Category Archive for Visual Kei + Music

Zagreb’s alternative music scene! Indie concerts, Croatian restaurants & rock bars.

beertija zagreb, beer garden club

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…

glowing rows of lights

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.

courtney love autograph, signature

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.

lavender lipstick, purple lip color

That day, I wore a TwoPercent top with a sheer white overlay, and teal shorts by Izzue, both bought in Hong Kong. My black-white sunhat is very close to this hat sold online.

tvornica kulture, shonen knife poster

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.

Croatia Culture Factory, indie alternative concert venue

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.

Tvornica kulture, Zagreb sushi cafe

In addition, there’s a sushi restaurant, bar, and outdoor cafe. Like at Warhol’s Factory, you’ll often find underground types hanging around.

rockmark rock music shop zagreb, david bowie poster

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.

Brokula & Z, zagreb eco friendly fashion

Eco-conscious hipsters also love Brokula&Z, a local clothing label by famous marketing firm Bruketa&Zinic OM.

zagreb hipster clothing, broccoli and bird

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.)

Ribice i Tri Točkice, zagreb fish bistro

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.

double headed fish, twee art

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.

zagreb fish restaurant, croatia seafood

I adored the quirky, colorful, twee art by Vojo Radoičić displayed all around the restaurant.

Tratoria Al Pitor, zagreb italian restaurant

Down the street, Dražen also owns an Italian trattoria, Tratoria Al Pitor (Bogovićeva ulica 3).

Vojo Radoicic colorful artwork

The distinctive art is also by Vojo Radoičić. Each table is hand-painted with a different charming image.

Vojo Radoičić art, paintings

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.)

miffy nail art, japanese bunny rabbit nails

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.

bruce lee lamp, art

What’s your impression of the music and underground venues in Zagreb, Croatia? Did you know the city had this alternative side?

Thanks to Andrea for being the perfect guide. We hope you’ll get the chance to meet her, by renting out her central Zagreb or Croatian coastal apartment. Hope to come back soon!


Nightmare Before Christmas musical! Steampunk clothing shop Wells & Verne, Portland pirates.

pirate girl costume, lip service pirate hat

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

jack skellington makeup, nightmare before xmas costume

… and wound up at a Nightmare Before Xmas musical, with live actors and a nine-piece orchestra! Read on for the spook-tacular story.

pirate crew, portland pirates cosplay

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

Glowing Greens portland mini-golf

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.

day-glo golf course, glowing skull

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.

portland Glowing Greens, blacklight Miniature Golf

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.

theme park pirates

If ye be in a piratical mood, and twitching for a round of golf… ye know where to sail!

wells and verne, steampunk clothing portland

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)

art nouveau steampunk girl painting

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.)

brass goggles, steampunk glasses

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…

steampunk laser gun, accessories

… and a hand-crafted laser gun. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann, Naomi Rubin and La Carmina.)

leather mask, victorian steam punk shop

At Wells & Verne, clothes are works of art. Great care went into the making of this leather mask and holster.

portland steampunk boutique, wells verne sellwood

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.

steampunk fashion outfit, brown dress

I fell in love with this steampunk Victorian dress, goggles necklace and mini top hat.

vampire bat, kitty cat scarves

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.

nightmare before christmas makeup, jack skellington face

Darkness fell, as we drove to Secret Society for “The Nitemare B4 Xmas,” a live-action musical tribute to Tim Burton’s cult film.

nightmare before xmas mayor makeup

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.

sally nightmare before christmas makeup, tim burton costumes

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.

live musical, tim burton film nightmare before xmas

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.

day of dead facepaint, girl sugar skull makeup

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.”

the Saloon Ensemble portland, love bomb orchestra

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.

sing-along nightmare before christmas 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.

tim burton theatrical makeup, corpse bride

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 dance, song dancing

Oogie Boogie’s wacky dance was picture perfect. Amazing, how the actors captured the movements and expressions of the animated characters.

saloon ensemble, Nitemare B4 Xmas screaming contest

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?

christmas lights bokeh, xmas light

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?

PS: if you’re looking for a last-minute Xmas gift, please keep my Jpop books in mind. Click to order Cute Yummy Time and Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo via Amazon. Thank you.

Budapest Sziget music festival outfit! Emma O Clothing crochet dress, designer Hotel Continental Zara.

fashion blogger music festival outfits

Putting aside expectations and stepping outside your usual zone — these can be the most rewarding things you can do.

My video-making trip to Budapest coincided with Sziget Music Festival, an indie-rock event. It isn’t at all Goth/underground like Wave Gotik Treffen or Kinetik Montreal.

Still, why not give it a shot? So I put on a white dress (albeit with a dark twist) and rode the tram to one of the largest music festivals in Europe. Read on to see what my film team and I discovered.

Emma O Clothing, white crochet dresses

What I wore to an outdoor music festival: this striking handmade crochet, off-shoulder dress sent by Sweden-based Emma O Clothing.

I paired it with strappy shoes by Camper, and a studded tank top from Gladnews in Shibuya 109.

handmade crochet dress, emma ostergren

Emma’s designs include an array of crochet dresses, swimsuits and cover-ups in delicate colors. She ships worldwide and gives 60% of all sales to charity in Zimbabwe. You can support my friend via her online store, Instagram and Facebook.

moose head sculpture, budapest hotel suite

When we checked into Hotel Continental Zara (Address: 42 Dohány St) — we noticed Dizzee Rascal and Skunk Anansie standing next to us! Apparently, all the Sziget festival headliners chose to stay here.

