Saturday, February 27, 2010

Plastic Tree live at the Yokohama Blitz 2/25

Time to report on a real, full-scale concert for once! I've been doing so many runs of indies concerts, I almost forgot what it's like to go to an actual concert for a famous band, lol.

Anyhoo, today's band is Plastic Tree! Plastic Tree is comprised of four lovely chaps, from left to right: KenKen, Akira, Ryutaro, Tadashi:

Lol, Ryutaro looks like a corpse in this picture. Anyways! So Plastic Tree's been around since 1993, and I guess their music is like... soft-core rock, maybe? Or hard pop? I dunno... it sounds almost like British rock to me (and the band has admitted to British musical influences). They sort of confuse me, honestly, because their music doesn't seem particularly hard - it's often quite light and melodic, in fact - but the atmosphere and mood of the band is extremely gloomy. Doesn't quite add up, but I think maybe that's why people like them. Everyone at the show was gothed up as all hell despite everything.

So yes, you'd be right in assuming that the music isn't quite my kind of thing. A little too light for me. But they have some harder songs I enjoy, and some catchy songs I enjoy, and I actually like their slower, prettier songs more than anything else. I like enough of their music, and what I like I really like, so it seemed worth it to see them in concert, lol. Because I'm not too familiar with the band, this report might seem a little vaguer than usual, but I'll do my best!

To start off with - the venue. It was up in Yokohama, which is outside of Tokyo. I've always wanted to go to the Blitz, because Yokohama Blitz and Akasaka Blitz are both famous venues. Taking advantage of being in Yokohama, Geri and I stopped off for some delicious kaiten-zushi (that's when the sushi runs on a conveyor belt and you can just grab whatever you want as it passes by). Then we also went to Starbucks to indulge in the delicious sakura (cherry blossom) deliciousness that is Japanese Starbucks in February and March.

Look at the delicious sakura latte! They're pink and addicting and amazing!

And sakura cake on top of all that!

Seriously, America needs to get on the sakura bandwagon. At least 50% of the Japanese in Starbucks lately are indulging in the cherry blossom goodness.

Anyways, after food, Geri and I headed to the next station over. We'd heard Yokohama Blitz was right near the station, but we honestly had no idea which way to go. As we were wandering around the station looking for any sign that might say "Blitz this way!" we spotted a couple of girls with gigantic metal collars around their necks and tall, ball-tipped antennas sticking out of their heads. Uuuuuum... way to go Japan, lol. The girls were cosplaying Plastic Tree in their Consent music video.  Fun fact of the day: the drag-queen alien in the Consent music video was the drag-queen who did the dress-code check when I went to Tokyo Decadance. I wrote about how he was fanning himself and getting all hot and bothered over Kaya's sex-driven performance that night, lol.

Anyways, I usually play "Follow the Goths" to find concert venues in Japan, but today it was "Follow the Robots!" As we followed our silly robots, it became more and more clear that we were heading in the right direction. Sooooo many people with shoulder-length, black, poofy haircuts, lol. Sooooo many people wearing too much eye-shadow. Sooooo many people in gigantic, over-sized and/or striped clothing. Mhmm.

Anyhoo, then we got to Yokohama Blitz (where the baggy-clothed goth population hit its maximum). Here are some pictures of the venue!


Anyhoo, I was quite enjoying the fashion walking around the place. I've always loved Ryutaro's style, and I like to see so many people trying to have fun with it.

So we stood around for awhile, sequestered into stupid line segments. And the idiots running the place couldn't figure out where to put the lines, so sometimes they would pick up the barriers and herd us all like fucking cattle to a different spot. When we got to the main waiting area, Geri and I wound up in a strangely awkward pickle. There were these two guys standing there, and that alone was weird because there weren't that many men at the show. But these two guys, well... you couldn't miss 'em because they were soooo tall (over six feet, I swear) and one of them was dressed really VK. He had half his head buzzed with a red heart dyed into his hair, and he had red contact lenses and very strange clothing. And his friend, who wasn't as dressed up, looked really familiar. And they kept staring at us and whispering to each other. It dawned on us that those two guys are from one of the indies bands we've seen, and they recognized us! Wow... awkward.

Eventually, we got into the venue, and we were able to get up to a pretty good distance. Like half-way up. Yokohama Blitz can hold maybe... 2000 people? So I'd say we did pretty good. There was more waiting... blah blah blah... and then the show started!

