My friends Jeff and Juan rented an apartment on Capital Hill that was formerly a tattoo parlor called the Gauntlet. Located between Olive Way and Denny, a block and a half west of Broadway, the apartment was in a great location and was a really cool hangout spot. When the owners decided they were going to cash in and sell the property for new condos to be put up, Jeff, Juan, and their neighbors were all given two months to move out.
Jeff and Juan were the last to relocate, and had a few weeks where they basically occupied the whole apartment complex. They smashed down the dividing walls and had this huge bachelor palace for almost an entire month. We had band practices, we had parties, and most importantly, we had rooftop BBQs.
When Fastbreak came through town with Ten Yard Fight and Built to Last, the other two bands bolted town on their day off to break apart the long drive. Fastbreak stayed and chilled at the Gauntlet Palace. We had a huge rooftop BBQ with maybe 40 kids up there roasting Boca-Burgers and enjoying a perfect Seattle summer day.
We hung out all day and into the night on that roof. About the time it started getting dark, someone found a stuffed animal cat that Jeff had. This thing looked like a real-life cat. Toonces; was the name Jeff had given it, named after an SNL driving cat skit.
Someone tied dental floss around this stuffed animal’s neck and threw it over a telephone wire into the alleyway below. Brian Redman, at street level, set the cat up on the far side of the small road (Boyleston St.) where cars would come every few minutes. Once a car would approach, the person rooftop, who was holding the other end of the floss, would start to pull the string slowly.
To the driver coming the down the alley, it looked like a cat was shuffling across the road. Boyleston wasn’t big enough at this point for a driver to maneuver around the cat unless they drove up on the sidewalk. This is exactly what the drivers would do, one after another. After they waited for a few seconds, they would honk, and wait some more. The stubborn “cat” would not move, so without fail, the drivers would drive up over the curb onto the sidewalk to get around this alley-cat roadblock.
At this point the floss holder would yank the string which went over the telephone wire and down to the cat below. The cat would jump about four or five feet up into the air and land on the hood of the creeping car, prompting the driver to slam on the brakes. The driver would inevitably look up to see a rooftop of about 40 kids staring down, laughing at them.
It worked every time and was a great source of entertainment for a good hour until the cops came: “Yeah, we’ve had reports of animal cruelty…” they said. I guess someone thought that we had strung an actual cat up over the telephone wire. We showed the stuffed, FAKE cat to the cops and pointed out that we were eating veggie burgers and the cops peaced out, without a word about dangling things into traffic. As long as we weren’t hanging live cats, they didn’t care.
Two post notes:
This was the day that Champion was born. Jim, Ben, Eagle, Jeff and I were really inspired by the show the night before, and we wanted to start a band that was doing what Ten Yard Fight, Fastbreak, and Built to Last were doing. So we did. Jim and I were about to leave on tour with Left With Nothing, so we decided we wanted to make Champion stickers to take on tour with us, to spread the word… Yes, before we ever wrote a song, before we even had our first practice. We went downstairs to an empty room and took pictures of each other jumping up in the air with guitars and bass guitars. One of the pictures we used, we had forgotten to plug a cable into the guitar. So, when we made the sticker at Kinko’s I hand drew a wavy cable into the picture.
Finally and most importantly: two close friends, who were major players in this evening, are no longer with us. We lost both Juan Parlan, and Brian Redman in the coming years. I’ll never forget times like these, hanging with those two dudes, and just enjoying life to the fullest. They were both so full of life, and I really wish they were both still here, continuing to live it.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that American Nightmare was the most important band in hardcore while they were at their peak. Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny the impression they left on hardcore.
For good or for ill, I can’t think of another band since Earth Crisis who really affected hardcore so drastically. It seemed like every band wanted to sound like AN, and every band wanted their merch to look like AN’s.
From blood splatter logos and suicidal lyrics to mod haircuts and Fred Perry track jackets, AN definitely wasn’t the first to do any of this, but they sure made everyone else want to do it too. In a perfect world Wes would get royalty kickbacks for the jump in Joy Division record sales in the early 00’s.
Champion’s first east coast tour was with American Nightmare, Death Threat and Striking Distance. The D.C. show, where this picture was taken, was also the record release for Desperate Measures’ first 7”. The club was a really classy ballroom in Old Town Alexandria with chandeliers; definitely too nice for a hardcore show.
