First printed on Target Earth blog
Written by Masao Nakagami
Shittily translated by Greg Snazz
This is the 4th year of Rock-ichi Rock-za (Rock市Rock座), an event that’s put on by the Thunderroads and Rockbottom. I didn’t put it on or anything but participated the first year and I was doing a bunch of stuff this year too. So, this isn’t the report of a regular audience member but somebody who was involved.
I was DJ’ing and also doing a bunch of other stuff like coordinating the video taping of the Teengenerate performance, arranging the Cozy performance, taking pictures of the show, etc. Mostly, I just talked to a bunch of people and did a bunch of stuff for the Teengenerate performance. Anyway, I’ll get to this later but the main event of the night (and of this report) was the performance by Teengenerate.
(note: the translation of that part is here)
As far as where the original idea came from, I guess we should go back to the beginning of this year.
There was a documentary film crew making a documentary on Teengenerate (Get More Action) and there was some discussion about the band getting back together to play a show, which would be filmed and included in the documentary. There was a vague kind of okay from the band but nothing definite. The where and when weren’t decided yet, but there was talk of doing it at Shinjuku Jam since that’s where they played their first show.
The problem is that Jam is pretty small and also hard to book. Because of the ‘Live at Shelter’ CD, it seemed like the Shelter might be cool, but it’s really hard to reserve a spot there too.
At some point I let it slip to Masaharu from Thunderroads that there was talk of a Teengenerate reunion and he said what about at Rock-Ichi Rock-Za. I called Fever and that was it, it was a done deal. Then we had to coordinate all the other bands and things like that, but we had a long way to go.
Steve, who I was sometimes in touch with, told me that his band Cozy was putting out a record in the fall and really wanted to come to Japan but. So I thought why not put them in the Rock-Ichi Rock-Za show? For Steve it would be cool to share the stage with Teengenerate and it would also expose Cozy to a ton of people.
There were some complications with all of this and it took me some time to figure it all out, but time flies and pretty soon they had to buy plane tickets, so that was that. Steve must’ve felt like a million dollars when he got the ‘OK’ email. It was now my job to put together the fall tour but then I ran into a whole slew of other complications…
It took forever for Fink to finally say yes so everything ran kind of late. There were all kinds of things to organize, like where to play, what songs to play, how to get people there, and so on. There was also the drummer situation and they eventually picked Greg from Supersnazz. I pretty much stayed out of all of this decision making.
The big problem was how to advertise the show. To be honest, back in the day there were not a ton of fans at Teengenerate shows, although now they have a kind of legendary status. And then there’s the fact that neither Firestarter nor Raydios have ever had any instantly sold out shows. It was impossible to predict what would happen.
After much discussion, we decided to promote the movie and the concert together and I would release a press release to a bunch of different places. The plan was to sell tickets at Lawson, e+ and places like that, and the announcement would be made in June.
But there was another problem. Teengenerate went into the studio to practice but Fifi’s hand was still fucked up, so there was some going back and forth about what if we need to cancel or postpone the show. I really wanted them to guarantee to play but who knows what would happen. I couldn’t really say that had to do it.
I emailed Steve saying there was a slight chance Teengenerate wouldn’t play and asking him if he still wanted to come. I also went to Poor Cow and asked Fifi about his hand and he said sort of half-jokingly that it was better than before and he’d live.
Finally, Masaharu needed to know if TG could play and I made the call and said yes.
So, I got started again with the plans for the formal announcement. We decided on the end of June. We did a press release together with King Records, the documentary crew’s label, and the news was all over the place. It was even picked up by Yahoo.
I blasted the news out on Facebook, Twitter and the Target Earth blog. I watched Twitter and it seemed like there was more talk about the reunion than the movie. The day of the announcement was a full day of everybody going, ‘Holy shit!’ No event we ever put together got this kind of crazy response.
But I would be surprised even more on the day the tickets went on sale…
Right, this was supposed to be a live report. Ah well.…
Anyway, the news that Teengenerate was getting back together was all over the place. Of course there were some responses like people going, ‘Who the fuck is that? I’ve never heard of this legendary so-and-so band before,’ but that’s totally to be expected. I don’t care, but I figured if you really love punk and rock and roll, you’ll get Teengenerate.
As to why on earth more people in Japan don’t know Teengenerate, they cover that a bit in the movie and you can see it there so I won’t get into it here.
On the morning the tickets went on sale, I checked Twitter to see how it was going. I’m not the promoter of the event and I’m not involved in sales and distribution, but I was just curious to see how tickets were selling. We were figuring that it might be sold out in a few days or a week.
So the tickets went on sale and there was a flood of people on Twitter saying they bought tickets or were trying to buy tickets. After about 15 minutes, the Lawson tickets were sold out and then a phone call came from Masaharu. He said things were out of control. E+ ran out of tickets in 50 minutes. What!? It all happened in the blink of an eye.
I hoped that my friends could get tickets. This time there wouldn’t be any reserve tickets or guests lists like there usually are and some of the bands announced that ahead of time. So I thought maybe that was why the tickets sold so fast. Fever (the venue) also put aside some tickets to sell on the day.
