Wednesday, January 20, 2010

D'espairsray In-Store Event

Anyways, now to take a step away from Dir en grey and talk about... meeting D'espairsray.

They've come up a bazillion times but... D'espairsray are these guys:

From left to right: Karyu, Zero, Tsukasa, Hizumi.

Anyways, I bought their C.C. Lemon Hall DVD, which gave me a ticket to do a handshake meeting at Like an Edison. I wound up going with Sonia, Elena, and Ashley - who got an extra ticket that I had. Anyways, we had to wait around outside Like an Edison and freeze our balls off for almost an hour. Laaaaaame. But at least I got to meet a really cool girl named Caroline in line!  But I was really just at the in-store event to procrastinate and not work on my speech about whaling, lol. There was a time when I would have peed my pants to meet D'espairsray but... I haven't been into them much lately (hopefully they'll redeem themselves in the future... since their Redeemer CD didn't "redeem" anything for me, lol).

Anyways, they ushered us inside Like an Edison pretty quickly, and the band was sitting behind a desk, starting at the right with Zero, then working to the left, with Karyu, Hizumi, and Tsukasa. Anyways, I find meet-and-greets rather awkward and I had nothing I really wanted to say. I also noticed that many of the giddy Japanese girls had brought presents for the band. I was like... aw CRAP. I wasn't sure if I was expected to have a gift or not. Stupid, confusing gift-giving rituals in Japan...

Well, I decided to play the "Stupid Foreigner Card" and hopped right on up to Zero. Here's where things just got fuckin' weird. I held out my hand and Zero grabbed my hand, but he didn't shake it, he just held it. He looked at me really expectantly, and for a horrible moment I was sure that look meant he was expecting a present I didn't have. Then, suddenly... he pointed at my boobs. I was completely flustered and confused, so I pointed at my own boobs. Then I looked down and realized Zero could see my D'espairsray t-shirt through the v-neck in my jacket. I nodded, embarrassed. Then Zero, still staring at my boobs, made a "spread your jacket wider" gesture. Being a naïve jack-ass, I let go of Zero's hand and wrenched my jacket open like I was flashing him. Zero continued to stare between me and my boobs, not saying anything, the same strange, somewhat satisfied look on his face. Then a staff woman began shoving me out of the way to hurry up the line. I wanted to whip around and yell "don't tell me to move, tell Zero to let me go!" Well, in the nano-second between me moving away from Zero and onto Karyu I suddenly realized what Zero had been trying to make me do... and I'd completely fallen for it... Wow, I'm really naïve, aren't I? "Oh, sure, Zero, do you like my D'espairsray t-shirt that everyone else in line is wearing? Isn't it pretty?" Yeah, I'm an idiot. Well, I made a very pervy Japanese man very happy. Apparently Zero blogged about the meet-and-greet that night and said he was still "horny" from it. Greeeeeeat...  Lesson learned... if Zero says he wants to see your D'espairsray t-shirt, it really just means he wants you to flash your boobs at him.

After Zero was Karyu. But the awkwardness continued. Karyu grabbed my hand and held it a moment, and I looked into his eyes and felt pinned suddenly by the fierce, electric-blue contacts he was wearing. They were laser-blue with a dark edging. Not knowing what the hell to say, I pointed at my own eye and said "kontakuto wa kakkoii desu ne..." ("your contacts are really cool").  Well, I don't know if it was because Karyu was surprised I spoke Japanese, or if my hand gesture bewildered him (Japanese people don't gesture much, so he might've thought I meant my own eyes, lol), or if he's just never heard that compliment before, or what but... the response I got was like "eh?" and a blank, blue-laser-beam stare right through the face. Yeah, I was fuckin' pinned. I pointed at my eye again and said "kontakuto wa... kakkoii..." ("your contact... it's cool..."). He nodded, but it was a "I'm still not sure what this crazy gaijin is going on about"-nod, lol. Oh well, whatever, lol.

Then I went up to Hizumi, who just looked like he needed sleep. I shook his hand and said "arigatou gozaimasu" ("thank you") and he smiled through his haze and nodded and thanked me back. Aaaaaw, I wanted to put him to bed. He looked like a puppy that's been playing with toys all day and needs a doggie-bed, lol.

After Hizumi was Tsukasa, who looked... well, you know Tsukasa, he looked stoically bored out of his mind, lol. Typical drummer. He seemed to do a double-take when I shook his hand. I wanted to be like "yeah, I'm foreign, get over it... I'm not the only foreigner in line..." I said "arigatou gozaimasu" and Tsukasa did his best attempt at saying "thank you" in English, which always sounds like "sankyuu." That's okay, I appreciate the effort, it's cute, lol. I let go of his hand and turned away and he said, in Japanese, "hope to see you soon!" - or something to that effect - as I turned away. I smiled over my shoulder at Tsukasa's surprising sweetness and shuffled out of the line and out the door so I could get as far away as possible from Zero's perving eyes, lol.

Yeeeeeah, that's my wonderful, crack-tastic D'espairsray story, lol. All I learned is: Zero's a pervert, Karyu's really dense around foreigners, Hizumi needs sleep, and Tsukasa hates meet-and-greets, lol.

Hope you enjoyed another one of my stupid adventures! See you all soon!

Oh! Also! I just bought tickets to see Plastic Tree in February!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DIR EN GREY AT THE NIPPON BUDOKAN, DAY 2, 1/10

Here it is at last! My report of the second day of Dir en grey live at the Nippon Budokan! I apologize that it took me so long to get this up... stupid school sucked all the meaning and soul out of my life as usual and left me both unable to type this up, and unable to even think about. But I am here at last, so here we go!

I arrived earlier to the Sunday show than I did Saturday, so I was able to take some pictures in daylight. The really cool thing about the Nippon Budokan is that it's actually on the Imperial Grounds, so you have to pass through these old, traditional gates to get inside. Here's one:


And another:


Sunday was significantly different from Saturday in almost every way (including the show). The first thing I noticed that had been absent on Saturday... scalpers. They were everywhere and they would actually follow you, yelling "Chiketto aru yo! Chiketto aru yo!" ("I've got a ticket! I've got a ticket!") until you managed to escape. I guess they were staking out the ticket-less stragglers who were desperate, since Sunday was the last available day to see Dir en grey.

I also took a picture of the entrance sign, this time in daylight:


Also, I just thought this was an interesting cultural note. I took a picture like this at D'espairsay's C.C. Lemon Hall concert, too. In Japan, it's customary that associated bands, sponsors, and friends send flowers to bands on the day of an important show. Then the band puts them on display. Click the picture to make it bigger!!! These were out Saturday, but I couldn't get a good shot in the darkness. As far as bands go, they have flowers from Janne Da Arc, Sugizo, D'erlanger, and my camera cut it off but there are also flowers from Versailles as well. But what I can't wrap my mind around is... Gack sent flower to Dir en grey?!!  Whaaat?!! I think my brain broke when I saw that, lol. I even heard people around me muttering "eh? Gackt? Uso..." ("Huh? Gackt? It can't be...")


As a point of interest, Teru from Versailles actually announced on his blog that he attended this concert. Of course, I'm sure none of us could figure out who he was without his make-up on... Anyways, Teru said he was overwhelmed by the power and sound of the performance, and that it inspired him greatly.

Anyways, the other thing I noticed that was significantly different from Saturday... cosplayers. Hordes of them. I don't know why they all showed up on Day 2 and not Day 1 but... there were tons, mostly in groups. And these were hardcore cosplayers, too... the kind that spends bazillions of dollars making their costumes and hours putting on their make-up. There was a Cage group, a Yokan group... and I even saw a guy doing Kyo from The Final with the pink contact lens and fake eyelashes and everything. But isn't the tour final about moving forward? I don't think Dir en grey appreciate being reminded that they used to wear dresses, lol. But, actually... the cosplay was not only VK. On Sunday (and, well... I saw this a bit on Saturday, too) there were plenty of people dressed like current Dir en grey. The most common thing is to see guys doing Kyo's hair, with the brunette hair overgrown on one side and cut short on the other. Also... track suits. Adidas track suits everywhere. Even the girls are doing it.

Anyways, I was hoofing it alone on Sunday. Saturday I went to the show with Sonia and Keiichi, and met up with Ashley. For Sunday, however, I knew no one in attendance. For the most part, this didn't bother me because I consider concerts a solo experience. Even when I attend with friends, I avoid saying much of anything or interacting with them. I prefer to just absorb the show and think and feel whatever it is that I feel. But I'll admit... I felt a little lonely at the beginning. I just walked around, skirting past scalpers and people selling fake, unofficial Dir en grey merchandise, and eventually decided I was hungry and went to a McDonald's nearby. I must admit... it was quite hilarious to be in a McDonald's in which 99% of the customers are Dir en grey fans. All around me were people in Dir en grey shirts and hoodies clutching posters and fixing their dyed hair while eating fries and McFlurries. I heard some businessmen behind me talking in rather bewildered voices and saying things like "Dir en grey... they must be famous, huh?"

Anyways, I returned to the Budokan at around 6:15 because doors would be opening soon. The mad rush to get inside was impressive. I didn't have an arena ticket this time, only a stupid balcony ticket. I joined the massive queue for the South Wing of the balcony, then watched in amazement as the gate opened and the fans rushed up the stairs. I just had to get a picture of it:


Anyways, my ticket sucked. I was in the middle, admittedly, so that was lucky, but I was aaaaall the way at the top of the balcony. I was excited to be able to actually see the show from the balcony but... immediately, I got a sense that the balcony meant being... out of the action. I also came to realize how dizzying it was up there. The seats had no backs and the seat in front of you was at ankle-level. It was like staring down into a sheer abyss. I was still feeling a little lonely, and it was just me and some guy next to me who was absorbed in texting. Oh well. I just waited around quietly for the seats around me to fill and for the show to start.

