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  1. So.. given that pretty much nobody anywhere can go see concerts at the moment, I thought I'd post this live report I wrote but never posted from back in 2016. Only one of these four bands even exists any longer, and a lot of the info and things I didn't know about VK shows is kinda glaring four years later, but maybe this can take your mind off real-world concerns for a few minutes. I’m still not used to the fact that shows start (and end) so early in Japan. At home a concert means dinner, and then waiting for the first band to start half an hour late, and then the show, and then finally getting home in the early hours of the morning. This show, featuring Shiva, Morrigan, and Synk;yet (and Elysion as an opening act), was scheduled to start at 17:30… before the evening rush hour has even started in earnest! A quick walk from Ikebukuro Station and I’m descending the steps into Ikebukuro Cyber, which was marked on the outside only by a spray painted name and logo on a black door. Shoutout to the fellow M-Her that helped me get into this show, I like to think I made a few VK fangirls jealous when I got to tell the ticket-taking-girl that I was 'on the list' and a 'guest of Morrigan'. (ok I didn't actually *say* those things... I said a single line I had rehearsed about being on someone's guest list... still pretty cool though.) The space inside Cyber is small but not tiny. Including the stage it’s probably a little bigger than half a tennis court, a little wider than it is long. The interior of Cyber was a bit spartan, but modern building aesthetics are in favor of lots of exposed ductwork and supports and other industrial touches anyway. The most charming part of Cyber is that one corner wall is just the rock they dug the basement out of…. no need to finish every wall if you don’t have to. Cyber has a pretty standard layout with the bar and march tables near the rear, and there are no columns or other obstructions blocking the view from any part of the floor. I was going to say the stage was high enough to offer a good view of the band to everyone, but I’m 6’4” (193cm) so, really, I can see no matter the height of the stage. Promptly at 17:30 the house lights go out, the background music is turned up for just a second as a warning the show is about to start, and Elysion is revealed (by the manually drawn curtain) looking positively 2000’s era Matina. The three members at the front of the stage had lots of black vinyl on accompanied with plenty of decorative straps, buckles sparkles, feathers, and plenty of visible thighs. The bassist was going for a creepy look with white and black lipstick and a ripped black stocking covering parts of his face. This bad ass demeanor was neutralized somewhat by the fact that he was definitely chewing gum throughout the show (I’m not even sure how he did that while doing backup screaming!). As they launched into their first song the vocalist remained lit only from behind striking an imposing silhouetted figure on the riser at the front of the stage. Elysion, as the opening act, only had enough time for a short set and that meant no time for ballads. They played four (I think!) bangers and called it a day. The head banging of the girls in the crowd mirrored the typical VK guitar leads in the songs; a little swirlier and dizzying than at most western shows. I was getting hit by hair not only from the front and back but also occasionally from the sides! Elysion’s sound didn’t have anything especially unique to separate them from their peers yet, but the members are starting to develop their on-stage personalities… and they had some fun parts where the vocalist and both bass and guitar were all singing/screaming slightly different vocal parts simultaneously. I like when bands go the more organic route of having the non-vocalist members do the gang-shouting and background vocals (however imperfectly they do them) rather than a pre-recorded vocal track. Between sets the room seemed to get slightly more crowded as many of the fans simply sat or squatted in place (I can’t even imagine doing this on the club floors I’m used to in America!). This was my first chance to some people-watching in earnest. I noted that it’s ok to be ‘that guy’ at VK shows… the only band tees I saw were of the bands playing. A stark contrast to the unwritten rules of American metal shows where the dress code heavily favors band tees but strictly of bands that are not playing the show you’re at. Over at the merch table I saw something fun and unique (though it wasn't there later… maybe it broke). Shiva had a gachapon machine with little containers filled with what I’m not sure; cheki or buttons I’d guess. Seemed like a fun way to sell small things, and kept the contents random to encourage trading among fans. Speaking of Shiva, it was obvious they were up next (I didn’t particularly trust the order listed on the sign outside) as the music between sets was a somewhat ethereal instrumental piece with sitars…. nicely tying in with the Hindu theme of their name and the names of their releases. Shiva came out and introduced themselves (not with words or anything, they just struck poses and preened for the crowd a bit before picking up their instruments) and were all wearing white except the singer clad in mostly black and his ever-present headband. The bassist for Shiva looked very young and very cute, with a pretty sparkly silver bass to match. He came out later sans shirt and, while I enjoyed the view, it was a bit ‘fit but you know it’. The three ‘headlining’ bands got to play sets long enough that they could actually devise setlists that had a purposeful flow and cadence. Shiva started with a couple scream-ier examples of their discography to get the crowd excited, slowed it a bit in the middle for everyone to catch their breath, then picked the pace back up straight through until the finale. The vocalist even did a ‘screaming with lots of echo and feedback’ interlude to give the guitarists a chance to grab some water. I’ve always thought Shiva’s vocalist had a versatility and unique timbre to his voice that made him special among a landscape of often interchangeable VK singers. His performance live just reinforced this thinking. He was energetic and charismatic… and I found it evidence of his versatility that in songs where there were two simultaneous vocal tracks they’d often switch whether he was doing the screaming or singing live with the pre-recorded vocal track handling the other. The most fish-out-of-water experience of the show for me, and a thoroughly embarrassing moment, happened when during one song the entire crowd (even back at the rear of the floor where I was standing) got down on their knees in a prayer position in unison… had everyone here already seen Shiva live or something?? I remained standing thinking with misplaced confidence “oh this will just be a second or so, I don’t want to get down there too late while they’re coming up.” No such luck. It was a solid 10 seconds of me being the only person standing around like an idiot. It was definitely a cool crowd participation thing to do… and I was a little more prepared when they did it a second time during ‘Bury Lullaby’. Overall Shiva did a good job inciting the crowd to headbang, dive into the girls in the front row, and do the other various synchronized dancing I wasn’t prepared for. The (cute, remember) bassist had the best fan service moment of the night when he sucked the vocalist’s finger fleetingly, but seductively. I haven’t mentioned anything about the drummers yet, as they are always (necessarily) sitting in the back and the bands so far hadn’t really interacted with them, but Shiva’s drummer was by far the hardest working of the evening. He was pounding his kit as if he was mad at it, and I swear he just got stuck in double-time halfway through a couple songs and just went with it for the next two minutes whether it was supposed to be that way or not. Shiva’s rhythm (for lack of a better word) guitarist was a bit shy at this show. He never jumped up on the crate or really leaned into the crowd from the front of the stage. As they waved goodbye the bassist flicked his pick at somebody as opposed to just up in the air to be caught. He had a cool/cocky swagger that I enjoyed. Another break between sets, more changing spots and sitting on the floor. If I had to guess I’d say Morrigan was the most anticipated band of the night; they seemed to have the most people move up before their set and definitely had the most people wearing some of their merch. There were even another couple guys in the audience that were excited for Morrigan to begin (I could be wrong, because I’m basing this on about five concerts worth of experience, but I get the sense the boys generally come out for one-mans…. not so much for event shows where they’d have to endure bands they don’t like to see the ones they do.) If I had to sum up Morrigan’s set in just a phrase it would be; holy hell the relentless energy! Morrigan appeared wearing their newish outfits that were mostly black with just a pop of color each (and in my humble opinion a big upgrade over their previous red vinyl look) and demanded the entire crowd jump, or headbang, or dance around, or scream the entirety of their ~40 minute set. I was hesitant to get too involved most of the night, seeing as most of the participation was synchronized and I didn't know any of it, but I couldn’t help but pump my fists and clap along with the rest of the crowd to Morrigan’s unique brand of driving riffs and digital bounciness. All the members of Morrigan had the confidence of a band on the rise. The vocalist, Aryu, especially interacted with the crowd in ways I’ve never seen at a VK show. He was singing while leaning on girls in the front row. He was splashing the crowd with his water. During the extended girls crashing into the front row (there isn’t really *moshing* at VK shows, rather during heavy sections of certain songs the front row of girls lean forward over the front of the stage and allow people behind them to rush forward and jump into them timed with the guitar/drum hits) song he went on a mission to make sure that every member of the audience was participating in one way or another. At first this was yelling and pulling from the stage, but it soon became lowering himself to the floor and literally pulling people forward from the back so that almost everyone in the venue had jumped into the back of another member of the crowd at least once. (for the record, he was content to simply give me a high five rather than try to coerce me into smashing into somebody.) My favorite moment of the show was when he walked into the entry hallway and scolded the few girls sitting out there for not joining the mayhem in the main floor (and a couple even listened and ran out to crash into the front row!), he was not content until every single person there was moving around enjoying themselves. Don’t let my praise for Aryu make you think his supporting cast wasn’t just as energized, the rest of the band were no slouches either. The bassist, Kuloe, and his one black angel wing were a blur in front of the two black coffins Morrigan had set up on the stage to give it a little flavor. And their guitarist, Pitty, jumped/bopped around endlessly while moving his head side to side to accentuate his pigtails. He liked to make maybe slightly longer than was comfortable eye contact with individuals in the crowd while playing, there was no doubt exactly who he was staring at and motioning to. Pitty surprised me with a couple guitar solos. When I think of Morrigan’s music I generally focus on the bombastic riffs and very purposefully computer-generated-sounding effects, but there was some technicality that bubbled up over the surface occasionally. Setsuna, Morrigan’s drummer, really knew how to help propel a riff and a couple times during the show he was basically the only member left playing his instrument as the others were busy yelling at and reaching into the crowd. Look out for Morrigan! Between the number of people in the venue excited for them and their upcoming one-man tour, they really have the characteristics of a band with the potential to do some things in the VK scene. Their sound is familiar enough to get into right away but has just enough unique elements that they have a USP they can hang their hat on to separate themselves from the crowd. I can guarantee that you won’t be bored during a set of theirs. During the last between set break one member of the crowd lit up a cigarette. I’m glad it was only one person who was taking advantage of this (lack of) rule. Quick shout-out to the member of Shiva (I think the drummer but I wasn’t sure out of their outfits and makeup!) who was helping to sell things at their merch table and tried to talk to me a little/seemed genuinely excited about me enjoying their set and buying some of their CDs. Our last band of the evening, Synk;yet (who I always want to call SkyNet), are a kind of melodic/symphonic goth-y visual rock band signed to Starwave Records. Starwave having hosted the event this evening, it made sense that the band they represent got to close the show. The first thing I noticed about Synk;yet, other than the vast amount of skin the two guitarists were showing, was that they had no bassist on stage and all the bass tracks were pre-recorded. I’d later learn when researching the band that they have a bassist but he is out with a pretty serious illness… get well soon! The stage left guitarist for Synk;yet did some very slinky dancing for most of the set, and while I would have called him the lead guitarist based on persona, it was actually the opposite side guitarist who had the tougher, sweep-picking infused solos. Synk;yet’s songs were pretty typical slightly heavier VK with a nod toward the dramatic thanks to the vocalist… who is the only singer of the evening who did a diva vocal run on a long note to try and show off his singing chops (he didn’t really hit Mariah Carey-esque heights, but I’m a fan of his willingness to just go for it). The most fun part of Synk;yet’s set was the last song where the vocalists from Shiva and Morrigan joined them on stage to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. Aryu even grabbed a guitar from one of Synk;yet’s members and played the simple riff for a couple minutes. I cringed when that same Synk;yet guitarist smacked his hand really hard on an overhead light while pumping his fist skyward… ouch. His recovery of looking disapprovingly at the light like it was its fault was pretty classic. More and more members of previous bands emerged with the sole intent of encouraging the audience to throw themselves toward the stage and the chaos of the night peaked. That last song in which all the bands and the whole crowd participated was a fitting crescendo for a night filled with passion and electric energy. The biggest mistake of the evening was that the show didn’t end on the fever pitch but the band members spent five minutes talking (maybe this was more interesting for the rest of the crowd who could actually understand what they were saying… My Japanese is non-existent to terrible so I really could only catch ‘thank-you’s and the months they were talking about things happening) after playing their last song. I’m more a fan of dropping the mic on a high energy note than letting the ending meander as it did. All in all the four bands who played as part of the show acquitted themselves well and left me with a big smile on my face. Each brought a little something different to the table, but their sounds complemented each other well enough that no one in attendance couldn’t find something to like in each.
  2. Autumn Cup Tour~FINAL~ Live Report Date: 3rd December 2019 Location: Shibuya (Tokyo) Venue: Tsutaya O-West Bands/Artists: Develop One’s Faculties/GRIMOIRE/Chanty [cancelled]/gulu gulu/SCAPEGOAT/ヤミテラ (Yamitera)/ マザー (Mother)/ヴァージュ(Virge) After putting this off for two months, I’ve finally had some time to sit down and write about my experiences of a taiban (a live where multiple bands perform) that I attended last year. I was looking forward to this live that had many artists I wasn't familiar with and others I was curious about. It's been a while, so my memory is a bit hazy on some aspects, but I've done my best to capture what happened. However, that also means some of the events written may not be in the order it took place. Many apologies in advance! It's also my first time writing one of these, so please excuse my rookie writing ^^; Note 1: Chanty cancelled their performance so there was a “special guest” who played in their place (more on this later). Also, Haklo was listed in the original advertisements, but they did not appear on stage. Note 2: I’ve done my best to transcribe a setlist when possible. If there are any errors, I deeply apologize in advance! Please let me know of any mistakes and I'll be happy to correct it ^^ So, let's get to it!
