Death Match at Dawn!

In all my many, many years of going to shows, until last weekend I had never been to one that began at seven am on a Sunday. Living in Chiba meant I had to be on the train at five-thirty am if I wanted to catch all the bands, and since I planned to do exactly that...well, there are times when you really enjoy having a coffee addiction. The place was already packed when I walked in at seven, nearly vibrating from all the caffeine, but when I saw several people already slamming beers I decided to go in the other direction and joined in.

This show was part of an all day event celebrating the wrestler Jun Kasai, aka "Crazy Monkey", who may very well be one of the most well known death match wrestlers of his time. It was wonderful to be in the company of both metalheads and wrestling fanatics on this morning.

Doraid and Dangerzone both opened the show with their take on traditional metal and thrash, and while both had charismatic frontmen I felt that Doraid was much tighter and rehearsed. Truth be told I was more excited to see Shootmaster, and holy hell they did not disappoint. A fast traditional thrash metal band mixed with parts of fast 80's hardcore, combined with a stage presence for true wrestling freaks: members were dressed up as famous wrestlers such as Mr. Pogo, Hayabusa and Sabu, using barbwire bats, skulls, and ladders as props. Their merch was also a total crossover success, appealing to both the metalheads and puroresu fan in me. Can’t wait to see them again!

With their style of pure noisecore, Napalm Death is Dead were the odd men out on this show. The drummer has a minimal kit with only a snare and a couple cymbals, bashing the small arrangement to pieces with several sticks in hand. The set was short, and I mean like really short. Like, five minutes short, which as a noise group means they might have played, at a conservative estimate, about two hundred songs. For true noise freaks only, Napalm Death Is Dead is one of the best bands out there playing this style.

Finally Abigail took the stage, and for their first song Jun Kasai made an appearance and immediately started a quick wrestling match in the crowd. The crowd roared as he mercilessly pummeled his hapless opponent and my only complaint was that it was far too short match -- we were there for blood! Afterwards, Abigail once again proved why they are world-renowned legends by playing a ripping set for a packed crowd of maniacs and providing a stellar Sodom cover for an encore. It was without qualification not only the best show I've seen in Japan, but also the most fun. Here's to more Sunday morning shows!