Monday, February 8, 2010

Indies Bands - Takadanobaba AREA

Guess who's back with another round of indies bands?!

Today's reported show is: ALSDEAD & Lycaon Kappurutsuaa 「Knife edge DEATH match」 (note: "kappurutsuaa" is just a katakana spelling of "couple tour" because ALSDEAD and Lycaon were sort of headlining together).

The show was taking place at Takadanobaba AREA. Yes, I know, Takadanobaba is a funny name. It's right on the JR Yamanote Line, so any time I go somewhere like Shinjuku or Shibuya or Harajuku, I get to hear them announce that place, lol. The best was this one time when my train pulled up at Takadanobaba just as another train pulled up, and the two announcements crossed and it came out: "now arriving in Takadanobabababa."

Anyways! AREA is a little more... upscale than Shinjuku HOLIDAY from last time. Shinjuku HOLIDAY was kind of old and decrepit (and spooky) and the stage and the audience area was terribly small. Area, however, is definitely larger and has more lighting capabilities. It's even capable of doing smoke-screen! I'd heard good things about the place, so I was glad to actually get to go.

Takadanobaba AREA wasn't that far from the station, and we were a little early, so Ashley and Geri and I picked up some cinnamon doughnuts on the way and stopped off in a cafe for coffee, lol. On the way there, we spotted two people walking along, one of which had pink hair, and the other one was blond and carrying a large guitar-case on his back. Gee, I wonder where they were going, lol...

There was a larger variety of people at this show than at Shinjuku HOLIDAY. Also, a lot of foreigners. Several packs of them. The show itself was just bigger all around. I'd say maybe... 150 people? My ticket says I was #183, but I don't think there were that many. But unlike Shinjuku HOLIDAY, this venue was big enough to have two levels. There was a raised audience area in the back with a barrier, and then a lower, front area leading up to the stage. The front barrier was also right up against the stage this time, though that didn't stop anyone from abusing it. In fact, the bar was padded for all the crazy girls jumping on it! My friends and I took a spot in the front area, all the way on the left. The sides are good because you can still go out into the middle if you want to rock out, but if a band sucks you can easily duck out of the way and stay off to the side and not do anything or bother anyone.

Anyhoo, our first band up is meth! So like... I tried to find a picture of them, but they were all horribly outdated. Then I found the one on their official site, and it looks like them but... it's a drawing. Sorry. This is the best I've got:


Anyways, for an opening band, I found meth. to be very enjoyable. Usually the first band up is the newest, n00biest band, but these guys actually seemed very well put together and well rehearsed. At least, they didn't sound like n00bs. I found them kind of adorable and endearing. The vocalist was wearing nerd-glasses for the first half of the show, but he could scream like a mother-fucker. And he was a good singer. And, unlike the first band at Shinjuku HOLIDAY, his band mates could harmonize well with him. They had some solid tunes and a good stage presence, and they were all well coordinated with each other. They kind of had a Merry thing going on with the matching suits and ties, the skinny, spazz-haired vocalist, and the bassist with long hair always in his face. Because this show was bigger than the Shinjuku HOLIDAY one, we already had a fairly decent-sized crowd up at the barrier going nuts and fist-pumping and jumping up and down. I was tempted to join in, since I felt like meth. was good enough to get some attention, but I just stayed out of it. But I think if I see them again, I would like to actually join in the action. They were fun, and I had a good feeling after watching them.

Next up, we have these leopard-spotted guys: VELGREED (pictured below).


