(First posted on http://www.recessiondodgetovictory.wordpress.com on 21/08/2010)

Well, as you may well know, I’m catching up on posts here after having el Smoocheroo, also known as my girlfriend Helena, over here. After all, I had to wait on her hand and foot and care to her every delicate need – she’s a difficult woman don’tcha know? “Taihen desu ne!”

Any how, my terrible difficulties are over now that she’s back home in sunny Scotland and she got through her resit in August. We’re still waiting on the results. If she gets through she’ll be doing her honours year in … Bioscience? Forensics? I forget – sorry! If she doesn’t then it gets complicated.  So wish her luck here or through facebook or otherwise, Get Out Of My Church! Out! *ooft! Out! *ooft! OUT!

Ahhhhh,  Disney’s Robinhood. Good times yo, good times.

Any how, I was gonna talk about the Summer Sonic music festival we went to in Tokyo. It spanned over 2 days but due to work schedules we could only go to one day; the one with the more progressive music (and Stevie Wonder).

The lineup was diverse with many stages including Dream Theater, Slash, Coheed and Cambria and The Devil Wears Prada representing the ‘heavier’ section to the diversity of Sum 41, A Tribe Called Quest, Hole, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Pixies, Everlast, FUNKY MONKEY BABYS and The Pillows as well as a dance tent (and Stevie Wonder).

I will now present to you the hits and misses of the day as decided upon by Mannie and Smoocheroo. Here we go:

Worst performance: My Passion – 4 guys trying to  jump-kick whilst wearing tight pants in time to the music and failing is not cool. Having a roadie take off the guitarists scarf that matches his outfit midway through the first song is not cool. The lead singer (and lead singer only) wearing foundation for the cameras is not cool. Mispronouncing ‘Aeri-gae-toe’ and sounding like someone just informed you of the word when you realised you had to take to a Japanese stage with 20 minutes to spare is not cool. For all your ‘style’, My Passion, no thanks.

Best performance: Bigelf  – They were on the setlist right after My Passion. I hadn’t heard of them and when they arrived on stage in 60s garb we feared the worst.

We were completely blown away though. It was like we’d time travelled back into the sixties: there were more drumsolos than crowdmembers; the guitars were chunky and reminiscent of Doctor Who’s theme tune when they weren’t solo’ing your face off as their players nonchalantly got on with melting your ears; and to top it all off, the singer/keyboardist/strange-sound engineer was a friggin wizard – A FRIGGIN WIZARD. I mean just look at this guy:

Now, imagine him in a robe with all this green light flying around whilst playing two keyboards at the same time and singing. He pulled that off for the last 2-3 songs. FREAKIN. LEGEND.

Crowd-Pleaser: Slash with Myles Kennedy – This was Helena’s pick of the day and the Japanese crowd’s too.

ASIDE ON JAPANESE CROWDS (you didn’t think I’d post without slating the Japanese did you? Ha!): If I ever play in front of a Japanese crowd I will expect them to do one thing. No, they won’t sing with you – the ones that do know English will bow to peer-pressure and the rest will just stare like cows. And no, they won’t move or dance. I tried skanking and jumping up and down to Coheed and Cambria and was greeted with either a flesh wall of people not moving or everyone in the crowd jumping back as if touched inappropriately. But if I do ever play in front of a Japanese crowd, my, oh bloody my will I clap until my man boobs fly off.

Boy can they clap! The first few bands didn’t try to get them clapping and punching the air and they suffered for it. It wasn’t until half way through one Coheed choon that the guitarist started clapping. Christ, they were still clapping after the song had finished.

MESSAGE TO MIDDLE-AGED AMERICAN MEN WHO GO TO GIGS: By all means, push your way to the middle of the crowd with a beer in your hand. And yeah, by all means talk loudly until the band starts so we can’t hear Chris Pennie’s awesome drumwork during the soundcheck (yes – he came on and did his own soundcheck!). And yeah, pronounce all your “a’s” as “ae” with an elongated drawl longer than even the japanese attention-span for clapping. But please, PLEASE! If you do one thing at a concert – one thing! DON’T stand in the middle of the crowd with your arms crossed looking like you hate it and sucking the atmosphere out of the entire stadium. I was so damn close to starting a Japanese/Scots-Iranian intercontinental moshpit when “Here We Are Juggernaut” kicked in and you, YES! YOU! You – Fatty-Bo-Diddly – you looked around disapprovingly at my merry band of Yakuza-to-be  who were stopped dead in their tracks because they thought they were being ill-mannered to you.

Go look down your nose at people at THE BACK OF THE CROWD. Hell, do it whilst scarfing hotdogs, chugging bear and shouting ‘Yeah!’ because you can’t think of anything wittier to shout. Christ you could’ve said ‘Play [x] song!’, ‘Play the guitar with your teeth!’  or ‘Do a barrel roll!’ But no… Captain Crosses-His-Arms-When-He’s-Having-Fun says ‘Yeah!’ Over. And Over. And Over… ‘Yeah!” Yeah you won’t be screaming that with my foot up your ass.

You know I should’ve full-on jumped on him – like a pro-wrestler from the top rope. It’d have probably rekindled the moshpit spirit and we could’ve had some cross-culture fun at Jimmy Yankcheek’s expense. Then I could’ve followed it up with a big long clap-along. Christ!  Why didn’t I think of that then?

Biggest Let-Down: Dream Theater – I was tempted to put the middle-aged American guy in this spot but we all already know how 66% (no more, no less) of Americans behave. Sadly, I have to drop Dream Theater in it.

I’ve seen them before and they completely blew my mind when I saw them first – so much so I went and bought most of their albums after I saw them.

When they opened up, the spark I remembered was there and I remember feeling like they were telling a beautiful complex story through music and video. It was amazing – all my senses were encaptured for a solid 10 minutes of sweeping solos, flowing keyboards and intricate drum and bass work.

The dream came crashing down when they decided to just play pointless disjointed solo’s as fast as possible for the rest of their set and hope the crowd would buy it as ‘talent’. No, Slash, who was on the bill before them, was talented: he worked solos into riffs that had no business having any freestyle done to them at all and followed it all up seemlessly by playing the riff as it sounded on record just to taunt you and show you he could do what he damn-well pleased. Dream Theater were off that night though. Big shame really.

Their music inbetween sets was legendary though. After Slash and before their arrival they had this brass instrumental thing playing and I recognised some of it as music in their albums but I don’t know where to find it. If you do I’d really appreciate knowing as would Helena.

Biggest Cross-Cultural Clash: Sum41 vs. the aging japanese youths of yesteryear – Oh they were all smiles and cheeky jokes at the start. That was until they realised, “Oh shit, they completely don’t understand our spoken gags. Um, OK let’s make them clap.”

And clap they did. They clapped to every song, including the backcatalogue of non-hits Sum41 produced after the two sing-along ditties that made famous in the first place, “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep” and wouldn’t you know! The crowd even clapped for those too!

No witty banter for you pop-punk scamps – play some good music or get the off? What’s it to be? Yeah… that’s what I thought.

And that’s all we have time for folks. If you have any queries about the festival or anything else I got up to during the vacation, post on you crazy diamonds.