Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 22, 2009

Hiroshima - Kei's parents' home:

The festival that day went great. I don't think we ever fell back asleep after my last entry. I think we went back out to get food. I had a burger, coffee and a hash brown that tasted just like at McDonald's. Anyway, we pull up to Club Goodman and unload our stuff. We moved it down the street to the other venue, where they had three floors, each floor, a very tiny room where the bands played. Very hot. Does It Float? was the first band I saw play and they were awesome. Seventeen Again was great too. The rowdiest band - fuckin' crazy. Jumped into the crowd. I got kicked in the face. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt at all. I got a bunch of free CDs. Stoked to listen to Weezie And The Moelies. I guess they sound like the Kung-Fu Monkeys. So yeah, I had a beer and some convenience store food - sandwich slices with no crust and a pastry. Eddie doesn't have any yen, cause his ATM card doesn't work in these ATMs. So he can only use it at places that accept Visa like convenience stores and stuff.
I was walking back t the club and saw a group of people outside playing Nintendo. Old school Mario Nintendo, so I watched and the girl asked if I wanted to partake, so I did! I finished the level and handed it off. They all went in some building nearby, so I played another level and went back to the club. Kei sold about 20-25 of the new Kobanes CDs ("Japan Invasion") and some T-shirts with the album artwork on them. There was an after-party Sunday night, but we were all too tired and still jet lagged to do anything of the sort. I think I lost a pound in sweat playing in that room. We quickly crashed.

We woke up early around 6 or 7 a.m. Kei was back, I guess he only stayed out after dropping us off from 10:30 to midnight. He doesn't drink or anything, which is good in some ways, especially for us. He's the only driver we have. He's a "tax man." His mother's a protestant Christian and his dad is a Buddhist. Interesting mix. Kei said he has not yet found a religion but someday hopes to. I guess I can empathize with that, having also been raised with no religion. We left Hotel Kamatsu for a little bit and got McDonald's. I ate the cheapest thing, a sausage breakfast sandwich. Only 190 yen! Like $2.20? Afterward, I got some lemon-flavored 8% ABV drink and in Japan, it's legal to drink in the car as long as you're not the one driving. So that was cool. The drive from Tokyo to Narita was a long one. About 8 or 9 hours because there was so much traffic, plus getting gas here off the highway takes like an hour because there are so many cars in line for it.
So we stopped. I had a burger, fries and a soda, which I think was diet...I got Kei two burgers and a Coke. Came to 970 yen. I guess we passed up Mt. Fuji, but it was hazy, so we couldn't see it. He said on the way back, we'll check it out. I hope we get to see a lot of cool stuff.
Anyway, we got to Memory Pops in Nagoya. The first band, Navigations came about 4 hours father than we did to play first of five bands. Crazy. hey were good though. It was fun to hear a Queers cover of "I Only Drink Bud" and a Sloppy Seconds cover in Japanese. I think they were amused by us singing along in English too. I guess music really is the universal language. Sense of Identity played too, they were pretty cool. The Because was also pretty good. Nice too.
About 30 people were rocking out to us. A bunch singing along too, which is strange to see. I think Kei is our biggest fan though. They love pop punk out here. Some girl was wearing a patch on her hat that said "I Read Zines" so I went out to Kei's car and grabbed some Squid Pro Quos to give to her, even though I know she didn't read English. But hey, what the hell, she might know someone who can and at least she can listen to the CD.
After the show, I was asked to autograph three CDs, something I've never done before. Two were in silver autograph pen ink even! I guess now it's official - we're rock stars. Haha. I grabbed five pot stickers for 100 yen and 5 dumplings for 100 yen and a chocolate cookie thing too. It was sustaining. Nice of the convenient store to microwave them for me. From Nagoya, we drove straight to Hiroshima. Actually, we stopped once for gas. And Kei's girl cigarettes that he says smell like raspberries. Pretty funny. The car was really uncomfortable. My legs were tired and my neck and back hurt. We stopped near Kei's parents' home and I bought rice crackers, a corn dog and some traditional Japanese sake. Have yet to try the sake though. Anyways at last night's show, Kei was surprised we did "Surfin' Bird" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain." Did them last, in opposite order. I went to a small grocery store before the show and bought two cans of 6% ABV oolong tea. At first, it was disgusting drinking fermented tea. Some guy traded me his tall boy of beer for it, so that was nice. Then I had one more, and it wasn't so bad after that first one. The guitars really weren't too distorted at this show, which made us sound weird. But it was fun. The venue was full of American '50s nostalgia. Memory Pops. Pretty cool. So anyway, we got to Kei's parents' home. His mom laid out bed mat things and stuff for us, which was really nice. I gotta remember to give his folks some chocolates. I wanted to get Jenny something at the convenient store - it's like a card, really beautiful though, meaning "Happiness and Pleasure" but I held off because I want to get her something nicer than a card. Perhaps kimono PJs? I want some too. So yeah, I'll figure out something. My suitcase is only so big. It's a carry on. Later today, we're playing at Okayama, Japan! I can't wait to see yet another city in this awesome country. Then tomorrow, we play Hiroshima! Then sightseeing. I want to see temples, go in hot springs, get some souvenir-shopping done...I want to see more and not just sleep. But now, I must sleep. It's almost 8 a.m. Not running on much. Plus I took two sleep aids Eric gave me. Mark's fuckin' snoring is countering their effects though. Eddie's typing either (This is all taken from paper, if you didn't figure that out already, that's why it's being typed out now!). Anyways, more to come soon!

