Saturday, May 29, 2010

VAJRA 2nd ONEMAN

I literally just got back from VAJRA's second one-man concert. I'm drenched in red Kool-Aid, I have bruises and busted capillaries on my arm, I have scratches all over me from unknown sources, and I'm reeling from the most emotionally exhausting indies concert I've ever been to. This blog is going to be a roller-coaster of emotions but it's full of crazy stories and experiences so I ask that you bear with me.

Once again, today's featured band is VAJRA:


Anyways, as I discussed in earlier blog posts, 『L.』 left VAJRA after their show in Sendai a couple of weeks ago. This is 『L.』:


Of course, the term "left" was open to interpretation. It was clear from the band's blogs and numerous apologies that 『L.』 did something at the Sendai show that got some people hurt - or close to it. This wasn't surprising, considering 『L.』 was known to punch fans and drag girls around by their hair. Anyways, he was put on "house arrest" and banned from shows temporarily. Ultimately, he announced that he was leaving VAJRA due to "musical differences." It was unclear, however, if he truly had gotten sick of the band and the Sendai show was the catalyst to make him leave... or if the band kicked him out for getting them in trouble... or if 『L.』 left VAJRA on his own to avoid the shame of being kicked out. We'll probably never know. Either way, 『L.』 was not expected to be seen on stage with VAJRA ever again after the Sendai show.

Of course, this left the question: "what happens at the one-man?" VAJRA was planning their second ever one-man concert and Ashley and I already had tickets. But now they were down a guitarist - and a guitarist who was something of a mascot of VAJRA. This left a lot up in the air. Would people even come to the show without 『L.』? What would the band do? Would there be a support guitarist? Pre-recording? Hell, would Nesting Girl even be there? She was an 『L.』 die-hard. The show would be empty without her. Ashley and I were feeling a sense of doom and foreboding about the whole thing. Ashley and I hadn't thought much about 『L.』 while he was in the band. His departure made us unhappy, obviously, but we didn't dwell on it too much. Still, the closer the one-man concert approached, the more sad and depressed we became at the thought of seeing VAJRA without 『L.』. There was going to be a gaping hole where he used to be...

The show was being held at Chelsea Hotel - which isn't actually a hotel - in Shibuya. It was a total dump, but I say that endearingly. Here's a picture I took of it:


The tickets said doors would open at 6:00 and the show would start at 6:30. Ashley and I chilled in a Starbucks (where some other people we recognized as indies girls were also chilling). At 5:45, we went out to the venue to stand around. A line of girls was already forming outside the venue. Okay, so that was a good sign... Also, at the front of the line was something rather shocking... Nesting Girl was indeed there and... she was dressed in a near-perfect 『L.』 cosplay. Her normally blond hair was dyed hot pink and spiked up in the air. And she was wearing the whole outfit - the leather trench coat, the ruff, the boots, the red and black arm-guards... She looked just like him. Here, this is a picture of his outfit and this is exactly how Nesting Girl was dressed:


Normally, I would have thought nothing of this but... 『L.』's not in VAJRA anymore... so... what was this supposed to mean? VAJRA's manager came outside, saw Nesting Girl's outfit, and started touching it and going on and on about how awesome it was.

The crowd continued to grow. Across the street, I saw that stupid guy who stabbed me with his spiked bracelet at the last VAJRA concert. He was there with some other dude and his girlfriend. I was ready to kick his ass if he bothered me during the show, but he won points with me for crouching down to pet a cute dog as it walked by. Also, we were standing along the side of a very narrow road and cars kept coming down the road and nearly killing all of us. At one point, Nesting Girl got mad at a car that cut it too close and ran down the street after it, an onigiri (rice ball) in one hand, shaking her fist angrily at the car with the other. Oh Nesting Girl... what would we do without you? A suspicious blond man also crept out of the venue at some point and walked past us. But we didn't recognize him so we ignored it.

Anyways, 6:00 rolled around and... the doors weren't open. 6:10 came around... then 6:20... Why weren't the doors opening?! Was someone sick?! Were there sound problems?! No one else seemed concerned, though. The thought occurred to me that our tickets had a misprint. Most other girls had shuffle tickets from the venue itself but Ashley and I had tickets bought at a convenience store. Sometimes these things are printed wrong. I think this was the case because, at exactly 6:30 they finally opened the doors. On the way in, they gave us each a free CD which I slipped into my bag without looking at it.

When we got inside, we realized that the Chelsea Hotel is... a strange venue. The floors are wooden and uneven and... springy. When the other girls realized this, they all started jumping up and down and running around on the floor like wild animals. Nesting Girl decided to really test the floor by running head-first into her friend and knocking them both to the floor. The left side of the venue was blocked by stacked chairs and a dressing room folding door. A shoddy, lint-infested black curtain hung over the stage. What a dump. But an endearing dump.

