Tokyo Tour – Saturday – Day 11 Live Freak Great night at Live Freak. There were a few really good acts on the night. First up was a girl on piano and vocals who played ethereal type of jazz and opera. She was really good. The stand out band on the night was an electronic duo called Moltz. They were probably the best act I have seen in a long time. Just amazing and had an amazing VJ show to go along with it. Great vocals and excellent sound with a keyboard and guitar player. Jules got to play with another band that played a kind of Reggae. I did manage to video some of it and may post it sometime. There was another after party again with food cooked by Ono san who cooked some curry rice. Unfortunately we had to leave early again so we could catch the last train to Clarksville. Somewhere along the way I lost my glasses so I couldn’t read anything. When we got home we drank and chatted till the wee hours of the morning. Jules got pretty lit and was funny. We are finally finished! What a tour. Fantastic time was had by all. See you in Tasmania!
Tokyo Tour – Friday – Day 10 Diglight
I got woken up this morning by the sound of a nail gun next door. Apparently they are renovating. Had a cup of green tea latte and decided to check emails and write this day’s blog. We all had a bit of a walk around Kumegawa today, got some lunch and came back home to wait for the train to Takadanobaba. Diglight is like Cheers of Japan. Our last experience was fantastic and they treated us like family. It was great to see some long time friends there tonight. Jo and I played the first set as a duo then the band played a long set. When we played Addiction, Chatta brought out the placard with the words to it that she kept for over five years and Ginny got the crowd clapping the time. That was really cool. We sold some t-shirts and CD’s and made some tips. Unfortunately we had to leave to catch the train back home so we couldn’t stay and visit with our friends. Until next time....
Tokyo Tour – Thursday – Day 9 What the Dickens
What the Dickens in an English pub so there will be a lot of English speaking people there. We were booked to play there when we first came to Japan and we missed the gig. We got lost, couldn’t find our hotel, and had no phone so we couldn’t contact anyone. We are much more organised this time... lol Fortunately, Yugo Sato filled in for us that night and that’s how we first met him. We did play there for an Amnesty International Day on another trip here so we made amends. We got off the train at Ebisu and found the street we needed to be on with no problems. However, we started to get worries as we knew we were close but there were no signs for the place we could see. We saw a familiar building and went in the front of it and still didn’t see any signs for the club so I asked a guy in one of the businesses if he knew where What the Dickens was and he said “on the fourth floor”. We were right there and didn’t know it! After we set up we had complimentary meals and all the booze we wanted to drink except beer. Weird that we could drink free spirits and wine but we had to pay for beer. Well, needless to say I drank Jameson’s! The night was live streamed too. It was a great night and the band kicked. Again, it was more acoustic and we didn’t need to mic the percussion. We got a really nice tip and sold CD’s and made some new friends and fans. I introduced one of our songs called Natural Disaster and talked about it being about an earthquake in Bam, Iran and there was an ex-army guy there and he said he was actually there! He was a medic and helped the injured children and told me that the US donated over $12,000,000.00 worth of medical supplies to the people. He said it brought up a lot of memories, so that was cool that someone actually knew about the song. After the gig Sparky (who we played with at Live Freak and is Uchida’s best friend) took our gear home and we got a lift with Uchida as we certainly missed the last train. Got home and Sparky cooked up some fried rice and gyoza and we talked and drank some more until 0300.
Tokyo Tour – Wednesday – Day 8 Club Gari Gari
Surprisingly woke up today with no hangover. But I suppose I didn’t really get that drunk the night before. We don’t have to be there until 1800 today so we just relaxed until it was time to leave. Julian and Nigel don’t have to play tonight so they have the day off. We have Yugo Sato opening up for us tonight and we play for about an hour or so. Should be interesting. Well, made two trains with no problems. The third train was a bit of a mishap. When we got to the track the train was there so we jumped on it. I saw that it said express after we got on and hoped it stopped at our station. But when we were zooming past stations we got worried it wasn’t gonna stop. A girl saw me looking at the train map I had and told us we better get off at the next station or we were going to be ending up very far from where we wanted to be. So, no problems; we got off and caught the local train going back the other way and still had plenty of time for sound check and chit chat. Gari Gari is owned by an Aussie girl and her Japanese partner. It was a cool intimate place with lots of old movie posters all over the walls and other bits of art and paraphernalia. A few of our Japanese friends we made over the years showed up and it was great to see them. Yugo was great. He is a very inventive and clever musician and artist. He built Jo a kazoo type instrument made from a garden spade. Incredible! He played a fantastic set and is just a joy to watch and listen to. The last song he played, he had his girlfriend come up and she did a kind of Hawaiian dance to a song he wrote. It was beautiful and so was she. We played our set as a duo and it was nice to play in a quieter situation. No loud PA or hard rock bands! We made some new friends and sold some CD’s and T-shirts. On the train home Jo noticed she didn’t have her purse. FREAKOUT! She thought she left it at the station so fortunately we went only one stop. So, off the train and on the next on the other side to go back. When we got to the station there was no purse. She had everything in there like wallet, money, ID so we were really worried. Usually here in Japan, if someone found it, it would be given to the station attendant untouched, so we asked at the ticket counter and it wasn’t there. Jo went back to Gari Gari and there it was! Phew.... Back on the train and on our way home. We stopped to get something to eat when we got to Kumegawa at the local Sumiya. It was like a chain of fast food places that served good food nd we got set meals of a bowl of rice and meat with a bowl of miso soup and a small plate of veggies of only about $4.00 Australian each. Great stuff. Bellies full we walked home, had a chat with Uchida for about an hour or so and made plans to come back and play different clubs that pay more money! Oyasumi.