VELGREED is an example of what I call "all glitz and no content." Contrary to popular belief, I'm not actually the biggest fan of visual-kei, simply because some bands use it as an excuse to not make very good music. Most of my favorite bands aren't visual-kei, or are simply a toned-down version of it. You can pile on fifty pounds of glitter, but that's not going to cover up a lack of musical talent. I wouldn't say VELGREED was terrible (we had some terrible bands at Shinjuku HOLIDAY, but there wasn't anyone at the AREA show that I would say I hated or was awful), but... they were getting on my nerves pretty bad. I'm known to be picky about music, and once a band irks me, it tends to snowball until everything annoys me, lol. It's just my way. So let me list off everything that annoyed me about VELGREED: first of all, they had no outstanding talent. Second of all, the vocalist's voice got really annoying after awhile. To any GazettE fans who know what I'm referring to when I mention the really annoying way Ruki sings "your seed and my seed never mixes" during Filth and the Beauty - imagine someone singing that way for a whole half hour. Yeesh. So nasal and whiny. Also, something that apparently drove Geri nuts, the vocalist had what we call a "tuck fail." This is when a J-Rocker wears really tight pants and... doesn't properly tuck "it" in. In other words: NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR JUNK, PUT VOCALIST JUNIOR AWAY! Anyways, I'm just nit-picking. Overall, they were okay, just... not my cup of tea. I saw other people looking skeptical in the back, so I guess it wasn't just me, lol.

Things improved after the momentary bump-in-the-road that was VELGREED. Next up was SCAPEGOAT, as seen below. Not a very good picture... I think it's outdated. Sorry.


Anyways, I had a feeling SCAPEGOAT would be good because the audience suddenly moved forward and a lot of people started securing spots in the front area. Ashley and Geri and I were starting to feel antsy, so we decided to move into the middle for some rocking-out as well. Anyways, SCAPEGOAT was fun. Definitely more solid than VELGREED, and a lot less annoying. They had a good beat going, the guitarist churned out some solos... Plus, I get a kick out of being behind the front-row girls when they do their gymnastics-leaping. I've mentioned this before, but they grab the bar in front of them, hoist their whole body up, slam their upper body over the bar, drop down, and spring right back up again in time to the music. As they do this, anyone who isn't on the bar does a sort of slow head-banging that is similar, but without the jumping. This is my favorite kind of head-banging, personally. I usually put one foot in front of the other for balance, and I have a specific technique that I learned from watching people at seated J-Rock concerts. Basically, you lean back before you go down, and you go a little bit to the side until your back hitches on the muscle a little. It works like a spring, and with the extra force you can slam your whole body down quickly and spring right back up. It takes practice, but it's really fun and forceful and hurts your neck less. There was also a fun new move I saw at this show where everyone turns to the side and punches their fist above their head. But you have to whip your head with the motion, so it turns into a pretty fierce, hair-flurry of a movement. SCAPEGOAT was a really good band for this kind of thing. Also... I think it was during this band, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but... almost all the front-row girls whipped out these oni (Japanese demon) masks that they must've kept from the Setsubun holiday last Sunday. For some reason, they put them on during the show, lol. During the MC, the vocalist didn't really know what to say to this, so he was just like, "Kyou wa... Setsubun desu ne... Gomenasai, mame wo motteimasen..." ("Today... today's Setsubun, isn't it? Sorry, I don't have any beans on me.") (note: on Setsubun, Japanese people throw beans outside their front door to ward off demons). This got a pretty big laugh out of the audience. After the MC, however, when the music had started up again, the guitarist on the left came up to the front, ripped the masks off two of the girls, looked at the masks with a big, silly smirk on his face, then tossed them onto his stuff to keep for later. The girls he stole them from were jumping up and down and clapping their hands with excitement like he'd just declared his undying love for them or something, lol. Also, the booty-bumping move came back during this band. Anyone remember that move? That's the one where the front row girls pull themselves up onto the bar and hang over it like dead bodies. Then the second row backs up, runs forward, jumps into the air sideways and body-slam the girls on the bar like line-backers. I still wasn't up for trying this (I felt like I'd crush those poor girls!) so I just stepped off to the side and let the girls behind me do it. Geri and Ashley kept trying to force me to do it, lol. We met this girl from Australia named Nicky who was actually doing front row. At one point, she dangled over the bar and I still wouldn't slam her, and no one behind me jumped in because they couldn't tell if I'd do it or not. Nicky got impatient and started slapping her ass in an attempt to get someone to body-slam her, lol!