  3. Wow - it's been a long time since this happened, but I remembered mentioning I'd write up a report and life has finally slowed down enough for me to try and do just that! This was a show I felt really lucky to be able to attend while I was there - it was the night before I was scheduled to leave Tokyo and had multiple acts I had hoped to see while I was in Japan. I'll get right to it (though this might be a bit "stream of consciousness" so bear with my antics and anecdotes) On this afternoon my wife and I were wandering Ikebukuro before we were going to go to 高田馬場AREA for this live. She doesn't have much interest in VK and we were nearing the end of our trip, so she planned on watching a band or two and heading back to our accommodations in Shinjuku. When we arrived, she saw the line (on an incline going down a hill) and basically said "yeah, no" so I took her back to the train station (where there was a ginormous R指定 banner hanging over the staircase) while we had time to spare. Funnily enough, I went to the restroom before returning to the venue and in that time she realized she left our wifi box in my bag, so she walked back to the venue to track me down. Somehow everyone was already inside and she assumed I had gone in, too -- but I also had her ticket (I wasn't thinking much this day...) She then attempted to track down "blonde gaijin" in broken Japanese with the gentleman running the door who reluctantly (yet surprisingly???) let her run into the live hall and find me. At this point I am walking back to the venue and see her on the sidewalk. I am very confused so she explains the whole silly scenario and basically says "fuck it, I'm here, buy me a drink and I'll hang out for a little." As we enter and declare our "favorites" to the doorman (DIMLIM and gulu gulu) we enter and hear music playing while we buy beers. I see video on the screen but I am a newbie and thought it was a recording. Turns out the opening band (billed as Aster) was actually finishing their set already. (the listed showtime hadn't even hit yet - I thought we were early, but oh well!) We wandered into the live hall to see them play about half a song before stepping off stage. There were still quite a few people watching them, though, especially for an early opener I had never heard of (and can't find any info on???) I discussed this with someone before going to the live and speculated this might actually be the band GLEN, who was set to release a maxi-single called "Aster" later that month and after hearing GLEN/seeing their visuals, I am now convinced this was in fact the case. They sounded very similar from what I experienced and the visuals strike me as the same or similar to the look in their video. Anyway... After curtains closed and reopened, we were greeted by some fairly heavy visuals -- a vocalist wearing a cloak covered in creepy white masks and a guitarist with the classic medical eye-patch. From what I knew, this appeared to be MonstlloW; I had watched a few of their videos to prepare myself as I wasn't too familiar. I was immediately taken by how...cool they looked. Very heavy visuals, just really professional from visuals to sound. Their instrumentals were extremely tight and the audience was really engaged, headbanging and dancing and shimmying from one side of the room to the other (probably my favorite thing to experience at a VK live in terms of audience interaction as I had never seen anything like it before.) I'll admit that I didn't find the videos I had watched to be too memorable so I wasn't sure what to expect, but they definitely won me over by the end. Definitely the kind of band that is worth seeing live to really appreciate. (My wife was quite taken with them, commenting on how strong the singer's vocals were and how impressed she was by their overall performance. She has some familiarity with VK from DIR EN GREY and my general interest, but she seemed much more drawn in than I anticipated.) They played a total of 5 songs and handed out setlist cards from their merch table after they finished. Monstllow setlist 1. 嘘泣キ少女 2. KERBEROS 3. ビッグマウス・マーチ 4. WE ARE LIAR 5. 劇薬U.S.O After this we grabbed a few more drinks and took a seat while we waited for the next act. We were very close to the back, right in front of MonstlloW and DIMLIM's merch tables. I was surprised to see that MonslloW's guitarist and bassist had actually come out and were hanging out behind their merch table. They appeared...very tall? Probably a combination of costume, hair, and the fact that they were on a platform above us, but it felt a bit imposing! (Haha.) After their merch sales concluded for the moment, I took a second to inventory enough of my Japanese language knowledge to basically say "I really like your band" and they seemed amused and appreciative. They handed us the setlist cards and actually hung around back there for the majority of the night. (I don't know why this shook me so much, I guess VK has been at such a distance my entire life that I never really expected them to be so casually...there??) The curtains opened again revealed the next band -- another four person act, guitarist in a white dress (iirc) and bassist with a long, spotted fur coat. It was their vocalist that clued me into who they were, though -- very slim, shirtless under an open jacket, strutting directly to the center of the stage. This was definitely Hueye. (Upon seeing them, my wife immediately exclaimed "oh, they're girls!!" I had to apologetically advise otherwise...) At this point, I had no real familiarity with their songs other than "優しく殺して," as I really hadn't listened to anything else at that point (and I don't think they had much else to listen to?) Nonetheless, I was very impressed once again. The first thing I noticed was their vocalist's harsh vocals compared to what I had heard on recordings -- they seemed much, much stronger live. Like, noticeably so, even to someone who had only heard one song. As their set continued on, I noticed exactly how proficient their guitarist was, too. I mean really, he can shred. My wife was laughing at the fact that my jaw kept dropping just watching his fingers, but she agreed with me either way. Again, I only really realized "優しく殺して," and I believe they closed with that track, but after going back and listening to more of their releases I'm pretty confident they played the other tracks from that single alongside a few others. Not sure what their other songs were, but I think they also played five like MonstlloW. (My wife commented she didn't like them as much as MonstlloW, but partially because she "had to keep looking at that man's body the whole time." 🤣) At this point, we once again grabbed some more beers and she asked me about the other bands that were playing (since she told the doorman she supported a particular one and realized she had no clue who they were). I explained that DIMLIM was my favorite, gulu gulu was a new band with familiar members. I wasn't sure the order of the performances at this time, but I was cut off at that point as the curtains opened again. As the electronics of "GROTESQUE" began twinkling, I stood to immediate attention and noticed the crowd filing in very quickly. I excitedly stated that this was DIMLIM and as the band appeared, I took note of their visuals compared to their most recent photos at the time. Sho was not in his "clown" look from "離人" and instead was wearing something much more similar to the suited look from their more current appearance, glasses on his face in a look that reminded me very much of DIR EN GREY's Kyo circa "ain't afraid to die." Retsu wore face makeup similar to that of the photos, but rather than the pleather bodysuit he was wearing a very long trenchcoat. Taishi and Hiroshi appeared to match their photoshoot looks, while Ryuya wore the same outfit but with his hair tied up in a messy bun. Halfway through the first song, my wife turns to me and just says "ok, yeah, these guys are fucking good." One of the most immediate things I noticed about DIMLIM in this setting compared to the other bands that had played, is that their performance felt quite a bit...rawer than what we had seen so far. From someone who grew up going to punk/metal shows in the states in a scene that heavily frowned upon any type of backing tracks or sounds outside of "just the instruments in front of you," one of the things I found immediately standout was how many bands used obvious backtracks to fill in their sound at this live. It doesn't bother me, I can see the purpose and the value in it as it does add a certain "fullness" to these bands' sounds, but it definitely stood out. This is not to say that DIMLIM did not also use these things, as their sound does incorporate a number of electronics and multiple tracks, but I will say that it felt much less prevalent during their set. They continued straight out of "GROTESQUE" into "Malformation," which is probably my favorite song on CHEDOARA, so I was very happy. Every member seemed confident and "dialed in," but it was very difficult to divert my attention from Sho. (My wife made a comment about Sho, stating "I believe this blonde boy was on the train with us???" - I didn't notice, but I suppose it's possible? Haha.) His vocals were rougher than they sound on recording, but not in a way that felt bad or like he was incapable, just much more emotive. He stood on a riser for the majority of the set and really gave it his all from beginning to end. I know many have stated that he inhales his screams, which is troubling from a health perspective, but I really feel like he was exhaling a lot of them during their set as some stood out as very loud and impassioned. If I had one criticism, it would be that Ryuya's guitar felt too quiet for most of their set (something I had also noticed in live videos?) and I think they would have sounded even better if he was a bit louder, but they still played a very strong set. I did notice that the room was quite full for them in comparison to the previous bands, with a noteworthy number of males in the audience specifically for them and girls literally throwing themselves over the barriers while headbanging. (Another thing that I had never seen before -- they were straight up pulling all the way back and like...launching their bodies. That's dedication and western audiences could learn a thing or two!!) Their set was intense and entrancing and everything I could have wanted -- I feel really lucky to have seen them with their full lineup, though I wish their set was longer! It felt shorter than MonstlloW and Hueye, though maybe because there was no MC, just song after song with no interruption. DIMLIM setlist (to the best of my memory) 1. GROTESQUE 2. Malformation 3. ...物狂ひ...なりて 4. vanitas 5. 「人」と「形」 (it was this or D.Hymnus, but I believe it was this if I recall correctly) At this point, we're technically four bands in (and coincidentally four drinks in, so we continued that trend -- the drinks were really light!!) I kind of tried to explain who the remaining bands were, but GRIMOIRE started shortly after DIMLIM was done so I stood back up to watch them. I like GRIMOIRE a fair bit and have listened to most of their releases. I think their heavy songs are really well composed with cool guitar work and I was excited to see them for this reason. Oddly enough, they emerged with a very toned down visual look -- essentially a suit look for most of the members. RyNK wasn't even wearing his signature blindfold which I was kind of shocked by. The audience seemed to have quite a few very dedicated fans at the front, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit worn out at this point after DIMLIM's set, which was a very different atmosphere. GRIMOIRE played a fun set that had a few of their "heavy bangers" with mostly lighter songs. That was a bit disappointing to me, but I still found them enjoyable overall, just a bit low energy compared to the other acts that evening. Unfortunately I don't remember their setlist! Things are starting to get blurry to me at this point, but I'm pretty sure MAMIRETA played next. I had told my wife that they were a pretty wild band and that she might like them (though in truth, I was kinda surprised she stuck around this long! She seemed to be pretty into every band that played save for GRIMOIRE who she didn't really watch.) I planned to buy some DIMLIM merch, but then realized I was almost out of cash after drinks so...I just bought more drinks instead. I will cut straight to the point before getting into detail, but MAMIRETA is hands down one of the best live bands I have ever seen. They tripled the energy of the previous acts (somehow) and played one of the most fun sets I've ever seen. I've argued this point a few times, but I really don't think MAMIRETA would be out of place in a western hardcore festival (except for the whole makeup thing, lol) Their music reminds me a lot of some of the nu-metal tinged western hardcore that has been a thing these past few years (Vein, Knocked Loose, etc.) Their look was pretty "low-visual" or "boy mode" as my wife started calling it through the evening. Just hoodies, jeans, and big hair. (basically the same as they wore in their "もしもし" PV) I have heard some less than savory things about Batsu, their vocalist, but all of that aside I'd be glad to call him one of the best frontmen I've seen perform. An absolutely unstoppable force of pure energy from the first notes played -- he stole the show and just went absolutely hog-wild the entire time. By the end he was breakdancing, jumping out into the crowd and running around, then he borrowed someone's purse and hairbow and pranced across the stage before their set ended. (Which looking back may have been part of the reason people have issue with him -- the audience member seemed fine with it, but I could see that going less than okay in other scenarios...) I've listened to a fair bit of their music, but don't really know their song titles other than "お邪魔します." This song was a ton of fun live, the entire crowd chanting the "お邪魔します" line on command. I started raising my beer for this point in the song and Batsu immediately singled my out and pointed, yelling "hey!!" I'd be lying if it didn't make me feel a bit special...(but I am a fairly tall blonde dude, so I maybe stood out a bit...) My wife and I were both very taken with their performance and if we were to go back to Japan I'm confident we'd go out of our way to catch them again. I really can't speak highly enough of their live show!! Before the next band we tried to scope out the merch booths a bit in between bathroom breaks (and more drinks...?) I noticed that DIMLIM's merch attendant was already packing up their goods while all of the other bands were out with their items at this point. (Guitarist and bassist of MonstlloW were still behind their booth, pretty much all of Hueye were behind their booth or watching the other bands near the back exit, and MAMIRETA's guitarist was back there now, too.) As the curtains opened, the audience was greeted by a giant "ぐるぐる" banner and the members of gulu gulu entered the stage to great fanfare from a packed crowd (maybe the biggest crowd of the night?) Their opening SE came to a close as Ai entered the stage and they blasted into "変なメリーゴーランド," which I immediately recognized from the PV teaser they had launched a few days prior. They wore their exact outfits that had been used to promote the single up to this point and this was one of their first shows as gulu gulu (they were actually billed as 烏名 鳴と不愉快な仲間達 only to be updated a few weeks prior coinciding with their announcement to begin activities as gulu gulu). They were also extremely high energy, with Ai slinging around a megaphone and shoving the entire microphone in his mouth. Lanju swayed his hair back and forth and drew a lot of my attention as my most immediate favorite from their lineup. ("This bassist fuckin' slaps," according to my wife and I absolutely agree.) Their set felt very much like a "headlining" set in every sense of the word -- whether that was intentional or not (and I don't really think it was). They felt very professional, but still fun and goofy. The audience for them was probably the most intense of the evening -- they all seemed really devoted and it was clear they had been waiting for them most of the night. They followed Ai's commands religiously. Musically I was glad to hear just how heavy they were, as this was the first time I had heard anything other than the sample of "変なメリーゴーランド." Their overall guitar/bass tone was really thick and despite the "fun" nature of their set, they still had a dark atmosphere that made them really stand out. They played "嗅覚障害" fourth for maybe...twice as long as the actual song? They held out a number of the sections, particularly the "la la la la la" parts what felt like an extra long time, Ai prancing back and forth on the stage as the band played the bouncy riff on repeat. Overall, their set cemented them as "the band to watch" and it's clear that they've maintained that reputation for very good reason. Of all the bands I saw this night (and in VK right now as a whole) they are probably the band I'm most interested in watching grow. After their set they were giving out "red paper" (which I believe later turned out to be a link to their first PV) to those who followed them on Twitter, but my wifi box was dead and I didn't even realize what was happening until it was too late. They posted the setlist that evening and now I recognize all of the songs except for the second, which I believe is still unreleased? gulu gulu setlist 1. 変なメリーゴーランド 2. 汚れた豚 3. 左手はスナッフフィルム 4. 嗅覚障害 5. 不味い麻酔 The last band on for the evening was The Guzmania. I'll admit that I was pretty exhausted at this point and had pretty much no vested interest in them (plus my dead wifi box was beginning to make me a bit nervous so I started to shuffle around the venue to see if I couldn't find an outlet to charge it for a few minutes...). My wife was pretty insistent on staying, to my surprise, and said she'd feel bad leaving these "nice boys who were trying hard" to play to such a small crowd. I agreed and we watched the rest of their set from the side of the hall. They had very few fans in the audience so it did make me feel a bit bad, but they are a very new band (I believe had just played their first live a few weeks prior). Their sound wasn't terribly memorable in my opinion, kind of jumped back and forth from pop-rock tunes to a few slightly heavier numbers. Their bassist did almost all of the MC and the rest of the band felt a bit shy. They took a bit of a long MC pause after two or three songs and almost made it seem like they were done for the night before they played three or four more, which surprised me as it made their set pretty long in comparison to some of the other bands. (Or maybe it just felt that way because it was the end of a long live?) After this we hit the road, hailed a cab back to Shinjuku to save some energy, ate some late night KFC, and passed out for the evening. Sorry for the super long post!! Like I said, it was kind of stream of consciousness and probably included a bunch of unnecessary details, but it was fun to "relive" the event in my head. I'm hoping I can swing more than two lives next time I make my way to Japan! Thanks for reading!
