On a whim and a prayer, inspired by a dare (of sorts), the jet-setting rock and roll festival fanatic, Decibel Geek‘s The Meister (yours truly) was rather spontaneously on his way to Tokyo Japan! I was so happy when Diemonds published the news bulletin that they would be a part of the Japanese Assault Fest 2015 in Tokyo Japan, thanks to their Japanese record label, Spiritual Beast. I have personally followed Toronto Canada’s Diemonds since I instantly became a fan at the first time I saw them perform in 2011. I have championed them to anyone who would listen. I have written countless Diemonds reviews of albums and concerts here on Decibel Geek. I have done whatever I possibly could to see them live. I even had their band name appear in my rock themed tattoo (a full sleeve depicting a guitar case “stickered” with the logos of some of my all-time favorite bands). Most important of all, I purchased music and merchandise. All of this taking place before I had even ever met the band members, so my original love of their music is not in any way influenced by the incredible bias that I now have in their favour. After a particularly blistering set in Toronto in late September 2015, a friend and fellow “Die-Hard” scoffed at me as I rather drunkenly proclaimed “That was an awesome show! I’m gonna go to Japan to see them!” A stupid, spontaneous thing to blurt out, had him naysaying which in turn spurred me on. I love travelling and Japan has always been a target on my travel bucket list, I just needed the push that a Diemonds show provided to get me moving! Plus Decibel Geek already has a man in Tokyo, staff writer David Glynn, so it’s my duty as website editor to meet all fellow Decibel Geek staff isn’t it?
After a hellishly long flight David collected me at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo, escorted me to my place of residence to drop my gear and after joining forces with his lovely wife they showed me around. Dinner comprised of unknown, but delicious food followed our walking tour of the Akihabara area of Tokyo. The conclusion of dinner saw Mrs. Glynn departing to leave us to a late night of drinking (bars open till 5 am) in the Roppongi district, where my hotel was. Saturday, November 7, 2015, greeted me rather harshly as I arose after only about 4 hours sleep, which it appeared had been spent face down in the hotel bed, still clothed! Lunch and some more sight-seeing saw us heading off to the concert venue, Club Seata in Kichijoji I was nervous. During the drunken escapades last night the word had come down thanks to the oracle of Facebook, that only Diemonds lead singer Priya Panda had arrived in Japan! The Diemonds dudes had fallen prey to a poorly designed new customs/flight boarding procedure at Pearson Airport in Toronto on the first leg of their journey to a stopover in the USA and had missed the flight! The festival organisers did some shuffling around and Diemonds timeslot was moved to the last of the night (I guess you could say they were the headliners now!). The guys landed in Japan safely on another, much later flight, headed straight to Club Seata and arrived at the venue not very long before they were due on stage. No sleep, no soundcheck, no rehearsal, tons of jetlag, they still sounded great to me. Watching them as they came out on stage, this little band from my hometown that I’d flown halfway around the world to see, feeling the excitement of the crowd, I seriously had to fight back the tears of joy and happiness for them. Sissy (as proclaimed by Decibel Geek‘s resident PR rep Billy Hardaway)! I later was told that there had been an earthquake this night…coincidence that it was during the Diemonds set? I’d say they really shook Japan! More late night, although not as ridiculous, drinking closed out the evening as David‘s friend and new “Die-Hard” Masahiro led us through an aftershow dinner during which I consumed more unknown, but delicious food.
Sunday saw me left to my own devices with David spending some family time, I ventured out to see more of Tokyo such as the Nijubashi Bridge and Imperial Palace grounds in Marunouchi. Unfortunately, as the morning progressed into early afternoon I became more and more miserable with the steady cool mist that was turning heavier by the minute, soaking me from head to toe. Meeting with David, we again made our way to Kichijoji for night two of the Japanese Assault Fest. Diemonds took their original timeslot for this second day, longer set. Wow, I thought they were on it last night, but with a little sleep these young Canadians really demonstrated why they were here tonight! It was nice to see many Diemonds shirts around the crowd and I knew that they were doing well in the merch department. I had several opportunities to chat with each band member throughout the course of the two days as well as make many new friends met at the festival. At the conclusion of the festival, the members of Diemonds ensured that I was given the nod to attend the “End of Festival Banquet” sponsored by Spiritual Beast, which was beyond fun with new friends, members of all the bands and more!
With Monday finding me solo once again, I visited several areas of Tokyo including, the Sensoji Temple and surrounding area in Asakusa, the Sumo Museum in Ryogoku (unfortunately there were no practices or events on at the time), Yanaka Ginza/Yuyake Dandan (a staircase of cats, that in the rainy mist was void of the felines this day), Akihabara‘s bookstores, and Nihombashi (where I met David and his colleague for dinner after his work day). Later on this, my last night in Tokyo saw us find our way to Godz Heavy Metal Bar in the Shinjuku district. Throughout the few days of the festival we had been hearing of this bar, so it was high on our radar. The place was fantastic and I wish that there was such a bar in Toronto. It was small and dimly lit with CD’s aligning the wall behind the bar above the liquor and huge binder books loaded with more CD selections. Request slips appeared on the bar with our beers and they seemed to have everything we could think of in their library. Enforcer and Diemonds both saw airplay via our request and low and behold several minutes afterwards Diemonds themselves, minus Priya who had already flown out, wandered in. A fun night of Sake and beers followed to a soundtrack of fantastic tunes including full Diemonds music videos appearing on the bar’s big screen. Diemonds also left their mark in Godz as they were handed a blank white LP cover to sign for the bar which had many already posted up from bands that had been there. It wasn’t long before Enforcer also made their way into Godz as the drinks flowed heavily. I vaguely remember taking a photo of both bands out in the street, but don’t remember leaving Godz or making my way back to the hotel! Ahhhh, good times.
Thanks to Japanese Assault Fest and Diemonds, I discovered several new bands that quickly joined the ranks of my fanship. The only band on the roster that I had been familiar with prior to deciding to venture to Tokyo was Diemonds. Some pre-festival listening introduced me to Enforcer, Suicidal Angels and Solitude (also Gauntlet, but they were not particularly to my musical tastes). I was surprised that I’d not heard of Sweden’s Enforcer previously as they were awesome, the latest release, Far Beyond, receiving heavy rotation in the days leading up to the trip. Their live sets did not disappoint at all and they have now announced a Toronto date in January which I will not be missing! Suicidal Angels sounded decent on the Divide and Conquer album, some heavy thrash from Greece. But I found that their live performance really showcased the music, song structures and talents of the band propelling me into more album study. Solitude from Japan also delivered great sets both days with some stellar riffing, their newly acquired Brave the Storm CD soon to join the rotation in my MP3 Player. I was surprised to learn that Solitude‘s frontman was actually the President of Spiritual Beast Records, Akira Sugiuchi.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to everyone in Diemonds for making me feel welcome with your hugs of greeting, your Facebook post shoutouts, for taking the time to chat with me, for including me in the “End of Festival Banquet” and drinking sake at Godz. Hopefully Diemonds will return to the Japanese Assault Fest 2016, but come hell or high water, this intrepid, (crazy) Canadian will be there! Thanks, Tokyo and Spiritual Beast!