Japan Tour Diary, Part 5

Thursday 12th of February, Fandango Osaka


I wake up around 8am, and despite being horribly hung-over, I cannot sleep and so get up and take a wander round the neighbourhood. I manage to drink a can of coffee and sup some water. It’s a beautiful sunny morning and but I am a wreck of a man after last night’s boozing. I arrive back at the hotel to find everyone up and about. We have to leave by 10 to go to Osaka. I grab a shower and after a quick scramble we’re in the van and on the road.

Again we stop off at one of these excellent roadside restaurants en route and have a fine dinner. Keita is not showing any signs of fatigue and is doing an excellent job of managing this tour for us. I have a satisfying breakfast of giant prawns and noodles and this seems to get me over the hangover hump. 

After another hour or so we arrive in Osaka. Osaka is a bustling town and is pretty in the afternoon sunshine. We get caught out with the GPS where there is no legal turn right but Keita figures this out no bother. Soon we are loading into Fandango, a cool 200 or so capacity venue in the centre of town. We’re due to headline tonight so we want to do ourselves proud. After a smooth soundcheck we’re happy enough and head to the backstage area, which is directly above the venue but only accessible via a multi-storey car park next door. The tiredness is beginning to take its toll as we try to agree a 30 minute set. I seem to constantly think of one song but say another. Soon we are off on our eternal quest to buy batteries for our pedals and to see a little of Osaka. 

We wander through what appears to be a red-light district with signs saying “Fresh Girl”. This amuses us to no end. Beyond these series of streets we hit a shopping district including the shop “Mini Mini” which has its own theme music “Mini Mini Mini!” It’s very catchy believe me you! We call back to the venue and meet up with Keita before wandering off downtown again in search of an internet café. I take the opportunity to buy some fruit in a market en route. Keita brings us to a very plush internet café where I struggle with a Japanese keyboard and my own sleep-starved brain, and lose the first draft of this diary. NOOOOOOOO! I also check out the interview I did with our friends at One More Tune - cheers girls!! 

We amble back to Fandango and head backstairs to see that LITE have a load a delicious cakes provided by a fan. Cool! Now all we need is a fan to provide some beer wink! Enda and Donnchadh are feeling the tiredness big time and try to put the head down for 30 minutes or so. The quiet is shattered by Lostage taking the stage below us. They bring a fierce no-wavey floor shaking noise. Myself and Brian head on downstairs to check them out. Lostage are in full flight when we arrive and a crowd of 50 or so people are gathered to watch them. Their bass and drums bash out a pounding rhythm while the guitar player cranks out effects-laden guitar screeches. And over all this their singer yelps and howls. Excellent! This is the type of Jap-rock that Julian Cope speaks of – this music could not be coming from anywhere else in the world, although in parts it reminds me of Liars or Dublin’s late great Papercop. The rest of the lads head on down in time to catch Yolz in the Sky, whose vintage Smashing Pumpkins stylings are slick and infectious. 

Keita’s friend Kohe comes along. He used to work in Yamamori Noodles in Dublin and is no stranger to the Dublin music scene. Also there is Kazuto, bass player with the excellent Electric Eel Shock , for whom I have organised two concerts in Dublin. They are an amazing band and played my personal favourite Ballroom of Romance night a few years ago. I’m amazed to find out that EES are not well known in Japan, despite been quite well known in Europe and the States. We chat about having EES back in Dublin and he tells me about EES cutting their teeth as a young band in Osaka before hitting the road. We also meet Kana, who’s been in touch via Myspace. She’s a mate of Asuka and has been listening to the album and says some great things about it. Again we’re chuffed to travel so far and find out someone’s been digging the music beforehand!

LITE play another savage set, with cool visuals projected to the stage right.

Marvin’s Revolt hit the stage. I can’t sit to watch them as I’ve a bit of work to do in swapping the batteries for my pedals. I’m a ball of nervous energy with a queasy stomach and jittery hands so can’t really sit still to watch the remainder of their set. 

Finally we hit the stage and start rockin’. I have some problems with banjo feedback early on, but thing settle down. Enda jumps into the audience for a quick rockout which goes down well! We finish our set and are asked for an encore which on reflection means that the audience didn’t really notice our problems, I suppose. [am I remembering this right?]. 

I’m a little freaked out over the banjo sound problems but it turns out that this was only audible on the stage monitors. Out front it sounded good.

We have a beer with Kana and chat to a few others and hit the road back to Nagoya. I’m totally fucked and need to sleep. The lads had the right idea in resting earlier on and I need to watch my energy levels in the coming days. We stop at another roadside restaurant and I buy a fish-burger type sandwich which settles the stomach. Kozo and Kazuto have to drive back to Tokyo tonight for work in the morning, leaving just the two vans to carry everyone back to Nagoya. To even out the load in the vans, Nobuyuki joins us in our van. Myself and himself chat long about Italian progressive rock and play a load of Area, Goblin, Picchio Dal Pozzo and Arti e Mestieri on my ipod. Enda is getting scared!

Finally we arrive back in Nagoya, but this time we’re too tired to even consider boozing. All of us hit the hay soon after arrival. Brian is first to crash and Donnchadh grabs his nose to stop the snoring! Brian is not impressed! I say “Everyone turn clockwise!” and yes, this seems to stop the snoring all round.