Wow. I just got back from a literal indies Hell. And of course I can only mean that in the best of ways. Up till now, these indies concerts have been little mini festivals in which a ton of bands play to a somewhat scattered audience.
Not tonight. Tonight was a real concert. Tonight was one of the best concert experiences I've had in a damn long time.
So who was the harbinger of this wonderful night of joy? Someone I did not expect - Valluna:
Sorry for the crappy picture. Valluna only just added two of its members a few months ago, so this is the only updated picture I could find. Anyways, tonight was very different because Valluna was having a one-man concert by themselves, and the concert was free (except for the $5 drink charge at the door). I didn't know much about Valluna, but, well... it was free. Actually, Valluna hosted two concerts two nights in a row, and the first night was call Masochistic, and the second night was called Sadistic. I have no idea what the Masochistic night was like, but the Sadistic night we attended, well... hehehe.
Anyways, today's show was also at a new venue for me: Club Crawl in Shibuya. Club Crawl is great. It's really small, but it has a really professional setup. When we got there, there was already a herd of around fifty girls hovering around outside the venue. Wow. That's a lot of people already for such a small venue. I guess everyone wanted to make sure they were allowed in, since the concert was free.
Anyways, they opened the doors at 6:30 and we made our way downstairs into the deep, dark depths of Club Crawl. And man... it was packed. I guess that's why bands do free lives. It's great publicity. They must've squeezed over two hundred people in there. It was so crowded that people were crowding the doorway too. And there were a ton of guys. Most of them were trying to protect their masculinity by either coming with girlfriends or coming in packs, but we had a lot of guys there.
Now, the first thing I noticed about this particular show... the set-up. Holy shit. Remember how my very first indies live was described through a Silent Hill metaphor? Well, this time I mean it for real. The entire stage was set up to look like Silent Hill. There was a bar along the ceiling, and there were chains crisscrossing the front of the stage from the ceiling down to the barrier. There were also random chains dangling from the ceiling. On the crate was two mannequin heads wrapped in bloody gauze and blind-folded. The drum set was also wrapped in bloody gauze, with gauze dangling from the cymbals. The gauze waved eerily in some wind. The backdrop was glowing a thick, blood red in the darkness. And all around us was a strange, dissonant music like we were trapped in some kind of horror movie. My first thought was: wha-?
I mean, don't get me wrong, I've seen Valluna live and they were very enjoyable but... I didn't recall them being some kind of Halloween band. They seemed like a band trapped on the border between a goth band and a typical flamboyant VK band. So honestly... I didn't really expect this kind of thing from them. Chains? Bloody gauze? Mannequins? Really?
Anyways, Ashley and Geri and I were only able to get about halfway up because of how crowded it was, but that's okay. We just stood there admiring the hellish atmosphere of the place. Then, at around 7:00, a projector was set up and began to play a giant movie on a curtain to the left of the crowd. In unison, the entire audience dropped down to the floor and sat to watch the movie. I love how coordinated Japanese crowds are. Anyways, at first it just played two of Valluna's songs recorded live. A lot of the girls in the crowd were squealing if they recognized themselves in the audience somewhere. There was also a lot of laughter because the ripples in the curtain were warping the band members' faces and making them look all weird and freaky. Anyways, after the live shows were over, the band played an extremely amusing video in which the five of them had an arm-wrestling tournament. Surprisingly... drummer KANADE lost, lol. Guitarist SAKURA kicked everyone's asses to a very impressive degree. Kirimaru was being weird as usual, and he was wearing a pair of glasses with a tissue stuck under it to obscure his face. I thought maybe he was hiding his face because he wasn't wearing his make-up or didn't have in all of his piercings or something but... after he lost at arm-wrestling, he jumped up and nearly knocked over the chair, causing the tissue to fall off his face. Well, he looked like his usual insane self under there so... I'm going to assume the tissue was just for the fuck of it. They also played footage of the band touring around Nagoya and visiting temples. Kirimaru was still wearing the tissue in public. And that was the end of the video! Now onto the show!