I sent Steve an email telling him that things were crazy and the show sold out fast. Steve replied that he was amazed to hear it.
I decided to make Rock-ichi Rock-za the first show for the Cozy tour. Since Rock-ichi Rock-za is a huge show, I added another show the day before for them to warm up. At first, Steve said why not have the show at everybody’s favorite Tokyo rock spot Poor Cow. But I figured that if the show was at Poor Cow everybody would stay up all night getting drunk and then everybody, including Teengenerate, would be feeling like shit the next day. It would suck if TG wasn’t in top form due to lack of sleep or hangovers. So, I decided to have it somewhere else.
I heard that some people were pissed off that Fever was going to have tickets on sale the day of the show until 8pm but I don’t know who it was that was angry about that. Those tickets were meant for people who know and really love Teengenerate to make sure they could get in. But you can’t screen everybody who wants to buy a ticket. ‘Do you love Teengenerate?’ ‘Were you there back in the day?’ How have you contributed to the scene?’ And then there were people from overseas who had Japanese friends buy them tickets so they could come to Japan and see Teengenerate. I can understand how people who love TG would be frustrated because they can’t get tickets, but we never had a show this huge so we didn’t really know how to handle it but to be fair to everyone.
In fact, Teengenerate always hated this kind of scenester, insider mentality. I learned that from them and the Registrators.
Okay, maybe I ranted a little long there, but it had to be said. Next time I promise to get to the actual show…
When the show sold out, I hadn’t even made flyers or posters yet. Figuring that you don’t really need posters and flyers if a show is sold out, we decided to only make a few and Kame-chan was going to do the illustration. They’d help sell the day-of tickets and maybe bring people to the flea market. Plus, you could save them to commemorate the event. We made them and put them up here and there.
Anyway, the fact that it was sold out was pretty damn cool. You’re usually watching your Twitter feed all the way up to the rehearsal wondering if tickets were selling. This was a first.
In the meantime, I was setting up the Cozy tour. Steve had a lot of his own ideas about where he wanted to play but it’s hard for me to take a break from my job and I couldn’t possibly do everything, so I had to just leave it to the people who could do it in each place. I didn’t have to worry about them finding their way around even if it was a struggle because Steve can speak Japanese.
I found out that Raydios and some other bands were playing at a show put on by Liquid Screen’s Imai-kun in Osaka a week later, so I got them on the bill. Bears, where they were playing, only allows up to 4 bands to play but I wheedled them into adding Cozy as fifth. I really wanted to go to Osaka with them but couldn’t. Ah well.
I set Rock-ichi and the Osaka show as bookends and then filled in the rest. Imai in Osaka, Hashimoto in Mito, Inudzuka in Hamamatsu and Takuji from the Nou hooked up shows for me. When you put together the shows they set up and the ones I set up, that was seven shows in ten days. Thank you everybody who helped.
About a week before the show Fink sent me the design for the t-shirts and badges by email. He was like, ‘What do you think?’ I thought it was pretty cool and told him it would work. He asked if I’d sell them through Target Earth and I said let’s sell them at the show first and then decide.
As to how many to make, I won’t say how many we made but when I offered, Fink said that was too little. He said we’ll definitely sell them all at the show so let’s do a bunch. He said they were really doing them up with several colors and stuff like that.
Actually, if it was totally up to me, I would’ve made more. Call me a capitalist scumbag, but they could’ve made way more money. But Teengenerate was always anti-commercial so there you go. We made more than we originally planned and they all sold out in the end anyway.
Toward the end of July, Masaharu sent me the timetable. Of course, it was a kickass lineup. And fuck me, I was the DJ playing before Teengenerate! We’d talked about that but to see that it was for real made me happy.
Okay, the day of the show…
I tried to get there on time so I could meet Steve when he arrived, but I ran late because of some things at home. When I got to the place, there was a lot going on already. I didn’t have time to check out the flea market so I made it a point to check it out later and I decided to head straight into the live area.
I was looking forward to seeing Nylon but unfortunately I missed them (somebody please write a live report) but I made it for Gasoline. Daddy-O-Nov was in the DJ booth. I had my camera and the records I was going to play so I loaded in and in the process ran into a bunch of different people.
I went backstage and Steve and Cozy were there. Last night Cozy drummer Tony said his shoulder was hurting so I asked him about that. He said when he got to Fever he put ice on it and it was better.
Fink and Fifi weren’t there. People were saying that after the sound check they went home to chill out. Yeah, I thought, it’s good for them to rest up so they can unleash the rock and roll energy during the set.
I saw a little bit of Gasoline blowing up the stage as they always do and then helped Cozy get ready. Okay, I didn’t really do anything. Steve’s friend Summer, who was there last night, put the band’s makeup on and then they were ready.
Steve said Cozy had never played in front of a crowd that big and I could tell they were a bit nervous, especially since they were playing with Teengenerate. I was saying it’s alright and do the same as usual and play your best, and drummer Tony said something like ‘I have no best.’