Ashley and I took third row in the middle. The girls on the barrier took their spots. More and more people were filing in. There were a lot more people than I expected. At least a hundred if not more. And you know what really blew my mind? A third of the crowd was male. Whole packs of guys showed up for this thing. There was also a foreign couple who seemed to be there more out of curiosity than as fans. Anyways, Ashley and I were just standing there smirking at the girls jumping around on the floor. More and more we began to realize how amazing VAJRA fans are. Everyone was talking to everyone else and goofing around and being crazy. Everyone just wanted to have fun. I'd noted before that VAJRA's fanbase has a bit of a "club" mentality to it. Everyone knows everyone else, and a few certain people (like Nesting Girl) seem to lead the club. They even plan things out before the day of the show. Anyways, Ashley and I have always been the two foreigners standing on the fringes of shows. This never bothered us, even in this kind of club situation. The fans never minded our presence so, in return, we just did whatever we wanted to do. But then, as Ashley and I were standing there chatting and enjoying the antics of the VAJRA fans, one of the girls suddenly peeled herself off the barrier and came over to us, her hands held out in a water-cupping motion - which is the Japanese gesture for "handshake." She grasped Ashley's hands between her own and shook them, then bowed. Then she turned to me and repeated the process. Ashley and I, at a loss, just bowed silently back. Then the girl, without a single word, turned right back around and returned to the barrier.

Ashley and I just stood there gawking for a minute. Slowly, realization dawned on me. Without a single word, the girl on saizen had said everything that needed to be said. Ashley and I were "in." One of the "leaders" of the "club" shook our hands and greeted us, silently accepting us as members of the VAJRA fanbase. Because of the supposed language barrier, we became a part of the club without words. I don't know what Ashley and I did to deserve this sudden acceptance other than attending the VAJRA live and taking a spot up close but... this gesture really meant a lot. I was really touched by it.

The band started late and had a very long-winded sound check. During the sound check, the girls of the first four rows started emitting ear-piercing shrieks and cries. This can't really get the band to come out any faster but... it does start to set the stage for what's coming.

Anyways, they finally ripped back the curtain and the show began. The intro was changed into some kind of odd atmospheric music with Nobro's voice singing wordlessly over it. I wanted to be excited but... I'd had a long day (and a midterm) and I was sleep-deprived and exhausted. Also, the thought of having a VAJRA show without 『L.』 was bothering me horribly. Anyhow, a tall, lanky, blond guy came out on the stage wearing leather. I had a moment of total confusion before realizing it was Rohan, the drummer. Whoa, he's blond now. Then I realized that the suspicious guy walking around outside was Rohan! But none of us recognized him because he changed his hair! Anyhow, bassist Kiyuki came out, as did guitarist Yuuri. Then, someone with pink hair and sparkly make-up and a leather trench coat came waltzing out onto the stage and took stage right. Wait... what? What?!

『L.』?! But it couldn't be! 『L.』 already officially left VAJRA! What in the world?!

And you know what? Everyone's faces just lit up. Everyone started freaking out and screaming 『L.』's name and jumping up and down with happiness. That's the kind of effect he has on us. I knew it was probably just for this one show, but still... 『L.』 was back! 『L.』 acted as though nothing was amiss... as though his appearance on stage was totally expected.

Then a little, psychotic creature came hurtling onto the stage. Why, it's our vocalist, Nobro! And he's shirtless and covered in peeling plaster with red paint under it! Oh, right, I forgot that Nobro is a clone of Kyo from Dir en grey. Kyo did that same stunt years ago. In fact, if you'd like to know exactly what Nobro looked like, here's a photo of how Kyo looked doing it back in 2001:

Yyyyyeah, Nobro's got a Kyo-boner, that's for sure. Anyways, the band really have ditched their outfits. The masks are gone completely and they've mostly trashed the costumes. Rohan didn't even have his fake boobs or anything. In fact, they all seemed to have dyed their hair back to more realistic colors, like brown or blond. I barely recognized them at first. The only one dressed up like normal was 『L.』, but he wasn't wearing the mask. Instead, he had the mask tied to his microphone stand.


So yeah, Nobro ran out covered in plaster with weird black lipstick. It didn't even look like him. Everyone was going nuts, ready to rock the fuck out. A lot of the guys in the back moved up. Within the first song, I could tell that things were going to be crazier than usual. They opened up with their song Insou to Nebure and the next thing I knew, everyone started slam-dancing. Except, this wasn't the usual Indies slam-dancing. Usually, at these shows, the girls all hop up and down waving their arms and pushing each other along the sides of the stage. But this time it was more of a mosh-pit than any kind of slam-dancing. Everyone just started pushing and shoving and throwing each other around. There was a side-to-side hop in there somewhere but... for the most part everyone just slammed into each other as hard as possible. I felt like I was getting knocked around like a pinball. I would jump into people thinking I had the upper hand and then, suddenly, someone would slam me in the other direction. People were falling and getting trampled and others were fleeing. I had at least ten different moments where I thought I was going to get slammed to the floor and trampled. I glanced at some of the male fans in the back while doing this and saw their faces lit up with shock and... blood thirst. I know that look... that's the look guys get when they're suddenly incited to fuck shit up. Crazy shit. Thankfully, because of indies etiquette rules, we could all reclaim our spots when the slam-dancing ended.

