Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chicks Can Rock - Part II

As I've mentioned before, DJ MeiMei is one of the bartenders at the Ruby Room. Her real name is Akko. She's about 26 yet looks 20, DJ's at local clubs, and even has her own rock band, Deaf.

Her English is fluent minus a little accent so last Tuesday I asked her in Japanese why she is able to speak English. 
She replied, "I went to high school in Syracuse, New York." 
It's a good thing that I didn't eat much that day, because I practically shat myself.

It turns out Akko was an exchange student at South Jefferson High School up north near Watertown, graduating in 2000, just 3 years ahead of me. She told me about how hard it was to be a Japanese foreigner in Upstate New York. She experienced all kinds of xenophobia from her classmates and was even told at the NYS Fair that the event was for New Yorkers and not foreigners. I apologized and told her that the people who were giving her a hard time were so ignorant they probably didn't even know the difference between Japan and China. I also remarked how when I was in Hokkaido, young girls would point at me and scream "Gaijin! Gaijin!" She said she understood the feeling well.
Then we started talking about the redeeming features of Syracuse; The Dinosaur BBQ, The Soundgarden, etc. I think she was glad to meet someone who empathized with her history, and to tell the truth I was happy too, considering that most Japanese don't even know that New York is a expansive state and not just one city.

Before I took the stage for my set, Akko put me on the guest list for her band's next show later in the week.

Gotta love the 'Don't Kiss Me' shirt.

Deaf is great. They are like a cross between noise rock and grunge, utilizing echo-delay vocals, searing electric guitar, and minor-mode melodies. It was also the first show I've seen in town that wasn't at earsplitting volume. And speaking of chicks who rock, the bass player definitely had her own sound going for her.

It's hard not to judge a band by their crowd. The Ruby Room was as full as I've ever seen it with people packed right up to the stage. Deaf definitely has their own dedicated local fanbase. After their set, the crowd begged them for another song.

I like to humor the possibility that I ran into Akko 9 years ago at some record store in Syracuse. We did go to the same shop after all.

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