Wednesday, April 28, 2010

D 7th ANNIVERSARY TOUR 「7th Rose」 Tour Final

Hello all! Time to complete the three-concert weekend bonanza with D! As you recall, it was D'espairsRay Friday, Indies Saturday, and D Sunday! Let's get to it, shall we?

We've met them a few times on the blog, but once again this blog post shall be about the lovely, rose-obsessed young men of D (yes, men):

This year marks D's 7th anniversary as a band, so of course they've been touring and having fun with it. The show I attended was the tour final for the 7th anniversary tour, and it was being held at the Stellar Ball in Shinagawa. I'd never been there, so I wasn't sure what kind of venue to expect...

As it turned out, the Stellar Ball is held in the friggin' Prince Hotel in Shinagawa. Meaning this place was fucking fancy. And it was a huge show. Maybe like... 3000 people? I'm not sure exactly. Here's a crappy picture I took of the merchandise line with my cell phone:

Now, one thing I really love about this giant crowd of D fans... D fans are classy. I mean, you see goths at any kinda show I go to, but the goths at D are dressed in expensive, classy goth clothing. Ashley and I were admiring this one girl who was wearing some kind of beautiful Moi-même-Moitié dress that probably cost a few hundred dollars. There were also bazillions of cosplayers decked out in fancy kimonos, leather, fur, etc. I felt terribly under-dressed, lol. Then again, Ashley and I both burst out laughing at these two girls who walked by wearing the D'espairsRay tour shirts from the show we both saw on Friday. Hahaha, what?!

Anyways, the merchandise line took a good half an hour. The problem is that there are certain things you pretty much need to be in the D audience (the flags, a fan, maybe a flag case if you want to keep them safe). The line was huge and blocked off by sections. The huge crowd also took a good hour to get inside even once doors had opened. Ashley and I had rather crappy tickets since any non-fan-club ticket is bound to suck. But that's okay. We had to go inside the Prince Hotel to get to the Stellar Ball and... wow... that place is fancy as all hell.

There was a friggin' carousel inside the building next to the line! Look at this thing!

There was also a dolphin with a lei around its neck that I found really funny:

Anyways, as for merch, I already had my flags in their respective flag case (I hadn't been sure how to keep the case on myself, and I ultimately wound up chaining it to myself, lol), but now I needed a fan. Twice now I've seen D without a fan and it's really lame without one because the audience fan-dances for at least two songs per show. But this time they were selling special 7th anniversary fans! They were a little pricey but really beautiful and everyone had one, so I was more than happy to buy one! Isn't it lovely?

Anyways, Ashley and I had some trouble getting into the venue because the stupid coin lockers only took 500 yen coins and by the time I noticed there was an exchange booth, a lot of people had beaten us into the venue. Not to mention our tickets weren't that great. But we got inside and joined the audience towards the back. Things were more spread out back there and there were some really lame fans but... there were also some awesome people back there, thankfully. A lot of guys were back there because they're too embarrassed to be in the fan club, lol. Those guys tend to be awesome, though.

The show started a little late for some reason... but then the lights went down and it was shooooow time! And I'm happy to say I have the setlist (and I apologize for any errors in title - I had to Romanize the kanji myself, and I've never been known to be very good at kanji, lol)!

Ayakashi Kitan
7th Rose ~Return to Zero~
7th Rose
Guardian
Waga Teki wa Ware ni Ari
Kaze ga Mekuru Peeji
Aoi Kajitsu
Hanatsumi no Otome ~Rozova Dolina~

- Drum solo -

Independent Queen
Night-Ship"D"
Crimson Fish
Sleeping beautiful beast
Mikazuki Youranshuu
Yami no Kumi no Alice
Karakuri Emaki
Yami Yori Kurai Doukoku no A Cappella to Bara Yori Akai Jounetsu no Aria
Toki no Koe
13gatsu no Yumemioka
Day by Day

Encore 1:
Taiyou wo Okuru Hi
EDEN

Encore 2:
Tightrope
Meteo ~Mubi no Koku~

Encore 3:
Dearest You
7th Rose

If that looks like a long setlist to you, that's because it was. The length of the show shall be revealed at the end, lol.

Also, just want to give a super special thanks to Ashley for helping me smooth out any memory errors I had before typing this and making sure I didn't write anything stupid and inaccurate!

So D opened up with Ayakashi Kitan, which is a total bad-ass intro. I never cared for the song Day by Day, but this song was a sick B-side. The band came onto the stage in their 7th Rose clothing (as depicted above). I don't know how Asagi moves in that giant rose-dress, lol. I've seen him in that thing twice and I still don't get it, lol. Hide-zou, Ruiza, Hiroki and Tsunehito were looking great as always! Tsunehito having red hair has really grown on me, lol.

After Akayashi Kitan, the band went into the tour title song: 7th Rose! If you haven't heard this song yet, you're severely missing out. Here's the song in all its awesomeness with its totally bad-ass music video! Plus the outfits in this video are the exact outfits the band wore on stage:



Can you tell the band really likes roses?! For this song, the band rained paper rose petals down upon the audience for the entire song! It was cute watching people leaping and trying to catch them, lol.

Now, actually... I don't want to go over this show song by song because I just don't have the memory for it, but I do plan to cover each of the new songs from the new album because, well... they're new and I hadn't seen all of them live yet. This may come as a surprise to some but... I actually really loved the 7th Rose album. From start to finish I think it's a fantastic release. Honest to god. And what was interesting about this show was that Asagi had a different "shtick" for every song on the new CD. I'll go over that later.

As for the audience itself, Ashley and I were sad to see that our area was too far back for anybody to be squishing up together or anything like that so... I guess we just sorta handled it like it was an indies concert. If you give me that much room, I'm going to use it. This resulted in a lot of headbanging and unnecessary jumping just because I fucking felt like it.

Anyways, when the band played Waga Teki wa Ware ni Ari and Kaze ga Mekuru Peeji, we all whipped out our fans for some fan-dancing! And for the first time, I had a fan during D! Unfortunately, I stuck my fan in my flag-case because I didn't know where to put it and... I couldn't get my fan out, hahaha. Took me a good minute! Anyways, I suck at fan-dancing. I'm pathetically uncoordinated, lol. That's okay, I had fun!

After that came Aoi Kajitsu, in which Asagi whipped out... castanets. Yeah, castanets. Only Asagi could possibly use castanets during a metal concert and still somehow make it work. He's a ridiculous man, but it's quite lovable. He guided us all into clapping along with his castanets.

The next new song on the setlist was Hanatsumi no Otome ~Rozova Dolina~. Asagi Shtick Time! I loved this song on the album and I'd been dying to see it live. For this song, Asagi got out a tambourine. Yes, a tambourine. Then he guided the audience into various hits he would do on the tambourine, urging us to clap the beats with him as if we had tambourines. This was way more fun than it should have been. There are tambourines in the song, so it makes sense. Asagi also had this tambourine dance he would do at times during the song which involved him basically wiggling and gyrating from head to foot, lol. The fact that he does this in leather short-shorts makes it quite terrifying and hilarious all at once.

After that song, the band left the stage and left Hiroki to have an epic drum solo that lasted at least five minutes. This drum solo was huge and crazy and Hiroki urged us to yell and throw our fists with him. I felt kind of bad, though, that everyone in the band got a break but him.

After the drum solo, the band returned to play another song I loved off the new album: Independent Queen! Hmm... what was Asagi's shtick for this one...? Oh, right, the riding crop! Asagi kept whipping the riding crop and doing this absolutely terrifying yell. It's kinda like... you know when some goes "ow ow!" at something being kinky? It's like the second "ow" of that, or something... except way louder and freakier.