Anyways, I kept a close eye on 『L.』 whenever I could. He was still acting as though his presence was expected. However, there was strange look on his face a lot of the time. It was a difficult face to interpret. "Restrained" was the first word that came to mind. I felt as though, even though 『L.』's mask was tied to the microphone stand, he was still wearing an invisible mask. He was strangely blank-faced. Or like his expressions weren't matching the emotion in his eyes... which was mostly blank. But that's to be expected, I suppose. The thought occurred to me that he probably had to be on his best behavior since he was still in trouble for the Sendai concert. It was possible that the restraint I was seeing had to do with 『L.』 feeling like he couldn't act the way he wanted to. Hmm... we shall see...

Anyways, the show was really crazy. Nesting Girl was on the barrier as usual. There was also a girl in a pink maid dress. I thought that was really stupid, but she wound up being one of the fiercest, scariest fans there. Sometimes I had to get out of the way because she would crouch down and headbang so much that she'd start to trip towards me.

Anyways, I should bring up something that I didn't realize until after the show. Apparently, 『L.』 had been dropping massive hints on his blog that he would be at the one-man. In one post, he listed his feelings and expectations about the one-man:

1. We were going to bring umbrellas or raincoats
2. We were going to get dirty
3. He hoped someone would cosplay as him
4. We would all kneel before him

Aha... I wish I had read his blog before the show... He also dropped hints about hoping there would be some girls dressed as maids or nurses at the show.

So that explains a lot. Nesting Girl was just fulfilling 『L.』's desire for a cosplay of him, and that girl in the pink maid outfit was fulfilling his desire to see a girl in a maid dress. Would all his expectations be filled at the show? I guess we shall see...

Back to the barrier... it became very clear to me that one girl in particular was the true "club leader." She's been at all the shows I've been to and I believe she's only half Japanese. She looks half. She has kinda wavy brown hair and she's tall and she has somewhat creased eyes. She only speaks Japanese but I think she's half. Anyways, she really controls the show and pulls all the strings. And she's crazy. She's obviously a Nobro fan, and all the craziest sounds and wild jumping come from her.

The show continued on and it was clear that the band was putting their all into it. Nobro was spazzing and growling and both Kiyuki and Yuuri had looks of extreme concentration on their faces. I still can't get used to seeing Kiyuki's real face. He always wore that Hannibal Lecter mask, so I've only seen his face twice now. It's a nice face and all, it's just... surprising. Everyone really seemed to be giving it their all.

When it was time for an MC, Nobro didn't seem particularly interested in saying anything. Then again, he never does. He seemed to be waiting for 『L.』 to say something instead, but 『L.』's microphone was unplugged and he couldn't find the end of the cord. 『L.』 was standing there reeling the cord through his hands and laughing while Nobro stared at him like he was retarded. Eventually, 『L.』 got the microphone working and started talking. He teased us about seeming surprised to see him (obviously not everyone knew he would be there). He also teased Nesting Girl and called her his "copy." Yes... yes she is. In so many ways. He also commented on how strange it was to see so many guys at the show. He said it was a good thing and he was glad to see it. The boys in the back yelled their approval. The rest of the band was hiding smiles.

Anyways, they went back to playing music. At some point, 『L.』 came up to the crate beside Nobro and put his arm around him. Nobro kept glancing at 『L.』 with a very uninterpretable look on his face. I'd always sensed an odd tension between the two of them and now it seemed stronger than ever. It's like the two have a friendly rivalry of sorts. Nobro's glances weren't annoyed exactly but... I dunno, they weren't entirely hospitable either.

The band also played some new music that we'd never heard before. This meant we had no furi or other movements figured out ahead of time. This was the Club Leader's job to figure out. We all paid careful attention to what the half Japanese girl was doing and followed her. Even if some people started to do some furi, if the Club Leader decided to do something different during a certain part, everyone changed and followed her. It's kind of an interesting process.

At some point, Nobro started to lose his cool. He reached towards his chest to start clawing himself, then realized he'd covered himself in plaster and had no access to his skin. Instead, he just scratched angrily at the flakes, exposing the red paint underneath. Then he continued his Kyo mimicry and began to fish-hook, which is when you put your fingers in your mouth and scratch inside your cheeks until you bleed. Nobro bent over and cut inside his mouth over and over again. While he did this, 『L.』 suddenly looked up from his guitar playing and watched. This was the first moment where I began to feel uneasy with the show. Usually, 『L.』 stays in his own little bubble while playing, or he teases the crowd. But this time his eyes were locked on Nobro and he was watching him very quietly and with a contemplative look on his face. I'd never seen 『L.』 look like that before.