DM played first. The police showed up about half way through the set and gave the promoter (Tru, formerly of Malfunction Records) an hour to shut it down. Striking Distance volunteered to not play since they were close to home and would be playing the area again soon. That left about an hour for three bands.
Champion played three songs, one and a half of which without me, because of a broken string.
When we were finished, the police started sweating Tru more. They told him that if the show wasn’t ended ASAP he would have to go to jail. Tru talked the cops into letting one more band play and pointed out that if the kids weren’t allowed to see the band they paid to see, they would have 300 extremely pissed off kids roaming the streets of Alexandria.
The cops agreed to let American Nightmare play, but unfortunately Death Threat wouldn’t get to play. There was a small group of jersey clad kids who were making a stink out of the situation. One clever kid in a One Life Crew Jersey kept saying, “Death Threat isn’t going to play because of American Night-QUEER.”
Wes walked up to the stage, grabbed the mic, and kicked off the set with, “Hi, we’re American Night-QUEER..”
In the summer of 1998 I was roadying for Left With Nothing and got to see Built to Last play with Trial at the Empire Club in San Diego.
This picture was taken during Built to Last’s cover of New Direction, by Gorilla Biscuits. The reason I love this picture so much, is because all these kids are going crazy, piling-on and screaming along to the GB classic, and front-and-center is Rob Moran squeezing the life out of a… stuffed banana???
Also, the look on Don Diego’s face (in H2o shirt) is priceless, like: “what the hell is Rob doing with this pink banana?”
Another thing that needs to be said is that I absolutely fell in love with San Diego from this first trip. The kids there were great, the weather was awesome, and the show was so much fun. We played baseball with Palpatine and Set Up crews, had a pool a party with Swindle dudes and their crazy pitbull Toby, ate great mexican food, and had the first of many hangouts with soon to be solid friends Don and Lara.
Every time we went back and played the Che, Empire, the Scene, or Soma, it was always a blast hanging with all the rad kids in SD, and the shows would never disappoint. Seattle to San Diego connection. Love it.
POST NOTE: Justin Miller, currently of the band Noi!se, was singing in the opening band that night: “Damned From Day One”. He moved to Seattle shortly after this show and played guitar in Guideline, which is a band I sang in circa 1999.
When I was seventeen, I went to the King Theater to see Seaweed who was, and still is, one of my favorite bands. Their set that night was incredible, but it was their main support; Vancouver BC’s Sparkmarker, who left the larger mark on me that night.
I had never heard of Sparkmarker, as I’m sure was the case for most of the 1,000 plus in attendance that night. They had no CDs available at the merch booth, no shirts… in fact the only form of merchandise they had were stickers which they couldn’t give away before their set.
As they were setting up, I noticed a few things. First; one of their roadies had an Undertow shirt on. I had never seen, or actually heard Undertow, for that matter, but I knew who they were and my friends who were lucky enough to have caught them live had nothing but great things to say about the intensity of their shows.
The second thing I noticed, was that their guitar player was setting up a chair on his side of the stage. Immediately I wrote this band off as some sort of fruity acoustic band. MTV’s “Unplugged” performances were very popular at the time, due to sets from Nirvana, the Cure, and in fact, Seaweed would do one shortly thereafter. This is what I imagined, was in store for me for the next thirty minutes while I waited for Seaweed to play.
To add to this impression, I remember very distinctly, their singer wearing brown corduroys, and a yellow crew-neck sweatshirt with a green polo underneath. The yellow crew-neck had a drawing of a cat on it. This whole “green-yellow-brown-cat” vibe definitely threw me for a loop. As a skater-punk kid from Kent, aside from Seaweed, I listened to mostly Suicidal Tendencies, Minor Threat, and Dead Kennedys. Had it not been for the comfortable stadium style seating at the King Theater, I probably would have passed on their set and went outside to hang with the smokers.
From the first note of Sparkmarker’s set I knew I had misjudged this quartet. Every member of the band exploded with energy as hardcore kids flew off the stage left and right. It was an infectious energy which swept over every punk, skater, grunger, and random person in the club. And their singer? The yellow sweatshirted Canadian was a total freak. His eyes bugged out as he screamed, and the mic stand he was swinging all over the stage stood no chance. Even the guitar player sitting on his acoustic style throne (apparently he sprained his ankle stagediving the night before), was thrashing around in his seat.
