Category Archive for Visual Kei + Music
Readers often ask me: “Where can I buy Jrock CDs and Visual Kei memorabilia in Tokyo?”
In this post, I’ll take you to some of my favorite musical haunts in Shinjuku: Book Off, Closet Child Mens, and Pure Sound. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find more info about J-rock stores in Harajuku and Ikebukuro.
My shopping partner of the day was Yukiro Dravarious, wearing signature purple and lots of kitty-cat influences.
Who says Goths can’t rock neon? The Japanese taxi in the back matches the look.
I hadn’t brushed out my curls yet, but this gives you a sense of the blue-green shaded color. The scarf is by Sex Pot Revenge, and the sunglasses are old ones by Salvatore Ferragamo.
We first stopped by Book-Off, which has various locations. One is located near the Southern Terrace and Shinjuku station south exit.
Inside, you’ll find tons of used music and magazines. We picked up recent copies of Kera and Gothic Lolita Bible, and Yukiro even found Malice Mizer cds for about $2 each!
We walked to the West side of Shinjuku station, and spotted these rock-style boys looking at music posters. Obviously, we were in the right place…
Here is a map of Closet Child Men’s; you may need to walk around a bit to find it.
On one side of the small store, you’ll find tons of J-rock and Visual Kei memorabilia, including special edition CDs and concert booklets. Many young people hang around, browsing for treasure, like this green haired girl.
Note: only the Men’s and Ikebukuro branches of Closet Child sell music as well as clothing.
On the other side, there’s a nice selection of Goth, punk and alternative men’s fashion. These brands include unisex ones like Super Lovers and Sexy Dynamite.
Right next door is Pure Sound, a Jrock-oriented music shop. When you see the giant posters of boys with teased colored hair and makeup, you’re there.
Pure Sound often has special events, such as band signings. If so, the shop may be temporary closed, and there could be a long lineup of fans.
All your favorite VK music is sold inside, like Penicillin, The Gazette, Golden Bomber and more.
Tip: pick up the free band flyers at the front of the shop. You can used these to decorate your walls.
A smaller rock music shop nearby also sells some used Lolita and Harajuku fashion.
The best place to shop for secondhand Goth Lolita Punk clothes, however, remains Closet Child. This is a snap of the upper “rock” floor of the Shinjuku location. (For more info about the various branches of CC, see my Tokyo shopping guide.)
I leave you with some close-ups of Yukiro’s cute accessories. A zombie doll…
… a cute faced plush cat.
Bright pink sneakers and mis-matched socks, a Harajuku staple.
Want more Jrock posts? Check out my collection of concert reviews including Dir en Grey, X Japan and Moi dix Mois.
There are also more Visual Kei merchandise stores in Harajuku; I’ve listed a few at the bottom of this comprehensive guide.
Which bands are currently on your playlist? Share your favorites with us in the comments!
Tons more Tokyo coverage coming right up — including the owl cafe, Heavy Pop Harajuku party and a horror themed bar. Be sure to add my Instagram for previews of my Asia adventures.
I’m not your typical travel blogger. You won’t find me taking photos at Toronto’s CN Tower or Hockey Hall of Fame. Instead, I’ll be out at 2am, soaking in the city’s underground nightlife and culture.
Take my hand, and let’s explore Goth clubs, a Lenin-themed bar, and two Scott Pilgrim venues. Who’s with me?
On the first night, I took a taxi from my downtown hotel (One King West) to Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St West). Recognize the name? Lee’s Palace was the site of many an epic band battle, in the Scott Pilgrim movie!
I met up with Linda Tea, who you may remember from the Toronto Goth modeling post. Love the stained glass print on her dress.
I also ran into Laura the Mistress McCutchan (editor of Morbid Outlook, management for Amy’s Arms, and director of tribal bellydance troupe, The Serpentina North Ensemble). She is wearing the “Odette” dress by Gloomth, the independent Lolita label run by our friend Taeden Hall. I love how she accessorized the high collar bodice with rows of ruffles.
We were all here to see our comrade Karen O’Keefe, singer and founding member of Gothic band Amy’s Arms. Karen’s such a positive spirit, and has been involved in the Ontario Gothic Lolita community for some time.
We swayed to their melancholy songs, which convey energy and passion through Karen’s vocals. All over the stage, she twirled with swan-like arm movements. Thankfully, nobody challenged the band to a “duel to the death” (as poor Scott Pilgrim suffered).
Amy’s Arms had just finished tour dates in Ottawa and Montreal, earning new fans in every stop.
David Owen charmed the audience with his Theremin theatrics.
A colorful stage presence by Justin David Minister (composer/guitarist) and Tyla Thea Bolte (vocals).
