Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Loud Park 2009

Loud Park is the biggest Heavy Metal festival in Japan. It is a 2 day event with over 30 bands from around the world. This year, I had plans to go only for Saturday because the Sunday event ends late and since I live very far, I would miss the last 3 acts which are really the only ones I would particularly care much to see on Sunday. Ryoko originally planned to go with me to this and she even bought a ticket, but she found out later that Sean Paul has a concert on the same day so she decided to go to that with her sister instead. The plan was too meet up with her later at Current. However, Sam agreed to buy her ticket and come with me, so the problem was solved.

I left at the usual time on Friday to head to Tokyo. I just got a brand new order of snus a few hours earlier from the mail shipped directly from Sweden (and it was even delivered to my desk at work, LOL). I got this new extra strong kind I never tried before and I must say, it was a kick in the face! Good stuff. I enjoyed one on the train on the way. Emmet got on the train at Numata, last minute, and joined me for the trip.

I never mentioned this last week, but after we drank at Club Pure last Sunday night, the following Monday while I was playing SFIV, I had a sharp pain in my chest. It went away after a minute or so but it kinda worried me a bit. Throughout the week, I have had a general tightness in my chest. However, I have also sorta had a cold and a sinus problem for the last few weeks, so I was unsure what the cause was exactly. While on the train on the way to Tokyo, I noticed that the tightness was sorta getting worse. I was getting a little concerned that it might be heart related. The thought of having a heart attack was sorta creeping in the back of my mind. I decided to just stick to the plan of meeting up with Sam at Big Box to play a little SFIV and give him his ticket and would see how I felt later.

We arrived at Big Box and it was busy with SFIV comp as I would have expected. Nemo was there. Sam challenged me to a match of SFIV. I played my Blanka and he used Dictator. I won. Then I fought like this grand master level Sagat player named Okuo. I was expecting to get absolutely raped but even though I didnt win any rounds, I got extremely close to winning all of them, which made me feel like at least im not a total scrub at the game hah.

Then Emmet and Sam played a little 3S and Emmet won with his Ken and then also beat Sam with his Remy.

After that, we decided to get some food so we stopped at Wendy's and got some burgers. Sam gave me the money for the ticket and I gave him the ticket. After that, he had plans to go drinking in Saitama around where he lives so he headed out, but we agreed to meet up tomorrow.

Emmet and I then went to Mikado for some more games. I played a little GG. There were a good amount of players there. Takuya, Hot Zappa, Inoue, and a few other people I knew were there. I fought this one Slayer who barely beat me and I felt like I shouldnt have lost to him even though he wasnt that bad, but then I rematched him and won. Then he proceeded to challenge me again 13 times in a row and I won every single game. Finally I lost in a close game to an Anji player. I looked and it was Kunihiro. I talked with him for a bit. Emmet decided to go leave the arcade cuz he wasnt in the mood to play and ended up meeting up with Cynthia, one of the other ALTs around where I live, to get a drink or something.

Around this time, I was really starting to worry about the chest pressure, so I decided maybe I should just go get checked at a hospital really quick. I checked a map by the station and found that Takadanobaba hospital wasnt very far, so I walked there. Unfortuntely the place was closed. I peaked my head into a side door that wasnt even locked, and a nurse came and I told her that I might be experiencing heart problems. She looked like she was afraid of me or something cuz I guess I was some random creepy gaijin peaking his head through a side door after closing hours. She told me to just go to the police station in front of the station. Obviously they arnt going to be able to do anything for me so I just decided that maybe I should let it go for now since most hospitals would probably be closed and I didnt wanna end up going all the way go Nakano hospital where I went when I sprained my foot before and get stranded there after the trains stopped for the night, plus I was starting to think maybe I was over reacting. Normally I wouldnt be this worried about this kinda stuff but my uncle just died last year of a heart attack and so did my grandpa a long time ago, and I guess I have just been really paranoid about my health ever since I got mono.