  4. Wanted to write this up sooner, but better late than never! Spent the end of April/beginning of May in Japan - during this time I got to attend two live events, this was the first of those. I've been a die-hard Aie fan since deadman so I absolutely couldn't pass up an opportunity to see him (and Kazu, too!!) play live. I quite enjoy most of the god and death stars output and had heard many good things about eStrial so I ventured out to Ikebukuro on a rainy evening to see them do their thing. It was one of my first nights in Tokyo and I am a bit, uh, directionally challenged without the aid of a map in larger city settings, so despite leaving quite early I missed my first train changeover and ended up turning a 15 minute trek into a 45 minute anxious train ride, landing me at the show 15 minutes late and a few songs into eStrial's set. I descended the staircase into RUIDO K3 and emerged into the long, narrow live hall, quickly moving to the back of the rather full crowd. eStrial played a set of jazzy, upbeat tunes that had half the crowd participating in some light furi. Vocalist/guitarist Yumeji slid effortlessly through every manner of funky lick, matched in skill and precision by bassist Mina Takahara and drummer Atsuto (who was looking a fair bit more casual here than his time in Sugar - ten years ago at this point???). I wish I knew more of their songs as I found them to be a ton of fun, bassist Mina being a particular standout as she really knew how to keep energy levels high. She was sporting a huge grin almost the entire set and kept the entire crowd engaged. Much of the band banter made me wish I had a far better grasp of Japanese than I do (read: somewhere between almost none and not being a total know-nothing ass 😶) as Atsuto had the crowd chuckling quite a bit between songs. Being that this was one of a few two-man dates these bands had booked, it seemed clear that there was a really strong camaraderie between everyone in both bands! There was a lot of commentary that I picked up regarding Aie himself and the crowd no doubt seemed excited by his presence and the god and death stars' forthcoming set. eStrial played for maybe a total of 45 minutes before the curtains closed, sending the crowd back to the bar in the corner to turn in their drink tickets. After a few moments passed, dedicated fans lined up right against the stage and I took this opportunity to grab a more ideal spot closer to the middle of the crowd. We could see band members shuffling past the entryway and behind the stage curtain and surely enough it wasn't long until a dramatic, orchestral track started playing over the PA. The crowd directed their full attention to the stage and as soon as the curtains were drawn, we were greeted by the god and death stars + Yumeji of eStrial! I found myself wondering if we were going to see Yumeji providing some secondary guitar for their set, but the ensemble jumped into a track that I didn't recognize at all, a poppy number that had Aie and Yumeji vocalizing in a goofy sort of way. The song lasted only a few minutes before the curtains closed once again, the audience left chuckling and eager. Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long, as the god and death stars proper were revealed as the curtains drew back again. Aie looked just as "cool casual" as I could have anticipated, wearing a thin t-shirt and fedora (perhaps the only person this hat looks properly good on in this day and age?) Kazu was dressed in black from head to toe, sporting a blazer that gave him a sort of "funereal" look alongside his long, slick hair. I must say, Kazu is a rather...imposing looking fellow on stage. Maybe it's because he is next to Aie, who is quite small in stature, but I found him to be quite striking in person in an almost intimidating way. Guest drummer Seiji Matsumoto (of the telephones and a number of bands that I need to take the time to check out) rounded out the trio, taking place of Otaka Jun who is away for health-related reasons (get well soon!!) I will interject here and state that I can't recall their exact set due to time passing and just being...way too enamored with everything to take the time to write the songs down, so I apologize in advance for not being able to post that! The band wasted no time getting into their set. Aie's signature guitar tone pulled me in immediately - that special twang reminded me of where I was and who I was watching. They played a selection of tracks from their newest album, funky ghost hollywood (most of the set was pulled from this album, understandably), to start things off. Watching them was a treat not only from the standpoint of someone who has loved their respective individual discographies (from one iconic band to the next), but simply as very clearly experienced musicians. That should go without saying, but these guys really, really know their stuff. They played each song effortlessly (my god, they really are a wonder at their instruments - I mean seriously, they're so stylistically committed and developed that it's a spectacle seeing them play the way they do). Their set was fun and entirely un-theatric, perhaps the antithesis of the visual kei bands they came up in. Being that they were playing with a guest drummer, it was quite endearing to see them give him visual cues as the songs progressed (he was knocking it out of the park, no doubt, but it was nice seeing them interact in that "power trio" sort of way) The crowd was clearly having fun as they blasted through song after song and, more importantly, the guys in the band looked like they were having a ton of fun themselves. The air over the entire night felt casual and friendly, as if they were "just some guys getting together to play songs." There was some fun banter with the crowd near the middle of the set which really maintained that same "casual air" and in the end, they were done before I knew it. They got quite a few songs in (I wasn't kidding when I said they were just "blasting through them") for only playing maybe an hour-long set. I can't comment on the exact order, but the songs below are the ones I remember them playing off the top of my head. Nothing older than after the addle apple as far as I can recall. I was really pleased to hear "elephant in the room," "Good Night My Love," and "ママイズジャム" as those are some of my recent favorites. 薄荷 サニーゴーサニー Good Night My Love ママイズジャム Life Is Beautiful cannabis damned 夜を歩く葡萄 濾過 elephant in the room I hung around the venue for a little while since it was still very early (and there was a little part of me hoping I could shake Aie's hand, but that was wishful thinking, haha). As I watched the crowd wander back out into the rain little by little, it was obvious how varied their fanbase is, from age to personal style. Just a testament to these guys and their time/experience in the scene. Thanks for reading! Don't miss an opportunity to catch either of these bands if you can - it was a really special evening that I won't soon forget. I'll have one more live report up soon for the event I attended at 高田馬場AREA on 5/6! (DIMLIM, gulu gulu, more)
  5. Lack-co are in the middle of hosting a series of Monday two-man shows called "ステゴロ" (what does Stegoro mean??) and having never seen Tenten in any of his bands and The Gallo being one of my favorite active VK bands I had to go to this one while I was visiting Tokyo. 東高円寺二万電圧 (Higashi Koenji ni man Den-atsu) is just outside the central Tokyo region defined by the Yamanote Line, but it was a quick trip on a couple trains and Den-atsu is very close to the station when you arrive. To access the venue you first have to descend an outdoor, concrete staircase toward an outdoor landing. The descent actually made me a bit nervous as there was no railing on one side and it was raining at the time. This was a very non-descript entrance from the roadway. After walking down the stairs and making a turn I was looking at a way too-cool-for-school 30-something dude manning the ticket table. Acknowledging that I don't look much like the typical VK fan in Japan, when I asked for one ticket this guy with shaggy hair at the table actually asked me "You know who's playing tonight?" He didn't sound mean about it, I think he genuinely wanted to save me from seeing this show normally reserved for younger women assuming I had just stumbled to the club looking for any live music I could find. I assured him I was there to see The Gallo and he handed me my paper ticket that doubled as a drink ticket. I liked the set up in side Den-atsu as the bar and merch tables were outside the stage area, which meant I could stand pretty much anywhere inside and not be in the way of people trying to sell things. I found a spot in the rear of the club in front of a tiny alcove that was littered with bags belonging to the VK girls in attendance. This was a fairly small club with low ceilings; their website says the capacity is 130 and I'd say this show had about 80-90 people in attendance. The head count reminded me just how niche a scene VK is. I'd consider The Gallo and Lack-co two of the more well-known indies bands, so it was a bit jarring to see the small venue they were playing at even in a giant city. I'm obviously too deep into VK to remember that almost no one cares about this stuff. Obviously The Gallo were going to be playing first... both because Lack-co were hosting the event and because I saw a lot of the girls standing near the stage holding their signature bowl and spoon. One girl near me had a plain bowl with no logo on it that I could see, did I miss something or did this girl just bring her own bowl from her kitchen to clap along with? I think the latter scenario is pretty funny/ingenious actually. I mentioned in a live report from a couple years ago that The Gallo fans kept doing furi during the band's music playing between sets over the club's PA, and during this show the fans clapped along to the bass drum sound check. Gallo fans seem like a fun bunch in general. The curtain was drawn to reveal the band in their latest Gallo-Vuitton all over print leisure suits. Jojo had his hair cascading through the top of a hat with the top cut off and some Day of the Dead skull inspired makeup for a very Tim Burton-y look overall. Andy had his palm against the ceiling atop the stage, and I don't think he was raising his hand to get the crowd hyped but rather to test whether or not he could pump his fist upward during the show (he couldn't without hitting his hand... a lot of the band members had to deal with this and would only throw up their hands while bending backward to afford themselves a little more space.) Some of the audience were even checking to see if they could touch the ceiling. The stage right guitarist (they have names for these positions in VK but I don't remember them) had one of those guitars with no headstock, and it looked from across the room like the end of the neck had dripping red wax poured on it a la a Maker's Mark bottle. The newer guitarist, Nov, passed out paper plates to the audience so that people who didn't bring their own (like me, no I didn't pack my Gallo plate in my luggage) could clap along and the set began with "Belphegor". "Belphegor" has some pretty obvious clapping along portions, so even a noob like me could get the hang of the plate banging fairly quickly. The highlights of the set for me were the fact that they played "Kuroi Ondori" (ok they played the remade version from Nero, but still) which is a favorite of mine, and also the 'circle pit' that Jojo started with himself dancing in the center of the maelstrom playing with a megaphone set to siren mode. The lowlights, if you can call them that, were that two different songs had the audience doing the wave (do we need that two separate times?) and that the MC music was "Tokyo Cinderella" but they didn't actually play "Tokyo Cinderella". Some of the non-bowl-based audience participation that was fun was the crowd stomping on the floor in time the beat and the crowd holding hands and swaying back and forth. Of course a couple songs had the requisite gyaku-daibu portions, and I'm certainly not jumping into the backs of some tiny Japanese girls, but they were fun to watch. Nov was kneeling on the backs of a couple girls during one diving song and slipped off them and stumbled backwards onto the stage. Wajou occasionally tried to demand the crowd participate in the diving like the other members were, but he is way too smiley and couldn't really pull it off. He just couldn't help being happy even trying to look mean. The Gallo ended their set with a really high energy rendition of "Incubus" (which I'm still disappointed has no theremin in the live version) during which Jojo was leaning over the crowd singing and got some feedback when he put his mic in front of the amp and proceeded to give it a disappointed look and bop the amp on its 'head' like it was a recalcitrant child. With The Gallo finished with their set thus began the churning of the crowd as Lack-co fans moved into the frontmost positions and many girls invaded my small space in the back looking to find their bags and check their phones and makeup. It kind of sucks for people in the back, as the polite spot changing for peoples' favorite bands leads to a weird concert-going scenario where the back of a venue is often more crowded than the front, but it is kind of cool that the scene (or just Japanese live music fans?) doesn't require people who want to be up front for the band playing last to endure being crushed through all the other shows as concerts in the west would. Interesting note about Den-atsu: in tearing down the stage between sets (which isn't quite the production at these Japanese clubs where you basically just have to bring your instrument and plug in) the bands/roadies had to move equipment down from the stage into the audience area and out through a side door that wasn't connected to the stage. So after the curtain was closed on The Gallo, a couple minutes later we saw band members bringing things down from the stage to this side door. (from Lack-co Twitter) While The Gallo fans can be identified by their white bowls and spoons, Lack-co fans had all produced blue and red clamshell castanets to clap along with. I have to say these did dramatically change the sound of the crowd applause in a way that might get old, but was kind of refreshing for the first time. Lack-co's intro SE was a piano rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" that gradually morphed into the requisite fist-pounding, techno track. The first member to take the stage was drummer Higiri, and wow I thought I hated his black face, but this blue Alfalfa x Cindy Lou Who hairstyle he was rocking for the show might actually bother me even more (not bother in the same way obviously, but it was not pleasant to look at.) I resolved to avoid watching him as much as possible. The band, except for Tenten who had a Lack-co band tee over a white shirt, were all wearing the red suits with writing strewn all over them from their most recent look. I recognized some of the words scrawled on their suits like 'shine' and 'kimoi' as 'mean things to say to someone'. Very edgy boys. Between not loving their output so far, and the majority of their tracks having titles in Japanese, I didn't recognize much of Lack-co's set list other than a riff here or there. The show did remind me of why I keep giving Tenten's bands chances and will continue to; he is one hell of a charismatic frontman. His sly smiles and confident stage mannerisms had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand and made it so it was hard to pay attention to any of the other members of the band. His best move was when he parted the Red Sea of fans to do a bit of 'everyone run into each other from opposite sides of the venue' but just as the opening in the center stabilized, he jumped down and ran to the cameraman at the back of the venue, struck a pose for a moment, then dove back onto the stage just as the cue for the crowd to go wild hit. Lack-co's set actually resembled a straight up rock show the most of any VK bands I've seen I think. There was very little *furi*, most of the synchronized moves were headbanging, clapping, fist-pumping type stuff that required no direction from Tenten or the band. Tenten even commanded an almost bona fide circle pit during which one girl lost her sweater and it ended up absolutely trampled. In fact, I was a little surprised by how much the show, for lack of a better word, rocked. Lack-co has always seemed like an assemblage of too cute ideas in search of a central theme or melody to hold on to on wax, but live their songs resonated nicely even with perhaps a 'jazz' breakdown a little too often. Milk threw a carton of milk into the crowd as the band were leaving the stage... ride that USP hard buddy. Ivy was fun strutting around the stage and headbanging as usual. I say as usual because I'm pretty sure I saw him at three different shows the week I was in Tokyo, at Lack-co and as a session bassist the other two. When the set ended the girls chanted and clapped in unison for an encore. (Though they appear to be saying "an-ko-re" instead of "an-ko-ru"? I guess the first group that did it had only seen the word encore and not heard it spoken??) They even started up a chant for a second encore that was cut off by the house lights and a voice over the PA system telling them, I'm guessing here, that the show was actually over and it was time to go home. This was a fun pairing for a two-man show as both bands and their groups of fans have pretension-free fun jumping around to some quality tunes. I'll be sure to check out Tenten's next band if I visit Japan again 😉.
