Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DIR EN GREY - THE UNWAVERING FACT OF TOMORROW - fan club only - 6/29

Before we begin, I want everyone to know that there was a last-minute change of plans in my concert line-up. An opportunity came up after the 6/29 show and I wound up dropping the Lycaon concert entirely and going to see Dir en grey's fan club only show on 6/30 as well. Just a head's up on that - there will be two Dir en grey fan club only live reports on this blog! So be sure to be on the lookout for another one after this one!

Anyways, Dir en grey. DIR EN GREY. It has been far too long since they've been on this blog. We've seen them on here a few times, and today I want to welcome back my all-time favorite band, DIR EN GREY:

Dir en grey is a band known for touring all-year-round. Sometimes, they tour so consistently amidst studio time and music video shooting that one begins to wonder if the band aren't in fact cyborgs with robotic internal organs. Then again, the fact that every member of the band seems to catch a cold every time they tour the states should tell you that they are, under all that awesome, mere mortals after all.

Soooo I suppose it came as a bit of a surprise to fans when the band announced they wouldn't be touring much in 2010. I saw their fan club only concert in December, saw them twice at the Budokan in January, and then, as promised, the band vanished from the concert scene entirely. By Tuesday's show, it had been six months since the band had been on stage. What does that mean? Well, it means an extremely antsy band, and a very agitated fanbase. It had been faaaar too long since some of the Dir en grey fans had gotten out their crazies.

With that introduction, let's head over to the show itself! After six months of absence (and virtually living in the recording studio), Dir en grey was having two fan club only concerts at Shinkiba Studio Coast. Tickets were done by lottery only, and I won two tickets for the Tuesday show. Yes, that means my concert-buddy Ashley would be with me! The two of us were really excited for the show, but a sixth month absence had left a sense of detachment towards the band. Even as we sat at Jonathan's abusing the all-you-can-drink bar (I drank six green tea lattes), we couldn't really grasp that we'd be seeing Dir en grey. The nervousness and excitement seemed strangely absent. I could blame this on all sorts of things, but what does it matter. After several hours, we ditched Yotsuya and headed over to Shinkiba... the most boring place in Tokyo.

The amount of people dressed in black in Shinkiba was stunning. The concert was sold out (about 3000 tickets) and the otherwise lifeless Shinkiba was overrun with people in platform boots, Dir en grey t-shirts, spiky hair, and black clothing. The entire 7/11 parking lot was overflowing with them. The only thing I enjoy about Shinkiba is the bridge over a river of jellyfish. Seriously, you can't even imagine how much I love these jellyfish. They're so fucking cute. Here, see for yourself:

They're soooo cute! I could watch them blurb-blurbing around for hours! Here's a close-up:

Well, anyways, after Ashley dragged me away from the jellyfish, we joined the atrociously long merchandise line. Some of the merchandise was actually really cool (a couple of the t-shirts were really interesting) but I became a victim of impatience. After a half an hour I just got annoyed and we bailed on the merchandise line. I regret it a bit, but that's okay. I think a couple of the t-shirts will be re-sold at the July concerts. We headed off to put our stuff in the cloak room instead. You have to be completely unhindered for these shows. I made sure not to wear any jewelry and to not have a single thing on me other than my ticket and 1000 yen (just in case), Those things were slipped into my four-inch platform boots once I got inside the venue.

At around 6:15, they began calling numbers. I originally laughed when I saw the tickets declaring doors opening at 6:15 and the show starting at 7:00. "They'll never get 3000 people inside the venue in forty-five minutes," I laughed. Boy was I off. They called numbers in so fast I bet a lot of people missed their number. It was like "1 through 20! ... 20 through 50!... 50 through 80!" I almost wonder if they even looked at the tickets as you went in. Ashley and I were in the early 1000's, which is pretty good considering.

When it was our turn, we shoved through the crowd and bolted into the blocked-off line to get inside. Once in there, we mad a dash for the inside of the venue and saw immediately that a pretty large crowd had taken over. Last time we went to a Dir en grey fan club show, it seemed that a lot of people went straight for the back (fearing the intensity of the front, obviously). But it's been six months, remember? There were so many people up front that it was a little intimidating, so Ashley and I headed towards the middle and took a spot at the back, figuring we would just shove our way forward once the show started.

The wait was miserable as always, so Ashley and I just admired the band's musical equipment. It was the usual set-up: Die's equipment is red, Toshiya's is white, Kaoru's is black with zombie-Nazis on it... Shinya had his gold and white drum-set and Kyo had a silver microphone stand with a silver microphone attached to it. Interesting. As more and more people came in, the audience was getting extremely restless. It also seemed really hot. The temperature kept rising and rising and rising. I didn't remember it being so hot last time. A lot of the boys (the audience for Dir en grey is generally 35-40% male) seemed particularly antsy. One girl to my left was becoming so restless that she was chewing her fingernails and shaking. She seemed to be staring at something a few rows ahead of us. Eventually, she lost her composure entirely, pushed forward, and disappeared into the crowd. I thought that was strange but decided not to dwell on it.

At some point, the entire crowd surged forward. A strangled cry erupted from the audience and everyone hustled forward so fast it sounded like an earthquake. Ashley and I rushed forward with everyone else but we suddenly slammed to a dead stop against the people in front of us. There was a wall of humans, but I could see people in front of them still moving forward. Wait, what? What? What the hell?!

Then I realized... the girl who was freaking out next to me... she'd been staring at something... I peered through the humans towards the people who were at the front of the wall and I saw it...

A barrier. A fucking barrier.

Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkk.

No, no, no, no, no. I was not going to be stopped by a goddamn barrier. I needed a way through. Ashley and I began discussing what to do. The barrier appeared to have an opening underneath it so all we had to do was slip under it. The trick was getting through the human wall in front of it. We were only a few rows away from the barrier so, if we could part those humans, we could just slip under. But how? I suddenly became one with the girl from earlier. I couldn't take my eyes off that barrier. I was like a dog staring at at thick, juicy steak. No, actually, I felt like a dog with a piece of food balanced on my nose, poised, ready to strike the moment I heard the signal. I couldn't take my mind off of it... I couldn't stop looking at it... I had to get under that barrier.

Suddenly, the lights went off. Another scream exploded from the audience and the force of a thousand people suddenly slammed against our backs. People cried out in pain. I put aside my barrier hunger for a second when my brain registered the music playing. It was a simple synthesizer beat with a piano track playing over it. Huh? But that's... that's the third Shinsou track from Kisou. Kisou? But that CD is eight years old! What? I turned to Ashley and I was like "What the hell! This is from Kisou!" I couldn't believe it!

And thus bring us to the concert's wildly random and exciting setlist:

Shinsou
304 Goushitsu, Hakushi no Sakura
Byo 「」 Shin
THE FATAL BELIEVER
Gaika, Chinmoku Ga Nemuru Koro
Reiketsu Nariseba
Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami
Kasumi

-Kyo solo- (INWARD SCREAM)

Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk
ROTTING ROOT
BUGABOO
OBSCURE

AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS -unplugged-

DOZING GREEN
Shokubeni
RED SOIL
Zan

Encore:
Hotarubi
DISABLED COMPLEXES
STUCK MAN
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS
Kodou
CHILD PREY

The band members began walking out one by one... Shinya, Die, Toshiya, Kaoru, Kyo... But I think I missed most of that. As people began shoving, pushing, and desperately screaming the names of the band members, I suddenly saw a boy shove through two girls on the barrier and throw himself underneath it.

I lost it. As if someone had shot a gun next to my ear, I began pushing through the girls in front of me.  One of the girls, tightly clutching the barrier,  turned sideways and began pointing under the barrier screaming "Shita! Shita!" ("Go under! Go under!"). I barely had enough room to squeeze a leg through, but I rammed myself between the people standing there and burst through to the other side. I collapsed to the floor on my hands and knees, then scrambled desperately to my feet. I turned around to see Ashley behind the barrier pointing at me and laughing. I started screaming for her to follow me and she quickly dove under the barrier too. We rejoined on the other side, unhindered, ready to kick some ass.

