Filling in for Daikaiju
by Gabe Taylor
I first saw the instro surf/punk band Daikaiju in the summer of 2007 at a bar called The Zombie Lounge in San Diego, California. I was on tour with The All Nighters and we had the good fortune of getting booked at The Zombie Lounge on the same night as Daikaiju. We met the guys at a barbecue before the show and they were real cool, we all hit it off pretty good. They turned out to be our favorite band we played with on that tour by far. It was nice to see another so called surf band play fast and sound heavy and different. We kept in touch over the next few years and played with them whenever they came to Bellingham.
Their line up changed from time to time and their live show evolved massively, especially in the last two years. They were a good live band back in 2007 but now they’re something else entirely; the most bang for your buck as far as entertainment goes. My metal band Baal Beryth played with them at The Wild Buffalo in Bellingham on July 2, 2013. At that time I was still just another fan and had no idea I would be playing with them so I can say it was the best performance I’d seen from them and probably one of the best shows I’ve seen period. That being said, I don’t want to try and attempt to describe what it’s like to see them now. It almost spoils it in a way, it never sounds right. Words don’t quite do it justice it just needs to be experienced. All I can say is it’s intense and chaotic and insane and hilarious. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you’re not likely to forget it. And the music itself is more than good enough to stand on its own, even without the freak show.
Anyway after they left Bellingham Daikaiju played more shows in the states and then went over and toured in Asia in August of 2013. When they got back to Alabama they were in need of a drummer for their next tour in October and November. Being a huge fan I jumped at the opportunity to play with them. So after flying from Seattle to Nashville, Tennesee on Oct. 4 and then practicing with them for a few days in Huntsville, Alabama we embarked on a six week tour. It took us through the south all the way down to Miami, Florida then up the east coast to New York( with a lot of zig zagging in between) then back down to the south ending in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 24. We played about 48 shows, too many to tell you about here so I’m just going to pick a few of my favorites.
The first show of the tour was on October 11 at a really cool venue called JJ’s Bohemia in Chatanooga, Tennesse. We played an early all-ages set outside on the back patio of the bar and then a second set a couple hours later on the stage inside. I had only practiced with Daikaiju for four days so the songs were still a little rough and not quite up to the proper speed but it turned out to be a pretty fun show(s) anyway. It stands out in my memory because it was my first time playing with Daikaiju and although I was a little nervous about f***ing certain songs up I had a blast. It was the bar owner’s birthday and a friday night so there was a big turn out of energetic drunk people cutting loose. With Daikaiju the crowd can either make or break the energy of the show and we did good with the Chatanooga crowd. It was nice piling all the drums and equiptment on people twice in one night.
Heading east we played eight shows in Florida. Gainsville, Cocoa Beach, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville and one particularly badass show on October 22 opening for Japanese rock and rollers Peelander Z at Propaganda in Lake Worth. Our set got fairly nuts with it being such a large, crazy audience and Peelander Z was incredible. I hope they make it to Bellingham someday. Another interesting stop in Florida was at a divey place called Fubar in St. Petersburg on Oct. 20. It was a Sunday night but the bar filled up early with people there for the show, and also people there to watch the TV show Walking Dead which they do there every Sunday. A ska band played when Walking Dead ended and then we played after the ska band. It was a great show for a Sunday night.
A diverse group of punk rockers, skin heads, metal heads and hippies, young and old all fans of surf, punk, ska and the Walking Dead. We played well and Fubar got pretty rowdy. It was still hot and humid down there so after a couple songs we were all pouring sweat. Halfway through our set we decided to move the drums and all the gear off the stage and right out the front door of the bar. We played our last couple songs on the sidewalk as the people emptied out of Fubar onto the street. I think it was pretty loud out there. There was a lot of head banging, slam dancing and beer flying everywhere. That was my first time ever moving my drums outside the bar onto the sidewalk in the middle of a show. The cops drove by but they didn’t stop. St. Petersburg was a good stop.
After Florida we played a few shows in the Carolinas. My favorite of these was an annual pre-halloween warehouse party called Zombie Fest in Wilmington, North Carolina on Oct. 26. There was a large stage, a bar with like eight kegs of beer, a ton of halloween decorations, a DJ, four bands and a couple hundred loaded people in Halloween costumes. One of the best Halloween parties I’ve been to in a long, long time.
We played a couple more shows in North Carolina, a fun one in Knoxville, Tennessee and then Halloween found us at a large venue called Headliners in Louisville, Kentucky. This was probably the biggest show of the tour with a turnout of upwards of 300 to 400 people. I think a lot of those people didn’t know what to expect from Daikaiju. We caught them a little off guard. But they came around and it turned out being an awesome show. The stage was big, the sound system was big and the crowd was big. Hundreds of weird costumes and smiling faces.
Unfortunately the staff of Headliners got pretty pissed at us for lighting the drums on fire and moving the show off the stage and into the audience like we did just about every night of the tour. Some guy came up and screamed in my ear while we were still playing saying “you’re in big fucking trouble man!” And then later Secret Man got bitched out by somebody as well for crowd surfing or something. It was worth it though we had a hell of a good time and I think Daikaiju made a lot of new Louisville fans.