Anyways, remember how 『L.』 jokingly said we would kneel before him at the show? Obviously, he was kidding, but during one of his guitar solos, the entire audience suddenly dropped to their knees and began waving their arms in the air. Surprised, I fell to my knees as well. This alone was touching and sad but then the look 『L.』 gave us when he saw what we were doing... that's when it suddenly hit me how horrible his departure would be. He stared at the crowd and then knit his eyebrows together and stuck out his bottom lip in an exaggerated pout. It's like the face you make when someone tells you a really sad story. He looked so touched and so sorry all at the same time.

Eventually, the band left. Before they did, Nobro tossed his water bottle. Somehow, in a move that surprised even me, the bottle soared over my head and I reached behind me with my left hand (my non-dominant hand) and caught the bottle in mid-air. Even I surprised myself with that one (even though I've been known to catch things out of the air at shows). The audience was kind of staring at me like "wow..."

Now it was time to start calling encore. Ashley and I continued to clap and yell "an-ko-re!" ("encore!") with everyone. At one point we faltered and stopped calling and the girl in front of us turned around and started encouraging us to clap. Wow, we really are in the club all of a sudden, aren't we?

Eventually, the door on the side of the stage opened and out walked 『L.』. He told us that, because the rest of the band was taking a long time to get ready, he was going to come out and talk to us (though I'm pretty sure the band was stalling on purpose so that he could be alone with the audience). The whole time he talked, he played a sort of flirting game with us. He would say things like "ah, a few days ago I thought to myself, 'hmm, maybe I shouldn't quit...'" to which the entire audience would start screaming "Yamenaide! Yamenaide!" ("Don't quit! Don't quit!"). He even told us he had second thoughts that morning. The response? "Yamenaide! Yamenaide!" Still, he said he'd given it a lot of thought and he was definitely going to leave. He told us it's "fukuzatsu" ("complicated") and that it was time for a change. Then he decided to introduce the rest of the band one by one.

First he introduced Yuuri, who walked out on stage... without any make-up on! Whoa! Yuuri's hair was flat and he was make-up-less and wearing tight, purple pants and a t-shirt. Yuuri came on stage and smiled. The thought never even occurred to me that the members of VAJRA could smile, but that was a real smile. The audience started yelling "Ojiiiiisan!" at him. Huh, so apparently the VAJRA fans refer to Yuuri as "Old Man." What, is he like a whopping 25 years old or something? He's probably the oldest, though. Yuuri came out and stood behind his microphone stand. 『L.』 then began to explain his history with the other members. He said he'd known Kiyuki for two years, and he'd known Yuuri and Nobro for four years. Incredibly enough, he's known Rohan for five. He explained that he first encountered Yuuri and Nobro through an internet classified looking for a guitarist to be in a visual-kei band. He thought they looked really cool and wanted to join. 『L.』 started talking about how the members became like a family. As he explained this, I noticed Yuuri's lip trembling. A moment later, he grabbed his towel and started wiping at his eyes. Then I realized... oh god, Yuuri was crying... Oh god... 『L.』 didn't notice and kept talking, but Yuuri's whole face was red from holding back tears. Eventually, the audience stirred enough to cause 『L.』 to glance over and notice Yuuri's face. He was like "...are you crying?" Yuuri kept wiping his eyes with his towel and waving his hand in the air, signaling 『L.』 to keep talking. Still, 『L.』 seemed a little surprised and started expressing his amazement at how much his departure was affecting people. Yuuri kept waving his hand and the audience started yelling "Naite! Naite!" at him, which is like yelling at him to just cry and let it out. So 『L.』 did what he does best and said some silly stuff to make Yuuri laugh. At that point, Rohan and Kiyuki were introduced and brought out on stage. Kiyuki came out shirtless! Whoa! And neither of them had their make-up on! 『L.』 continued to talk about the band's history and how much fun they've had together. Kiyuki tried to crack jokes to keep the mood light while Rohan nodded and smiled in the background. I sensed that they just didn't know what to say about the situation. The whole time they bantered, Yuuri's chin was wrinkled and his lip was trembling and his face was red. Tears kept flooding his eyes over and over again. I felt so sorry for him. A couple of girls on the barrier were wiping away tears as well. There's nothing worse than seeing a grown man cry...