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 20, 2009

Tokyo - Hotel Kamatsu

We're staying in a hotel barely big enough to fit 5 bodies. And it's two rooms adjoining. We arrived yesterday afternoon around 2:35 p.m. after a 13-hour nonstop flight from O'Hare. We landed, went through customs and went outside, walked back and forth for a Kei (tour manager/label owner). Then we got some Yen. I exchanged $250 USD for a little over 22,000 Yen. So I got charged basically a $30 service fee for using the goddamn airport's currency exchange instead of a Post Office. Their money is cool though. I like the coins. Some have holes in the middle (50 yen, 5 yen coins). I'm wearing a Japanese pair of pajamas...some kind of robe thing with a cloth belt that wraps around you. I'd like to bring a pair or two home with me.
We ate at a place on the corner - beef and rice. It was 320 yen...about $4? Pretty cheap. Came with miso soup. That tasted just like it does back home. The bathrooms here are strange. You have to squat and hover over basically a hole in the floor to take a dump which I have yet to try. There's a regular toilet too, but what's the fun in that? Plus I've never tried the bede (sp?) before. Not that I want to. The toilets are just different.
We were all awake and restless around 3-4 a.m., so we got dressed and walked around for about and hour and a half to two hours. Luckily, we didn't get lost. The stray cats out here are really skinny and have clipped tails. The birds here look like ravens and are humongous. There are convenient stores every block. On one street, there are two right next to each other. After walking around a lot, we stopped at a place and got some food. Mark and I had burgers with egg and bacon and onions. It tasted exactly like McDonald's. We had coffee and a has brown too. There was some stuff called "gum syrup" - it tasted like if you mixed powdered sugar with just a little bit of water. We saw some wasted guy and girl walking (if you want to call it that) down the street too. He ended up giving her a piggy back ride. Outside our room, a cat screamed like I've never heard before and then it sounded like wings flapping. I suspected a bird attack over food? But it could have been anything. It screamed for about a minute though.
Shower time is downstairs in the basement from 7 to 10 a.m. It's all a community shower room. There's a big bath tub filled with hot water too. I tried this out after rinsing off and after there weren't other naked dudes around. I never really did get too into that locker room mentality of showing off your package to other people. Eddie's going to shower now, then I'll go. Kei says it's OK for everyone to shower together, but everyone told him, "In America, we don't look at each other's dicks."
I bought a can of Kirin beer and Autumn Limited Brew. It was 6%. Tasted OK. For 10 yen, I got a pack of Felix The Cat gum too. It's getting to be light out. I think I may be allergic to something in this room. Mold or dust, I suspect. I'm not quite sure yet how I'm going to dry off. We have little face towels in the room. That will have to do. Man, I love these pajamas.
We play a show at 4 p.m. A 44-band festival. We're the only American band playing. Two venues and a total of 4 stages. Should be a good time! We get about 40 minutes to play, Kei said. Oh - Eric said he might have diarrhea.