Withing seconds of this musical onslaught, my friend and I turned to each other with, looks that said more than any words possibly could. We were floored, we were stoked, and we were instantly in love with this band. We scrambled from our seats and rushed to the pit to be a part of this insanity. We circle pitted like this was the last band we would ever see, as stagedivers landed on our heads, straightedgers windmilled and giant skinheads ripped seats out of the floor to make room for the quickly growing pit.
At the conclusion of their set, their singer again came to the front of the stage to hand out stickers. Now in high demand, people were fighting for a sticker to take home and put on their skateboards.
Because they had no CDs, I went home that night with only a sticker and the stories I would tell my friends about this amazing band from Vancouver. I had no idea what a hardcore scene was, and I had no clue how to find Sparkmarker’s music. For well over a year, every time I went into the crappy local record store in Kent, I would walk straight up to the database computer and type in S-P-A-R… to no avail. The lone option in suburbia for punk rock records, had no access to whatever releases Sparkmarker may, or may not have had.
It wasn’t until at least a year later, while combing through the pages of The Rocket (a bi-weekly, Seattle based, alternative music newspaper similar to today’s Stranger), that I came across a review for Sparkmarker’s Products & Accessories CD. At the end of the review was an address for No Idea Records. I immediately wrote them a letter and asked how I could mailorder the record. By this time I was getting into more old hardcore, it started to come together for me that this band was related in some way to the Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, and Sick of it All records that I loved so much.
I had the opportunity to see Sparkmarker once more before they broke up, but to my dismay, their old singer was no longer in the band. While their guitar player Kim had a great voice, he also had to play guitar, and the energy just wasn’t the same as it was with the corduroyed psychopath Ryan, flailing all over the stage.
Kim(guitar & vocals) and Jason (bass) are currently in a great band called San Angelus with Mark from Undertow and Larry from Pelican.
Jason also plays guitar in Sabrael.
I don’t know how I can do this memory justice but I’ll try…
To set the stage: Agnostic Front, Death Before Dishonor, Full Blown Chaos, Champion U.S. tour. Half way through the tour, Death Before Dishonor dropped off and Outbreak joined up. Pittsburgh was the last night for DB4D, and after the show, all the bands and a few local cores had a late hangout sesh in the club’s bar.
There was a piano in the bar, and someone discovered a small PA and mic. Turns out, Frankie, the bass player (now guitar) of DB4D is an incredible pianist. I’m not talking about a dude that can play a few songs, the guy is like a giant, tattooed Beethoven from Boston, serious skills.
At this point, Vinnie Stigma grabbed the mic and asked Frankie for a request. The pianist obliged and the duo proceeded to perform the fifties doo-wop classic “Earth Angel”. I’ll tell you right now, this was a sight to behold! The Penguins never looked this intimidating as both men, covered in tattoos and each respectively, members of two of hardcore’s most notorious crews, belted out the classic tune, that was definitely heard at the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance in Back to the Future.
The entire tour crowded round, cheered, took pictures, and sang along. After the song, Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed grabbed the mic and turned this into an event, like he was the evening’s emcee. He thanked Stigma and Frankie for their performance and told the crowd to tip their bar-tenders. He encouraged Roger to share stories which can’t be repeated in print.
Jamey also roasted the crowd, calling Aram (who has a bit of a distinctive nose) the bargain-bin Porcell. “For only 99 cents, you can have 1988 all over again!” he added. He then moved on to the next band, “I’d like to thank all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, for putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, so Full Blown Chaos could join us on this tour”. He was brutal, he was on a role, and everyone was in stitches. I could definitely see why MTV wanted this guy to be the host of Headbanger’s Ball.
Jamey turned the time back over to Stigma and Frankie, and they were off again. This time they played Wayne Cochran’s 1961 classic, “Last Kiss” (“Oh where, oh where can my baby be, the good lord took her away from me”). I think everyone on hand that evening knew how special this night was. I texted everyone I knew to try and paint a picture of the scene before me, as hardcore legends swapped stories, and sang songs that my grandparents probably listened to.