I took a quick assessment of the band. Kaoru was wearing that awesome, blingin' cross necklace and had shoulder-length black hair and (thankfully) no mustache. Toshiya also had shoulder-length black hair that seemed slightly unkempt. He was wearing a long, pleated skirt and leggings. Shinya was wearing one of the tour shirts cut into a tank top and had the adorable, blond poodle-hair. Die looked great.  His hair is down to his armpits and it flutters around him like he's in a shampoo commercial. He had on a white wife-beater and he just looks good. Kyo was wearing that $3000 leather jacket and had his now short, black hair gelled back like he was Elvis or something. Sorry Kyo, not a fan of the hair. The band seemed to be in high spirits right from the start. Kyo was making angry, growling faces at the audience and Kaoru was nodding his head arrogantly. Die and Toshiya were all smiles. And Shinya was just being Shinya, but we love him for it.

And then the band dove straight into one of the biggest shockers of the night: 304 Goushitsu, Hakushi no Sakura. Oh my gawd. That song is from Dir en grey's first album GAUZE (1999). The thing about Dir en grey is... they don't like to play older music. The band went from being completely visual-kei to not at all visual-kei, and the early half of their career seems to embarrass them. They avoid their earlier music almost entirely, which is a shame because a lot of it was really amazing. Lately, however, the band seems to be looking backwards as well as forwards (thus the concept of the Uroboros) and getting to hear a song like 304 Goushitsu was both shocking and amazing. I turned to Ashley and screamed "it's 304!!!" Die had out his acoustic guitar and began to play with lightning fast speed. Shinya was beating the fuck out of the drums. Even though the song is not particularly hard-core by Dir en grey's current standards, the audience was freaking out so much that everyone started pushing, shoving, headbanging, and throwing their fists as if it were Zan or something.   Also, I believe Kyo tweaked some of the lyrics a bit. I'm not 100% positive, so I apologize if I misheard him, but I think he changed some of the words.

After 304, Dir en grey leaped straight into another shocker, Byou 「」 Shin! Whoa, I did not see that one coming either! That song was originally one of Dir en grey's indies songs about 12 years ago, but they redid it in 2003. Once again, that song hasn't made an appearance live in years. The audience was going absolutely ballistic. Kyo (who had already ditched his leather jacket) would scream and, when the string section alternated shouting with him, the whole audience would shout along as loud as possible. I couldn't even hear Toshiya and Kaoru and Die over the shouting of the audience. It was intense. Already two songs in and the entire audience was dripping with sweat and their hair was completely plastered to their faces. Audience-wide collapsing seemed to happen every few seconds. I spent as much time grabbing people's limbs and trying not to fall over as I did rocking out. People were bailing. Some were already fainting and getting pulled limply out of the crowd. All I could think as I watched this was, "I swear it wasn't this hot last time. Why is it so hot?" Meanwhile, Ashley and I continued our mission to push forward. We kept pushing and sneaking through people whenever parts of the crowd fell down. Within a matter of songs we'd pushed a good halfway up from the second barrier.

After Byo 「」 Shin came THE FATAL BELIEVER, another song I felt hadn't shown up in awhile, though it's a much more recent release. I love when the entire audience screams "kill yourself!" as loud as possible. I was close enough now that I could watch the band really well. The five of them looked so energized! I should add that I could see Kyo's new back tattoo pretty well. The 1000-armed Kannon looks finished and there are swirly clouds on Kyo's shoulder-blades now. The design wraps around his sides as well and wraps around so far that you can see the design even from the front.

Next came one of the recent Uroboros songs: Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro. Here the crowd got particularly crazy and I was finding it harder and harder to keep my footing. I was starting to get that "gee, I hope I survive this show" feeling, but I couldn't control the urge to keep pushing closer. Toshiya's shouting was loud and ferocious as always, and Kyo's tumble-down of rage at the end of the song was eerie and disturbing. Crazy animal noises and screams burst out of his mouth and the crowd began tossing and turning like a ship in a bad storm. I kept losing Ashley, then re-finding her. Meanwhile, more and more people were being pulled unconscious from the audience.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any more intense... Reiketsu Nariseba. Ashley and I gave each other a look because it was during Reiketsu Nariseba at the last FC show in December that she and I lost each other completely. The crowd, of course, went ballistic. Reiketsu is such a fantastic crowd-stirring song. You go from immediate intensity to a calm, religious middle section in which everyone is given a chance to watch Kyo stand upon the crate, arms held out like some kind of glorious preacher. Then, just as quickly, the music bashes right back into chaos and the audience unleashes the intensity they've been bottling up for the last minute and a half. People started moshing a bit, in fact, and slam-dancing around into each other. Yeah, like we weren't having enough problems standing up straight! I'm all for moshing but not when the audience was already in such a precarious position!

Reiketsu moved into the newest song, Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami. Let's just call it Hageshisa. I love this song live so much. For most songs, the audience sings only certain verses or shouts certain things unless Kyo specifies. For Hageshisa, however, the audience sings the entire chorus with him, flying high-note and all.

After this came another total surprise: Kasumi. Huh. Not only an older song, but a very slow, pretty one. The audience settled down a bit (well, as much as they could) and swayed and nodded to the music. Kyo sang beautifully and Toshiya had a really wistful look on his face. Die's hair was fluttering around him so much that sometimes it was impossible to see his face behind all that beautiful hair. The song feels like a lullaby and I tried to sway with it as well. Still, it was so hot. I was beginning to feel the pain of having moved up so close to the stage (I was only about ten rows back from the stage at this point). My feet were constantly being stepped on and people had been pulling, pushing, grabbing, and dragging me around. Now, standing still, all the parts of me that hurt seemed to awaken and start screaming. And the heat. I realized that the venue simply didn't have any air conditioning turned on. None at all. Standing still caused more people to pass out, which would cause whole sections of the crowd to collapse. This is scary because falling to the floor is the worst thing that can happen at a concert. Falling = getting trampled.

Kasumi melted effortlessly into one of Kyo's "inward scream" solos. He stood upon the crate and began to both sing and emit strange, eerie noises while a single light shown down upon him. These sounds included hitting himself in the chest as well as strange bird-like calls and piercing, high-pitched screams. Each sound echoed for a very long time so that each one rippled into the next. It was truly haunting and the audience, for the first time, fell very still and silent.

That is until the next song started up. Probably the biggest shocker of the night other than 304... Dir en grey played Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk. When the Oriental-sounding intro started up, the entire audience looked around at each other in shock and went "whooooooooa!" It's no secret that I love the crap out of Dir en grey's Kisou CD, even though it's old (2003) and Keloid Milk was one of my all-time favorites. The audience seemed to be alternating between rocking out and just bouncing to the beat. Toshiya tweaked a lot of the bass-line. While rocking back and forth on his feet, he starting winging a lot of the bass section and improvising new segments. He also had the bass set in such a way that it was loud and explosive, like thunder. The audience started throwing their fists with it.

After that came another one of my all-time favorites from Dir en grey's recent albums, ROTTING ROOT. I love how slinky the song is. I realized that, despite having seen Dir en grey live about seven times before this show, I'd never seen ROTTING ROOT live, so I was really excited. I love watching Die and Kaoru play their guitars during this song because it seems as if the two have some kind of melody-battle that always ends in perfect unison. Kaoru's face was always pointed downwards in concentration while Die was always throwing his head back and shaking out his hair. And sticking his tongue out at the crowd. Kyo was very sweaty at this point, emphasizing how lean his body is right now. Never tiring, Kyo remained spot-on for the entire show. The audience would scream "fucking tricky!" and Kyo would sing "men" back to us using various different voices.

