BUSAN, South Korea – The last time I was in Tokyo I called up an old friend. Having DJ'd together in Busan and Seoul last year, myself and DJ Chaki (better known as Lowbrows) had kept in touch. Chaki came up amidst the neon lights and cultural landscape of that city and I figured he could help me navigate it a bit, maybe take me to a nice sushi restaurant or something.
It was a rainy Monday night, but Chaki was undeterred. We met up at the famous Hachiko dog statue. The massive Shibuya crosswalk was overrun with throngs of people celebrating the Japanese soccer team's victory over Jordan that night, but Chaki was completely indifferent. "Let's go to Womb," he told me.
Womb is the biggest club in Shibuya and one of the most well-known in all of Tokyo. That night, Chaki's close friends and frequent collaborators the Dexpistols were headlining one of the smaller rooms. The bouncers smiled and shook hands with "Chaki-san" and we walked right in. The Dexpistols did their thing, mixing Juke, UK Bass, dubstep and hip-hop. "All these underground sub-genres are all competing for space in the clubs of Tokyo," Chaki said, "The music is great but there is a lot of competition to be the first to break a new kind of sound. I try to mix it all and keep my sets as fresh as possible."
Chaki is a little guy, barely 100 pounds, but he has a big personality behind the decks, bouncing around and flailing like a madman. With a keen fashion sense typical of the Japanese, he has been featured in magazines and blogs all over the country, becoming a true tastemaker in the Tokyo underground. However, it's his skills on the turntables and reputation as a producer that had him touring Europe with Danger in 2010. I brought it up and he started to gush about that tour, "Nuits Sonores Festival in Lyon was the best show ever!" I nodded and we did another shot of tequila.
As night turned into early morning, Chaki asked me if I wanted to go to Club Asia – another superclub in the heart of Shibuya. Again, we breezed past the door staff and entered a gigantic cavernous space, green neon lights crisscrossing across the dance floor. He lit a cigarette and took me to the backstage area on the second floor. We entered the room, and the energy shifted toward the doorway; everyone seemed to know Chaki.
We sat down to a couple glasses of cold Asahi and Chaki introduced me to everyone else. He pointed to a young guy with dyed-blonde hair, wearing shorts. "That guy is the youngest person in Tokyo to drive a Bentley," he told me. Next to him sat some of Tokyo's most well-known J-Pop idols, members of the 80kidz and a few big-shot producers. It was almost 7 o'clock in the morning.
As we sat, drinking and talking music, Chaki expressed a desire to bring his Lowbrows project and their Tokyo chic back to Busan. "I really miss Korean food and the Busan beach," he said, and so that night I promised I'd set up another show for him in Busan.
He went on, "Korean crowds don't care about sub-genres or overhyped underground music. Everyone just wants to enjoy the clubbing experience – the energy is so good."
Say no more, I made good on my promise when I got back to Busan and after a quick tour stop in Shanghai, The Lowbrows will return to our shores.
The Lowbrows show takes place Friday July 27 at Almost Famous in the Kyungsung University area. 10,000 won entrance. Supported by DJs BB Gibbs and Woodreaux.
E-mail email@example.com to get on the guest list and get half-price admission until 12:30 a.m.
You can check out The Lowbrows tunes on their MySpace music page.