The cold Hiroshima air passed through my gloves as effortlessly as light through a window. I ducked into a 711 to buy a hot chocolate, not to drink, but to thaw my fingers.
It was about 20 minutes until our final show in Hiroshima, the last in a four-night string of musical farewells.
We had spent the night before in a smoky bar called Kemby’s, one of the few restaurants with English menus and American food. It was a hub for any English speakers looking to step outside of Japanese society for a night. It was a bar crowd in every way: loud, crazy, high-energy and exhilarating. But to an introvert like me, “exhilarating” is the larva stage of “exhausting”.
But I knew what to expect and enjoyed it for that very reason: there is an energy in a bar crowd that can only be found in that setting. Our other shows each had their own distinct crowds as well; our farewell show to friends we had met at church a couple nights before and a more low-key show with our Japanese friends the night after that.
The last of these nights was a mystery. It was a CD release show for Mixed Reviews Part One. We had scrambled to record the album in the crazy month between finding out Lizbet’s contract was not being renewed and the last day on her work visa.
As I wandered the streets before the show, I had no idea what to expect from the crowd of 25 people who were cramming into a second-floor bar that only seated 15 comfortably. We had friends RSVP who we sat next to in church, and friends we had shared more drinks with than conversations. We had Japanese friends whose English, while good, couldn’t keep up with the metaphor and pace of a lot of our songs.
Would they expect to sing along?
How would my church friends get along with my bar friends?
Could I tell that joke? Play that song? Could this diverse group be as comfortable together as I am with each one?
It was scary. But it was exactly what I know I want. It’s what The Last City has come to mean. This beautifully uncomfortable interaction with people we might have never met 100 years ago. The opportunity to learn a new culture through a relationship instead of a textbook.
March 2017 marks the two-year anniversary of that last show and of Mixed Reviews Part One.
It won’t be around for much longer (only a few copies left!)
so get yours at our store on Big Cartel.