Next was another song off the latest album: Bugaboo. I really love this song for its eerie dissonance. Kyo was headbanging like crazy, sometimes with one foot on the crate, sometimes standing on the crate entirely. Unlike at past shows, the band didn't use any particularly fancy effects for this song. During the entire show, they just had a giant banner that said DIR EN GREY THE UNWAVERING FACT OF TOMORROW TOUR 2010. The only trick they really did was to flash lights on it so that the words would change colors. The audience continued to yell along with Kyo, filling in every growl with him.

Anyways, due to the audience calming down a bit for Bugaboo, I don't think anyone was ready for what was coming next. Namely, Obscure. Probably one of Dir en grey's most famous mosh-songs. Ashley and I exchanged a look of surprise (I love, love, love Obscure - it's one of my favorite songs) and then, without warning, the girl in front of me went tumbling backwards, her fingers clutching the back of the shirt of the guy in front of her. She was falling because the people in front of her were falling. This had been happening the whole show so I simply clutched the girl's clothing like I'd been doing and tried to stay up. So did a good twenty people around us. Unfortunately, this mass panicking, grabbing, and dragging proved to be a bad idea. A good ten people in front of me fell backwards, dragging me down with them. In a moment of terror, I realized I was completely on the floor. As I've said, this is the worst thing that can happen at a concert. I tried desperately to scramble to my feet, but the people in front of me had fallen on top of my legs. The people behind me all grabbed desperately at my arms and tried to pull me back up, but at this point the inevitable had happened. Everyone around me was back up and I was being trampled. The people behind me were yelling and pulling at my arms but I had about ten people literally standing on my legs. I don't know how long I remained on the floor, being trampled. The situation was so dire that people were pulling the people pulling me, trying to do anything they could to get me off the floor. Eventually, I somehow freed my legs and the people behind me dragged me to my feet. I thanked them profusely, then dove back into the crowd as if the moment hadn't happened. As scary as it had been, and as close as I'd gotten to serious injury, the only thing I could think about was the fact that I'd now lost that sweet spot I'd worked so hard to get. I scrambled back through the crowd in an attempt to return to the front where I'd been. By now, I'd lost Ashley completely and wasn't going to find her again.

Unfortunately, I can't remember much of Obscure due to all that. I was too frazzled for the rest of the song. I apologize.

After Obscure, however, Kyo went into Agitated Screams of Maggots -unplugged- which is sort of like the more wild version of his inward scream solo. However, Kyo chose to tone down the wildness for this particular ASOM -unplugged- performance. He still screamed and growled a lot, but he focused on making strange noises and piercing shrieks. He stomped the crate over and over again and, from above, a massive plume of smoke jetted down upon him from the ceiling and trickled out around the crate. This was a really cool effect. In the past, the band used a lightning effect during ASOM -unplugged- but this time they swapped that for issuing huge jets of steam down upon Kyo while he screamed. By the end of his fit, Kyo dropped to his knees and began scraping the microphone across the top of the crate. It looked like his knuckles were getting scraped across the crate too. As he was finishing up, Kyo drooled profusely all over the crate. The sound of the microphone against the crate was really horrible and echoed for a long time, even as the opening music started up for...

DOZING GREEN. Another one of the newer songs. Anyways, it was around this time that I realized my new spot had put me next to a couple girls who were really making me mad. There was a blond one and a black-haired one. The blond one actually screamed out Kyo's name during ASOM -unplugged- when it's supposed to be silent. This was something I thought the Japanese were polite enough not to do and I felt a lot of people around me shift uncomfortably when she did it. I couldn't believe she had the nerve. As DOZING GREEN went on, I began to realize that this girl was responsible for almost every single collapse in my area. How is that possible, you wonder? Well, every time she became "overcome" with emotion, she would intentionally fall backwards, knocking down everyone behind her. After watching her scream out in the middle of Kyo's solo, then watching her knocking down my section (myself included) over and over, I began to feel a black hatred for this girl that I couldn't swallow. Eventually, I lost it and slammed my elbow into her chest as hard as I could. That shut her up for the rest of DOZING GREEN, but she perked right back up again when the song was over.

After DOZING GREEN, Kaoru held the static for a very long time. Sadly, I know Dir en grey well enough to actually recognize the freaking static. In my head I was going "Shokubeni, Shokubeni, it's gonna be Shokubeni." Sure enough, it was Shokubeni. Sweeeeet. Everyone rocks out so hard to this one. Unfortunately, that blond girl wouldn't stop fucking up everything in my area (namely, the entire section in front of Kyo's crate). I watched people crying out as she threw herself backwards on top of people, knocking them over, and I could see how frustrated everyone was getting.  I was getting angrier and angrier and angrier and then, suddenly, my mind went blank. The next thing I knew, my fist had connected with her face. Now, I am not a violent person. I'm known to be pretty passive, generally, and I get mad when people intentionally hurt others. But I just lost it. This girl was rude, inconsiderate, and making an already painful experience that much harder for everyone. So I just punched her in the fucking face. I didn't even have time to be surprised at myself because it was so satisfying to watch her stumble. This seemed to slow her down for awhile. Anyways, Kyo did his little solo during Shokubeni with the microphone held away, using the strength of his own voice to sing the chorus.

Shokubeni was followed by one of my personal favorites: RED SOIL. I don't think I can ever get sick of that song. Not to mention the way Die's hair flutters in the air during the song, it almost feels like you're watching a music video. I love the way the audience actually growls the entire chorus along with Kyo. Everyone was jumping up and down so much that the best thing to do was let your body go limp and allow the audience to pull you up and down with them. Kyo was screaming for us to give him more, and give him more we did!

When RED SOIL ended, Kyo suddenly jumped in front of the crate and went up to the edge of the stage. He started beckoning everyone forward, glaring at us and gesturing for us to come get him. He even started pointing at his eyes, then pointing at people in the crowd and having stare-downs with them. He did this to a good ten people. I don't even know how I survived that moment. The crush was so intense that I was ready to just close my eyes and die in there. Die came up to the front as well and started yelling at everyone and holding up his guitar. Toshiya was roaming, twirling his fingers and grinning. I kept thinking "damnit Kyo, the way you're riling up this audience you're going to get us all killed! Are you crazy?!" Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any tighter in there, Kyo bent himself double and unleashed a bone-crushing growl.

Zan.

Oh fuck. Way to go, Kyo. You just took an already deranged audience, riled them up, then went into Zan?! Yup, we're gonna die. I know some people were not fond of the new version of Zan, but I love it, and experiencing it live solidifies that for me. I've never experienced the original 1999 version of Zan live, but when I see it on DVDs, it always comes off as a bit of a mess to me. Like something gets lost in translation between the album and the live. But the new version, when played live, is so spot on it's insane. The precision, the transition-less pace changing, all of it lends itself to making the audience absolutely lose its mind. It is the ultimate beat-em-up song. Every time Kyo yells "psycho!" the entire audience threw their fist and yelled it with him. Some people even jumped into the air and crash-landed onto the people in front of them (security wasn't very happy about this). The whole string section was yelling and holding up their instruments and trying to rile us up while Shinya pummeled the crap out of the drums with an occasional sideways smirk on his face.

When the song ended, the band left the stage fairly abruptly and without looking back at us (except Toshiya who threw up his arms as if going "goal!"). Now came the painful wait for encore. As I was standing there, I suddenly realized something didn't feel right. I couldn't figure out what it was but... something wasn't right. I reached down to nervously knead my skirt and... it wasn't there. Um... what? What? It couldn't be... I felt around desperately and realized...