Tokyo Tour – Tuesday – Day 7 Missions
Same as every day we walked to the Kumegawa train station. We always walk past this little shop that sells takoyaki and other delicacies. This time I thought we should try some takoyaki as we have eaten it in Osaka before. So I got six of them for 400 yen, about $4.00 and they were excellent. Off to Missions for sound check at 1400. HARD FUCKING ROCK and HEAVY FUCKING METAL is the theme for the night at Missions. Kushi, who is the drummer for the band Burnet Bull, is the organiser. I’m not sure how we are going to do as we are neither of these genres. We were the third band to play and as it turns out we had the place rocking. We changed our set a little and it worked. Burnet Bull had a pole dancer open their show and somehow I missed it! Must have gone somewhere? They had the club rocking and for their last song we were invited on stage to help them sing a traditional Japanese folk song heavy metal style and we had to sing “You are king of kings” and a lalalala type thing with everyone. Fantastic! After the show there was an after party with food. I forgot to mention that for 1500 yen about $15.00 you got to drink all night Now I know why the call the three nights Hard Drunk Strip. Needless to say at the end of the night we were pretty hammered. We had to rush out and almost missed the last train to Kumegawa and I don’t remember going to sleep. Next.....
Tokyo Tour – Monday – Day 6 Live Freak
Up again early (well 10:00am is early for me) to get organised for the day. Sound check at 2:20pm again for a 7:30 show. Nothing exciting happening before the train ride today. I think Jules and Nigel had a bit of a squiz around the neighbourhood and got some food and water. We caught the express to Seibu-Shinjuku station then walked to Live Freak. During sound check we heard a couple of decent acts. After that we got something to eat at a ramen place. Great food for less than $5.00! Back at Live Freak for the band introductions then waited for the first act. Ryo was a female acoustic guitarist/singer who had a great voice. Very powerful and emotional. Then there was a guy called Sparky who played loop style with an acoustic guitar and he was great also. He had a cool laser show and heaps of effects like a couple of Korg Koas pads and a shit load of other things that sounded amazing. Definitely festival level stuff. After him was a band called Dizz. They played a funky kind of style with a female singer, guitarist and bass player. Again, fine musicians. I think another band played then it was our turn. It was funny; when we played chairs were put out concert style so everyone could sit and watch. It was amazing. The crowd response was great and we were stoked. After us there were a few more acts but there was one standout act called Armcharwar who played last because they just flew in from Thailand to make the gig so they could play with us! How cool is that!? They were a three piece with a girl drummer who was great. They also had a fantastic VJ show. The songs were really good and so was the singer. One thing about a great band is that no matter what language they are singing in it doesn’t matter. After everyone played Uchida and Sparky took our gear to Missions for the show tomorrow and we stayed back for the after party. The after party at Live Freak is put on so audience and the bands could get to know each other. Another cool thing. For $15.00 (but not for us) Ono who is the manager, cooks up some great food and you can drink all you want for one and a half hours. We made lots of new friends and had a great time.