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 19, 2009

We arrived! Went to hotel. Two small rooms. ate beef with rice and miso soup. All too tired to do anything else. Got a can of beer at "Family Mart," drank it. Passed out.

Kobanes Japan Tour (Journal) 2009: Sept. 18, 2009

On the plane now. Will be in Japan in a few hours. Got no sleep. Gonna try now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: Day 1 - THE SECOND AND THIRD STAGES

Well, shit. I can't say as much about both these stages because most of my Friday was spent at the main stage, standing up, wishing there was a place in that god damn club to sit down for a minute.
Anyways, I did see The Dopamines, which was awesome. They really tore it up. The fans are almost as bad as they are, in the sense that they probably drink and party too much. All The Dopamines do is bring that out of them. Man, people were going ape shit. And as loud as it was, that band is pretty fucking awesome and definitely worthy of a crowd like that.

The Dopamines (sorry they're sideways, deal with it)

I caught the Backseat Virgins on the second stage as well. They were pretty awesome from what I can remember. I don't have any pictures of them playing though. Ah! The 20 Belows I saw though. They rocked. They're a band from Denmark, kinda like The Queers mixed with Dillinger Four I want to say...anyway, they're good, check 'em out. They also came back to the states and played the Goin' Knowhere Fest in Grand Rapids, MI. Well, that's all for Friday, folks! After that, I think we went up to my friends' hotel room with two guys from Le Volume Etait Au Maximum and partied, drank, etc...etc...then went to bed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: Day 1, Friday - MAIN STAGE

I FUCKIN' MISSED HOUSE BOAT. One of the bands that I really really wanted to see that weekend, I missed because I was still at my hotel and lost track of time. I wanted to get a shirt but then would feel like a moron cause it's like "hey, I'm wearing a shirt of a band that I like but have never seen or heard their music before (except for a couple of MySpace songs." But there were many more awesome bands to see that day - I felt better pretty quickly.
The Unlovables were amazing - I had never really heard anything by them before I saw them, so I was just kind of in awe during their whole set. Since then, I they are one of those bands you listen to for like a month straight. And I rarely do that with bands anymore. They struck me as amazing though, so I was really glad I was introduced to them live.

The Unlovables

Le Volume Etait Au Maximum played the main stage - they are a French band from Canada, eh? They were awesome though, even though I couldn't understand a goddamn word they were saying. Really good synth-pop punk. Kinda simiar to The Epoxies and stuff like that only a dude sings and not a chick.

Le Volume Etait Au Maximum

Underground Railroad To Candyland has also been growing on me since Insub. It's Todd C. from Toys That Kill/F.Y.P and another guy from Toys That Kill basically playing a little more obscure music with a couple of different dudes. They're really catchy though (in a non-pop punk way even!) and are really entertaining. I always am amused by the backup vocalist guy when I see them. His face reminds me of John Belushi's and all he does is jump up and down and sing stretched out vowels to the ends of lines in the song. In sunglasses. It's pretty awesome but they all fit together and make something really good.

Underground Railroad To Candyland

The Copyrights played really well. It was weird seeing them with a shitload of people going nuts for them cause they play Chicago like every other weekend and it's great but people don't go ape shit for their set all the time. But they did play really really well and it was cool seeing them somewhere else for once.

The Copyrights

Pansy Division was an experience. Never saw them before. Joel from MTX plays with them as the only straight guy in the band. Man, were they flamboyant. But they were good, I liked their stuff. A little more preachy and out there than stuff I like, but it wasn't bad.

Pansy Division

The Steinways were one of the few bands I basically came to see. I had heard it was supposedly their last show before calling it quits and I wanted to see them at least once. And I did! And it was fuckin' awesome! They did a big finish with "Carrie Goldberg" and that was that. They played amazingly and to me, they are one of those bands that every song on their album is a "hit," so to speak. All catchy, all fun and all good in my book. I was really happy that I got to see them.

The Steinways

Boris The Sprinkler was fucking weird. I liked them, but damn. I think Reverend Norb is a little fixated on anal sex. I don't know too much about the guy or his band, but I kind of wish I did so I knew what they were all about, so to speak. At one point, he was holding a sign that read, "UFO UFO." I ended up getting that sign after the threw it out into the crowd. It currently sits pinned to my wall - a nice souvenir from the fest. They were entertaining as fuck though. They also must have gotten a sweet discount on toilet paper because they brought shitloads of it to throw into the crowd, which the crowd then reciprocated (nooooo, really?) and it was pretty awesome.