The next three nights were eventful.
Want to know what else happened? Visit www.whatsup-magazine.to read the rest of this adventure!
On November 1st we played at a bar called Blind Bob’s in Dayton, Ohio. Blind Bob’s is on a strip in Dayton with about a half dozen other bars so there was a lot of action in that area. It was a Friday night and there were a bunch of people out on the town whooping it up. We shared the bill with three really good bands. My favorite of these three was a band called Mr. Clit and The Pink Cigerettes. Really raunchy rock n roll you can almost smell. Another band that I hope will make it up to Bellingham someday. Our set got pretty wild when we moved to the opposite side of the bar. People were flying and falling all over the place and a big drunk guy was pounding my ride cymbal with his fists as hard as he could. Secret Man was crowd surfing and climbing all over everything from the bar, to a table, to some chairs and then the drum kit. It was a beautiful mess. When the bar closed we went to a good after party and then in the early morning found a place to pass out. I woke up in the late afternoon on November 2nd in a bit of a daze from the previous two nights. We played an early show in Akron, Ohio at a place called Annabell’s. I can’t remember much about this show except it was a good one. When we finished our set we got paid and then jumped in the van and immedietly drove to Cleveland, Ohio to play a second show that same night, at an excellent bar/mini indoor skatepark called Now That’s Class. We were to be the entertainment for the Dead Milkmen show after show who were playing in a larger venue down the street. Aparently the power went out after one song so the Dead Milkmen show was canceled and most of the people who were out to see some live music made their way over to our show. We got there just in time. The place had filled up with over a hundred rowdy drunk and they wanted to see a band play. We set up in a large room with a stage and some skate ramps and started playing. It turned out to be the most violent and chaotic show of the tour in my opinion. It’s kind of a blur. Secret Man slid down one of the ramps and bounced off his face. I got what seemed like a full pitcher of beer thrown into my eyes so I couldn’t see for a minute. When we moved the drums down onto the floor and started playing people kept flying into me and knocking parts of the kit over. Eventually Rock Man and Pulse Man sort of stood guard in front of the drum set and another guy stood behind me with his arms outstretched. After that I didn’t feel so exposed and we were able to get through our set list. It was a memorable night. The next night we did another double header in Ohio. We played an early show at Buzzbin in Canton and then a second set at Royal Oaks in Youngstown. I was wiped out after that. Halloween and November 1-3 were the longest four nights of the tour for me and we were only a little more than halfway done with the trip.
The following week we played Pittston, Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then on November 7 we played a really cool show opening for punk rock legends The Dickies at the Open Arts Stage in Bordentown, New Jersey. It was a weird venue but meeting and playing with The Dickies was a major highlight of the tour. They were all very cool to us and really liked our show. I was pretty blown away by how good they sounded for some older guys.
After New Jersey we played Long Island and Brooklyn, New York both good shows and also a fun show at a club called Dusk in Providence, Rhode Island. From there we began slowly making our way back down south playing a house show in Maryland, a great show at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, a skatepark in Nashville, Tennessee, The Buccaneer in Memphis, Tennessee and then probably my favorite show of the tour at a bar called the Smoke ‘n Barrel in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Daikaiju has had great shows in Fayetteville in the past and this one was possibly the best yet. The place was completely packed, they had to start turning people away at the door because the bar was at capacity and then some. We played to what looked like a sea of people which made crowd surfing easy for Secret Man. When we moved the drums down to the floor and lit the cymbals on fire somebody caught one of the best pictures of the tour. Secret Man was up on top of the crowd and it almost looked like the people were offering him up to the flames. At the end of the show I sat down in a chair and like four or five big dudes lifted me up over the audience. Then people started lifting the different pieces of the drum set into the air and that was the first time I played drums while crowd surfing but not the last. That also made for a good picture. We got paid well and then went to an after party and drank Fireball on the roof of some house. It was a wild night.
Now we were in the final stretch of our trip. On November 17 we opened for The Queers at The Riot Room in Kansas City, Misorui. Then we played Witchita Kansas, Tulsa Oaklahoma and an awesome show in Dallas, Texas where we met and talked with the guitar player in Blondie for a while. The craziest show of this week was in a warehouse called Pure Vibes in Beaumont, Texas on November 22. Halfway through our set we drove our van right up into the middle of the crowd of people and we all climbed up and had the drums passed up there as well and played the rest of our show from the top of the van. It was a little shakey but it worked.
After Texas we played an insane show at The Alabama Music Box in Mobile, Alabama. Lots of crazy shit went down but that’s a story for another time. Our final show of the tour was at the Banks Street Bar in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a smaller bar but we all got weird one last time and played our last song with Secret Man on the bar and me and the drums on top of the audience. I flew back to Seattle two days later. After six weeks on the road playing every night I was ready for a break and the comfort of my own bed. But I had the post tour blues for the first few days I was home. It had been one of the best adventure’s of my life.