Then Night-Ship "D" happened and that of course means... flag time!!! Asagi brought out his giant D flag and waved it around, signaling that we all needed to pry our flags out of our cases.

Anywaaaaaaaays! After that came another new song: Crimson Fish. I've consulted Ashley, and we believe Asagi's shtick for this song was to act like a broken doll. It was pretty creepy. He was all twitchy and jerky and broken. But most of all I remember that the song was awesome, lol. I love the random parts in the song where the bass-line suddenly busts in. The audience would all start headbanging suddenly with the bass and then stop just as suddenly.

Crimson Fish was followed by the new song Sleeping Beautiful Beast and Mikazuki Youranshuu. These songs are really beautiful. I didn't expect the band to play Mikazuki Youranshuu because it's just a prologue-type song on the CD but... they played it and it's really hypnotic. Asagi just stood there singing and it was all pretty and the lighting was sort of like being in twilight. Really mesmerizing...

Of course the classic Yami no Kuni no Alice appeared in the setlist. Which is bad because it gets stuck in my head more often than is necessary. Really. In fact... it's stuck in my head now just because I typed this, aaaaaaaaaaargh.

Ooh, time for another new song! Next up is Karakuri Emaki! It was also totally awesome, and Asagi guided us all into doing Flamenco-style clapping with him. The new 7th Rose CD was just made for being played live, seriously. I recall Asagi doing some goofy dances during this song, too.

Next up was... oh boy... Yami Yori Kurai Doukoku no A Cappella to Bara Yori Akai Jounetsu no Aria (or just Yami Yori as we'll call it from here on out). Hmm... You know, the funny thing about this song is that it was the first D song I ever heard and it made me not want to ever hear the band's music again because Asagi's "fat lady singing voice" was annoying. But somehow the song just works live. It just does. It tends to be one of the most fun songs they perform.

After that came destruction-time! Asagi started howling like a wolf and we knew it was time for Toki no Koe! This just meant lots of headbanging and general rocking out. Asagi loves to raise his arms up and down and guide the audience into a slow headbang with him. It's pretty funny. He wants complete control of the crowd. For this song, I decided to replace all the air-grab-fist move thingies with jumps because I was feeling hyper, lol. This meant I jumped up and down... more times than is necessary for a human being. That's okay, when the guys nearby saw Ashley and I jumping instead of just throwing our fists, they started doing it too. It's just way more fun that way, even if it's totally exhausting!

After Toki no Koe was another song from the new CD I'd been dying to hear: 13gatsu no Yumemioka. Now, I know some people might be thinking "what...? There's no way Kita likes that song. There's no way!" Well... you're wrong. I know I'm usually the first person to go "ew that song is and cheesy and stupid" but... for this song... nope, I actually like it. It's fun and bouncy and catchy and it gets stuck in your head and... you know what, it's okay to be silly sometimes. I don't care if the Underpants Gnomes from South Park show up at the end of that song, it's just a fun song. Asagi was being a weirdo and he was holding a cat-mask in front of his face for this entire song and making his hands into paw-shapes and cat-dancing. It was totally bizarre and hilarious and awesome. At the end, during the Underpants Gnomes part, Asagi urged the crowd to hop up and down repeatedly to the beat. I really felt like this song needed jumping, so I happily obliged. Some people started to tire out and stopped doing it, but Tsunehito never once stopped jumping the entire time, so I refused to get tired either! Jumping is fun!

After that song was Day by Day, and I believe the band rained red and silver streamers upon us. Everyone caught the streamers and held them in their hands in order to have super-shiny para-para, lol. I still don't like that song, though, lol.

And then the band left the stage. Here's where I was feeling a little worried. Remember my last blog post about D? The band came back for one encore, played one song, left, then ignored the crowd despite all their pleas for encore. The result was mass, audience-wide sobbing and it was very sad. I didn't want a repeat of that.

Well, they came back for an encore and started up with the always-awesome Taiyou wo Okuru Hi! They then played EDEN and the band cut the music and Asagi got the entire audience to sing the words along with him. Very touching, of course.

Then the band left again. Now it was time to really get nervous. Would they disappoint us again? They couldn't, could they? We'd been a good audience!

Well, thankfully they did come back! Cuz you know what? Those bastards hadn't played Tightrope yet! Why of course! So they totally rocked with that one (c'mon, it's Tightrope, you're guaranteed to have fun). After that was one of my all-time favorites D songs: Meteo ~Mubi no Koku~. That's just rockin' shit right there. That's when you get to headbang until you hurt! Plus Asagi yodels, so that just automatically makes it awesome, hahaha. At that point, I was rocking out and jumping around too much for my own good. I may have looked like an idiot, but I didn't care! I was enjoying myself, damnit!

Theeeeeeeen the band left again. Hmmmm..... They hadn't done their "final jump" yet so we could assume they'd come back, right? Well, sure enough, D graced us with a third encore!

They came back and played Dearest You! Yay, more music! At one point, Asagi instructed the whole audience to grab hands and jump into the air together even though it was in the middle of a song. Unfortunately, the girl next to me didn't realize what Asagi wanted until mid-way through the jump, so she just kinda whacked me in the hand and left us both standing there confused. Er... whoops.

Now, after Dearest You, the band members all started wandering around whispering to each other. Then Asagi did an MC and started off all seriousl. As it turned out, however, he had a message of happiness for us all! Asagi told us that upon seeing all our faces, the band decided to give us an extra, unplanned song! At this, a girl near us burst into tears. But unlike the last show where people were crying tears of sadness, these were tears of joy! The band decided to play 7th Rose again! Oh fuck yeah! We all rocked the hell out as much as humanly possible! Freakin' sweeeeeet!

And then the show was over! Hide-zou and Ruiza and Tsunehito threw picks and smiled as we all cheered them on, and Hiroki threw drumsticks. Man, the guys near us all really like Hiroki, lol. Boys tend to like drummers, it seems. The band seemed really happy! Everyone was smiling and waving! And with that, we were done...

It was a mad rush with everyone scrambling over each other to use the coin lockers. On the way, they handed out free D CDs with a song on it called Inishie no Ibuki. It's a really awesome song with no words and it's really wild and exotic sounding.

Anyways, after the show, Ashley and I were stunned to realize that the show had lasted three hours. Holy geez. And with that, Ashley and I limped and ached our way to a cafe to get some caffeine.

And thus concludes my weekend of insanity! I wound up rather crippled and exhausted, but it was all totally worth it and I still got an 86% on the lesson test the following day that I basically didn't study for because I was at concerts. Go me!

Once again, a special thanks to Ashley for helping me make sure this blog was accurate! I had scrambled eggs for brains while I wrote this!

Anyways, as for concerts, I don't have anything scheduled till next Sunday when I see Merry! There will probably be some indies, however.

See you all whenever I have another adventure!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Indies, “Death trap-GIG”, 4/23

Could it be... more Indies?! Yes, it could be. If you saw the post below, I saw D'espairsRay on Friday (if you haven't read it, I give it a huge recommendation). This blog's show was on Saturday! Sunday was D's 7th Rose tour final, which I will post after this show (since I imagine some people are quite eager to read about D's tour final).

Anyways, for now, let's have a very brief glance at Saturday's indies! The show was being hosted by VAJRA in light of their fourth single release.

So I'll be brief! The venue was at Yotsuya Outbreak, which is the one right near my university campus. But before going I simply had to indulge in sakura gelato with vanilla ice cream, biscotti, white chocolate pieces, and green tea syrup. Goddamn.

Anyways, we got to the venue and took our customary spots... AKA sitting in the back so we can ignore all the bands until something we like shows up. We were really only there for Navir and VAJRA. We were also sad to notice that a certain VAJRA fan was not in attendance... our dear Nesting Girl. More on that later.

