Alright, who's ready for some serious bloggage?!! Get ready for lengthy descriptions, unnecessary tangents, and fan-girling! WHOOOOO!!!!
SO! Saturday, Oct. 24th, I get up, squeeze into a corset, four-inch platform boots, and I get ready to head out to Chiba prefecture for the V-Rock Festival! First off, I don't know if anyone actually wondered whether or not my host family would be okay with me disappearing for an entire weekend. Allow me to relay the transaction for you:
Me: "Ano... shuumatsu ni... watashi wa tabun... modaranai..." ("um... I might, like... not come home this weekend...")
Host mother: "Eh? Doushite?" ("Really? Why?")
Me: "Eeto... V-Rock Festival ni itte... sono yoru, ano... Halloween paatii mo atte..." ("Well... I'm going to the V-Rock Festival and... that night there's a Halloween Party...")
Host parents: "Ah - iku?" ("Oh, you're going?")
Yeah, that's how it goes around here. I seriously have free-reign. They don't question anything I do, so long as they know about it, lol. They just shrugged and laughed at my usual reckless stupidity and let me go on my merry way, lol.
So, the festival was in Chiba, which is about an hour and a half from where I live (if you take the train). It was surprisingly easy, though. Only one transfer. After I transferred at Tokyo Station, I hitched a train heading to Kaihim Makuhari. At that point, it wasn't exactly difficult to tell if I was going in the right direction. At every stop, as more and more people got on the train, the clothing was getting darker and darker... the hair was getting higher and higher... piercings were becoming more and more frequent... then a guy got on the train with white-out contacts and eye-shadow smeared all over his face. Yeah, definitely heading in the right direction, lol XD
I exited the train and found the Makuhari Messe only about two minutes away. That place is HUGE. It's actually an exhibition hall and, much to my surprise, the Tokyo Auto Show was going on in the building next door to the festival, lol. Anyways, cameras were strictly prohibited at V-Rock so I don't have any pictures or videos for you guys that I took myself. But I'll post outsider pictures and stuff, lol.
This festival really was impressive, though. It's estimated that about 30,000 people attended. And there was a shocking number of guys in attendance. I know people say VK is a girl's genre but... I think that's not entirely true.
Outside the venue I met up with a girl named Casie. She's doing the JET Program and teaching English in Chiba and she didn't know anyone so she wanted a friend for V-Rock. I'd never met her before, but we found each other easily enough, chatted happily (we were both sarcastic-types - yay!!) and headed on into the V-Rock Festival!
The festival was set up in a fascinating way. I walked in the doors and I was like "whooooooa...." There were basically three giant exhibition halls. In the middle was the massive international food court and merchandise area (and a billion chairs for exhausted, high-heel, platform-boot-wearing concert-goers). On the left was another hall, with two giant stages marked L and R. The other hall on the other side had two stages: a smaller one marked V (for indie bands or new bands) and a large one with a runway (yes, a runway) marked S. There was one concert going on at each end at all times (so two bands were playing on opposite ends of the venue throughout the whole festival). In other words, there was constant music and rocking out, lol. Of course, this meant that sometimes you had to give up one band for another, but such is life.
We got to the festival around 11:30. I checked the giant information sheet and saw that Sex Machineguns was just finishing up at the L stage (more like I heard them finishing up... we walked in the doors of the venue and the music was like being pummeled in the face with a hammer). Sex Machineguns is something of a classic and I wanted to catch Penicillin on the R stage next to them, so Casie and I headed into the blasting, chaotic exhibition hall.
GOD DAMNIT WAS SEX MACHINEGUNS LOUD. God DAMNIT. I went deaf instantly. They were definitely one of the loudest bands at the show. NOT NECESSARY, YOU GUYS. Geez. Much to my delight, though, I saw that this hall had a giant jumbo-tron screen so that you could see the band from way back. See, this festival was not set up like a typical sampler festival. These were full-scale (albeit short) concerts with full-scale lighting, massive crowds of people, special-effects, everything... This festival was seriously impressive. Something of a mind-blower for me, lol. So I hovered in the back, shielding my ears and watching Sex Machineguns finish up their last song. Then they finished and Penicillin started setting up on the R stage.