I had lost my fucking skirt. Holy shit. It must have gotten pulled off in the audience! I was literally standing there in nothing but a tank top and tights! I didn't know what to do! Well, there was nothing I could do! I just pulled down my tank top as far as I could (it was stretchy from being completely soaked in sweat) and scanned around the floor for my lost garment. Amazingly enough, after about five minutes, I noticed something black on the floor under the feet of someone in front of me. On a whim, I dove down for it and, sure enough, it was my skirt. But how to get it back on? With no other options available, I just clutched the shoulder of the person in front of me and tried to step back into it (easier said than done). The girl next to me noticed what had happened and started giggling. I gave her a look like "yeah, yeah, ha ha." But hey, I wasn't the only one with problems. There were people in the audience holding up lost shoes too, looking for potential owners.

Anyways, encore is always a scary part of the show. The heat was so unbearable that I felt as if I'd lost my very life force. I put my hands on the shoulders of the person in front of me and lay my head on their back. The fainting reached its peak at this point, now that everyone had stilled. Security was standing on boxes, using flashlights to try and find people who had passed out from heat and exhaustion. I was shocked to see one particularly fierce girl from earlier getting pulled out, completely unconscious. During encore alone they pulled out at least fifteen people, including a couple of boys. That doesn't even account for the good 30+ people I'd seen get pulled out before that. This was totally ridiculous. There hadn't been nearly as much fainting last time I saw the band live at the same venue. Where was the goddamn air conditioning?! Security had such unbelievably concerned looks on their faces as they scanned the crowd. In the silence, I could hear the people around me gasping painfully for air. It was a horrible sound. I, myself, found air to be in strangely short supply. Even trying to stand up straighter, there was simply no air to be found above the audience. Many people tried to call for encore, and just as many didn't have the lung capacity or the strength to make a sound. I was starting to wonder if even I could survive through encore. Encore just didn't seem to be coming. I don't know how much time passed before the band returned, but it was unbearable. One girl in front of me started crying from misery.

But finally the band came back. This took people's minds off the pain and everyone became excited all over again. Then the band went into another really surprising song: Hotarubi. Wow, that's old. And very different from what I would expect from Dir en grey now. The song is very slow and pretty and sad. I was never the biggest fan of it, but I can appreciate how pretty it is live. Toshiya had this really wistful, dreamy look on his face during the song, like he was thinking about something. Kyo just stood perfectly still and sang. The audience was calm and respectful.

As a totally fantastic transition, Hotarubi went into DISABLED COMPLEXES. This worked great because the calmness of Hotarubi melted into the lazy first half of DISABLED COMPLEXES... like the calm before a really chaotic storm. And, just as expected, when Kyo hit that sudden high note signaling the transition in the middle of the song, everyone started going crazy. Everyone was trying to jump up and down, though I don't think we were particularly successful. Die was doing that full-body headbanging that looks so awesome (especially with the long hair).

The pace didn't slow down at all as the band went into STUCK MAN. Trying to ignore the fact that every inch of me hurt, that I was so thirsty I had water bottles dancing in front of my eyes, and the fact that some bizarre, inexplicable taste was permanently tattooed inside my mouth, I just started bopping to the beat. Everyone around me was trying to do much the same, but some people were using this lapse in intensity to start pushing people around. Kyo tried to get us all to jump for this song, but I think we failed again. Oh well, we tried.

As if it couldn't get any crazier... AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS. I love this song live. Nothing classier than 3000 people screaming "I'll rape your daughter on your grave!" as loud as possible. As always, it's like... Die: I'll rape your daughter! Kyo: On your grave! Toshiya: Waaaaaaaaaagh!!! Gotta love it.

The show took a surprising turn by going into Kodou. I didn't expect a song like Kodou to appear so late in encore, but the break was greatly appreciated (the band actually took a breather before they played it). This song is so powerful live. What struck me in particular was how the entire audience raised their arms in salute when Kyo screamed "ohayou!" ("good morning!") at the end of the song. We all knew he was going to do it, and everyone threw up their arms in anticipation of it.

And then Kyo began to yell "Last song! Last song!" "Okay," I told myself. "One more song, you can do it. You've made it this far, so there's no dying now!" And then, much to my shock as well as everyone else's, the band played the old encore favorite: CHILD PREY. Now, to be perfectly honest, I've never cared much for CHILD PREY, but the crowd around me got pretty riled up so I just went with it. Admittedly, I couldn't hear Die and Toshiya singing the chorus over the audience singing it, but that's okay because I made up for that by singing along myself! We all pushed, shoved, threw our fists, and went nuts. Die threw water from his water bottle all over us and it felt soooo good in the heat. In my head, I was desperately begging him to throw more. During the song, Toshiya jumped up on the crate and... he was shirtless! Whoo! Holla! He was just standing up there in a skirt and leggings, sweaty (and very toned), and grinning at us all. And then...

It was over.

Kyo stood atop the crate and started clapping above his head. He scanned around the audience, nodding and smirking, and even gave us a small, rare smile. Once again, he did the thing where he points at his eyes, then at audience members. Then he nodded a few more times, jumped off the crate, and disappeared. The rest of the band began roaming the stage, stirring us up. They all took turns throwing picks. Kaoru's picks were purple and he nodded at us as he threw them. Toshiya was smiling as he tossed his. So was Die, who was grinning ear to ear. Shinya came out from behind the drum set and jumped up onto the crate to toss some drum sticks. Goddamn can he throw far. I avoid all tossed items, though. That's a circle of death you don't want to wind up in. And then, with one last wisp of Shinya's poodle-hair, the band was gone.

I wanted to fall to the floor. I wanted nothing more than to collapse to the floor right where I was. But no... I had to find Ashley. That was a must. I began pushing through people, looking around, trying to find her. I must say, the aftermath of the show was really scary. I've never seen anything like it, not even at other Dir en grey fan club concerts. It looked like a war zone. People were stumbling and swaying... some people were unconscious and being rushed out by security by their arms and legs. Out in the bar area, the edges of the walls were littered with collapsed bodies. People were lying in sweaty, unconscious heaps and grotesque positions, completely unconscious or gasping for air. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. As for myself, two words just kept running through my mind: "sit water sit water sit water." I needed water and I needed to sit. My feet were screaming. After awhile I found Ashley. The two of us felt like death. The show was fantastic, but we wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. We bought some drinks inside really quick, stared in horror at the devastation of collapsed bodies, then went back outside. Ashley had lost a bracelet during the show, but luckily we found it at the lost-and-found outside. Unfortunately, the line for cloak room was huge. Fuck. Lesson learned: used coin lockers instead. The wait in line was so unbearable that a few times I just crouched down like a defeated warrior until the line moved again. I could hardly move. It took us about an hour to get away from the venue. We sat down by some vending machines but they were sold out of almost everything. Too exhausted to do much of anything, Ashley and I decided to pick up a train to go home as fast as possible.

We parted way in the station and, when I tried to get through to my line, I found that my Pasmo card didn't have enough money. This is probably one of the luckiest things that's ever happened to me, as you'll discover soon. I went over to the machines to recharge my card and, while there, I ran into Risu (from Orchestrated Chaos) and a group of other foreigners I had met at previous shows. It turned out they were taking the same line as me, so I decided to ride the train back with them. On the train, they all talked about tomorrow's show and asked me about it. I had to admit to them that... I wasn't going. This elicited looks of shock on the faces of the group. I could barely bring myself to admit that I wasn't going because there was an indies concert the next day that I had tickets for (Lycaon's concert at Shibuya O-West; the last show with Mio and Eve). Even just thinking the words they sounded utterly idiotic in my head. Why the hell was I going to go to an indies show over Dir en grey? Was I out of my fucking mind? But I knew I didn't have a choice (or a ticket).

That is until Risu told me she actually had an extra ticket for the Wednesday show because someone bailed on it. What? Oh, but I couldn't. What about Ashley? We're concert-buddies, I have to go to Lycaon with her. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to rip that Lycaon ticket to shreds and go to Dir en grey. I told Risu to hang onto it and I'd contact her tomorrow. When I got home, I messaged Ashley and told her the situation. I explained that I really wanted to go to Dir en grey, even though it would be really unfair to her because she'd be at Lycaon alone and couldn't go to Dir en grey even if she wanted to change her mind and come with me. I told her I could go to Lycaon if she really wanted, or it was possible that we could scalp a ticket and just go to Dir en grey together.