The scrim was pulled down, but I knew from watching DVDs of Dir en grey at the Budokan that this night would undoubtedly be different from the night before. And, as the lights extinguished and the crowd roared to its feet, I realized, oh yes... it was going to be completely different.

Sunday's setlist:

Ware, Yami Tote...
Deity
Obscure
Red Soil
Stuck Man
Doukoku to Sarinu
Shokubeni

- Kyo solo -

Toguro
Glass Skin
The Pledge
DOZING GREEN

- Kyo solo -
dead tree
Bugaboo
Reiketsu Nariseba
Gaika, Chinmoku Ga Nemuru Koro

Encore 1:

Hydra -666-
Agitated Screams of Maggots
Saku
Zan
Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami

Encore 2:

The Final
Inconvenient Ideal
Vinushka
Sa Bir (credits)

Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami - the music video

Now, let me just start off by saying this before I begin complaining about it later: I didn't like being in the balcony. I didn't like it at all. I felt utterly disconnected from the audience. It brought back intensely frustrating memories of seeing Dir en grey for the first time on the Family Value's tour and trying to rock out while the crowd around me stood passive, confused, or stoned. I hate the exposure of it. As the crowd leaped to its feet, I began cheering and shaking my fist. The young man beside me, however, stood passive, acting cool. The girls beside me nodded their heads but remained silent. The girls in front of me were, admittedly, rather insane. But, because of the seats, even their hair did not touch me when they headbanged. I felt exposed to the wind, and I felt myself shrinking back considerably. Relief came instantly, however, because Dir en grey opened with a song that did not allow for any movement from the audience.

In a massive contrast to Saturday's intense opening of Sa Bir into Vinushka, this show began with one of Dir en grey's slowest, prettiest songs: Ware, yami tote... As quickly as they had stormed to their feet, the audience went still and silent and watched. Dir en grey remained hidden behind the scrim, but their shadows were blown up to massive proportions so that their figures seemed to overtake the stage. The song was beautiful, and I was so grateful to be able to watch it properly this time, since at least half the song had been interrupted for me on Saturday when a young man fainted on me. Towards the end of the song, Dir en grey played with the lighting in such a way that their shadows seemed to replicate, and it was as if there were more than five band members playing on the stage. The scrim became crowded with their massive shadows, yet it seemed fitting to have so many musicians playing with the sheer magnitude of their music.

When Ware, yami tote ended, Dir en grey gave us one of the biggest shockers of the night. Instead of removing the scrim, the lights went dark and the scrim became somewhat green-tinted and covered in spiraling, splattered lights. The display seemed familiar, but it wasn't until the music began that it dawned on me (and the audience) what was happening. As if Dir en grey playing Rasetsukoku from Macabre wasn't enough on Saturday... they played Deity!!! When that strange music started (I've always thought it sounded like Buddhist monks trapped on a carnival ride played backwards), the audience went wild. The girls in front of me all looked at each other in shock and went "heeeeeeee?!" ("he" - pronounced like "heh" - is a Japanese sound of extreme surprise). Forgetting that I was exposed and embarrassed in the balcony, I jumped and clapped my hands with excitement. Mr. Cool next to me must have thought I was an idiot. Ah, maybe I am... I must explain that I am not someone who goes to a Dir en grey concert hoping for an "old song." I go hoping to see Dir en grey. When Dir en grey plays something like Deity, I grow excited because it's a chance to increase the Dir en grey songs I've experienced live, and not because it's something from the VK era. Deity was amazing. The music is so hard and grinding. The scrim dropped, revealing the band entirely. The crowd screamed wildly and began shaking their fists in time to the rapid guitar and drum-beat. Then Kyo began his eerie, drop-key rendition of Brahms Fifth in Russian. What I found interesting was that, after about two rounds of singing the chorus, Kyo - as per his usual trend lately - switched out the singing for deep, guttural growling. He continued the rest of the song like that. It was wonderfully fitting.

After Deity came Obscure. When the opening music began, I realized that Obscure had been strangely missing from Saturday's concert. Obscure is one of my favorite songs, but Dir en grey have been playing it as much as they used to play dead tree, meaning it has the potential for overplay. As such, it was a very good idea on the band's part to omit the song Saturday, causing huge excitement when it finally appeared Sunday. But now my balcony dilemma began. I wanted to headbang. I wanted to put my whole body into the experience. But I felt so out in the open. I peered down the steep drop into the pit and felt a pang of jealousy to see the arena fans stewing in a soup of ferocity without me. They were pushing and headbanging and shaking their heads and having a great time. Most of the balcony, actually, was behaving in a similar fashion. But for some reason, I was in a bad spot and those around me were not so enthusiastic. The guy next to me was too cool to even move. The girls on my other side were "selective headbangers" and would only start headbanging for an occasional song. It was frustrating because the people behind me were rocking out wonderfully. The girls in front of me... well, one of them must not have been feeling good because she kept sitting down and her friend would sit with her and rub her back. Their third friend however... she was part of what motivated to just say screw it and do what I wanted. She was incredible. Although she was a short, pudgy, glasses-wearing type, she would bend over double, grab the seat in front of her (which was ankle-level!) and headbang with such force that she would nearly topple. I tried to take a leaf out of her book and throw my whole body into Obscure, even if the people beside me remained passive. I didn't care if I looked silly to them!

After Obscure came Red Soil... amazing as always. Dir en grey's backdrop was the same emaciated, six-armed body from Saturday, but certain songs were now having different effects or background color changes. I can't remember specific details but... this was just something I noticed. I even remember that the body on the backdrop grew thinner as the show went on (this happened on Saturday as well). At one point, all its chest bones and collar bones jutted out in a sudden change of lighting, as if it had been starved for an entire song.

After Red Soil came Stuck Man, in which my balcony frustration began to reach its peak. The entire pit was jumping in unison to this wonderfully fun song, but people in the balcony, lacking that physical connection needed to get a whole crowd leaping, would just move their arm up and down in a mock imitation of jumping. I would have ignored them and jumped anyways but... I might have knocked over the motionless people beside me. It was during this song, however, that I came to realize the perils of my position in the balcony. I had noticed a few times that the drop of the balcony was making me feel a little dizzy because of its weird perspective. Looking forward and looking down seemed to be the same thing. While headbanging, the vertigo would grow worse. I decided to counter-balance that by just closing my eyes whenever I headbanged too fiercely. Unfortunately, the mixture of headbanging with the already-present psychological vertigo caused me to nearly faint during Stuck Man. As I was rocking out, the whole venue seemed to spiral out from under me and I stumbled backwards, completely unbalanced. I'll give Mr. Cool some credit... he flinched and moved his arm towards me in a way that told me if I had truly fallen over, he would've caught me. Luckily, the back of my calf hit my chair and this solid contact restored my perspective and my ability to balance. For the rest of the show, I kept at least one leg against the seat at all times to keep from getting vertigo again.

After Stuck Man was Doukoku to Sarinu, which was a rare moment in which I was truly appreciative of the balcony. I loved being able to just stand there and watch and admire the power of Dir en grey as they cranked out one of my favorite songs. I still do not understand why the crowd grows more passive during this song. A friend of mine has told me that she agrees with the Japanese audience, so I must be one of the few who feels aggression when I hear this song. I remember when I first got the Uroboros CD, if I was listening to it while doing homework, I would have to stop during Doukoku to Sarinu to pound a fist into my thigh or something. From the balcony, however, I could watch clearly as the band slammed along to the music. Shinya is truly a powerhouse on the drums.

Doukoku to Sarinu rolled into Shokubeni. The lights grew very dark and red for this song. One thing I particularly remember (if my unfortunate, failing memory is serving me well here) is that, during the part where the music goes silent and Kyo sings alone without the microphone, there was an incredible amount of desperation coming from him. In fact, Kyo lost any discernible rhythm with the song, to such an extent that I wondered how Shinya would know when to jump back in and restart the music. Kyo was singing the words as he always does, but sporadically and wildly, and at one point he seemed to bring the microphone back to his lips as if to re-amplify his anger... but the microphone was turned off...

It was only fitting, then, that Shokubeni should move directly into one of Kyo's solos. The solo was eerie as always, with tuneless piano music playing in the background. Kyo mumbled and whispered and omitted strange cries while a red light illuminated him from beneath his crate. The crowd watched silently. Kyo's solo moved so seamlessly into Toguro that it was almost hard to realize that the solo had ended and a song had begun. Toguro was as beautiful as Saturday's rendition, and Kaoru's guitar-playing struck me as particularly haunting. They played the video of the tattooed baby in the womb again.

After Toguro came Glass Skin. Here Kyo changed all the lyrics to the song. I remember my mind pausing and then doing a quick reboot when I realized all the words had changed. It was clear that Kyo was singing them off the top of his head. I tried desperately to remember what he said and to understand him but... I failed horribly. My conversational Japanese is quite good, but I still struggle with the complexity of translating lyrics. It frustrated me to think of what kind of meaningful experience the Japanese may have been having while understanding these new lyrics. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep up with them. The only line I expected to stay the same was the line "umaretekuru asu no te ha juunsui sono mama de... namida de kimi ga mou mienai" ("the hand of the child born tomorrow will be pure and remain so... I can no longer see you through my tears"). This was the only line that remained unchanged and simply translated in the English version of the song. However, at this live, Kyo began the line as if it was unchanged... and then changed it all anyways. I wish I knew what he sang about...

After Glass Skin was another surprise for the night: The Pledge. I hadn't heard this song in a terribly long time! I had forgotten how powerful this song is! The audience remained still and restrained for this song. Occasionally they would pump their fists or hold up their arm, but other than that they watched calmly or nodded their heads.

After the pledge was DOZING GREEN. Nothing particularly changed from the previous night, and I still admired how fast Die can play guitar. Ah, but I should note that the music video they played on the screen was nothing but millipedes. I know there were millipedes in the original music video, but this video focused on them completely. It was somewhat mesmerizing. There was slow-motion close-ups of the millipede's thousand legs rippling along... close-ups of millipedes on their backs or millipedes scampering along the ground. I'm not fond of millipedes but... I would dare to say the video made them look... somewhat elegant?