So, first band up... Virulent:

I don't remember much about them, but I didn't think they were very good. The vocalist was another one of those guys who's trying to be either Kyo from Dir en grey or Ruki from the GazettE at the same time and, thus, looks really silly.

Next up, HAMELN (a rehearsal session band):

Being a session band and all, I recognized a few of the members as people I'd seen in other bands. Especially the vocalist, who I remember seeing at Rockmaykan. They weren't very enjoyable. They have some support keyboardist who is more annoying than helpful, and the guitarist has about as much talent as a five year old playing Smoke on the Water on repeat. The only notable thing about this band is the vocalist (top-left), who may have done a serious amount of crack-cocaine before performing. Seriously. He spazzed and flailed around so much I think he broke a piece of equipment at one point. And the thing is... he couldn't calm down that pace. He couldn't. When he tried to MC, his eyes were bugging out and he was shaking head to toe and couldn't remember what he wanted to say because he couldn't fucking slow down for two goddamn seconds. Seriously, dude, calm the fuck down. That or lay off the crack, geez. It was kind of hilarious, though, lol.

Next up, Code: SevIIens:

Hmm, I've seen them before... but I don't recall their name having a "Code" in it. I think they lost a member, so maybe the name changed after that. Anyways, they are also a very uninteresting band. They're not bad exactly, just not my kinda thing, maybe. Plus they have no drummer (it's pre-recorded) and the tape got messed up and they had to stop a song. But for some reason they decided that if they tried the song over again, somehow the tape would magically work. Of course it didn't, and simply wasted a good ten minutes of everyone's time and embarrassed the crap out of the band. I couldn't even look at them because I was so embarrassed for them. Only memorable moment... at one point, the vocalist climbed onto the barrier, leaned backwards, and dangled upside-down into the crowd by his knees. He continued screaming like that. Now, the dangling wasn't what amazed me, it was that he was able to effortlessly pull himself right back up onto the stage without his arms - like the world's most epic sit-up. He must have some killer abs under that outfit.

Next up... guardant:

It seemed like a lot of people had come just to see guardant. I don't really know why. So many people were up and rocking out to them that I figured they must be something interesting but... they felt the same as all the others. Oh well.

Next up... Velgat:

This was an extra band so I had to do some super-sleuthing to figure out who the hell the extra band was. I'm 99.9% sure it was Velgat. The vocalist is really amusing. He's terrifyingly energetic and crazy. He's like a little lemur running around and spazzing out. Also, he's fucking tiny. My gawd, it's not every day you see someone with a tiny bone structure like that. I really had an urge to grab him by the waist and see if I could get my fingers around him. I bet my fingers would touch.

And finally we get to something we wanted to see, good ol' Navir:

Out of date picture is out of date. Anyways! Navir was enjoyable as always, plus it felt good to finally stand up and do something. They're always a fun band. A good mix of hard rock but also a sort of casual, fun atmosphere mixed it. And a bit of rapping.  One thing I really like about them... charisma and audience-connectivity is just as important in a band as the music, and that's something Navir is really good at. The band is... encouraging. They're not threatening, but they try to get you to have fun and rock out in the most encouraging ways possible. For example, if Maya (the vocalist) wants you to yell with him, he doesn't get up in your face. He just sorta... gestures repeatedly and looks you in the eyes and tries to get you riled up with him. And what I like is that... if you do yell with him, you get a smile or a satisfied nod. His band mates are the same way. I really like that. They encourage you to participate and have fun without being threatening, and at the same time I think they genuinely just want you to enjoy yourself. That's cool of them. Plus Maya likes to fist-bump with the audience, haha

So Navir was a lot of fun and I rocked out and finally enjoyed myself. When Navir was done, my friends and I noticed some new person with blond and pink hair dressed in horribly over-sized clothing hovering towards the back of the crowd... Why... it was Nesting Girl! Hurray! Hilarious antics were now guaranteed! Nesting Girl is obviously following VAJRA, but I suppose due to a lack of interest in the other bands or school or a part-time job or who knows what, she showed up towards the end of the show when VAJRA was scheduled. It's always a gamble with these shows because no exact times are known. In fact, I've seen Nesting Girl get up and rock out to Navir, so I get the feeling she didn't mean to miss Navir. Oops. Such is the risk one takes when they show up late.

Anyways, next band up... MoNoLith:

Yeah, more lame. Ashley and Geri and I sat back down for these guys.

Anyhoo, after MoNoLith it was finally VAJRA time!

Of course, Nesting Girl was up and right in the front for this. Almost every single person standing for VAJRA seemed to be talking animatedly, and they seemed to be scheming something, though I wasn't sure what yet. And for whatever reason, Nesting Girl decided to pick up a friend of hers, who weighed at least twenty more pounds than her and carry the girl around for awhile. Nesting Girl is awesome because she doesn't have to make sense, lol.

Anyways, we've met them twice on the blog now, and once again we have VAJRA:

When the show started up, it suddenly became clear what the VAJRA fans had been scheming about. As each band member came out one by one, one or two of the front-row barrier girls would climb up onto the barrier and straddle it. I think they did it by favorite band member. For example, when the drummer came out, a couple girls climbed up onto the barrier and started screaming. Then they got down and someone else would get up for the next member. Leave it to Nesting Girl to get up on the barrier when friggin' 『L.』 came out. God, he's freaky. Then Nobro came running out, revealing that his face was smeared with freaky red make-up and he had in white-out contacts.

Also, this is a silly thing but... you know what I like with these guys? They don't rely on their costumes. Nobro had his horns but not his coat. And 『L.』 and Yuuri and Rohan weren't wearing their face-masks (Rohan the drummer was kind of adorable... he replaced his butterfly face-thing with nerd-glasses). And Nobro changes his make-up a bit every time we see him.

Anyways, the band was up to its usual crazy. I rocked out until I was in pain the next day. We also got to slam-dance back and forth like crazy (I slam-danced into Nesting Girl just for the hell of it, since she loves to take up so much space). The only problem with the slam-dancing is that 『L.』 decided to take it upon himself to throw water into the crowd during this, both drowning the crowd and making the floor dangerously slippery at the same time. Why does he do these things to us? He really loves to inflict pain, doesn't he, lol? There was booty-bumping too (I think I slammed this one girl a little too roughly a few times but... you don't take barrier for VAJRA unless you want some pain). 『L.』 was being creepy as always and constantly smiling and making weird faces. Ashley and I made the mistake of smiling at 『L.』 at various times which resulted in him eying us continuously and making creepy faces.

Also, the mystery of Nobro from the last show has been solved. We weren't sure how Nobro started bleeding at the last show, but I had a theory based on Nobro's obvious man-crush on Kyo. Sure enough, I'm sure any Dir en grey fan can guess in two seconds how Nobro does it. You guessed it... fish-hooking. Just like Kyo, Nobro puts his fingers in his mouth and violently scratches inside his cheeks until he spits up blood. Like Kyo he also punches himself in the face to get more blood out. Bottom line is... Nobro is a rip-off of Kyo? Also... after Nobro had spilled blood all over his lips and chin... he kissed 『L.』. Eeeeeew, lol. 『L.』 didn't seem to mind, hahaha.

A particularly amusing moment a la Nesting Girl... When VAJRA was done, we called for encore. The band came back, and... Nobro was drinking soda instead of water like performers usually do. My first thought was "is Nobro drinking soda? And is that..." Sure enough, Nobro rotated the bottle a little and... it was friggin' Dr. Pepper. What the hell? You can't even buy Dr. Pepper in Japan except at import shops. Now, everyone was calling out to the band as they came back, Nobro drinking his Dr. Pepper. So Nesting Girl's calls went like this: "Nobro! Nobroooo! Nobro! Eh? Soda? Soda?! Soda!!!" Next thing we knew, all the girls were chirping "soda!" at Nobro. Nobro looked a little miffed and took a huge chug of his Dr. Pepper. Then he lowered his head and rather sheepishly said "Dr. Pepper ga suki nan desu..." ("but I like Dr. Pepper..." Aaaaaaaaaaaaaw.

