Shambling out of the rain into the cramped but cozy confines of Pig Bar, my friend Tony and I were welcomed by a barrage of familiar sounds: primarily, we recognized a song by Rage Against the Machine playing on the speakers and a greeting from our already intoxicated friend working behind the bar, Kazuki.
Having visited for the first time the night before, I informed Tony that not only did Kazuki’s bar offer absinthe but delicious, high-quality absinthe served with a burning sugar cube on a spoon.
As a fellow American, Tony seemed intrigued enough to order it while I ordered a glass of Suntory Highball.
Then I chatted with Kazuki who told me he had just returned from a successful shopping trip with some other friends while Tony chatted with the twenty-something-year-old sporting a tribal-patterned fleece to his right.
Since the round trip from our part of Tokyo to Kisarazu was quite expensive, I explained to Kazuki that we had come to check out the late-night punk show at a nearby venue called Kavachi where the local hardcore punk band, Efu, would be headlining.
In a brief aside while we were talking about the local punk scene, Kazuki mentioned that he had also hosted local punk bands a few times, including one time when the bands were so deafeningly loud that the cops came to break it up.
Here is Kazuki and I the night we met, looking our finest.
The place was otherwise empty and pretty quiet aside from the music so after our conversation spread to Tony and his neighbor, we proceeded to take this picture, which highlights the bar’s cutting edge aesthetics.
After we downed a couple more drinks, Tony and I immediately recognized a couple of English speakers chatting as one of them walked through the door.
At first, we struck up a conversation with Scott, the thirty-year-old Scotsman sitting behind us on the couch about the bar and Kisarazu as a whole.
Quickly, we discovered that we shared a similar taste in music and literature, as he was also a punk-loving bookworm like ourselves, and that he had landed my dream job of teaching English in Japan at a school nearby.
Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about and that we did.
Then, we met the other English speaker sitting to our left; a shrill-voiced, rotund woman from New York who seemed far too open to talking about Japanese sex culture and our cell phone numbers for our liking.
So, without further ado, we asked for our check and directions before saying our goodbyes and making our way over to the venue.
It was easy to confirm that we had found the right place by the time we started seeing Japanese guys and girls in black leather jackets and combat boots smoking cigarettes on a nearby storefront stoop.
We paid the fee for our individual tickets and required drinks (in total, my admittance costed around $15), then walked into the venue’s lobby which displayed each band’s raunchy merchandise.
We were about to head toward the stage area when suddenly I jumped at the sound of my name as a lovely girl I had met the night before, Mitsu, came up and hugged me, asking me how I’d been.
I gave her an honest “Genki!” meaning that I felt great, then she introduced her friends, whose names were unfortunately lost on me almost as soon as they were said.
We walked in just in time for the eccentric opening band, Yoppa, who had one of their percussionists begin with a simple beat on a taiko drum before building up to their full folk-punk sound, complete with upright bass, accordion, banjo and bongos.
Immediately, they reminded of party-punk bands like Flogging Molly and Gogol Bordello, especially when they mentioned their name, which is an abbreviation for “drunk” in Japanese.
After Yoppa’s highly energetic, danceable set, the hardcore-punk band from Tokyo, Cheerio, took the stage for a set that never slowed down, even for an instant.
Two days later, I’m still sore from all the moshing and headbanging that I did during their set.
Although the entire band was stoned drunk and one of the two singers had a bellybutton deformity that looked like a diseased sexual organ, take your pick as to which, I was totally enthralled by their catchy punk choruses and relentless hardcore guitar shredding.
After their set wrapped up, Tony and I went to order our drink with just enough time before the next band, The Inrun Publics, began to play.
Before coming to the show, The Inrun Publics was the only band I had been able to hear fully on YouTube due to my spotty internet connection.
I was glad to see their dancy, clean guitar breakdowns and crunchy, punk buildups intact and sounding as fresh as they did on their recordings.
My enthusiasm for the music was, luckily, joined by a good portion of the crowd who expressed theirs through stage diving and crowd surfing.
Finally, Kisarazu’s esteemed hardcore-punk band, Efu, then took the stage for a performance that, while mind-blowing, I simply couldn’t handle at three in the morning, so I mostly hung out in the back and sipped from my Nalgene to cure my worsening dehydration.
I yelled the samurai-bunned bassist’s name during his solo parts (I had met him along with a few other band members in between sets), but other than that I stayed quiet and saved my energy for the last couple of songs when I felt I could join Tony in the moshpit again.
Once Efu ended around four, Tony and I went to grab pastries at a nearby FamilyMart, then headed to a second-floor darts and pachinko bar for another drink.
Our conversation deepened into grumbles as we walked back to the Pig in the rain, arriving in time for their early morning after party.
We chatted with a few of the band members who stopped by for a while, especially Yoppa’s attractive accordion player, before we finally bid the bar adieu for the night and headed back to the train station.
As soon as we plopped down on our westbound train, our heads nodded off into a sleep that was soundless, besides the lingering buzz in our ears.