When I arrived at Shinjuku I found out that they shut off some of the streets to vehicle traffic so people can walk around freely. I was about 10 minutes early so I just stood around, looking at everything that was going on. I was supposed to meet up with Tim in front of the Studio Alto building so I was standing in the middle of the street in front of it. Nearby there was some kind of tourism promotion going on with men dressed up as Samurai with a girl announcing all sorts of things. About five minutes after I arrived a black van with speakers that was nearby started annoucing all kinds of things although, naturally, I had no idea what they were babbling about.
About five minutes after the hour another foreigner came up to me and asked me if I was HunterZero (my online nickname) and I answered in the affirmative. His name was Rud13 (pronounced like the sport movie) and he was to let me know that Tim would be a few minutes late but was enroute. We chatted for a while about random things and general information sharing, every now and then wondering where Tim was. TO describe Rud13 one merely needs to imagine what the members of The Ramones look like. He honestly could have been a member of the band.
Tim showed up close to 2:30pm with a girl in tow. Also let us know that some more people would be joining us and we'd be waiting probably until 3pm for them. Chatted about various things but mostly stuck to two topics: video games and Tim's errie ability to take all sorts of words and figure out how to twist them into sexual statements. I have to give him credit, he is very creative and good at it. Eventually they other group of people showed up and we headed off towards the Korean part of Shinjuku where our intended meal for the day was. We all introduced ourselves but honestly, I don't remember anyone's name other than a gentleman by the name of Andrew Bush, and I recall his because Rud13 and Tim kept referring to him as A Bush and it stuck in my mind. I suck with names.
After walking through Kabukicho and passing by mens clubs (not where men go, but where you can find dressed up men if you gather my meaning) we came to Korea town. We were going to get noodles but Tim said the current batch they had out looked less than stellar so we waited around chatting until they came up with a fresh batch. The noodles weren't that bad but I wasn't overly impressed by them. The flavor and the texture were an odd combination that was okay but wasn't that great either. What really stole the show though were these cinnimon/honey pancakes that they also sold. Eat three of those bad boys and suffered a nasty burn to my lip and chin when the molten sugar within got lose. One of the guys working at the pancake/noodles stand was nearby having a smoke break and thought it was funny when I burnt myself. We all sat around chatting about random things, like how we were standing in the alcove/entrance of a building with the name of "ASS". I discovered that the building next to it was called ASS building two, which lead to all kinds of wonderful jokes about did they each represent a different one or was each one a different cheek. We also wandered through the Don Quixote store that was next to us and commented on the different things that we found. We even found a full size school girl costume designed for men. Japan... only in Japan. Bought myself a beer from the store since I had seen all these commercials for it on TV. Not a very good beer I must say and Tim later told me that it was a beer made from Soy Beans. Ugh.
Eventually we left our little hangout area and headed towards the concert venue. It wasn't going to open for another hour and a half so we went to a nearby McDonalds to kill some time and have a snack or two. We chatted about random things until we had killed enough time and headed out to go to the concert. The funniest thing that happened was that one of the guys (sorry, can't remember his name) went over to this girl who also in the resturant in order to try and get her number or email address or whatever it is they give out over here. Tim had gone up to check on him and said that the girl had this look of terror on her face. Right after the guy finally came down out of the resturant another gentleman by the name of Brandon joined us. Dude easily has the best hairstyle of the entire group. You just see it and think "That's the perfect hairstyle for that man." I don't normally notice that kind of thing, that's how apparent it was.
We arrived at the venue and found that it really was this small, cozy little place. The bar wasn't that bad and I had the first Scotch and Soda that I'd had in years. After drinking it remembered why I normally didn't drink Scotch and Soda so I went back and got a Rum and Coke. Slowly but steadily the place began to fill up with people and shortly after 7pm the conert started.
The first band was a complete suprise and easily my favorite of the night. They just put so much energy into their performance that it was really enjoyable. Their style reminds me somewhat of The Pillows in that they rock out and also have nice ballad songs. Bought their CD and I have to say that while the CD is alright, their live performance is much better. I'm not just referring to their act but also to their musical sound. They just sound better live.
The second band was alright, but my least favorite of the night. They featured an electric piano and while at times it was really nice, other songs were worse for having it there. Playing clashing keys on a piano can work but you have to know what you're doing and have a band to back you up properly. The final few songs were somewhat funny to watch as the lead singer started to break down in what can only be described as a poor tribute to The Who. A note to everyone in a band: It worked for The Who because it was new, unexpected and fit their style. Don't try to copy it.
The last band, Kamaboiler, had been described to me as country music, but with all the bad parts taken out. Honestly I didn't think such a thing could exist but I was wrong. Damned wrong. That is exactly what they sounded like. They took out the more annoying guitar stylings and poor vocals that are found in most country and created this odd kind of country-rock hybrid. Their lead guitar player, this small little guy with a hat and scarf on was honestly the most into his music that I have ever seen a musician on stage been. Not to take anything away from the other members (the bass player was excellent, the drummer nearly killed himself and the lead singer was perfect for their music) but he flat out, hands down wins the performer of the night award. I didn't buy their CD because I while they were a good band, I don't know if I would really enjoy them outside of a live performance. They did come back out for one encore (Rud13 told us that last time they did three encores) and then the concert finally ended. A good three hours of music.
We stayed a while, chatting with various people including this one girl with an English accent (like I said, I'm bad with names) who was in town studying Japanese. The only thing I really remember about her was one of the most unique statements I have ever heard come out of someone's mouth: She said that she thinks Russian is the sexiest language ever. I've heard people say the same thing about Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian and even English but never Russian (or German for that matter). I'll probably remember little else of what everyone talked about that night but that'll probably stay with me. Also met the lead singer of Haneto who was a friend of hers and told him that his band was my favorite of the night. Took me a minute to realize who he was until he looked at the CD I had bought and said thank you. I then looked at him, then at the stage, then looked back and realized who he was. So I'm not the smartest cookie in the jar alright, but I figure things out sometimes.
We finally departed and started walking towards Shinjuku station and when we got close to the main street Rud13, Brandon, Tim and the girl with him headed towards another station while the rest of us continued towards Shinjuku. When we finally got to the station the first thing I saw was a girl who had fallen down and had several of her friends tending to her. I would have stopped but for two reasons: I had a train to catch and I wouldn't really know how to help. Split up with the other guys because I had to get into line to get my paper ticket (I assume they all had passes) and by the time I got to the platform the train had left. Nice guys, it's a shame I don't remember any of their names except for A Bush. Got onto the next train home and finally got back, wandering through the dead silence of the night with a fierce ringing in my ears. Didn't really fall asleep until 3am due to the damned cats making even more noise than normal. I swear, it's like they're trying to see just how loud they can be.
Photos for January 28th, 2007