Tokyo Tour – Sunday – Day 5 Outbreak
Easier day today. We don’t sound check until 4:30pm and we are the first band on. We play with six other bands tonight. As our equipment is already there, taking the trains will be much better. So it’s up at around 12:30pm and relax a bit today. Jules and Nigel went to the supermarket to get some more bottled water and other food stuff as well as a look around the area. We did some laundry, had some breakfast then off to sound check. Outbreak is a really cool live house in a part of Tokyo called Yotsuya. It’s in the basement of a building and like all live houses has a great PA and lighting system including engineers. It was nice to see some old friends from our previous trips there and was warmly welcomed. After sound check we got something light to eat from Lawson’s (like a 7-11 but better) and hung around till show time. We were the first band on so all the bands and some of the paying customers were there to see us. They loved our sound and songs and made feel like rock stars.. lol. There were a lot of really good bands on the night and had some funny names like “The Sexual Harassmant” and “Flower Train” both great bands. Funkasista was like funk and hip hop band with a fine line up of musicians with a female sax and male trumpet player and had the place hopping. We made some new friends and I think Nigel might have some luck for the near future in the female department if you know what I mean. Uchida san picked us up at the end of the night and him and Jules took the gear back to Live Freak for tomorrows gig. After that they came back to pick us up and we went to get some ramen noodle soup, then home. Bellies full we were back home having a nice chat with our host then off to bed. OTSUKARESAMA DESU
Tokyo Tour – Saturday – Day 4 Live Freak Sound check at Live Freak at 3:00pm. Again, an easy trip to gig by the Seibu-Shinjuku line. Uchida printed out a map with pictures and directions so we wouldn’t get lost just in case. We got off at Shinjuku station and it was about a 7 or 10 minute walk to the gig. Shinjuku station is huge! We walked out of the exit and it was bang in the city! Following the instructions it was no problem finding Live Freak. Again filling out the paperwork for the sound engineer, lighting person and door people and an easy sound check was had. After sound check we looked for a place to eat and we had to be back for band introductions at 5:50pm. We found a great place to eat just around the corner from Live Freak and it was less than $10.00 for a three course meal. Back at Live Freak just in time for our band introduction and everyone raised their glasses to each other. There were quite a few good bands on the night and especially an eleven piece group with three trumpets, three sax’s (alto, tenor and baritone), keys, bass, guitar, drums and lead singer. The musicians were well trained and very good players. A band from Korea was also cool and had a good singer. After the gig there was a party for the bands and the manager cooked some curry for everyone. Uchida was at Missions that night but at the end of the night he came to Live Freak to pick us up and take our gear to Outbreak for tomorrow night’s show. Back home and a few beers later then off to never never land.
Tokyo Tour - Friday - Day 3
Sound check at Missions at 2:30pm. We left at 1:00pm to navigate the Tokyo trains to get to Missions on time. Arrived with no problems and we were ready for sound check. There were five bands on the bill tonight so the band to play first sound checks last. We were in the middle. It’s really great at these gigs because when you are at sound check you have to fill out some paperwork with the names of the songs, band members, any lighting you want, any effects on the vocals, your guest list and if you want a CD or DVD at the end of the night. There is also a table set up so bands could sell their merch. The stage crew are also professional. A fun night was had by all and we made some new friends. Uchida san took us out to late dinner after the gig about 11:30pm or so and we came back to the apartment and drank some more.. lol O-yasumi
Tokyo Tour – Thursday – Day 2 Well... to say Nigel snores is an understatement! Jack hammer outside your bedroom window? I should say I (Paul) am writing this blog so I don’t have to refer to myself in the second or third person and this is from my perspective. We all stayed in this little hotel room, Nigel on the left in a single bed, Julian in the middle in a pull out bed and Jo and I in the queen bed. At least someone got some sleep; not me. 4:00am wakeup call to get the cab at 4:30am the guy at the reception booked for us. We told him we needed a maxi cab as we had a shit load of equipment. When the cab arrives it was a car. WTF? Can’t they get anything right? So I called the cab company and they said they MIGHT be able to get us a maxi cab and after a few minutes on the phone they said they would send one. Now it’s getting close to 5:00am and we have to be at the airport to get the flight to Gold Coast at 6:00am to catch the flight to Narita. Panic is over when the cab arrives and we just make it to the check- in counter. It was an easy flight to the Gold Coast. Quite warm and muggy... ugh. I thought we should just go through customs before getting something to eat as we were pretty hungry. There was a sign you could see through the international door saying food and prayer rooms so I thought no problems; except for the prayer rooms part... again, that’s just me. So we get through customs and find the food is really expensive. I go to talk to the customs agent to see what the procedure was to go out (where the cheap food court is) and come back in and he said you are stuck here now; you already left the country. Bugga... Oh well, have to pay a little more for that ham sandwich. Made the flight to Narita on a nice big plane. Jo,Jules and I sat just in front of the door and Nigel got to sit in the first row just behind the door so he had tons of foot room. They spaced us nicely so we had a seat between us (Jo and I) and Jules had the three seats open next to the window. A few games and movies later and we are in Japan. Get our luggage, go through customs with no hassles and time to find the trains. We arrived at terminal three and it was unfamiliar so it took a bit of time to find out where to go. As we finally found out the train was at terminal three, I remembered the last time we were there that was the terminal we normally arrived at. We took the Skyliner to Nippori then the local train to Takadanobaba then the Seibu-Shinjuku line to Kumagama where Uchida san’s apartment is. He picked us up and we arrived at his place. After a good chat and a bottle of Cutty Sark whiskey between us, we and especially me got some well needed sleep.