Yokohama / Osaka Gig Day

Wake up at 5am, stay in bed till 6. Check emails, drink tea, shower, then off to the train station at 7am. We take the Bullet Train to Osaka (about 2hrs). We're the lucky ones, some of the crew had to take a passenger bus last night to Osaka, time 10hrs. I feel for those guys. They really should invest in some tour buses over here, and not the crappy Euro ones, but a nice Custom Prevost. Ahhhhh.

Arrive at the gig around 10:30am. Doors are already open, load in and setup on side of the stage. Hang out more with the Who crew. Nice geezers. Watch the opening band Love Psychedelico (?), kinda the Japanese Sheryl Crow. At least its not as hot as Yokohama, as we are indoors. Still hot though. Have gyozas and rice in catering for lunch. More hanging around, since we don't go on till 7pm. Trade picks with Alan, Pete's tech. He has some good ones, as he also worked for Harrison and The Stones.

Finally it's time for The Who set. They have trouble with the drum monitors, and go on 30min late. Hey, it happens at festivals, when you get no soundcheck. We all watch their set again, stellar. Brad and I watch from behind Pete's amps, you can hear them great here. I can tell Brad is really getting charged up for our show. I go and stand by Alan, he shows me one of Pete's guitars that has blood all over the pickguard. Cool. Set ends. Amazing.

We go on late, due to The Who technical difficulties. Brad is in rare form tonight, he really got revved up watching Pete. The band calls all kind of audibles, and some golden oldies get played that weren't on the set list. All in all a pretty good show. Load out, tonight it takes twice as long to load the truck. What? Same guys that have packed it the entire time here, can't get it right tonight. The sound truck is almost done loading by the time our guys finally figure it out. Weird. Back to the hotel for a shower and some sleep. Will repack tomorrow for the flight home at 6pm.

Yokohama - Gig Day

Sleep in to around 8, sure is hard when the sun hit's the windows at 5
am. I've now finished my last book, so not too much to do. Read emails,
drink green tea. By 10am I'm bored, decide to head to the gig at noon,
at least there's food and high speed internet. Arrive at the gig, our
crew room is packed, everybody's online. We call out a search for the
Godzilla scream, someone comes up with it and soon all you can hear is
the call of the mighty Godzilla. Funny. Go up to the stage, catch a
little of Michelle Branch while setting up my gear, it is 97� inside
our guitar world. Yikes. Hangout for a while then head inside for the
air conditioning. Have some lunch, curry again.

Go out around 4:30pm to get ready to see The Who at 5. Grab a set list
from my buddy Alan, wow nothing but hits. Gonna be hard to follow these
guys. By showtime, the wings are filled with all of our band members
and family. The Who are amazing, Zack Starkey (Ringo's kid) is on drums
and emulates Keith Moon to a T. I watch or listen to the entire
show,while setting up. The crowd loves them, hard to believe this is
their first show ever in Japan. It'll be cool to see it again tomorrow

Sun is setting as we go on around 7:30pm. Pete Townshend is off-stage
left as we wait for our guys, I grab a chance to have him autograph a
guitar magazine for me. He obliges, an English gentleman. Our show is
good, but it's hard to follow such a stellar set by rock legends.
Finish up and load out, back to the hotel by 10:15pm. Must have my bag
down by 11pm for the truck, since we are going directly to the gig
tomorrow at 7am. Ouch. Grab a shower, then off to bed.

Get up at 8am. Plan on meeting some guys in the lobby at 9:30 to head into Tokyo to the "Motorcycle Street". At 9:30 gather up the guys and head in, Rob comes along again, as well as his wife, who flew in last night. I am the tour guide, as I have the only map and seem to know the train system. We can take either the Bullet Train (15min.) or the regular JR Commuter line (90min), the Bullet being 3x as expensive at around $15. We opt for the Commuter, as we are in no hurry and we'll probably take the Bullet back from Tokyo. We have to make two connections, but I find an Express train that should save some time.

Train ride is not a problem, we hit Tokyo Station in about an hour. It is huge, about like Penn Station in NYC, with the Bullet, JR Commuter, and JR Subway all from the same station. We find our connection and make Ueno in about 15min. We stop at the Corin store first, this is the big one that was closed last Wednesday. It is 8 floors of helmets, jackets, and shoes. Wow. We hit a few of the same shops as well, since Gary and Jerry, who also came along, missed those on Wed. I take a few more pictures for the die hard biker boys at home (you know who you are). I even see a shop with three used Ducati's. Cool. Break down and buy some ELF riding boots and a cool commuter riding bag and a few gifts. Can't get this stuff at home, plus it was on sale. Gary gets his BUCO helmet visors he was looking for, and we head back to the train station bound for Akihabara or "Electric Town".

