My only real criticism of PunkSpring09 was how the merchandise booths were arranged. After catching Oreskaband, I had to find my way into the long winding path to get to the long winding line to get to the line for the merchandise booth. By the time I finally go up front there were no extra large sized shirts of the design that I wanted – which was available in 4 colors, so that meant a lot of extra large shirts were gone early. I thought that this being Japan mostly mediums and larges would be snapped up first. Maybe they didn’t manufacture enough. I picked up a shirt in a large size, which fits, but is a bit tight. I was rather disappointed in this, and the fact that they didn’t take credit cards, because this meant that I wouldn’t be able to purchase any CDs of Oreskaband. I figured there was a greater chance of finding Oreskaband music than I would a PunkSpring09 shirt, so I spent my money on the shirt.
Because the line arrangement for the one merchandise booth was so complex and long, I missed a couple of bands that I was interested in seeing. I could hear parts while in line, but still wished that a second merchandise booth had been established and the line arrangement more efficient. It feels weird to complain about how poorly managed a line is in Japan.
I saw a few other bands afterwards, some of which I liked but have no idea who they were because I can’t read Japanese, and others that I didn’t really care for (like Rise Against – who aren’t a bad band but just not appealing to my personal taste).
Less Than Jake is where things turned for me. I came to both love and hate the Japanese concert experience. As soon as the band started the crowd went wild. I should have been tipped off as to what would happen due to the large number of Americans, but I simply wasn’t prepared for how intense the crowd would get. There was crowd surfing, and a lot of it. I wound up getting kicked in the head so hard and the crowd has unstable to the point at that moment that I got dropped to the floor. There I was, on my back for a good 30 seconds and I got kicked in the head again and my glasses went scurrying across the floor into the crowd of feet.
I shouldn’t criticize the Americans too greatly, because it was because of a couple that I wasn’t more injured. There were a couple that were very clearly well versed in the crowd etiquette, and I heard one saying “Back the fuck up!” They helped my up and even made a valiant effort to try and find my glasses, but the crowd was far too thick. I wish I could have found them again afterwards to thank them.
With my glasses gone and the day not quite half over, I was very upset about losing my glasses. I simply can’t see, and not being able to see really puts a damper on attending a concert. Then there is the problem that I would face about having to replace them. I wear bifocals, and have a very strong prescription normally, so replacing my lasses would not be cheap (the last time it cost me nearly $500). This was turning out to be a very expensive trip, and if the centerpiece of it was to be this concert and I couldn’t enjoy it, then a nearly pointless trip as well.
I was rather dejected, and I hope understandably so.
It was during the rest of Less Than Jake’s set that I ran into the one person who would wind up single handedly save the show for me.
Being rather blind without my glasses, I couldn’t see the person very well. All I could see was something puffy and bright green in color where the torso would be, and what I assume to be a baseball hat on top of where the head would be. He is dancing wildly and apparently having a great time, pulls a beer out of his backpack and cracks it open. After taking a drink, he offers it over to me. At this point, I could use a beer, so I accept his offer and take a drink. I attempt to give it back to him, but he gives it back to me, so I take a second drink. As I am doing so, he places his hand under the can in the fairly universal gesture for me to drink down as much as I can. Not only does he display his approval after I down half the can, he appears downright giddy when I let out a large belch.
Biru Man as I refer to him at this point then downs the rest of the beer and commences to dance wildly. Every so often I could see this cloud of bright green bounce its way over in my direction and some hands would pat me on the back. This guy was doing his best to raise my spirits and get me in the spirit of the festival – and it was working. While my mood would never fully rise while without my glasses, Biru Man’s enthusiasm and camaraderie was infectious.
After Less Than Jake’s set ended, I begin my search for my glasses, or whatever would be left of them. I found a cell phone, and was hoisting it in the air. For those that don’t know, this is the fairly universal sign of a found lost item after a set. Some people had shoes or other cell phones that were found, but no glasses. The bouncers/security guys between the floor barrier and the stage reach over to take the cell phone. Apparently they are taking everything off of the floor. I ask about my glasses – though through pantomime since I don’t speak Japanese and they don’t speak English. After a few seconds, the guy returns with a mangled mess of wire. My glasses! The frames were bent completely out of shape but the spectacles themselves were still intact. I did a quick unbending, put them on and had full vision once again. I shouted in satisfaction and relief, and could see a look of satisfaction on the guy’s face.
I spent the rest of PunkSpring 09 looking for the Americans or a Japanese guy with a big green jacket and baseball hat so that I could thank them, but was unsuccessful. I was able to enjoy fully the rest of the festival, though a bit more cautiously.