Hotel Spew


In a secret location over looking the street life below, Spew look at their best. They’re surrounded by effectors and sequencers, peddles and dum pads all tethered together squeezing out a shrill and squawk of looped noise. The room is in transition. It’s just not in use today. The mother of a Spew member owns the bar, which accounts for the upturned sofas that form a den and central stage.

The word ‘Hotel’ fills one wall, projected and dispersed by interior decoration that merges tradition with a future that’s strangely out of date. The bar on the 7th floor somewhere in Kabukicho looks out over the street ringing with the sound of Halloween below. The room would ordinarily be filled with comfort and disquiet, a space to relax though you do so at a premium. If you outlive your welcome you’ll never afford the bill when it’s time to leave.


A confused doorman outside with his head dressed as a pumpkin glares checking me up and down. I get the impression I’m not the usual character to come here. Or am I? I stand beside the lift behind him waiting to go to a bar I know nothing of. There’s no sign board to the event, no casual scrap of paper. Only an strip of backlit perspex and a list of names that probably haven’t changed in 30 or so years. A girl in a cream wollen sweater stands beside me waiting for the same lift. She goes in first and I follow.

She asks if I’m going to the 7th as well, which I am. I say something to her in Japanese, like “Kabukicho is incredible tonight”. Incredible meaning something else. She replies shaking her head saying something along the lines of, “yes, way too much”. When the lift arrives it opens and a drag queen comes to gesture us in but then stops looking as confused as we do, and then we all spot the sheet of A4 stuck to the door opposite—”Spew Performance Here”. We both laugh at this point.


The room upturned and lined with cables has been reorganized to hold the bunker-like performance. Sound and image are arranged like the work each member makes— three are photographers, Daisuke Yokota, Naohiro Utagawa, and Koji Kitagawa. And while the photographs they ‘build’ have very different lives separately, this construction is built in a form reinforced and supported by each person coaxing out loop upon loop. A microphone is held onto for dear life by Naohiro, who also beats a snare drum sporadically, another microphone harpoons by a trumpet, plucks at a violin, bangs a steel guitar and taps a lone cymbal. Daisuke drags on a cigarette as he’s frantically swapping cables: shoes off, head torch on.


At one point, a projector tied back to stacked footrests comes away from it gaffer tape strapping breaks free. It makes a run for it across the floor and comes to rest in bed of coaxial. But it keeps on playing. The sped-up film it plays that now looks more at home spitting out moving images at an angle across the arm rest opposite than it did before. An unpredictability that for a change sees images surrendering to sound.

I could write more. For now, I will leave some choice moments of an evening that went well into the next day.

Utagawa standing in near darkness with the wind 風 behind him.
Naohiro Utagawa standing in near darkness with the wind 風 behind him.