Eventually, 『L.』 decided it was time to introduce the band's resident psychopath: Nobro! Everyone started calling Nobro's name but... no one showed up. The band looked around, confused. 『L.』 just started laughing, saying it's just like Nobro to be totally antisocial and not even go out on the stage when he's supposed to. Finally, Yuuri went over to the stage door and peeked his head through it, looking for Nobro. He managed to hustle Nobro out on the stage and there was Nobro, his hair flat, the plaster gone, completely make-up-less. I've never seen him without make-up before. His resemblance to Kyo diminished quite suddenly. He also seemed a lot smaller like that, and I came to realize what a tiny guy Nobro is. He came out and took the microphone but still didn't have anything to say. 『L.』 continued to talk about his time in the band, and Nobro just stood there, sipping at his water bottle. Still, I have to give Nobro credit for one thing (which I've noticed before)... he is an unbelievably sarcastic person. Generally speaking, Japanese people don't entirely understand sarcasm. They can be taught it, but a lot of them don't really get it off the bat. Not Nobro. He wasn't going to play 『L.』's flirting game. 『L.』 kept making jokes like "aaaaw, but I love my band sooo much, they don't want me to leave, do they?" Then Nobro would raise an eyebrow, smirk, and say something like, "We'll be fine, buh-bye!" and wave 『L.』 away. This is what I mean about the tension between the two of them. Like, I don't think Nobro actually wants 『L.』 to leave, but he puts on this face like he can't get rid of 『L.』 fast enough. I think the two of them are having some private war with each other that they both secretly enjoy. 『L.』 smirked and told the audience that Nobro cried the day before because 『L.』 was leaving. Nobro didn't deny this, but he still raised an eyebrow and gave 『L.』 the driest look I think I've ever seen a Japanese person give. Still, a few times 『L.』 got Nobro to give us a legitimate smile. I've never seen him smile before. When he smiles, his resemblance to Kyo drops down to zero. He has a big, white-toothed, wrinkly-nosed smile that is painfully adorable. Some of the girls in the back started going "ah, kawaiiii!" ("cuuuuute!") which is kind of a no-no but still, I have to admit... Nobro really is adorable when he smiles. Yuuri just continued sobbing to himself on stage left.

More and more I thought, "why?" Why, damnit?! Why is 『L.』 leaving?! The audience doesn't want him to leave... the band doesn't want him to leave... and, to be perfectly honest, 『L.』 doesn't seem to want to leave either. 『L.』 did a good job of hiding his feelings under all those jokes but every now and then he would suddenly choke on a word. Occasionally, he even started shaking. He was trying very hard to hold down his own tears. So why, then? No one wants him to leave! I was becoming more and more upset with the situation by the second.

Finally, the band decided it was time to get back to music... mostly because Nobro seemed annoyed with all the talking. 『L.』 asked him if he wanted to pick up the MC and Nobro was like "mmmm...no." Well, if Nobro has nothing to say, then it's music time!

Things got really nuts during the encore. A lot of the boys pushed up, especially because 『L.』 and Nobro kept encouraging them to push up. People were headbanging and throwing their fists fiercer than I've ever seen at an indies concert. The encore opened with a new song called Shousoukan Spiral ~ Toaru Harenohi no Zetsubou. Looooong title. Kind of a hilariously emo name, too. If I'm translating this correctly, the title would translate: "A Spiral of Impatient Feelings ~ The Despair of a Fine Day." I can't remember if it was this song, but I just remember that, when the song started, there was a funny clicking and popping sound which turned out to be Rohan's metronome. Rohan looked really embarrassed and the band stopped playing and checked around to see what was causing the sound. 『L.』 laughed and he was like "you guys weren't supposed to hear that." They got it fixed pretty quickly, though. Well, anyways, the song was very hard and intense.

So things were going along just fine and Nobro was shrieking and growling and singing into the microphone. Then, suddenly, the color seemed to drain from his face. In that instant, I remembered something Nobro had talked about on his blog. Apparently, he suffers from low blood pressure and even jokingly refers to himself as Misutaa Teiketsuatsu (Mister Low Blood Pressure). So yeah, the color literally just drained from Nobro's face. Although he was still singing, he reached out one unsteady hand and started groping blindly in the air for the crate. He finally found it and leaned down, holding onto the edge of it. He seemed to be trying to regain his composure... with little success. He sat down very slowly on the crate with a dazed, sickly look on his face. That's when I realized he was starting to pass out.  Anyways, Nobro is very good friends with Kiyuki, who must be used to these episodes. Nobro started fall down on the crate and Kiyuki, with shockingly fast reflexes, lunged forward and put his hands behind Nobro's head to cushion him and help him slowly lay down. At that point, Nobro just stopped singing and went limp (although he still seemed to be conscious). In my mind I was just going "oooooh shit." Anyways, Kiyuki stepped back and returned to playing his guitar once Nobro was lying down (which is definitely the professional thing to do). Yuuri also seemed to know how to deal with Nobro's low blood pressure and rushed in front of the crate and gently propped Nobro's legs up in a bent position to help bring his blood pressure back up. Then he stood there, somewhat blocking Nobro from view while he recovered. Poor kid... fainting is not fun... Actually, Nobro and the band were both so stealthy about the whole thing that I don't even think the entire audience realized what was going. If you can believe it, they almost made it look like it was on purpose. Nobro, still not entirely unconscious, must have realized this and thought of a great way to make the whole thing seem intentional. His eyes were rolling back in his head and, at first, it seemed it was just because he was passing out. Then I realized that the little fucker had somehow managed to unzip his pants and pull them down while he was still lying there. So... what was he doing? Um... masturbating, it seems. No, really, I'm not even kidding... I mean, I've seen other J-Rock vocalists do that kind of stuff now and then (Kyo used to stuff his hands down his pants a lot... or there's a video of Gara from MERRY pulling his pants all the way off and having a hand party on stage). Still, what Nobro was doing looked truly filthy. Kiyuki came back over to check on Nobro and see if he was okay, only to go a little bug-eyed and back away when he saw what Nobro was doing. Um, yeah, it seemed Nobro was a little more than okay. Nobro continued to gratify himself while lying on the crate and... he seemed pretty reluctant to stop. Eventually, he forced himself up and wandered around the stage looking frustrated while pulling his pants up and re-zipping. Um... wow... Thanks Nobro, that's not something you get to see everyday. I think he may have discovered the most effective way to get over low blood pressure quickly...

