R.I.P. Velfarre

archive7

Finally, an obituary for a cultural artifact I never liked to start with: Velfarre — Avex’s inessential megaclub in Roppongi has contracted a severe case of reality and has two months to live. Apparently the fancy complex lost money from the start and had to move from “trendy” 4:30 am trance parties to pro-wrestling events in order to maintain some semblance of cash flow.

Avex no doubt started Velfarre to be the inheritor to the Juliana’s disco crown. Velf came out of the womb in Dec. 1994 — just three months after the legendary Juliana’s bit the dust that August. Avex can thank the Bubble-era disco boom for its entire existence, making a fortune selling “Best of Juliana’s” CDs to boastful white collar workers with terrible no taste in music. So they open Velfarre to keep the Eurobeat fantasy alive, but by the time the first limos left the lot, it was clear to everyone Avex was just pulling a Weekend at Bernie’s.

Sure, the VIP area probably played host to some major moments of J-pop production lore. According to legend, Komuro Tetsuya would ask unsuspecting girls to write down their favorite words on cocktail napkins and then throw the results — “Chase” “the” and “Chance” — into the chorus refrain of Amuro Namie songs. But perhaps, the failure of Velfarre to sustain the Eurobeat Rave Factory in Japan pushed Avex into going more strongly into the J-Pop world. As I have theorized before, “As t —&#62 infinity, all Japanese music becomes J-Pop.” In the case of Avex, Eurobeat begat TRF, Amuro, Max, etc. etc. and the company became the nation’s largest record company as a result.

Okay, so Eurobeat died with the Bubble, only to make its way into being the main influence on late ’90s pop music (Scatman John, too? Yes.) But since 2003 or so, we have been witness to a full-scale Bubble revival. Why did Velfarre not become a convenient meeting place for the Society for Creative Anachronism — Japanese New Rich Chapter who drive orange Porsches and buy their girlfriends who request Cartier watches Cartier watches? Maybe the sin of Existentism — still around in 2004 even though the best work was in 1994 (like Oasis)? More likely, I can imagine no time in Japanese pop culture history (or remember reading about a time in Japanese pop culture history) where music has meant so little to the overall culture. Eurobeat was tied to the Bubble at the hip. All products in the late ’90s had their personal J-Pop theme songs and vice versa. This kind of tie-up still exists, but no one is listening or checking the little note symbol in the lower left side of the screen. Mass culture barely has a soundtrack — okay, the song from the Fuyu no Sonata drama but you can’t dance to it. Koda Kumi sells records, but she does not make songs that anyone actually hears.

I can only remember going to Velfarre once — maybe for a Moodman/Ukawa Naohiro event in 2003 — which is not exactly a reflection of the OL-bangs-LV-trancesynth-$$$-chapatsu culture the hall was raised to enshrine. Another relic of ’90s culture dies in December, but this is just social restructuring, clearing the deadweight. The DOA club finally gets put in the morgue.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
November 17, 2006

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

21 Responses

  1. dzima Says:

    I think that wiz kid Robert Duckworth’s drumming skills and Mai Ueda’s magical wailing are the only remedies capable of healing the Japanese music scene.

  2. dzima Says:

    I think that wiz kid Robert Duckworth’s drumming skills and Mai Ueda’s magical wailing are the only remedies capable of healing the Japanese music scene.

  3. dzima Says:

    I think that wiz kid Robert Duckworth’s drumming skills and Mai Ueda’s magical wailing are the only remedies capable of healing the Japanese music scene.

  4. trevor Says:

    blog much?

  5. dzima Says:

    I think that wiz kid Robert Duckworth’s drumming skills and Mai Ueda’s magical wailing are the only remedies capable of healing the Japanese music scene.

  6. saru Says:

    Eurobeat was tied to the Bubble at the hip.
    Marxy, have you seen the Japanese “Get a Mac” commercials? In one, the sarariman PC guy tells the hipster Mac guy he’s listening to Eurobeat on his iPod.

  7. dzima Says:

    it was a 500 error, mate. Delete my comments please.

  8. saru Says:

    Eurobeat was tied to the Bubble at the hip.
    Marxy, have you seen the Japanese “Get a Mac” commercials? In one, the sarariman PC guy tells the hipster Mac guy he’s listening to Eurobeat on his iPod.

  9. saru Says:

    Eurobeat was tied to the Bubble at the hip.
    Marxy, have you seen the Japanese “Get a Mac” commercials? In one, the sarariman PC guy tells the hipster Mac guy he’s listening to Eurobeat on his iPod.

  10. alin Says:

    yes yes, tragic thing is apple IS the new windows. i want linux on an anonymous pc box or something and my ipod has afret months of hybernation left for yahoo auctions. the pc guy is definitely the cooler of the 2.

  11. alin Says:

    btw, i really appreciate the way you guys , trevor, marxy & co stick to this and don’t just shift to livejournal or something

  12. alin Says:

    though an error message saying “the server is in terminal decline” might be good.

  13. dzima Says:

    Today is DzimaSaru spam attack day on Neomarxisme

  14. saru Says:

    Yep, 500 termial decline. Sorry.
    alin: the Japanese PC guy, or John Hodgman?

  15. alin Says:

    any PC guy.

  16. check Says:

    I think that wiz kid Robert Duckworth’s drumming skills and Mai Ueda’s magical wailing are the only remedies capable of healing the Japanese music scene.

    God, I’m a dick.

  17. marxy Says:

    YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE PUBLISHED EVEN THOUGH YOU GET AN ERROR.

  18. dzima Says:

    God, I’m a dick.

    Yep, if there are any problems on Neomarxisme make sure you blame me for them.

  19. saru Says:

    THEY WILL ALSO BE PUBLISHED IF YOU ONLY GET A BLANK SCREEN.

  20. alin Says:

    marxy and trevor are creating an apparatus of capture.

  21. marxy Says:

    I like the spin on our technical errors, but I blame MT-MySql-ETC.