Then 『L.』 took the microphone and very creepily said something like "even if you guys hate me, I looooooooooove you!" Uh, sure dude...

Well, the band could only do one encore cuz stupid Code: SevIIens took up so much fucking time screwing up. Oh well, it was fun.

After the show, we loitered around a bit. The vocalist of guardant was making me sad because he was sitting at his merch booth all by himself without anyone paying him any attention and he eventually collapsed onto the table in exhaustion and laid their like a corpse. Aaaaw, dude, don't make me feel bad. I'm a softie, don't do that. Navir's guitarist was also hanging around handing out free samples of their new single. It took awhile for my friends and I to go over there and pick them up, so he kept looking over at us expectantly and seemingly confused that we hadn't taken the free shit yet.

Anyhoo, that about sums it up! I rocked out way too much for VAJRA and wound up with a sprained foot and a neck and back that hurt so bad I couldn't turn over in bed. Yay me!

Next up, D's 7th Rose tour final! Be on the lookout!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

D'espairsRay LIVE SHOW CASE "LOVE IS DEAD" 4/23

Well, I lied in my last post. I said this weekend's posts would be short, but this one won't be. That's because D'espairsRay was fucking awesome, and I feel the need to tell everyone about it.

They've come up on the blog several times, but today we're going to meet them again... and it's going to feel like the first time. Welcome back, D'espairsRay:

So... I feel that this blog post needs a bit of an introduction to make sense. What needs to be known here is my rather... rocky history with D'espairsRay. I've been a D'espairsRay fan like... five... six years? I'm not sure. But anyways, there are three bands I consider to be the "Founding Fathers" of my love of music. One of those is obviously Dir en grey. The less obvious one is Rammstein. The third one is... you guessed it - D'espairsray.

Growing up, I wasn't particularly fond of music. I mean, sure, a song came around here and there that I liked but... I didn't really believe in the idea of a "band" or that music was even particularly important. I always heard people saying that music was their life, or that music saves your soul, or blah blah blah, but growing up it sounded like garbage. Music failed to mean much of anything to me. Now, all that changed when I found JRock. I, like many people, started with Gackt/Malice Mizer. I will give Malice Mizer credit for the fact that they opened up my mind and showed me that music could be different. But it wasn't until I got to Dir en grey that I came to realize that music could really mean something. Dir en grey marked the moment I began to fall in love with music. Now, it was very, very soon after I discovered Dir en grey that I considered that maybe Japan had even more musical gems buried in its treasure trove. And that was when I found D'espairsRay.

They were unique and they had their own sound and they were crazy and it was shit you could really move to. I always put D'espairsRay as my #2 band through Coll:Set, through Mirror... Now, around Mirror I noticed some changes in the band. Something was... brighter?

And then... there was a snag. As with most Japanese bands, singles come out in preparation for a new album. So D'espairsray started releasing singles. It started with Brilliant... then Kamikaze... and I was growing more and more disconcerted with these releases. Then they released Horizon... a song I truly despise... and at that point, I began to feel like I was rooting for a team destined to lose, and I started to slip away from the band. The new album was entitled REDEEMER and I thought... maybe it'll redeem itself? The song REDEEMER and its music video seemed incredibly promising. But then the album... it just fell short... just like the singles... What had once been a unique, dark, one-of-a-kind talent suddenly became... like everyone else. The music was bright, cheerful, and... totally forgettable. People told me "oh, well, I think it's good they're experimenting." But experimenting to sound like everyone else isn't experimenting, it's conforming. And changing styles is fine, as long as the music still sounds good and memorable.  After REDEEMER, I virtually gave up on D'espairsRay. What had once been a "Founding Father of Music" for me became, well... a joke. After Final Call was released and wasn't any more interesting than REDEEMER, I simply said, "I give up."

But you can't really give up on something you once loved so much, can you? I still listened to their old music all the time, and even listened to the songs I loved on REDEEMER (I can't possibly say the CD was all bad, it had some great songs on it). But I would find myself feeling sad and melancholy when I listened to the classics... like I'd lost a friend. I figured D'espairsRay and I simply had too many differences now and the friendship wasn't going to work out. But again, I never truly gave up, and D'espairsRay wound up being the first concert I saw in Japan. And I really loved it. I'd been told that D'espairsRay on stage is a lot more like the old D'espairsRay. And they really were.

Was there really hope? Was there really a shadow of the old D'espairsRay still standing?

Well, today I'm going to tell you the answer is yes. D'espairsRay... you sneaky bastards, you've pulled me back in yet again.

When I keep track of like... what are the best concerts I've ever been to... I always think that Dir en grey Inward Scream in Chicago 2007, and Dir en grey's Dorje show at Shinkiba Studio Coast this year were the best concerts I've ever been to. And of course Dir en grey at the Budokan, but that's another monster entirely. But today, my friends, I'm happy to say that my old friend will join my other old friend in the ranks of Best Concerts I've Ever Been To. Congratulations, D'espairsRay! You fucking earned it!

Now, part of what makes this show great is that my friend Caroline was kind enough to get Ashley and I some friggin' fan club tickets. In Japan, tickets are done by number and you get called in by number. Fan club tickets are like first priority tickets, meaning if you want to get close to the front of the stage, you need to be in the fan club with a low number ticket. So thanks to Caroline, Ashley and I had tickets in the A section! Whoo!

We returned to Shibuya O-East, the venue where I saw two Merry concerts in one day. Shoved our shit in lockers, loitered around... I just had to have some of the bad-ass merch. Check these puppies out!

Bad-ass tour towel featuring the band members wearing their bird masks:


Also a bad-ass t-shirt featuring the Hizumi bird-mask on the front:

And the band members in their masks on the back:

Hell yeah! Anyways, the doors opened, la la la... They called by groups of ten, and I wound up getting left out of one section while Caroline and Ashley went ahead. That would've been fine, but when they called out my section, some girl shoved me out of the way in an attempt to get ahead. Because I stumbled, I wound up twenty people behind my friends in line. This angered me immensely and wound up fueling a lot of aggression that I had later in the show, lol. It didn't really matter, though. I grabbed a spot next to Ashley over on Karyu's side of the stage... fourth row, baby!

And then the show began! Below I've posted the setlist. I know many of my friends have felt as discouraged by the band lately as I was. I think this setlist might... change your mind a bit? Notice anything awesome about it? Like, most of it? The curious non-existence of REDEEMER? Notice they didn't play that god-awful Yozora song? Yeah... awesome.

LOVE IS DEAD
Grudge
REDEEMER
Infection
DAMNED
Lizard
Hollow
Kamikaze
GOING ON!
ARK IN THE STORM
New song!
in vain
WEDICIИE
Squall
Screen (Squall single Hizumi-solo version)
Bullet
MaVERiCK
MIRROR
Horizon
Garnet

Encore:

CROSSED ARROWS
BORN
Fuyu Shita Risou
COCOON

So the show opened with fantastic hard-core techno intro music, with everyone clapping in unison.