Well, part of me worried that the Silent Hill Halloween set-up was just to show off and that the band wouldn't really follow through with that sort of thing. But then they came out onto the stage and... once again I was sort of blown back with surprise. Drummer KANADE came onto the stage and jumped up onto the crate, then crouched down like a dog with his hands on the crate and gave us all a crazy stare through two different colored eyes. Huh? Is this the same Valluna I saw last time? Ashley didn't seem as surprised as me, so perhaps I just saw Valluna on an off day last time. That and I think they really wanted to impress us and go all out for a one-man. Anyways, the rest of the band came out, too: guitarists Kei and SAKURA, and crazy bassist Kirimaru.
Finally, last but not least, vocalist yo-ka came onto the stage. Well, this just sealed the deal. He was dressed the way he was last time I saw him with the PVC leather short-shorts with the belt straps going back up into his crotch, but... he just looked out of his fucking mind. He also had one normal eye and one white-out contact eye, and tons of black make-up on his face. He jumped onto the crate (all the band members had to be really careful when they stood on the crate because the ceiling was so low they had to duck to avoid knocking themselves out) and gave us all an insane, bug-eyed stare, mouth hanging open, shaking head to foot like he was about to explode. It was one of the most deranged faces I've ever seen a performer make. As the band members all appeared, the girls in the audience were making the most horrifying, animal-like shrieks and snarls. It was like a room filled with a hundred insane monsters growling and shrieking and throwing their fists at the band - who looked like something out of a Halloween nightmare.
I must say, vocalist yo-ka is dressed for dirty thoughts. He's ripped as all hell with a full six-pack, and he's wearing short-shorts with belts hanging from them that connect back up into his crotch. Also, yo-ka grabbed onto the chains crisscrossing the front of the stage and began making sexually-suggestive faces at the crowd. At that moment, I suddenly realized the meaning in the Masochistic and Sadistic concert names. This show was S&M-themed! Haha, duuuuh.
Anyways, the show was utter madness. It was still an indies VK concert with all the furi, but... it was so packed and hot and sweaty, it was just like a real concert. And the fans treated it like one. You could barely move, and you had to do furi and headbanging very carefully and in totally synchrony with everyone else or you would literally knock someone out.
Now, I couldn't figure out if there was any way people could do gyaku-dive at a show like this. I wasn't even sure how the girls on the barrier were managing to vault themselves on the barrier because of the chains held taut across the front of the stage. It looked like they'd jump right into the chains. Still, the girls pulled it off and barrier-hopped as well as usual. Then, when gyaku-dive happened during the first song, the girls still pulled themselves onto the barrier and dangled over it. However, for whatever reason, the entire crowd surged and rushed forward. Seeing a great chance to move up in general, I rushed forward with everyone else. I didn't body-slam anyone because I couldn't get close enough, but I now went from half-way back in the crowd to somewhere between the third and fourth row! Yay, stealthiness.
Anyways... this show was just... fucking insane. How do I even describe it? Vocalist yo-ka shrieked like a banshee and made faces so wide-eyed and insane that I thought he might just grab a girl out of the crowd and rip her head off. At one point, in brilliant S&M fashion, he looped his hands through two of the chains dangling from the ceiling, showing that they were set up like handcuffs, and pretended to be tied up for an entire song. He pulled and struggled against the chains for the entire thing.
Everyone was mass head-banging and jumping up and down. At one point, everyone was supposed to hold hands and hop side to side. A little Japanese school girl next to me grabbed my hand and grinned up at me. Aaaaaw. Kirimaru was crazy as always. His pierced tongue was always hanging out, and he would grab it or waggle it around or chew on his fingers. He has a definite fascination with his mouth. Also, I can never tell where he's looking with those crazy mismatched eyes. And he's off in his own weird little world. At one point, he started headbutting the dangling chains over and over again. Strange man.