I decided to get closer, so Casie and I weaseled our way through the crowds drifting back and forth from L stage to R stage and managed to get up about half-way in the crowd. Not exactly close, but not far either. And there was always the jumbo-tron.
So... Penicillin............ Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the festival for me. For those who don't know, this is Penicillin:
Scandalous, hehe. Anyways, this band really surprised me. They're an older band so I kinda worried that like... they'd be a bit "oldies" in style. Not really my thing. And I'd heard some music from them before but... I couldn't remember if I liked it or not, which seemed like a bad sign, lol. But no... they were FUN. They were seriously FUN. The drummer was pounding out great beats and the guitarists were rocking out and the audience was jumping up and down and dancing. I was dancing too, haha. There was furi hand-movements, of course, but I decided to skip them so that I could just wiggle and dance in place, lol. This guy in front of me was rocking out so hard he nearly fell over. Casie and I were cracking up.
Also, vocalist Hakuei. Wow. Holy... mother of holy things. This man was incredible... I don't mean to sound like a preteen girl here but... I've never seen a man with a more sensual performance style in my life. It was, hands down, the sexiest performance I've ever seen. Hakuei is hot... and he fuckin' KNOWS he's hot. And he owns that damn stage with his sexiness. The girls in the audience were so flustered it wouldn't surprise me if they all had to change their panties after the set. For one thing, Hakuei might as well have not been wearing pants. He had knee-high boots and some sorta speedo-like bottom that was so subtly skanky that you only noticed little by little how much skin was actually showing. Up top... over-sized fuzzy coat over a t-shirt with a banana on it. And just when I was thinking "damn, that boy is way too sexy for his shirt"... off comes the shirt too!!! If you'd like a taste of what I saw, check out this video from a few months ago. This is quite comparable to what I saw.
After I managed to not throw my panties at Hakuei, Penicillin's set was over. After that, I didn't want to see anything for another hour, so I ran away before Kra played and ate in the food court. I had a nan sandwich from the Indian restaurant. Who ever heard of a nan sandwich?!! It was good despite not making sense, lol. Chicken and vegetables and sauce wrapped in, well... nan, lol.
At 1:10 we had jealkb (pronounced jee-al K B, as I now know). I was originally going to ditch them for a good spot for D but... D was playing on the stage next to them, so I was able to stay by standing in the L stage and watching jealkb over at the R stage, lol (meaning I basically just watched the jumbo-tron, lol). Anyways, jealkb is NOT a band. They're a comedy act. And they're fucking ridiculous. Even more ridiculous was how many people were seriously INTO this fake band. Jealkb tries to be a stereotypical VK band both to be funny and to be a band. The keyboardist never actually touches the keys... and at one point the bassist stopped playing but the bass-line kept going. But damn, people were so into this! I just couldn't tell if they were into it because they love the concept, or if they really got fooled into thinking jealkb was a real band (Casie was fooled). The vocalist can sing, I'll give them that... and the one member that just dances and does nothing else was kinda funny, but... what a ridiculous act, lol.