Anyways, other than Nobro fainting, the encore went along just fine. After a couple of songs, the band left yet again. Still, the lights didn't go back up and everyone started shouting for another encore. While we were shouting, a spray of water suddenly shot out from over the curtain against the wall and splashed all over everyone. We could hear muffled laughter from the other side. Nobro was shooting water at us from over the curtain, lol. Little bastard... See, the band's dressing room was actually just part of the audience floor with a curtain pulled over it. The band had been spying on us through the curtain and Nobro was standing right there, giggling as he chucked water at us.

Finally, the band returned. 『L.』 walked out alone again and ignored us as we all shouted. He turned his back to us and refused to acknowledge the audience's cries. Then he glanced over his shoulder at us and said "daikirai naaa" ("I hate you guys"). Everyone kept screaming while he looked angry and annoyed with us. Then he burst out laughing and he was like "kidding!" He's such a tease, goddamn.

Anyways, the band decided to replay a song they'd already played, namely that one VAJRA song that pisses off everyone for being a total rip-off of Dir en grey's Reiketsu Nariseba. It's one hell of a rip-off but... the song is hella fun live. They decided to get this song running for a good fifteen minutes straight, but I'll be damned if it wasn't really fun. And insane. All sorts of insanity happened during this song. First of all, stupid 『L.』 came through on his warning about getting us dirty. First, he did the very same thing he got in trouble for and started shooting water all over the audience and the floor in an attempt to get us to slip. And slip we did. People were tripping and crashing to the floor all around us (many of these girls were barefoot or only wearing socks or fabric shoes). I was surprised to see 『L.』 doing this despite the whole "being in trouble and getting put on house arrest" thing. But you know what? 『L.』 didn't stop there. Nooooo, he had to take it one step further. Suddenly, much to everyone's surprise and horror, 『L.』 whipped out a water bottle filled with some red liquid. It seemed to be Kool-Aid. Next thing we know, he's spraying the entire audience with fucking red Kool-Aid. Some people scattered but most, like me, decided that for 『L.』's last show, we could take it. Ashley and I got absolutely soaked head to toe in Kool-Aid. Worst part? I was wearing white. If I had read 『L.』's blog and noticed his little hint about us getting dirty, I never would've worn white. Oh well... Everyone was standing there laughing hysterically and dripping in red Kool-Aid. A bunch of girls had their school uniforms absolutely covered in the stuff. As disgusting and sticky as it was, it was pretty damn funny. My whole face and arms and shirt were covered in it.

