Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Asian Invasion in Retrospect

It's been about 2 weeks now since our 16 friends went back home to Tokyo, Japan. If you read my previous blog, you know who and what I am talking about. From Thursday Oct 9th until the night of Monday October I spent countless hours (and well over 1000 miles) driving my old minivan (which was dragging on the ground in the back) along with many other friends who drove 16 Japanese friends from Cleveland, to Baltimore, to Pittsburgh, to Cleveland (again) back to Youngstown, and then to Cleveland (again).

Thursday Night (the 9th) we drove up to Cleveland Hopkins Airport where we picked up 11 Asians. We were excited to see our friends whom we had met before: Kunhide, Dr Feelgood, etc etc. Also just as exciting was meeting some new faces. After a short mishap with some missing luggage, we loaded up our cars (and I mean LOADED) and drove back to Youngstown. On the car ride back we talked and the language barrier (which was very difficult the 1st time) was much easier for everyone. We got home and everyone went to sleep. The next day would be a very long one...

Friday we loaded up and headed to Baltimore. It took about 6 hours and we arrived on time. The show's line-up was STOUT, TRAPPED UNDER ICE, CROWD DETERRENT, BACKHAND, CREEPOUT and NUMB. Our friends from Baltimore (Danny/Charles/Backhand) had picked up 5 more Asians at the Baltimore airport who would join our cavalcade of minorities and foreigners. The show's attendance was great. Numb set up and walked on stage. They started playing and everyone was eager to hear them... they played sloppy and shouted to the sound guy to fine-tune the sound in the monitors... after 2 sloppy songs and a lot of fine-tuning... Numb walked off stage, much to the confusion of everyone at the show. Was THAT their set??? No, it wasn't, because in Japan, hardcore shows are a much more professional ordeal than it is here in the US with bands doing a real rehearsal/sound check before the show. In American all you do is tap the mic and rip into your set. I ran back stage and told Senta "You have to go back out there! You only have like 15 minutes left for your set time!" they seemed a little confused since American shows are not run quite like Japanese shows but I got them ready to go back out and announced to everyone on the mic what had happened. Numb walked out and ripped into the intro to the Cro Mags "We Gotta Know" and then ripped through the rest of their set. This was my 1st time seeing them, as well as everyone at the show. Numb had never played in the US before, but they have been playing in Japan since 1995. They were incredibly hard and tight, people went off. it was refreshing to see people give such energy to a band they had never heard before... but I have to admit, it would be difficult not to be motivated to move for that band because they were really one of the more solid bands I have ever seen. Creepout got just as good of a response. People went off and sang along. STOUT and TRAPPPED UNDER ICE both killed it as well, the Japanese guys were very excited to get to see both of these bands in their hometown of Baltimore.

After the show we decided to drive about an hour towards Pittsburgh and find a place to crash... this didn't work out too well. Turns out that along rt 70 there were no hotels available because some wacky festivals or something were going on that weekend. So we just kept going to each exit, hoping to find some rooms. We all ended up getting separated and my van load crashed at 5am with 11 of us in 2 rooms. Rob's load of 10 people tried to cram into 1 room at a hotel across the street, but were kicked out in no less than 5 minutes. No one slept very well that night.

The next day we drove to Pittsburgh and all met-up at Pittburgh Mills Mall and then our friend Mike's house. We got to the show @ Roboto at 7:15. The show was supposed to start @ 7:00 and was way overbooked. We had to rush to get everything set up. UNREAL CITY, AMERICAN WEREWOLVES and STEEL NATION kicked off the show and were both A+. This show's turn-out was great as well. NUMB and CREEPOUT took the stage and blew everyone away for the 2nd night in a row. Roboto was wild and violent as usual, Senta from Numb commented on it being one of the most violent shows his band had ever played. We capped the night off by hanging out at the famed Wall across form the O at Pitt University. There were about 50 or so people hanging out eating pizza, and the cops decided to park their cars right on the sidewalk in front of us to make sure we didn't cause any trouble...

That night we drove back to Youngstown. The next day we hung out and grilled, and everyone relaxed. We took the Asians to WORK WEAR DEPOT where they had a field day. Dickies, Carhart, and the like are all very expensive in Japan (they told us Dickie's pants run $50 a pair!). They all loaded up on flannel shirts, Dickie's pants, and all manner of rugged American work wear. Later we loaded up and drove to Cleveland for the last show. The turnout was far better than expected (we thought this would be the dud of the 3 shows) and once again, NUMB and CREEPOUT blew the roof off the place.

The last day we took them to a hotel in Cleveland by the airport so they could grab a shuttle there in the morning when their flight left. Some of them cried tears as they said goodbye. Our journey was over. We were all sad to see them leave.

The weekend was refreshing. We gave all the $$$ we were paid for the shows to CREEPOUT and NUMB. Our goal was to bring their music to the US, and we succeeded. Releasing their songs, as well as bringing them here to play live was our goal, and both were accomplished. it was great to see people mosh and sing for NUMB, a band they had never heard of before seeing them. This is rare today, most people do not even give their energy for bands that release easily accessible records here in the US. It was a great display of the attitude and spirit that 1st got me into HC when I was a teen. People of all races, people from the other side of the earth, people in different states... all coming together to have a good time and support some strangers they had never met before.

I was greatful to see all my friends form there again, and meet new ones like Senta, Ill-T and the rest. I am glad Kunhide, Dr Feelgood, and the others got to meet my son Bruce. I wish Japan wasn't so very far away. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

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