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SOLO JAPAN 3.-16.11.2002.
introduction
departure day | day one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen
conclusion of my trip | photo gallery
Saturday, 9th of November 2002
Kyoto <-> Moriyama.

Day Seven :
Sex ... Machineguns!

Chilling morning

I had accepted the fact that the mornings will be slightly cold inside, but this morning it was extra freezing. The weather forecast revealed that today it would be cloudy and cold.

I wasn't that concerned about that yet, as my main objective for today was to get a ticket for tonight's Sex Machineguns show in Moriyama, about a hour train trip east from Kyoto.

A band named Sex Machineguns??

Okay, maybe I need to explain what this band Sex Machineguns is about for those who don't know. They are a Japanese heavy metal band that pay much tribute to the 80's heavy/speed-metal sound, while mixing a healthy amount of the 90's sound too. This would otherwise sound terribly disgusting, but thankfully they are not taking this approach seriously and on purpose go over the top with this concept.

I've listened to their albums before and watched some of their music videos, which are extremely funny. And how can you go wrong with songs like "High speed Samurai", "Sexy hero revolution" or "German power"! I'm not a serious fan of Sex Machineguns, but more of a curious metalhead. I also know that despite their music genre is heavy metal, a majority of their fans are teenage girls (very fanatic ones though)!

I phoned the number provided from the "Kansai scene" magazine to reserve a ticket in advance, but after some troublesome talking in English, I gave the phone to the guesthouse owner, who solved the whole thing in Japanese within a few minutes (thanks!).

So it's all done. All I need to do is get to Moriyama, get on a special bus that will take the people going to see the concert to the concert hall and pick up my reserved ticket before the show. Sweet.

Trying to kill time

I left the guesthouse and it truly turned out to be a cold day, so I decided to visit the near by temples and leave the mountain countryside for another day. While the closest temple - Higashi Hongan-ji - was rather big, it was really just a temple to me, so it became apparent buddhist temples would not be the thing for me today. The service taking place inside was interesting to watch however.

While I was trying to figure out what place I could visit without freezing myself to death and making it in time for today's concert, I noticed that in addition of being cold, I was also a bit tired. Hmm, now let me think. Ever since I've been in Japan, I've been walking for at least 4-5 hours a day. There might be some kind of connection here ...

Once I had lunch at Kyoto station, I knew I wouldn't have time to visit any major attraction before the concert, so I ended up wandering around the huge station. At one point I noticed there was a wedding taking place at the other end of the station. The saying that the Japanese are born shintoist, married christian and buried buddhist seemed true in the middle part of this case.

Heading for the concert

After a day of window shopping not worth writing down here, it was finally time to head for Moriyama on a local train. Once there, I joined a line waiting for the bus ride to the concert hall, which mainly consisted of teenage girls. It also seemed that I was the only gaijin around.

Two buses came and drove us to the Moriyama citizen hall. I picked up my concert ticket at the office and passed my time looking at some cosplayers (fans dressed up as their favourite band members). I also bought a t-shirt as a souvenir for myself. Unfortunately it wasn't a "one size fits all", but for a "medium sized Japanese", meaning it was too small even for me.

The staff started to let people into the hall and checked everyone's purses and bags for cameras (photographing isn't allowed there). They also handed over a bag which had flyers to other upcoming concerts, details how to join Sex Machineguns fan club, merchandise info, etc.

Once I found my seat - which was rather close to the stage - a quick look around the smoke filled hall confirmed that about 80-90% of the crowd were teenage girls and I still didn't spot a single gaijin anywhere (or at least a caucasian one).

The band comes on stage

Anyway, once the background music turned off, the crowd immediately jumped up from their seats and screamed when one of the guitars started howling on stage. The lights blazed open, the band marched on stage and played "Sakura Island" (which happens to be an active volcano in southern Japan).

Now from that moment I was in a mixed reaction of amazement and disbelief. Not mainly because of the band, but the audience. Instead of everyone individually moshing or waving their hands in the air, they put their hands in the air at one particular moment of the song, moshed with their heads down on another part, jumped on another segment, etc. all together like clockwork. It was an unbelievable thing to see.

So I was probably the only one in the crowd not tagging along with the others and being a gaijin quite close to the stage, I probably stuck out from the rest like a circus clown in a funeral. ^^;

Solid performance from the band

The band itself was pretty much what I expected. Some of them were dressed up in kinky latex clothing, some in a more traditional black leather outfit and so on, apparently to please as many fans' taste when it comes to costume designs. They played very well and the sound balance was just right. The volume was very loud too, but thankfully I had a set of earplugs with me.

As the show progressed, I also noticed that the band had for almost every song their own choreography. Like simultaneously making a 360 degree standing spin, guitarists forming a line to mosh together and other similar stuff you would find from your guide book to rock'n'roll cliches. Hilarious.

The stage had extensions to the far left and right side of the hall and from time to time the guitarists used these catwalks, which made the lucky fans close by act crazy. Just like I thought, this wasn't about an intelligent music listening experience. The fans were here just for one thing: having fun and the band delivered just that. A solid and powerful heavy-metal show.

