Kobe Rock Street 2006
After enduring the JET Mid-Year Conference on how to waste government funds by getting teachers drunk on Thursday and Friday in Kobe, what else to do but head back in on Saturday night for GUITAR WOLF?
Star Club, Mersey Beat and Back Beat. 3 clubs. 5 hours. 18 bands. GUITAR WOLF!
Checked in at the fabulous APA hotel before heading for Belgian beer and free peanuts in Sannomiya, where we met up with Dan who was riding a 2-day hangover and looked like it. Meanwhile I was down with a cold, so for a change Kanako was the genki one! We tried to remedy this with vitamin-packed steroid drinks and BERRY BERRY GRAPEFRUIT?????? but only the wolf himself could save us this night.
After briefly checking in at Star Club at about 7 to hear some shitty metal band, buy tickets, and chat with Guitar Wolf's awesome friendly manager about Mach Pelican, we filled up on drinks at 7-11 and slipped into Mersey Beat to see Hatch Hatchell and the Beer All-Stars. Sounds ridiculous? It was. Drums, fiddles cello, acoustic guitar, and Hatch himself on the vox and banjo, playing what was the subject of debate but has been settled by the music god Johnny Gun as having been dixieland.
Hatch and the guys were all great musicians, and they had a good sense of humour, and took the whole thing not too seriously at all. During the set Hatch yelled out several times that everybody should be more ROCK. And then played his fiddle.
Back to Star Club for the wait for the Wolf.
Waiting around, nothing much happening, no idea who the next band is.
"There's some crazy guy walking through the crowd," says Dan.
Suddenly the crazy, shirtless, slimy guy is in the foetal position on the ground next to us, screaming "Please listen to MY song! Why won't you listen to MY song?" Kanako hides behind us while the freak picks himself up, starts flailing around and grabbing punters nearby, before stumbling back towards the stage... upon which we realise this is the singer for the Oshiri-penpens.
The photos don't do him justice, but he was basically trying to be Japan's Iggy Pop, right down to the scars across his chest, the emaciated torso, and the jeans hanging _suggestively_ low. As if they weren't suggestive enough, he stuck his hand down his pants several times during the 'set'... possibly to divert attention from his awful singing. His band, the avant-jazz-rock drummer and guitarist, were definitely not the Stooges, but they could have been interesting if he wasn't so appalling. I don't want to be a technical stickler or an anal retentive, but he was, to use an industry expression, fucking terrible. In the annoying, head-turning way, not in the crotch-thrusting, devil-stroking Guitar Wolf way. Climbing the rafters at Star Club is no longer a novelty, anyway, buddy. Weren't you here for DMBQ?
Next up, what their website describes as MOST WICKY ROCK BAND IN JAPAN.
Invisible Man's Deathbed. After the last guys, anything would have been fine, but Invisible Man were awesome! The songs had that urgent, angsty kind of sound that old Bad Religion had, but with big metal squeals and more theatrics. Continuing the trend of idiosyncratic frontmen, next up was Deathbed himself. He was kind of a cross between Danzig and Freddie Mercury, cooked with a dash of ROCK!
I really liked these guys. They were tight as hell, stage moves were excellent, down to mock guitar battles, and their sound was good. Still, they ain't no Guitar Wolf. Deathbed came out at the end of the Wolf's set (sans makeup) and you could tell he knew he had so much to learn. Although I think what the Wolf really teaches you is that you can't learn what he's got. You gotta sweat it, and kick it, and bleed it!
I only recognised one of the songs (Invader Earth), but who gives a fuck? From the moment Guitar Wolf stepped onto the stage, you knew the club's awesomeness level had gone through the roof. I can't even remember what he was saying. Everyone there knew he was the SHIT. Drum Wolf pulling out his comb to slick back his hair after every song was awesome too.
Halfway through the first set (best pit since Mastodon et al) GW pulls some punk rocker onto the stage and gives him his guitar and commands him to play while the Wolf himself howls rock commandments to us disciples. He bends over to the punk and whispers a few words in his ear, and for ten minutes, the punk becomes a Wolf. All spiel aside, the dude fitted in perfectly, not trying to do too much, just beating the axe every bar. I wonder what words of wisdom Guitar Wolf whispered to him? Only he will know.
The love-in fell apart, though, when Wolf swung the mic around too many times and cracked himself in the face. Blood started pouring down, mixing with the sweat and spit, and dripping down onto the front row. The punk kid tried to wipe the Wolf's face with a cloth, as you may do to your injured idol.
BAD MOVE, PUNK!
The Wolf was enraged by this act of friendliness, stripping the dumbstruck punk of his guitar and sending him back into the anonymous mass. Still, the glory of sharing the stage with the leather one himself has to help with that shame.
The Wolf poured out for 2 encores, flinging his sweat-drenched shirt into the crowd and performing a guitar leap from the stage (accompanied by manager and crowd control, of course!), before disappearing again into rock legend. We salute you. But we don't touch your face.