Anyways, enough about SCAPEGOAT, let's move on... or move down. These next guys were also kind of annoying, lol. Are you ready for the name of the next band? Ready? Here we go! The next band is called: 0801ni209336. For anyone who has a computer than can display kanji, the "ni" in the middle of the number is the character 弐, so the whole name is (0801弐209336). I guess that would be read in Japanese as "zero-hachi-zero-ichi-ni-ni-zero-kyuu-san-san-roku"? I don't fucking know, lol! In a lot of ways, this band was the poster child of "everything NOT to do." 0801ni209336 are these idiots kidnapping a McDonald's employ in the picture below (sorry for the weird shape, you can click to make it bigger).

Anyways, they were another "all glitz and no content" band. Seriously, no amount of PVC leather or hair dye is going to cover up a lack of legit skills. In fact, this band did a lot of covering up in general. I mean, just like with VELGREED, I wouldn't say they downright sucked or anything... but... I'm kinda glad my friends and I ditched the main crowd and hovered off to the side again, lol. First of all, a shout out to indies bands: if your name cannot be pronounced by the general public, your band will fail. Seriously. It's the kiss of death. Have you EVER seen a band go major with a name like 0801ni209336?! I'm so sick of seeing indies bands with names like 732530Killzzzzzzzz88888pf;;;yy666. Seriously, you are guaranteed to FAIL. NO ONE goes ANYWHERE with a name like that. Secondly, the furi for this band was absurd and unnecessary. The vocalist was doing full body-movement para-para that involved strange gestures, turns, and stupid gun-shooting motions. To think this guy must've stood in his bedroom practicing that by himself or something! This band was just silly all over. I couldn't take them seriously. And they were pretty forgettable musically. I just stayed off to the side and watched other people have fun. And they certainly did have fun. At one point, the front row and the second row joined hands and everyone just sort of skipped side to side together (it was really cute when one of the front row girls would clap her hands together and bow in thanks to the girl behind her who'd held hands and skipped with her). Yeah, it was adorable but... I'd rather punch myself in the eye, thank you very much. Ah, also... I think it was during this band that this happened... so, the vocalist kept trying to initiate "fan service" with his bassist. I don't think I've brought up "fan service" on my blog yet. Fan service is one of the most... peculiar aspects of Japanese music. Fan service is basically when two male visual-kei rockers pretend to be gay with each other, even when the two of them are most likely not at all gay (despite all the drag and make-up and girly behavior, many J-Rockers are completely heterosexual). Fan service can be anything from putting your arms around each other to full out passionate kissing on the lips. A couple of times the vocalist came over to the bassist and started getting up into his face for fan service, but the bassist was actually resisting and pulling away! Good job, bassist (I don't like fan service... it's too forced and cheap looking...)! Anyways, the vocalist wouldn't give up, and eventually he just grabbed the bassist's crotch and ran away, lol! Then, at the end of the show, in a fit of excitement, the vocalist flat-out jumped onto the bassist's back and nearly dragged him to the floor. The bassist continued to play, knees bent, stumbling under the complete weight of the vocalist. The vocalist may be skinny, but I really thought he was going to crush the poor bassist, lol! It was pretty funny. The vocalist eventually jumped off and just started laughing.

Next up is a band with a name that actually makes sense: Para:noir. They're the shiny dudes below:

I guess they're really new, so they had a scroll hanging in the back with their name on it. My friends and I were feeling antsy again, and Ashley said she needed an adrenaline boost in preparation for Lycaon who was coming up next, so we decided to join in the fun regardless of what Para:noir was like. Musically, they were fairly forgettable, but I rocked out anyways for the fun of it. People started slam-dancing a lot during this band, but I decided I wasn't enthusiastic enough to run into people, lol. They were decent enough, just... again, not my cup of tea.

