07-18-2004
Tokyo, Japan, Shelter
 
After the first night's technical desperation & the lack of band-ness onstage at O-nest, I knew the show at Shelter would be the shit. I'd seen a photograph of the stage online:

Before we left, looking at that photograph got me excited for the rock part of this trip in a surprising way. My feeling was this: we were on our way to this place we'd never been before, we'll be in a country with a culture that we don't understand well at all, there will be all these surprising things to see and to eat etc.... but even if I'm in total bewilderment all day long, I know exactly what to do when there's a stage in a rock club with a drum kit on it. There's something reassuring in that thought. Thankfully, it turned out to be pretty accurate last night.

But first: the mornings in Osaka were filled with the screaming cicadas, which got me all excited; and this morning in Tokyo (it's not terribly early but early enough that there's still lots of Saturday night shrapnel walking the streets, sleeping on benches & even sleeping right next to me in this 24-hour cafe - the Japanese do not kick people out, it's a little uncomfortable but sweet), the ravens are everywhere, calling and heckling and eating trash alongside the pigeons.

And last night before the show we ate mounds of sushi, mountains of it, finally a real night of eating sushi. Some of it was entirely new to me: this strange flat mollusk-like thing, interesting looking but not so interesting to taste, good but not so special; a solitary cooked fish head, rich and buttery and excellent, the eye of which Tim plucked out & ate & thoroughly enjoyed; una, or sea urchin, which was probably the most atrocious tasting food item I have ever put into my mouth, certainly the worst tasting thing I've ever swallowed; and for dessert, tuna belly, something I have somehow missed all these years. It was the most tender piece of meat I have ever had in my mouth. I said that at the table, and even while I was saying it I was trying to think of a less suggestive way to put it but could not.

So the show was great. Detroit 7 turned me on, Meat Eaters I did not see because I was outside trying to recover from excess sushi but by all accounts they were excellent and I'll see them on Monday, and luckily I've seen Melt Banana & was prepared, & could comfortably stay and enjoy the whole thing without becoming frightened.

I assumed that this was Melt Banana's crowd, & that there'd be an exodus before we did our thing, but there was no such thing. We played, we kept it together, we played like a band, and people seemed to appreciate it thoroughly. There were men and women in almost equal attendance, which as you may know is a serious achievement for the likes of us. There was a small but active contingent of drunk expatriate Canadian & American men who started a mosh pit at some point late in the show, which was kind of embarrassing but of course the Japanese didn't seem to mind at all. These are mind-blowingly tolerant people.

Stayed up late talking with Nabana from Detroit 7, walked the streets, & did desperate karaoke in a roach-ridden 3rd floor joint near the club. Andy and Tim wisely stayed away from the karaoke, but of course I eat that shit up. Saw a middle-aged man in a t-shirt that said "I like to rock my gold for the ladies." Heading to Kobe today.

It's nearly time to go home.


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