It’s been awhile. I suppose this is gonna be the trend since I’m finding school stuff to be consuming my time. Or, it will even out at some point soon once I catch up.
Last Saturday was another concert day for me. My cousin, again, paid for my ticket. After my morning class I took the train out to Saitama to go to this festival called “Loud Park.” The Saitama Super Arena was, conveniently, right next to the train station, so I had no trouble finding the place once I got off the train. But then again, all I had to do was follow the frizzy, long-hair crowds and heavy metal tee-shirts that were floating around. It felt almost like a Grateful Dead show in the sense that everywhere you went there were metal heads: you go into a food court and it’s full of black tee shirts and wristbands; go into a Ramen shop or a Yakitori shop, and seated right next to you are some groupie-looking chicks with their band tee shirts on. These are all places my cousin and I went. The Yakitori shop was even playing heavy metal over the restaurant stereo system, and had a Loud Park flyer attached to the outdoor A-frame display of their menu.
So, Loud Park. It had the strangest line-up I’ve ever seen for a festival. Though I missed the first few acts, it started with some band called Anime Metal U.S.A., then to August Burns Red, then Stryper, then Amaranthe. At that point I showed up, to catch the last part of Amaranthe’s set. There were two stages in the arena, so as one band was playing the other stage was being prepped for the next band, in order to save time. That meant that the wait time in-between sets was only about ten minutes. Then, Krokus played. They sure do sound like AC/DC, and they are pretty old dudes. They weren’t terrible, but I didn’t have much feeling either way. After them was a band called Unisonic, which features the old singer from Helloween, I think. Maybe the old guitarist, too. They played three Helloween songs, and made numerous references to the past. Singer sounded like Rob Halford a bit, and he could totally hit those high notes. Then, a band called Trivium, who were not too bad, technical sounding heavy metal stuff. They got good mosh pits to form.
But after Trivium were the bands that I was especially looking forward to. Such as The Darkness, who played next. Though I’ve never seen them before, I was expecting a show — and, of course, they put on a great show. The singer is now sporting a moustache-and-goatee in the style of, say, the singer from Gogol Bordello: sort of like a gypsy-looking moustache set up. It makes him look even sillier, but he tops it by coming out in a black unitard with pink and green neon squiggles all over it. Halfway through the set he changes into a David Lee Roth V-cut jump suit. His showmanship was reminiscent of Freddie Mercury, down to the getting the crowd to sing strange little notes and scales in between the songs (think of Queen’s performance at Live Aid). So yeah, they were great. And they were followed by a very different act, but one that I like quite a bit: Arch Enemy. Arch Enemy is melodic metal — I wouldn’t say death metal, because it’s not dissonant,…it’s more like Swedish style, Gothenburg-sounding metal — and their growling vocalist is a woman. And once they played their second song of their set, called “Ravenous,” the largest circle pit that I’ve ever seen erupted in the middle of the crowd. The difference between a circle pit in an American concert and one in a Japanese concert is that Japanese ones are not so set on moshing to fuck one another up. As the circles went round, the people on the periphery had their hands out to high-five moshers who came around. So another great set. Then came the headliners.
Whitesnake. That’s right: Whitesnake. It’s not even, technically, a reunion tour. I think they’ve been together all this time. I could be wrong there, but they were talking about another album in the works. Well, I’m not sure I was ever much of a Whitesnake fan anyways, but at the very least it was entertaining. They of course played “Is This Love That I’m Feeling,” and “Here I Go Again On My Own.” I think those are the titles. It was totally full of everything cliched about 80’s heavy metal acts. Everyone had to have their solo moments. The drummer was constantly throwing sticks high into the air and he caught about 10% of the sticks that came down. During his solo he played his drums with his hands, then with a pair of chopsticks (a culturally-appropriate gesture, I’m sure he was thinking), then with a pair of knives. The drum solo went on for a really long time, but not as long as the guitar solos. Boy, the really took the masturbation metaphor to a whole new level, those guitarists. They were squaring off against one another, crouched in their respective corners, then slowly moving to the center to be face to face, trading lead-licks and making painful faces, moving up and down the scales so fast that it really did look like a jerk-off session. Sometimes, the guitarst who was watching would look at the crowd with that “wow” face and point to the other guitarist playing his lead like “Look at that,…this guy really can jerk it, can’t he?” The drum and guitar solos took up about a half an hour.
On to the singer. I’m gonna be a dick here. So, was the Whitesnake singer already older when they started out in the 80’s? I ask because now he looks like a geriatric with long, brownish-blonde, bushy heavy metal hair and a blousy shirt that is undone, like, three buttons or something, so that you can get the chest-hair effect. I don’t know if drugs had some part in it, but his face looks like it belongs on a seventy five year old body. He frequently treated the mic stand as if it were his dick, grabbing it and pushing it up and sliding it down and up between his fingers, over and over again, sometimes positioning it up against his crotch. In fact, he was grabbing himself quite a bit. When he was away from the mic, he looked out to the crowds and pointed at them, then rubbed his crotch while yelling something. He kept doing it. And the crowds could see him in all his glory because of the high-definition television screens. I could only think “Grandpa, please…you’re embarassing us.”
The main headliner was Limp Bizkit. But I didn’t stay for them. And from the looks of it, at least a quarter if not a half of the crowd exited after Whitesnake. From Whitesnake to Limp Bizkit. I don’t know who puts on the Loud Park shows, but even in the past they’ve had some strange line-ups. It was a pretty fun show to see, nevertheless. I was glad that I was able to catch two bands that I like and that I’ve never seen before.
There’s plenty more to talk about but I’m running out of time right now.