Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Indies Bands, Takadanobaba AREA

Back to Takadanobaba AREA for another round of indies!

My friends and I showed up to AREA a little bit late (oops), and the cashier asked us which band we'd come to see. We said exist†trace, because at least I know who they are. The cashier then gave my friends and I each a little exist†trace cube, which we later discovered had two pieces of Meiji caramels in it. Here's my cute little cube!

Anyways, it pains me to do this, but I have to start this blog on a really sad note. Today, there was supposed to be one more band in attendance named Gakido. This is... or was, Gakido:

On February 12th, while the band and the staff was traveling in their van on the way to a venue, one of the rear wheels of the van burst, causing the driver to lose control. The van rolled. Everyone in the band sustained minor injuries and needed stitches, and one of the members of the band and one of the staff members had "serious injuries" but were expected to recover. Unfortunately, vocalist Piyo was thrown from the van, sustained severe head injuries, and died instantly. Here's a picture of Piyo:

This is a terrible thing to have happen. The news reported Piyo as 28 year old Yamada Yoshiaki. They sometimes say the worst thing you can ever find out about a J-Rocker is their real name, because it means either the band broke up, the artist was arrested, or they died. I'm very sorry that we had to learn Piyo's real name through death. And he was only 28 years old. I never got to see Gakido in concert, and it's creepy to me that today would've been the day, had they not had their accident. I'm very sorry to the band and very sorry to poor Piyo that his life had to be cut so tragically short.

Anyways, back to the show. So the first act up was a band called DEPAIN:

Anyways, we missed the first fifteen minutes or so, but they were really enjoyable for an opening act. They had their own banner and the whole front section of the venue was packed with fans rocking out like crazy. They had a huge following. They seemed very hard, and I enjoyed what little I caught. At that point, my friends and I were just hovering in the back. The vocalist screamed like crazy, and the girls were headbanging in a frenzy and punching the air. And, despite being the opening act, there was even gyaku-dive!  But we missed most of their act, unfortunately.

Anyhoo, the next band up is the band I came to see - exist†trace:

Now, to anyone who doesn't know exist†trace, I imagine they look like any typical visual-kei band, right? A bunch of guys dressed like chicks trying to act cool. Well, there's one huge difference here, however. These are actually girls. Yup, real women. Real women with vaginas. So, if this puzzles you at all while staring at the above picture, allow me to explain: these are women dressed as men dressed as women. Does that help? They're not really hiding that they're women, but they definitely want us to view them as equals to the other VK bands... even though they have boobs. The funny thing is, even though these chicks ain't got dicks... they're more bad-ass than a lot of other male indies band out there.

Exist†trace has been around since at least 2003, and they're a band who is sort of teetering on the border between indies and major. They're actually a major band, but they still play at indies venues, even though they have big one-man shows and even toured Europe recently.

First off, vocalist Jyou is really great. She may look androgynous, but her voice - while more mid-range than most female Japanese vocalists - maintains a sort of female purity. Despite her clear singing voice, she can also scream if need be. Guitarist Miko is great on stage. Other guitarist, Omi, is the "token female" of the band... sort of like the band lolita. She's tiny and adorable, yet she never tries to outwardly act feminine. Bassist Naoto is the scary member. Her eyes are painted up with so much black eye-shadow that she looks like a zombie. She has tons of facial piercings, and during the show she had two lip rings that went through her top lip down through her bottom lip, sealing her lips closed. Still, her bass skills are fantastic. Drummer Mally is also a rather boyish member, but she can pound on those drums as fiercely as a man.

Musically, they're a combination of metal, synth... something like gothic metal, or melodic death metal. Hey, ya know what? Why don't you just check them out for yourself? They're famous enough to have real music videos.

Here's exist†trace's music video for VANGUARD:

Now, as for our audience... perhaps because a female VK band is already breaking down barriers... the audience itself was a little warped from usual. First of all, we had two foreign girls from France up on the barrier, and something else was on the barrier... a boy! In fact, there were a bunch of men in the audience for exist†trace, which was surprising. Well, the boy on the bar just seemed kinda flamboyant, but some of the men in the crowd were old and creepy looking. I guess it figures... you get some vaginas up there in goth clothing and suddenly all the guys are drooling. Gross. One of them was wearing a Nickelback shirt... triple gross!

At the end of the show, Geri caught Miko's pick!

So then... alcohol! My friends and I decided to use our $5 drink fee to go get ourselves some drinks. The three of us ordered some tasty cassis soda (black currant liqueur). Good thing I got some alcohol when I did because... boy does it fucking go downhill from here.