Gee, which option do you think won out? Obviously, Dir en grey. There wasn't even a need to debate. We both knew what we really wanted. So Ashley and I decided, despite being crippled (seriously, I don't even know how I walked home) to go to Shinkiba the next day and find a scalper ticket for her. I would take Risu's ticket. I contacted Risu and told her hell yeah, I'm in.

So stay tuned for tomorrow's report to find out how it all went down!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Indies, Yotsuya Outbreak: Count the WTF

Yesterday's indies show was so bizarre, messed up, and strange, that today we're going to play a game called Count the WTF. It's a very simple game. If something totally WTF happens, the show gets a point. Let's see how many points the show can get, shall we?

Anyways, Ashley and I weren't originally planning on going to this show. We have three huge shows in a row starting Monday, not to mention we both caught colds, so we were planning on just lazing around all weekend. However, Eru, formally of the band VAJRA, was continually dropping hints on his blog that he would be playing at the Saturday show. Of course, that makes no sense because he's not in the band anymore, but he described it as a "friendship reunion" type thing. Anyways, I kind of wanted to go just because it would be Eru's last time in VAJRA (or so he says... unless they keep sneaking him through loopholes). Ashley, on the other hand, didn't seem very interested because we were both really tired. The morning of the show, I made it pretty clear that I wanted to go and, eventually, Ashley gave in. Let's just say... we're both really glad we went.

Yesterday's show was at Yotsuya Outbreak so Ashley and I met up and bought some bagels before heading over to the venue. The show was being hosted by
α:Vout because it was their last concert before breaking up. We'd seen them a few times before and Ashley and I never much cared for them... so we left the show before they played. I'll just post their picture real quick.

Here's α:Vout, who has broken up:

Anyways, inside the venue it wasn't particularly crowded. Ashley and I took some spots off on the side for when boredom ensued. About ten minutes later (while sharing some candy), Ashley nudged me and said, "look! Look who's here!"

Well, of course, this is a familiar equation. Anything + Eru = Nesting Girl! Nesting Girl wandered dizzily into the venue with her posse of equally goofy friends. And, like old times, Nesting Girl was dressed exclusively in men's clothing.

Also, Yotsuya Outbreak has this stupid set-up where the stage door is next to the stage, meaning the bands have to walk through the entire audience just to get backstage. While we were sitting there waiting around, Nobro and Eru walked in together and managed to sneak through the audience. Then again, they suck at sneaking since everyone recognized Eru's leopard-print sunglasses, lol.

Now, Ashley and I had been hoping to leave as soon as VAJRA was done, only to discover that VAJRA would be going second-to-last. Damnit. So we were in it for the long haul. Plus, a lot of these bands were so new that the internet and all my usual sources simply had no knowledge of their existence or, if they did, no photos. This was all a recipe for a lot of absurdity. But that kind of made it fun.

I think the first band up was Catastrophia.

They've only been around a month or so, I think. Musically, they were the usual. They were so new that they only played about three songs, all three of which they handed to us for free after the show on a CD, along with their pamphlet. They basically had no fans. There was one or two girls on the barrier and the rest of the audience was ignoring them. Nesting Girl and her friends started to do some furi while sitting facing away from the band, but this was probably more to mock the band than anything else.

Next band up is Marble, but I was simply unable to find a picture of them or any information. And now begins our little game. The band's fanbase consisted of two girls in matching lolita costumes who were holding cameras and filming the performance. They also had a girl with a video camera, and a few miscellaneous people who, rather than taking barrier, formed a semi-circle in the middle of the audience area and left an empty circle of land in front of the stage.

WTF Moment #1

The band itself was rather spastic. They weren't visual-kei or anything, which may have turned off some of the audience members. Marble played one song that was a total rip-off of a MERRY song, and that's not saying much because they only played three songs. This time, some of the girls mocked the band for real. During the vocalist's MC, a group of girls started loudly singing the chorus of one his songs and laughing. Whoa, ouch. I felt so embarrassed for the band I could hardly look at them. The most amusing part of this act was that, in the semi-circle of fans there was one young man who was dancing and spazzing and jerking around in a way that looked like he'd been possessed by a demon. I couldn't figure out what it looked like until Ashley leaned over and whispered "he looks like a raptor." Oh my god. He was literally holding up his arms and bobbing his head like a raptor, I kid you not.

WTF Moment #2

Eventually, the vocalist got fed up with the girls mocking him and jumped off the stage and started shouting something angrily in the faces of some of the girls. Except, I think he attacked some girls who weren't actually involved in the mocking. Oops.  Still, I can't say I blame the guy. I would've been pissed too. That's okay, he has Raptor-Man to keep him company at future shows.

Some time between this band and the next band, Nesting Girl and a friend of hers changed outfits. Nesting Girl came out of the bathroom wearing a pajama-costume of the squeeze toy aliens from Toy Story:

And her friend was dressed up in a pajama-costume of the Japanese kid's show character Gachapin:

Um... wow. I have no words.

WTF Moment #3

Next band up... SiCrow:

The vocalist came out on stage wearing a bag on his head with one hole punched out for an eye.

WTF Moment #4

Still, the band was actually kind of fun. The rhythm section had a dance-like quality to it and it seemed like something you could kind of rock out to... while dancing. Sounds great, right? Yeah, except my research has uncovered that the band is going to break up next month. Goddamnit, indies pisses me off soooo much sometimes. Anyways, the MC was pretty amusing. The vocalist was trying to encourage everyone to fill out a survey about the band (why, I have no idea. If you're breaking up, then what do you care?). Anyways, he was bribing the audience with gum. He was like "if you fill out the survey, you get a piece of gum!" This one girl yelled out "I want a cat!" so he was like "if you fill out the survey, you can also get a cat! Really, I'm not lying! People who want gum or cats, fill out the survey!"

WTF Moment #5

He also tried to encourage people to move up, but no one would. Nesting Girl looked around, then inched up a few steps. Everyone started giggling. The vocalist was like "yeah! Move up!" so she scooted forward a few more steps, still looking around like "should I do it?" She's such a spazz.

Anyways, next band up... I was unable to find a picture because they're so new. Sorry. They were called ORVAL. The had kind of a Renaissance theme to their costumes. Their drummer had absolutely enormous blond hair that stuck out a good foot in every direction. They also had a female guitarist who played keyboard occasionally. Something was wrong with the rhythm section, though. I felt like the drummer kept getting off-beat somehow. Anyways, I was never able to figure out what the music was like because I was too busy staring at the vocalist and going WTF. The vocalist was just standing there, one hand on his chest, this glassy-eyed, distant look on his face, while he sang like a dying cat. Seriously, his singing voice was so utterly horrible and off-key and painful that I caught some girls wincing and giggling at one of his notes. But they had more fans than anything else that had been onstage so I was like "how could this band have any fans with a vocalist like that?"

WTF Moment #6

But then they did an MC and the vocalist explained that he'd caught a cold and wasn't feeling very good and, thus, he apologized. Aaaaaw, well now I just felt bad. He really shouldn't have been onstage. It looked like he couldn't breathe through his nose because his mouth was always open and his eyes were all glazed over. Not to mention he would try to rock out, then stop just as quickly and look miserable. I mean, he looked sick. That guy needed to get off the stage and go to bed.

Well, actually, after their performance, he opted to wander the audience chatting with people instead of going to bed.  This foreign girl was talking to us and the band remembered her from another show, so the sick vocalist and the guitarist came over to say hi. I couldn't find a band photo but I did find a picture of those two. The guitarist is on the left, the sick vocalist is on the right.