  6. 池袋スタンダード @ Ikebukuro Edge 2018.6.16 Well, it's that time again. In Japan and catching some VK shows... so I'll be sharing my experiences/using the forums as a place to jot down details I'd almost certainly forget after a week of concerts. So for the first show while I'm in town I decided to hit up Ikebukuro EDGE to see Soan Project, The Micro Head 4N's, and Develop One's Faculties. I decided on this show because it started relatively late for VK shows (18:30) and my flight didn't land until after 15:00. I also hit this one up because Dezert & Lynch in Shibuya was sold out 😢 and this seemed like an ok consolation prize. I arrived about 3 minutes after the show was scheduled to start, which in Japan meant I arrived about 3 minutes after the show started, and the first band was already performing onstage by the time I got through the doors. First up was Soan Project with 芥 from Chanty. But I didn't recognize them at first because I thought the only thing I knew about what this band looked like was that Akuta had a bright white wig. (From Soan's twitter) Edge was a little more full than I've seen it before (two other shows in past years). But I suppose it wasn't sold out, because I got in. The band's costumes (pictured above) were looking a little cheap? Mostly just some mesh black stuff and a boa made of feathers or flowers for each member. I guess this is a side project for most of them, so no use spending big books on your part-time look. I've never listened to this half of Soan Project... I wished I could've seen my boy Temari, but I also recognize this set of songs was probably more fun for the crowd in a live setting. Nothing groundbreaking for sure, but the tunes had most of the crowd bopping around, jumping up and down, and participating in the furi. The bassist (is this Ivy from Lack-co etc?) was having the most fun on stage of the group. He eschewed the idea that he needed to stand in his 'spot' on stage and spent the whole show lurking behind the guitarists and singer, moving back and forth to interact with the crowd and other members from different spots. The funniest moment of their set was him attempting some 'fan service' while he was holding a pick in his mouth, looking over at one of the guitarists and leaning in like they should play a game of suck and blow with it, and when the guitarist recoiled he spit the pick and hit him in the face. During Soan Project's set I was stuck in a crowded spot directly near the entrance door (the perils of coming in late), but after the first set I found a good spot near the back that wouldn't get in anyone's way but had a little more room to breath. As usual at VK shows, I was much taller than all of the crowd so I'd feel bad standing in front of someone who wanted to watch. I should've been able to guess that the Micro Had 4N's (still a terrrrible name) were next as I noticed there were multiple people in the audience even older than I am all of a sudden. So I gave up on this band very early because I just couldn't with Ricky's vocals (sorry @Biopanda haha). I hadn't checked anything of theirs out since replacing Ricky with the dude from A(CE). What do I think about them now? Solid but unspectacular. Nimo was capable at singing and stirring up the crowd, and the band sounded good but uninspiring. The shorter-haired guitarist had some nice harmonics thrown in during a heavy section of one song, and he brought a little metal to the proceedings in general. The band were wearing very VK-lite streetwear type shit. At least Zero had on all black and a giant cross necklace... he has always been pretty goth-y hasn't he? Micro Head's set had the unintended consequence of making me feel old. Looking up at half of a band (D'espairs Ray obviously) that I fell in love with when I was first getting into VK, and that I saw on one of their US tours in freaking 2005 sort of threw into stark relief just how much older I was than the typical VK fan. Then I also felt a little bad for the band cause.... they're even older than I am and after having (relatively) successful careers now they're playing at Edge and only the third most popular of three bands for the night? I hope this is just a weekend thing for them at this point haha. They played a song from their new single (I think, pretty sure Nimo said something about 'single' before they started the song) and it was a sporadically noisy ballad with good emoting that I thought worked well live. It could be really boring on the CD, so don't get mad if you check it out based on this recommendation haha. During one song the guitarists all definitely mis-timed a synchronized spin. Tsukasa was really almost invisible during their set. I guess he's never really been very flamboyant or theatrical behind his kit, but I forgot he was there entirely until the second to last song featured some double-bass drum fills. He even left the stage quietly without waving while another member was up front bowing and throwing out picks. After some shuffling of the girls in the crowd and a short soundcheck, the highlight of the night Develop One's Faculties were on stage. (From DoF twitter.) Johannes walked out on stage in his traditional robotic way and I thought to myself "I can see half of this dude's ass and yet I think he's wearing *more* clothes than when I saw them two years ago" haha. I wonder if he acted like a disaffected android once when the band was starting out and got a good reaction and now he's stuck with this act forever. In any case, his statue of liberty x Predator headpiece with LEDs thing is awesome. Those lights really popped whenever the stage lights were dim or off. I like DoF live for the same reasons I do on CD. Some interesting song structures and tight songwriting. Lots of energy and a sound that's not typical of VK. Smart musicianship and a distinct lack of bullshit (from this foreigner's perspective). A few of their songs had incredibly timed full stops that demonstrated a tightness in the band that was impressive. Having a frontman that plays guitar is rare enough in VK, but their overall sound is a bit different too. During one song I noticed that if I closed my eyes I could convince myself I was listening to some 90s slightly math-y emo band. The crowd was definitely enjoying DoF. Perhaps because Yuuya doesn't have his hands free there wasn't a ton of furi to go along with the songs, but there was plenty of rhythms to jump or headbang to. When the house lights came on after the show I dipped out despite a half-hearted 'encore' chant. (Do those happen after the house lights are on here in Japan??) A solid start to a week of VK shows for sure.
  7. Sooooo, this is the story. I was utterly happy to know that the bands had their second last tour final while in i'm Tokyo. A nice guy here called @Alucardiusgot me the "vip" package ticket and i promised to get him some merchandise, which i did The concert day was a bit chaotic for me, since in the end i rushed with taxi to the incounting. My look is damn boring but well kinda comfy, wearing Asos cap, Monki mesh-shirt, Hellcatpunks fannypack and some Nikes. My ticket number was 14, which is fucking great. I was really surprised that when we went in and settled our bags, waterbottles and everything in the hall, i realised that the bands aren't very popular. I thought i would be crushed in a small concert hall with atleast 200 girls, since Rokumeikan only holds 250 capacity. It was maybe 50 people there, if i'm counting right so we had much "freedom" to pick our spots, of course respecting the policies. Well, atleast i see better, so shouldn't complain. Just wish the boys had more fans, haha. One girl was cosplaying Miria as you can see a little in the left corner. My friend Jesse wanted to stay back to watch so i picked my spot pretty near the stage but went backforth to talk to him to pass the time before the start. They really were on time and started pretty soon. For the mind of the set, i can't remember the setlist order since i was kinda living the best time of my life, lol. Crucifixion played much longer than Mizeria, or then it felt like it since the songs are longer in general. Crescent Moon was very emotional, we were all wawing, the bassist 輝翠 had a serious-guy vibe to him, more reserved, very concentrated on the playing. The basslines really are killers in my opinion. The vocalist 二人静 embodied the drama and insentity of "old vk". Big beautiful velvet sleeves worked with every move and headbanging was fun as hell. Futarishizuka called out Kikyo on the stage after a couple songs to do a らせん song. I think it might have been 憐姆 but i can't for the love of god remember. They interacted so much and danced together. A sight for sore eyes. During XII i got so hot, i was wearing a leather cap since my hair is not long and suitable for the legit atama banging. Last song 哀玩人形 everyone started Gyakudai and older gentleman almost next to me was giving his all without heart attack. The curtains closed and it was maybe 30-40 mins before Mizeria. Kikyo had the same chains as in 歪屍形 and was doing marionette moves and he licked his glittery lips alot, haha. Nazuki's black braids were flying in the air like long centipedes. Dysflexia was epileptic, didn't get a seizure tho, haha. During the last song [deep] slay all the boys of both bands came to the stage and changed playing instruments, throwed stuff in the audience, glimbed each others backs and filmed also with phones. The reason of filming is unclear, possibly for Twitter or so. Kikyo strangled this 12 years old girl with his chains and also kicked her? Hmm, she was happy. Setlist: 1998.5.5目黒鹿鳴館 磔ラレタ人形ノ螺旋葬劇〜死穢 (They really did write 1998 as the year, not 2018, hehe.) 1.死宴 2.寂滅饗筵 3.歪屍形 4.揺籃 5.眩暈 6.Suicide Labyrinth feat.二人静 7.ディスレクシア 8.泡沫 9.deep[SLAY] Tbh i was a little mad they didn't play longer and i really wanted to hear the iconic 呪縛郷, since the furis are fun. I have never heard Suicide Labyrinth before and now i'm really craving for the cd... The buppan! Sadly they didn't have the bloody bandages for sale but i'll get some later I got the t-shirt obviously and a coffee mug and the new korabo cd. If someone wants the scans of the 薄紅ノ葬 booklet, let me know! After the show we had to wait kind of long for the boys to settle their stuff, prepare buppan and take enough chekis. They ran out at one point, haha. My picture with Mizeria didn't turn out very good for some reason, it's like me + Miria and all others are faint shadows. It's a good memory tho. They did prepare a nice backdrop and everything but in the end we took the picture while sitting on the actual concert stage, i was a little confused, haha. I told Kikyo that i messaged him on Peing before anonymously about me coming from Finland, he remembered me and instantly hugged, we highfived everyone and i returned to the lobby to finish my beer. I hanged out for awhile and then grabbed my shit and left. Fresh air felt pretty amazing after that. We went to get some good ramen afterwards and chat a little. Then it was time to go back to Shibuya! Me after the concert tiredly traveling the streets. It was a wonderful experience that i won't forget, hope to see them soon again! I also grabbed the new Velonika magazine with their interview, i will try to scan it and maybe someone is able to translate! Hope you enjoyed my little ramble, i haven't ever done one of these so i'm not sure about what's interesting and whatnot. Thanks!
  8. Coldrain and the audience that night were AWESOME. There was so much interaction between the band and us. The audience was, to my surprise, extremely active and was so violent in the mosh pit and pushing and squishing to the front. I was standing in the third row at first and felt like a packed salmon in a can, but then I moved around from the right side, then to the left side, and then the middle during all the pushing. Lots of dudes even took off their shirt and went half naked in the show and I noticed one of them had his back went bleeding. Masato must have noticed the crowd loved the "heavy shit"(this was what he described) more so after the song Confession, he asked us if we wanted heavy shit or soft songs, the crowd shouted heavy so they skipped what supposedly used to be another soft song in their setlist to a heavier one which was You Lie. Honestly, I was more in for another soft song like Miss You but, oh well, heavy shit was fun too. Masato asked the crowd to form mosh pits for three times during the show. In the first mosh pit, the crowd didn't follow his instructions to mosh pit after the count of three for two times. Masato went like "What's this shit, Hong Kong?" and teased us that they're gonna stop the show and started to go back to the backstage. The crowd immediately cried "No! Come back!" and then Masato gave us another chance, this time the crowd did what he asked. After that, the crowd got smarter and mosh pit successfully for another two times. Masato tried to speak Cantonese during two MC's. At first, the crowd went "What?" when he tried to say that we were fucking awesome in Cantonese, he tried another time and we finally understood and yelled out happiness. The second time, he said that he loved us in Cantonese and it was easy to understand this time. After they played the song Gone, Masato asked us what song we wanted to hear, any song, and they'll play it as a special request for Hong Kong. Some people yelled "We're Not Alone" and Masato heard it. He said they haven't practiced the song for a long time but they'll try to play it for us. We were so fucking happy and satisfied. Right before they played We're Not Alone, Masato told us that shit happens and when that happened in our lives, he hoped that their music could make us feel stronger and that was what music could do. These words he said corresponded to the lyrics of We're Not Alone - "If there's a place inside this world. Where hopes and dreams are not yet lost. We'll stand and fight against these walls. We'll fight this fight forevermore". Adding impact to the meaning of the song. During the show, some of the band members went to the front and touched some of the fans at the front row. I tried to touch Masato but failed, but at the end, I managed to get a touch of RxYxO's sweaty arm. Some fans fought each other for the stuff the band threw to us, I didn't manage to get any. Masato kept saying we're awesome and promised they would come back next year after releasing their new and upcoming album this year! Setlist: 1 NO ESCAPE 2 TO BE ALIVE 3 SIX FEET UNDER 4 BORN TO BLEED 5 VENA 6 WRONG 7 24-7 8 VOICELESS 9 CONFESSION 10 YOU LIE 11 THE WAR IS ON 12 FIRE IN THE SKY 13 DIE TOMORROW 14 GONE 15 WE'RE NOT ALONE 16 RUNAWAY 17 THE REVELATION ENCORE 18 THE STORY 19 AWARE & AWAKE 20 FINAL DESTINATION
  9. The GazettE is a band that I feel everyone here has liked or at least listened to once with in their J-rock craze, and in many cases they are even the reason people found an interest in Japanese music to begin with. This is the case for me. Since they heavily influenced me during my younger years, I jumped on the chance to see them live in my own country. Originally I was set to see them for three dates that included Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Due to certain circumstances, I only made it to two dates which were more than enough to quench the gaze-thirst in my sixteen-year-old self. San Francisco The first show I attended was in San Francisco at the Regency Ballroom. I traveled with one friend and met up with many I hadn't seen in a long time. Most of us had VIP tickets. Despite already having early entry, many fans with VIP lined up at the venue much earlier than general admission attendees. Around 3pm I made my way over to the line with a few friends. It was a good time since the line for VIP grew rapidly after that. The general admission line was wrapped down an alley and around the building at this point. The wait from that point on wasn't so bad and considering their reputation the fans seemed tolerable for the most part. Aside from a few glares, everyone was generally kind and glad to share the excitement. I even made a few friends who traveled all the way from Japan just to experience the GazettE in this new environment. Though they didn't seem to speak English very well, they were still ecstatic to show me different furitsuke* that they use in Japan and were even kind enough to hold a few of my things during the show. After passing the time with social interactions, it was time to start heading inside. The staff came down the VIP line to inform everyone how everything would work and what to expect. This is where things went downhill. VIP included early entry, first priority to the goods line, a VIP shirt, and a handshake with the band. With only an hour left before doors opened, staff had their hands full. They lined us up and filed us in to the venue in groups of ten with the plan of directing us back outside in the order we entered. That lasted about halfway down the line. I was at the half way mark for the VIP line and while I was lined up to buy merch, staff started to direct us to the actual standing area. I found it odd as not all VIP had been let in yet to purchase merch. Turns out the venue was running behind and had to sacrifice their organization to speed up the process. This left the people who had waited since 5am with the short end of the stick. Many disappointed VIP holders filed in behind two to three rows of people who had shown up one hour before doors opened. Another disappointing factor was that they didn't have a section dedicated to just VIP members. Word of mouth had passed on that previous shows had such accommodations, but the Regency Ballroom had one huge open standing floor. Because of this, and the poor organization in letting VIP enter first, many general admission holders were able to get closer to the stage with ease. Many snobby fans pushed forward and upset VIP holders, which resulted in direct threats to prevent anyone from getting in the way of them and the stage. Everyone shut up once the background music went silent. The stage was decently sized and while it didn't spread the members out too much there was definitely enough room for them to be interactive. After waiting nearly an hour and watching staff set up last minute equipment things got cheesy real fast. Instead of the typical dimming of the lights and sudden intro music playing, an announcer spoke over the microphone, "Hello. Welcome to the show." The announcer said a few more things which may have been about no video or photography, but I don't quite recall. The short speech ended with, "And now... the GazettE!" That's when everything went dark. Cheering and screaming filled the venue and everyone got real friendly with each other as the crowd was pushed forward. Just when I thought it couldn't get any louder, the members start to file out on to the stage. First it was Kai, Reita, Aoi & Uruha, and finally Ruki. Fans went crazy and people were already trying to inch their way in front of me. I was about two rows from the stage between Reita and Ruki, so despite being as short as I am (5'3")I did have a good view. Now I haven't been an active listener of the GazettE in recent years, so most of their music during this set was unfamiliar to me. I still found my groove with songs I didn't recognize, but the crowd didn't seem to move much aside from the girls in the very front row. Fans were excited to see and interact with their favorite members which caused a bit of a personality clash within the crowds as people pushed closer to the front. There were a lot of threats and an overall disrespect for the other fans around them. I'm not saying every person at this venue had such a mentality, but this behavior certainly dominated over kindness. The band members showed a lot of energy during the entire show and were surprisingly interactive. I heard from many of the girls up front that they felt singled out by the members and that they really took the time to make their fans feel excited and special during the performance. The effort and money that went in to the visuals must have been fair for it being their first tour in the United States. The most beautiful of the visual performances was when Ruki suddenly pulled a lantern out of nowhere and dance and swayed around with the prop like it was his child that needed love and protection. Maybe that sounds odd to first time viewers or listeners of visual kei, but overall is really gave a darker vibe. But of course it wouldn't be a genuine show if Ruki didn't sway and roll his hips. Reita was quite enthusiastic and often times came up tot he edge of the stage to play. He playfully stuck his tongue out a lot at fans too. A real call-back was the break down of Filth in the Beauty where everyone does the windmill head-bang. I never thought I'd see that in person. Though