Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kayo (or: "Chicks Can Rock - Part III")

When I first met Kayo, being the small Japanese girl that she is, I assumed she didn't know English. I was quick to learn that not only is she a fluent speaker, but she makes a living as a translator. We have since become friends and she has done a lot to open up the world of Tokyo for me. Just read the last few posts to see how.

So it turns out Kayo had another surprise up her sleeve waiting for me to find out. She plays bass. She doesn't just play bass, she is good at bass. And she's not just good at bass, she is awesome. The worst part is I think she told me a few weeks ago that she plays a little. Being the sexist asshole that I am, the thought that she might be really good didn't cross my mind, just like when I met her, the thought that she might know English didn't even cross my mind. This is what I get for growing up in a country full of American male chauvinists.

Kayo came to the Ruby Room with her boyfriend Toshi, her friends Miyuki and Saki (see the picture I posted earlier this week), and Toshi's drummer Shin from Sunset Drive. They signed up for a slot later in the night and asked me if I would play a little guitar with the group. My guitar, エクスカリバー (Excalibur), was practically begging me to plug her in.

Kayo then pulled out a Danelectro bass. The body is shaped with two devil's horns and has a sparkly finish straight out of the fifties. Toshi of course brought his 1973 Gibson Flying V. He told me before his set that he liked the way I described his guitar in my last post. "The sound is like painting the Mona Lisa with mud. Still beautiful, but simply a dirty mess."

We all plugged in and opened with Hendrix's Foxy Lady. I took the mic, feeling the sweat drip from my forehead as I belted the lyrics, "Seen you, running down on the scene. You make me wanna get up and screeeam...Foxy Lady!!" We then slid into Weezer's Say It Ain't So. They were two songs I knew well. We closed with a messy rendition of Cream's Sunshine of Your Love. I was only familiar with the song and was learning the changes on the spot. Fortunately, every time I got lost, all I had to do was to look over at Kayo, who was hammering down the bassline like it was her business.

Toshi returned to the stage a half hour later and shredded his way through innumerable rock songs. I think he absorbed the generational vibes from his guitar since he plays like a 1970's hard rock guitarist. I'm thinking AC/DC and Thin Lizzy. I joined him a few times playing the openings of a few Led Zeppelin tunes who's entirety I wasn't familiar with. Sure enough, Kayo was there nailing the tunes one by one, with fingers like a champ. Toshi even let me jam out on his priceless guitar. What could be more appropriate than Johnny B. Goode? I have to say, the Japanese in the audience went ape-shit when I slid into those first notes, a sound my guitar teacher used to describe as a train whistle.

Even with no prior rehearsal, it felt like we were a real rock band. Or maybe it was just because at that hour the crowd was mostly our friends... or they were just really drunk. Either way, it felt pretty awesome and I certainly had a talented ensemble with me, Kayo, Toshi, and Shin.

Unfortunately, just as things were starting to get hot, I took a peek at my watch and realized that the last train from Shibuya was less than 10 minutes away. I grabbed my things and ran to the station.

Somewhat unfortunate I say. Two hours ago I was hanging with Japanese rock stars. Now, I'm alone in my apartment typing in my blog and watching awful Japanese TV.

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