant for dinner where he surprised us with a multi-course vegetarian meal. Somewhere between course five and six Annie’s head came crashing down to the table from sleep deprivation, despite the jumping jacks she did in the bathroom to wake up. Fumi then realized that Erika and Heather were also eating with their eyes closed, and consequently called off all additional courses. We were very happy to finally go to bed.
day two: Tokyo
vocab du jour: “oyasumi!” good night!
After a very restful sleep, we had lunch with Fumi and his dear friend Kozuko, a tall skinny beauty who, among many other talents, can make the best French macaroons ever. We also went to Bonjour Records, where we did a little excited hopping dance around our cd display to ensure prosperity. We hadn’t seen our cds yet, and so were delighted to find a beautiful 2 disk digi pack, designed by our favorite designer Mark Graphic, with “Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation” on one side and a new cd of remixes on the other. We later met up with Gildas and Masaya from Kitsune, (who included us on one of their compilation cds last year) and David and Steph from Too Many DJs. They invited us to their DJ party at the night club Womb where we discovered lychee cocktails and danced beneath a crazy laser light show and explosions of confetti.
day three: Yokohama
vocab du jour: “okiku shidai kudasai!” louder please!
Our first show in Japan! We were still suffering from jetlag, (compounded by the late night out at Womb), but somehow pulled through. The party we played was called Reclash, and consisted of an all-girl garage rock band called The Susan who were fierce and fashionable, a band called Get*Involved fronted by a boy from Manchester. The cute girl DJ quickly won us over by playing Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks.” We played at 2 am to a crowd of hyper kids who made us forget how tired we were by their energetic dancing and cheering. Annie wore a tiger mask and a good time was had by all.
day four: Tokyo
vocab du jour: “maji saiko to suteki” super cool and nice!
Back to Tokyo. We split up, walked around roppungi, got massages, Erika: mori museum, Heather: ate exorbitant amounts of raw fish, Annie: went to a store and asked directions to ABC (a big English bookstore) only to discover that she was already there.
We had dinner with Mami from Rockin’ On magazine. She featured us in their December issue and she is maji saiko.
day five: Tokyo
vocab du jour: “kibodo!” keyboard!
Tonight was our Tokyo show. We played in a beautiful space on a quiet street. The building is traditional Japanese architecture designed by famous American architect, but we couldn't get a straight answer as to who… Our friend Miyauchi Yuri opened up for us playing guitar with lovely laptop loops. Today we realized two things, that we were finally over our jetlag and have subsequently forgotten English. We now speak only in succinct and primitive phrases, sometimes swapping subjects and verbs to form Yoda-like expressions such as “go to the place of show, we will? when?”
day six: Nagoya
vocab du jour: “mitsu kudasai!” three please!
Our dinner took a long time so we had to change into our Mina Perhonen (our clothing sponsor) outfits in the nearby karaoke, pachinko, arcade, bowling alley bathroom. We played Lullatone and another Rallye band One Day Diary. Were occupied by blowing bubbles and making friends out of balloons.
day seven: Osaka
vocab du jour: snake juice
Our show was sandwiched between 2 dj sets. the dance party before was reminiscent of middle school dances where boys gossip in small groupings, occasionally turning a shy eye in the direction of a pretty wall flower. but the dance party afterwards was awesome, mainly because the dj played peter bjorn and john's 'young folks' one time for us.
other highlights of the evening were our dressing room which was set up in the rafters and lit by candlelight, and our beautiful corsages, given to us by two bubbly girls we met in a coffee shop before the show. one of the strangest things we saw was a bottle of liquor that had a snake carcass decaying in it, sitting among the other normal bottles of liquor as though it were a viable beverage option. we asked fumi why anyone would drink it and he replied that it makes the drinker strong enough to make babies.
day eight: Osaka to Kobe
vocab du jour: “ikimasho!” let’s go!
We had a day off and Fumi had planned for sightseeing in Kyoto but it was raining so we spent the first of many days shopping. We went to the famous Tokyu Hands where we all participated in a demo of the newest wrinkle cure device, the T&T platinum face roller. Erika and Heather watched in fascinated horror as a perky Japanese man in an apron demonstrated how Annie’s face looked decidedly less chunky on the left side after having been pressed and rolled by this gadget which utilizes a system of lymph massage and negative ion technology. Fumi, whose kindness is only matched by his sense of humor, had gotten into the habit of tricking everyone from taxi drivers to elevator attendants into believing that they were in the presence of three famous American popstars. After imparting this information to the inventor of said face-roller, we were forced to give autographs and pose for pictures. Do we look different to you? We visited the amazing Christmas lights“illuminations” down the 5th avenue of Kobe with Marc Graphic and his lovely and talented fashion designer wife Chinatsu after another lovely macrobiotic dinner. Heather had a baby candy apple. We sang karaoke with lights dimmed and underwater wall projections all around.
day nine: Kobe
vocab du jour: “watashitachi wa shiawase!” we are happy!