encores shouldn't be expected, fans crazily stomping and screaming for one should be. I was a little disappointed with this crowd though. They came together and cheered as one voice a few times, but never once did they sound hungry or demanding enough for the the band to really come back on stage. Even so, they got the encore they asked for, though I feel like the crowd really didn't give it their all even during the encore. "Tomorrow never dies" ended and the members began to throws their drumsticks, picks, water bottles, and even a towel. I managed to find Uruha's pick on the ground and gave it to another fan who looked like they'd appreciate it much more. Aoi was aiming to throw his picks to specific clusters of people but his poor throws just weren't making it. Immediately after the show was over, staff cleared out the floor and lined people up with VIP to meet the band. It would have been so easy for anyone to just slip into the line. Anyone could have met them at this show if they were casual enough about it and I believe I saw a few people take advantage of the situation. Aside from that, the handshake was extremely fast-paced. It was almost so quick that I didn't have time to even really read their faces. The entire band was extremely polite. They even shared a few laughs and exchanged words with a few fans. Ruki was my main focus and even if he didn't understand what I said, it was nice to just say it in his direction. He acknowledged it and held onto my hand and replied with a "Thank you." Uruha had a very firm handshake. The songs that resonated with me the most, and many of their long following fans, was "The Suicide Circus", "Filth in the Beauty", "Leech", and "Headache Man". But I really enjoyed "UGLY" and "Derangement" live. I didn't care for the venue at all. Other than the three girls I met in line and the people I already knew, the fans seemed like a mix all around. Sound quality and projection in the venue was a little iffy, but the band really gave a lot of energy and put on an enjoyable performance. set list opening track: NIHIL 01. Dogma 02. Rage 03. Vortex 04. Fadeless 05. Derangement 06. Bizarre 07. Wasteland 08. Ominous 09. The Suicide Circus 10. Ugly 11. Blemish 12. Undying 13. Filth in the Beauty -encore- 14. Leech 15. Headache man 16. Tomorrow never dies Los Angeles The Los Angeles concert was held at the Wiltern. I'm very familiar and biased with this venue and I have a lot of great memories attached to it. I did not have VIP for this show and I was quite alright with getting a view from afar this time, so I arrived after collecting some of my long time friends to join me. Once we arrived, the line had yet to get anywhere near the Denny's entrance for general admission and the VIP line was longer by far. For those who haven't seen this venue, Denny's and the Wiltern sit on the same block and share the same parking garage so they're practically next door neighbors. Because of how close Denny's is to the entrance I found it odd that people decided to roam around a bit more before lining up. Once I finally got in line around 3-4pm, band staff checked the line for people who were in HERESY*. I had planned ahead when there was a leaked rumor going around that the GazettE might come here so I signed up for it. Now if you were a HERESY member and could provide your confirmation e-mail or badge, they provided you with a colored bracelet. These bracelets varied in color depending on the date and allowed early entrance to general admission attendees. Since I only had VIP in San Francisco, I was delighted to discover that I could enter after VIP simply because I had the bracelet. I'm not sure if it's because I've been to this venue so many times, I know more people in this area, or if the staff and organization was all around better but Los Angeles was an amazing experience. The staff started handing out the VIP shirts about an hour and a half before doors were set to open, and let the group in to the goods line and then straight in to the venue. After VIP was let in, HERESY was next. I'd like to believe everyone was moved in to the venue in a very organized and timely fashion which meant happier fans. The way the Wiltern is set up is completely different than The Regency Ballroom. Unlike San Francisco's show which had one huge open un-barricaded floor, the Wiltern was set up in three to four sections, with each one at a level higher the further back it went. This set up also allowed staff the ability to secure a spot specifically for VIP holders. While I was only general admission, I did appreciate the seriousness and value of the VIP pass at this venue. This of course meant that I couldn't go in to the front section despite there being plenty of room. I chose a spot right in the middle a few sections back and had the perfect view the entire time. When the lights went out and the show started the crowd roared. This crowd seemed way more united than the show in San Francisco, but that's because Los Angeles has a small community of its own when it comes to visual kei. Everyone knows everyone and that may have been a determining factor. This concert brought so many people out of hiding that I hadn't seen in years. the GazettE are no fools and I'm sure were very aware of the stronger demand for them in Southern California, and they chose so many good songs that shook our past selves right out of us. I know I wasn't alone in feeling like I had traveled back in time. the GazettE shook the venue, slamming down one good song after another. I was also glad I got to see the whole lantern performance again and there was something about the distance back this time that really allowed for me to see things in a completely different light. They ran around a lot at this show and teased each other a lot on stage. They looked like they were having a blast putting on their performance. The crowd really came together for the encore, and let me tell you it was worth all the shouting and screaming because the band came back on stage and blew our faces away. There was literally a moment of silence while people registered what song was playing and if it was real life. "Agony" started and, after a ten second delay, screams filled the room and hair flew. The intensity of the crowd was recognized by the band and they all ran around to visit each side of the stage. Aoi even rolled up his sleeves and stood at the edge of the stage to show off and Reita joined in beside him. "Agony" was enough to rock the boat, but "Cockroach" created a tsunami of chaos within the crowd. The pure shock alone of such a nostalgic song being played may have put a few people in to a coma. After Cockroach, they closed with Tomorrow never dies which was a great song to end with in a celebratory way. The crowd even sang along and it rang through the venue. The band exited the stage after the typical toss of stage goods and the lights came back on. I immediately headed outside and tried to find all of my friends so I missed the set up of the VIP meet and greet. From what I heard, it was a lot more strict and easier to direct considering the VIP holders were already in a designated section. set list opening track: NIHIL 01. Dogma 02. Rage 03. Derangement 04. Venomous Spiders Web 05. Sludgy Cult 06. Bizarre 07. Dripping insanity 08. Ominous 09. The Suicide Circus 10. Vortex 11. Ugly 12. Undying 13. Filth in the Beauty -encore- 14. Agony 15. Cockroach 16. Tomorrow never dies To sum this up, San Francisco was a nice place to visit, but the venue was very unorganized. Had staff been more prepared, maybe the fans would have seemed nicer like they did in line. Los Angeles spoke to me on a different level, but that's prominently because everything was so familiar and it was like reliving the past. I wish the meet and greets were a little longer though. I understand they want to get as many as they can into VIP, but I spoke to a staff member at the Wiltern and VIP maxed out at 250 people. If they had made VIP a smaller group, maybe they could have allowed more time to get an autograph or a photo. But it's PSC we're talking about here, so scratch that whole concept. *furitsuke - Synchronized hand movements commonly used in Japan at (not limited to) visual kei concerts. *HERESY - the GazettE official Fan Club
  10. シビレバシル (sibile bashir) presents 『本能』音源発売主催劇場「優越感カテゴライズ」 @ Takadanobaba AREA 2016.6.08 This is the third concert I’ve attended at AREA in one week and finally there was a bit of a crowd for this one. It still wasn’t sold out… but moving from one side of the floor to the other would’ve been tough at this one; whereas the other shows I attended there were pretty much wide open for most of the night. I made mention of it in another live report… but holy crap these things start early! 3:30 in the afternoon is way before you should be thinking about attending a concert. Assuming the show will be ending around 9pm or so that’s over five hours of VK concertage; too long even for a show you like and rarely get to attend. (and it seems longer because I still think it’s weird to sit down between sets and refuse to do it on very misguided principles.) IGGY - Yes I had just seen them the night before at a different event show. Haha. Actually three of the bands playing tonight were repeat bands for me (from three different shows, I definitely hit the VK hard during my week in Japan). I kind of wondered, especially because I was standing near the merch tables in the back for both shows, if the dudes in Iggy didn’t think, at least briefly, “who is this giant white dude who keeps showing up but doesn’t come buy anything of ours?” For the record; I like Iggy but their merch consisted of two CDs I already had and checki… and I have yet to, and probably won’t, wade into the world of buying tiny pictures of bands I like. Anyway, the actual music performing was mostly the same. Same tracklist as far as I could tell, same outfits for the most part. The weirdest, basketball shorts wearing member did not have black makeup smudged all over his face for this show, though he did still move in the strangest, jittery way. It seems a bit premature to sound so jaded after a week of VK shows; but I think I’m kinda over the diving into the front row of girls thing they do instead of moshing. It has its place, and can be fun there, but when you’re by any definition the opening band and don’t have a ton of support in the building… it gets kinda awkward. Like, if I can tell from back here that you’re just half-heartedly jumping into the girl in front of you because the band is yelling for everyone to do it and you’re standing too close to ignore them, can’t the band tell two feet from you? I don’t know, it’s just, if you’re only going through the motions why participate at all? The jumping in one direction and then back in the other (which Iggy do during ‘Continue’) is still fun to watch though… don’t ever stop doing that VK bands! Archemi. - If I didn’t have anything new to add for Iggy I really don’t for Archemi. I did know when the having to kneel down, praying furi was going to happen this time though… so I wasn’t as clueless looking the second time. Later in the show I wandered over to their merch table, figuring I’d seen them twice now (once for free!), and they’d put on good shows… so I’d pick up Archemi’s newest mini-album. They didn’t have any CDs for sale (maybe it’s tough to bring those along when you’re playing shows outside where you live?), but they did have cheki… so I’m starting to realize what the real money maker is for VK bands and why selling songs online to the ten people outside Japan who would buy them just isn’t important for the visual economy. スタア区。(starku) - Starku came out in very pretty gold kind of R-shitei to me looking marching band-ish jackets. In fact the vocalist kinda reminded me of R-shiei’s if he were a 13 year old prone to temper tantrums. Starku’s vocalist also came out in flip flops…. Which is somehow according to my twisted logic even worse than being barefoot on stage. Overall it was a little too perky and colorful for my tastes, and the bassist was way too loud for his skill level (or at what he was asked to do); but just because it’s not my tastes doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that Starku have a lot of potential and were undeniably fun during some songs. They also dealt with technical difficulties better than most bands I’ve seen that had to pause for unexpected problems. Starku had to stop a song about 30 seconds in because the drummer was having some sort of problem. Rather than mumble some shit and act awkward, the vocalist and a guitarist started performing some, I assume classic, song that the crowd seemed familiar with. Then the bassist started to make fun of the stage right guitarist’s half falling off weave, and eventually just snatched it off and started waving it around like a lasso. The girls ate this bit up and even I was impressed by how easily they passed the time while the drummer was working to get things right. Doak - Yooo, so Yuuki is kinda a big dude, huh? Not like fat at all, just not a typical tiny VK bandman. He also definitely has big teeth. So I’ve been rooting for Yuuki since Unsraw’s -9- came out and it was like “holy shit VK bands aren’t allowed to sound like that!”. I don’t really like Doak, and only rarely really liked Unsraw, but I want to see them succeed y’know? (Yes I know they’re breaking up) Yuuki has always seemed pretty dedicated to the scene, and probably deserves more credit for mixing deathcore into VK like five years before everyone started doing it. A couple times during their set I could actually imagine the band onstage was a bunch of grizzled dudes with black tshirts… and I mean that as praise for a heavy metal band. I really liked Doak’s drummer, and how freaking high he raised his sticks before pounding his kit. He also had a giant crash symbol with the big holes set up slightly behind his head up high, so that when he wanted to whack it the motion had this innate flourish and pantomime that made you pay attention. When the set ended, instead of tossing a drum stick into the crowd, he just let go as he was striking his last beat on a tom and let the stick sail into the audience….. He was kind of a bad ass (what band will he be in next/has he been in??). Doak’s set included no talking, which I kind of prefer when I can’t understand what they’re saying anyway, and during their last song Yuuki just spit a bunch of water on the crowd and then stormed off like a boss. So, still don't’ really like what they’ve released, but they put on a good show. Morrigan - I’m pretty sure Morrigan only played two songs and then their stir the crowd up repeating song for like 15 minutes for their set. Luckily, the vocalist of Morrigan is unafraid of mixing it up with/in the crowd and can keep the energy up throughout. (seriously, I saw Morrigan twice in Japan and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the two-minute-long-on-CD RIP for about 25 minutes live haha) My favorite parts of the mayhem were Aryu laying down across the backs of four girls bent over the bar nearest the stage, and when the bassist grabbed the guitarist’s giant teddy bear (which he holds during their intro) and started whacking the girls up front with it. Imagine a four foot tall brown stuffed bear making slow arcs through the air lit by strobe light as the bassist channeled all his energy into beating the crowd with it. Pretty surreal/amazing. Aryu had some fun with one of the Sibilebashir gloves that were for sale during a break in the set. (someone will have to explain the significance of those multicolored gloves to me) Morrigan’s drummer has somehow gotten away with a look that includes hair that probably takes only two minutes to style. Good for him (cheater!). Avelcain - Ooooh… they’re back in black suits like when I saw them in 2013. That is a bulletproof VK look in my book. Avelcain’s set (both here and the similarly long sets I’ve seen online) are definitely heavy on b-sides and slightly older songs. I’m glad Avelcain seem to dislike their most recent stuff as much as I do ;). They might be the only band that utilizes call-and-response well (that I’ve seen this week) in VK. It’s just a given that at American shows you’ll be stuck next to a bunch of people singing along inexpertly… Japanese audiences really only do it when specifically called upon to. I think it’s an engaging move that is underutilized. I’m a big Avelcain stan, but even I’ll admit most of the live videos that have surfaced of them have been rather lackluster. I’m happy to report actually in the room they sound much better than the brittle recordings straight from the soundboard would lead me to believe. I guess a lot of sloppiness can be covered up by the walls of reverb/noise live. Karma did sing most of the words too, which seemed like something he only half attempted to do in some live videos… and the backup vocal track seemed much more subdued in person. They ended their set with 死化粧 which is just an awesome song (and I’m not sure I had seen in any live videos of theirs yet). I feel like when tastes change and I’m listening to Avelcain in ten years, a lot of their stuff may not age well… but 死化粧 has the possibility to be a bit more timeless. Just a quality pop rock song with a hint of sadness that doesn’t rely too heavily on current hard rock/VK trends. A girl standing near me was quite literally crying during this track. It definitely had an effect on the crowd. I will say that the two most annoying fans in AREA were Avelcain fans. They weren’t actively obnoxious… but they sat through every band up to Avelcain’s set and were not off to the side/back where it might be cool to do that. If you’re going to wait for your fave to play… at least stand up and watch the other bands play. (if for no other reason than they were a tripping hazard sitting around while the crowd was jumping around during the other bands’ sets!) Between sets I noticed multiple people dropping benjamins (or you know, whatever the fun way to say 10,000yen bills is) on cheki at the merch tables. I have no comment other than to say thanks I guess… VK wouldn’t exist without you! Develop One’s Faculties - The VK band with the strangest phrase for a name going right now! First band I’ve seen that got a rousing round of applause as they took the stage, I imagine this was mostly enthusiasm for Johannes’ steampunk bikini. That video may not be from the show I attended. But they were wearing the same thing and played that song… so it may as well be. Gives you a good indication of how pumped the crowd was for DOF. I don’t think I realized how popular they were (you know, relatively). I liked their vocalist/guitarist and guitarist’s dueling solo moments. During the jump from one side and then back the other way (which, again, is a fun part of any VK band’s set) at the end when they came back to where they started everyone in the crowd that had a towel would toss it up into the air. Made the show look like a budget graduation ceremony. DOF had lots of energy and seemed like skilled musicians. They’ve got something good going it was cool to see in the beginning. (cue them breaking up…) シビレバシル (sibile bashir) - Up front I’ll mention: I enjoy the idea of Sibilbebashir’s slightly weird take on VK. And respect that they are the rare band who can do strange and dark without being *heavy*. (not to mention their fun video cover of Shiina Ringo) But I don’t really like them all that much. Though I did thoroughly enjoy the nurse-kei-ish look they had at this show. I don't’ know, their songs just have never really clicked with me. I suppose by virtue of hosting the event they got to play the longest set of the night. The crowd actually had thinned just a little bit by this point (I guess the people who come just for their faves had left… but tickets are like $45! Get your money’s worth girls.) The vocalist, as expected, was weird and very engaging. Their die-hard fans might have been the most dedicated of the night (based on my cursory evaluation haha). The rest of the band had a couple moments to shine, but for the most part deferred to the vocalist. Shamefully in hindsight, I left a couple songs before the end. It was a really long show! So if they did some giant, bunch of bands band out and jam together I missed it. As I wandered back to the Takadanobaba station, I noticed Sibile Bashir and Avelcain posters were posted at the station advertising their respective one-man gigs. I didn’t notice them there earlier in the day… as much flack as Shimizuya Records gets (justifiably!)... it would be pretty cool if they posted these ads during the show so everyone leaving and heading back to the trains would see them after seeing the bands. This show in general had a bunch of fun bands, and was a great last concert for my week of VK in Japan.
