In Japan, there are certain motifs that immediately evoke the image of summer. The persistent hum of cicadas, the mirrored burst and sparkle of fireworks reflected in a river, the flavor of fresh grilled takoyaki drenched in sauce and mayonnaise, the petrichor after summer showers. With watermelon and shaved ice on the mind, LOST ASH prepared to take to the stage on Sunday, August 3rd in Shibuya, for another SUMMER PARTY.
In the middle of a heat wave in Tokyo, with temperatures breaching the mid-90s (or mid-30s, Celsius), loyal fans clad in their finest yukata and accessories, had carefully ascended the steep hill behind that leads to the subterranean Shibuya Rex. The colorful queue wound down a precarious, jack-knifed staircase, where two enormous floral arrangements – one bestowing birthday wishes upon guitarist Show and the other commemorating this very SUMMER PARTY event – functionally cut the already tight corner in half. But fans waited patiently until it was their turn to carefully descend for their chance to take a cheki snapshot with the four members of LOST ASH – themselves clad in neutral toned, festival-appropriate yukata, too.
Once the photo session was complete, latecomers began to filter into the hall, which was soon filled to bursting, walls quivering with the excited chattering of a 200-thick crowd. As the band prepared backstage, old documentary footage of LOST ASH – including some scenes featuring bassist Sai‘s old hairstyle, which later became a topic of jovial derision – was projected onto a screen in front of the curtain. Although there was much waiting to be done over the 5-hour course of this event, LOST ASH made concentrated efforts to keep fans engaged and entertained even during such intermissions.
LOST ASH SUMMER PARTY 2014: TALK
Shibuya Rex – August 3rd, 2014
“We’re sorry for the wait! Welcome to LOST ASH’s SUMMER PARTY! What a wonderful view,” opened vocalist Daiki as he gazed out over the crowd.
The talk began with some flattering commentary on the audience. Drummer Dye expressed his admiration of the number of people who came out in yukata for the photo session. The topic shifted to wearing bathing suits under yukata, when guitarist Show chimed in that his bathing suit got caught on the enormous aforementioned bouquets on the stairs.
Dye moved on, “All that said, surely there must be some fans wearing bathing suits under their yukata. Well, anyway, let’s move on to the main event. We’ve got a free talk scheduled but it seems the movie [we just screened] was more entertaining. I’m kind of shocked. It’s so old, though. I mean, there are people who haven’t seen it but… We’ve all changed so much.”
Sai’s hair, especially, became the target of jokes due to the style and, particularly, the volume. But, Dye pointed out, it was the trend at the time. Daiki remarked that Sai had a “mori boy” look, which invited Dye to joke that Sai grew up in the forest and caused the conversation to dissolve into how rural his hometown, where the special DVD (to be distributed to attendees in yukata) was filmed, was. Dye eventually revealed, “People always say the station nearest Sai’s house smells like cows,” which sparked a brief debate on what exactly that entails and how true it is. Daiki then went on to say that Sai’s home station was so distant, “It was like the train went there just for Sai’s sake. Sai was the only one who would get off at that stop.”
Shifting the focus of the conversation to the events at hand, Dye asked the crowd about trips to the beach and fireworks festivals, the latter of which seemed to be the trend.
Moving forward, Dye continued, “Everybody’s probably been wondering about the shaved ice kit over there. Our first Natsu Matsuri event will be Sai’s Kitchen -Summer Edition-!”
Sai took the mic and began to explain how his specially prepared shaved ice would be taking a different turn than people may be accustomed to. Japanese shaved ice, similar in principle to American snow cones but less dense and more airy, is a sweet summer dessert that is made of ground, flaky ice flavored by sweet syrup and sometimes even condensed milk; traditional Japanese flavors like green tea can be topped with red beans or red bean paste, too.
But Sai wanted to experiment: “The members of LOST ASH don’t really like sweet things, so I’m going to try to make some savory shaved ice.”
Dye interjected, “That’s a hell of a concept.”
“It’s shaved ice that you can eat as a main dish,” responded Sai. He then encouraged the band to talk while he prepared the ice. As he clumsily poured the ice into the machine and put some elbow grease into grinding up the ice, the rest of the band members chattered among themselves for a few moments.
All the while, this event was being live streamed through JAPAN VISUAL.TV so even fans who couldn’t attend could still feel like they were a part of the festivities. With these fans in mind during this slightly dull food preparation time, Dye invited the members to share any interesting summer stories, of scary experiences or beachside memories, but nobody offered anything to share, so instead Dye redirected his focus to cheering on Sai.