When the curtain rose, the entire band was already on stage wearing their bird masks, completely frozen. If you haven't seen those masks yet, they look like this:

Honestly, it was super creepy when Hizumi just stood there in that skull mask, unmoving, looming over the crowd. He was dressed really crazy, too. He had on these genie-pants in which the crotch went down to his ankles. It was like he was wearing a dress that was wrapped around his ankles. And the back had this crazy, giant belt-thing. Almost like a butt-flap of belts and metal pieces. Up top... some kind of open vest-thing. And you know what, he's wearing make-up again! Yeah, like black eye-shadow and shit! Also... Hizumi, um... kinda has a beard, hahahaha. But it's a pathetic beard. It's just some chin-fuzz - you can hardly even see it.

Oh, anyways, enough about the fact that Hizumi is totally sexy again... so D'espairsray opened with their new single: Love is Dead! La-la-la-la love is dead! Oh my god, it was amazing! The audience has pretty much given up on doing any furi, so everyone just did as the song tells us to and danced! I mean, it is a dance song! But during the "once infection, twice addiction" part, everyone held out their fingers for once and twice like Hizumi does in the music video. If you haven't heard this song/seen this music video, you are totally missing out! Allow me to post the awesomeness that is Love is Dead!



After Love is Dead was over, the whole band immediately ripped their masks off. I've heard they really hate playing with those things on. Tsukasa has complained that he hates it because he keeps whacking his, er... beak... with the drumsticks, hahaha.

After Love is Dead we had freakin' GRUDGE! I mean dude... what?! I mean, that's fuckin' old school, man! It was sooo awesome! Again, furi has basically died out with D'espairsRay. People just jump and dance and slam into each other and throw their fist at the band. For this song it was so much fun because Hizumi would go "mother-" and the music would cut and the whole audience would scream "-FUCKER DIE!"

As if that wasn't amazing enough, we went from GRUDGE to REDEEMER. At that point, I was so overcome with excitement and joy and happiness that I was jumping up and down regardless of what anyone else was doing. I couldn't stop moving or I thought I'd explode. Somehow, during this time, I wound up slamming my way forward without meaning to. You know what that means? I was in the second fucking row. Second row!!!

Now, a quick derailment here but... it came to my attention that the girl next to me wasn't very happy that I was in the second row and closer to the center than she was. She was in some kind of pissing match over who was the "biggest fan" or something. Pissing Match Girl wanted everyone to know that no one was a bigger Hizumi fan than she was and she consistently went out of her way to elbow me, shove my arm down, knock into me, wave her hands in my face, scream Hizumi's name at ear-splitting levels, and generally irritate me. But I can fight fire with fire, so I made sure not to back down and to consistently headbang and slam right back into her. After a few songs, as she came to realize I knew the band just as well as anyone else and was as violent as anyone else, she began to back off.

REDEEMER ended and... god, it's just so amazing... Hizumi announced the next song... and it was Infection... Infection! The entire audience went "ooooooooooh!" simultaneously, as if Hizumi had put a giant chocolate cake down in front of the crowd. Oh, I love that song so so so much! I mean, talk about kickin' it old school! That song's the intro to Coll:Set! It's also one of my favorite songs! It was soooooo powerful and amazing live! What I really love about D'espairsRay audiences is that during epic parts, the whole crowd tends to slow-headbang forward simultaneously as if they're lurching like a zombie to the music. This is often accompanied by the equivalent furi in which you throw out your arm, grab the air into a fist and then sorta... headbang your head and fist together. It's weird, but really powerful when combined with the audience-wide lurching.

Infection went into Damned... into Lizard... basically, they played the intro to Coll:Set followed by the intro to Mirror followed by the intro to REDEEMER. Interesting and totally awesome choice, because all those songs kick ass! It was like this setlist was constructed with the sole intent of packing the most amount of rocking-out fuel possible into a single show.

If that wasn't awesome enough, Lizard was followed by... Hollow! Aw man, I haven't seen that shit live since Taste of Chaos! Every time Hizumi sang "hollow!", the audience held out their hands like they were greeting him. And we all got to do the lalala parts!

I think they played Kamikaze here? I'm not sure, whoever wrote up the setlist left out a couple songs on accident. Not that I blame her. I never cared for Kamikaze, lol.

After Hollow we have GOING ON! and ARK IN THE STORM to compliment some of the newer material. It's interesting that they played these two B-sides from Final Call but didn't actually play Final Call itself. Can't complain, I like the B-sides better, hahaha. I actually really, really love ARK IN THE STORM live. The slow, lurching, fist-grab headbang happens during the chorus and it's soooo cool.

After that, Hizumi announced they're working on a new album and they were going to play a new song! Now, he didn't give the song a name, so I don't know what to call it, but whatever this new song was, it was hard-core. Seriously. If anything gave me hope for the new CD, it's the new song. It's bad-ass, man. No one knew what to do with it exactly, so we all improvised and the result was a lot of headbanging. Fuck yes.

This new song was followed by another one of my Coll:Set favorites: in vain! God damn, D'espairsRay! Are you guys trying to kill me with awesome?!! At that point, I was losing my mind with excitement. Sometimes, Japanese girls at concerts do this thing where they get really excited and suddenly jump and down like they're having a seizure. I never understood it until this concert. When in vain started, I just lost it and started seizing. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I was so energetically into this show at that point it's no wonder I managed to make Pissing Match Girl back down.

After this came the B-side from the new single: WEDICIИE! Again, it is so so so much fun! It's like an evil dance song! The chorus is really fun because everyone yells out and throws their fist during the "anti medicine" part so that it's like "you are my an-HEY!-ti-HEY! medicine!"

After WEDICIИE, we made time for some slow, pretty songs. We had Squall, and then the band left the stage except for Hizumi. By now, Hizumi was shirtless. Anyways, with only Hizumi on the stage, the band played Screen the way it is on the Squall single. So Hizumi just sang his heart out to some instrumental-type music in the background. It was soooo beautiful. Hizumi has an amazing voice. He's always had an amazing voice, and that was part of the reason I always tried to cling to the band, even when things were turning sour. I was really feeling love again during this show. Real love. Love for D'espairsRay the way I loved them six years ago when I first saw the Garnet music video.

After Screen, we picked up the pace again with Bullet. Now, I may have totally hated Horizon as a single, but I love the Bullet B-side. That song is ridiculously energetic. The whole crowd was headbanging themselves dizzy. I love when the whole crowd jumps up and down shaking their fist screaming "GUN! GUN! GUN! GUN!"  Hell, I reached some state of euphoria during this show that I am rarely capable. I couldn't feel anything but happiness. Honest to god.

And then maybe MaVERiCK was here? Goddamn, I'm not sure...

After Bullet was the big crowd-pleaser: MIRROR. I'm sorry, but during that one part, I still totally hear Hizumi say "testicle" over and over. I know he's not saying testicle, but it reeeeally sounds like it. And it's funny because he yells "testicle!" and then the whole audience does that air-grab I was talking about. I'm immature and find this very funny, lol.

They played Horizon and brought out the big D'espairsray banner, and I was so happy and into the show that I just friggin' went with Horizon for once. I still think the song is stupid, but... eh, the band seemed happy, whatever, lol.

Hey, speaking of Garnet, guess what came next?! Fuck yeah! Fucking Garnet!!! The song that got me into D'espairsRay! That song is just made for ass-kicking. Hizumi spread his legs and was crouched up on the crate like some kind of gargoyle. Just like in the old days, he was actually being creepy and scary and making evil faces. Oh Hizumi... I missed you...! At the end, Hizumi let the whole audience do the "la la la"s in place of the woman's voice.

And then the band left the stage and left us to scream for their return. D'espairsray is the only band I can think of in which the audience yells the band's name instead of "encore." The whole crowd yells the name like "Dee-SPAHZ-ley!"