Anyway, at this point, Emmet had parted ways with Cynthia (who went to some club with a high cover charge and no free drinks) and was waiting at Current. I headed over there. There was a pretty good sized crowd in there tonight, and they had some hot chick as a guest DJ. I was planning to take it easy and not drink too much just in case, so I had some beers and paced myself decently to get a good buzz but not get totally wasted. Some point in there, I guess I just felt like I was ok (actually I guess getting drunk made me not even feel the chest pressure anymore) and I got a little drunker, but still nothing crazy. Some random dude from Australia was there and he was talking to us for a bit (he came for Loud Park and for a vacation). A couple other regulars were there too. In addition, Yoko, the bartender from Rock Rock in Osaka, also came! She was there with these 2 girls who are sisters and I believe I met them before when I was in Osaka. One of the girls was the girlfriend of the bassist of Amorphis and is currently living in Finland. Yoko said shes doing well and so is everyone back at Rock Rock so that was good to know. I sat and drank with them for a bit and we all had a good chat. Also, this one girl from Italy named Franchesca who I had mentioned in my blog about a year ago has returned to Japan and is now living here for a year. She said she will be around more often. Shes pretty cool so thats good. Emmet was talking with some hot chick for a good long while at a table in the corner. It seemed things were going well but later he told me she lives in Osaka and was just here for Loud Park and nothing happened other than their conversation at the bar.

Since I wanted to get to Loud Park at a reasonable time, we left Current at like 4, and headed to PSY for one last beer. There were a few people in there and was pretty much just regular stuff at PSY. We left around 5 and got a quick McDonalds breakfast run and then we headed to the manga kissa to get some sleep.

I woke up on Saturday and checked out. Emmet decided to stay there longer since he wasnt going with me to Loud Park so we parted ways from there. I had a bit of a hangover but felt ok otherwise.

Before I headed to the station, I decided to check out the new location where Shinjuku Las Vegas moved to. It was across from where it used to be in the same big building as the movie theater. Unfortunately, its not longer nearly as good as it used to be. They now only have one GG cab and they have zero BB cabs. They have like one ST, a few KOFs, like 4 Tekken 6s, and they have 4 SFIVs. The prices are all now 100 yen for 2 credits, which is the same as sportsland except sportsland has way more games so Vegas basically sucks now. Thats a shame.

I then headed to Shinjuku station. I put my backpack in a locker at Shinjuku station because I was assuming that the lockers at Makuhari Messe would be completely full. I was originally going to bring a 400 ml bottle of rum with me in my pocket to swig throughout the event but since I was feeling hungover and was worried about the stuff from yesterday, I decided not to bring it.

I got on the train and headed for Makuhari Messe where Loud Park would be held. I ended up sleeping through my stop and had to backtrack 3 stops but it was ok. It actually worked out kinda well cuz Sam arrived just around the same time I did as a result. We got some quick food at a nearby 7-11 and ended up buying a small bottle of whiskey to split between the 2 of us. I figured this would be less dangerous, plus my hangover was gone after sleeping on the train so I was down for a few shots.

We arrived at the event just before 2 pm. On the way walking there, I saw a girl who had "SMOKE BEER" written on the back of her shirt. I dont know exactly what this means but I found it to be awsome enough to take a picture of.

We got inside and they made us buy a 500 yen drink ticket which is pretty lame since the ticket for the day was already 13500 yen. We got to the main area where the 2 main stages were. They were located side by side with GIANT screen in the middle. It was set up this way so that one band could be setting up while the other is playing and people dont have to move between sets. They were able to have band after band with only about 5 to 10 minutes of dead time in between. Everything was organized really well. There was also a 3rd stage area in another section of the building where the lesser known acts were playing. I wasnt particularly interested in seeing any of those so I just stayed in the main stage area the whole time.

The entire lineup for today was...


Main Stages (Ultimate Stage and Big Rock Stage)

Blessed by a Broken Heart
Steel Panther
Outrage
Firebird
Loudness
Dokken
Anthrax
Arch Enemy
Megadeth
Judas Priest


Side Stage (Sanctuary Stage)

Live Moon
Fade
Hiroaki Tagawa
Led Zeppagain
Lynch Mob
Poison the Well


We arrived just in time for Loudness to start. They are a Japanese metal band. I popped a snus in right as they came on. I have heard them a few times before and they are pretty good so I wanted to make it in time for their set. I didnt know most of the songs but I enjoyed it and the guitarist was awsome and the vocalist also did a kickass job. They started out by playing the Japanese national anthem over the PA. For those of you who might be familiar with the band, according to the internets, their setlist was...

Fire of Spirit
Hellrider
Crazy Night
Heavy Chains
Crazy Doctor
In the Mirror
Are's Lament
Like Hell
SDI
Hit the Rails

After that, we took a quick break and went outside to the smoking area where Sam had a smoke and we both took a shot off the whiskey bottle. We then went back inside as Dokken started to play. Im not a huge fan of them and really only know a couple songs, but I enjoyed the set. I must say, the lead singer is really started to show his age lol. They didnt really seem like that had much confidence up there with getting the crowd riled up. They played this one song called Dream Warriors which is from one of the Friday the 13th movies which was kinda cool (they said they havnt played it in like 15 years). Also, at one point, George Lynch came on stage and he joined the band for one song. Him and the guitar player of Dokken did some pretty awsome duel soloing. Here was the Dokken setlist...