Much to our surprise, the sick vocalist spoke really good English. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised, because he announced their song Disparity almost perfectly during the show. He asked where we were from and then explained to us that he lived in New York for four years. Aha. He was still kind of dazed and none of us knew what to say, so it was kind of awkward. The guitarist tried to speak English and then do translation through the vocalist. It only occurred to me after they walked away that Ashley and I could've just spoken to the guitarist in Japanese. Uh, duh. Sometimes I forget I speak Japanese, lol. If we see them again, we'll use Japanese and make it a lot less awkward. And hopefully the vocalist won't be sick and miserable. But he seems like a sweet kid.

Next up... Falaris:

This is when things got really weird. Well, first of all, what appeared to be a family had come in around this time. There was a young boy with pink hair and what I assumed was his little sister. There was also an older man and an older woman, and even some old people. Actually, more and more people had been coming into the venue as the show went on, and it got so crowded that the venue made an announcement saying people were no longer allowed to sit - everyone had to stand. Geez. I guess we didn't have a choice - or room. Anyways, Nesting Girl's posse was talking about the little girl because they couldn't believe someone so young was in there. Eventually they just asked her how old she was and she said she was a middle-school student. Wow. For Falaris, the whole family took over the saizen. The pink-haired boy and the 40-somethings took the right and the little middle schooler took a spot on the left.

WTF Moment #7

And then there were the drunk girls..........

The sick vocalist from ORVAL was nearby and we told him we were pretty sure the girls on the barrier were drunk. And boy were they drunk. There were three girls and one of them literally chugged two cans of beer while on the barrier (Japanese beer cans are twice the size of American beer cans, so this was more like her chugging four cans of beer in under five minutes). Her friends had beer too. And they were obviously drunk before the show even started. I'm going to give that a...

WTF Moment #8

Then Falaris themselves came out. Do not let the above picture fool you. That picture is a fine piece of air-brushing and photoshopping. These guys were seriously in their forties. But besides that, those drunk girls, my gawd. Just as I was wondering how they were even standing up, one of them collapsed to the floor. Of course, she got right back up again. Can't keep a drunk girl down. They continued to rock out (they obviously knew the music really well) but actually stopped to drink more beer every few minutes. During guitar solos, the really drunk girl would drop to her knees and hold up her beer can towards the band. Geez. These girls could barely stand up... it was so embarrassing. Plus, I kept waiting for one of them to throw up. I was going to seriously kick them in the ribs if one of them dared to throw up.

Anyways, the family left when the set was over. My guess is that the older woman was the wife of one of the band members and the older man was a brother. The two children were probably the children of one of the band members as well. They were definitely old enough to have kids that age.

Anyways, next band up was... ah, yeah, we've seen them before. SevIIens:

Well, we'd seen them before, so Ashley and I stood up and even did a little bit of furi for them. The vocalist is named Magaku which, according to some Romanization, is meant to be Magack... which I think is hilarious. But they're not that terrible or anything, and I don't really mind them. Magack tried to do that thing I mentioned last time we saw them where he hangs upside-down on the barrier, does sit-ups, and then pulls himself back up onstage without using his arms. Impressive, but this time it didn't work out so well. He kind of got his foot stuck under the crate when he did it, so he was unable to get back up. No one seemed to notice, either. He kept singing (albeit with a rather strangled voice) until some girl in the audience finally noticed the problem and put her hands under his back and helped haul him back onto the stage. I suppose he's lucky he didn't break his ankle.

After their show, Magack took to standing on a chair at the merch table holding up merchandise signs. He looked kind of pitiful standing up there... like a hobo or something, lol.  I wonder if it guilted anyone into buying stuff.

After SevIIens was another band we've seen before: Velgat:

Their little vocalist... although his name is aine, I prefer to call him Rufflebutt because of the giant, ruffly skirt thing he wears in the back. He even turned around and wiggled the ruffle at us all, so I know he knows he's ruffly. Nothing much to say about them. Rufflebutt is very hyper. He tried to talk about the World Cup but no one cared, lol.

Next band up... SCAPEGOAT:

I dunno............ whatever. Kinda like SevIIens, I'm not really for or against SCAPEGOAT. Their fans are total assholes, though. During slam-dancing, they knocked over some girl's bag and knocked all the stuff out of it. They didn't even apologize. Then, when the girl crouched down to start putting her stuff back in the bag, they just slam-danced right into her. One girl even barrel-rolled right over her. They could've killed her. Once again, the girls didn't even apologize, just fled the scene and kept on going. Just when I thought the fans couldn't get any meaner... this one girl somehow hurt her head during the performance and was rubbing her head and crying. Her "friend" was rubbing her back to comfort her, but the moment a bottle flew by, she abandoned the girl and dove after it. When she came back with the bottle, I thought maybe she'd give it to her friend. Instead, she just bragged about it, and then gave the bottle to a different friend right in front of the injured girl. What a bitch. The crying girl just walked away. Wow, SCAPEGOAT fans. You have no souls.

Anyways, yeah, the music was okay. I probably wouldn't listen to it on my own time, but it's alright.

Next band up is GremlinS:

I'm shocked I found a picture of these guys. They're pretty new. I dunno... I wasn't too enthused with them either. They were pretty hard, but it didn't stand out in any way. We just dubbed the vocalist Kefka because the ruff around his neck makes him look like Kefka from Final Fantasy VI, lol.

At this point, Ashley and I just moved up to second row as fast as possible for VAJRA. So, once again, I welcome VAJRA onto the blog:

So, Eru said on his blog that he would be playing with VAJRA at this one show despite having "quit" the band and despite being totally wiped off their official website. He said he would be spending one more show as 『L.』. I give that alone a...

WTF Moment #9

Yotsuya Outbreak is also lacking in a curtain. It only has a projector screen that goes up and down, so you can see the bands setting up behind it. Thanks to that, we could catch some glimpses of VAJRA and see that... the band was wearing completely normal clothing and virtually no make-up.

WTF Moment #10

When the screen went up and we got a better look at them... sure enough, pants and t-shirts. Drummer Rohan was even wearing a cowboy hat. Nobro was wearing genie pants. 『L.』 had no make-up and his normally pink hair was short and sandy colored. I must say, they are so totally adorable in normal clothing. Seriously. Weeeeell, except Nobro was still wearing white-out contacts, hahaha. Oh, and he was brunette at their one-man, blond last week, and now he's brunette again. And he came on stage smoking a cigarette.

WTF Moment #11...?

Well, we had Nesting Girl right up in front of 『L.』, and she was still wearing her alien costume with the hood pulled up and everything... Club Leader up front in the middle... and tons of guys were in the back. The band's male audience came out of hiding for this show and we had nearly twenty boys in the back moving up for VAJRA.

So most VK bands are formed through random connections, head-hunting, or even just being stuck together strategically based on what the label wants. Sure, some of them are friends, but usually the members are all interchangeable and once they're gone, they're gone. So, to have a case like this where a band member is gone but feels the need to return and do a show anyways... it's weird.  『L.』 and his band mates blog about each other as if he's still in the band, even when he's not.

Anyways, yeah, the audience was really excited. When they started up the song Heito - the slam-dancing song - everyone was jumping up and down clapping their hands with excitement. And boy were they rough. Everyone was slamming and toppling over each other and we even got some of the boys to join in on it with us. Hell yeah! Ashley and I finally got to do some booty-bumping too. Third row wasn't interested, so Ashley and I just picked a few asses and slammed them the whole time.