And here Kyo fell into another solo. This solo did not begin in the frantic, screaming manner of Saturday's second solo. It began so subtly that some of the crowd did not even realize it was a solo and continued to scream for a moment. My memory has grown terrible but... if I recall, Kyo was perched on his crate, uttering strange noises yet again... but this time, the noises were so few and far between that sometimes it was as if Kyo had forgotten to make sound at all. At one point, a deranged chuckle suddenly echoed eerily across the venue. There were times when Kyo simply breathed into the microphone and nothing else. It's so nice to be able to watch and admire this without people screaming ridiculous things during the solo like they do in America.

Kyo's solo slid seamlessly into dead tree, which had been brought back from Saturday. It was just as beautiful. Dead tree was followed by Bugaboo, in which I was utterly nauseated by the same video as Saturday with the convulsing, skinless torso.

After Bugaboo, Dir en grey rocked Reiketsu Nariseba. I tried to pay more attention to the flashing video this time, since the images are so funny. My personal favorite for Sunday: Jesus nailed to the cross... and then the cross shoots flames and blasts into the air like a rocket. Wow... I continued to headbang like crazy, and even the girls next to me started getting into it. The girl next to me stood with her feet shoulder-width apart, bent over, grabbed the seat behind her between her legs, and full-body headbanged. Truly impressive. I had to cool down though, because the vertigo was returning.

The "show" ended with Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro. I was, once more, amazed by how loud Toshiya's voice blasted through the speakers. And Kyo's voice was incredibly powerful. During the part at the end where the song seems to descend into Hell, Kyo let out these guttural grunts and growls that got the whole crowd rocking. The girls in front of me seemed to lose control and began para-para-style headbanging with the fist-pumping and the forward upper-body motions, as if they didn't know how else to get it all out of their system.

The show ended, but I knew we needed encore. The band left pretty quickly, and the roadies came out and "pretended" to take away the microphone stands. It's not like this fools us or anything!

Anyways, the band came back after a few minutes, and blasted right into Hydra -666-! I was sooooo excited to see this song again! What really excited me was that, unlike Saturday, Kyo was wearing the creepy, decaying mask! They also projected his image more clearly on the screen. On Saturday, the image seemed blurred and obscured by lights and strange patterns... but for Sunday, it was a very clear image of Kyo in real-time, wearing the mask. And the screen showed him for the whole song, not just the part where he throws his arms out. Also, they shot fire from the flamethrowers at the back of the stage during the "Six!... Six six!" part but... I got the feeling they used less fire for this show than they did for Saturday. It was less flashy but... I actually enjoyed it more. Kyo was wearing the mask and the band didn't really need the fire because... they just seemed on fire, somehow. It was more raw, and more powerful.

After Hydra -666- came Agitated Screams of Maggots. Now that was a fun little surprise that was missing from the Saturday concert! Oh, how I wish I could have joined the writhing masses in the pit... I just resigned myself to throwing my fist and screaming "I'll rape your daughter on your grave!" at the band. Kyo definitely jumped off the crate during this song and kicked his legs into the air. I wish the people around me had that much energy... During the sharp, guitar-riff sections, the whole crowd throws their fist and yells "HAI!" in time to the beat. It's really awesome. I think it may have been around this time that the giant screen at the top of the backdrop split into five segments and played real-time angles of each of the band members. They did this on Saturday during encore as well, but I forgot to mention it. It was great because you could watch each band member up close and all at once. You could see Kaoru's fingers on the guitar, or Shinya's face, or Die's arms up close and all at the same time!

After Agitated came another fantastic surprise - Saku! Now I hadn't heard that in a long time! It felt really nostalgic. What surprised me was that the entire crowd yelled "Dick men! Fuck off, fuck off, and wipe!" with Kyo. I honestly didn't expect that. Also, the lights roared bright during the chorus and Kyo stood on his crate, bathed in light, singing beautifully. Die held up his guitar and threw his head back, shaking out his incredible hair. Everyone held up their arm and bobbed it in time to the beat. I wound up shaking my head around because I just felt so into it. I felt a bit like a fan island in a calm sea. Oh well, at least the row behind me and the people below me seemed to be having a blast.

Just when things were getting too awesome to bear, up came Zan! I've already gushed about how amazing the new version of Zan is live, so I won't bore with repeated details, but it was just as amazing Sunday as it was the last few times I saw it. From my new perspective, I was able to watch the pits below me pummel themselves to death. Some people in the balcony actually were jumping and yelling "psycho!" though. It was the first time we got the balcony to jump.

The first encore ended with Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami (that title.... argh). Kyo was really encouraging the crowd to sing with him. At first, he just did the chorus as normal, and what made me chuckle a bit was that the crowd didn't sing the chorus, but they did do the waaaaaaAAAAAAH note with him. I guess Kyo wasn't satisfied with that, though, because he kept skipping words and holding out his microphone to us to make us sing. The crowd was more than happy to fill in for him, though. This song is really powerful live. I love watching Shinya glide flawlessly through all the transitions this song takes.

And here Dir en grey left us again. Fans didn't even hesitate to start yelling "an-ko-re!" this time. The roadies didn't feel up to tricking us again, so they just sort of shuffled around some equipment, fumbled with some wires, and left. Yeah, you're not gonna fool us, silly roadies.

Anyways, Dir en grey came back a few minutes later and really stunned the crowd with their first song: The Final. Now, I know The Final is absolutely one of the number one fan favorites in the West, but I had always heard that Japanese fans don't go as insane over it as the West does. I'd always heard the intense love of The Final was a Western thing. Um, not true. The girls around me were gasping and turning to each other in shock and clapping their hands with joy. The Japanese were as shocked and excited for The Final as they were for Deity. Anyways, this song is just... beyond words at a Japanese concert. Everyone stood so silent and still for the beginning of the song. Then, when Kyo drove into the chorus singing "te no naka ni wa aisuru beki hito sae mo hanabanashiku chitte" ("even loved ones scatter like flower petals from my hand") everyone held out their hands as if in response to the words. What really awed me was towards the end... Kyo did not once sing the words "I can't live." Instead, he just screamed "SO!" into the microphone, then held it out for the entire crowd to sing "I can't live, so I can't live" in his stead. It was a little frightening watching all the Japanese people around me holding out their arms, glassy-eyed, singing these words as if there was no greater truth in their lives. When the song ended, Kyo just very slowly, almost as if whimpering, murmured "raisui no tsubomi... sakaseyou" ("let's bloom flowers of attempted suicide"). He held the note in sakaseyou as sakaaaaaaseyou and held the "a" until he was literally out of breath. Then he loudly swiped the microphone through his hand as if cutting himself, stepped off his crate, and the song was over.

The incredible power never dissipated, as Dir en grey moved right into Inconvenient Ideal. As the supposed "soul" of Uroboros, it was a truly fitting way to start closing down the show. I always feel overcome by the incredible emotions of this song. Kyo sings it deep down from the heart, one hand always near or on his chest. I don't even know what else to say except that... it's beautiful...

When Inconvenient Ideal ended, I was surprised to hear the opening notes of... Vinushka. And Kyo never yelled "last song!" like he usually does. Instead, he just murmured "saigou desu..." ("this is the last one...") almost warningly into the microphone. I felt a little chilled and wondered what it meant. It was so strange to end with Vinushka. Vinushka is the first song after Sa Bir's intro on Uroboros and... it was the first song they played on Saturday. I just stood there quietly and watched and wondered. Much to my great relief, Dir en grey did not play any World War II or Hiroshima videos during this song. It was amazing as always, and, again... without the video it just seemed rawer and purer than before. Toshiya threw his whole body into it... so did Die... Kaoru just looked as cool and in control as ever. Shinya was a monster on the drums. Kyo sang and screamed and allowed his whole being to fill the arena.

Then it was over. Everyone started applauding and cheering like mad. Much to my surprise, Dir en grey just left. Well, except Kyo. The rest of the band left without a word, without throwing any picks, without throwing any drumsticks, and Kyo just stood on his crate, one arm held up, head thrown back, until every last member was gone. Then he leaped down and wordlessly followed his band mates away.

The entire backdrop changed to a gigantic display of the flaming word "UROBOROS" with the subtitle "-with the proof in the name of the living-". And, much to my continued shock, the sound system began booming with Sa Bir... the intro to Uroboros. The giant screen above the backdrop began to roll credits listing all 97 concerts Dir en grey did this year (wow... hard to believe that's even less than last year). The audience continue to applaud and cheer wildly. So did I, of course. As the credits rolled, I came to realize the significance of what they'd done. Saturday began with Sa Bir and went into Vinushka. Sunday ended with Vinushka followed by Sa Bir and the rolling of credits. This was a clear indication that... Uroboros was ending. The uroboros is a snake in a full circle, biting its tail... and the world of Uroboros had come full circle. The message was clear: this era was ending... and Dir en grey was moving on, just like they always do. I felt a pang of sadness to realize this, since I love Uroboros so much. Of course, I'm excited to see where Dir en grey go from here, so it's more of a bittersweet feeling. But now Vinushka, a song I'd always associated with something "beginning" now feels like something "ending." I'll confess... I haven't been able to listen to that song since the concert, because the bittersweet melancholy returns. The message was quite clear that Dir en grey had rounded the circle... and were moving on.

When the credits ceased, the house lights didn't go up. In response, the crowd began roaring "an-ko-re!" again. I couldn't help but snort. Did they really think Dir en grey would do an encore after all that? After rolling credits? However, much to my shock, the massive screen above the backdrop suddenly lowered. The whole crowd let out a surprised cry. Then, as if to truly prove that Uroboros was done and something new was beginning... Dir en grey began to play the new, unreleased music video for Hageshisa to kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetu no yami. The whole crowd, upon realizing what this was, let out a mutual "eeeeh?!" of shock and surprise. I began clapping happily, I was so excited!

