‘Perfume’ Travelogue

While I had little to no time off in 2018, I’m trying to change that for this year.  In January, of course, we went to Ohayocon.  Now that it’s April, my wife and I took a trip up to Chicago to see the Japanese performance trio Perfume.  We’ve enjoyed their music for years and as they rarely tour North America – and only a few cities – we jumped at the chance.  What follows is a little story of our trip.

I realized as we left our house that I just don’t get out much anymore.  I think the last time I left the State was August of 2017… me:  who used to ski every winter in the Rockies and SCUBA every summer in the Caribbean.  So a six-hour drive crossing two States was at least a little start.

Driving through Columbus, Ohio, I noted the large amount of new construction going on.  I guess that, plus my and my wife’s new jobs, really does point to an invigorated economy.  For my girls’ sake, I hope so.  Crossing into Indiana the first thing I saw was the billboards… there were plenty in Ohio, too, but the subject matter changed:  about half of all of them in Indiana were for “ambulance-chasing” lawyers… ‘Injured on the job?!’  ‘Car accident?!’ sort of thing.  They must have different liability codes than Ohio.

We stopped for lunch just shy of Indianapolis.  Being Catholics on Friday, we had resigned ourselves to a shitty fillet o’ fish at McD’s.  We parked and got out.  Looking over the car and across the road, I saw ‘Hibachi:  Grill & Sushi.’  “Get back in the car,” I told my wife.  Just a few minutes later we’d ordered sushi and I was enjoying an Asahi beer (her turn to drive was next)… thank you, God!  Just shy of Gary, IN, we switched drivers again for me to handle the city driving.  It sucked.  The short version is this:  the toll roads are maintained by idiots and the streetshitters who designed the GPS on my wife’s phone should be shot.  It was only that I had memorized the map of the core of Chicago that got us to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn North Loop.

As we’re people who only use a hotel to sleep, it was fine:  king bed and a fridge.  The desk staff were courteous and efficient.  Only eight rooms per floor, but with 26 floors and only two elevators we elected to trudge up the steps to the sixth rather than wait; we’re hardheaded that way.  A short rest while my wife used her phone to find a place for dinner – the Elephant & Castle – for some fish & chips and drinks before the show.  Large portions, large drinks (I’d two double Manhattans), and good service all at a surprisingly reasonable price.  We had walked about a bit before going there… it turned out that lying POS Smollett was correct!  We really were in MAGA country!

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We walked a bit more after dinner.  This part of the city, inside The Loop, I think it’s called, seems to be the business/financial core so the powers-that-be keep it clear of the worse elements of diversity.  A few beggars but they kept to the corners.  I kept my head on a swivel and my wife close at hand.  Didn’t feel threatened at all.  The sun was low in the west so we rounded a few corners and found the end of the line for the show at the Chicago Theater.  We immediately noted that about half of the people in line were Oriental; to my semi-trained eye, almost all Japanese.  The other half were us pale weebs.  Once the doors opened the line moved quickly.  A good thing:  right in front of the theater was some more aggressive diversity beggars.  Once actually grabbed the sleeve of a guy two ahead of me.  The Japs, sensibly, just pretended they didn’t speak English.  A short, sharp, glare from me had the POCs move off for easier marks.  Through the magnetometers and tickets scanned and we were in!

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Like most old theaters, the Chicago Theater was absolutely beautiful inside!  We first located out seats – once again, by the grace of God, we lucked out:  the mixing booth was a yard to my right – sonically about the best in the house.  Following that, we walked about for twenty minutes before the show began.  The line for merch was YUUUGE!  And, oddly, it was almost all Whites!  But, but, Konata from Lucky Star said it was the Japanese who were suckers for limited edition goods!?  We really didn’t get it:  the t-shirts were cheap looking and the DVDs and blu-rays will be a fifth the price on ebay in a month… why such interest?  Instead, we did what was important:  find the toilets and get another drink!  Back in our seats, things kicked off precisely at 2000 hours.  I appreciate punctuality.

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An amazing, almost perfect show.  Sound, images, dancing… 10/10.  The flaw was their ‘break time.’  Anyone whose been to a rock concert knows there’s a time when the drum solo starts and the other band members get water, snort coke, whatever, to get ready for the second half of the show.  My wife told me – later – that in Jpop the members will pause to talk to the audience, one after another, while their mates are drinking water and resting.  The issue here was their command of English was *meh* so they asked for someone in the audience to translate.  That was an error.  My wife is perfectly bilingual in English and Hungarian.  She is absolutely not a translator.  The one time I used her thus nearly stroked her out.  Being a translator is a difficult, highly trained task.  As a result, these roughly fifteen minutes were dull and almost sucked the life out of the show.  Fortunately the second half was their older material that we all knew, getting everyone quickly pumped up again.  A strong finish and all in all one of the best concerts I’ve been to.

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At around 10 PM a short walk back to the hotel with no issues… the streets were almost complete deserted, in fact.  To bed and sleep.

In the AM, in no hurry to check out by noon, we took the recommendation of a friend and found a Yolk’s about 100 yards to our north, just across the river.  MORE good food at a good price!  In fact, that surprised me:  there was not a single meal or drink we had that was priced more than what we’d pay in our little bedroom city outside of Columbus, Ohio… and in the case of dinner, it was cheaper to eat in the heart of Chicago than at a chain restaurant in Newark, Ohio.  Odd enough that I wonder what the reason behind that might be…

Checked out and a long, butt-flattening six hour drive back home.  Did I mention the toll roads still sucked?  Shooting is too easy for those people; I’d have them crucified.  I cannot say that I’d do it all again.  If it was my wife’s heartthrob, Kamenashi (the one in the middle) I might just toss her onto a plane if he was in Chicago.  Me?  Maybe for Hatsune Miku.  Time will tell.  Good show; good time.

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