We played at a sweet café/shop/design studio owned by a super cute couple with 2 daughters. Fumi told us to “hide” while the opening band played because people would be too surprised if they saw us before the show. We sat behind a wall. The best audience members at that show were two adorable little girls who clapped along the whole time and smiled.
day ten: Okayama
vocab du jour: sweet monster
Another day of shopping yields wooden castanets (we were all treated to Annie and Fumi’s impressive playing for nearly an hour as we walked through the streets), an assortment of precious tiny spoons (Heather plans on constructing one super spoon out of them), and a boy’s puffer coat from Gap Kids (that makes Erika look like a 1960s ski bunny). At the venue, we fell in love with a hans-to-the-max D.J. not only because he played Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” (1 time) for us, but also because his smart white topsider jazz shoes and skinny pants made him resemble an unlikely yet delightful cross between Houdini and Fred Astair. Heather requested that Fumi beat him up and steal his shoes, but Fumi would not comply, to her annoyance. But Fumi knows that she is easily pacified by sweets, and so he silenced her with a mochi confection named after a monster. The stage was too short for us, and especially for Erika, who hit her head on a light fixture mid-show during a particularly exuberant tambourine solo, and broke it. It was as punk rock a moment as Au Revoir Simone gets.
day eleven: Kyoto
vocab du jour: “Eigoga wakarimaska?” do you understand English?
We returned to the magic land of Geisha. Fumi told us that the Samorai do not, in fact, fall in love with Geisha, which shattered all of our romantic delusions. But Kyoto still did not lose its charm. We stayed at the enchanting Chatelet Hotel. The lobby featured Rococo couches, ornately patterned carpets, and two computers, one of which was broken. We noticed that the elevator had an unpleasant, funky odor, and after Fumi asked the concierge to explain the origin of the strange smell, we learned through of series of wild gestures that a patron of the Ryoken had vomited in it the previous evening.
Today’s vocab word comes from a conversation between Annie and a guy at the venue. She asked him if he understood English, to which he replied “Iie, Wakarimasen. (No, I don't understand) I’m from Connecticut.” Confusing, indeed.
After the show we went back to the Ryoken and slept soundly on our tatami mats.
day twelve: Kanazawa
vocab du jour: “sugoi!” wonderful!
We played our final show with Lullatone and Yuri again, which felt like a family reunion. Fumi dj’d and played Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” 2 times for us! The dance party before our show was, yet again, like a 7th grade dance. We got the kids to commingle by initiating a game of balloon volleyball which lasted nearly an hour. Great fun when facing a language barrier. Fumi had booked 6 hours of karaoke after the show. I think we only lasted for 3, but a great 3 they were.
day thirteen: Kanazawa vocab du jour: “Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago” tongue twister: fresh tea, fresh (?) and fresh egg
We went to the sea of Japan today where we saw mounds of jellyfish-like blubbery goo washed ashore beside colourful trash from china. Heather found a shell but suspected that it was made of plastic. We taught Fumi some English tongue twisters, and he taught us some Japanese ones.
We visited Fumi’s store, the Rallye Shop, which sells cds and kawaii zakka (bonus vocab word: “cute knick knacks!”) We went Christmas-present crazy, stocking up on sparkly brooches, stationary, tissue holders, and hair pins. In the evening we went to the Heaven Baths, a public bathhouse where we bathed in a tub of Sake under the stars, which will now be forever on our rider.
day fourteen: Kanazawa
vocab du jour: “oishii desu!” it’s delicious!
We decided to treat Fumi and his family to an American-style dinner, which proved to be difficult in a kitchen better equipped for cooking Japanese food. Heather tried in vain to fashion four different salad spinners out of colanders and dishcloths, while Erika tried to bake a pumpkin in something that she imagined was an oven, but was apparently not. Annie’s overcooked pasta, however, was not due to any cultural obstacles. Despite these minor setbacks, dinner was oishii desu. Before bed, we went to another bathhouse called the bath of Lemons. The water was naturally black and luminous. We soaked and mentally prepared ourselves to return home.
day fifteen: Kanazawa to Tokyo to New York
vocab du jour: “mata ne!” see you soon!
Homeward bound, we were en route for 24 hours door to door. Fumi promised to bring us back again soon.
If you are in a touring New York band and would like to submit a tour diary to us, please email jencarlson (a) gothamist dot com.