The crowd got really into it! Everyone was standing for the music video, and everyone began singing along as loudly as possible to the entire song, and people were headbanging and fist-pumping, even though it was just a music video! People rocked out as if the band was there and sang as loud as they could in Kyo's stead. I, and probably everyone else there, had already seen the first two minutes of the music video, so I was able to just sit back and enjoy it and sing along. The only thing that worried me was the close-ups of the bugs. In this music video, Dir en grey have insects being born inside them and actually chewing their way out of their skin. I have no problem with the scenes in which Die's forearm, or Kaoru's upper arm, or Shinya's back are covered in larvae and rot and stuff but... when the beetles start hatching and swarming their arms, I really feel nauseous. I don't know why. I'm not afraid of bugs but... the special effects in the video really nauseate me. Almost too realistic. Well, anyways, the first two minutes went fine and I thought nothing of it. Dir en grey's music videos have been really passive lately, so I highly doubted that it would progress beyond Dir en grey being covered in beetles. But... the video kind of goes insane after the part that's been previewed. I won't go into detail because I think it'll ruin the great shock value that the video has, but... I felt really sick watching it. As different things became revealed, the entire crowd would gasp or scream in horror. Seriously... The girls in front of me kept grabbing each other in horror and the whole crowd would cry out in shock at certain parts. I, on the other hand, felt faint. I was sure I was going to throw up. I think my reaction is not typical, though. Please don't expect to feel the way I did! I'm very squeamish about particular things and... the second half of the video nailed it. I really couldn't take it. The video is just... gross. So gross. Obscure never grossed me out. But this does. I really hope they release the whole thing soon, so everyone can just get it out of their systems and stop waiting!

Anyways, I felt too sick to move after the video. As the house lights went up and everyone began packing up their stuff, I just grabbed my things, stumbled past Mr. Cool, and got as far away as possible. Not a normal reaction - please don't expect to feel that way after the music video! It just horrified me with specific things that horrify me and... when something hits me where I'm squeamish, I just get ill. I can't help it. I didn't even try to find any of my friends or people that I knew... I just stumbled away, got on the train, and went home.

But you know what... it was still the best ending to a concert ever. I don't care if it made me sick... it was amazing to be at a first-hand screening of a new music video on a giant screen with thousands of people singing along. It was incredible. It was the start of a whole new direction... and a whole new level of grotesque.

Bravo, Dir en grey. That's all I have to say. Bravo.

Anyways, that's my blog update on Dir en grey's final concert of Uroboros at the Nippon Budokan! Sorry that it's such shit... since school robbed me of my memory. I hope it's readable nonetheless!

See you all on my next grand adventure!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

DIR EN GREY AT THE NIPPON BUDOKAN 1/9 + After-show Party

I literally just got back from Dir en grey's first night at the Nippon Budokan! You are getting a first-hand live report mere hours after it happened! Whoohoo! Let's go!

So a bit of history before we dive into this craziness. The Nippon Budokan is the first thing that comes to mind when most Westerners think of large scale rock concerts. When big-name bands play in Japan, they're almost guaranteed to go the Budokan and then make some DVD called "So-and-So Live at the Budokan." The Beatles even made their Japan debut at the Budokan. Anyways, when a band first starts to get popular, their goal is to "make it to the Budokan." If a Japanese band gets to the Budokan, it's safe to say that have a damn solid fan-base.

Well, Dir en grey have gone to the Budokan many times now, which is funny because so many people in Japan have never even heard of them. Satoshi had never heard of them, and when I said I was seeing them twice at the Budokan, he was like "oh... they must be pretty famous then..." Yyyyyeah.

The venue holds up to 15,000 people, and seeing Dir en grey at the Budokan is pretty much the ultimate for a fan. When Dir en grey play at the Budokan, they put every ounce of perfection into the show. They take a normal concert and turn it into a production. And it is always filmed for DVD. As such, getting tickets is nigh impossible. When Dir en grey played at the Budokan a few years ago, tickets for both nights sold out in 45 minutes - something which blew the minds of every magazine and radio station in the country. Of course, Dir en grey pretended to be unimpressed. Well, this year, it was expected to be worse. And, sure enough, tickets sold out in fifteen minutes. The only way to go was to either enter the ticket lottery and pray you got at least one night (this is how my friends all did it) or do it my way, which is to stake out a Loppi machine at 10 AM and then slam all the buttons as fast as possible. Now, when Sonia and Keiichi and I did this, we got tickets for Saturday, but I begged them to help me get me one for Sunday. And the machine was already sold out, within that few minutes. But Keiichi is awesome and amazing and made some rush phone calls for me and got me a Sunday ticket too! That's how big of a deal this show is!

The show was such a big deal, Kyo even blogged about it! Usually, Kyo is the only member of Dir en grey who doesn't get involved online at all. But he left a message online with a picture of his mic-stand and a message that translated:

"Nippon Budoukan, become united and give me your dirtiest voices. I will also return that amount. That is all." (translation credit goes to my lovely friend Risu at Orchestrated Chaos).

Anyways, I planned to meet Sonia at our station at 4:00 PM, because, although it was a Saturday, I was coming back from school. My cinema teacher was offering a special screening for extra credit of a film called "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan." Does anyone remember me talking about the Yotsuya Kaidan in a previous post? The Yotsuya ghost story? That's the story about the woman who gets poisoned by her evil husband and half her face sags, and her ghost comes back to torture him. Well, what a coincidence that our teacher was showing the 1959 film adaption of the Yotsuya Kaidan right after I did a project about it! And it was only fitting to see a horror film before seeing Dir en grey! Movie was fantastic, by the way!

Anyways, I met up with Sonia at 4:00, but we were a little worried about getting merchandise because doors opened at 6:00. Sure enough, by the time we got to the Budokan around 5:00 (you have to go through these massive, Japanese-style gates to get in there) the line was snaking back and forth around the entire lot and things were already sold out. I actually didn't want any merchandise, but I waited in line with Sonia anyways, and she managed to get her merch literally within minutes of doors opening (yeah, it took an hour to get through the line).

At the front of the venue was a big sign for Dir en grey:

Yeah, check out the crowds. We played Follow the Goths to get to the venue, lol. And this wasn't even the venue entrance, lol!

Anyways, it took a damn hour to get us inside. And it was cooooold. They had this bizarre entrance system with different blocks and sections and numbers all being led to different places. Horribly confusing. Now, my ticket said I was D Block #193, and that sounded like a terrible spot. As it turned out, however... I had an arena ticket. The Budokan has an arena that is all standing, then second floor seated balcony... and third floor standing balcony. Well, an arena ticket means you're right in the center, in the pit! You can't do much better than an arena ticket! And D block didn't mean far in the back. A, B, and C were the first half of the arena, D, E, and F were the back half of the arena, so D just meant all the way on the left, not actually being really far back.

Immediately, I was in awe of the scope of this whole thing. Not just the number of people, but the stage was huge and a massive scrim was pulled down over it. Also, the cameras. I know Dir en grey turn Budokan concerts into DVDs, but wow... they had massive, dinosaur-sized cranes with cameras attached to them, swooping over the crowd. There were camera in the balconies, camera on poles, people with hand-held cameras filming up and down the blocks... This event really was huge. Here's a picture I found online from the concert, taken from the balcony. This is an incredible picture. Click to make it larger!


As the venue filled up, I looked behind me into the balcony and noticed these older people walking in. They all had special IDs attached to their shirts and they were heading towards these red seats that were second balcony, front-row, dead center. Then I recognized one of the older men from a picture I'd seen and I suddenly started laughing. It was the band's parents! I recognized Toshiya's dad for sure (he looks kinda fat now, though... he looks thin in the picture I've seen). There were several men and women in their sixties, and some younger people that must've been siblings. A girl I talked to later said that for sure Toshiya's brother and sister were there... and Toshiya's sister was dancing to some of the songs, lol! And one of the old couples... I really think it was Die's parents. But it was just really funny to see their parents up in the balcony, lol. They must be so proud of their crazy boys!

Then the lights go down... bizarre music bursts through the speakers, and the show begins!

Now, such is the glory of the internet that I can give you the entire set-list in order within hours of the show ending! Damn, Dir en grey fans are fast! Here ya go:

Sa Bir

Vinushka
Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro
Red Soil

Stuck Man
Grief
Doukoku to Sarinu
Merciless Cult

-Kyo solo-

Ryoujoku no Ame
Toguro
Glass Skin
Ware, yami tote...
dead tree

-Kyo solo-

Hydra-666-
Bugaboo
Reiketsu Nariseba
DOZING GREEN

~encore1~
Inconvenient Ideal
Conceived Sorrow

~encore2~
Zan (new version)
Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami
THE IIID EMPIRE
Rasetsukoku
CLEVER SLEAZOID

Can I open my report of this show with a quote from "The Life of Pi"? It's one of my favorite books.

"...the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him [in death]... and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story."

As Sa Bir began playing, the large scrim in front of the stage became like a movie screen and the crowd watched in awe as the image panned over a room of white candles. It was at this point that I started to notice the dilemma of Dir en grey now having a 50% male audience... 50% of the crowd was taller than me. Even in my platform boots, most of the guys were blocking my view. But I shrugged it off and just enjoyed the eerie, candle-lit room on the screen. Japanese audiences fascinate me, though. During the part in Sa Bir where Kyo suddenly lets out that distant wail, the crowd started screaming in response. Japanese fans are just... so spot on with these shows. Then, when Sa Bir ended, there was a flash and all the candles turned red!