Boris The Sprinkler

The Dead Milkmen. They were the biggest reason for me to attend this festival. Moreso than probably all the other bands combined. The Dead Milkmen were a band I grew up listening to in high school with my best friend while we cruised around, singing along to songs like "Taking Retards To The Zoo" and "Bitchin' Camaro" while we fucked up people's cars, mailboxes and garbage cans in the wee hours of morn." The Dead Milkmen were not only an awesome band, but a band I thought was hilarious. Especially during a time when the "music to listen to" was all this over-serious bullshit (has it ever changed?). Seeing The Dead Milkmen made me feel like I was 16 again, driving around subdivisions and neighborhoods being a moron. Which felt really good, actually. Really liberating. Anyways, I got right up there and got to sing along with Rodney at one point just for a split second, which made my night. Man, was it awesome.

The Dead Milkmen

Thinking Back On Insubordination Fest: The Pre-Show

It's been a couple months now since the the most recent biggest annual pop punk fest of the 21st century, Insubordination Fest. I never really wrote anything about it because I put all my time into issue two and getting permission to use those songs for the comp. and all that. So it's really been bugging me. Anyway, I think a really really late and overdue review is in order before I forget altogether.

I don't necessarily remember the schedule and the lineup and who played on what day and stuff, but I remember the gist of it. But in sequential order - first the pre-show. I remember it being a hell of a hot day outside and walking several miles from our hotel to the venue. When we got there, it was hot in there too and everything drinkable seemed too expensive. Pat Termite kicks ass because he hooked us up on admission for the weekend so Pat, if you're reading, thank you.
I remember particularly enjoying Deep Sleep, an amazing hardcore band out of Baltimore. I got wood for that band after seeing them play Reggie's in Chicago with Psyched To Die and Dillinger Four. They were a great band - old school hardcore with short and intense songs. Definitely more fun than a lot of other hardcore bands which I think just take themselves way too seriously.


Short Attention was pretty cool - I've longed to see The Steinways, The Unlovables and all those east coast pop punk band I love and have never got the chance to see in Chicago. Short Attention though was different. I thought they were funny but I ended up actually being pretty annoyed mostly by the girl in the band, who didn't even play an instrument. Unless talking incessantly is an instrument. Then Teenage Bottlerocket played last and they played some new songs, which I fell in love with. One of them being "Skate or Die," the first track off their new album, "They Came From The Shadows" due out September 15.
That CD is going to own. Anyways, the pre-show was awesome. I remember Festipals was cool, but having never heard of them, I remember being puzzled as to why they were so high up on the bill.
The Max Levine Ensemble impressed me as well. They were a trio of aggressive songs but also poppy, catchy songs, if memory serves me correctly...I remember it looked like they conveyed elements of frustration and anger as the lead singer would quickly shake his head back and forth as he played his guitar. I dunno how he managed to sing like that, but it was pretty awesome - they showed a real energy up there and it was awesome. They did a song with Delay (who were also good to see) and Delay finished their set with a cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" (later covered by KISS). Playing that turned it into an all-out fucking rock show. Chicks appeared from nowhere with KISS face paint on - random people (as far as I know) came on stage to play guitar and the crowd seemed to be digging it as well. It changed the air in that place from heavy "typical semi-awkward punk show" to a "pretty relaxed show with a whole variety of shit so don't be extra awkward if you see something completely different."

Stuff that sucked: It was hot. I also wasn't too impressed with The Loblaws. I know they are a little different than the other pop punk bands out there but their songs didn't wow me at all and I didn't like the way any of their music sounded either. All the other bands I remember thinking, "meh, they're OK" about. But it was really good to see Delay, Max Levine Ensemble, Short Attention (kind of), Deep Sleep and Teenage Bottlerocket. John Walsh was pretty cool too. They were actually the most entertaining of bands at the pre-show. Never before have I witnessed a high-five pit or a hug pit before seeing these dudes. I saw them in Chicago once before, but yeah - pretty funny stuff. And they have Jon Weiner of The Dopamines in them, which is kinda cool if you like The Dopamines.