After that was D!!! This was one of the bands I was most dying to see! They're these guys (I picked a better picture this time):
Anyways, this show was AWESOME. First of all, for the D fans reading this I just have to announce: Tsunehito has pink hair 0__0 Actually, no... it's more like maroon! I was like "holy CRAP... someone in D with a non-natural hair color?!! And Tsunehito of all people?!!" I was shocked, lol. Anyways, D was great. They came out to their Tightrope intro, and Asagi (the vocalist) came onto the stage with a friggin' whip! During the first song (can't remember what it was), they had Tsunehito yelling into the microphone, and every time he yelled Asagi cracked the whip, lol. And he started pretending to ride a horse by spanking himself and cracking the whip, lol. Interesting thing was... the furi for one song was all done with flags. Asagi had two flags (a red and a black?) and everyone in the crowd had two identical flags. Then everyone just followed Asagi's movements. I didn't have any flags so I just moped and watched, lol. They played Tightrope which was AWESOME. Also... hahaha, they played Yami Yoru Doukoku no blah blah blah, whatever that song is called. I just about DIED laughing. But actually, Asagi's obese opera woman voice sounds better live. On stage, it sounds operatic and impressive and atmospheric. So yeah, they were AWESOME, lol!
There was a huge gap here where there wasn't much I wanted to see. I met a couple foreigners from Sophia and we all started hanging out (they were in my classes and stuff). One of them had a really cool Australian friend with her. Anyways, having a large gap spelled trouble... and my worst fears came true when the girl (Ashley) who wanted to see D'espairsRay with me decided she also wanted to see... Alice Nine........................ and Casie did too. So... I... got... dragged... kicking and screaming... to Alice Nine. AAAAGH IT WAS AWFUL. My gothy pride, aaaaah!!! For those who don't know, Alice Nine are these guys:
Uuuuugh, they're like the Backstreet Boys of VK................. Much to my amusement, though, they had really bad technical difficulties at the beginning. Still, I survived fifteen minutes of it before tapping my friends on the shoulder and making the "need good spot for D'espairsray!!!" gesture. Then I made my escape and ran to the other side of the venue for the S stage.
Whoo! D'espairsray! Much to my joy and happiness I got to see them again after only a few weeks! And... and and and they were on the cat-walk stage!!! That meant during their whole set, they could walk out onto the runway in the middle of the crowd and play right in the audience! Aaaagh, it was so awesome! Anyhoo, just a status announcement but, Hizumi's voice is still totally screwed up. I wanted to post a couple videos from the show because they're available on YouTube but... his voice is just so painful to listen to and... Well, anyways, they basically completed my goddamn life. So did a band on Sunday, but I'll get to that later. Anyways, I have a list of certain songs by certain bands that I have to see in concert before I die. And D'espairsray played one of them. The song that got me into D'espairsray was a song called Garnet. It remains one of my all-time favorite J-Rock songs. And it's old, so I figured D'espairsray would never play it... well, they DID. Aaaaaw, I can't resist, have a video!!! This is Garnet live from the V-Rock festival! Please pardon Hizumi's voice, though. He's been sick for awhile and the stupid doctors were treating him for the wrong condition till recently. He usually has a beautiful voice. Anyways, after Hizumi announces Garnet, you hear that squeal in the crowd? That was me, haha. I shrieked suddenly (kinda scared my friend, lol). And I apologize for the video-quality. It was streamed live so... the quality comes and goes, lol.
Anyways, haha. After D'espairsray, I was goddamn DETERMINED to see Plastic Tree, even though they were halfway done already on the other side (L Stage). I ran like a lunatic and YES! I managed to catch the last fifteen minutes, lol! Man, I love Ryutaro's performance style. He has this bizarre way of moving that involves sorta... flopping loosely like a doll. It's really interesting. And he has a lovely voice. Anyways, he's also totally adorable in person. My friend Ashley was a little skeptical, but by the end of the set she was like "oh my gawd, he is soooo adorable. I just want to squeeze him and pinch his cheeks!" lol. I was far away, but I could see well on the jumbo-tron. At the end, Ryutaro stood on stage holding a large, black umbrella and sang with it. Then he tipped back the umbrella and you could see that the sky was painted on the underside. Aaaaaw. Also, his MCs were sooo cute. Even after 12+ years in bands, he still seems like he has stage fright. He kept messing up what he was saying or walking away and coming back and giggling like a little girl cuz he didn't know what to say. He was practically shaking, lol! Anyways... have a video! This is one of the few songs I know by Plastic Tree and I really like it - it's really beautiful, and I love the way Ryutaro can sings the high, whimsical chorus. This is "Melt" by Plastic Tree, live at the V-Rock Festival!