I must say, the change in Nobro is amazing when 『L.』 is around. 『L.』 ran over to annoy Nobro within the first song, but rather than outwardly bugging him, he just threw an arm around around him and gave him a squeeze. Normally, Nobro would've looked pissed, but instead he tried to hide a huge, toothy smile behind the microphone. When 『L.』 saw Nobro's smile, he gave him a cute pout and another squeeze and they stayed like that with 『L.』's arm around Nobro for awhile. D'aaaaaaaw. They even did one of their usual bantering MCs. 『L.』 would be drawling on and on like "weeeeeeeell I know I quit buuuuuuut" and Nobro would just smirk at him and tease him. I missed their team. Those two work so well together. Nobro was all smiles during the MC. The only problem was, Nobro got a new piercing and for some reason he decided to pierce the corner of his mouth. I think the new piercing was still bothering him because, every time Nobro smiled, he would start twitching and pulling one side of his face more than the other. It would start off like a smile, then turn into something that resembled having a stroke. The audience was kind of laughing at it, but I don't think Nobro even cared.

Kiyuki, still getting braver, does lots of stare-downs with the audience. I got into a stare-down with him and we gazed at each other for awhile until, finally, he stuck his tongue out at me, lol. 『L.』 caught me staring and gave me a squinty-eyed smile too. I'd love to catch Yuuri's eye but he's always off in his own world. Eventually, Nobro started fish-hooking. It looked like he didn't really get that much blood going but then I looked away for one second. When I looked back, he had globs of bloody spit all over his face. Ew, Nobro. He dripped it all over his white shirt, too! Idiot! I couldn't help but notice 『L.』 watching Nobro with that same weird look on his face like he did at the one-man. I don't even know what that face means, but it's not a happy one.

Eventually, 『L.』 started throwing water at the crowd. He took one bottle and pretty much dumped it all over Nesting Girl's head, hahaha. Then he whipped out a green, dragon-shaped watering can and started watering the audience, lol. I guess that's...

WTF Moment #12

While 『L.』 watered the crowd , Nobro thought it would be smart to take swigs of water and spit it at us. Except, um, he fish-hooked. Wow, way to spit bloody water everywhere, Nobro. Club Leader and the girl next to her actually bailed on saizen and ran away while he did that in order to avoid catching some NTDs (Nobro Transmitted Diseases).

When the show ended, the band all held up their instruments and they were all like "whoo!" They only played four songs, but they definitely made the most of it. The only thing was, remember how I mentioned at the one-man that Nobro has low blood pressure problems and he totally fainted at the show? Yeah, well, while he was holding up his arms and throwing the horns, he got the same, glassy, dizzy look on his face, and he stumbled a little. A deep breath seemed to fix the problem but seriously... four songs. It only took four songs for Nobro to get dizzy again. I dunno how they ever expect him to do more one-mans like that, lol.

Aaand that was basically the show.

At this point, Ashley and I decided to bail. The show had gone on way too long and we just weren't in the mood for the last act. We went to the drink bar to get some liquid and, while we were there, guess who else was there? Why, the really drunk girl, buying ten dollars worth of more alcohol! Because that's really what she needed!

On the way out, we headed up the stairs and nearly ran head-first into Rohan, who was wearing his cowboy hat again. He almost hit the ceiling. I guess he thought he'd found a quiet hallway to escape into. Whoops.

Well, anyways, that was the show. 12 WTF moments and I'm sure there were even more than that. Boy, what a show. A whole lot of stupid. But at least it was funny.

Well, stay-tuned for the next blog, which will be Heretic Sound Music's last event featuring Valluna, ALSDEAD, Navir, Ha;qch, and Odoburu/O_DBLE (VAJRA's old band). It's gonna be sweet!

And the day after that is DIR EN GREY FAN CLUB ONLY. Definitely stay tuned for that!

See you soon!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Indies Bands - Double Event Post (of Sarcasm)

Two indies events, two days in a row. You'd think that would be fun, right? Well, if you think stabbing yourself in the face repeatedly is fun, then you'd be correct. Anyways, I feel obligated to make a post about all the bands since it did take up a good ten hours of my life and also because there were a few bands I came to see who I'm going to discuss. To balance out the situation, I'm going to post about these shows through snarky one-liners and bitter commentary. As usual, I don't really mean any offense, and I'm just trying to be funny.  But for those of you who like sarcasm, this is your post!

First show was at Ikebukuro Black Hole. It was a couple tour with Valluna and Re:dis. Ashley and I were tricked into the show by some cleverly worded signs that said "Valluna tickets for sale" without saying it was an event concert. Fail. We didn't know any of the bands other than Valluna but we paid the money so we had to go (albeit bitterly). I'm not sure of the order of these bands at all, so let's just plow through it, shall we?

I believe the first band up is NEXX:

In looking up their picture, I discovered that the band had a really terrifying-looking vocalist up until recently, only to replace him with their bassist, A.K.A. the vacant-looking guy you see above. I can just hear the staff meeting now:

Manager: Sorry, Scary Vocalist, scary's just not in right now. We're going to replace you with someone who's a more marketable singer. Your bassist.

Scary Vocalist: But... but sir, he's retarded. That's why he's the bassist.

Manager: He may not be able to sing, and he may look like he was hit in the face with a frying pan covered in glitter, but the ladies love 'em when they're cute!

Scary Vocalist: Cute?! He's mentally challenged!

Manager: Sorry, kid, I need you to clean off your desk by three. And make me a sandwich.

Scary Vocalist: ;-(

Next band up is probably the WoRLD:

Upon looking up their photo, I discovered that they've recently had some kind of nervous breakdown. They're changing their names and changing the band name (which hasn't changed at all, but what the fuck do I know) and only one member is even listed on their site. Nervous breakdown? Probably from inhaling all them hair spray fumes.

Next band up... maybe OUROBOROS... I dunno...

Ya know... if you're going to name yourself after an absurdly successful album released by Dir en grey last year, you could at least try to make the band look into it. I don't even remember these guys playing. I kid you not.

Next band uuuuup, maybe MiD DERACINE:

AT LAST WE'VE DISCOVERED WHAT HAPPENS WHEN KAYA AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA HAVE SEX!!!

Next up, I have no idea, let's say it was... D'LORE:

I can sum up this band very simply: they opened with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song, and the vocalist had the words "fack you" drawn on his chest. It's hard to look away from train wrecks. From my research I've discovered that their vocalist is leaving the band in a few weeks. Well fack you too.

Next up was probably BLADE:

I literally don't remember them playing. Not a thing.

Okay, let's get to the shit that was actually enjoyable (about six hernias later). The tour was being led by Re:dis and Valluna, and I suppose it makes sense that the headliners would be the only bands worth seeing. Next up we have a band that showed up once on the blog before, but this time I'll give them a little bit more detail.

Next band up is Re:dis:

From what I can gather, Re:dis only formed last year and they hail from Nagoya. They've only released a couple demo tapes and a single and yet they've toured the entire country and draw in huge crowds. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but what the hell do I know. I've seen them once before and wasn't able to get much of an impression of them musically because these venues have shitty sound quality. This time I still wasn't able to make out the music very well, but I can definitely say they're very, very hard and vocalist Ryuuji can scream and shriek like a mofo. He's a tiny dude, but he's very, very scary. His face has so many piercings that he kind of resembles a living pin-cushion. And he makes faces at the crowd like he's a serial murderer.

I would post some sample music of Re:dis on here but, unfortunately, there's nothing available to post. Overall, they sounded pretty solid, and they're not very VK, so their focus is a little more musical and a little less on the look. The screaming was very intense, but Ryuuji could sing as well. He made a lot of really crazy faces and generally looked deranged. He spazzed around like crazy and even took the time to run his nails across his torso until he bled. His MC was pretty amusing too. Ryuuji couldn't catch his breath at all, so he sat down on the crate facing away from everyone and gasped out a good four-minute long MC in the direction of the drum-set. I think this was meant to be slightly funny. The longer he wheezed/talked, the more people started giggling. Eventually Ryuuji paused and said "mou kurakunachatta" ("everything's gone dark"). Wow, kid, you need to hit the gym and get in shape, lol. It shouldn't take four minutes to catch your breath. Every now and then Ryuuji would glance over his shoulder at us, smirk, and continue talking to the drum set. Strange fellow.