One stop away we arrive at Electric Town. This place is a crazy mix of electronic department stores (that put Best Buy and Circuit City to shame) and strange little flea market booths selling the widest assortment of electronic parts anywhere. I'm there for the flea market, as I've done the big stores in the past. It's lunch time so we hunt around for some food, the noodle shop in the train station looks good, except you have to order through a ticket machine, and there's no English in sight. Sigh. Oh well, looks like McDonald's. Rob and Ellen pass on McD's and head out on their own. I give them one of my train maps, they'll be fine.

After eating we hit the flea market booths, which is several hallways about 100ft long and maybe 4ft wide with booths on both sides. Cramped doesn't even begin to describe this place. There are all kinds of spy cameras, computer parts, tubes, capacitors, resistors, wires, and tools here. Not really looking for anything specific, it's just fun to check out. Gary has never been and his mind is blown. Look at a few other shops, then head for Tokyo Station and the Bullet Train to Yokohama.

Arrive at Tokyo Station, but none of us can figure out which Bullet train to get on for Yokohama. After 20min. of trying, we give up and head for the JR express we took this morning. Find the express and within an hour we are back in Yokohama. Up to the room to rest and get out of the heat.

At 7pm, meet others in lobby to hit our #1 favorite noodle shop for dinner (this will be dinner number four there). Soon they will be greeting us there like Norm in "Cheers". Eat more great noodles and gyoza and see a few crew members there. Head back to the hotel and visit the grocery store in the basement. Find the prices are more than the convenience store, so we head for the Lawson's for provisions. Back to the room for a DVD and much needed sleep.

Yokohama Day 2

After staying up till 2am last night, I get up around 8:30 this morning. Not too bad. Skip McD's since I'm still full from Ramen last night. Around 10am I wander over to the attached department store. Then check out the basement of the hotel, which is a high end supermarket/deli kinda like Dean and Deluca. Will go back before we leave to get some stuff to take home.

Leave the hotel at 2pm to set-up for the gig at Yokohama International Stadium. Eat some Curry Chicken in catering for lunch, then go load in. This place is a huge outdoor soccer stadium. They played the World Cup here a few years ago. We're done by 5pm. Time to head back to the hotel and take a big group out to our favorite noodle shop.

Run into The Who crew in the lobby. Great guys, hope they'll get to join us for dinner. Gather almost the entire backline crew and a few others and head to the Noodle Shop, not too crowded, so no wait. Get two tables and order. A few more guys pass by the window, see us and come in to join us. Then the Who crew stops in, but have to wait for a table. A few others from our crew are waiting as well. Soon there won't be anyone in the place who's not a crew guy. Those who hadn't been before are raving about it. We finish eating, as we're all stuffed, decide to walk it off. Jerry and I end up walking around with with the lads from the Who crew. These guys have collectively been in this business for probably 50+ years, they've seen it all and have great stories to tell. I hip one of them to the Key Lime Kit-Kat's they have over here and he's on a mission to find some. We hit a few convenience stores, score the Kit-Kat's and head back to the hotel. Make plans with a few guys to head into Tokyo to the 'Motorcycle Street' again in the morning. That should kill a good part of our last day off in Japan. I end up falling asleep watching a DVD.

Tokyo / Yokohama

Sleep till my alarm goes off at 7:30. I promised one of the carpenter's, and fellow motorcycle enthusiast, Rob that we'd go down to 'Motorcycle Street' before our bus call at 12:30pm. Grab breakfast at McD's, I know, I know. Read in the paper that yesterday was an all-time high temp wise in Tokyo. 103 degrees, ouch. I notice another odd thing about the Japanese, no one wears sunglasses. And it is plenty bright! No shorts, no sunglasses, weird.

Meet Rob at 10 and we take the JR train to Ueno. We arrive and start looking around for our 'street'. Man, this station is huge. We walk around outside and finally spot a cycle shop, this must be the place! We head down the alley and it opens up to a big street lined on both sides with bike shops. It's still before 11, so not all are open. We hit the open ones, these shops have more helmets, gloves, jackets, etc. than I've ever seen in one place. Awesome! Also, some shops are all high-performance parts of every description, but few Ducati parts :( Oh well, there are alot of used bikes for sale on the sidewalk of the shops too. Some great deals on some cool bikes. Just don't think they'll fit in my suitcase. As it turns out the biggest store is closed on Wednesdays. Bummer. We walk around looking in the shops till it's time to head back to the hotel for lobby call. Neither of us buys anything, but we just know what we want is in those closed stores. May have to train it back on Friday and check it out again.

Back at the hotel, we checkout and wait for the buses. I get down in time to get on the second bus. It takes almost 45min. for it to arrive, but it gives everyone plenty of time to chat with the crew members who are heading home today (they're not needed for the festivals). Bus arrives, we depart for Yokohama. I sleep most of the way, being hot and tired after our morning of walking around.