Then, through the frantic screaming of the crowd, Kyo's voice broke across the arena... Vinushka! I couldn't believe they were starting with Vinushka! The image of the candles vanished, and Dir en grey, hidden behind the scrim, had their shadows projected to massive proportions across it. I'd seen them do this trick before on DVDs, but this time they added a little more to it. They began to play images across the scrim, so that the band's shadows moved through a different world projected onto the screen. Above the scrim, there was a whole different projection, in which the full Vinushka music video was playing. But it was a full video, with the band members removed, and... no censorship. My friends who have seen that video are probably thinking "oh god... no censorship? Yeesh." Yeah, yeesh is the only way to describe it. As this ten minute song played, the video screen played real, uncut footage of the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. I tried to look away from the screen but... I couldn't. I couldn't look away, damnit! I won't describe it here. No one needs those images in their mind. But, as if to add insult to injury, during the part of the song where the drums cut out and Kyo just sings the word "vinushka" along to the guitars, the screen began cutting between images of the bomb dropping through the air with images of Americans cheering their victory and soldiers and nurses kissing in the streets. Then they would splice images of Americans cheering with images of... well, you can imagine. More dead children than I ever wanted to see. So... yeah, for most of Vinushka I stood there feeling like an asshole. I don't blame the band - they make an incredible point with the way they portrayed it but... I still felt like scum.

They dropped the scrim completely at the end of Vinushka, revealing the band in its entirety! Not that I could see shit behind all the tall guys in front of me. They went right into Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro, which was an interesting transition. During this song I came to realize the sheer power of this venue. The sound system is out of this world. The venue is huge, and requires equipment that can actually spread that sound to massive proportions. As such, the music was louder than I've ever heard, but without losing its quality. The bass petals throbbed inside you and the guitars screeched across the entire audience. Absolutely incredible! Also, the backdrop of the show was revealed during this song. It was actually a three-section backdrop, so that it encompassed the whole back of the stage in a sort of semi-circle of screens. The image was quite bizarre. It was an emaciated torso with six horribly skinny arms stretched out across the entire back of the stage. Its hands were bent in positions as if it was a Buddhist statue. Behind this emaciated, faceless body were crows caught frozen in flight. Extremely eerie. And during this song, when Toshiya would yell with Kyo, it was just amazing. Sometimes its hard to hear the string section yelling because their mics aren't turned up much, but... not at this show! When Toshiya screamed, the whole venue shook with it!

After Gaika came Red Soil. I just never get sick of that song. I could see it live a hundred times and never get sick of it. At this point, I was figuring out how to latch onto people in front of me to see better. I could see the stage fairly well between heads. Kyo was wearing a red jacket, I noticed. Also, yes, Toshiya was wearing a skirt and leggings, lol. So cute! Kaoru and Die looked like their usual. I couldn't see what the hell Shinya was wearing behind that montser drum-set, lol! But his hair looked curly!

This crowd was different from the fan-club only concert. I would say... the best way to describe this difference lies in the band. The atmosphere they created had changed. At the fan-club only concert, Dir en grey put up no theatrics, limited lighting, and only played hard songs. The intent was to make the crowd as ferocious as possible until they beat each other to death. This show was different. The aim was power. The goal was to get the whole crowd throwing their fists together. Of course, the crowd wasn't any less fierce. That wouldn't explain it. But you didn't have to fear for your life here, just your head. No one was falling or fearing being trampled, but you still knew that one wrong move with the crowd could mean a concussion. Fans were still clinging onto each other and pushing each other, but they pushed to make you move with them, not to shove the audience further up. It was a different crowd... but still a fantastic one!

The band took a break after Red Soil and mopped up some sweat and drank some water. At this point, the crowd becomes so incredibly frantic. People around me were screaming like their life depended on it. These people don't scream like at most concerts where fans just go "DIR EN GREY! KYO! WHOO!!!" These people are desperate. The guys especially! When they scream, they're like "Kyoooooooo!!! Kyoooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Shinyaaaaaaa!" etc. This girl in front of me would start having some kind of seizure every time she screamed for the band. She would throw her head back and start shaking. I thought she might collapse on me!

The band returned and rocked right into Stuck Man! Ugh, the sound system......... just too perfect. And the lighting was so crazy. The entire venue had lights everywhere, and the lights swooped over all the balconies, over the audience, over the stage. I remember they had these lights during Stuck Man that were actually spinning, lol. And of course Kyo, with his unbelievable stage presence, got at least 10,000 people screaming "BLOOD-STAINED CARNIVAL!" in unison. And everyone jumps up and down together and has a blast. Now, just when I was thinking "well, at least this crowd isn't out to kill me like the last one"........ we went into Grief.

Hoo boy.

Things actually got really fierce here, and I got separated from Sonia and Keiichi in the shoving. Toshiya was roaming around the stage, twirling his finger and riling up the audience. Everyone in unison was screaming "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you fuck you fuck you!!!" And man... when Kyo did those little girl screams that he does during Grief... you never heard such a shriek come out of him before. His voice had sounded rough and sickly at the fan-club only concert but here... he was crystal-clear and spot on for most of the show. The crowd was shoving really bad here. They would intentionally push your upper-body with their arms and force you to head-bang, which I found strange, but... kind of fun, actually. So as to not lose my footing, I wound up clinging to the shoulders of the guy in front of me... who was soaked to the bone with sweat. Oh well, he was cute, I let it go, lol. Actually, the guy next to me was way... wetter. His hair was actually dripping onto me. Oh well, it's a concert, you have to expect these things. Just when my feet were starting to hurt from being stepped on, things calmed down suddenly with Doukoku to Sarinu.

This is still one of my all-time favorite songs and... I am still unsure why the audience actually calms down for this song. On the Uroboros CD it seems like one of the fiercer songs but... the Japanese audience doesn't see it that way, and everyone tends to stop the shoving and cool off for a moment. It's kind of nice, though, because everyone just nods their heads and listens to Kyo sing and allow his voice take over the stage. And I could find windows between heads with which to see. Oh, Die's hair... it is so magical. I can't believe how long his hair has gotten! And I could watch Shinya pummel the crap out of the drums.

Doukoku to Sarinu went into Merciless Cult. An oldie-but-goodie. Nothing new there except for mass, concert-wide headbanging from the crowd. And Die. Man, he really is the master head-banger. He goes full-body when he head-bangs. I like how the crowd yells every time Toshiya and Kaoru scream "GASP!" The boys scream "GASP!" and the crowd just goes "UGH!" with them.

Merciless Cult drifted eerily into one of Kyo's solos. At the end of Merciless Cult, the background image of the emaciated man was suddenly revealed to be a projected image! All the crows frozen in flight behind him suddenly came to life and fluttered away! It was such a cool effect! During this solo, the stage went red and Kyo stood on his crate in a trance, murmuring and mumbling. The microphone was set so that every sound he made echoed for at least thirty-seconds, until everything became a confusing jumble and it was impossible to know where one word began and another ended. Through this chaotic chanting, a few words broke through. Kyo very clearly murmured "kenka" which is "fighting" and "zankoku" which is like... "cruelty" or "atrocity." He also muttered "sodatsu" which is "to grow up" or "to raise."

From there, the band went into Ryoujoku no Ame. Another oldie-but-goodie. I love that song live. I wonder if it happened around there, but... at one point, the emaciated torso on the backdrop began drawing all six of its arms inwards, until its fingertips were almost touching, so that it looked like it was trying to encircle the band. It was soooo creepy! The arms moved so slowly it took at least half the song for it to form a circle with its arms.

Ryoujoku no Ame was followed by Toguro. During Toguro, the movie screen above the stage was playing very creepy footage of a baby in the womb, and the baby was covered in odd tattoos. Most Dir en grey fans have probably noticed by now that Kyo has some kind of baby-complex. Most of his lyrics mention babies, and their music videos make a lot of references to them too. Historically, the first Dir en grey song to receive lyrical controversy was Mazohyst of Decadence, in which Kyo sings from the perspective of a fetus as its being aborted. I have theories on why Kyo has a complex, but I won't mention them here. Toguro is such a beautiful song. When Kyo started singing wordlessly, the whole audience held up their arms in response.

Toguro drifted flawlessly into Glass Skin. Everyone stands perfectly still during Glass Skin and doesn't move. We just watch as the band plays this unbelievably beautiful song. What was really cool, however, was the screen above the stage played a sort of... continuation of the Glass Skin music video, while the backdrop played the strange world of Glass Skin in a way that made it seem like the band and the stage was trapped in the realm of crumbling Buddha statues. Rubble fell down the backdrop during the entire song and vines drifted about the stage. The music video actually came to show the Buddha statue entirely, which was interesting because the real music video doesn't. And the statue had six arms! And the arms were holding daggers! Also, once it was complete, the statue had only one eye with a pupil, and its tongue was hanging out and flapping. And the skulls shown at the end of the music video are actually a necklace! The Buddha statue has a necklace of skulls! So very strange... You can watch the music video here to see what I'm talking about... It's one of the most beautiful music videos I know of:




I became upset during Glass Skin, but I don't know why. I guess the lyrics have always made me sad, but I felt extra sad watching Dir en grey playing as the rubble of the statue fell around them. I didn't actually cry but... I could have at any moment.

