I'm back! I am back from the Merry concert of epic awesomeness! Just to get everyone on the same page, here's Merry:
As mentioned previously, Geri and I went to see Merry for their Underworld tour final at Shibuya O-East. Well... believe it or not... we got to see TWO Merry concerts only an hour and a half apart for a total of 3 1/2 hours of Merry!
How is that possible, you wonder? Allow me to explain.
I was speaking with a girl on the internet who had written a live-report about a previous Merry performance. Anyways, I asked if she would be at the tour final and she said yes. Then she asked if I'd be going to the free concert in the afternoon. Of course, my response was "what free concert in the afternoon?" I guess the editor-in-chief of Fool's Mate magazine (one of the biggest visual-kei magazine in Japan) passed away a couple months ago. Merry felt that Toujou-san was someone who had taken care of them since the beginning and attended a lot of their concerts. He was like family to them. Naturally, the band was pretty upset at his passing and wanted to do a free concert at Shibuya O-East - the first venue Toujou-san saw them live at. And they were going to play all his favorite songs. I found it hard to believe that Merry would even have the energy to do a concert an hour and a half before another concert but... I guess they can!
Anyhoo, I dressed up a little bit for this event. Here's my outfit (I had on big-ass platform boots, too):
And here's the super-sparkly make-up I decided to wear:
Anyways, Geri and I showed up at Shibuya O-East around 3:15 to see what was happening with the free concert. Doors were to open at 3:30 and the show was to start at 4:00 (impressive, since the other concert was to start at 7:00). Anyways, the whole area was cluttered with goths. It's so funny, cuz Merry doesn't seem like that kind of band from the outside. They're a band who confuses and baffles, since they're called Merry but they're not merry, and their symbol is a sheep but they're not cute. Their music has no definable genre, and their persona in magazines or music videos doesn't match the persona of the band in concert. That's why they do two-night shows like "White Sheep" and "Black Sheep" - because the band is so bipolar that they need two nights with two separate personalities just to keep up. Anyways, the goths were all crowding around clutching tickets, but Geri and I had no idea how one was expected to get tickets for the free concert. We hovered around awkwardly until pretty much everyone had been let into the venue. Then, suddenly, the guy checking tickets whipped out a handful of last-minute tickets! About forty ticket-less stragglers rushed forward (including us) and tried to get one. The man was handing them out when, suddenly, there were only two left. He looked surprised and baffled and quickly contacted someone on his walkie-talkie saying "Tarinai! Tarinai!" ("we don't have enough!"). Anyways, he had only two, and Geri and I were giving him puppy-dog eyes so... he suddenly shrugged and shoved the tickets at us. Geri and I grabbed the tickets and ran up the stairs before we could get tackled, lol.
Anyways, Shibuya O-East is a niiiice venue. It's wider than it is deep, so you can get like... 1500 people in there and still be able to see everything. It's an oddly small venue for a tour final, though. Merry have definitely done concerts at waaaaaay bigger venues, so this was very tiny, in my opinion. Of course, over a thousand people were already in Shibuya O-East by the time Geri and I got in, so we just hovered in the back and enjoyed. But here's the really nice thing... Usually, for rock concerts, you have to make a huge gamble. Do you buy merchandise now while they still have the good stuff - but lose a good spot and have to carry all that shit... or do you get a good spot, and get merchandise after the show when all the good shit is gone? In fact, when I saw D'espairsray at C.C. Lemon Hall... they just didn't HAVE merch after the show (which is how I wound up not getting any). Well, Merry was selling their concert merchandise even at the memorial concert, so I was able to get a T-shirt and this cute acrylic ram thing on a chain, and then have time to drop it off in the cloak room before the tour final when I needed a good spot. Thanks Merry, I appreciate it :-) Here's some pics!
T-shirt (with creepy sheep):
Acrylic sheep! Black ram-head on the front with sparkly lining:
The back is all sparkly, with the band's name in a little heart:
As for the memorial concert... I wasn't sure what to expect. Would it be a full concert, or would it be more of a service? I had read about Merry doing a memorial for Toujou-san at White Sheep, and apparently they cried a lot, so I was worried this show would be really sad. But then, much to my shock, the show opened with this insane, industrial-techno intro. And when the band walked out on stage they were clearly not just doing a service. The band was all dressed in suit-like outfits, yeah, but... Gara's hair was poofed out like he'd stuck his finger in an electric socket. I couldn't believe it... would this be a full-blown concert??