Well, of course the band came back! They all came back in their band t-shirts (even Karyu, for once) except Hizumi who... came back shirtless. You go, man! Karyu looks great, by the way! He has a really funny permed pony-tail, though, that Caroline's been calling the "prom-queen up-do." Zero looked good too. As for Tsukasa... okay, it was a really cool effect how the whole show was enveloped in a super smoke-screen colored purple or green or red from the lights, but... I kinda couldn't see Tsukasa because of that. Like, at all. My one complaint about the show.

So encore went straight into the new B-side: CROSSED ARROWS. This song was really fun live! Lots of rocking out, lots of craziness! Love is Dead is just a solid single, seriously. Everyone was going nuts.

But if you think that was nuts... next up... they played fuckin' BORN. Oh my GOD. I mean, there's kickin' it old school, and then there's playing BORN. You know that jumpy seizure-thing I was talking about? Yeah, many girls were doing that. It was an excitement explosion.

The pace only picked up by going straight into Fuyu Shita Risou! Whoooooa.......! This is the time where you really have to watch your head. Hizumi and Karyu and Zero prowled the stage, riling everyone up to terrifying degrees. Especially Hizumi. He was almost always at the edge of the stage, getting the audience involved. He's really good with the crowd. So's Karyu. At one point, Karyu crouched down at the front of the stage while playing his guitar and leaned back farther and farther until he collapsed and was lying on the ground.

The show ended with one of my favorites: COCOON. That song took me by surprise at C.C. Lemon Hall, and I was really happy to see it live again. The lurching headbang is soooo cool. That song is just really epic and powerful live. I love the intensity of it.

And then the show was over... nooooo...

Some funny highlights for you:

At one point, Hizumi went up to Karyu and just... wiggled at him. Just... full-body, hip-shaking wiggling. Karyu looked soooo confused, lol. Another time, Hizumi suddenly pointed at Karyu during a song and Karyu opened his mouth like he was going to bite Hizumi's finger. Hizumi drew his finger downwards and Karyu followed the finger down till he was bent over completely. Uuuuh... strange... Another time, Hizumi crept up behind Zero when he was on our side and suddenly... grabbed his ass! The funny thing is, Zero (who's known to be a pervert) turned around and gave Hizumi a very dry, unamused look, lol. Hizumi just laughed. Apparently, Zero does not appreciate other men touching his ass, lol. When the show was over, Hizumi ran up and down the front of the stage high-fiving everyone. I managed to high-five his fingertips, lol! Then Zero started throwing gargantuan amounts of water into the crowd. I got fuckin' soaked... twice. Bleeeeah.

And then we left the venue, flying high, filled with love! Looooooove! D'espairsRay is back! They're so back! It was so amazing! I was so happy!

La-la-la-la love is dead!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Indies, Ikebukuro Ruido K3

Time for another round of indies!
So... I'm back in school. Yes, the inevitable has happened. So what does one do when they have their first day of school the following day? Why, go to a concert with Ashley instead of preparing, of course!

Also, warning, being back in school means my use of the f-word is probably going to double for all future posts, including this one, lol!

Today's venue is Ikebukuro Ruido K3. Actually, there are several Ruidos in various locations in Tokyo. They're nice venues with very nice lighting and a fancy, club-style bar. However, as for the Ikebukuro Ruido... the place is shaped like a banana. I kid you not. The stage is this narrow thing stuck on the stem and everyone crowds around unable to move, trapped in the narrow innards of the banana-peel walls. What I'm trying to say is, Ruido K3 is too fucking long and too fucking narrow. The result is too many people smashed into a place where everyone wants to get closer to the stage... and can't. Especially for an event like this that had popular bands, it was simply too many people vying for too many spots. There was virtually nowhere to sit, so many people resorted to standing in exhaustion and high heels. And people were constantly climbing over each other, resulting in a lot of tripping, falling, and general face-planting.

Also, it came to our attention even before the show started that there was a wonderfully familiar face in the audience with poofy blond hair and a shiny silver coat. Yeah, you guessed it - Nesting Girl was back! Hurray! Nesting Girl was up to her usual antics - roaming around the venue barefoot in extremely baggy clothing, jumping or dancing for seemingly no reason...

But enough about that... let's get on with it, shall we. I have to get up at 7-mother-fucking-AM so I'll be quick about this.

First band up we've met before: α:Vout:

Still as uninteresting as last time. The vocalist was determined to get everyone on their feet and into it, and became so frustrated by the people sitting down that he flew off the stage, ran into the crowd, and started pointing his finger in the faces of sitting people and yelling "Stand up! Stand up!" I, who was sitting, gave him an incredibly dry look, lol.

Next up... another stupid band we've seen before... 0801ni209336. Yes, that's their fucking name. Remember these idiots?

The level of stupid hadn't improved. Because Ikebukuro Ruido K3 apparently knows it's shaped like a banana, there were several TV screens set up so that you could sit and watch the bands if you simply couldn't see over everyone or... were lazy and didn't care, like me.

Now, the next band up is the only band that appeared at this show that I hadn't seen before (unless you count the two bands we skipped, lol). Today, I am very, deeply, truly sorry to introduce you to... PIECElang:

You can click to enlarge the picture but... please don't. Really, I express my deepest regrets that something this terrible is even on my blog. What can I even say about this band, other than the fact that it may be the Sauron of Oshare-Shit. The Great Eye of Oshare seemed to be drawing in a lot of the crowd with its spastic colors, use of pom-poms, and a band member who served no purpose other than to dance and jump around the stage like an idiot. So Ashley and I did the only thing that can combat the power of the Great Eye: we sat the hell down and didn't look at it.

Next up, we once-a-fucking-gain have ALSDEAD:

Really, does this band have some mission to be at every show ever performed in Tokyo? Anyways, blah blah blah, ALSDEAD is enjoyable, they had some amusing technical error and the bassist (whom I refer to as Dorkmaster) proceeded to point and laugh at the drummer for half a song, blah blah blah, lots of foreigners were there to see them... blah blah blah, yeah.

Anyways!

So, I kinda went out of order... Everything is in order but I skipped a band since I figured I'd put the good shit at the end. So, who do you think went on second? Yup, they're back! The return of Ha;qch! Man, outdated picture is outdated...

Damn, I wish I had a better picture... well, anyhoo... so Ha;qch went on second but, much to my surprise, the crowd to see them was huge. Generally, going on towards the beginning means a smaller crowd, but I guess Ha;qch's gathered enough followers to combat that. Unfortunately, the big crowd meant some of us getting screwed over. Like me. I couldn't get very close, and there were too many people squished together for me to headbang or do much rocking out in general. But I can put a positive spin on it: it gave me a chance to just watch the band and admire. Chihiro seemed... oddly happy? Of course, by happy I mean he wasn't glaring at as many people as usual, and he didn't spit on anyone, lol. He did take the time to drool all over himself though, lol.  Also, at every show I see Chihiro at, his hair keeps getting higher and higher and higher, lol. Anyways, the new bassist seems quite happy with his position. He's got pink hair, tons of face piercings, and he's always smiling at the audience. Good for you, jack!

Anyhoo, during the show itself... so yeah, Chihiro drooled gallons all over himself... Also, I looked to the side and noticed... good lord, Nesting Girl was nesting again! A bunch of her friends were sitting down and she was curled up in a ball asleep in a nest of... friends? That girl's got some serious sleeping talent, lol! Also, during the gyaku-dive part, while the girls were hanging over the bar like dead meat, Chihiro threw his leg over a girl and basically sat on her head. But the girl got the last laugh. When gyaku-dive was over, the girl jumped back down, meaning Chihiro kinda... fell onto the bar with his balls. I don't think it hurt him at all, though, because he didn't even react, but still... it looked like it should have hurt, lol!