So as not to break the slow-song mood, Dir en grey ended Glass Skin and went into Ware, Yami Tote. I was excited because I have never seen that song live before. That song is so incredibly beautiful. The first time I heard the song, I thought the song was actually very strange. Shinya and Toshiya seem to be playing this bouncy rhythm that seems almost out of place at first, meanwhile Kaoru is playing this guitar that sounds like... like its twinkling or something. But it really is a beautiful song and it was very powerful live. The twinkling filled the whole venue, and the beat of the song reverberated in your ribcage. During a song like this, everyone stands perfectly still and unmoving. However, halfway through the song, someone's hands clamped down on my shoulders. I realized in a moment of horror that, whoever had grabbed me, they were pulling me backwards! In panic and confusion, I flailed and wrenched myself free before I fell down. I whipped around to see who the hell had just tried to drag me down during Ware, Yami Tote, only to see that the guy behind me was... on the floor. He had completely passed out! I clapped a hand over my mouth and stood there, unsure of what to do. Others were watching worriedly as his friends lifted him up and tried putting him back on his feet. He wasn't waking up, though, and some of the fans towards the back were waving their arms to get the attention of security. After standing him back up and shaking him for a moment, the guy woke up and looked around in confusion. Then, as quickly as he'd awakened... he crumpled right back down again and his friends had to catch him. At this point there was no sense keeping him in the crowd, so his friends held him up while other fans waved frantically for security. Security managed to shove through the crowd and they dragged the poor kid's dead weight out of the audience. My best guess is he either overheated and had a heat stroke, or standing too long caused him to cut off circulation at the knees. I've had both happen to me, lol. I'm sure he'll be fine but man... he was out. The crowd seemed very shaken, though, and everyone stopped huddling and kept a lot of space for the rest of the song. Everyone was trying to get back into Ware, Yami Tote, but everyone looked rather ashen and perturbed instead.

The effect wore off by the next song because the next song was... dead tree! As soon as that dissident, other-wordly guitar started playing, it dawned on me how long it had been since I'd heard dead tree live. A couple years, maybe? That song used to be a staple of Dir en grey concerts, but then it became overplayed and everyone, band included, grew sick of it. To hear it start up again was both surprising and pleasing. The audience, who had probably grown sick of the song in the past, looked around excitedly murming "dead tree! dead tree!" The crowd got really into the middle section where everyone yells "NO ONE WANTS THE PRESENT!!!" People were nearly toppling each other as they yelled it. When the song ended, Kyo suddenly started stomping on his crate and screaming out of control. The lights went out and he continued shrieking, bent double on the crate. For a moment I thought they were going to play Agitated Screams of Maggots -unplugged- which they hadn't done in awhile, but after a moment Kyo fell to his knees on the crate and began mumbling again. Another Kyo solo. During this one, Kyo would tap and scrape the microphone to make creepy noises with his chanting.

After his solo came the highlight of the whole damn night. Hydra -666-. The first time I saw that song live, I knew I needed to see it again. I've seen it live four times now but... this was truly the topper. First of all, here's a video of Hydra -666- live, even though it was performed differently, just to prove how awesome this song is. This is my #1 Dir en grey video recommendation:




Now, I don't think Kyo wore the mask, which kind of disappointed me because I've always wanted to see him do the freaky, decaying Noh mask routine. But they blew this performance away anyways. When the calm part ended and the crazy, jumping and growling part started, about twenty vertical flame-throwers at the back of the stage suddenly shot fire into the air. And they continued to shoot flames throughout the growling chorus. As if that wasn't awesome enough, every time the string section and the crowd screamed "SIX!.... SIX! SIX!" the flame-throwers would blast fire in time to the six six six. And the screen above the stage did project the image of Kyo with his arms held out, just like in the video I posted. Now that I'd always wanted to see! It was incredible! Fire! I've never been to a concert with fire before! The whole venue was lit up with heat and light from the intensity of the flame-throwers! Aaaagh, it was awesome!!!

After Hydra -666- was Bugaboo, which is one of my favorite songs off Uroboros. Its so eerie and Oriental sounding. But I just have to say this, especially as it is in preparation for some issues I had with the concert the following day. I am squeamish about certain things. I just am. I'm very weird about my squeamishness. A man being stabbed repeatedly in the chest won't faze me at all, but a man having his bones broken will make me shriek. Vomit doesn't gross me out, but eyeballs do. I'm very particular. Well, I really have an issue with internal... stuff. And... well, I've seen this video on Dir en grey's past DVDs, but this was my first time seeing it live. Honestly, the video they play during Bugaboo makes me sick. I don't know how to describe it. There's a rotating mandala-like symbole, and in the center of the image is... a skinless torso. It's propped up on its spine, and it has no arms or head, and its just ribs and tissue... and its wiggling and convulsing for the whole video. And, at one point, the camera goes inside the torso and takes a tour of all its wiggling. I'm sorry, but I really cannot watch that. I was feeling seriously nauseated. I tried not to watch and just admire Dir en grey's awesomeness but... it's hard to look away from that which repulses you.

Bugaboo was followed by Reiketsu Nariseba, and Dir en grey graced us with the ridiculous, nonsensical videos that go with it. The audience was pummeling me head to foot, but I tried really hard to watch the screens because they're so funny. My personal favorite flipping and rotating video was an image of Jesus on the cover of Times magazine, and then it flashes to a GORILLA. Hahaha. Oh, Dir en grey... you're so silly. There were dancing Buddhas... porn stars in wheelbarrows... all sorts of things!

After Reiketsu Nariseba was DOZING GREEN, which was as amazing as always. Die's hair continued to be magical. And here they ended, though we all knew they'd be back for encore. Dir en grey brushed off the stage without even a second look at us.

The crowd began doing staggered shouts of "an-ko-re!" ("encore!") and people were clapping in time to it. After several minutes of people screaming "an-ko-re!" or just shrieking in an epileptic fit in general, the whole audience suddenly got on the same page and you had about 10,000 people all clapping together screaming ankore over and over. To which the venue went black and the band finally returned amidst fanatic, delirious screaming.

They returned to give us Inconvenient Ideal, which really made me happy. When I saw the fan-club only concert in Shinkiba, I remember thinking something was missing. When I thought about it later, I realized they hadn't played Inconvenient Ideal! Which is strange because Kaoru claims that song is like the "soul" of the Uroboros CD. This was my first time hearing it live. It's just sooooo beautiful. And I love how Kyo's voice seems to grow louder and louder and stronger and stronger as the song goes on, and everyone just watches quietly as the music rises. I just love the lyrics of this song. The build-up at the end translates:

"It disappears without even being able to let out a word.
Was it freedom that we won?
Feeling the body temperature of my dream, I pray.
Everything gets twisted
Deep into the red darkness
This life I hold high and proud..."

When the dramatic buildup was over, Dir en grey went into another slow song I hadn't heard in a really long time: Conceived Sorrow. One of my favorites. I remember that song was what got me excited for their Marrow of a Bone CD because the first fifteen seconds of it was the sample for the CD and it was so... haunting. Conceived Sorrow still chills me to the bone every time I hear it. The whole crowd raised their arms in salute to the chorus.

And, as quickly as Dir en grey returned, they were gone again! Now, Kyo didn't say "last song" so I knew we were heading for another encore. Things happened much as they did before, with fans cheering and screaming, and then... minutes later the whole crowd somehow got on the same page. To appease our desperate shouting, the band returned...

And opened with mother-fucking ZAN. The new version of Zan. Seriously, anyone who's hating on the new Zan... just wait till you see that shit live. That song is just... it is the perfect mosh-pit song. I mean, yes, the original Zan was also a fantastic mosh-song but... the original is more frantic. The new one is made for beating the shit out of someone. And beat the shit out of each other we did. I definitely moved farther away from Sonia and Keiichi at this point, since it was easier to just go with the flow of the pushing than to fight it. The song leaps from one manic, brain-bashing piece of metal to another with little in the way of transition. And I still can't get over the way the audience does the growling with Kyo. It's like "oooooooooooooh... UGH!" And then more head-banging. Hopefully the DVD will do this justice so people will know what I mean.

Zan slammed right into the new single, Hageshisa to, kono mune no nake de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami (damn that title... Jesus...). We'll call it Hageshisa from here on out, lol. That song is just perfect in so many ways. What was interestingly different about this crowd than the fan-club only crowd was that the audience didn't sing the whole chorus but... they did do the flying high-note! Honestly, I kind of giggled when it happened. Kyo was like "hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de - " and the whole crowd went "waaaaaaAAAAAAAAGH!!!" Ya know what, I keep mentioning this high note and some people probably don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. Here, watch this 15 second sample of the new music video to hear the Awesome Flying High Note:




Yeah, the whole crowd likes to do it, lol.

Anyways, Hageshisa ended and then came a moment of ecstasy for me: The IIID Empire. Oh my GOD. Okay, truth be told, I've seen that song live... four times now? In America, I think three or four times... But I have always wanted to see it done in Japan. I have always heard that only a Japanese crowd knows how to truly rock The IIID Empire. And boy were they right. Holy CRAP. The entire crowd jumps up and down in unison non-stop for this song. I didn't even have to jump because the combined forces of all the bodies around me lifted me up and down with them. During each verse, the whole crowd screams "kokka hanei kokka hanei kokka!" together without any prompting. What I really love is, during the instrumental parts, Kyo starts shrieking "Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!" to get us jumping (as if we need prompting) and the crowd, while jumping, actually yells "Jump! Jump! Jump!" with him! It was both hilarious and exhilarating! We were all stirred up into such a frenzy. If you would like to see the true power of Dir en grey, watch this performance of The IIID Empire from a few months ago. It is everything I talked about. This video is perfect:



Just when I thought things couldn't be amazing enough... Dir en grey officially blew my entire mind by playing... Rasetsukoku. RASETSU-MOTHER-FUCKING-KOKU!!! This is the first time after seeing Dir en grey six times... this is the first time I have ever heard them play a song from before their Vulgar CD!!! Dir en grey have, at this point in their careers, released seven full-length CDs and two mini-CDs. Visual-kei era was their Gauze CD, Macabre CD, and Kisou CD. After that came Vulgar, and Dir en grey abandoned almost everything they had done before Vulgar. Those songs almost ceased to exist at concerts, so being able to hear a pre-Vulgar song was so amazing! Rasetsukoku is from their Macabre CD from 2000! They did that thing where they bash-up those opening drum beats and you're like... ho SHIT it's Rasetsukoku and then... all the house lights go up! They bathe the whole arena in light! Originally, Zan was Dir en grey's first mosh-em-up song. Rasetsukoku was the one that came after that. So of course the crowd lost its effing mind (so did I). It's amazing when Kyo screams, "Rei sei kairi!" and the whole crowd, in unison, leaps into the air and screams "JAKI!" with the string section. And this happens over and over. It's incredible!