Kiss of Death
Breakin' the Chains
The Hunter
Just Got Lucky
Dream Warriors
Into the Fire
Alone Again
This Fire
Tooth and Nail (with George Lynch)
In My Dreams

After this set, we once again went outside and had a smoke and drinking break. We also used our drink tickets and I got a tequila coke. As I was walking back inside, out of nowhere, Rina from Current ran up to me! She was there with Taka and a few other people whos names I dont know but I have seen before. We went back in there together and stood together during the next set, which was Anthrax. We kinda stayed near the back cuz it was already pretty full in there and the crowd greatly increased in size once Anthrax came on compared to how it was before. We were near the area where people enter to go backstage so we saw a few people we knew pass by. The entire Current staff all had backstage passes and I saw Masami pass us by twice and Sushi passed by once while we were there and they said hi to us. I also saw that one girl who is Yoko's friend and the girlfriend of the Amorphis bassist. During this set I was starting to feel that pressure in my chest again and was getting a bit concerned.

As far as the Anthrax set goes, they sounded really good, but I am not really that into Anthrax so I wasnt familiar with many of the songs. I tried to find the set posted online but I couldnt find it. Oh well.

Once again, after this set, we took a smoke and shot break. After I sat down for like a few seconds I felt a lot better. We went back in and got separated from the others cuz it was fucking crowded we got really really close up for the Arch Enemy set. These guys totally kicked ass. This was actually my 2nd time seeing them live. I saw them once in Chicago when they were touring with Evergrey and Black Dahlia Murder. They are actually the only band out of the bands I saw on this day that I have seen live before. Sam didnt know that the vocalist was a woman so he was pretty shocked by that LOL. For those of you who arnt familiar with Arch Enemy, they are a death metal band from Sweden. The singer is a fairly hot blonde girl but she sings with pretty brutal death metal style growls, so when people who have heard the band but have never seen pictures of them, find out that shes a woman, they are often surprised. I cant remember the exact setlist since I saw so many bands that day and I cant find an official one posted online but they played a good mix of stuff from all their albums and some new songs too.

Once again, smoke and shot break. Sitting felt great. This time when we were outside, Masami came by the smoking area and chilled with us for a bit. He showed me a picture on his cellphone of a Harley. He said that Rob Halford would be riding this onto the stage during the Judas Priest set! Sweet.

We went back in and got pretty close again for the Megadeth set. For maybe the first 4 songs, the sound was a little bit tinny sounding. The vocals were also a little bit hard to hear. Im sure that can be blamed on the sound guys. In any case, the set still totally rocked. I was really glad to finally see Megadeth live for the first time since I have been a fan of them since I was a kid. I was also glad they played 3 songs off my favorite Megadeth album (Countdown to Extinction). When they played Sweating Bullets (a song about Schizophrenia), Dave Mustaine (the singer, lead guitarist) took an approach to singing it that almost reminded me of the Joker in Dark Knight. Just the little nuances in the way he spoke. I dunno if it was intentional but it was sorta cool. Also, whenever they play Symphony of Destruction at Current, lots of people (espesially Megu) always say "Megadeth!" along with the guitar riff in the verse cuz it sorta sounds like that. It was cool to know that most other Japanese people tend to do this as well cuz there were tons of people around me chanting it during the riff LOL! One thing that kinda annoyed me was there were these random Neo Nazi looking idiot foreigner guys standing like right behind me and they kept yelling "SLAYER!" between the songs. I dont have anything against Slayer and I even used to listen to them fairly often when I was younger and still to a bit of the older stuff on occasion now, but some people think they are like the so superior to all other metal bands and I just dont get it. To each is own I guess, but no need to be a dick to Megadeth. Anyway, the crowd at Japanese concerts are often a bit more mellow compared to metal shows in other countries so it wasnt that loud sometimes. They were doing some moshing though (and also during Arch Enemy). Mustaine was like "I know you guys like being very polite, but you can be polite and still be metal. Instead of saying Fuck You, you can say Fuck You very much!" and flipped everyone the bird. It was pretty funny LOL. For the last song, he was like "well we only have time for one more song cuz theres another act after us, but that doesnt mean I wont sneak another song in the middle of the next one anyway, cuz I do what I want" hah. Heres the set list (but im not sure if the order is completely right)...

