Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"A Hard Evening in the Plaza"

On Monday I stopped by Shinjuku to see if any bands were playing and found the band Ondo playing in the plaza by the Southeast Exit (correct name? I think it's "Tonan" in Japanese). As they finished playing one song, an unfriendly looking cleaning man came up and seemed to be telling them they shouldn't be playing in the plaza, which they smiled off and then began playing another song as he walked off.

As I dug my hands into my pockets, I thought "It's getting cold to be playing outside..." and was just getting into the song when the bass player hurriedly put down his instrument and dashed off down the street. I looked back at the other two members of the band, who kept playing. Looking back down the street to see where the bass player had gone, I saw him talking with a policeman by what looked like the band's van - probably getting a parking ticket.

I looked back to the two band members still playing and pondered the band's difficulties - the time and trouble of setting up their equipment for a performance; the difficulty in parking their van; and then the unfriendly man telling them not to play. As they finished the song, a pair of policemen walked up, and that was the end of the evening's performance. As one of the policemen talked with one of the three band members, I bought one of their CDs from the keyboard player/singer (at least two of the three sing, maybe all three), and she mentioned that they would be playing at a "live house" in Shibuya the following Monday (is "live house" an English term, or just a Japanese term?)

The band's website is:

You can hear clips of their songs on this page:

Incidentally, the system with the police asking people to write something on a clipboard when they are asked to stop playing in public seems to be one in which the written statements basically say something like "I promise not to do this again here", so if they are caught a few times, there comes a point where the police can take out a stack of statements and say "You obviously are willfully breaking the law" and then they can be... fined I guess. (One of the musicians filled me in regarding what the clipboards were about.)

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

No comments: