The Best Band You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of! (Pt. 2)

(Find Part one Here )

Japan. October 11th, 2015. I cut out early from classes to make the trip to see Guitar Wolf play live, along with two unfamiliar opening acts: King Brothers and Hans Condor.

The destination: Osaka: the closest date near Kyoto. About 2 o’clock I made my way down to the Kyoto station for a long train ride and a subway to downtown Osaka where I commence to become COMPLETELY LOST! I walk around and tried to find my bearings for about an hour before giving up and asking for help.

Now, I can speak almost no Japanese today and knew even less then. To make matters worse, even though most Japanese profess to know some English due to its heavy emphasis throughout public school, very few know it well. So you can imagine how daunting this undertaking was at its outset. Luckily for me, I find two younger, college-aged guys who both speak a little English and are able to not only locate the direction I need to go in, but accompany me all the way there! (And later, attend the show and give me free drinks!!! Talk about Japanese hospitality!)

The venue is ‘Rockets Club’ and it is one of the seediest looking clubs I’ve ever seen. The front entrance is a hangout akin to a large bus-station complete with ticket booth and largely unkempt restrooms covered in graffiti and stickers. As I wait for doors, the area fills up with rockers and rockabilly types. This is the first time since I left the states that I’ve truly felt at home as the place reminds me of clubs like The Milestone and Tremont back home.

We enter the club and make a bee-line for the bar, where I commence to down a few shots of Suntory Whiskey and loosen up for the show. After a short wait, Hans Condor takes the stage and commences to launch a full-out sonic and physical assault on the audience. The frontman and guitarist  lays down potent, blinding fast rock’n’roll interspersed with short, sweet, in your face solos, all while stage-diving and power-sliding. At one point, he throws his guitar into the audience, where an unexpecting kid catches it and is goaded into playing a two-finger solo. The frontman gives him a verbal queue to toss him the guitar as he launches himself off the stage and into the middle of the crowd. All the while, the bassist and drummer play on like machines at a breakneck pace and intersperse their own quirky personas. During one particularly roaring section, the bass builds to a crescendo and the guy swallows his lit cigarette and buckles down double time. I’m floored!

Numerous times during the set, audience members crowd surf and many make their way to the stage for some old-time rock-roll dancing (me included). I and a relatively large contingent of about 25 or so others become a wave of slam-dancing, stage-diving menace. This is the coolest audience I’ve ever been a part of! The band feeds off of the energy of the crowd and the crowd replies in kind in a symbiotic relationship I’ve only seen in videos from classic hardcore punk shows, but never seen in person. The set ends and the band ignores the sustained applause for another song, respectfully ceding time to their fellow bands.

I’m in awe. I’m ecstatic. I can barely contain my energy. So when the boys finish tearing down and convene around the merch table, I immediately make my way over, spend all my expendable cash on merch and start talking to them. The frontman, Chazz, tells me that they’re a southern band out of Nashville, Tennessee and that the tour is going really well. They find the audiences in Japan to be much more energetic than at a typical American venue. Erik, the bassist, is a real cool dude. We spend a long time talking about the band, AntiSeen, the differences between crowds here and in the states, and he invites me to come out to their show tomorrow in Tokyo. I’m strapped for cash and the trip out would cost around $200 american to ride out that way by train, so I ultimately couldn’t. I assure them that I’ll see them in the states when I get back and thank them all for the experience, wishing them luck on the rest of the tour.

DSCF1587

What I wouldn’t give now to have spent those $200.

(To Be Continued: Here)

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