Set the World Afire
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Hanger 18
Skin O My Teeth
Headcrusher
She-Wolf
Tornado of Souls
1,320
Kick the Chair
Sweating Bullets
Rattlehead
Symphony of Destruction
Devil's Island
Peace Sells
---
Holy Wars / Mechanix

When he played Holy Wars, right after the acoustic guitar part, they went into Mechanix right away and then towards the end of Mechanix they picked up Holy Wars where it left off. It was pretty sweet. Once again during this set, my chest pressure came back a bit and my back was starting to hurt, espessialy cuz I was moving around a lot during some of the songs.

After the set, I sat down a bit again outside and I felt better again. Perhaps it was just all the standing that was getting to me. At this point we had been standing for about 6.5 hours almost non stop.

Before we went to go see Priest, I ran into Taka again who told me Priest would be playing the whole album of British Steel in its entirety.

I took a quick pee and then Judas Priest came on. Me and Sam decided to chill towards the back so that when the last song was over, we could get out of there ASAP to beat the crowd. To be quite honest, I was slightly disappointed with Priest. I like the band and they have tons of great songs, but they didnt even play my favorite 2 songs by them (Painkiller and Electric Eye). They did start off with the whole album of British Steel, and then they played a few other songs. Some I knew well and others I didnt. I may not be 100% sure but I think the set list was...

1. Rapid Fire
2. Metal Gods
3. Breaking The Law
4. Grinder
5. United
6. You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise
7. Living After Midnight
8. The Rage
9. Steeler
10. The Ripper
11. Prophecy
12. Rock Hard Ride Free
13. Victim Of Changes
---


14. Freewheel Burning
15. Diamonds And Rust
16. You've Got Another Thing Comin'

It was before the "encore" that Halford came back on stage riding on the Harley, which I must admit was pretty sweet. Other than them not playing a lot of songs I wanted to hear (which is just a matter of my taste so too bad for me) my biggest gripe was that Halford was going for the crowd participation thing WAY too much. It can be cool sometimes for a little bit, but he went so far as to have the crowd sing the entire first verse of one song, and the bulk of most choruses in songs towards the end, and you couldnt even hear the people a lot of the time cuz Japanese people just dont get that loud during shows, so it just sounded like there were no vocals at all. He also sang some of the parts totally different and it sounded worse than on the album. I think he was afraid to hit high notes. He was screaming REALLY loud before he left the stage to get the bike, I think he might have strained his voice a bit. In any case, it was still pretty cool to see them live.

After the last song, we thought there would be more, but people started to leave so we got out of there quickly. When we got to the station, I was worried there would be a huge line to buy tickets for the train, but we made it there fast enough and luckily I could get my ticket pretty quick. The train ride back was crowded but ive been on worse trains before.

When we got back to Shinjuku, Sam and I got some quick Sukiya. We were fucking starving. They no longer had Okonomiyaki gyudon on the menu and I was pissed. Its bad enough they already got rid of taco rice. They better bring that shit back soon! Then we went to Warawara izakaya near Current to meet up with Ryoko, her sister Reiko, and her other sister Makiko's boyfriend (Makiko couldnt come) who went by Shu-chan. We had a quick drink as they finished up their food and then we all went to Current.

Upon walking in, I was immediately greeted by several regulars. Antti was sitting in the back at a table with some of the Finnish crew. The Snus Man busted out his snus and gave me one the instant he saw me.

Emmet was already there, and he was there with a Japanese girl he met at an international party he went to earlier in the day in Roppongi. The bar was packed, and there was a table reserved in the back. I didnt know who it was for, but Masami told me he was going to try to get Megadeth to come to Current so I was thinking it was for them. TONS of regulars were there, and most of them didnt even go to Loud Park but they came to chill. You can see them in the pictures if you know who they are, so I wont bother listing them all. There were lots of people I didnt know there too who were at the concert. There was one point where I went outside to use the secret bathroom (a drain on the side of the building enclosed by a wall and a gate) and Mogi was in there finishing up LOL. Then on the way back inside, Kana showed up. I said hi to her and gave her a hug and she bit me in the shoulder. That chick is crazy lol. SPG Chris was there at the bar with guy formerly known as 28 YOV. GFKA28YOV said if I pass out tonight hes gonna draw on my face as revenge LOL. SPG Chris was telling me he had a live show with his band coming next weekend but I wont go to Tokyo next weekend so I told him maybe the next time. Also, at some point I was sitting on Ryokos lap for a minute cuz it just happened that way and Shuji was like making a bunch of jokes about it. We eventually switched to the other way though hah.