At the conclusion of the performance, Frankie played a piano rendition of the popular Oi!-era Agnostic Front song, “Gotta Go” and everyone sang their goodbyes to Death Before Dishonor. “FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE WEST COAST! GOTTA GOTTA GOTTA GO! TRUE SOUNDS OF A REVOLUTION, GOTTA GOTTA GOTTA GO!” There were pile-ons like it was an actual show, and I have to say it was almost a bit of a tear-jerker moment. It was definitely the coolest send-off for a band, that I’ve ever seen.
Cleaning my house today, I came across this journal I kept in Japan, and it brought back some great memories. Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to be able to tour Japan, knows that it is a pretty special place with incredible hardcore kids, and some awesome bands.
Mar 17 – Arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
We flew into Tokyo in the evening and were picked up by our drivers, Kenta and Daiki from Alliance Trax (who booked the tour). Immigration was a breeze, no questions asked, they stamped the passports and we were through.
While we were in line, however, we ran into another American band… When I say “ran into”, I mean that we were bombarded with questions from the world’s most bro-est dude ever:
Bro: “DUDE! What band are you in?!”
Bro: “Never heard of it…”
Us: “What band are you in?”
Bro: “NEVER HEARD OF IT! HAH!!!”
They were definitely from So Cal. Not only were they loud and annoying, but they were totally drawing attention to us when it would be best to just slip through immigration. These guys were held up for over an hour because of problems with their work papers. We didn’t even have work papers… No problem though, we were granted access to Japan with no questions asked.
After being picked up, we were driven an hour to Hiro from FC Five’s house where we slept for the night.
Mar 18 – Nagoya
We were scheduled to leave at 9 a.m., but I woke up at around 6 in the morning because of pain in my bursitis ridden shoulders. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to shower before everyone else woke up. Unfortunately, the showers in Japan have a separate control panel where you have to turn on the hot water before you can shower. The buttons were labeled in Japanese obviously, so I had to wait until Hiro woke up to help me out.
The toilets in Japan are out of this world! They look like the captain’s seat on a rocket ship! The seats are heated, which is the best idea ever, and they have all these buttons that operate heat and the bidet, which shoots warm water up into your crack.
The drive to Nagoya was about 6 hours. The backseat of the van is ridiculously uncomfortable. Fortunately, our bros in the Promise warned us to take pillows to sit on, because you can definitely feel the metal frame of the seat through the cushion. Even sitting on the pillows you could feel the springs and bars, at least until your butt goes numb altogether. So the 6 hour ride was hell.
The Nagoya show was AMAZING! The first thing I want to say is that Japanese people are the best! Everyone is SO nice and polite and always smiling and bowing. It’s been one day, and I’m already totally in love with these people.
The Venue “OYS” was very small and it was packed! Maybe 75 to 100 kids, who brought the energy of 500. From the start of the opening band “Courage For League”, to the last note in our set, kids went bonkers. It’s awesome to see this kind of excitement from kids, and the support for the opening locals: CFL, No Limit, and Last One Standing (who were all great bands).
When we played, kids lost their minds. Our Promises Kept record had just came out and every kid knew every word to the first song (Promises Kept). The rest of the songs, kids didn’t know as well, but they still went crazy. Cores were stagediving, skanking, and floating on the crowd kicking the ceiling.. it was intense. It totally had that vibe of an early 80’s minor threat video, where there were all kinds of different kids just skanking and smashing eachother, and loving every second of it! At the end of our set, we had to do two encores, because kids refused to admit that our set was over. The second encore, we didn’t have any songs left so we played Promises Kept again, and kids went even crazier the second time!
Afterward, we were swarmed with hugs, handshakes, and “arigato’s”. Autographs were signed, pictures were taken, and I talked with tons of kids about Ichiro, who is like the Michael Jordan of Japan.
I guess Jim was talking to Hiroyuki (our third driver), and asked if there were ever fights at shows. Hiroyuki answered, “Never.” “Never?” Jim asked. Hiroyuki’s reply was, “No, at shows… we are just… happy.”
Amazing. Japanese hardcore rules.
Mar 19 – Fukuoka @ Kiethflak
Today we drove 8 hours. 8 hours of hell.