And for good reason: the Art Deco meets modern suites have won numerous awards. Hard to believe that the designer hotel used to be a 180 year old Jewish bathhouse.

budapest hungary rooftop

On the top floor, there’s a swimming pool and garden with a soaring view of Budapest’s red roofs.

hotel continental zara, budapest ceiling

Hotel Continental Zara is located in the hipster seventh district that I previously blogged about. One of the many pluses of staying here: you can easily stumble back after a night of ruin pub hopping!

cool modern hotel architecture

I was a fan of the hotel breakfast, which included cappuccino machines and my beloved dark European grain breads.

araz restaurant, barbeque grill food

We also had excellent barbecue at the adjoining Araz Restaurant, featuring a retro mural.

hotel courtyard, pool, sculptures

After walking around outside in the heat, it was nice to come back, drink fresh lemonade and relax in the air-conditioned lobby.

black apple sculpture, design hotel

The courtyard’s black apple is very Evil Queen, no? (I love how you can layer Emma O Clothing in a variety of ways.)

budapest fashion hotel, boutique hotels

Thanks to Hotel Continental Zara for treating us like rock royalty (prices and more info on their Facebook page).

budapest sign, big sculpture sziget festival

Since it was so hot, we waited until the late afternoon before heading to Sziget Festival, held on a small island in the Danube River. Every year, about 400,000 people come to this week-long celebration of music and culture.

sziget music festival swings, art

After the Communist era, a group of students founded Sziget to revitalize the summer concert scene. Today, it’s one of the biggest and best-regarded music festivals in Europe.

sziget bands, concerts, 2013

Sziget is sometimes compared to Burning Man because of the sense of isolation (only people with passes can enter the island) and trippy art sculptures everywhere.

sziget sign, concertgoers

Everywhere you turned, there was something bizarre to behold. A security guard stood next to this sign, preventing climbers from toppling over the letters.

sziget ferris wheel, balloons

Like Coachella, this festival has a Ferris wheel. After Skunk Anansie’s set on the main stage, everyone let their balloons go…

colorful balloons in sky

… up, up and away. Like rainbow sprinkles in the sky.

nightclub lights, outdoor raves

There was an endless list of things to do and see, including a beach, yoga, world music, and techno parties. Tip: in order to buy food or drinks, you must first purchase a special debit card.

sziget luminarium

One of the grooviest attractions was the Luminarium. We took off our shoes and went inside this blow-up tent, not knowing what to expect. Our guide told us we had 15 minutes to explore.

Obuda Island music festival inside luminarium

And what a mind-trip! Inspired by Eastern religions, the Luminarium glows with light. We wandered the tunnels, and meditated in the little caves. (Photography in this post by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann).

steampunk theater, live performance

The festival brought together some of the top indie acts. Among the performances we enjoyed: Bat for Lashes, Nick Cave, Chase & Status, and this Steampunk automotive show.

sziget festival ferris wheel, night lights

It’s hard to convey the sense of wonder I felt at Sziget through photos. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Budapest and see what it’s all about.

Hungarian Parliament Building, budapest gold lights

On the taxi ride back, we got this King Midas view of Hungarian Parliament over the water. (Tip: research Budapest taxi companies and take reputable ones like City. Ask your hotel or a tourist office to call one for you. Don’t get ripped off by no-names.)

meditation silhouette, buddha meditating pose

Have you been to a music festival? What was your experience like, and what did you wear?

More Eurail-Vision coverage is on the way. If you’re keen to do a train trip like ours, check out’s student packages and other affordable options. Thanks to everyone for making our travels possible.

Montreal’s best bagel, St Viateur or Fairmount? Festival Kinetik 2013 video: Daniel Graves, Aesthetic Perfection.

daniel graves, aesthetic perfection singer

It’s the return of the bagelhead! Enjoy my spanking new travel video about the edgy, kooky attractions in Montreal, Quebec.

The episode features magic shops, pop art, and Daniel Graves — vocalist of Aesthetic Perfection, who performed at Kinetik Festival 2013!

For the full story, read my Huffington Post article. It gives an overview of Montreal’s best alternative fashion, clubs and more.

Please press play above, and thumb’s up below if you found my coverage useful. Merci beaucoup mes amis!

fairmount bagels montreal, best bagel shop

Montreal is famous for its bagels, and locals have strong opinions over which bakery does it best: Fairmount or St Viateur. Since the top two contenders were a short walk from Le Belmont (the venue for Kinetik Music Festival), Daniel and I put them to the test.

Fairmount (74 Avenue Fairmount Ouest) has a variety of flavors, and offers bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

st viateur bagel, logo

St Viateur (263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest) has a frightful logo.

daniel graves, aesthetic perfection, kinetik festival

But the wall of accolades must mean something.

maison du bagel montreal, boulangerie

Which bagel did we like the most? You’ll have to view our fun video to find out!

bagelhead, japanese bagelheads

PS: if you don’t get the “bagel head” joke, this Japanese forehead inflation article will fill you in.

best montreal bagels, st viateur, fairmount

Thanks to my friend Lauren for joining me on my French-Canadian journey, and to Tourism Montreal for making it possible.

What was your favorite moment in the travel episode? For more coverage of Montreal and Vancouver, browse the Alt Canada category of my blog.