Sure enough, they opened with Japanese Modernists... and I knew it was a real concert. It was a beautiful performance, with Gara singing the beginning of the song solo, and then everyone jumping in with him. And the crowd was rocking out and throwing their fists at the band, just like a real show. Free concerts are AWESOME! Then, much to my shock, the band even played one of their most INSANE songs: Atama ga Zakuro (translation: My Head is a Pomegranate). The audience went nuts, with everyone jumping up and down and thrashing. For the fun of it, if you're curious to see the madness of Merry, you can watch this video of the band performing Atama ga Zakuro last year. It's pretty amusing, since Gara decides to climb the scaffolding for most of the performance, lol.
But, of course, the show couldn't STAY crazy, since it WAS a memorial. They rocked us out through some songs, then slowed the concert down. Nero, the drummer, stood up on his drum-stool and gave a very dramatic speech about Toujou-san. He was like "that person... we loved him! That person... he loved us! That person... he loved all of you!" Nero told us that we should memorialize this last show for Toujou-san by laughing and smiling, rather than being upset. That wound up not working so well later, but anyways...
So the band moved on and did some very beautiful songs for Toujou-san. I can't remember them very well (sorry, my concert memory always sucks cuz I'm too into it at the show to think much) but... it was all very beautiful with Gara standing there singing calmly in a pretty, dress-like suit while the rest of the band played along with him. What really stands out in my mind is the acoustic version of Tick Tock that they played. It was absolutely stunning. Gara played harmonica as well as singing, and Yuu and Kenichi played acoustic guitar while seated. Tetsu played one of those big, long-necked bass instruments that you have to rest on the floor. And Nero was crouched in the back playing these, like... floor-drum things. It was really beautiful.
After some pretty, slow songs, Gara also decided to give a speech about Toujou-san. Gara almost never does an MC so... if he talks to the crowd, it's a big deal. As I feared, Nero's speech about smiling and laughing didn't really work out. Gara spent most of the speech pausing between sentences to compose himself while wiping his nose on his sleeve like a little boy. It was really sad. This girl in front of me burst into tears in the middle of the speech and started wiping her eyes on Merry's tour towel. So Gara stood there being upset and crying and it was very hard to watch. I was staring at my feet for a lot of it because I didn't want to get upset.
After Gara's speech, the band went back to rocking out and doing great music. It was amazing. I can't remember much of the rest of the show, unfortunately, but... it was awesome. They played nothing but great songs. It ended on a sad note, though. As each member left the stage at the end, they each said something about Toujou-san. Kenichi at least tried to be funny like Nero had requested. He was like, "Toujou-san... he was a big guy, wasn't he?" The one that shocked me was Yuu. The calm, cool band leader grabbed the microphone and barely managed to get a word out. He sort of choked through a couple sentences, then left the stage before he burst into tears.
The memorial ended at around 5:30 and doors for the next show opened at 6:00. Everyone rushed out of the venue to get some food before the next event. Geri and I, already somewhat deafened, also ran to the convenience store. I got some onigiri (rice-balls) and some apple juice and then we just waited around for the real show to start.
At 6:00 they started calling everyone in by number. Over 500 people got in ahead of us but... it doesn't matter cuz the venue is set up in a way in which you can see no matter where you are. But I didn't want to be in the back again. I wanted to be right in the crowd, jumping up and down and going crazy. Oh, and when we walked in, they handed us each a free CD that turned out to be... a recording of the acoustic version of Tick Tock!!! Squee!!!
When the band came back on stage at 7:00, I came to realize that what they had done for us was, in effect, White Sheep, Black Sheep. The memorial was White Sheep, with the band members in suits and playing slower, prettier songs. But an hour and a half later... Black Sheep. The band was determined to be completely fucking insane for the tour final. The crowd was packed and people were bristling with excitement (there were more people at the tour final than at the memorial). The band opened with GI GO and came out looking completely different. They'd traded in their suits for more rock-like clothing. Especially Gara, who came out on the stage dressed like... a stripper. His hair, which had deflated during the memorial, was back to standing out ten inches in all directions. He had black eye-shadow all over his face. His outfit, though... hehe, he had black, elbow-length silk gloves, a sleeveless, mesh shirt (completely see-through), tight black pants with belts around his butt, a silk scarf, around his neck, and a big pink paper-clip and brass-knuckles hanging from his belt. And, as always, he was barefoot. As for the other members, I was happy to see Kenichi without a mustache, haha. He looks sooooo much better like that! And he had curly hair. I didn't like Yuu's hair at all. He had one side covering his pretty face, and the other side pulled back in tight corn-rows. Tetsu was, as always, one of the hottest things on two legs. Tetsu's hair is down to his armpits and he's just so stoic and kick-ass-looking. And boy is he a skinny mother-fucker! Nero looked crazy as always. His hair was up in a knot on his head with a big pink chunk of hair always flying in his face. He had on his signature librarian glasses too, lol. He was, of course, totally out of his mind. Geri wanted to have a better view of Nero for the tour final cuz he's so crazy, lol.
