Tokyo live house: FLAVA

FLAVA is an underground local gig in Machida. Though the flyers only display hip hop artists, from around 17:00 to 20:00 several rock bands play live. The place is rather small, like some kind of living room with a stage, dancing floor, the bar, an improvised food stand, some sofas and random paraphernalia. The atmosphere is great and friendly, a cozy shelter to enjoy good lesser-known music. After the live bands, DJs take the place and play their remixes till dawn. Often, some performances take place in between DJs.

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This is the kind of place I had in mind when I imagined myself navigating Tokyo’s nightlife. These small gigs are often underground, with a half-hidden entrance that scares visitors away and blinking club signs. The stairs lead to a small hall, and a couple of doors transport you to a new world away from the bombastic busy streets, luxury clubs, lively karaokes and life-leeching pachinko slots.

After figuring out the maze that Machida becomes at night, we finally arrived at FLAVA and paid a thousand yen to get in. Everyone was really nice, and the sound was certainly excellent, with some gripping bass and low, colorful light. The drinks are normal price (except shots!), and there is also an improvised food stand that prepares warm dishes. Despite the fact that smoking is allowed (just like everywhere in this country, unfortunately), the mood of the place is really cool. Keiji, the owner of the place, is a really nice guy and a good old rock lover; so one can expect to enjoy many great rock gigs there in the future. FLAVA first opened in 1995, and Keiji has been running the place for many years now. The fact that he hangs around with everyone makes the place feel even more like a home.


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In our first night at FLAVA, an event called Takumi took place, which included a performance by two kids (there was a kindergarten teacher who disapproved of those kids dancing instead of getting Sunday night sleep), a girl dance group and finally a mixed couple. Throughout the night, many artists took the stage, and some rappers delivered Japanese versions of Numb/Encore and No Woman, No Cry, among others; with in-between space filled by remixes of reggae and dancehall. DJ Roberto delivered a great show, including some minutes of live remixing and scratching on classic rock tunes that sounded amazing. The day’s event was subtitled “the all-genre event”, so the music jumped from hip hop to drum and bass to dance to rock constantly.

At some point the guitar player of one of the live bands first told me to fuck off and to stay away from his friend and later came back inside and apologized to me, and then gave me a CD; good fella after all. A few minutes later one of the headline rappers of the event approached me and started talking about the Spanish Reconquista and Queen Isabella I, declaring himself a big history fan, so I just wowed and gave up trying to predict the unpredictable chain of events that compose any given night out downtown around here. And so many things happen in Tokyo underground, and it always starts with cheap beer at the convenience store and the next big rock band that nobody knows yet. Fun times ahead.

DJ Roberto, Eiji and me
DJ Roberto, Keiji and me

  • Gigs: Twitter , Facebook
  • Address:  2 Chome-7-3 Haramachida, Machida, Tokyo 194-0013 (2ー丁目ー7-3、原町田、町田市、東京 194-0013)
  • Access: Get off at Machida (町田) station (JR Yokohama line or Odakyu Odawara line) and walk.


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