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How the Typhoon Fed My Gig at the Plastic Factory, Nagoya

October 6, 2012

The Plastic Factory is a very cool venue in Nagoya, Japan, with a stage and bar area on the ground floor, and a gallery on the upper floor. It is the baby of a Swiss sitar player, a longtime expat living in Japan, named Heniz Senn. On the last Sunday of every month, it is the location of one of the best open mics in Nagoya, a city not known for a particularly vibrant cultural life. Like Heinz, most of the people who attend and perform at the Plastic Factory are expats. But it also has its healthy share of local Japanese.

The open mic is organized by a group called Semi-On, and one of its particularities is that running in conjunction with the open mic is always an exhibition of an artist’s work in the gallery above. I had shown up last year for some event that was announced at the last minute, and it turned out there were only about two other people aside from me. But Heinz let me go up on stage and play a few of my songs – as I desperately wanted to play some music, and couldn’t do it properly in my hotel.

We stayed in touch, and this year, Heinz, having heard my music, invited me to feature on a special evening at the Plastic Factory while I was in Nagoya. It turned out that the open mic that was supposed to take place the previous weekend was literally a wash out, because it had been cancelled thanks to the typhoon. That meant that Heniz had the brilliant idea of telling all his regulars that he would hold a special acoustic night last night as a kind of replacement of the open mic that never happened. And he invited me to play as the featured guest.

What better way to get a crowd to come and see me play than to invite them to come and play themselves if they want! There was a great crowd of maybe 40 people at the highest point, and lots of interesting musicians. In fact, after Semi-On took to the stage to open the evening, I thought about make a run for it … I did NOT want to go up right after this cool band, with its charismatic singer, Bryony, and it’s nice and relaxed stage presence.

I need not have worried. There were plenty of other performers to go up before I did, and I had a great time watching, listening, meeting people, and then finally going up and doing my gig when it felt like the perfect time. Everyone was sufficiently warmed up, and ready for some dancing, clapping and singing along. So I did a mixture of my own songs – three – and cover songs – four. It was a great feeling to have everyone dancing along and singing along to “What’s Up!” And I finally left walking on air myself.

Any amazing venue, and I highly recommend it to anyone in Nagoya.

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