Anyways, let's move on to my personal favorite act of the night: Lycaon! I suppose it makes sense that Lycaon would be a legitimately good band, since they were one of the headliners.  Lycaon are the strange-looking men pictured below:

Anyhoo, I really liked Lycaon. I can tell when a band is really trying and deserves some credit, so I give Lycaon a thumbs up. I wasn't sure what to expect at first. I'd heard good things and seen their pictures in shops and stuff, so I figured they couldn't be too bad. Anyways, I liked these guys enough that I'll refer to them by name instead of position for the rest of this section. For starters, the vocalist Yuuki is the one wearing those finger-condoms on one hand (see picture above) and way too much sparkly lipstick... but it made him hot in a stripper sort of way. The bassist, Mio, was kind of intimidating. He was wearing all PVC leather and a mask and he was really tall. Yeah, I probably wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley. Guitarist Rito was very pretty. Drummer EVE was... perky, lol. Like, really perky. I've never seen anyone so happy to be drumming in my life. His mouth was open the whole show, lol. But I gotta say... while the sexy vibes were coming from Yuuki, the awesome vibes were coming from guitarist Satoshi, who was on our side of the stage. He's the little mad hatter pictured above with half his face drawn on his hand. Seriously, you wanna talk about onstage charisma? Satoshi all the way, man! What a deranged little bastard! He was smiling like a crazy person the whole show with all his teeth showing against his dark lipstick. And he was having so much fun, bouncing around like crazy! The whole band was having too much fun for its own good (don't get me wrong, every band so far had been all smiles. I love the charisma of Japanese bands. They smile, they jump around, they interact with the audience, they pat audience members on the head. They know how to put on a good show!). At one point, Satoshi bounced around so much that he just wiped out completely and fell backwards. Nicky, still on the barrier, caught him awkwardly, and Satoshi used the barrier to catch his butt. Then, in the best fall-save ever, he just leaned backwards into Nicky like he "totally meant to do that" and started rocking out on his guitar while semi-crowd-surfing on Nicky. Nicky patted him on the back and shrugged at us like "riiiiiight" lol. But man, he even smiled as he fell! And Yuuki was so into it that he choked his MC. I mean... literally choked. The song ended, and he was so out of breath that he lost his voice and couldn't get a word out, lol. He strangled a few words before gasping and wheezing the word "gomenasai!" ("sorry!") at us. You gotta hand it to them... that's what I call onstage energy. The band was hard, energetic, and they didn't look like everyone else. Also, this band was doing the body-slamming thing and I finally decided to do it. The reason? Hehe, this is terrible but... the girl in front of me was really fat, so much so that I was surprised she could hoist herself up onto the bar (but she managed it every time). Because she was so big, I figured she could take it if I ran into her, so... I was like "fuck it, if Lycaon can have this much energy, so can I!" So yup... when the barrier girls threw themselves over the bar like dead meat, I backed up with the second row, then ran forward, jumped sideways, and slammed that bitch's ass. I kinda see why they like to do it, though. If you slam on the beat of the song, it's pretty intense and... bouncy, lol. You bounce right off. I must've slammed that girl like... ten times, lol. At one point, Mio started looming over me and I got really nervous. He loomed right over the crowd, and I was worried it was hair-pulling-time. But I also worried that pulling back and showing fear would encourage him more. Luckily, he just gave a menacing glare and went back to his bass.

Anyways, moving on... the next band up is not new. This is ALSDEAD. Remember them? They were the band that showed up as a surprise at the Shinjuku HOLIDAY show last time:

Anyways, I already talked about them last time, so I won't bother you all too much with them this time. Although they were the last band, I still think I liked Lycaon better. Nonetheless, ALSDEAD is a very fun band and they're really professional and enjoyable. They get us to punch the air and jump up and down a lot, and they have some memorable tunes.

Anyways, during the last song, Lycaon came out to finish up the show with ALSDEAD! So that was fun! There were way too many people on the stage, but they all just jumped around together and had a blast. Lycaon's drummer, EVE, put on someone's bass and hopped around with it, lol. Even scary, masked Mio took off his mask and hopped around happily. Yuuki joined MAKI up at the front on vocals with their arms around each other. But mostly Yuuki wandered around aimlessly. He seems strangely serious, lol.