When we got to the show there was a pack of smiling kids surrounding the van. No matter how rough the ride is, and how grumpy of a mood you’re in, it is impossible to not be instantly humbled by these sincere and happy kids who are so excited to see meet you and are so excited about hardcore. It is something else.
The show wasn’t quite as wild as last night’s, but it was still fun. “Friends Forever” was awesome. “Set Off” was good too.
Our set was fun, the stage was slippery and small, so it was hard to go off, and the drums were sliding all over the place.
After the show we got to hang out a little before we went to the hotel. I learned some useful Japanese phrases, like “Good evening”, and “I’m sleepy”. I always like to learn a few phrases in every country so I can at least say “thank you” to kids in their own language. I don’t know, I guess it’s just my way of showing respect to kids for hosting us and making us feel at home even though we are on the other side of the world.
Mar 20th Okayama @ Tsuyama
When we woke up, the Mariners game was on, so I got to watch a few minutes of that before we shipped off. Ichiro got a double, then stole 3rd base. Beltre knocked him in.
We checked out of the hotel where we stayed on the 8th floor, and went to Kinko’s to use the internet. While we were there, there was an earthquake. It was pretty crazy, I’m guessing somewhere in the 6.’s (*later found out it was a 7.0!). It lasted maybe 20-30 seconds.
When the quake started, I rushed to the doorway, but the door was made of glass, and I just imagines this door shattering and spitting glass at me. There were no empty desks to get under, so I went to stand against an interior wall, but by then it was already over.
It all happened so fast, but there were a few things that I distinctly remember: First I remember thinking, “Whoah! An earthquake! This is cool!”, then I realized, “Wait… this could be dangerous… get somewhere safe!” I also remember the looks on my bandmate’s faces as it was happening. It was a look somewhere between amusement and fear.
After it was all over, I took a few pictures, the Starbucks across the street got rocked! Then, since we were at Kinko’s, I emailed my parents and girlfriend, to let them know I was safe… just in case the news made a big deal out of it.
On the way out of town a van full of adorable little Japanese girls pulled up next to us and started waving at us. We blew them kisses and they all started giggling and waving more. Cutest thing ever.
Our 4 hour drive took all day because the bridge and highway were both closed because of the earthquake. We were stuck on the island for about 4 hours. When the highway finally opened up, traffic was brutal. We got to the show late and missed half of the bands, but we did get to see Notice, My Own Change, and Last One Standing, who were all good.
The Bass Player of Notice’s sister had a young kid, maybe a year and a half old, who had a Champion youth large shirt on. He was so cute it was ridiculous! We all got pictures with him giving the peace sign and high fives.
After the show we drove 2 hours to Kyoto.
Mar 21 – Kyoto
While eating breakfast I found a newspaper that said the earthquake yesterday was a 7.0! That is insane.. I guess we were only about 20 miles from the epicenter. Fortunately, only one person died in the quake.
Kyoto is a beautiful city. It’s large and modern, but still has a lot of traditional architecture and culture. We had a lot of time before the show to wander around and check out all the old temples and cool little shops. I bought a few souvenirs, including a ninja throwing-star! We threw it around a bunch backstage at the venue… ninja practice.
The show was small, but fun. Last One Standing, and Courage For League both played again, and tore it up. Our set was pretty cool. Kids went off. The stage was so hard though, and destroyed my shins. I’ve been suffering through shin splints a lot lately and hard stages, and concrete floors really make them flare up big time. I could barely walk after tonight’s set. Brutal… I need a good soft wooden stage tomorrow, or I’m going to be in major pain.
Mar 22 – Hiroshima
3 hour drive to Hiroshima, then we went to the A-bomb Dome. Basically this was pretty much the only building that was left standing when the bomb was dropped. So Japan has preserved it as a memorial to those that lost their lives. I can’t begin to tell you how sobering it is to be an American tourist visiting this monument.
The show was kind of rough. Lots of technical problems. We played with mostly mosh-core bands. GFN (no idea what that stands for), was pretty good. They sounded kind of like Madball and had a good live show. Our set was pretty sloppy and full of technical difficulties. The monitor mix kept changing, so it was hard to get in a good flow. A few kids were into us, but I think they were more into the mosh-core stuff. They were still tons of super nice kids (and one painfully annoying British dude of the non-core variety).