Rasetsukoku pummeled to the end, and then Kyo started screaming "LAST SONG! LAST SONG!!!" although it always sounds like he's saying "Rass son! Rass son!"

CLEVER SLEAZOID. Yeah, Dir en grey took a crowd already out of its damn mind and ended with CLEVER SLEAZOID. I already described this one in a previous post but it really is amazing. The crowds in Japan are just so fucking with it. "The dark!" "HOI!" "Dark!" "HOI!" Everyone fist-pumping in unison! You don't know how hilarious it is to end a concert with 10,000 people screaming "ONE DAY I WILL FUCK YOUR PARENTS!!!" Thanks, Kyo. We love you too!

And then it was over... I was so busy watching the band members throwing picks and drumsticks into the crowd that I didn't realize Kyo was still up on his crate with his arms held out for the entire ceremonial tossing of objects. Wow. Kyo always deserts the stage the moment a show is over, but no... he stood there, honoring us with his presence until every last band member was gone (there was no way I could catch anything, by the way. Kaoru, I love you, but you throw like a pussy). I was shocked. Kyo actually exited last. That never happens! In Kyo language, I think that means he thought we were a great crowd.

When everything was over, I grabbed Sonia and Keiichi before I could lose them completely, then we headed out the door into the cold to go find my friend Ashley, who had taken our stuff to stow under her seat, since she had a balcony ticket. Also, I had been invited by Risu - who sold me my fan club only ticket earlier - to an after-show party with other Dir en grey fan foreigners. And, because Risu also met Ashley at the fan club only show, she invited her to join us.

Eventually we gathered up all our foreigners outside. There were supposed to be 23, but we only managed to get 17. Then we all headed to an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) down the street for seafood. Now, at this izakaya we had to take off our shoes. Which was hilarious, since half of us were wearing goth-boots and stuff. I had knee-high platform boots. Fun. Then we all sat down at our table and waited for our reserved food. We also ordered beer and stuff, but I really wasn't in the mood for alcohol after the show, so I was lame and got apple juice, lol. But this one girl at our party was from Austria, and we got her to chug a whole beer in the first few seconds. We all yelled "Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!" till she was done, then we all cheered. This amused everyone at the izakaya, and for the rest of the night we had drunk businessmen hitting on us and trying to buy us drinks.

Our table was actually the menu, by they way! Here's a picture:

Our food was delicious, too! Here we have fried crab-meat, potato salad, smoked salmon...

A wonderfully salty salad:

Edamame, omelettes, okonimyaki on a stick...

We also had assorted sashimi (raw fish) but I didn't get a picture of it, sorry!

Here are some of our Dir en grey fans! See the Japanese guy in the back next to the table? Just one of our many drunken admirers:

And the other side of the table:

Now, see the Japanese goths at the left end of the picture at another table? Okay, so after we arrived at the izakaya, groups of Japanese Dir en grey fans from the show also showed up for dinner to party and drink to Dir en grey. Well, we continued to do the chugging beer while shouting "Drink! Drink! Drink!" thing and... the Japanese fans thought this was really funny and started doing it too! We'd be sitting there eating happily and then a whole table of Japanese goths would jump up and starting going "Drink! Drink! Drink!" and chugging alcohol. Then they would cheer, and all us foreigners would cheer, and the whole izakaya would cheer. Then the Japanese cheered for us when we chugged. Then it got to the point where one table of Japanese would suddenly start chanting "Dir en grey! Dir en grey! Dir en grey!" and the whole izakaya (even the businessmen) would join in. It was soooo funny! Some of us were even taking pictures with the Japanese fans at their tables to commemorate this hilarious situation. Even the waitresses were laughing. Then the Japanese even started cheering band members' individual names, and you'd have the whole pub going "Shinya! Shinya! Shinya! Yaaaaaay!" or "To-shi-ya! To-shi-ya! To-shi-ya! Yaaaaay!" Wow... one of the most hilarious experiences I've ever had. I guess this is why some Western magazines have dared to call the Dir en grey fans more of a "cult" than a "fandom." Sometimes it's quite true. I just love how nice the Japanese fans are, though... American Dir en grey fans can be serious assholes. I try to avoid them at concerts because they're such jerks. I even got mad at one in Chicago and told her I'd kill her (true story). But in Japan... they're so nice! At the fan club only concert, Ashley fell on the escalator and some male Japanese Dir en grey fans helped her get up and even put her shoe back on for her! Dir en grey fans often claim to feel like they are a part of a "family" when they're in the fandom but... I really only see its effects to their maximum potential in Japan.

Anyways, the party ended around 11:30 and, instead of joining some of the foreigners for karaoke, I made a mad dash for the station before last train. I lucked out. I made it ten minutes before my last train left. I didn't want to spend the night in a cafe!

Then I came home and started working on this live report! As I hinted at, though, this wasn't finished till after Day 2, but I worked very hard to keep the two days separate in my mind and mix up nothing. Even things that I realized about Day 1 after seeing Day 2 I kept out of this report and won't mention until Day 2 for the sake of keeping it as real and true to my experience as possible.

I hope you enjoyed! Now to start work on Day 2! As a preview to Day 2 I will just say this: it was even better. The setlist was completely better. And the band gave us a major surprise at the end!

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Sales + Creepy Story + Karaoke

Why, hello, all. Just a brief post before I post about my entire Winter Break with my friends in a few days. For now, let's talk... fashion!!! Right now is the most dangerous fashion time of all in Japan. We are experiencing New Year's sales. And not just small sales... big, humongous sales on all that shit you've been drooling over all year. My friends and I hit up O1O1 One to check out some of the goth brand name stores.

For starters, we went to h.NAOTO. I am in love with h.NAOTO stuff, but it's really, really expensive, so I've never been able to get myself to buy anything. Well, shit is on killer sale there right now, so I splurged and bought a necklace that normally costs $70 and was marked down to $30. Look at this wonderful bling!



It's so looooong and bling-tastic!



Waaah, I love it!


Unfortunately, despite sales, I just couldn't bring myself to splurge on the clothing. I was tempted, mind you, but I couldn't find anything that just jumped out at me and screamed BUY ME. Actually, I wanted some kind of crazy, lacy goth purse from h.NAOTO but, again, nothing jumped out at me. I think a lot of the good stuff was already picked through, lol.

Well, after h.NAOTO we hit up my other weakness: Sex Pot Revenge. This is where things got ugly. Or amazing. The thing is, I had drooled over certain things at Sex Pot Revenge as recently as a few days ago, but walked away because of money. Well... those same items I had drooled over only a few days ago were now 30-50% off. How could I not take advantage?!!

For starters... completely amazing sweater complete with chains and patches. By the way, I'm not naked in this picture, lol. I have a short skirt on under the sweater! The big patch has some great Engrish. It says: "The Orion singing beautifully. So it is fallen dew and frost. A mark of the turning skies." The smaller patch near the bottom also says "so it is fallen dew and frost." Looove.



Arm warmers were all half off! How could I say no?!! And the belts are adjustable, so you can fit this arm warmer to your exact arm size! This pair was only $15!



Ah, but here's my big oopsie. Okay, so I'm kinda in a pimp faze right now. Like, I've been walking around in leapard-print sunglasses with red lenses. I've been wearing too much jewelry and over-sized necklaces. I don't know what's come over me. Pimp is in.  Well, anyways, I caved completely and utterly and bought a............. leopard-print fur coat. But it was marked down 50%, and it's a really popular item, too. I've seen it around Tokyo a lot. Everyone dresses pimp here. This coat used to be $150! Not anymore! Soooo, I couldn't resist!


Yeah, I'm ready to slap some hos in this thing, lol.



Anyways, enough about fashion. Let's have a scary story!

THE FOLLOWING STORY IS COMPLETELY TRUE. I AM NOT MAKING UP ANYTHING.
Okay, so I went to bed and I had a really crazy dream. The dream sounds funny, but it was actually really horrible. I dreamed that my friends Hannah and Melissa and I went to see a Girugamesh concert in America, which makes no sense because Girugamesh is a Japanese band and I don't even like their music. And I don't think Hannah and Melissa are particularly thrilled with them either. But in the dream we went to see Girugamesh at an outdoor concert in America, on a dark, stormy-looking night. Anyways, after the show, Melissa and Hannah suddenly decided that Girugamesh was awesome. For some reason, I started yelling, and then I ran away screaming. Sounds funny, but in the dream it felt horrible. Well, anyways, back in the REAL world, I woke up suddenly because the sound of music had blasted through my dream. I sat up in horror, because music had suddenly started blaring in my room at around 5 AM for no apparent reason. I squinted in the darkness across the room and realized, to my shock and horror, that my iPod, which was ON HOLD, had turned itself on and had raised the volume up to its maximum potential. I kid you not. By itself, my locked iPod turned itself on to full volume and was playing the Mindless Self Indulgence song Molly (live version) all by itself. I was so afraid of my iPod that I didn't dare stop clutching the sheets or go turn it off for at least thirty seconds. Then I rushed out of bed, grabbed my iPod from my purse, moved the hold button back and forth, pressed pause, and tossed my silent iPod back into my purse and ran into bed. When I woke up again in the morning, I re-checked my iPod and, sure enough, the volume was still on maximum (I never raise it above half) and the battery was drained. Yeah, I can't explain this story at all. It's verging on the paranormal. I almost wonder if I did it with my mind somehow. Like, in the dream I ran away screaming from music I don't like, so my iPod clicked on and played music I do like as if in response to what happened in the dream. I mean, I've heard of strange ESP stories like this but... never thought I'd experience it. I don't have a logical explanation for it, but I swear it happened. No lies. Totally creepy.