Before I knew it, Fifi and Fink had come back and as we started chatting, Cozy was about to take the stage. Jimbo was the DJ before and he played some nice modern garage punk to get everybody in the mood. He said one of the records he’d brought was Tony’s old band and he didn’t even realize it.
Cozy’s performance was even better than the night before. It was a good choice to put them on after Gasoline. They only had one single and most of the crowd didn’t know them but they were into it. I felt kind of proud, even though I’m not their manager or label owner or anything like that. I was really impressed at how they’d improved since their last band Boys Club.
I tried to get pictures of Cozy from the front of the stage but I had some trouble with the camera’s shutter and finally gave up on it. I know I should’ve tried a little harder to get some good shots but it was difficult. The camera was heavy as hell too. I decided to use a camera I borrowed from King Hasegawa but I didn’t really know how it worked. I just thought it would be cool to have pictures taken from a really good camera. Ah well, there was somebody else taking pictures officially, so if I really need pictures I could get them from them, so I gave up trying.
The DJ after Cozy was King Joe. I shook hands with Joe backstage and said long time no see. When Teengenerate was playing he was like their man in Kansai. I’ve known Joe for a long time but this was the first time we’d DJ’d an event together.
Backstage, Tairo from Genbaku Onanies paid a visit. I knew that Tairo loved Teengenerate and the two bands had often played together so at first I offered the show to them but they had another engagement tonight. They were playing at Red Cloth and after their sound check he’d come down to say hi. I was impressed at what a nice dude he was. It had been a long time since he’d seen Fink and Fifi but they talked like no time had passed at all and Inagaki and Koji came along and started talking to him about his Status Quo t-shirt. It was fun.
Somebody had left the Teengenerate set list backstage (translator’s note: it was my dumb ass). I’d had a chance to see their practice and sound check but couldn’t, so I was super curious about what songs they were playing. There it was in plain view and I couldn’t resist looking.
I’d often seen Firestarter’s Fifi-written set lists but this one was different. It was written reverently and with deep emotion. Some people had gathered around it and were going, ‘Wow, they’re going to play that?’ and stuff and then I decided I wouldn’t look. I’d heard that tonight’s shows had a lot of rare songs so I decided to be pleasantly surprised.
I was making the rounds in the audience and the backstage. Next was the Go-Devils. It had been a long time since I’d seen Go-Devils and I thought it was cool they were still rocking. I mean that in a good way. They’re like the flagship band of the Kansai garage punk scene. Jelly Bean joined them onstage for the Novas’ ‘Crusher’ and some other songs and they played my fave, ‘Last Time Around’ by the Del-Vetts, which the audience went nuts for.
Pretty soon it was my first DJ set. What should I play? I didn’t catch the monitor’s cue and the song got stopped halfway, but I didn’t care because it was just so cool to DJ for so many people. I don’t have a whole lot of rare records. I played the Raydios and stuff like that. I just planned to have a good time with it. I thought it was suitable to play a Radio Birdman single going into the Gimmies set.
I’m really into the Gimmies recently. They’re really together as a band and it’s not just that they’re fun, but I get the feeling Sora is pissed off about something and it seems like he translates that into raw punk rock energy. That’s the feeling I get listening to their latest single. But I’m not going to speculate on where that pissed off, irritated, angry feeling comes from. If I get a chance, I’ll ask him about that I guess.
I chilled out a little and decided to go and look at the flea market. I’m only really interested in records but there were a lot of other interesting things for sale. Teengenerate had a ton of stuff for sale including a lot of records and CDs that are hard to find. The t-shirts sold out quickly and even I didn’t get one. They really should’ve made more. Just my two cents.
Toru from Guitar Wolf played a bunch of 7-inches by the likes of Chesterfield Kings and Johnny Thunders during his DJ set. I saw Toru and Fink talking together quietly in the corner. I thought they were probably talking about Devil Dogs and other stuff from that era. Cool, I thought.
Rockbottom is usually pretty wild compared to the bands they play with, but I thought at a show of this scale, they fit right in. Their song ‘The Game Is Over’ really summed up the crazy feeling at the event today I thought.
Kobayashi from Phantom Rats DJ’d next. I know him from back in the day and I was surprised to see he was wearing the same t-shirt as me. But somehow he looked wilder in it. He played exactly the kind of rock and roll I expected and I thought it’s cool he hasn’t changed at all.
The Thunderroads were really fired up today. Masaharu had been there all day and I thought he must be tired but seeing him up on stage I felt like a withered old man by comparison. In planning the event and all I’d talked a lot with Masaharu and Koji. Of course Masaharu is a hot-blooded, passionate guy, but there’s also a reflective side to him. He’s a guy who is really articulate when it comes to approaching ideas and working things out. He gets shit done and he’s not afraid to try stuff.
That makes Thunderroads even more impressive to me and I was thinking that as I was watching them. But I had to get ready for my DJ set. And I was thinking about how it was going to go with Teengenerate.
That’s it. Whew. For the Teengenerate part of the review, click here.