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!

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so freakin' much for such a detailed and insightful report. It was awesome!! Now for Day 2!!

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  2. Hey, no problem! Always nice to see new people on the blog! ^_^ I really ought to make my blog more public... hmmm... Anyways, really glad you enjoyed! I'm really excited to finish up my report of Day 2 :-D

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  3. Finally finished reading! Man, you sure do know how to write a concert report. You definitely mentioned all the right things and I love you for it :-) It makes me wish I could have been there sooooooooo soooooooo badly!

    I actually don't doukoku to sarino is a very fierce song. I mean, it has it's moments, but... I think it would be weird to rock out to the whole thing because of the more common slower parts. Like, at about 2.5 minutes in it would probably kill me if I couldn't headbang/fist pump, but that's the only part I think it would feel weird at.

    Dude, the backdrops sounds absolutely jaw-dropping! I can't wait to see them myself in the DVD they hopefully make out of this! I also can't wait to see the extended Glass Skin PV!! But dude, I feel for you having to see the rest of the Vinushka PV like that. I would never want to watch that video in public... it's too sad and makes me feel like too much of a terrible person. And there, you had to be surrounded by a shit-ton of Japanese peeps... Damn...

    I know IIID Empire in America is always fun.. I can't imagine it in Japan! Jealous! Must have been -such- an awesome experience! I think it's one of the most fun crowd-participation songs they regularly play :-) If it was really like that video, then...DAMN girl, you lucky XD

    Ahh.. I could go on forever. Conceived Sorrow must have been quite the treat, Zan sounds like it was a blast, Hageshisa must be AMAZING live, Aggh.... Basically, it all boils down to: Awesome setlist, Awesome Japanese crowd, Awesome stage, Awesome band members, and Awesome fucking performance. Just... fucking awesome. Thanks again for the report!

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