Wild Rover 2010 – Punk Adventures in Tokyo.

It’s about time I wrote about the wild time I had at the punk festival in Shibuya back in March –  Wild Rover 2010.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll remember my posts on Wild Rover in 2009, when I was first blown away by the likes of Junior and the Cherry Cokes. For those who are new, the festival is a day of Japanese bands playing Irish folk and punk music, a bit like the Pogues, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.

Well this year, not only did I go and have just as good a time – I got to meet some of my idols from Junior and the Cherry Cokes!

I went with a good friend who is also into punk music – boy, did we have fun! Mind you, we did get a tad lost on the way there, but there were such cool things to see in the backstreets of Shibuya – like the mural on the side of this building, which also has a rock bar (must visit when I’m next there)

Eventually some Japanese girls came to our rescue and led us there – they happened to be going to the same gig. We arrived just in time to catch Junior, playing to a packed house! They were just awesome, and the crowd went nuts. I really think they should play later; they are that good. The singer has a bit of a Johnny Rotten way about him, and the whole band is great to watch. Catch their music here.

For a change of pace we went to see Mohikan Familys over at Glad. The guitarist was really soulful and played almost flamenco-like at times, and Joe on tin whistle was no slouch either. Mix Latin and Irish with folk and you get something like Mohikan Familys – have a listen here.

16 Tons really picked up the pace with grunge punk fervour:

At Lounge Neo, we checked out the amazing Rockin’ Enocky (from Jackie & the Cedrics) playing fantastic 50’s/60’s surf guitar and rockabilly classics.

Bear in mind that all these bands were playing simultaneously at 4 venues – really 2 buildings opposite each other with various different floors. Each time a band would finish, you’d shuffle out and go find your next preferred one. Naturally, you’d see some of the same people as you shuffled, and it was around this time that we spotted some cute guys in kilts.

Back across the road we went to check out Mr Irish Bastard – which is actually a GERMAN band playing Irish punk – go figure!  How could you resist a band with classics like “Fuck you, I’m drunk!”? The bassist Boeuf Strongenuff was cute too. These pics show how massively crowded the room was.

At the end of their set, my friend and I were grabbing a drink at the bar when who should we see but the guys in kilts again. They waved us over to the other side of the bar, and we hesitated, until I saw that the Cherry Cokes singer Katsuo was there too. Like a shot we were over there and I was telling Katsuo how much I liked the band. Natch, he had to go and get ready for the upcoming gig, and I didn’t get a pic with him 🙁

The boys had little English, and we had little Japanese, but we managed in our stilted way to chat a bit. It turns out they’re in a Celtic punk band called Haggis. The pretty one in the make-up was the singer Yumeho, the other one a guitarist in the band.

We decided to hang together for a bit and check out the Moonstompers so we headed out into the street again, whereupon I grabbed this shot of them.

We all wanted to catch some Ole Dick Foggy, so back in we went, and got a great spot on the dancefloor so we could jig about a bit. Ole Dick Foggy are really funny, and often play tunes we know in the west, but in a ska or irish punk way, so it takes you a few seconds to realise and start to sing along.

And then, the finale was upon us…time to go and see – The Cherry Cokes! The room was already packed when we got there….but more and more piled in til we were almost suffocating. When they came on – WHOOSH!! The energy in the room went ballistic!

They had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand, and old faves like “1999” got the crowd as one singing and bobbing along. Seas of bodies drifted back and forth, and we were helpless to do aught but drift along with them, and try to stay aloft. Fun though!


They are absolutely superstars now, and were even playing on the bill of Punkspring. I do hope they play again next year, and don’t get too big for Wild Rover.

We didn’t want to go, and so we had another few drinks at the bar. I got more cool photos of and with people. This is one of the german guys associated with Mr Irish bastard, and a Japanese friend.

This girl was dancing near us at the Cherry Cokes, and I picked up her phone when she dropped it. Cool hair, jewellery and clothes.
I’d seen this cool looking girl at Rockin Enocky and said hi. Now I had to take her picture…and only noticed later that she was with the singer of Junior!

And then, in a time-honoured tradition, every person there was given a shot of whiskey and we held it aloft until it was time to toast the end of another successful Wild Rover festival. The lights went up and we had to face the fact that it was over.

Out into the street we walked…when I saw my favourite member of the Cherry Cokes, the guitarist Masayo! I told him I was impressed with his green hair, and Def Leppard shirt. He seemed amazed that I read his blog – it’s here for anyone who’s interested.

I had to fan myself I was that excited..and then I saw the accordionist from Junior, Katse. Another pic, please!

Then the cute guitarist from Junior who looks western, Hav.

Then we saw the guitarist from Mohikan Familys, and he remembered us because we’d been up the front and taking pictures – he gave us a CD of their music. Cool!
All in all, I felt quite elated. A year ago I’d only just heard of these bands, but I’ve had their CDs and been listening to them for a year now, and am a big fan.  Will I go again next year, that is the question…
If you’re ever in Tokyo around St Patrick’s Day, keep an eye out for this festival (flyers can be found at Tower Records) – you won’t regret it!


  1. that sounds like such a mad laugh – adding this to my wish list of trips:)

  2. I absolutely recommend it! It's always around the 17th – 22nd of March, just before hanami (cherry blossom season) and still quite cool in Tokyo for those who don't like the heat.