Finally, Sai announced that his first concoction was ready and that his first victim – er, enthusiastic volunteer – should be Dye. Sai had doused the shaved ice in tomato pasta sauce, which he thought best suited Dye.
Even before tasting it, Dye was already groaning, making tortured faces, and even dry-heaving in exaggerated dread of the experience. “It really reeks of tomatoes. Can I say that?”
After Dye finally took a taste, Sai revealed the sauce had a garlicky flavor.
“Disgusting! It’s too strong!” whined Dye.
“But is it summery?” wondered Daiki.
“It’s nasty. Out of 100 points, I’d give it 0. You should put a skull and crossbones on it.”
Next was Daiki’s turn, and Sai made him a Japanese-themed meal garnished with seaweed.
“Well, I do like that. Can I go ahead and try it?” asked Daiki boldly, while Dye continued to recover from his traumatizing experience. There was a moment of awkward silence as Daiki contemplated the flavor, and Dye pressed for a response. Finally, “It’s good. I like it!”
“Seriously?!” asked the others, repeatedly, in disbelief.
“It’s good to eat after you’ve eaten something very sweet. It’s got some “spirit of Japan” to it. I would give it 50 points.”
Moving on, the only person left – other than the host – was Show. For Show, Sai, knowing more-or-less what Show likes, he wanted to prepare something that would be suitable for breakfast. To the front row’s chagrin, what he settled on was natto, fermented soybeans known for their pungent odor and sticky, gooey texture.
Show took a few bites, and then gave his critique:
“It doesn’t have much flavor.”
“You got some kind of taste disorder?” quipped Dye in disbelief.
After all, natto can hardly be described as lacking flavor. Show explained that, when you suppress the odor of the natto, as the ice did, then the flavor doesn’t come out. “It’s not good. You can’t separate the flavors. I’d give it four points.”
Show, whether from curiosity or plain hunger, decided to go on and try the other flavors, giving his opinion on each one: the nori was not so bad, but nothing special, just cold nori, but the tomato sauce was so bad it caused him to yelp out, “Gross! So gross! I didn’t expect it to be that bad.”
Dye turned to Sai for last remarks before moving on to the next part of the talk, and Sai, being a good sport despite the reaction to his culinary inventions, said that if there were even the slightest bit of interest, he would like to continue this “Sai’s Kitchen” segment in the future.
Summer Bingo Championship
The next event was more engaging for the fans, as they had a real opportunity to participate rather than just observe. Each fan, upon their entry to the venue, was given a bingo card, and it was time for the numbers to be called. What exactly was on the line? Money? Band merchandise? Mystery lucky bags?
Daiki joked that the first winner would get 600,000,000 yen, causing a mildly panicked Dye to say they’d have to break up. Nonetheless, Daiki continued, “2nd place gets 80,000,000; 3rd place gets 3,000,000; and 4th place gets… 200 yen.”
The real prize wouldn’t be revealed until the winners were announced, but after that hype, it was bound to be something priceless.
They soon began calling numbers, and for each one, they tried to attach some relevant story. The first number was 23, which coincided with the day of Show’s recent birthday.
5, 4, 8, 35, 72… After several more numbers, hands were going up saying they were one away from bingo, but still there wasn’t a winner for six more numbers. However, not long after that first winner, that last number was called, and all the slots were filled; it looked like there was even a fifth person.
At the end of it all, and after sorting out what to do with the fifth winner (she could join, too), the prize was revealed. In reality, it was – to many fans – something even better than winning the lottery: these five lucky fans would have a chance to hang out and drink with the band backstage after the live.
And with that, the pre-show festivities came to an end. A photoshoot, a video, and a themed talk full of learning experiences – like that pasta sauce and shaved ice definitely, without a doubt, do not mix. On that note, Show implored the fans to message the band, saying if half the people who came requested it, they would discontinue Sai’s Kitchen altogether.
“I understand it’s hard to move in your yukata,” conceded Daiki, “but please do your best to rock out, so we can make today’s the best memory of the year.”
Dye closed this session, “Thank you for coming today. You all look so beautiful in your yukata and it’s got my spirits up. There’s never been a day I’ve resented being [in the back] on drums as much as today…. Today, please enjoy yourselves. You all really look so beautiful in your yukata. Thank you. Oh! And those of you just wearing regular clothes, you look cute, too. That’s all!”
Autograph Board Raffle
S-T.net readers! LOST ASH – whom we interviewed for you last month – graciously autographed three signboards, just for you! Want a shot at one of these priceless mementos? Get in on our raffle for your chance! Simply follow the steps outlined below to enter; on September 21st, we will randomly draw the winners and notify by e-mail. Best of luck to all of you!
Tags: LOST ASH