And then the show was over. ALSDEAD and Lycaon took their bows. Also, ALSDEAD'S drummer, Setsua, threw a drumstick, and it totally bounced off my fingers. But before I could go after it, the girl in front of me bent down and took it.

Anyways, the whole show took four hours! Which actually isn't that long, considering. We were done around 9:00. After the show, we looked into the back where merchandise was sold and where band members were lingering around chatting with fans. We left, only to see the girl that took my drumstick bent over the cashier counter sobbing while someone patted her back and the cashier dabbed her head with a cloth. I'd noticed during the show that the girl kept showing signs of dizziness or pain. She must've gotten clobbered somehow, and I think her head may have been bleeding. She looked like she had a concussion and the cashier was calling a hospital.

Anyways, so that was the show! As if that wasn't enough, I'm going back to Takadanobaba AREA in two days for another indies event ("oh god, no!", cry the readers)! But this one should be sweeeeet. ALSDEAD will be there, a band called Valluna will be there (who I hear are really good), and Ha;qch will be there! Yaaaay! Also, guess who just got a fan club priority ticket for D'espairsray in April! This bitch right here! Holla! See you all again for Wednesday's indies event!

7 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed Lycaon, Alsdead, and meth. Those are the three bands who I actually own things from who performed. Actually each of those bands full discog. Lycaon have their first full album coming out in March! I'll be getting that too.

    Those are probably three of my favorite indies acts at present, as there are very few indies bands that I actually own stuff from, much less full discogs.

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  3. Btw, when you say you own their full discography, do you mean files or actually owning CDs and stuff? If you have any requests for something you HAVE to have, I could probably get something for you ^_~

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  4. Hehe, sorry I typo-ed my first comment. I'm re-posting it, lol:

    Yeah, those were the three who were above my vicious ridicule, hahaha. When I don't like a band, I get nitpicky, but when I do, they get a pretty glowing report, and those were the three in which I didn't have anything to complain about, lol. meth was really solid, ALSDEAD is solid, Lycaon is just fun as all hell... Satoshiiiiiii! My affection for him is vast, lol.

    I think those three bands are selling singles and stuff at the shows. I didn't really check this time, but I think they're selling basically anything they can sell.

    I think my top Indies bands right now are Lycaon and Ha;qch (who don't seem to be selling much of anything or advertising themselves much... I dunno why...). Below them is ALSDEAD, and meth... Those are my "happy bands." I'm excited to Varuna tomorrow, though. I've heard... interesting things, lol.

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  5. Yeah, told you Lycaon was amazing! Especially the guitarist Mr. Mad Hatter Satoshi. The bassist usually does take off his mask at some point, must get hot in there. Anyway, I'll totally buy their new album when it comes out. And they'll probably actually have to be there selling it when it's released, so we can tell Satoshi that we find him entertaining (supposedly he's interested in magic?!) and warn Mio that my hair eats people.

    Hope you had fun today too anyway... We got to see another side of Ha;qch, hahaha. Aww, poor things. Aside from that, Valluna was entertaining, particularly the bassist, Kirimaru. I still think he resembles a dalmatian.

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  6. I own all CDs from those three bands, except for the live-limited singles like 300 pressing and whatnot.

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  7. Man, Evan, you make gift-shopping difficult, lol XD Well, I'm on the mission! I'm gonna sneak-attack these bastards, lol!

    Hahaha, Ashley, I definitely want to tell Satoshi he's amusing. Hopefully he won't take offense to being called "omoshiroi" or something XD Dude, that would be so funny if Mio went in for your hair and your hair just wound angrily around his neck and dragged him into the crowd XD He would deserve it for pulling hair, lol!

    And I'm prepping a big complaint section for Area's handling of Ha;qch >_> Hahaha, Kirimaru is definitely like a dalmation. I'm gonna post a separate picture of him from the others just so people can gawk at him XD

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