  11. (Do people like reading live reports like I do?? Even if not... you're getting another one. Maybe someday someone will be browsing the forums wondering 'is Archemi. any good live?' and now they'll have the opinions of a goofy white dude to answer that question.) So I actually planned to take the weekend off from Vk shows while I was in Osaka... but then I was buying a few things at Puresound and I saw a little add near the cashier advertising a free concert. I can't pass up a good deal! Of course I had no idea how to ask in Japanese "can I still get a ticket two hours before the show/are any left?" But the friendly cashier basically got what I meant when I pointed at the sign and smiled dumbly. Kill some time shopping and eating the various local specialties (mmmmm takoyaki) and we're off to Osaka Muse for Crow Music's Gold Rush 2016. Something I've never seen at a rock club before.... Muse is completely carpeted! Big red and black checkerboard carpeting, and you're allowed to bring your drinks into the main floor area. Seems bold! So I had ticket 292 of 350 (I doubt they were given out in order since the bands and different stores had them) and that's probably actually a pretty good guess for how full the venue was; 'full' when everyone had a little space, but you could've packed 50 more in there. I, of course, took up a position near the back against the wall. I'd really hate to be blocking someone's view who was a fan of one of these bands (I've really only ever heard Holyclock, though I know that Archemi and Diealo have members from Bioshphia.) And I have no idea when the crowd is going to start running/jumping from side to side and don't want to get knocked over by a bunch of tiny Japanese girls. Holyclock - I have a new VK crush. The vocalist was wearing a sort of white kimono/gold sari hybrid, had a bunch of jet black hair worn straight down in front, and had a very sultry, elegant stage presence. From my vantage point in the rear he definitely just looked like a beautiful Persian woman. He also never headbanged (or screamed but once or twice), rather he danced and writhed around to the beat. His sexiest move was when he pointed at an audience member and then just barely grazed his lips with his finger... Alright, I'll stop fangirling over here. Holyclock do what I kind of think of as more 'adult' VK. It's standard stuff, just with a little art-kei and smarts tossed in to keep me interested. The guitarists had a good rapport on stage, often joining up for some back-to-back playing when one was soloing or switching sides seamlessly. The most unfortunate part of their set was the support bassists green extensions which looked like yarn the way they were braided. He looked like he was having a ton of fun playing with them though, so I'm not mad. Between sets I noticed a few of the girls in the crowd had brought tiny, fold-flat stools to sit on during the breaks. No fair! I wish I had a little seat. Archemi. - singer came out in a kimono (or not a kimono, but something like the summer coats with really big sleeves) and had writing all over his outfit. Archemi. do what I can only describe as slightly spiritual (?) infused heavy-ish VK. As someone else mentioned on M-H recently... if I pay attention to this band it's mostly for the bassists long green hair. His bass playing was pretty solid too, his sound always came through crisp even though I worry about that sometimes when a bassist doesn't use a pick. I liked the song where it sounded like the vocalist just repeating 'kumbaya' for the chorus. During one song you could feel the floor shaking as the girls were jumping up and down in unison (Muse in on the fourth floor of a building rather than the basement). I assume their drummer was a support drummer (though Archemi. did not thank him as Holyclock did their support members) because he was wearing a black hoodie and little makeup. Props to the slightly older (still younger than me, heh) dude smack dab in the middle of the crowd rocking out with his extremely tall girlfriend (seriously she was probably 6 feet tall in flats... I bet the VK bitches hate seeing her at shows). I wonder if the vocalists arm/hand tattoos were real. I feel like that makes an even bigger "I will never have certain jobs" statement in Japan than it does in the US. Revine - the curtain opened on Revine and the vocalist was standing behind a custom lectern holding a sword in one hand over his head and its sheath in the other. Their intro music was heavy enough on air raid sirens, and saluting, and they had a rising sun flag onstage... was I supposed to feel a little awkward during this? Anyway their music was heavier than I expected when I saw them wearing matching purple suits. The singer probably lost some connection with the crowd by standing behind that lectern for half the set (though I thought it was practical and a bit hilarious that he actually kept a bottle of water back there). He also overused shouting through a bullhorn... I've never really liked that in VK and Revine didn't change my mind about that. The highlight of their set for me was the drummer keeping himself entertained in various ways behind his kit. During one song he was throwing his head almost 90 degrees to either side for each bar and then playing the next one with his head pointing the other way. Diealo - Basically Biosphia 2.0 as far as I could tell. Enjoyable but kind of mindless. The kind of band where you'll be like "they're fun" but never "they're one of my faves". Vocalists pants seemed like dangerously low rise. And then the show was over by about 8pm! Pretty awesome experience for a free concert. And I need to check Holyclock out more seriously... and not only because the vocalist was pretty but because they had some good tunes too.
  12. SCAPEGOAT presents 全国TOUR 『死体は語る』Koriyama Club #9 2016/6/7 So I really wanted to see The Gallo while I was in Japan, and perhaps my best chance was to head up to Koriyama (about an hour away on the Shinkansen), a not particularly noteworthy city but that didn’t matter to me much. The day before I actually tried to use the 7-11 all in one business machine (or whatever they call it) to buy a ticket through Ticket Pia but the p-code listed on the website returned no results (maybe this was because the show was less than 24 hours away?). So with no more reassurance that I could get in after a train ride other than the fact that it didn’t say ‘Sold Out’ anywhere I boarded a train bound for Fukushima. I arrived at the venue (which had a real marquee out front!) about an hour before the doors opened hoping they had a ‘box office’ of sorts where I could buy a ticket. It turns out I could not, but maybe the most helpful staff member ever assured me if I came back at showtime I’d have no problem getting in. And when I returned he was super gracious about making sure I knew where the stage and bars were, props to you Club #9 guy. I imagine because this show was a bit more in the boondocks then the Tokyo or Osaka concerts I’d been attending, this was the first time I was the only foreigner in attendance… and I think I got a couple more (not unwarranted) looks of “what’s this old white dude know about VK?” than before. (All the attendees were super nice when we had reason to interact… which was mostly when I wanted to make sure I wasn’t blocking somebody’s view haha). This show started at a ridiculous 4 in the afternoon… do VK fans not have jobs or is it literally all high school girls and me in here? I think the entry foyer and bar might both be about the same size as the stage area at Club #9… yet they still have all the merch crammed here at the back. (though again the venue proves smarter than me because it was far from sold out and probably would’ve appeared painfully empty if they let people spread out any further.) Before the first band I headed up to the bar to grab a drink and marvel at the various band posters plastering the walls of the place. I don’t always even bother to cash in the drink ticket they make you buy at the door… but Club #9 actually uses little laminated tickets and I would’ve felt like a dick keeping that, intentionally or otherwise. On to the bands! IV - A band I’d never heard of. They’re like a filler VK band. Not good or bad. Hit the exact beats you’d expect them to. Here’s the headbanging at the waist part, here’s the jumping one way and then back the other part, etc. The worst part was the singer headbanging like he didn’t want to mess up his hair, get the fuck outta here with that. The bassist had a shirt that said “Less Stress More ____” with a block of white to fill in the blank, he definitely should write something in there. (or better yet get a cute fan to do it!) IV were eminently forgettable at this stage of their career. Forgot any melodies from their songs as soon as they stepped off the stage. As they were exiting the drummer tossed his water bottle into the crowd and it hit the floor and rolled limply to the feet of a girl near the back. After a second or two she resigned herself to picking it up and then offered it to fans of the band as they were filtering away from the stage. Between sets I spotted my first pair of earplugs on an audience member… though maybe there have been others with them covered by their hair. Iggy - To someone unfamiliar with VK you'd be hard pressed to explain the difference between IV and Iggy’s sets. But Iggy were acting like they *meant* it and having fun on stage. That feeling can come through a little bit on CD but is a huge factor in a live show. Iggy actually give me slightly Heisei-Ishin vibes during some tracks, so I was excited to see their set. The halloween looking guitarist came out with black make up smudged all around his mouth and lips and was definitely wearing gym shorts. I mean, they were VK-ified with some pointless zippers, but they were definitely just basketball shorts. Their bassist busted out a quick little slap solo that perked up my ears, not because it sounded great but because it sounded so unique in a VK song. The vocalist liked to make prolonged eye contact with people in the audience not participating, and also just used a girl up front to lean his foot on so he could get closer to the crowd at one point. Ouch. They played the song that stuck with me longest after the show/on the train ride home… always a good sign for a band. Nihilizm - Another band I have a soft spot for but would be hard pressed to explain why I like them over a hundred other bands that basically sound the same. I mean, I’ll be honest, the vocalist is not a very good singer. He’s like the epitome of an over nasally VK vocalist. But he was an imposing figure on the metal riser at the front of the stage screaming and snarling at the audience. Nihilizm also looked great, they came out with those red lace bands over their eyes that I think is just an aces look. They probably had the breakdown that sounded the most like legit deathcore (and there’s nothing I love more than skinny Asian boys who look like they’re cosplaying Louis XIV’s leather daddy courtesan rocking those downtuned guitars the fuck out.) Between sets I saw a bunch of those bowls (one of which I bought later) come out of girls’ bags… The Gallo must be next! ギャロ (or 大日本黒鶏主義者聯盟 as they’re going by for this tour for reasons I don’t know) - all had slightly matching sparkly black marching band inspired outfits (except for the support guitarist ). The stage left guitarist handed out small paper plates to the crowd before the music began so that even people who didn’t have an official Gallo bowl and spoon could join in the clapping (damn it I could’ve brought mine!) So I like The Gallo and their kind of weirdo, a little jangly take on VK; and the band lived up to that billing live. Jojo had lots of ‘I just escaped a mental institution’ faces and the other members too did lots of things I can’t describe as anything other than ‘weird’. Had some fun crowd participation bits. In addition to the bowl clapping, there was also one song wherein the crowd did a miniature version of the wave back and forth across the venue. During another the crowd all did that ska dance with the short little kicks I can’t remember the name of from high school…. Ahhh memories. Jojo, whose vibrato is just as intense live, could really wail like a banshee and was even a bit scary when doing so thanks to his blood red contacts and matching red lips. The guitarist could really bend backwards with the best of ‘em and did a lot of… I can’t really describe it was like he was feathering his strings with his fingers picking softly and rapidly. Their best bit of fun on stage was when the guitarist and bassist lined up behind Jojo and would pop out in opposite directions, or wave their arms to make a kind of hindu goddess figure from the front (if you’re as old as I am… think that Cosby Show intro with all the arms haha). Again, though, the support guitarist kind got left out of this. The song with the theremin did not have any theremin in it live (neither pre-recorded or extra-disappointingly played on stage). When their set ended the PA played a Gallo song and some of the crowd did the synchronized furi as if the show were still happening, glad to see the Gallo fans have as much fun as the band. (Though I must say Jojo seemed kinda angry or slightly detached during this performance, though again he’s a weirdo maybe it’s just part of the act.) Savage - Oh hey this is Depain with a new name (literally, not just that they sounded like them)! I would’ve paid them $100 to play Black Bother Barbarian. So they do dark/heavy VK with poppy choruses… which isn’t breaking any ground on wax but works for me live. When you’re not great musicians you can bury that shit in distortion if you’re playing metal! So the vocalist used to be charmingly bad but now he’s just average, I think I prefer the former. He does have a lot of confidence on stage though, and a slight oral fixation if how much he stuck his fingers in his mouth or spit water at the crowd is any indication. His best move of the night was crouching low on the riser, tumbling backwards into a reverse roll of sorts, then springing up perfectly timed to a big guitar/drum hit. I noticed the drummer looking totally envious of the other members during the ‘moshing’/diving part that he was stuck behind his kit not grabbing and throwing a bunch of pretty girls around. Ah the life of a drummer. Does anyone know which song of theirs (I’ve never listened to Savage) had the ‘whoa-oh-oh’s part? I rather liked that song, and enjoyed that the guitarist and bassist led the ‘whoa-oh’s rather than a pre-recorded vocal track. Reign - Reign, like And before them, are basically right at the center of the VK bell curve… it’s hard to have a take on them. They did do some cool roto-headbanging that included switching direction halfway through. Bet that took some rehearsing. Scapegoat - As the curtain opened one band member was standing on the riser posing with a scythe over his shoulders (which was probably intended to be badass but he also had a hat with feathers on it, which when lit from behind, may as well have been a straw hat lending the scene some serious scarecrow in a field vibes). To my surprise the scarecrow dude turned out to be the drummer… very rarely does the drummer get a chance to shine up front like that. And even more strange that the drummer had the most elaborate outfit of the four, in addition to the floppy hat he also had a very high vinyl collar. Scapegoat began their set with a piano and acoustic guitar ballad. Which would’ve been a really awesome move except we just listened to a pulsating SE track for their intro. The acoustic stuff should have just literally come first for more impact. Their bassist may have been the first VK bandman I’ve seen whose makeup was probably covering up a bit of a five o’clock shadow. He also achieved the lowest note I’d heard at any of these shows… he had my organs shaking during one track. So Scapegoat are by all appearances VK pros, and have some songwriting chops, but their tunes have just never clicked with me. It was a fun live, but I still left feeling that they were missing something. But I fully acknowledge that this is probably a failing on my part and not theirs. Different strokes and all that.