After the show 3-4 hour drive to the hotel. I got the Japanese water torture. That’s what we called it when, after drinking tons of water at the show, you have to pee real bad, but our drivers wouldn’t stop the van! You would wait until you were about to burst and tell the driver you need to pee… then the driver would drive for another 30-60 minutes before pulling over. This was my first time experiencing this torture, but I have seen both Aram and Andy’s eyes turn yellow on a few occasions already.
Mar 23 – Saitama at Kitanrawa
5 hour drive to Saitama. It seems like every drive is supposed to be a 2 hour drive, but ends up being 4-6… hmmm
The venue was set up kind of weird, but cool. The show was on the 4th floor. The backstage room was on the 5th floor and the merch area was on the 3rd floor. Kids had to take elevators to each floor. Kind of weird, but it worked. Basically, when the elevator opened on the 4th floor, you were right in the back of the pit looking at the stage about 10 meters away.
Tonight’s show was incredible! “Count of Strength” played, which was our driver Hiroyuki’s band. They were really cool and had a Side by Side meets H20 vibe. Really good live show too! It was awesome to see our new friend Hiroyuki on stage rocking out! The man is as good on stage as he is at eating ice cream 24-7.
There was another really good band called “No Choice in This Matter”. They were great live!! So much energy and their singer had a really intense stage presence.
The Venue was really small, and totally packed. It was ridiculously hot, but so much fun. Kids went off when we played. Lot’s of stage dives. Probably the best show of tour so far!
At one point in our set, I kicked Andy for fun. So he kicked me back. Only he kicked me right when I jumped, so I was in the air and he kicked my hip, which kicked my legs right out from under me. I went end over and my headstock smashed into the stage knocking me so far out of tune that it was useless to try to quick tune. I hit the mute button on my amp and dove into the crowd with my guitar.
When we played Glue by SSD, we got everyone up on the stage. It was super rad! Kids were moshing on the stage, then jumping off and circle-pitting around the room and then climbing back on stage… it was such a fun show. Big thanks to Hiroyuki for booking the show.
Mar 24 – Niigata at Club Junk Box
The show tonight was the smallest of the tour, maybe 20 kids tops. But it was still fun because those few kids were all really into it and made it a good time. The bands were really good too. I know I’ve said this about every band, but to be honest, in Japan every band is actually pretty damn good! Maybe it is because of their work ethic. Those kids practice a lot! The first band, I forget their name, were young kids, but played a cool mid 90’s style hardcore similar to Unbroken meets Earth Crisis, meets Snapcase.
The 2nd band was the singer of Count of Strength’s younger brother’s band. They were called “Stand Again”. They sounded kind of like Side By Side. The singer had a real cool voice. Then “The True Path” sort of sounded like Santa Sangre, really good and tight. “Commune” was Japan’s answer to Stretch Armstrong.
Mar 25 – Sendai
Sendai was a pretty cool city. The area we were in seemed like a huge outdoor mall. I got a little bit of shopping done before the show.
The show was awesome. “Break of Chains” was good, like Agnostic Front. Then “Make Mention of Sight” was awesome. Sean O’Leary (our red-headed Canadian roadie) did a stage dive, which was amusing to everyone.
Our set was nuts! Kids went off and even knew the old songs! It was probably the funnest set of the tour!
This morning we woke up and a huge feast awaited us! So much food!
The drive was supposed to be 4 hours, but ended up taking 8. We had to drive through Tokyo, and traffic was just ignorant.
When we got to the club, I missed “Silence Kills the Revolution” because I was starving and had to get food, but they are playing tomorrow so I’ll catch them then. Nice kids in that band though! One of them had a Rosary (Seattle HC band) shirt on.
The other bands were all mosh core, except “And Believe”, who were really good fast HC.
Our set was fun, the venue was really cool and the kids were into it.
After the show we stayed with a kid named Jun. We watched Ghost Ship, which was absolutely horrible, of course. Jun’s dog definitely wanted a bite of Jim’s sandwich.
