Hernan Cattaneo @ Club Mago, Nagoya

It has been nearly 2 years since I've been to a club, and actually heard some electronic dance music live. After moving to Japan, I've focused on working in my remote town in the mountains. But, this past weekend, I just happened to be free, and noticed that Hernan Cattaneo just happened to be nearby. Way too coincidental to ignore. I made the drive from Takayama to Nagoya, and went to see him.

Location

Club Mago is pretty easy to find. It's a few blocks down from the Saeki area of Nagoya. It's located within some standard looking building, which is currently under construction. The club itself is on the 2nd floor of the basement, and shares the space with another venue.

Outside, there are plenty of open lots for parking. Several were full when I arrived, but past 10 o'clock, those lots began to empty out, and there was plenty of space. I parked in the lot directly across the street from the club. At the end of the night, parking was only 1000.

Inside, Club Mago is pretty small. Once you get into the basement, you walk down a somewhat narrow hall, turn the corner, and are directly at the entry counter. You pay your, and go inside. There are two rooms.

Space

The first room is fully lit, has several tables, and plenty of seating. This area would probably feel like a club, if it weren't lit like someone's basement. Stuffed around a corner in the room is a DJ spinning some lounge-y tunes. And next to him is a food bar.

The next room has the main area. Immediately to right when entering is the bar. There are some seats at the bar, and across the way on the left tables and more seats. The bar is maybe 12 or 15 feet long. Then the room opens up into the dance area.

I feel like calling this place a "club" is a bit incorrect. It's definitely a venue. Past the bar, it's standing room only, and it's very dimly lit. The floor, walls, and ceiling are painted black, and there's maybe 8 lighting rigs setup on the ceiling to illuminate the place. It's not really flashy like I would imagine a club in a city as large as Nagoya to be.

Though, I think the real difference is that this place really doesn't have any offerings for V.I.Ps, or big spenders. The dance floor is wide open for everyone. There are no expensive drinks. Cover charge is the same for everyone. Everyone is the same. This is way more characteristic of a venue than a club.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with this. I was just expecting something flashy and ridiculous as Japan often tends to do, but this was way more down to earth and normal. I need to go to a club in Tokyo or Osaka and see how this compares.

Opener and DJ Ogawa

Though, upon entering, I definitely felt at home. The opener prior to DJ Ogawa was spinning some familiar tunes I had heard recently on the Internet radio, and mixing them together quite well. The first song was something off one of the recently Jody Wisternoff Intesifieds. He mixed that into some remix of Delirium - After All. The crowd was very sparse at this point. There were probably around 20 people. It was only 11pm, though.

The space began to fill up, little by little, and by midnight, DJ Ogawa took over.

He cranked out some pretty bangin' tunes, which certainly fired up the crowd. I mentioned on Facebook that there were all rather predictable, though. Predictable build, predictable release. It was fine. Certainly something the crowd needed in order to be ready for Hernan.

Hernan Cattaneo

Hernan took over the decks around 1am. According to Facebook, he was billed for a 5 hour set. I really wonder if he kept going all the way 'til 6am. I can't say, since I could not keep myself awake that late. :(

As he took over, his first tracks sustained the vibe built by Ogawa. It was still a bangin' beat that kept the more energetic members of the crowd on their toes, and moving around. Other members of the crowd weren't quite awake yet.

The crowd was yet another indication that I was at a venue, and not a club. No one was really dressed to impress. Most dudes that entered where simply wearing their street clothes. Some were still wearing their backpacks, and bags. Most dudes entered the dance floor, danced and rocked out with themselves. Almost all of the crowds were dudes, really. Very few woman. Those that were there, really just danced and rocked out with themselves, too. The crowd was really wholly comprised of music nerds and baseheads.

There were certainly outliers, though. Mainly the western foreigners in the audience. They actually came in groups, and danced with themselves. They were drinking, yelling, and moving around the most. They actually dressed up expecting this place to be an actual club.

At first, it seemed like Hernan was fighting the crowd. He would play a bangin' track, and some members of the crowd began rocking out to it. After the track, Hernan would pull back a little bit, and layer his songs. It felt like he was building an atmosphere, a vibe. He was really getting into his tracks, and letting us all see inside himself.

But the crowd didn't care. As Hernan trailed making music, and building something, the crowd got bored, and mostly stopped moving. Hernan threw back into more energetic songs to bring the crowd back on his side. But when he trailed off again, the crowd didn't budge. The crowd kinda sucked because it was a beautiful gorgeous vibe. Any crowd from Chicago would've been following him completely.

Eventually he gave up, and turned his vibe far more energetic to appease the crowd. Once Hernan changed and found the correct atmosphere for the crowd, the crowd completely woke up, and kept moving from that point on. The more still crowd members began leaving as time went by. Which left the true fans (and the drunk fans). Past 3am, the crowd was amazing.

Almost past 3am, I was starting to lose my energy. I went back on the dance floor and rocked out for a while, but once I was out, I was done for the night. I think I finally left around 4am.

Overall

It was a pretty great night. Though, it didn't really transform me in the way I was thinking. When I was in the club and rocking with the music, I was no longer in Japan. I was back in my music, and my vibe. It was like any other club experience I've had back in the states. I was no longer foreign.

This is a bit arrogant to say, but everyone else felt foreign like they didn't understand Hernan's vibe, and it took them a little while to adapt and change. (Even though, Hernan was the one really changing his "tune".)

It was good to feel normal again. Though, I've been away from the states long enough now, my "previous" life in the states is no longer normal for me. Normal is coming back to Takayama and teaching these kids.

When I left the club, the musical vibe stayed with me. But, as soon as I entered a convenience store to buy some water, I was back in Japan, and the music faded. I was once again the foreigner, and out of place. It's weird having my previous and current lives cross over each other.

Anyway, I'll certainly return there in the future when another fantastic DJ visits. Great set by Hernan. Hopefully I can stay awake next time.


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