Here's the setlist for anyone who knows Plastic Tree. I had to transcribe all this from kanji and katakana, so bear with me if I made any mistakes! Geri can probably fix it for me if she notices a problem (she knows Plastic Tree waaaaaay better than I do).

1999
Elegy
Fukuro

Sanatorium
Etcetera
Naizou Mic

Suiminyaku
Spica
sunset bloody sunset
Gagaji
egg
Ghost

Donna Donna
―――Anten。

Encore:

Nihon wa Seiten Nari
Hate Red Dip It
Abstract My Life

So... since I can't really do a blow-by-blow with Plastic Tree, I'll just give you all the highlights!

Well, anyways, the backgrounds were quite lovely. Yokohama Blitz has huge LED backdrop capabilities, which Plastic Tree took full advantage of. There were lots of circles in the backdrop, so things were often spiraling or spinning or footage was playing inside the circles. For example, during one of the songs, the background was filled with spinning wheels, but one of the wheels had a hamster running in it. One effect that they did a few times was to make the circles act like computers and type out the lyrics in scrolling patterns across the backdrop as Ryutaro sang.

Ryutaro himself is quite the strange performer. He's known for his youthful, childlike voice, but he has a strange way of handling himself as well. For this show he was wearing an enormous, over-sized, button-down shirt that went down to his ankles. Eventually he unbuttoned it to reveal that he was wearing a tank top underneath and these fuzzy, grey and black striped shorts that went down to his knees. Under that was black leggings and red shoes. He liked his over-sized shirt waaaaay too much and continually spun around in circles and twirled about the stage for the entire show, letting the shirt fan out behind him.

He has an amusing MC style as well. He barely acts human when he talks. He's almost more like a doll that flops around. And his MCs don't make much sense. He was like "Yokohama desu ne..." ("we're in Yokohama, aren't we?") to which the entire crowd obviously responded in the affirmative. Then Ryutaro was like "so we're in Yokohama... because we're in Yokohama... I ate shumai (small, Chinese dumplings)... I ate two shumai... I ate too much..." and then he laughed while totally zoning out at his own joke. Two shumai is eating too much? What is that, like 100 calories?!  Well, now he know how Ryutaro stays in shape. Anyways... he just seems like he's drifting around in his own world.

Of course, the audience finds him painfully adorable. Whenever Ryutaro says or does anything, the girls in the audience are like "kawaiiiiiii!" ("cuuuuuuute!"). He really is adorable. He has good command of the crowd, too. When Tadashi was trying to MC, Ryutaro discovered that if he holds the microphone towards the audience, they'll all scream, even if Tadashi is trying to talk. After doing that a couple of times, Ryutaro smirked and put his finger to his lips to silence us.

Anyways, musically speaking, the band has a good mix of catchy songs and melodious songs, but the band has some harder music with which to rock out as well. They played Ghost, which was really fun. Everyone likes Ghost cuz you can actually headbang to it. Most of the girls started headbanging, which was surprising since this was more of a stand-and-absorb-the-music kind of show.  Even the band's technician started rocking out to Ghost while working the tech crap.

Now, Plastic Tree was clearly going for a "surreal" atmosphere during this show. The oddest thing that happened was when four men stomped onto the stage wearing cardboard boxes on their heads. The boxes had two holes cut out for eyes, and the eyes had red, blinking lights in them. Then the box heads wandered around the stage tearing pages out of newspapers and magazines and throwing them into the crowd. Um. Riiiiight. Another strange moment was when Ryutaro sat down on his crate and began headbanging in such a way that it looked like he was trapped in an invisible rocking chair and someone was pulling it back and forth violently and wouldn't let him off. Again, I emphasize that this man acts more like a doll than an actual person.

Oh, and Plastic Tree just got a new drummer named KenKen, but he already seems to have his own fanclub. People were screaming for him like crazy even though he just joined the band. You go, kid!

At the end of the show, Ryutaro spun around in circles so many times he just collapsed to the floor. Hope he didn't eat too much before the show, lol. Then again, if two shumai is a lot of food to him, I'd say that's not a problem, hahaha.

So the show was a lot of fun. There were pretty songs, poppy songs, harder rock songs... a good spread over all. I was kind of sad they didn't play Kuuchuu Buranko, though, cuz that's my favorite song.

So that about wraps it up! Sorry I can't give more details! I'm a n00b!

Anyways, hope to see you all soon!

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