Frankly, I lost interest in the rest of the show, so I'll keep the rest of this blog brief. Next up... Syndicate:

This band is called Syndicate, but from here on out I will refer to them by the more appropriate code name I gave them during the show: Fitness For Dummies. This group involved group posing, dancing... they were like the Power Rangers trapped in the 80's... or a really bad fitness video, hence the code name. I wound up drinking my entire cassis soda with a sigh.

After Fitness For Dummies, I decided to ease my suffering by picking up some exist†trace merchandise. I bought...


I also bought their Ambivalent Symphony CD, which came with a DVD with the music videos for Resonance and VANGUARD:

And lookie-look! I bought a t-shirt!  I need to learn how to close my wallet, lol:

Also, we spotted exist†trace trying to exit the venue, make-up-less and wearing sunglasses. But I recognized Mally and Omi's hair (boy cut and pigtails), and we decided to go over and say hi. Of course, once Geri and Ashley and I were in front of exist†trace, we didn't really know what to say. We started off with the usual "otsukaresama desu" (roughly translated to "great work out there" or something like that). They all grinned a bit and bowed their heads to us. Then Miko started to say, in English "where are you-" - but I was tired of these bands twisting themselves into a pretzel trying to speak English to us when it's not necessary, so I cut her off really quickly and started speaking Japanese. Anyways, Geri had lost her voice earlier in the day and couldn't say anything, but Ashley and I tried to explain that we really enjoyed the show and wanted to see exist†trace again. They were rather shy and mostly just nodded at us in amusement as we sort of floundered and grew flustered under their stares. I told them I bought their CD, which made Jyou go "oh?" and smile. We asked them when their next show was, and they told us March 3rd. Then we thanked them somewhat awkwardly and skittered away so they could safely flee the venue.

Oh, but then it just keeps getting worse. I don't even know if I'm going in order anymore. Next up is Juliette:

My friends and I just sat down. We just didn't care. I can't handle bands up on stage pretending to be all cute and happy. Life's not happy. Piyo just fucking died in a car accident... life isn't puppies and rainbows... stop pretending it is...

Next up... Valetta:

I stayed sitting. Don't care. They didn't stand out in any way shape or form... not in appearance, performance, style, or music. Whatever.

Next up, Tokyo Michael:

At this point, all I have to say is AAAAAAAAAAAAGH, MAKE IT STOP! NO MORE, GOD, NO MORE!!! They actually had a song where the chorus went "Happy happiness! Happy happiness!" and sang an entire song going over the different stops on the fucking Yamanote Line. God, who the fuck cares?!

Anyways, last up is the band that actually hosted the event, SCAPEGOAT:

We've already seen them on this blog, so I won't bore you too much. This was a bit more my style, so my friends and I went up to the front and enjoyed jumping up and down and head-banging and throwing our fists. I was able to get out all my frustration. People were pretty nuts during this one. At one point, the whole audience collapsed to their hands and knees and began head-banging on the floor. Gyaku-dive came back to such an extreme that one girl even got knocked to the floor.

Anyhoo, that's the show! Anyways, I'm going to check out another show tomorrow because Valluna is having a brief, free concert. See you all soon!


  1. HOMG T-SHIRT I'M JEALOUS... E+T are the shit... they're so shy, it's funny. Jyou is so fucking talented.

    Oh, and if you see Eat You Alive making any rounds in your area, I highly recommend them ;D

  2. Oh hey, well look at that: Holiday Shinjuku on the 25th lols, and Ha;qch will be there too!

    10.2.25(Thu) HOLIDAY SHINJUKU
    lam. New Maxi Single 先行発売・東名阪主催 【-Breakthrough of ZERO-】

    【OPEN/START】 16:30 / 17:00
    【ADV/DOOR】 \2,500 / \3,000
    【DRINK】 別途

    【ACT】 lam. / ReivieЯ / Dali / Ha;qch. / THE GLADROW

    【一般発売日】 -
    【一般発売】 2010年1月1日(金)~ チケットぴあ(Pコード:345-771、番号1~50)
      2010年1月1日(金)~ HOLIDAY SHINJUKU 店頭(番号51~)
    【問い合わせ】 HOLIDAY SHINJUKU:03-5292-0591

    I think EAT are on the bill too, but they only listed the other bands performing since I copy-pasta'd it from Eat's site.

  3. Well... there's only one teensy problem... I have the Plastic Tree concert on the 25th. As much as I would LOVE to see Ha;qch at Holiday Shinjuku, I think Plastic Tree at the Yokohama Blitz is a little more important, lol (and cost me some moneyz). But that's okay, Indies never stops, so I'm sure I'll see Ha;qch again and be able to check out EAT some time soon.

    OMG E+T shirt = happineeeeeess! They're so fucking awesooooooooome.