Full Winter Break blog coming soon! Be on the lookout!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Beat Shuffle Live Side ~D.N.A.~ 12/29/09

Hey everybody! Long time, no post! My friends Hannah and Melissa are in Tokyo right now, so I've been really busy every day and haven't had a chance to post. I will post about all our adventures in a separate post, but for now, since this IS kind of a J-Rock-fan-in-Japan-blog, let's talk about the Beat Shuffle concert! My friends and I attended Beat Shuffle Live Side ~D.N.A.~ in Omiya! Bands that attended: LM.C, D'espairsRay, Penicillin, Nightmare, and Creature Creature!

This post might be a little short and lacking in detail, however. I've already seen over half these bands live and posted about them on this blog, so I don't want to repeat myself too much or anything. So I'll just post the general stuff and amusing highlights. Enjoy!

So I'd never been to Omiya, which is actually in Saitama prefecture (I'd never been to Saitama either!) but I knew of a way to get there pretty damn easily. As always, I knew I was going to the right place based on train passengers. There were a couple of girls sitting on the train together and one was very gothy looking and clutching a D'espairsray bag, lol. Doors were to open at 4:00 but we got to Omiya around 2:30. Once again, it's a game of Follow the Goths to figure out where you're going. We saw cosplayers running amok immediately. There was an ENTIRE group of cosplayers dressed as Maya from L.MC (picture of Maya below) complete with the ugly blond bob and the devil horns. We saw Nightmare cosplayers, too. Lots of lolitas. Not hard to figure out what's going on, lol.

Anyways, the most bizarre thing was going on near the venue's sky-scraper-like building (Omiya Sonic City). The windows of the building went from floor to ceiling and they were like mirrors. Anyways, down at the bottom of the stairs in this sort of cement lot, there was a guy who had set up traffic cones and he was just... dancing. All by himself. Hip-hop dancing, actually... in front of the mirrors. We thought this was hilarious and watched this crazy guy hip-hop dancing in short sleeves (it was cold out!) and checking himself out for some time. We figured he was a dancer at the venue, since it's a music hall.

Anyways, we were bored, and nothing much was going on other than smirking at the people in crazy clothing and piercings and watching weirdo dancers, so we explored around Omiya a bit and looked at funny buildings and shops. We also went into a 100 yen Lawson and we all bought chocolate! After that we came back to Omiya Sonic City only to find... that guy was still dancing by himself in the lot! Sniggering, Hannah and Melissa and I sat down on the steps to eat chocolate and watch him dance. He seemed professional, though. Well, anyways, he stops and makes a phone call at one point. Not much later, a second guy shows up!  The thing is, though, he was wearing jeans. So we had to wonder... would he dance in jeans? Alluva sudden, HE STARTS UNDOING HIS BELT! Right in front of us, with no shame at all, the new dancer drops his pants, rips off his shirt, and just stands there in the cold in his boxer briefs! His friend was looking around for him and saw us, yet did nothing. And we just sat there, gaping in awe as this guy strips off all his clothes right in front of us! Well, he quickly switched into sweatpants and a shirt, of course, but still... FREE STRIP TEASE!!!

Eventually we found a way to go inside (as it was cold) and we went to the bathroom and hovered around. Then I spotted my friend Elena and ran outside to greet her. Well, of course, our first thought was that we just HAD to take Elena over to the stairs to see the dancers! By the time we got her over to the lot, there were now FIVE dancers! The original two were stretching on one side, the others were checking themselves out in the mirror-windows on the other side of the lot! They were so ridiculous!!! Well, anyways, it was approaching 4:00 and we wanted to line up to potentially get good merchandise, so we joined the massive, bristling crowd hovering near the doorway.

We waited around a bit before everyone was ushered in. We had to hand in our cameras (stupid rules) and then we checked out the merchandise. I, once again, got nothing. I was very frustrated. I knew I didn't want merch for anyone but D'espairsRay, but I keep on meaning to get D'espairsray merch... and then I don't. They just didn't have anything I wanted! After checking out merch, we went upstairs to get our seats. My friends and I were first floor, row 30, as far on the right as possible. It was a BIG venue, though. There were maybe... 3000 seats including balcony, and almost all seats were filled. So we sat down and just enjoyed all the ridiculous hair and clothing around us. Oh, and there were NO men. We saw maybe... four guys in the whole place. The entire venue was just crazy-looking girls in frilly dresses and piercings. I blame L.MC, hahaha.

About the stage itself: they had six massive, white, Ancient Rome-like pillars set up on stage. And the pillars had lights in them so that they could flash and change different colors during a band's set. It was pretty awesome looking!

Anyways, the show started around 5:00 and the first band up was... L.MC! Here's an image of L.MC in their current outfits (they were dressed like this for the show, as were half their fans):


I talked about them in my V-Rock Festival post. Musically, they are absolutely not my thing, but they do put on a good show and I go along with the para-para and stuff because of it. The audience gets crazy into these guys and everybody's jumping up and down like lunatics to the beat and doing crazy para-para hand gestures and stuff. They opened with that weird "We Will Rock You"-like song and they had the whole team up on stage with them, including the crazy guy on bouncy-stilts with the mask that makes him look like he's from Donnie Darko. He just hops around the stage and hits the cymbals and stuff, lol. They played that stupid "Oh My Juliet" song, but they appeased me by ending with "Rock the L.MC" which is the only song I like, lol. And during that song they blew up the gigantic L.MC bunny balloon on stage and made it rock out to the song. I personally only enjoy L.MC from a performance standpoint.

After L.MC, we had the band I mostly came to see: D'espairsray! Third time's the charm! Here they are again:



They were enjoyable as always! These girls in front of us during the show were so funny and you could tell they were there for D'espairsray before D'espairsray even showed up. They were wearing the t-shirts and giggling and yelling and practicing furi and it was really funny. During D'espairsray, these girls finally went nuts! And they'd obviously been around since indies D'espairsray because, during one part of an older song they played, these girls did that old live-house thing where they all suddenly dropped to the floor, crouched down in a huddle and head-banged together in a frenzy. I really like D'espairsray for all the fun head-banging and stuff that you get to do! They actually only played one song off their Redeemer CD (they played Kouhaku), which was strange, but... I don't care much for that CD so I was fine with that, haha! And they looked goooood! More Visual-kei than usual, actually. Karyu had these great, super-tight red pants on! And Zero was HYPER. He was bouncing around the stage and running around like a lunatic! Also, I'm happy to say that Hizumi's voice sounded sooooo much better! His voice was a bit rough during the first song, but it cleared up and sounded lovely! He also almost fell right on his ass again like he did at C.C. Lemon Hall. When he stepped backwards off his crate, he didn't realize the crate ended. But a stealthy roadie whipped the mic-cord at him in warning and he caught himself. That boy seriously needs back-up warning lights!

Anyways, after D'espairsray was Penicillin. I saw these guys at V-Rock Festival:


Anyways, they were fun as always but... Hakuei seemed really bleah for some reason. I don't think he was feeling good. He was wearing his usual massive, over-sized leopard-print fur coat, but... he didn't take it off till the last song. And he wasn't just guzzling down liquid between songs, he would actually stop in the middle of a song and start drinking and the guitarist and bassist would run to the front and cover for him. But he was trying his damndest to be into it! Unfortunately, he was clearly tired and not feeling good. When he DID take off his coat, though... DAAAAAMN. He was wearing this skin-tight leather corset-type thing that was completely open in the back except for some straps. And his thighs were exposed as usual. He has this amazing ability, even when sick, to both pose and move simultaneously. It's really funny. Even when he was grabbing a drink, he'd put a leg up on the drum platform to show off his thigh. The boy knows he's hot, that's for sure!

Well, after Pencillin, we had Nightmare. This was clearly the band everyone had come to see:



People absolutely flipped for them! See, I don't understand it, because I think they are reeeeally boring, musically, but they do put on a great show. I don't know the furi or anything, so I just sorta stood and watched the crowd lose their fucking minds. All around us people were grabbing the seats in front of them and headbanging and tossing their hair everywhere in a frenzy. The big thing with Nightmare was holding your arms out in a "Y" shape as wide as possible. People would turn sideways to do this, just to show their appreciation for the band. This girl in front of us had fucking springs in her feet. She jumped up and down like a jack-rabbit for these guys. You never saw girls with as much energy as people had for Nightmare.  The band itself definitely put on a good show! They had a great ability to sorta dance around the stage and get the audience riled up. While I think they're boring as hell on CD, they do a great show!

The last band of the night was Creature Creature. That's these guys:


Now... the thing is... no one was particularly there to see Creature Creature. It's not really their kind of venue. But the vocalist is the sempai (sort of like a... mentor? Sorry, impossible to translate; it's a Japanese relationship that doesn't exist in the U.S.) to a lot of bands, so Creature Creature wins in the "seniority" department and the "high status" department and gets to headline. Also, their bassist is Tetsu from L'arc en Ciel, which is a super, super, super famous Japanese band, so... yeah, they went on last. Actually, they were very, very good and the singer had a great voice, but they weren't very into it or enthusiastic, and neither was the crowd. Some people were, but many others were exhausted from Nightmare and just sat down and watched. Not many people were rude and left (as many Americans would have), but many people did sit. But the band really needed to be more enthusiastic. I'm not gonna lie... Hannah fell asleep in her chair during Creature Creature, hahaha.

Anyways, after Creature Creature was done, they brought all the bands onto the stage and they were all holding baskets filled with colored balls. Then the band members would each take the balls and throw them into the crowd for fans to try and catch them. Most of them were throwing like pussies and barely making it past ten rows. But then Hakuei... wow. He may have been sick and/or exhausted, but he threw like a champ. He was getting balls all the way towards the back of the venue, pitching them baseball style. The fans would go "oooooooh!" every time he threw one! Very impressive!

And then the show was over around 9:00! And we were tired so we all went home. Ta da! That's my live report for Beat Shuffle! Hope you enjoyed!

Stay tuned for the many adventures of the girls and I in Tokyo over Winter Break - including staying out all night for New Years! I'll post about it later, so keep checking!