More rock culture shocks

It also turned out to be a social event between the fans and band, as between about every three songs there was a lot of stage talking. I didn't have a clue what they were talking about, but basically it seemed like they were just making fun of each other and the crowd reacted to some claims or decisions they made. For me, they were the boring parts of the concert, even if I did understand what they were talking about.

One other thing I noticed. When a song was over and I spontaneously started clapping, I noticed this was something the others didn't do at all. They just patiently waited for the next song to begin. Japanese rock culture sure is different around here.

The show went on with a host of rock cliches, such as huge roman candles and the lead guitarist performing a solo long enough that the other band members could take a break backstage, but thankfully there was no bass or drum solo.

The singer smiled at me, honest!!!

During a few moments I could predict the audience's moves, I stuck my arms up in the air with them and I might be imagining things, but in response it felt like the singer Anchang pointed at me with a smile in approval. Wow, he like, pointed at me! Awesome, dude! During another song I decided to tag along again with the rest and again Anchang pointed at me at that very moment! Gosh, do I really stick out that badly from the audience that he notices me doing something?? ^_^;

When the band left the stage after an hour of heavy metal (and talking), the audience started chanting "sex ... machineguns!", first holding their hands in the air and then forming a brief cross during the chant. Well, the band came back on stage and after some talking (yet again) they performed a few songs more and left again.

But no true metal concert would be perfect without another encore and soon after some more chanting the band performed three songs more, one being the awesome "German Power".

The band left and the background music started playing, but the fans kept chanting for more. Well, I guess this went just as planned as the band came for a third encore, playing "Sex Machineguns" and bidding farewell to the crowd with their Sex Machineguns "salute".

The audience were after a fourth encore as well, but one of the band members basically said "go home" through the speakers and they stopped.

Most exotic concert I've ever experienced

Physically it wasn't a demanding gig, since I really didn't find the idea comfortable of doing dance moves with teenage girls, but as an exotic rock experience it went all the way up to eleven. I've never seen anything like it.

The fans seemed to be satisfied with the show and were (probably) talking a lot about what the band members said and did on stage. I noticed that my earplug in my right ear wasn't properly placed, so it was badly ringing. I took the same bus back to the train station and tried to talk with some of the fans how amazed I was of their commitment of doing moves together, but the language barrier was unbreachable (although they knew what I was trying to say).

Back at Club Tour, it was nice to bring a twist to the usual "well, I went to see the Golden Pavilion and after that the Nijo Castle, which was really nice blabla" conversation and say, "yeah, I went to see Sex Machineguns at Moriyama and they played very loud heavy metal, y'know? I even bought this cool t-shirt!". ;-)

back to top | proceed to day eight

Photo copyright Ude
The Higashi Hongan-ji temple, which was only about a ten minute walk away from the guesthouse.

Photo copyright Ude
A typical window display of a Japanese restaurant. The "food" on the dishes are made of wax and plastic.

Photo copyright Ude
A western style wedding at the Kyoto station.

Magazine cover
Sex machineguns is big enough these days to find itself on major Japanese music magazines.

Concert ticket
Not a cheap ticket, but I didn't mind.

Concert hall
I ended up having a good seat in the hall, although my right ear hearing was limited for the next 24 hours after the show. But that's what heavy metal is all about, ne? ^_^

Photo copyright Ude
I had to buy a t-shirt as a souvenir, but unfortunately it turned out to be measured for the Japanese = too small even for me. >_<

SM logo
Close-up of the the band logo found on the sleeve of the t-shirt.

LINKS TO SERVICES, PLACES, ETC. MENTIONED TODAY:
Sex Machineguns - the official website of the band.

"JAPAN" - Sex Machineguns
This is a translation, but the words in italic were sung in English. Lovely sense of humour they have. ^_^

Do you like rice? You do if you're a Japanese man
Tomorrow's rising sun is amassing power
Do you like chicken? It's good for your body
A slim body for you

Show me a dream, our dream
Don't close your eyes
I'm on fire, you need fire
Just tonight, I'm the trigger

Japan, Japan, Japan
The city where my woman sleeps
Japan, Japan, Japan
Going straight ahead with this love I believe in
Japan, Japan, Japan
Eat rice, and get strong
Japan, Japan, I'm the fire
"I live in JAPAN"

Everyday, everynight; Everyday is hard
I'll sing, sing a song; Your love song
Tonight hold me tight, with you all night long
Loving, kissing, never never change

Show me a smile, for me
Don't close your eyes
I'm on fire, you need fire
Just tonight, I'm the trigger

Japan, Japan, Japan
Protect your woman 'till the end
Japan, Japan, Japan
Hold her more tightly
Japan, Japan, Japan
Drink miso soup, and remember
Japan, Japan, I'm the fire

Even if I die, don't you die. I'll hold on, gyaaaah!!!

Show me a dream, our dream
Don't close your eyes
I'm on fire, you need fire
Just tonight, I'm the trigger

Japan, Japan, Japan
Hold your woman
Japan, Japan, Japan
More tightly, more tightly
For you, I'll go on
Japan, Japan, I'm the fire

Exotic nights in Japan, It's just us in Japan
Exotic nights in Japan, with you...oh
Japan, Japan...fire! Japan!!

(translation from mognet.net)

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