After Plastic Tree, I bit my tongue and decided to go check out Moi dix Mois, even though I don't really like Mana. I just felt obligated to see him, sigh. When I went over there, I actually ran into an old friend of mine from America! What are the odds?! Anyways, she was bored, and I said I wanted to see Moi dix Mois. She stuck her finger down her throat and made a barfing gesture, lol. "He's such a bitch" she said. I agreed wholeheartedly. But he's influential and important whether you like him or not, so... I decided to suffer through it, lol. For those who don't know, this guy is Mana:
Yeah, this set was pretty much torture, and my feet were KILLING me by now (actually, I moved back and sat on the floor for the last song or two, lol). First of all, Moi dix Mois' new vocalist is AWFUL (not that I hadn't already been told that by various people). This new vocalist was just trying WAAAY too damn hard. I couldn't tell if he was trying too hard to please Mana, or if Mana had molded him into some kind of "perfect vocalist". Most of his vocalists run away screaming and then join pop bands, lol. For those who don't know about Mana, he never speaks. Ever. In a totally cheesy act, he started screaming into the microphone at the crowd. My friends and I looked at each other like "whaaaaat? Is Mana making vocalizations?!!" Then Mana stepped back and the yelling continued. It was just Kei facing away from the crowd yelling for him. Sigh. Then the vocalist started this ridiculous chant that was spelling out "D... I... X" with hand gestures, and then the crowd yelled "Dis!" cuz I guess that's how you pronounce it. But I was getting annoyed cuz it was going on and on and on so I started yelling "D! I! X! DICKS!!!" I dunno if anyone could hear me though, lol. Anyways, Mana-sama finally exited in all his flamboyant glory, waving slowly and gracefully like Miss America...
Then we had a fashion show! This show was interesting to me because the totally outlandish fashion just isn't outlandish in Japan. Many girls in the audience were wearing similar outfits to the models... and the people in this crowd were definitely willing to buy and wear these crazy outfits (unlike in America where fashion is for the upper-crust only). Anyways, what made this fashion show great was that each fashion line somehow got a J-Rocker to run the cat-walk and model their clothes! I can't stand SuG, but their vocalist was pretty funny when he came out and break-danced down the runway, lol. But the highlight for me... guess who decided to fucking own the cat-walk? Fucking HAKUEI. He swaggered out onto the runway track in a pseudo-military suit with boots, button-down top, walking stick, and one of those big hats pinned to the side of his head with feathers and stuff. Oh my GOD. Of course girls were screaming uncontrollably, lol. He strutted down the catwalk like he was the greatest thing God had ever created. He posed, he stuck his tongue out at us, he kicked the walking stick over his shoulder, he flicked his hair. Then he crouched down and started taking pictures of the crowd with his cell-phone
So after the fashion show, I decided to leave before Marilyn Manson went on as the headliner (cuz I wanted sufficient time to get ready for Tokyo Decadance). Anyways... I'm glad I left. People told me Manson's performance was just awful. I guess he was drunk and he kept pausing during songs to scream at the staff to bring him a beer. And when they did, he'd just take a sip, spit it everywhere, and throw it at the person who brought it. And he was yelling terrible things at the crowd and making them repeat it, since he figured the Japanese don't understand English anyways. What an ass. Some of my friends said they stormed out (and they said they saw others leaving in disgust). I'm glad I didn't see that. Manson is someone I respect, and that would've been very disappointing. He needs to take a break or something.
So that concludes Day 1 at the V-Rock festival! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and sporadic videos! Now, stay tuned for the Tokyo Decadance post and V-Rock Day 2 (which was even crazier and more awesome than Day 1) - coming soon!!!