The devil’s in the details, from the sound quality to the boots on their feet.
Brent Kervin on bass, behind a Korg synthesizer.
I haven’t been to a concert for the longest time, and Amy’s Arms reminded me of how uplifting a performance can be. For a taste of their Goth rock, you can check out their Facebook and site. (I also featured their music in my Vienna travel video episode!)
What I wore that evening: relatively neutral makeup, and spider-like eyelashes topped with gems, by my friend Shrinkle of Sugarpill Cosmetics.
My pastel Goth polka-dot top is by Spider Hong Kong (remember my Chinese Gothic fashion shoot with this label?)
Pravda is decked out in Russian Red memorabilia… including a giant, gold statue of Lenin’s bald head.
I saw hammer and sickles, a row of Russian dolls, and propaganda posters, and even a portrait of Chairman Mao.
The menu specializes in vodka, of course. Try the maple one, and the gravlax snacks. Nazdorovye!
Later that evening, Karen took me on a Gothic nightlife tour. We started at Freaky Fridays, an alternative night at Velvet Underground (510 Queen St West). DJ Ivan Palmer was rocking the sugar skull makeup behind the booth.
Down the road, we stopped by Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St W), a favorite bar for punks and underground types. The entrance, a mass of mangled bicycle parts, is easy to spot.
A few more steps, and we were at Nocturne (550 Queen St W) — home to one of the longest-running Gothic nights.
Nocturne holds a variety of nights dedicated to indie and experimental music, such as rave, lo-fi, synth and futurepop.
We came for Black Friday with DJ Osaze. He played an extraordinarily fun mix of Goth, Industrial, hard rock, EBM… including forays into highland dancing and flamenco. I didn’t leave the dance floor for more than a few minutes, it was that good.
Did you realize Toronto, Ontario has such a cool underground scene? What should I check out the next time I’m in TO?
PS: I also wrote posts about Montreal and Vancouver alt nightlife, which I hope you find helpful.
I’m glad you enjoyed my first post about Zagreb, Croatia. Ready for more? On Day 2, I dove into the indie side of the city.
Andrea’s friend, Dražen Goreta, showed me his many projects — all of which have to do with indie music, art and culture.
PS: I’m hiding something under my top… read on to see what’s underneath…
Dražen owns several music and nightlife venues, including The Beertija (Pavla Hatza 16). It’s a patio and pub covered in rock memorabilia, serving over 120 kinds of beers from around the world.
Inside, a wall of photos includes Courtney Love, covered with the signature of Lana Del Ray.
Dražen is passionate about indie and punk rock, and wants to create a space for music-lovers in Zagreb. He plans on building an “rocker hall of fame” with sculptures of underground musicians, like Joe Strummer of The Clash.
We also visited his Tvornica Kulture or Culture Factory (Šubićeva 2), an oasis of alternative rock in Europe. Bands like Japan’s Shonen Knife, Pixies, Public Image Limited, and The Mission have played here.
Doing my best Yoko Ono impression. There are three halls (with a capacity of 300, 600 and 1600), each designed for the best possible sound quality, as the logo hints.
In addition, there’s a sushi restaurant, bar, and outdoor cafe. Like at Warhol’s Factory, you’ll often find underground types hanging around.
Music fans always stop by Rockmark (Ulica Petra Berislavića 13), a basement filled with rocker clothes, books, and memorabilia. I wanted the David Bowie Dark Side poster.
Eco-conscious hipsters also love Brokula&Z, a local clothing label by famous marketing firm Bruketa&Zinic OM.
The undergarments and T-shirts are decorated with the “idealistic broccoli and snarky bird”, two characters inspired by the firm’s partners. (Zagreb photography by Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle.)
Dražen’s ventures extend to restaurants too. We ate lunch at Ribice i Tri Točkice (Preradovićeva 7/1), a seafood bistro seafood. In Croatia, the food is lighter and more ocean-based, as opposed to the meat-and-potatoes heft that characterizes Eastern Europe.
We began with a white-fish spread with olives, eaten on bread. I ordered sea queen, a juicy local fish that was de-boned at the table by the waiter. White wine and ice cream rounded out this perfect meal.
I adored the quirky, colorful, twee art by Vojo Radoičić displayed all around the restaurant.
Down the street, Dražen also owns an Italian trattoria, Tratoria Al Pitor (Bogovićeva ulica 3).
The distinctive art is also by Vojo Radoičić. Each table is hand-painted with a different charming image.
Now, I’m ready to lift up my shirt, and show you what’s under… or rather, who. It’s Miffy! (Yes, I have a lot of this bunny’s goods, including the Miffy designer lamp.)