The most shocking moment of the night came soon after that. Some might recall in my first ever blog post about VAJRA, I mentioned that Ashley had recommended that I see the band because the guitarist was so insane that "he punches people." I wasn't sure what this was supposed to mean, but I was assured that by "punching" Ashley meant "punching hard enough to send girls crashing to the floor." Unfortunately, I never got to see 『L.』 actually do this. Well, that is until yesterday... You know, I've seen a lot in my day, but I don't think anything could have mentally prepared me for actually seeing that one. 『L.』 came up to the front of the stage like his usual self and then, all of a sudden, it was like this black hatred clouded his face and, in that very instant, his eyes flashed and he punched a girl in the face as hard as he could. In that very same second he punched out the girl in the pink maid dress and Nesting Girl. They all got slammed straight to the floor by the sheer force of his blow. The first girl scampered out of the way, not wanting to be in 『L.』's warpath any longer. Pink Maid Girl and Nesting Girl both jumped right back up, but that black hatred still hadn't left 『L.』's face. He seemed to be possessed. His eyes were burning with black flames. It was truly terrifying. When those two girls got up, 『L.』 barely gave them a second to breathe before he suddenly kicked them each in the face as fast and as hard as he could. Nesting Girl got kicked right in the eye. The two girls both collapsed to the floor again, clutching their faces in agony. This time they didn't get up. They just continued to twist and writhe on the floor, clutching their faces. Nesting Girl looked like she was fighting back the urge to start crying. I stared at 『L.』, and his face still seemed possessed by some kind of demonic power. I've seen all sorts of things at indies, but most of it has been harmless or playfully violent in a way that's just for fun. This was different. For the first time ever, I felt afraid of a J-Rocker. That look on his face as he glared harshly upon the two girls writhing on the floor below him... he wasn't 『L.』 in that moment... After a few seconds, the blackness seemed to clear from 『L.』's eyes. He seemed to suddenly realize what he'd done. When he saw that the two girls weren't getting up, a moment of doubt crossed his face. Perhaps he realized he'd gone too far. So, what did 『L.』 do? Why, flee the scene, of course. He immediately ran to the other side of the stage and left the two girls clutching their faces on the floor. But I've got to hand it to them... within a minute, the two girls had gotten back up and were back on the barrier, throwing the horns and screaming as if they hadn't just been punched and kicked in the face as hard as possible by a grown male. I'd been told that Nesting Girl leaped back to her feet immediately when Ashley and my friend Megan saw her get punched out by 『L.』. I, myself, have seen Nesting Girl's amazing recovery time after getting her hip smashed on the barrier during a show (which also made her collapse to the floor). These girls... they're so resilient... When 『L.』 saw them safely on their feet, he made his way back over to the right side of the stage as if nothing had even happened.

At this point, we were all so worked up that people were just saying fuck it to a lot of the furi and just headbanging and going crazy. I myself lost control and was headbanging so much that I came to realize I'd knocked a girl out of her spot without meaning to. At this point, guys were giving in to the blood thirst and rushing up into the crowd. Nobro was reaching out and grabbing boys by their heads and dragging them up to the barrier. 『L.』 finally lost his cool so completely that he hurtled himself off the stage and started running around amongst the crowd. Then he ran up to the front, shoved Nesting Girl and her friends out of the way and started jumping on the barrier himself. He even had some kind of wrestling match with Nesting Girl. It was complete and utter chaos.

And then, just as soon as it had all begun, it was over. Everyone was soaking wet with water and Kool-Aid. Nobro was snarling as people began to crowd in around him. Nobro began to take huge mouthfuls of water and spray it all over the audience. 『L.』 was dumping water all over people's heads. Everyone's faces were glowing with excitement and happiness.

『L.』 was waving at everyone and laughing. Nobro cast a glance at him, then at us, then left the stage without a word. Rohan came out from behind his drum-set and he and 『L.』 hugged. Then, before we knew it, the band had left the stage. Some of the girls started crying. At that point, the sadness crashed down on top of me and I started crying too. Some of my happiest memories in Japan were at indies concerts... and a large quantity of those happy memories came from VAJRA. And now VAJRA, this thing that made me so happy, was being amputated.

As people were milling around grabbing their stuff and using their drink tickets, 『L.』 truly did the right thing and came out behind the merchandise table to talk to everyone. Everyone crowded around him and started chatting. I wasn't listening in or anything but everyone's faces were glowing as they talked to him. It's obvious that he realized how much his departure was affecting everyone. At one point, he invited Nesting Girl behind the table with him and gave her a side hug. He also decided he wanted to go talk to the boys that showed up so he left the table and walked around, bowing and thanking fans and chatting with anyone who wanted to chat. Fans were giving him gifts and cards with well-wishes. Of course, 『L.』 is still 『L.』,so he continued to goof off with the fans. The fans goofed off right back. One fan took a swig of water and told 『L.』 to kiss her. He leaned in to give her a kiss and she spat the water right in his face. 『L.』 just laughed (as did everyone else). Back at the merchandise booth, Nesting Girl decided that, since she was dressed like 『L.』 and 『L.』 was busy, she was going to man the merchandise booth in his stead. The woman actually selling merch was laughing while Nesting Girl held up the photo sets and started yelling out prices at everyone. She's such a silly girl. Ashley and I were waiting for a chance to at least thank 『L.』, but it was almost impossible to get near him. He noticed us hovering but he was a little trapped. At one point, he started talking to The Club Leader and he used her as a way to test whether or not we spoke Japanese. He told The Club Leader that she's very "gaijin-poi" ("foreigner-like") because she's "tall" and "has big boobs" so she should hang out with "those two", and gestured towards Ashley and me. The two of us cringed a little and The Club Leader waved her arm towards us with a look on her face like "um, I think they speak Japanese." 『L.』 just made a face like "aha." Eventually, 『L.』 broke free a little and came up to us. He thanked us and Ashley and I thanked him as well. He asked us if we had any wounds. Wow. Ashley told him we were fine. Then he shook hands with both of us and we told him that we had a great time and that we were sad he was leaving. He gave Ashley a hug and patted me consolingly on the arm. Then he told us, with some of the only English he knows: "see you later yo ne" ("yo ne" is like the Japanese way of saying "yeah?" at the end of a sentence). It was one of the saddest things anyone has ever said to me. Then 『L.』 bowed and walked away and threw one last "ja mata!" ("see you later!") over his shoulder at us.