  13. Ok this one is for @emmny So as you can see above, Emmuree actually posted the lineup order (with set beginning times!) the day before the show. Given how long a lot of these event concerts can be, that’s a very nice move on their part. I wanted to see both the first and last band, however, so I was in it for the long haul. Today’s show at AREA had a much better crowd than the other day, but it was still far from its capacity. Shout-out to my new friend from Finland (whose name I forget I’m sorrrrrrrry) who was the only other white dude at the Kimi wa Surudoku show the other night, and was here again at AREA for this show. He came over and we chatted a little bit about shows we’d seen or were going to see (he had just seen SibileBashir who I planned to later). He said he’d read my report of that previous show which of course made me smile…. M-H is bringing people together worldwide! 紅蝉 (Benizemi) - I think all these concerts in a row is starting to affect my hearing a little bit (though Japan’s clubs haven’t been so loud I’ve pulled my earplugs out of my pocket yet… I wish tiny 100 person venues in America had the light and sound set up of these Tokyo spots) because I’m not sure if the singer for Benizemi walked out to just a little feedback static or if there were faint ocean waves playing. I kept hearing waves, but then I would chalk that up to my brain just trying to find patterns in the noise. Anyway, he came out looking all goth-y with a sleep mask (I’m not sure what better word for ‘mask that just covers your eyes is, ha’) full of flowers and performed the first song with it on. He (and most of the band) were very animated and the singer especially enjoyed spazzing out on stage. Hold up, is this girl bassist the same as the bassist from Karabinka the other night? I mean, it kind of looks like her (the makeup is way different) and how many gothy/angura girl VK bassists can there be??? If it is the same person, unnh what a cool chick… marry me please? The two guitarists for Benizemi had very defined stage personas. The stage left (audience right) guitarist was the cocky/aloof one while the stage right guitarist was the goofy/smiling big- happy to be there one. The goofy one threw a pick into the audience at the end of the set with way too much gusto (with the flat side up for way too much wind resistance) and his arm rocketed forward but the pick just stopped in midair and fell back onto the stage, hahaha. I liked that they had the courage in such a short set (and they have no shortage of songs to choose from) to do an out-and-out ballad…. Though they did obliterate it from our memories quickly by following it up with a super fast, noisy track. A short anecdote about why when you’re in an indies band you should hang out by your merch table: I stopped by their merch table later in the set to get a live DVD for a friend, and since the singer was there talking to people and I enjoyed the set…. I figured I’d pick up a CD for myself as well. The vocalist was super nice, despite the language barrier, and when I asked which CD was best he was quick to pick one out for me and thanked me for the purchases. (He also was the only person so far in Japan who stuck out his hand for a handshake, I liked him.) Foxpill Cult - This band (who I would not call VK… but neither was another band we’ll get to later) had a really weird lineup. There was; drummer, vocal/guitar, keyboard/guitar, and single snare/tiny keyboard thing that wasn’t powered but he had to blow into (or melodica apparently). They had some real diversity in their sound based on what instruments the members were manning for that particular track. One track was veering heavily into like dance rock and then the next would be really punk-y. It should be noted however fun he was on stage, that you definitely couldn’t hear melodica dudes tiny little wind powered keyboard though. The keyboard/guitar dude had a bright red lip outline on his cheek, I wonder which band member had the privilege of putting that there ;). Noticed during their set there were both lots of dudes in the crowds compared to most VK shows (it was probably 35% male at its peak.. Whereas most VK shows are maybe 5%?). The audience also skewed older, though that makes sense considering the bands were mostly middle aged guys themselves. It was a different feeling for me not being wildly out of place because I’m 30. 2 - I guess this was a revival of a 90s VK band (that were not named 2)?? It was refreshing to hear some old-school, golden age VK that wasn’t full of breakdowns or acting psychotic on stage (though I love those things, don’t get me wrong). It was just some old dudes having fun, rocking out. I wouldn’t want to see it all the time, but I enjoyed a little dose. I feel like @robkun would dig these guys’ sound. Between sets they were playing some French woman singing songs that were definitely recorded in the 1940s or earlier. I liked it. Phaidia - Another band that wasn’t VK at all, but rather straight forward goth rock. Also these guys were capital O OLD. They were probably rocking when goth was first a thing in the 80s. This is going to sound much meaner than I intend it, but the vocalist looked like if Asagi had a picture of Dorian Gray in his attic. Straight raven-black hair, black corset with spiderweb-y mesh underneath. He also would just randomly hold very goth-y props for effect (he actually walked onstage holding a skull on some real ‘Alas, poor Yorick’ shit) such as a sword, candelabra, that skull, one of those catholic incense holders that swing. He probably had a bit too much echo on his vocals for my tastes, but it fit with the haunting atmosphere of their set. Bassist was locking into some good grooves with the drums while the guitarist mostly provided *noise* rather than riffs. I noticed one chick up front for their set who was fucking *enraptured*. Hair everywhere, just losing it to the music. I wish I was able to forget about my inhibitions like that sometimes. So the bands were running a little late by this point and Phaidia didn’t end their set until 9:15. Isn’t it like a rule that these shows all end by ~9:30? I hope Emmuree didn’t have to cut any songs they planned to play because of this. Emmuree - Obviously I wasn’t the only one who noticed the show running over time as the curtain was whipped open with the band in place but the background French lady still singing for about four seconds. Oops. Of course Emmuree were dressed in all black, with Sou rocking a trademarked by this point slinkly black sweater. The guitarist’s long bangs were shorter than I’ve seen (I think). And of course the bassist looked like an Italian widow with dense black covering his whole body and a giant black floppy hat so that we could never see his face (the whole band was actually lit from the rear a lot… so we couldn’t see any of their faces a lot of the time). When Emmuree perform the guitar and bass are somewhat reserved, moving around to the music but mostly staying in place while Sou puts on the show. And he is one of the most expressive/emotive singers going at the moment. He also thrashed around and ad-libbed some vocals more than I was expecting (at one point he repeatedly yelped like a puppy who had his tail stepped on, and at another he threw in some ‘lalala’s while miming scissors in front of his face). Sou’s favorite move of mine was when he pointed one finger straight up high above his head to mark a rising swell in the music and then jerked his arm around incrementally to mimic the movement of a clock. (Unfortunately this did not indicate that “I Hear the Clocks Counting Down” was coming.) I could gush a little bit more… but I’ve covered the highlights. Besides, when they played the first track from their new album (a song I love) I was lost enough in the sights and sounds that I was not focusing on remembering what was happening but rather just enjoying it.
  14. The super long name for this show seems to have been: 君は鋭く。「panorama3echoes」 発売記念主催 「残響、攪拌、振動覚について vol.5」 (if any mods read this... I wasn't sure if this was the right forum for my own live reports... seems like the focus is on translations. Move it if there's a better spot) I'm in Japan for a little bit, and of course that means hitting some VK shows while I'm in town. On this particular Thursday night I went to see a band I really like (君は鋭く。) and a bunch of other bands I didn't know at all. This isn't a full fledged narrative live report... but rather some thoughts and first impressions about each act. And of course since this was a VK show in Tokyo I followed the rules about no pictures and have none to share... other than this one of some flowers in the lobby for the show: Let's start with a bit about the venue. Takadanobaba AREA. The most defining feature of this live house is that there are three tiers of the concert floor with bars at the front of each, helping give everyone a good view. Another positive aspect of AREA is that the bar is outside the main floor (and I imagine the merch could be also but since this show was pretty sparsely attended they had that taking up the highest tier.) I watched all the bands because the whole experience is pretty novel for me, but I could imagine hanging out outside the stage area near the bar if I didn't like the band playing (or if I wasn't there by myself ha). On to the show: コントラリエ (Contrary?) - Such a baby band. A little too ‘cute’ for my tastes (singer had a sock puppet thing on his hand the whole time). If I had some advice for this band it would be to not spend 6 minutes of a 20 minute set talking after playing two songs when nobody knows who you are. Gotta give us a reason to care before you start chattering about *whatever* (I should note I don't speak Japanese at all... but the audience did not seem particularly captivated by the MC either). 黒乃うさぎ (kuronousagi) - Cringe-worthy embarrassment. 8-bit garageband angura kei (?). This was just the singer.... and his one fan in attendance. At its peak tonight AREA only had about 50 people in it, but Kuronousagi had literally one person on the bottom level of the floor nearest the stage. He tried to bribe people to come down and participate with candy…. but ended up just handing it to that one girl and having her give it to the people in the back. I actually didn’t completely hate it.. but I came for a rock show and this guy was doing goofball karaoke. Bask in the Deep - like a 180 degree turn from the last act (at least tonight's lineup was very diverse). Very pro, not VK at all except for a really slouchy top and cardigan on the singer/guitarist. Bassist had some sick runs. Finally got my head bobbing some. ジグラット (Ziggrat) - Is this the same band as the one around like ~5 years ago?? I could’ve sworn they looked like an Aicle copy band at some point with lots of bright colors and happiness. Now the vocalist was wearing a polka dot dress but he was definitely going for a darker kinda ugly on purpose thing and the guitarists were wearing gallo esque black with white stripes get ups. (in stark contrast to the vocalist the guitarist was super pretty and could actually pass as a girl). Was fairly heavy and fun… but I was confused for most of the show about who this band was because I swear ziggrat used to look sooooo different. (One fun thing... instead of an 'MC' the vocalist did this little show wherein he pulled out two tea mugs and drank some water from each, then made a girl from each side of the audience come take them. No idea what it was supposed to be about, but I guess a couple people got a cool souvenir.) カラビンカ (Karabinka) - Unlike Contrary, this band didn't say one word to the crowd and barely even looked up at them. A three piece very angura (I say that mostly because they had white face paint and a noisy kinda punk sound) band with a girl bassist. The guitarist/singer was super focused on the ground in front of him but did make a ton of noise with his guitar and sang with a ton of passion. They came out, played their hearts out for four songs… and left abruptly. That’s how you play to an un-friendly room (not that they didn’t have fans… I just mean when there are more people who don’t know you than do… give the unfamiliar as many reasons to like you as possible and as few to dislike you.) They were selling, and wearing, nooses of different colors at their merch table, I can't believe another VK band hasn't done this yet. マルコ (Marco) - IDK, not bad or great... some or all of the members of this band definitely love Merry. 君は鋭く。(Kimihasurudoku) - The band I came to see. They had only released three songs before this show... but one of them (Stargazer) is a favorite of mine. Earlier in the show after the first band an older lady and younger girl came up to me in asked me in broken English (no offense intended, it was still wayyyyy better than my Japanese) what band I was there to see. When I answered 'kimi wa surudoku' they both smiled big smiles and asked me again to make sure of what I said. Unless I find out otherwise I'm going to assume this lady was someone in the band's mom because she was very happy that I said I liked them... she then went over to their merch table and grabbed a wrist band and insisted I take it. She was sweet (and gave me some free swag!) Related; @JRD will kill me or herself if she finds out how little I paid for a couple of their live-limited releases at the end of the show. Their two vocalist set up was fun. I'm not one to participate in all the choreographed dancing and headbanging but when they played one of my fave songs ever I was definitely bouncing and raising my fist when appropriate. The vocalist with glasses had to keep taking them off to headbang like he wanted to. They made some announcement as they were leaving about something ( i think a show or release in December.... I'm probably wrong but I thought I heard 'juu-ni gatsu') that had two fans in front freaking the fuck out. Didn’t play that long for hosting the event… but I guess they don’t have a ton of songs haha. I had a lot of fun during their set. All in all my biggest complaint about the show was that they definitely did it at too big a venue. It was never even 20% full. I saw some cool bands I need to check out and some I'll definitely be ignoring. Not a bad night.
  15. I was out of town five years ago the last time MONO made it to Wisconsin and I have been kicking myself ever since. I thought that the likelihood of them making it back to my tiny midwest state was slim to none. Well, let’s just say that my excitement was palpable when I found out that this band would be making the trip to a venue only about 15 minutes from my home. I am not sure about everyone else, but I always find it more fun to have someone else to chat with in the downtime between bands (and also to laugh at my hilarious headbanging). Since tickets were very cheap and the venue was so close, it was easy to convince my girlfriend as well as a couple of other friends to join me. The three of them aren’t exactly as in to post rock as I am (to put it lightly), but all of them enjoy MONO to some extent. Besides, I knew they were in for a treat. The show was at one of the most well known venues in Milwaukee,: The Rave. I have been there several times before and I have never really enjoyed the location, but I had only really seen shows on the main stage. MONO was set to play on their smallest stage, which was downright tiny. The disappointingly low attendance - maybe 100 tops - made it understandable, but it’s kind of funny to see a band you have loved for a long time relegated to such a small stage. Also, it was very low, almost abnormally low...the kind of stage height that would would work great for a sitting show, but not a bar venue. We walked in maybe a couple minutes after the opener, Holly Hunt, had started playing. According to their Bandcamp, this guitar and drum duo “...capture the meditative power of repetition [and] the ecstatic joy of tempered variation.” I’m not sure about that. but what I can say is that I have never experienced something so boring yet so loud. To put it bluntly, this opener was bad. Sludge/drone/doom isn’t something I spin every day, but I do enjoy it on occasion...but not this time. I know the point is to be repetitive in this style of music, but your repetition still needs to be interesting. I heard some of the most bland riffs that long overstayed their welcome. A single song seemed to span about 10 minutes with no breaks in between. And it was Loud. Offensively loud. I thanked god I had earplugs, as the droning guitar still felt loud even with them on. Now let’s talk about the charisma of the band... Nothing says excitement like playing more than half of your show with your back towards the crowd looking at your amp... Perhaps all of this wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a quieter place I could retreat to and talk to my friends, but the only choice was to endure. About 40 minutes later, the noise finally broke, a few people clapped and cheered, and I was finally able to remind myself as to why I came here. MONO took the stage with decidedly little fanfare. No talking, no hyping - nothing. It is about the music. They launched right in to “Recoil, Ignite” off of Rays of Darkness, which is perhaps my favorite song of theirs and a hell of a way to start. While little was going to getting in my way of enjoy this epic song, suddenly a huge problem became apparent - the low stage. If you have seen MONO before, you know that a good deal of the time the guitarists are playing sitting down. Well, once you mix this with a low stage it makes for a very difficult viewing experience unless you are one of the few pressed up against the stage. Due to this “difficulty,” I eventually gave up trying to peer through gaps in shoulders and heads and spent my time with my eyes closed just soaking it all in. Considering I always enjoy closing my eyes at shows and letting the sound wash over me, perhaps this wasn’t a terrible thing (even though I was pretty damn irritated at the time). Mono followed with “Unseen Harbor.” I found the first half of the song to be a little lacking without the orchestra that accompanies the band on the recorded track, but that ending climax was just as lovely as ever. It is mind blowing how calm a beginning on a track can be, almost a little boring for me to be listening to a music venue, only to be devastated with the pure intensity of the later part of a song. It’s hard to put in to words, but I think that juxtaposition just brings a certain power to the music that really makes it emotional. “Kanata” brought some relief with a somber piano after the ending climax that came before. Then in to “Where We Begin,” which I must admit, I don’t find to be an overly interesting track. The band rounded out the night with two tracks from “Hymn to the Immortal Wind,” “Ashes in the Snow” and “Everlasting Light.” I kind of wish they have switched the two song as I feel like the ending to “Ashes” would leave much bigger final impact to the show and allow me to leave with my skin crawling with goosebumps. While I had hoped they would played more from “Rays of Darkness,” the concert was spectacular. Mono’s playing was nearly flawless and the band has such a great chemistry, which is amazing to behold as their interactions are so subtle and without word. Only a few things kept this concert from perfection...with a slight shifting of the track order and different venue, I think the goosebumps would have never left my skin. If you ever have a chance to see MONO live, do it. While I love their studio releases, it’s hard to emulate the pure force exuding from their live performance.