Chihiro gave some kind of message at the end of the show, but I honestly couldn't hear him over the crazy feedback coming from the guitarists. Um, aren't you supposed to silence the feedback when the vocalist is talking, lol? Anyways, I had to check online later to find out what he said. I guess Ha;qch is doing something underground and secret right now, but that it's a positive, forward-thinking thing... which to me sounds like studio time. They're probably going to finally release some music, lol. Only drawback is I don't think they're really going to do concerts for awhile. Oh well...

After Ha;qch was over, Ashley and I realized that Nesting Girl... was sitting on a table. And by sitting on a table, I mean one of those tiny tables you see at a club that's about as wide as a sewer-cover. She was sitting up there in a crouch like a monkey. What made this extra funny was that the table was meant for smoking, so she was sitting in between ashtrays and smoking while other people ashed their cigarettes around her. Strange girl...

Skipping ahead, la la la... at the end of the show (and by end I mean last band before Ashley and I skipped out on the whole thing and left), we have a second-timer on the blog... VAJRA:

Oh boy... VAJRA... what to say about VAJRA... Well, for starters, it's obvious that Nesting Girl is following VAJRA. I've seen them twice, and I've seen her both times, and those are the only times I've seen her. Also, before the show started, Nesting Girl and her friend were practicing some really crazy headbanging they were going to do during VAJRA's set.

So VAJRA is an odd band. We've got Nobro on the vocals, and he has horns. Then there's 『L.』 on guitar, and I believe he may truly be insane and not just pretending to be. Then there's Yuuri on the other guitar, and he looks like the spawn of Jason. Not to mention bassist Kiyuki, who's wearing a Hannibal Lecter muzzle. And of course drummer Rohan has fake boobs, and if that's not scary, I don't know what is.

Well, actually, for this show, Nobro wasn't wearing his horns. And he took off his spiky, furry coat-thing too. He traded that stuff in for white-out contacts. The result? A man who already reminded me of Kyo from Dir en grey turned into a full-fledged Kyo-clone.

This time, I had room to actually headbang and let loose, which was nice. I guess that's the perk of VAJRA being a newer band. We also got to do that weird slam-dancing where everybody hops up and down across the front of the stage knocking into each other. People who don't want to participate in the slam-dancing usually flee out of the way when this happens, lol. At one point, someone hopped into me with such force that I fell backwards and had to grab the curtain hanging over the exit to avoid falling, lol! Good times indeed! Nesting Girl was hopping in circles, hahaha.

So even though VAJRA is new, their fans seem to be die-hards. Another interesting tidbit... so... I know I keep saying that Nobro is just like Kyo from Dir en grey but... as I mentioned in my last post, Nobro has massive, self-mutilation wounds across his chest and torso. He also has what appears to be old suicide-scars on his wrists. Well, Nobro took it one step further at this show and truly, truly transformed into Kyo. First of all, Nobro started scratching his chest till it left marks, and then... okay, I don't know what happened... I was headbanging, and when I looked up, Nobro was bleeding rather impressively from the mouth. There was blood running down his chin and he wiped at it and smeared it on his face. Holy Kyo, Batman. But I think Nobro kinda grossed himself out because he later started wiping the blood off his face like "eeeeeew." The way Nobro dresses, carries himself, and the way he performs, not to mention the VAJRA songs that sound very, very much like Dir en grey songs, and even the band's playing style in general, lead me to believe that it's very possible some of the members of VAJRA used to be in a Dir en grey cover band. It's almost as if they still are.  But maaaaan, I don't know what Nobro did to make himself bleed. Kyo scratches inside his mouth or punches himself in the face. Unfortunately, I didn't see how it happened to Nobro.

Other highlights included... so I've mentioned that guitarist
『L.』 is crazy, right? So let's see... well, Nobro did an MC, which was adorable in the first place. Everyone was yelling and then he started talking and it went quiet. For whatever reason, this scared Nobro, and he suddenly shuffled backwards clutching his hair and he was like "ah, it got quiet!" Well, duh, lol. So while Nobro was talking, 『L.』 just... I don't know... he bent over like he was going to throw up and started making weird asthma noises. I thought he was dying before he suddenly stood back up and was totally fine. What a weirdo... Later on, 『L.』 crept up behind Nobro during a song and snaked his hand under Nobro's arm and started squeezing and rubbing what I guess is supposed to be Nobro's boob, if Nobro had any boobs. Nobro was shirtless, so 『L.』 was squishing Nobro's lack of boobs. Nobro didn't respond, lol. 『L.』 also started splashing water all over the crowd. Then he threw the bottle at the crowd. It got crushed under many feet, then rolled and landed in front of me. So I shrugged, picked up the crushed bottle, and took it home as a souvenir, lol. These guys are seriously goofy. At some point, I think 『L.』 threw down his mic stand. When the show ended 『L.』 spun around in circles and faked a seizure until he stumbled off the stage. Geeeeez.

So... that was the show! Ha;qch was fun as always, and VAJRA continued to entertain me.

See you all next time (because I assure you, I will not let school put a damper on my adventures)!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kaya One-Man Live 「Diva -Queen's Garden-」

I WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE THAT THIS BLOG POST IS COMMEMORATING MY 20TH CONCERT SINCE COMING TO JAPAN. Yup, I've hit 20 concerts! Holla!

And now for something completely different. Well, sort of. We've discussed Kaya before, but only in the context of Halloween parties and indies events. This time, my friends Ashley, Geri, and I went to see Kaya all on his own doing his own show. And that, my friends, essentially means a drag show.

First, just a quick note... I attended an indies live the day before the Kaya concert and the show had fourteen bands. Yes, fourteen. However, due to the fact that all but three of them sucked giant balls, I'm not going to bother to blog about it, even though that kinda breaks my blog rule about keeping track of that stuff as accurately as possible (I'm a little OCD, what can I say). I would like to mention, however, that I finally went to the Rockmaykan for that show. That venue is famous because it was the first venue that X Japan, Luna Sea, and Malice Mizer ever played at. However, the venue's set-up is lame and it has no barrier, a tiny front section, and crowded seats that people take over within the first minute. And the sound-system is way too effing loud. But the lighting is really good, I'll give them that. As for the show itself, all I'll say is: meth.'s vocalist is a scary little monster and he's awesome, Navir was fun as always despite a lot of technical problems on stage, and... that's about it.


Anyways, back to Kaya!

So Kaya was performing his show at Ikebukuro Black Hole. This was also my first time at Black Hole, which I'd been told was quite a lot like... a black hole. It's on the sketchy side of Ikebukuro station and down a sketchy alleyway, but the venue is actually pretty nice. It has a full, working bar like you'd see at a club, and the sound quality seems to be really good. However, it really feels like being shrunk down and stuck inside a black shoe-box that happens to have a stage inside.

So, to add to the bizarre-ness of an already bizarre event, Kaya proposed this idea: since March 3rd is Girl's Day in Japan, and May 5th is Boy's Day in Japan (get it? 3/3 and 5/5?), then our show, which would be on April 4th (4/4) would be "gender equality day." In Kaya language this translated as: anyone who showed up in the clothing of the opposite gender would get a free drink.

Hoo boy. I personally had no interest in dressing up as a man just to get a free drink, but I knew that this kind of event at a Kaya concert in Japan meant almost everyone was going to be in drag whether they look good in it or not.

When we got to the venue, there were already plenty of people lined up outside trying to get in the door. Men in lolita dresses, women in suits, men in lacy gloves, women in suspenders. The girls themselves didn't look bad at all in drag. Hats and button-down shirts and other such things made them look more adorable than anything else. The guys on the other hand, well... there were some guys who clearly had no idea how to put on make-up... guys in dresses that didn't fit them very well... But hey, beggars can't be choosers! This was about a free drink, damnit!

