Tokyo Summer Sonic 2010: My First Concert

Hands Up for A Tribe Called Quest

August 8th, 2010: Today’s the day! This will be the first concert that I’ve ever been to in my entire life. I know it’s pretty sad, huh? I am now thirty years old and this is my first time. I feel so fortunate to have such awesome co-workers. As you may or may not know, my birthday was on Thursday, July 22nd. For each person’s birthday, the coworkers usually buy small cute gifts for them, or cakes, etc. In Japan, big birthday celebrations don’t seem like a big deal. Although, my first birthday in Japan (28th) was quite memorable, though because I took a short cruise on Tokyo Bay. This time, my coworkers didn’t buy me a small gift, instead they bought me a ¥15,000 ticket to Summer Sonic, a huge music festival in Tokyo with host of popular musicians. I couldn’t believe it. Hugging isn’t so big in Japan, but in this case I said “Screw it!” I was so happy that I would have a chance to finally see Stevie Wonder live.

I know he’s past his prime years, but I don’t care. I’ve wanted to see him ever since I was a little kid. Does anyone remember that Cosby Show episode where Stevie Wonder sings with the whole family? That’s the charm that I think of when I think of Stevie Wonder. What about Tribe Called Quest? As far as hip-hop goes, they are legendary! They are a standard by which many hip-hop groups compare themselves. I am not into all of the types of music being performed, but there are some pretty big names coming: Jay-Z, Sum 41, Nas, Orianthi, Slash (of Guns and Roses), Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, Big Bang (famous Korean band), and my two personal favorites Stevie Wonder and A Tribe Called Quest. There are over fifty hot bands scheduled on eight different stages at this thing. It’s gonna be great!!

Summer Sonic Schedule of Events


Sexy Davinci?!?

The temperatures in Tsukuba were scorching to say the least. There was actually a news report saying that it’s been the hottest summer in 100 years. Needless to say, I was a little worried about the weather in Tokyo. Once we got to Makuhari Stadium, I realized that we were very near the water, and the whole day, there was a nice breeze that really helped cool things off a bit. There were side bands playing at the concert, mostly Japanese rock bands: some were actually good, some were just decent, and some were a bit weird.

There were stands all over the place, food vendors, drink vendors, ice cream stands, and so much more. There were other side acts, like magic shows, too. The most interesting of which was a man who called himself Sexy DaVinci. To be honest, his magic show was pretty bad, but it was shock value the helped him to win over the crowd. I don’t know if Sexy DaVinci was gay or not, but when he ripped off his tear-away pants to reveal a too-tight-for-me-not-to-be-incredibly-naseous set of rainbow underwear…his fate was sealed in my eyes. He did get everyone’s attention, though. I guess that’s what entertainment is all about, right?


The Man Himself...Stevie Wonder!

Marisa and I started off by sitting in the stadium seats to watch Jason Derulo who I’d never really listened to before, but heard was quite popular in the US. He was definitely a good singer, but honestly I just thought the performance was mediocre (sorry Jason). As we were watching Derulo’s performance, we saw people making the down to the main field area in front of the stage. There were no restrictions on how close we could get to the stage. It was kind of a first come first serve thing. If we got to the main field in time, we could get a close glimpse of our favorite acts. Marisa really wanted to see Big Bang (famous Korean Pop boy band) So I did go down the field for that one, and it was INTENSE!! A slew of young girls were in a “Big Bang Trance.” There were pushing over, past, under, and beside one another just to see these guys. It was quite a site, so I just hung back and watched.

One of the other acts we watched was Orianthi. I am not familiar with the band, but I think I remember seeing the woman performing with Michael Jackson in “This Is It.” I am not a humongous rock fan, but I have to see the lead singer’s guitar skills were incredible by anyone’s standards. Who else? Sum 41 had very cheery, light-hearted sounding rock, and there was lots of moshing happening while they were playing. And for some reason the lead singer kept saying (excuse my language) “fuck” alot. Taylor Swift had on this blinding, purple sequined dress, which was about the most exciting thing in her performance to me. To be honest, I thought was a bit too preachy before each song. “When I was young, I learned that…” I’m my head I was thinking “Aren’t you still young?”
I wasn’t really into her, but she had hundreds upon hundreds of fans there. There’s something for everybody, I guess.

Dancing at Summer Sonic 2010

A Tribe Called Quest. My favorite hip-hop group of all time. Q-Tip, Phife-Dog, and Ali-Shaheed Muhammad didn’t disappoint. I was a little surprised at how much weight Q-Tip and Phife have put on in recent years (Ali-Shaheed-Muhammad looks like he hasn’t aged a bit), but that didn’t take away from the performance…it was FANTASTIC. They played many of the songs from my favorite Tribe Album, Midnight Marauders. I told you I’ve never been to a concert before. So being there, listening to them live, knowing all the words, hearing Muhammad working the turntables…I was feeling it…cheering, dancing, rapping along with them, it was everything I imagined and then some. “WE CAN GET DOWN!!”

Stevie Wonder. He is the main reason I came to the show. Stevie Wonder was the final show of the Sunday night performance. Stevie was fashionably late, but when I heard that harmonica…my heart started racing in anticipation. He walked out on stage, unassisted, playing a harmonica, and shuffled to his piano. The stage had significantly more backup instruments and vocals than the other performers. Stevie Wonder did a medley of so many of his popular songs: My Cherie Amour, Sir Duke, Higher Ground, Lately, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Happy Birthday…and more. Even though he’s not at his musical peak, watching him made me understand why he is considered one of the greats. His piano/keyboard/instrumental skills were insane. He was able to play different styles of music than his own, and do it masterfully. He played music by other artists, and did a piano solo (no singing) that left me with my open. I was also quite impressed by his backup musicians. When Stevie Wonder finished his show, they did a short jam session, and I could understand exactly why they were on stage. The drummer solos were my favorites.
Stevie Wonder had his sons come out, one of them sang with him (Montez). At times Stevie got a bit too churchy, but overall, it was a WONDER-ful performance (ha, ha,ha…sigh…I know it was cheesy).

Thanks Marisa. That was an incredible bday gift!

SUMMER SONIC 2010 will be an experience that I remember for the rest of my life. Thank you to all of my coworkers for the birthday gift. I hope to go again next year and maybe catch both days of the festival. I had to miss Jay-Z and Nas because of work, but early next year, I’ll be changing jobs.

Thanks for reading,

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
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