I have Miffy nail art too, by Glam Nail Studio. This studio, based in Vancouver BC and specializing in Japanese nails, has won multiple awards for their work. You can see more cute pictures on LaCarmina Instagram and Tumblr.
What’s your impression of the music and underground venues in Zagreb, Croatia? Did you know the city had this alternative side?
ARR you ready for XXX-mas yet?
While in Portland, my film team and I went all around town, shooting segments about the kooky subcultures here. We ducked into a Pirate Day-Glo golf course, Steampunk boutique…
… and wound up at a Nightmare Before Xmas musical, with live actors and a nine-piece orchestra! Read on for the spook-tacular story.
Let’s begin with Captain Carmina and her band of pirates. These Portlanders are part of PDX Yar, the crew responsible for pirate-themed karaoke, balls and other scurvy deeds. First mate Naomi described their shenanigans in this post.
Pirate lace hat: gifted by Lip Service, similar to this pirate hat
Pirate jacket and skirt: gifted by Wheels & Dollbaby
Black laser-cut boots: Yosuke Tokyo
We met at Glowing Greens, a blacklight indoor mini-golf course with a pirate theme. (509 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR) Every square inch is lit up in neon, and decorated with piratical elements like sea monsters.
I’ve never seen a miniature golf course as crazy as this one. The themed holes included a graveyard, a mansion with a shaking gate, a pop-up zombie.
The acid-trip environment inspired filmmaker Melissa. On the spot, she dreamt up a pirate adventure tale, and we acted it out on camera. Can’t wait to show you this funny footage.
If ye be in a piratical mood, and twitching for a round of golf… ye know where to sail!
I was excited to shoot travel footage at Wells & Verne, a neo-Victorian shoppe inspired by Goth, Industrial and Steampunk culture. (Located in the Sellwood district at 8315 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR)
As soon as you walk in, you’ll see this magnificent Art Nouveau steampunk gal on the wall. (It reminded me of the Alphonse Mucha art exhibit in Tokyo.)
This newly-opened boutique carries handmade goods from “our local Portland family,” as well as artisans from all over the world. The display case had these brass goggles, a steampunk must…
… and a hand-crafted laser gun. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann, Naomi Rubin and La Carmina.)
At Wells & Verne, clothes are works of art. Great care went into the making of this leather mask and holster.
Many items, such as velvet three piece suits, are tailor made to order. This is the place to find something elegant and one-of-a-kind.
I fell in love with this steampunk Victorian dress, goggles necklace and mini top hat.
How cute are the vampire cat bat scarves? I hope you’ll drop by to see my new friends at Wells & Verne in Portland. They often hold special events, which you can see via their Facebook page.
Darkness fell, as we drove to Secret Society for “The Nitemare B4 Xmas,” a live-action musical tribute to Tim Burton’s cult film.
The Mayor invited us to their final show. Audience members are encouraged to sing along as his nine-piece troupe, The Saloon Ensemble, performed every song in the movie.
We arrived early to witness the preparations. The actors and musicians transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas characters, with the help of deft makeup skills and costumes.
The set design was spot-on, incorporating the movie’s signature swirls and tombstones. On the left side, there was a normal Christmas tree. On the right… a scary X-mas one.
This show received lots of positive buzz, and was sold out that night. Quite a few of the ticket-holders wore Day of the Dead makeup, since it was November 1st. My film team and I ordered popcorn and Dark & Stormy cocktails (rum and ginger beer), and practiced singing “This is Halloween.”
Each performance featured a different opening act. We clapped along to the Love Bomb Marching Skeletons, a go-go group of scantily clad, skull-faced musicians and dancers. They got us revved up and ready for the headlining musical.
What a treat for fans of Nightmare Before Christmas: the band played the songs, sang, and did hilarious character voices. Meanwhile, Jack and Sally tottered on stilts and acted out their parts to perfection.
I was smiling throughout the entire 60 minute show. To mix up the action, there were sing-a-long segments and contests. Everyone cheered for Zero the dog, a puppet manipulated by this ghostly lady.
Oogie Boogie’s wacky dance was picture perfect. Amazing, how the actors captured the movements and expressions of the animated characters.
Several guests went on stage for a screaming contest, including filmmaker Melissa. It was a lock. She had by far the loudest, longest and shrillest scream!
What a delight to “make Christmas time” with The Saloon Ensemble and friends. They plan to do more musical shows based on films, so stay tuned to their website. And if you haven’t watched Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Xmas film yet… what are you waiting for?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like this spooky musical? Would you visit the Portland Pirate golf course, or Victorian steampunk shop?