Now, when things got crazy, they got really crazy. When gyaku-dive returned during the Valluna concert, something very new for me happened, and I decided to join in. The girls at the barrier jumped up and dangled over it, then the second row rushed forward and slammed them... and then the third row rushed forward and slammed the second row, and then... everyone ran forward and, in a fit of madness, almost the entire crowd rushed forward, jumped, slammed, and dog-piled on top of each other. Yes, over fifty girls dog-piled on top of each other at this concert. And not only once. It happened in rounds. The vocalist would start screaming something that sounded like "WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!" and everyone would throw their fists at him and yell with him. Then, when the barrier girls would leap over the bar, everyone would rush forward and body-slam into a giant dog-pile. While in the pile, everyone would continually slam against each other to the beat, at least once per measure, meaning everyone would jump onto each other, then slam each other over and over again. And guess who was right there in the pile? Yeah, me... It was one of the most fun things I've ever done. During the "why" part, I would run back, fist-pump, wait for the cue, run forward, fucking slam the bitch in front of me, then get slammed into her, and then just fucking pummel her over and over with my shoulder while getting pummeled and leaped onto from behind. It didn't hurt, though. All of us were laughing and grinning while we did this. There wasn't any malice behind it. It was just pure, awesome fun.
Only in Japan.
The real fun of this dog-pile routine was the way the band treated it. The band members all continually switched spots, giving each section of the crowd its full attention. When guitarist SAKURA came up to the front in my section on the left, he egged us on, trying to get us to scream. He locked eyes with me and jerked his finger into the air every time yo-ka yelled "why!" trying to make me yell with him. I yelled "why!" each time, but Sakura wasn't satisfied and kept staring into my eyes and fingering the air until he was sure I was hoarse. Then he nodded and moved on. When Kirimaru came up to our section, it got really insane. Everyone slammed forward, jumping against each other, trying to get his attention. I wound up in a staring contest with him. At first I couldn't tell where he was looking because of his two-toned eyes, then I realized he really was staring right at me. And he wouldn't look away. I grinned with my teeth on my lip and Kirimaru responded by sticking out his pierced tongue and waggling it at me in an extremely perverse fashion. Hahaha. Now, you have to realize how close we all were to the band. Kirimaru reached in and began patting people on the head or grabbing their heads and tugging on them, which only urged us closer. I raised my arm and threw the horns right in his face, and a girl grabbed onto my arm for support as she got slammed into me. Kirimaru responded by seductively stroking his hand up the girl's arm and across my hand. Whoa there. Then yo-ka came over. Oh boy. He kept putting himself right in between the girls at the barrier so that their faces were pressed up against his bare thighs. When he crouched down between the heads of the barrier girls right in front of me, I wound up with my face right in his crotch. I could actually see up his shorts. Thank god he was wearing underwear of some sort. He kept rather seductively muttering "mada mada mada" at all of us (and occasionally screaming it). In this case, "mada mada mada" would probably translate to "we're not fucking done yet, bitches!" In fact, he was so close, he reached out and mussed up my hair like I was a dog, then grabbed a chunk of it and gave it a tug and left all my hair messed up and scattered in my face. I guess the show was called Sadistic after all, lol. Yo-ka moved away and also grabbed one of the mannequin heads and slammed it onto the stage. He also picked up a full mannequin body and went over to Ashley and hit her over the head with it. She looked at him like he was crazy, and he responded by hitting her again. He later threw the whole mannequin into the audience, and somehow a girl in front of me wound up with one of the mannequin's arms in her hands.
Yeah, this show was fucking insane. I wasn't kidding. At the end of the show, as KANADE was pounding on the drums, Kirimaru came up to some of the chains hanging across the front of the stage and began biting them and tearing at them with his teeth. Crazy bastard. The band also graced us with two rip-roaring encores with lots of jumping up and down and head-banging. They also threw items, and Kirimaru always put his whole pick in his mouth before throwing it into the crowd. When Valluna finally exited the stage for real, they left a battered, sweaty, but ecstatic audience in their wake. Everyone looked like they'd been beaten in the face with a happy stick.
Wow. One of the most amazing concert experiences I've had. An S&M-themed concert! How great is that?!
After the show was over, Ashley and Geri and I used our drink ticket to get some Cassis grape and refresh after the insanity.
Wow. Thank you Valluna. That was exactly what I needed. A real body-busting concert. I have a headache from headbanging too much but, you know what... I couldn't be happier. Really. Thanks a bunch, you guys! I hope to see you again soon!