Mar 27 – Tokyo at ACB
One thing that needs to be said about Japan, There are cartoons on EVERYTHING. Everywhere you look… cartoon characters. There are even people dressed up in cartoon costumes. Tokyo was a really cool city. I got to do a bit of shopping. I saw a man riding a scooter with a dog…
The neighborhood the venue was in was kind of sketchy. It was a cool club though. The show? ABSOLUTELY REDICULOUS! “FC Five” played, they were great! “Silence Kills the Revolution” was also really cool.
Our set was NUTS. Kids straight lost their minds. There were about 300 kids. When we opened with Promises Kept, the “BREAK!” part was so loud that I almost forgot what I was playing. Jim had his back to the crowd for the “BREAK!” part, and I watched as he turned around to look at the crowd in total disbelief. When the verse started, kids were crawling all over Jim. They were literally hanging off him the entire set, screaming along to every word! At one point Sean picked up some kid and ran off the stage into the crowd with this little Japanese kid raised over his head like a WWE wrestler.
At the end of the set we played Promises Kept again, and again kids went bonkers. It was probably the craziest show we’ve played since Posi Numbers fest and definitely in the top 5 shows we’ve ever played. It actually reminded me a bit of that first Posi Numbers set we played, just how crazy kids went.
After signing tons of autographs we went out and ate with FC Five.
Japan is awesome and the kids there are truly amazing. I’m definitely going to miss this place.
Mar 28 – Day off in Tokyo
We went shopping in the rain and ate Mexican food, of all things.
Mar 29 – Fly Day
We almost missed our flight. The immigration line was pandemonium. It wasn’t even a line, it was more like a mosh pit. We fought our way to the front after about an hour, and after we were through, our gate was going to close in two minutes and it was all the way on the other side of the Tokyo airport. We had to run about a half a mile, “Home Alone” style, clutching carry-ons and pillows. Dripping with sweat, we barely made it. They closed the gate behind us and off we were.
Here’s a video from I THINK our first show in Japan. Shot by my friend Gai.
Riding home from a Gravemaker show in Tacoma the other night, Paul DC and I had some great chats. We swapped stories about when we were kids, we talked about the stupid things we did and the troubles we got into, and we shared different experiences about growing up in a mid 90’s hardcore scene.
I kind of wish we had a tape recorder rolling, because I think alot of great stories and thoughts came out of that half-hour car ride.
We talked about how hardcore now, is something that is so easy to get into and to be a part of with this modern communication age of the internet and smart-phones… We talked about how, when we stumbled into this scene there weren’t message boards, or band Myspaces, or even cell-phones. If you wanted to find out about new bands you would comb through distro lists, highlighting in VERY or LUMBERJACK, descriptions of bands that you might want to check out. Or you would buy a CD based on the fact that the singer of a band you liked wore their shirt in the layout of their record.
If you got the record and you hated it? Too bad, either you would force yourself to like it, or you could try to sell it to a second hand store for about five percent of what you paid for it.
Another problem for seekers of the core was there were certain records that you, as a hxc kid had absolutely no access to. If you wanted to listen to the Antidote record in 1994, you couldn’t go to iTunes or Soulseek and download it, and you couldn’t buy it on Ebay. Either you paid big bucks for the 7″ you were lucky enough to come across in a record store, or you had a friend dub you a copy, of their copy, of someone else’s copy.
I’m not trying to be one of those “I walked 30 miles to school, uphill, both ways” kind of guys… I’m just saying, things are alot easier now than they were even five years ago. There were many before me, that had it even harder. I, for example, have never had to book a tour by writing letters and licking postage stamps. I was lucky enough to be able to make contacts through Yahoo and AOL hardcore chatrooms to book the first Champion West Coast tour. Still, by the time Champion broke up four years ago, we had never toured with a GPS.
The point of this all, is that this is a new era for hardcore, but getting involved and taking ownership of your scene is just as important today as it was when Brotherhood wrote the lyrics to “Get Involved”.
There are lots of advantages to hardcore being so accessible and easy to navigate, but there are also disadvantages when kids take hardcore for granted. This isn’t just another style of music. It’s a community and a lifestyle. The fact that hardcore is easier to get into, shouldn’t cheapen what this is about.
I guess this Blog is my effort to make sure I am not taking it for granted, and an opportunity to share some experiences with anyone who cares to listen… Seekers of the core.