  16. Almost 3pm, my friends and I arrived Hidden Agenda hesitating whether we found the right place or not since the livehouse is in a hard-to-notice industrial building. We noticed the door to the venue was opened with no one at all inside it because I guess they didn't expect fans to arrive this early. We went inside and noticed many band name logo stickers around the place so we confirmed we found the right place. Few minutes later, staffs came in, noticed us and told us to wait outside so we did. A while later, the elevator door opened again and more staffs went out. The band went along with them into the venue. My friends saw Shuu and Nii but I only noticed Ryo. All of them didn't wear make-up but I'm sure most fans aren't unfamiliar with their without make-up look. Ryo didn't look too different from the off-shoot videos on youtube. We waited by the stairs near the door of the venue since there weren't much space by the elevator doors, other fans who arrived later queued up at the stairs also. We waited for almost an hour but there weren't any other fans waiting yet. Shuu gave us a surprise by coming out of the venue door with his bass, nodded and said hello to us. I went like “Omg, it's Shuu!” to my friends and, stupidly, all of my friends and I only responded his greeting and totally forgot to ask for an autograph or picture! He walked around and then went back behind the venue doors. After a an hour and half or so, we started to hear the band rehearsing. They played Evolution , Kowarete Iku Sekai and a few songs I failed to stay to listen because some of my friends and I needed to go out to the streets and find a toilet. When we went out, the sound of their rehearsal could be heard loudly all over the street but it didn't matter since there weren't many people at the street. At 7:30, the staff opened the venue door and let us buy goods. I ended up buying a black t-shirt only. We went up to the front of the stage. My friends stood in front of the vocal position and I stood in front of the bassist position because it had the best view to Ryo. We all wore the t-shirts. After an hour, the band came to the stage on time and everyone yelled. Shuu stood closely in front of us because there weren't any blockages in between the stage and the audience. He touched our fingers when we reached up. They played a short intro then started off with Break Down. The crowd and I jumped, raised up fists, and headbanged, following by Drain and Voltage. Then it was MC time, Satoshi thanked us for coming. I couldn't remember much of what he said at that time. They played Incomplete, Not Found, Crazy-Flag, sunrise, Dirty Story, Resolution, Suiren, gravitation, driving time, Border, Another way, evolution, and Alone. Everyone didn't stop raising fists, jumping and headbanging to the music. My body and neck still hurts but it was worth the fun. Satoshi ordered us to form a circle pit in two songs, I looked back and saw they did. He told us to wave our towels in the air during one song. Ryo wiggle-danced at times and always smiled, it was adorable. Satoshi went up to the platform in front the stage and all of my friends who stood behind the platform grabbed and touched him. I didn't get to do that at that time but I managed the touch his arm during one song when he was close, it was all sweaty. Shuu shooed Nii away for some reason and it seemed funny. Then we yelled for encore after Alone, they came back to stage after a while. They played three songs for the encore and they were Zecchou BANG!!, Owari to Mirai and Kowarete Iku Sekai. I didn't expect them to play Kowarete Iku Sekai. It was one of my favorite songs from them so I am happy I got to hear it live. After the last encore song, they threw towels, water bottles, and picks to the audience. I wasn't lucky enough to get any. After the live, I gave my Stitch pocket fan gift for Ryo to a staff to hand it to him. My recent impression on the band was that Shuu was really nice. It was an awesome show for us and I hope for the band too! Girugamesh is so full of energy and their interaction with the audience is priceless. Setlist sticked on the floor of stage:
  17. On June 6th, Kamijo returned to New York. This was the first time he's performed here since 2008, shortly after Noble was released, and I was thrilled to have been able to attend both shows. Like many others have already shared, the set was a mixture of all of his past bands as well as some of his solo material mixed in arbitrarily. But does his grace hold enough stage presence to really dominate the stage on his own, or is visual kei still just enough of a novelty that we'd really just pay to see anyone here? The concert started at 8pm. I had purchased VIP tickets for an exclusive chance to meet the leader of Le Roi himself, which meant I needed to get there early. Luckily, fellow concert goer and ORZ member @ShanethVarosa got there around 3 an were about 10th in line (or in queue as other bizarre dialects refer to it). It took about an hour for other fans to really start showing up, but that meant we got an early shot at getting some merchandise, a topic I'll breach shortly. The American / Canadian fans looked as I had expected: all different shapes and sizes, mostly of European decent with a handful of Hispanic and fans who actually flew in from Japan to follow him around the world (hmu if you're that rich pls), and one (1) girl who looked like she was from India or Pakistan. Just about everyone had some sort of unnatural hair color and dressed like the Tim Burton inspired crowd from high school I have tried rather hard to distance myself from. Corsets and pin stripes galore. One girl had thick white foundation, a corset that cut her waist size in nearly half, and tight leggings that probably, but not really, justified her going commando. This was all topped off with a Jasmine inspired forehead jewel between her eyes. Decorum of this nature was more or less the standard for the show-goers. Several people dressed up in more rococo-esque outfits, such as a girl in tall boots with long, tight, curled extensions like Maribelle from Fire Emblem and a Moi-même-Moitié purse that was very on point. Another girl had a fairly exact replica of Hizaki's dress from Holy Grail era Versailles that was very well made, and a wig to match. Unfortunately, she wore absolutely no makeup so I wouldn't consider this a cosplay so much as akin to just coming dressed like Hizaki. Michelle Visage would say the same, as well as wonder if this outfit was supposed to be shade. After the initial shell-shock of being the only pedestrian in the vip line, the management staff came out and split the line 1/8th to 7/8th since we were blocking the entrance to a local business. Before 5, the vip must have been well over 100 people, with the general admission starting to fill up. We were told that we could go in at 5, but someone allegedly forgot their costume at the airport and delayed the whole night by half an hour. During this time of standing around and trying to explain to middle aged white folks walking passed what "a kamijo" was, two girls were walking around with an American flag bedazzled with Kamijo crest in the middle of the stars, asking fans to sign it. I wrote "thank you for coming to America (アメリカに来ていただき、ありがとうございます。)" and signed my name in Japanese-- after Google translating it of course because I haven't written or used Japanese grammar in about 3 years now. She still complimented my handwriting, though, and was surprised it was legible *tongue click*. After the show, Kamijo took this flag and danced around with it, at one point with it covering his entire head like a little kid pretending to be a ghost with his bedsheets. I suppose he liked it, as he thanked us for about 4 minutes straight. I should have left my number, but didn't think of that until way after... Somewhat early on, an Asian woman came out of the venue and started pulling in people, five nerds at a time. Eventually it was explained that this was for buying merch as they'd much rather we buy things before the show, rather than after as people were leaving. Shane and I went up and saw the rather small selection of goods available: red Kamijo live strong-ish bracelets, 3 different kinds of t-shirts, a photo set, a photo book, and a poster. Overall, the selection was lame. They only had 1 size of each shirt, the bracelets were $10, and I was really hoping he would sell his upcoming albums early. I ended up getting a poster and a photo set, since those were actually both quite nice. The photo book was also gorgeous, but I would have wanted to scan it for ZombiexJuice and didn't feel that spending $40 on a book I would ultimately destroy was a smart investment. At least the line wasn't super long at this point, but I had @Zeus hold my spot in line before he had to leave for some sort of prior engagement, making him 2 school 4 cool to go to this concert. After hours of waiting, they eventually called us in to come upstairs in the club to line up for the meet and greet. This was the moment I had been waiting for: my heart was pounding in my ears and my hands started sweating. Almost immediately my boredom from standing outside and having to talk to Shane vanished as I climbed those stairs because -he- was lurking around, somewhere, waiting. The whole time Shane is panicking and telling people he's going to die, which didn't help the fact that I have a nervous pee reaction. Perfect. I meet one of my idols and all I can do is pee on him. After a few minutes of more waiting, people start getting called into the hallway, with the staff closing the door behind them. I knew -he- was there and I'd began rehearsing what I had wanted to say to him. 2 years of standing in front of a class and reciting dialogs in Japanese had led me to this moment. Soon enough, it was my turn. I round the one door the staff kept closed and there he was: standing, waiting, hair all fluffy with a big crow feather shoulder accoutrement and blue contacts, waiting for his 12 seconds of acknowledging my existence. I shyly came over to him and he said "picture picture" and stuck out his hand. I shook it (I think I was supposed to?) and they took my picture with him. He posed, I tried not to look frantic. We had a moment. After, I had my chance to actually say something. In my most rushed Japanese I said "私はニックと申します。どうぞ宜しくお願いします。(watakushi wa Nikku to mou shimasu. Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu)" which is hyper formal Japanese for "hi I'm nick." He just kid of nodded and smiled and the photographer was pretty much getting his assistant to drag me away from him since I exceeded 12 seconds. I did it, kids! I then stumbled downstairs to the stage to then wait for another 2 hours, all while staring at my checki and genuinely not processing what just happened. The venue itself had seating on both sides of the stage, but most people stood in front. I managed to get right up front, stage right, and secured my spot for the whole not (with the exception of switching spots so my short friend could see over me (not Shane, although he is fairly petite )). Slowly the venue started to fill in. The entire room never ended up completely packed, but upwards of 400 people were standing. The show finally started at 8. It began with a montage of Kamijo videos and pictures throughout his career, culminating with the band walking out on stage and beginning with the Versailles hit "Masquerade." Just wanted to give a little shout out to @sai here because he did the "haters gunna hate" walk during it. The energy was amazing and the presentation and delivery was just as good as the studio version. It was also really nice to get the chance to see Masashi perform live, as I've only seen the band when Jasmine You was still alive. While this isn't exactly the same as seeing Versailles, the main spirit of the band was there. For this show, he brought with him Meku (of Aim / Galyd), Shin (he plays drums idk), Masashi (of Versailles / Jupiter), and Daishi (of [MU:]). As the music died down, he stopped and said "NEW YORK. Long time no see!" followed by "BONJURRR BONJURRR" back and forth with the audience for an uncomfortably long time. After Masquerade, Kamijo continued to perform a mixture of past singles that he had written. Just wanted to give a shout out to [u Early on he played "Shout and Bites," which honestly threw me since I wasn't expecting any indie material at all. He also played one of my favorite Lareine songs, a slightly revamped version of "薔薇は美しく散る." Unfortunately, the only people in the audience that were feeling that song were me and this guy who gave Kamijo a bouquet of blue roses, but you can't expect everyone to have taste. I believe his fourth song was "Phantom," by New Sodmy. This is one of his lesser known bands, as they were only around for about a year. I haven't listened to them much, but they sounded like Lareine to me without the symphonic aspects. This song was alright, but I spent most of the time it was playing trying to figure out what song it was. As I don't remember the tracklist order, my description of what comes next is going to be on a fuzzy timeline. At one point, he played what seemed like new version of "冬東京" (Fuyu Tokyo) which was needed as there are now two guitarists instead of one. I never really paid much attention to this song before, but I am now really into it. "Why don't you touch my heart, cause it's a sentimental night? Fuyu noooooooooo Tokyo deeeee~♫." I'm not sure if the version they played last night is going to be the same to be released on Royal Blood, but then again I wasn't really familiar with the song to begin with so it could have very well been the same song with less nasally vocals. Kamijo also performed "fiançailles" during his little Lareine section, which apparently is the most famous Lareine song in terms of last.fm and sales? Who knew?! I was a little disappointed, however, because throughout this whole section clips of various Lareine music videos were being played. The video started with a section of "Metamorphose" and I prematurely "yaasssss'd" on the inside before I realized it wasn't actually that song. There was a little jam session after the Lareine tribute was finished in which Kamijo walked off stage. Once that was finished, everyone else left and Kamijo came out and sang "Love Will Be Born Again" in Japanese. I thought this was Sympathia at first, but then I remembered Hizaki wrote that song and I'm awful at being able to tell ballads apart. This set was really nice, as it was one of the main points where it felt like Kamijo stood out, especially in deep blue lighting. This isn't to say he was overshadowed throughout his performance, but his guitarists were at the edge of the stage quite frequently and he treated them as real members of the show, rather than having them stand in the back wearing all black while he pranced around up front. Like the rest of his shows, the next section of the performance was playing "Symphony of the Vampire" in full. This was great live and it seemed to flow much better with him singing it in front of me than it does on my iPod. My favorite part was still "Royal Tercet," but I have a new appreciation for "Throne." During this part of the show, the background video changed to a thrown with his symbol above it. Towards the middle of the album, the crest turned into blood and bled down the wall it was hung from. Very edgy. After Symphony of the Vampire was finished, he ended his main set with "片手に夢を持つ少女." This makes for a great hype song live, and the support members seemed really into it as well since they were probably partially the ones who recorded it on the CD. I'd like to point out that for the most part, I was in front of Meku. He never reached out into the audience, which was very frustrating, and always had a tough act on to try to be cool, I suppose. He managed to nail Hizaki guitar solos with no effort, even with a bit of the masturbatory twitching at times, but for the most part he wasn't as energetic as I was expecting. "片手に夢を持つ少女" was the first time I really saw him light up. The band then left the stage and the room fell dark. They kept us there for about 5 minutes before another Kamitage began playing on the screen, this time with audio, of clips of all of most of his major music videos--"Metamorphose," "fiançailles," "冬東京," "Billet~幼き夏の便箋~, "Ascendead Master," "Philia," "Destiny-The Lovers-," "Masquerade," "Vampire," "Louis," "Moulin Rouge," "Yamiyo no Lion," and "Heart." For whatever reason, he completely ignored "Truth," even though that was through Warner as well. The group then reentered the room and began moaning along to "Bastille." The crowd got into this song and, as I said when I first heard it, was really a live song. His encore also included "Moulin Rouge," which he started off the song with "Let us all dance together!!!" as the club lit up in various colored lights so people could actually see each other, and "Aristocrat's Symphony." The last song was a blast for me, as it's been 6 years since I've been able to see it performed live. It wasn't as good as when Versailles played it all together, as only 1 of 5 people on the stage really had any connection to it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. When this was all said and done, Kamijo thanked each of the members individually, then thanked the audience for a good 2 or 3 minutes. Then, as I said earlier, he got his signed flag and pranced around with it before thanking us some more. He was truly happy to have performed here and seemed happy with the turn out. He then left the stage and probably went to go count all the money he made by charging $120 for VIP tickets for a 10 second photo with him. All in all I had a really great time at Kamijo's show and I would definitely see him again. My only gripes with the night were things not entirely related to him and that I wished the support members and himself would have interacted with the audience more. Sure, Kamijo directed us with what sort of hand motions he wanted, but I wanted him to reach out and fondle people's faces (he did it to one girl. I could have been the one, god damn it) or grab their hands...anything! If Kaya can lick people's hands while singing, I don't see why he can't stage dive or something. Another thing I would have changed would have been the encores: it would have been cool if he ended with "Heart" or "God Palace," and I'm genuinely surprised he didn't play "Louis" or "Yamiyo no Lion" at all, but that might have been because this was a history tour. Vive le Roi!
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