For a while, the table in the back was empty, but then we noticed what looked like just some random people sitting there, so we assumed Megadeth wasnt coming and were a bit dissapointed. Then I looked back at the table and noticed a dude with long blonde hair wearing an LA Raiders cap. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it wasnt just some dude... it was fucking Dave Mustaine! I told Chibi Testament and she started freaking out LOL! Mustaine was surrounded by some girls and talking with some people. Eventually he stood up and a bunch of people started swarming him to take pictures together and a few girls (one of them was Michi, LOL) asked him to sign their backs and stuff with a marker. Mustaine seemed to take a liking to Antti and was talking with him for a little bit. Then as he came closer, I said hi to him and told him it was an awsome show tonight and we shook hands. I was right about to ask him if I could get a quick picture with him, but then some random chick butted in front of me asking to get some part of her body signed and then I didnt get another chance to talk with him. I did get a lot of pictures of him with other people though. He eventually made his way around to the other side of the bar where he posed for some pictures with Masami of him pooring himself a beer and the 2 of them toasting and drinking. I was happy for Masami cuz Megadeth is his favorite band. Then Mustaine went over by the DJ area and started DJing and picking out CDs LOL! Then after a while he sat at the bar and was talking to some people.

Around this time, Ryoko was concerned about Reiko and Shu-chan. Shu-chan fell asleep and Reiko was looking bored. Neither of them are into metal so I guess this wasnt their thing (not surprising since they came from a Sean Paul concert hah). Ryoko wanted to take them to go do Karaoke at a near by place. Emmet and the girl he was with were down to go, so we all went to walk them there and Sam came too. I really wanted to stay at Current cuz I was having tons of fun. The whole time we were there, there was some random Japanese guy trying to hit on Emmet's girl and he tried to follow us to karaoke. I told Ryoko what was up and she basically just told him to fuck off cuz we dont even know him and he wasnt invited to come LOL! Ryoko fucking rules. We ended up checking them into Karaoke and Reiko, Shu-chan, Emmet, and his girl Asuka, stayed there while Ryoko, Sam, and I, went back to Current. When we got back to Current, they told me Dave Mustaine left about 10 minutes ago. Bummer. Its all good though, it was cool that he showed up anyway.

We stayed for a little longer and had a few more drinks and talked to a bunch of various people. Theres this one pretty big black dude from Florida who comes to Current sometimes named Terry. Hes a cool guy. He was arm wrestling GFKA28YOV (who is a skinny pasty white swedish guy) and he totally destroyed him. I was drunk and decided I wanted to try! I figured Terry would just destroy me cuz he has huge arms, but to my surprise, after a long gruelling arm wrestling match that took several minutes to finish, I SOMEHOW won! Terry told me his left arm is his stronger one (where as my right one is stronger) so we tried with the left arm and he beat me pretty quickly. It still felt good to beat him even though I know it doesnt mean anything. Then this HUGE Japanese guy took a shot at him and lost to Terry. I got a picture of it.

Then around 4:30, we decided to go back to karaoke to join the rest of our group. I said bye to everyone and we headed out. Shu-chan was passed out again and everyone else looked a bit tired, except for maybe Emmet. I sang a few songs, starting with Holy Thunderforce cuz Sam never heard it and wanted to. I also sang Alice Cooper - Hey Stoopid with Ryoko cuz she requested it and she loves Alice Cooper. I also did Symphony of Destruction cuz I just saw it live and it was awsome. Other people sang a few and then we eventually left around 5:30. It was already pretty much too late to go to PSY so we just got some McDonalds breakfast. After that, it wast time to head home.

We walked to the station and everyone went their respective ways. Ryoko, Emmet, and I took the same train cuz we were all going the same way. I was straight up passed out hard the entire way back. Emmet almost didnt get off at the right stop cuz he was so out of it.

I dropped Ryoko off home cuz she wanted to get clean clothes. I then slept for several hours and later woke up and noticed that there was a big huge red splotch in the white part of my left eye. My eyes were kinda dry all weekend and were actually sorta bloodshot Saturday morning but this was totally different. It wasnt painful but a little itchy. I looked online and it seems to be a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This condition is apearently pretty common and nothing to worry about and should go away in a week. I still am a little worried about my health though due to the whole chest tightness thing. Next weekend theres nothing going on really. Ill go to an Enkai in Numata on Friday night for work, and then the next day I will probably go get checked out at the hospital. Hopefully its nothing. I am thinking its more of a respiratory related problem since I have a had a bad cold for a while, but some peace of mind is worth the price of a medical checkup IMO.

Anyway, it was an awsome fucking weekend and I will totally be down to go to Loud Park again next year. Hopefully the lineup will be great.

Until next time! (unless I have a heart attack, LOL?)

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