Check into the hotel in Yokohama, it is a 43 story round building. I'm on the 28th floor and have a cool view of the city. Outside my window is also the bullet train tracks, and one goes speeding by every few minutes. Head out for lunch and find a quaint little noodle shop. They even have one English menu with pictures. Order gyozas and chinese bumplings (actually dumpling, but that's how it was spelled on the menu). Delicious. Best gyozas yet. May have to hit it for dinner too. Run into the 7-11 for provisions and back to the hotel to chill. looks like rain anyways.

After posting on this weblog, fall asleep till around 7:30pm. One of the guys calls and we decide to go out to dinner. Run into one of our regular sound guys, Fumi, who happens to be Japanese, and head out to find some grub. We pass the place we stopped for lunch, but decide to search around some more, especially since Fumi can at least read the signs and we don't have to resort to pictures or plastic food displays. End up back at the same place we stopped for lunch, it is now packed and there's a line out the door. Well, it must be THE place then. Put our name on the list, and shortly we have a table. Order Ramen with shrimp and chicken wontons, it is amazing. Everyone agrees this is the best Ramen so far. Turns out this is a small family owned place going back three generations. It's even open till 4am, bet they get great after hours business.

Back to the room, watch a few DVD's, write some emails, etc. then go to sleep.

Tokyo - Gig Day

Wow, sleep till 7:30 this morning. Skip McD's as we're going to the gig at 10. Get to the gig, it's a huge indoor baseball stadium with an 'air roof'. This means the whole dome is pressurized and the roof is held up by the air pressure. This of course means we cannot hang our lights and sound off the roof. A series of towers are built to hold a grid of trusses that the lights, sound, and video wall are hung off of. Pretty impressive, and a little scary when your standing under it all day.

Band arrives in the afternoon, no soundcheck today. All of the bands families are here now, and I do mean all. the dressing room hall way is like a zoo and barely passable with all the kids and guests hanging out. I go to the bass player's dressing room to show him my Mosrite (he is a huge Venture's and Mosrite fan) and rub my purchase in a little. Hey, he can afford a REAL one. Mine's a fake, but it looks real and not too many people can tell the difference.

Have pasta with chicken and grilled tuna for dinner in catering. Good stuff. Show is at 7, and it flies by. Our monitor mix sounds great and the boss is happier than usual. Load out the gear and my regular truck driver isn't around. In fact, there's a completely different guy packing the truck. By the time he gets to the end I'm not sure it's all going to fit, but he makes it happen. Back to the room for a shower and some sleep.

Kiddy Land, originally uploaded by guitartech.

Kiddy Land, Tokyo

Can't sleep past 7am today. Get up and check email and read the Japan Times. Everyone keeps saying I'm eating too much McDonald's. I agree, but I've been just trying to go for breakfast, need fuel for these 5hr+ days of walking. So, I get my hotcakes this morning around 9am, nuff said. Head to the JR (Japan Rail) train station and head towards Harajuku. Have to take two trains, but it's easy and we get there in under 30min. Pretty crowded on the train, as it is some kind of shopping holiday. Arrive in Harajuku and the streets are full of people.

First stop is Kiddie Land, a 5 floor toy store, where I always buy some gifts for my nephews and others. After Kiddie Land, we walk around checking out the small shops on the back streets. I try to find the Paul Frank store, but never see it. Bummer. (realize when I get back to the room and look at the map, that it is actually inside a department store). Hit my favorite thrift store "Chicago", but don't see anything. Get back on the JR and head back towards the hotel.

Stop in Ochanomisu to check out the guitar stores again. Not as crowded as yesterday. Find my Mosrite, and after a little dickering with the guy, I buy it. Sorry Paige. I end up paying half of what the new ones are going for, so I think I got a deal. Now something will have to go on eBay when I get home. Jerry talks himself out of the Gretsch he was going to buy, it's a good deal, but he walks. He has more willpower than me, I guess. We check out a few more guitar stores and head back to the hotel on the JR, man this guitar is heavy.

Arrive at the station and we decide to be daring and try the 'Squid' balls they sell at a stand across from the hotel. We watched them make some last night and they looked intriguing (kinda like fish cakes). We buy a box of 6, medium spicy and take them back to the room. Bite into the first one, not terrible, but not fish cakes either. Sort of like eating eyeballs or something. Well, it was worth a shot. Chill in the room for a while, gonna go over to the gig later and see what's up.

Go over to the gig to upload some pictures using the free high speed connection. Decide to dine in catering (hey, it's free), fried rice and cashew chicken. Yummy. Surf the internet with about half of our crew, hanging out in our designated 'crew room'. Nice when you don't have a bus to go to on the downtime. Back to the room for reading and sleep.

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