Well, anyways. So the show was beyond amazing. The band is so crazy. Nero doesn't go around his drum-set to get into it, he climbs OVER his drum-set, lol. And he plays the drums with his mouth open for most of the show, or singing along. And Gara was just insane. Shrieking, flailing, jumping off tall objects, rubbing himself in perverse ways... The boy is bat-shit crazy, lol. When the band played Enzetsu Surrealism, sure enough, Gara did the bunny-head routine. I've posted this video before but, if you watch this video at 35 seconds, you can see the bunny-head:
But Gara had to go all-out with the bunny-head at this show. He actually hopped across the stage like that, lol. And he kept tipping the bunny-head back and then bending over at a 90 degree angle so that the head would be looking right at the crowd. Then he'd bunny-stare-down the audience, lol. And he kept putting his hand against the bunny's ear like "I can't heeeear you!!!" Too hilarious, lol. After Enzetsu Surrealism, Yuu screamed out "WELCOME TO THE HUMAN FARM!!!" and they, of course, played Human Farm, which was fucking amazing. They also played Gesshoku, which was a song I'd been dying to hear. Such a sexy song. Songs that stick out in my mind (well, EVERY song was amazing, but my memory sucks)... they played Charlie, which was awesome... they repeated Japanese Modernist... aaah, they played Katamichi Kippu. That's one of my favorites! That song really represents the "jazz" quality of Merry that they're so known for. If you are curious about "jazzy" Merry, here's a recent live recording of Katamichi Kippu. It's such an interesting song! Not something you'd expect from a rock band (if Merry is even rock... I'm not sure).
As for some of the antics of the night... Gara repeatedly hoisted his entire mic-stand up over his shoulder and sang like that... and sometimes he carried it under his arms and across his back like a cross. Also, I'm sorry to report that Gara is still beating himself violently in the head with the microphone. At one point, though, he started pounding the microphone into his head and Nero, in response, head-butted his own microphone, hahaha. Gara kept going over to Yuu and bothering him, too, lol. He was being strangely affectionate, lol. Gara repeatedly leaped off his desk, too. He would practically do the splits mid-air and... he never actually landed on his feet. And he would sometimes just stay there on the floor, which would freak me out cuz I had no idea if he'd hurt himself during the fall or not. Then he would shriek suddenly and I'd know he was okay, lol XD I think one of my favorite Gara-moments was when he was standing up on his desk at the end of a song, and then the lights went completely black. And then, all you could see in the darkness was... a pair of floating brass-knuckles. Hahahaha, the brass-knuckles hanging from Gara's belt were glow-in-the-dark! Geri and I both started laughing out loud, lol XD There were sadder moments, too, like when they were doing a sad song (I'm sorry, I can't remember what song!) and Gara sat on his desk and curled up like a ball for most of the song. Aaaaaw :-(
Anyways! This post is rambling so badly, lol... I dunno what to say. The show was so amazing that I don't even know how to organize this post into anything cohesive, lol.
Ah, well, there were some technical difficulties. There was some bad feed-back while Gara was singing and, instead of ignoring it like most vocalists do, he kept shooting these death-glares backstage, lol. He looked like he was going to kill somebody!
Also, Gara wasn't the only crazy mother-fucker at this show. The AUDIENCE - HOLY SHIT. Here's the thing... Japanese rock concerts are organized events. Everyone does furi. Everyone knows when to yell. But these guys... holy SHIT. During certain songs, the crowd would suddenly crumble and, just like at American rock concerts, these big circles of death would form and everyone would just start pushing and shoving and slamming into each other and not caring who they knocked out. Yeah, you read that correctly... there were MOSH PITS AT THE MERRY CONCERT. American-style mosh pits! And it happened frequently! It seemed like the males in the crowd were inciting a lot of the mosh pits but... the girls were clearly into it too. Some of the girls behind me were moshing and kept nearly knocking me over, lol. Also... there was CROWD-SURFING! Crowd-surfing is illegal in Japan, but they were crowd-surfing at this show! This one girl in particular kept climbing up onto the shoulders of her friends and waving wildly at the band. Then they would toss her and she would ROLL, not surf, up to the front of the crowd, drop back into the first row, somehow slither to the back of the venue, get hoisted up, and do it again! And she did this all with a big, pink bow in her hair! I think she was pissing Gara off, though. The thing is, she was obviously trying to steal all his attention... and Gara was trying to please the whole crowd. At one point, Gara put half his body into the audience and everyone scrambled to grab him. The crowd-surfer girl rolled over the crowd towards him and then, as she was dropping into the first row... she totally kicked Gara in the arm on the way down. He totally ignored it but... later on, whenever she would try and get his attention, he would just glance at her and look away, lol. At one point I got Gara to do a stare-down with me! He bugged his eyes out at me and it was really freaky, haha.
