City: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan Venue: Liquid Room Date: 2003-06-02
No Use for a Name
S E T L I S T
No Use for a Name Set List On the Outside You Day Coming Too Close Chasing Rainbows Pre-Medicated Murder Soul Mate The Answer is Still No Invincible Dumb Reminders Not Your Savior Revenge Redemption Song Friends of the Enemy Straight from the Jacket Undefeated Room 19 Exit Martian Leave It Behind Feels Like Home Justified Black Eye Let Me Down Fatal Flu Feeding the Fire
Seeing hordes of Japanese kids pulling small towels out of their bags as I entered the Liquid Room was an early indication that things were going to get a little crazy. Walking around the corner and seeing a hundred or so kids lined up to get to the merch table gave further proof that something big was going down in Shinjuku.
The big event was the first night of the Japanese Fat Tour. The Fat Tour is a showcase of sorts for California's Fat Wreck Chords. This leg of the tour featured punk veterans No Use for a Name, along with rising stars Anti-Flag and Rise Against. The five Japanese shows, which included three in the Tokyo area, represented the first time that the acts had performed on Nippon soil.
Kicking off the evening was Chicago's Rise Against. Exploding onto the stage, the quartet's mind-blowing half-hour performance set the bar high for the evening. Playing several new tracks off of Revolutions Per Minute, the group tore their way through soon-to-be hardcore classics such as "Dead Ringer", "Heaven Knows", and "Last Chance Blueprint". Lead singer Tim McIlrath stood on top of the monitors and leaned into the near capacity crowd as he spit our his lyrics like venom. Although he added a lot to the overall sound when he strapped on a guitar, he was most entertaining when just singing. Pacing and jumping like a crazed man he occasionally took on the appearance of a skilled hip hop MC. Waving his arms around while clutching his mic tightly he somehow got the already frantic crowd even more pumped up. When he said "I want you to sing along whether you know the words or not. I want you to scream," everyone started yelling along with the music. With sweat pouring down their faces (good thing they had the towels) the audience pumped their fists in unison as they bounced off of one another.
The rest of the guys in the band were no slouches either. Bassist Joe Principe and guitarist Todd Mohney showcased an incredible amount of talent and showmanship as they danced and screamed along to the lyrics. Drummer Brandon Barnes was content to just beat the shit out of his kit during the extremely tight and energetic show. Closing with "Six Ways 'Till Sunday" the quartet repeatedly thanked the crowd before finishing up what was easily one of the strongest punk performances I've seen in a long time.
Building on the momentum, Anti-Flag's bassist, #2, walked out, raised his middle finger and screamed, "Fuck George Bush and fuck police brutality." On cue, the rest of the band launched into Die for the Government's "Fuck Police Brutality". Watching the predominately Japanese audience singing along and cheering loudly to the song was a little weird. Seeing as the Japanese police are often used for little more than getting directions, few probably had any idea what the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, group was singing about. Oh well, perhaps the kids were thinking globally and not locally. Pausing briefly to check that everyone was O.K., something that they did after every song, the group quickly kicked into another politically charged anthem.
Songs such as "Captain Anarchy" and "911 for Peace" were met with a sea of pumping fists and middle fingers. Spinning, jumping, and kicking while playing it was evident that the band was here to have a good time. Although several political comments were made, the emphasis of tonight's get together was more on unity and fun with the group trying to match the energy on the floor.
Halfway through their fast paced thirty-five minute set, singer and guitarist Justin Sane called out Ken Yokoyama from Tokyo punkers Hi-Standard. Asking his label mate to translate for him, he began to tell the crowd about the band's ideology of everyone being equal. He wrapped up his short speech by saying "George W. Bush does not see people as human beings. That motherfucking fascist sees people as profit." Amidst the loud applause that greeted the statement the band began to play "Got the Numbers".
Ensuring that everyone was taking care of one another, #2 reminded the audience that punk rock was about taking care of your family. Promising to return to Japan soon, they finished with "You've Got to Die for the Government" and a big group rock kick before retreating to the streets of Tokyo to do a little exploring.
As soon as Anti-Flag left the stage, a chant of "No Use" erupted in the venue. Fifteen minutes later the house lights went out and the pandemonium began. The San Jose, California, natives bounded on stage and began playing "On the Outside". Quickly showing why they were the headliners, the group worked the near-capacity crowd into a mad frenzy. Hunched over his mic, Tony Sly's grizzled vocals were bang on. Bassist Matt Riddle wildly waved his bass around while jumping. Guitarist Dave Nassie had the biggest smile on his face as he leaned into the audience, and the powerful drumming of Rory Koff helped keep everyone in line.
Singing along to every song, the audience somehow managed to get louder as the evening progressed. Feeding off of the astounding amount of energy coming from the crowd NUFAN put on a fantastic show. Giving their all, the group delivered a tight, rapid fire attack of songs from throughout their fifteen plus year career. Looking honestly taken back by the response they were receiving, Sly and Riddle told the crowd how awesome they were. Sensing that the kids were in need of a short breather, the group broke into a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". Although it turned into a fast-paced punk song after the first verse, the quiet beginning allowed everyone a chance to towel themselves off and catch their breath. Wrapping up the song, Sly had a bit of fun with the crowd by saying, "Thank you very much Tokyo. We have 215 songs left. We're No Use for a Name."
To prove this point, they quickly began playing "Straight from the Jacket". Riddle asked everyone to jump along with the band. With several hundred people jumping in unison, it honestly felt like the floor of the seventh story club was going to give at any moment. Looking over and seeing Yokoyama watching from the wings, Sly dedicated Leche Con Carne's "Exit" to him. He thanked him for "coming all the way from Tokyo to watch us play Tokyo." Seeing that he was missing out on the fun below, Yokoyama ran out and dove off the stage into the outstretched hands of the moshing audience.
After Riddle sang a spirited cover of "Martian" by the Misfits, and a huge audience a cappella sing-a-long for "Leave It Behind", the group left the stage. Returning a few short minutes later, they performed three more songs before repeatedly thanking the audience and apologizing profusely for taking so long to get to Japan. After finishing up the last song of the night, "Feeding the Fire", Riddle grabbed his mic and screamed, "Domo. You fucking rock," before exiting with his bandmates.
It might have taken them 15 years to get here, but you can bet it won't take No Use for a Name, or their openers, that long to return to the land of the rising sun.
There's a rotten core at the center of Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait. No matter how engaging I find Haskell and Sariss's enchantment with the film, I cannot accede to their critical adulation of it and of Henry.