See you later yo ne, indeed.

After that, Ashley and I left the venue and went to Denny's (which is totally different from the Denny's in America). To get there, we walked around Shibuya soaked in Kool-Aid. We both looked like Carrie. We had streaks of red running down our faces. Luckily, Japan is a country that never asks why. When Nesting Girl was walking around in her 『L.』 cosplay, no one gave her a single glance. At Denny's they let us in without question. Then we went into the bathroom to scrub at least a little of the red off. Unfortunately, we forgot to lock the door. An old woman opened the door and muttered sorry. Then, when she saw what we were doing, her eyes widened and she repeated sorry again and ran away. Um... oops, lol.

I also came to realize that I was covered in battle scars. Wow. It must have come from the slam-dancing-turned-moshing that happened. At least, I think so... I don't know how else it would have happened.

Ashley and I also pulled out the free CDs that the band gave us to discover that one side is the new Spiral song and the other side was a CD... signed by all the members. Even 『L.』. Aw hell... Here, check this out:


I like how Rohan's signature is a kitty. Goddamnit, you guys... making me sad like this...

Anyways, Ashley and I finally left Denny's and dragged ourselves miserably home to continue to be depressed. On the way home, I ran into the neighborhood cat whom I've seen many times. He's a very fat black and white cat with a bell on his collar. Every time I see him, I manage to get a little closer before he runs away. One day, he rolled over for me but my bag fell off my shoulder and scared him off. But yesterday, as I was walking in a cloud of misery, the cat didn't move. He just watched me approach closer and closer. Finally, I held out my hand and let him sniff it. I saw on his collar that the fat cat's name is Hippo. Perfect. Anyways, he sniffed my hand and didn't move, but I wasn't sure so I held out my hand again. He batted my hand out of the way with his head as if to say "I said yes already, why aren't you petting me yet?!" Then he started rubbing against my leg and purring. I crouched down and started rubbing him behind his ears and under his chin and commenting on what a fat kitty he is. Then I petted him for awhile until I thought he'd get annoyed and went home.

And I guess.... that's my story. That's the post. I was able to wash out the Kool-Aid pretty easily. When my host family told me to take a bath, I smuggled the shirt in with me and scrubbed it down with a loofah and some shampoo. It took out the Kool-Aid stains within minutes.

As for 『L.』... So yes, as I said, he and Kiyuki are going to play in a session band on June 6th with a friend of theirs. 『L.』 also assured everyone during his MCs that he wasn't going to stop hanging out with the band and being friends with them. He said they were all going to remain a family and stay close. As for where 『L.』 goes now... I don't know, but he's already changed his name. His name is now Eru, which is pronounced exactly the same as his name was before (the Japanese pronouncation of the letter "L" is "eru"). His name is in kanji, however. For those whose computers can read Chinese characters, his new name is 絵流 which has a meaning of like "style of drawing" or "school of art" or something like that. But his name is still pronounced the same way as Eru. He used to write his name like that on the blog, but now he's credited that way on band schedules and at future shows. The 『L.』 spelling seems to be gone. I suppose Eru will be easier to type from now on. He's continuing on his blog as before and continuing to make announcements for VAJRA. And he still sounds doubtful about his departure, which is sad. But I guess it's too late to take it back now.

As some parting words on the subject, I translated Eru's blog post about the event:

Good morning. You must all be exhausted from the one-man at Shibuya Chelsea Hotel.

Yesterday was so much fun I almost died. It was a somewhat lonely, somewhat sad, very complicated feeling but...

As VAJRA's Eru, I think I became happy.

You are all my pride.
Just this one time, words have failed me.
It's an indescribable feeling of being touched, thankful, loved.

I truly have no words!

Anyways, so long as you were all able to have fun from the heart, I don't need anything more than that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love you all.

In a post the next day he joked about how we all looked like we were covered in blood after he was through with us. He also commented on how "fevered" the boys in the audience looked. He also mentioned how creepy it felt to wake up and not be a part of VAJRA anymore.

So yeah, I guess that's about it.

See you later yo ne.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that was definitely the most emotionally charged indies concert I've seen... It was amazing, but after it was over, it was just too sad. I can totally relate to Nobro's low blood pressure, as I actually passed out from it on the train on the way back. How come you got to pet a kitty named Hippo and I got to have teiketsuatsu fail? Not fair. But I did get a hug. And smiles from Nobro and L, though I'm sure you got them too. They just seemed like they were giving their best and showing the audience their true selves that night. Nobro was saying he hates lying more than anything. The important thing to me is to have no regrets, so I'm glad we went and got to have some good memories and properly say a goodbye to L. See you again yo ne... I keep hoping that we will... but....

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