Anyways, Merry did not one... not two... not even three... but FOUR encores! Holy SHIT. I've NEVER heard of four encores! The first and second I understood, and they were both about fifteen minutes long. For the second encore, Merry came out and Gara asked if we knew some band (I forgot what, sorry). Then he was like "let's do a cover!" Then they did some surprisingly poppy song by some other band, lol. Then after the cover... they played something I didn't recognize at all. But the song was awesome, so I just went with it. When the song was over, Gara suddenly yelled the name of the song and we realized...
NEW SONG!!! MERRY PLAYED A NEW SONG!!! OMG AND IT WAS AWESOME!!! Be on the look-out, fellow Merry fans of the flock! New song is heading your way!!!
The third encore surprised me a bit, but the band came out and performed Fuyu no Castanets, which makes sense because the song is about being alone on Christmas and... it was Christmas Eve. After a lonely rendition of Fuyu no Castanets, the band left again, wishing us all a Merry Christmas on the way out (Nero was like "it's a MERRY Christmas, so you came to see us, right?!" Hardy har har har). Before he left, Nero was like, "we're really done this time, you guys!" and the house-lights went back on. But no one budged, and everyone continued to scream "an-ko-re!" ("encore!"). Well, after about thirty seconds the band ran back like "oh, alright, you've convinced us!" Then they finished the night with...
Squeeeee! Violet Harenchi was my first Merry song and the song that got me into the band! I remember Gara turned around and started singing to the crowd between his legs while wiggling his butt at us, lol. During another song he just started wiggling in general. But Violet Harenchi got off to a rickety start. Everyone started jumping up and down like crazy and then... the song stopped. Yuu messed up, haha. Nero jumped up on his drum-stool and started teasing Yuu like "Heeeey! Remember how the song goes?!!" Yuu looked mortified, lol. Gara just looked pissed, but Yuu is band leader so... Gara can't say anything, haha. When Nero thanked us for being patient, Gara took a swig of water and sprayed it through his teeth in response, haha. THEN Violet Harenchi happened for real! During the song, Gara actually unzipped his pants, poured his water bottle down his crotch, then repeatedly grabbed his junk, squeezed the water into his hands, and flicked it at the crowd! He was basically... wringing out his crotch, lol XD And he would kick the water at us too, by flicking it off his feet as it ran down his leg! What a SPAZZ! I ALMOST got some crotch-water on me but... I was too far away, damnit. Gara continued to teeth-spray water at us, lol. When the show ended, Nero threw his drum-sticks into the air and... one of them just didn't come back down, lol.
Anyways, the show ended (noooo!) and the band made their grand exits, thanking us and throwing picks and drum-sticks into the crowd. They draped Toujou-san's t-shirt over Gara's desk in tribute and Nero waved around the giant Merry flag that the audience had signed. Nero also posed in front of the entire crowd for a big picture, lol! I don't know if I can be seen in the picture though, since the girl in front of me (who had serious BO) was kinda tall.
Soooooo, those were the Merry concerts (plural!) and Geri and I rolled out of the venue at around 9:00 and ran off to get some burgers, lol. We had just been jumping up and down and going nuts for 3 1/2 hours of Merry... Who could ask for anything more?!!
Sorry this blog post sucked, lol. I wish I could give better detail about what songs they played and who did what and when but... I was so busy jumping up and down and yelling at the band that half the show escaped me. But tomorrow............
Be prepared for my next blog post because... I'm going to the Dir en grey fan-club only concert tomorrow. You think you've seen big, long-winded blog-posts from me but... you ain't seen nothin' yet! I'm going to fucking tape-record tomorrow's show in my brain!
See you all after the Dir en grey concert!!!!!