Down the stairs and past the bar... the bartender was a young man in a leopard-print vest who gave us all a creepy smile as we went by. A couple of drag queens were standing next to the bar to greet everyone as they went past. One of them was wearing leather short-shorts and thigh-high boots and looked really shy and adorable. The other, well... he was as drag-queen as it gets. He had the giant, curly, afro-like wig, tiny clothes, long gloves, massive heels, and he was bopping to the dance music playing in the background. One foreign guy in a lolita dress went by and the drag queen gushed the word "kirei!" at him, which, if we factor in tone, would translate to "nice dress, honey!"

Finally, we all crowded into the Little Black Box of Doom to wait for the show to start.

So this is Kaya:



Anyways, this was a one-man concert, meaning Kaya was able to bring a complete concert experience to the venue. He appeared amidst smoke and colored lighting and the die-hard fans went nuts. There was only about 200 people in there but... they're biiiiig fans of Kaya.

Things started off with Kaya dressed in a costume similar to the one seen above. A lot like this:

Anyways, Kaya also had his backup dancers with him for this show. Now, the two dancers he had with him for the first song were, in fact, twin girls. Usually, Kaya has male backup dancers, and Kaya commented about how it may have surprised everyone to have female backup dancers (I think he may have even said it was his first time using female backup dancers at all). Still, the girls were totally adorable. They were dressed in pseudo-suits and top hats and, being twins, everything about them was identical from the matching, insanely long hair, to matching tattoos on their arms. The only way I could tell them apart was that one sister had hot pink nails, and the other had bright orange nails. Kaya introduced these lovely ladies as "Kitty" and "Arena." Based on the fact that they're sexy dancing twins with tattoos... I think I know where Kitty and Arena dance when they're not performing with Kaya, if ya know what I mean. Anyways, the girls were adorable and knew how to work the crowd along with Kaya to get everyone excited.

Unfortunately I don't know Kaya's music well enough to tell you exactly what he played, but I know he played the classics like Chocolat and Ophelia. And, as always, Kaya impressed with his pitch-perfect singing voice and extremely feminine hip-wiggling.

Kaya also had another backup dancer who was male. The other dancer did have a name, but since I don't remember it, I'm going to refer to him by the name I used in my mind during the show: Barbie. This guy was dressed like some old-fashioned Barbie doll with a long, tight black dress, long gloves, massive hair, extreme make-up, etc. His facial expression never changed, and he spent more time posing like a doll than dancing. And I think that was the point. However, I couldn't help but be amused by the fact that Barbie, um... didn't shave his armpits, hahaha.

Now, I don't much care for Kaya's music. I would never listen to it on my own time. So why did I go? Because Kaya is funny, absurd, ridiculous, charming, and he knows it and doesn't care. When he MCs, he spends more of his time telling jokes and playing with the audience than he does saying anything important. People have joked that Kaya spends more time talking than performing (not true at all, though). During his first MC, he revealed that the really adorable guy in drag that had been standing near the bar in leather short-shorts was, in fact, his roadie. This earned a massive gasp of shock from the audience. Apparently, Kaya's roadie is not usually in drag and no one recognized him. Kaya thought this was hilarious and tried to talk the roadie into coming out on stage to show off his new look, but the roadie was too embarrassed. One thing that's funny about Kaya is how he talks with the crowd. People aren't afraid to yell stuff out while he talks, and he always responds with some amusing quip and that insanely terrifying laugh of his. The man is, for lack of a better word, charming.

Now, I don't mean to get off topic here, but I just had to mention this... So, it's no secret that I think Mana from Moi Dix Mois (former Malice Mizer) is kind of a douche bag. I know Mana is really influential and is an icon of fashion and has his own label and fashion line and people respect him and blah blah blah, but I, for one, have always thought he was kind of an ass. Well, Kaya's MC just confirmed it for me. So I guess Kaya's birthday is coming up, and Kaya really wanted to have a special concert on his birthday for everyone to come to. But Mana decided to put a Moi Dix Mois concert right on Kaya's birthday. This would be more forgivable if Mana wasn't Kaya's friend, mentor, and ex-producer, and knows very well when Kaya's birthday is. Bear in mind that a lot of Moi Dix Mois fans are also Kaya fans, meaning those people would have to make a painful decision between which concert to go see. To make matters worse, Kaya apparently called up Mana and asked him to change the concert date, and Mana refused! Mana, with all that power and influence, with the enjoyment of a lot of his own fans at stake, refused him! Kaya was trying to make this whole story into a funny joke and laughed during the whole thing and repeatedly threw the horns and growled "Dix!", but... it's still a douche bag move on Mana's part. In the end, Kaya compromised and, on his birthday, there's going to be a big night-party after the Moi Dix Mois concert so all the Mana/Kaya fans won't have to choose and can see both. And Kaya can enjoy his damn birthday.

On a lighter note, Kaya is turning twenty years old again... just like last year, lol.

Anyways, halfway through the show, Kaya switched outfits. He moved into something a lot more goth, kind of like this:


There was only one difference, however. He replaced his skirt with tight, leather, short-shorts. Um... what? I guess this was his first time wearing this outfit, and he kept turning back and forth on stage, asking the audience what we thought of it. Well, Kaya... I can tell you're a man, now, that's what I think of it, lol! Kitty and Arena also switched into skanky, PVC leather halter-tops.

The show continued on, but now the songs got a lot more techno-dance influenced. Lots of audience-wide jumping and hopping going on. Kaya made sure to end with his crazy Rose Jail song. But I prefer to think of this song as the Grope Kaya Inappropriately Song. Kaya likes to come up to the front of the stage, dip his body in, and let people fondle him. He also sucks on people's fingers. Now, I was in a bad mood... as I have been for about two weeks now. The fact that I'm skipping blogging about our last indies show should tell you what kind of mood I'm in. And when I'm in a bad mood, I lose interest in doing things I would normally think are awesome (like when Ashley had to pull and drag me just to make me stand up to see Ha;qch). Unfortunately, this was one of those days. Everyone rushed forward for a chance to grope Kaya (including some creepy, old men who probably shouldn't have been doing that). I, however, just stood in the back and watched. I was close enough that I could've groped but... I just didn't feel like joining in the fun. I didn't do any furi for the show like everyone else, and I didn't jump with anyone else, and I really didn't feel like groping Kaya. Sorry, Kaya, I'll molest you next time.

So everyone was headbanging like crazy now, and some of the guys in the audience who were in drag couldn't keep their wigs on for this, so there were guys headbanging while clutching their wigs in their arms, which was pretty funny. Ashley and Geri decided to go forward for some groping, and I guess Ashley tried to grab Kaya's arm and, thanks to those little booty-shorts, she accidentally grabbed him somewhere she never, ever wanted to touch. Ever. Oops, lol. There was also "moshing", with people body-slamming the wall of bodies surrounding Kaya. Also, Kaya got dragged in a little too far and had to be rescued by his roadie. But the roadie would've gotten there faster if he wasn't tripping on his high heels, lol! Must be hard to wear heels for the first time, lol.

And that was the end of our show! When the show was over, everyone lined up for drinks (some of which were free). There was also a drink called Kitty named after the dancer. Buuut I was lame and got ginger ale, lol.

So I hope you enjoyed our drag-show bonanza! Stay tuned for whatever crazy things happen in the future!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

"Saita, saita, sakura ga saita" ("blossomed, blossomed, the cherry blossoms have blossomed")

It's that time of year in Japan. The infamous cherry blossoms, called sakura, have finally bloomed. I took some pictures of them now because the blossoms fall very quickly. Because of that, the sakura have a lot of metaphorical significance, such as the transience of life. The blossoms are bitter-sweet, because they're so beautiful, yet so short-lived.