Also, Ashley and I were going nuts trying to solve the mystery of why the hell Ryuuji appears to have a hole in his chest. It's the oddest thing. There's like a chunk in the middle of his chest that looks like it was scooped out with a spoon. It almost looks like a stab-wound scar. Weeeeird stuff. As Ashley put it "I think that guy has some serious problems. I don't know what they are, but they're there." Eeeexactly.

Well, anyways, the band was very enjoyable and Ashley and I were up and doing some furi for them. It was nice to see an act that didn't make my ears bleed. Thanks you, Re:dis, for not sucking at life.

Next band up is our old friend Valluna:

Welcome back, you guys. They always bring up the mood... unlike their fans, who continue to be the biggest, most annoying bitches in the universe. They take the front for bands they don't even like just so they can have the front when Valluna comes out. They won't move for saizen... in fact, they won't move period or apologize if they hit or step on someone. So obnoxious.

As for the band itself, they did a good job as always. The fans were making me extremely irritable, but at least we have yo-ka's terrifyingly perfect body to admire in the meantime. He's like a Greek god in a corset. Goddamn. Much to my surprise, our beloved Kirimaru has finally decided to do the right thing and give up colored contacts. It was rather shocking to see him walk out on stage with a completely symmetrical face and making eye-contact with people... and not walking into any inanimate objects. He was looking around the stage and the audience with wide eyes as if seeing everything for the first time. By god, he can finally see! It's a Christmas miracle! SAKURA was still being his usual, super-friendly self... Kei still looked like he was about to have a heart attack and hates every second that he's on the stage, and KANADE... well, it's no news that I just don't care for him.

Anyways, Ashley and I manged to pull fourth row at the very least, and we rocked out and had fun as usual. I guess I'll just talk randomly here...

Well, yo-ka attempted crowd-surfing and finally got his ass dropped. Seriously, why is it that the heavy, brick-bodied Asians are the ones that like to crowd-surf? Well, this time the girls didn't run away and he had a good seven or eight holding him up. Still, they couldn't keep him up and wound up dropping him, hahaha. It's about time. He was totally asking for it. Actually, the dropping wasn't the part that hurt. They managed to lower yo-ka somewhat slowly so that his feet hit the floor before he fell down. But then the girls tried to pick him back up and put him back on the stage. This involved lifting him and basically hurling him at the crate. Um... why would you toss him in the direction of the crate? This looked like it hurt. Yo-ka rolled into the crate, stumbled, and hit the floor. He definitely stopped singing and looked like he was in pain/startled, though he recovered quickly. Way to go girls, you suck at life most thoroughly now.

Also, some people have probably noticed a "brightening" of Valluna's music. Sometimes it's hard to tell if this kind of cute-ifying is because the band wants it, or because the indies label is telling them to shut the fuck up and do it. And make them a sandwich. Valluna seems to be a case of the latter. Whenever they play the lighter, more cheerful songs, Kirimaru seems to go almost still and becomes disinterested. He only perks up during the hardcore songs. What's more, KANADE's attempts at smiling cutely look more like grimacing in pain.

Hmm... I dunno what else. At one point, yo-ka's fake eye-lash fell off and start dangling over his eye. That was seriously creepy looking. I'm glad yo-ka's got a severe case of narcissism and checks himself out in the mirror every few minutes, or that eyelash may have been there the whole show.

When Valluna returned for encore, they announced that they would bring Re:dis out on the stage and cover a Re:dis song. The crazy Re:dis girls in the back all seemed very excited. See, Re:dis fans are actually cool and move out of the way when their band isn't on stage. Plus Re:dis's entire saizen consisted of really tall school girls wearing scary make-up. Really scary. I wouldn't want to pick a fight with those girls. Anyhoo, yo-ka announced Re:dis, but they didn't show up. After a confused silence, everyone started screaming to make them come out. Four of them did, but a fifth straggler was still missing and one of his band mates had to leave the stage and go retrieve him, lol. Yo-ka and Ryuuji appear to be super BFFs and had their arms around each other and kept hugging and laughing and whispering like school children together. Ryuuji, despite his porcupine face and stab-wound in the chest and other terrifying qualities, is horrifically adorable when he's not performing. He's all smiles.

So Valluna covered a Re:dis song while Re:dis wandered around bothering Valluna and laughing (or just looking dazed and confused sometimes). As usual, the Valluna fans were total assholes and acted very coldly about what I'm assuming they took to be a false encore. They virtually didn't do any furi and mostly just watched (seriously, furi is so freaking easy to do even if you don't know the band, what the hell Valluna fans). The Re:dis fans were going nuts with happiness, though, and the few good Valluna fans were laughing at how silly it all was. Hell, I was laughing. Yo-ka and Ryuuji kept sharing the microphone and alternating singing while the string sections bugged each other. At one point, SAKURA wound up with three members of Re:dis trying to put their arms around him. SAKURA kind of looked like "um, you guys, I'm trying to concentrate on playing guitar..." Or they'd go bother Kei, who just looked frightened and put off as usual. Ryuuji seemed unable to stop laughing, so that was pretty adorable.

Then the show ended and the asshole Valluna fans started screaming for another encore even though bands only ever do one and Valluna would have to pay extra to play another song. But you know, whatever, Valluna fans are just selfish bitches. The curtain did re-open, but only with Valluna and Re:dis all standing there with their arms around each other. Ashley turned to me and whispered "conga line?" I almost died laughing. Seriously. Yo-ka just thanked everyone and Ryuuji giggled like a little girl. Or, when he laughs, he sounds like a cat squeaking. The audience was like "aaaaaaaw." Yo-ka told the audience to hold hands so everyone could do a jump together. This girl next to me seemed lonely all by herself the whole show, so I asked if she wanted to hold hands. She looked stunned, then agreed, lol. After the jump, and after the show was over, she came over to me while I was gathering my stuff and thanked me profusely. No problem, little lady.

That about wraps up Day One. Onto Day Two at Shinjuku Ruido K4, and even more embittered sarcasm. There wasn't much improvement with this show, and Ashley and I only decided to go on the very day of the show because VAJRA would be having their first concert without Eru (quick note: Eru and 『L.』 from previous posts are the same person. Eru has always written his name in kanji on the blog, but now he's credited that way everywhere since his departure from VAJRA. As such, I've chosen to write his name in the phonetic pronunciation of the kanji. Eru and 『L.』 are pronounced the same in Japanese, it's just a difference in spelling). Knowing Eru would be gone, I did a quick sweep of the fans before the show and saw that, much to my sadness, a certain blond/pink-haired spazz was missing... As expected, upon losing Eru, we lost Nesting Girl as well. Sigh... I figured as much...

The show was being hosted by 7 Addict who, for whatever reason, decided to perform first. The moment they stepped on stage, I muttered "I hate my life." The picture won't show you why, but I'll explain. Here's 7 Addict:

This picture is so unlike what I saw that I almost wonder if I have my bands mixed up. I don't think so, though, because it's a session band, so things are up in the air as it is. What I saw was two men dressed and acting so much like L.MC that I almost did a double-take. The other three members were men in kimonos... wearing rabbit heads. Oooooh fuck my life.

Next up is Para:noir:

Yeah, whatever, we've seen them before. They're not bad, although I don't know if it's really my cup of tea. They don't suck enough for me to rip on them, so I'm just going to let it go. Oh, well, they did have an ambulance siren propped up on the sound equipment. That was sorta cool.

Next up was VAJRA:

Actually, ALSDEAD was listed as playing next, but the order was getting messed up for some reason. Good thing Ashley had the instinct to move up to around third row for ALSDEAD or else we would've been screwed. So, as stated before, this was VAJRA's first show without Eru. The band was realigned with Kiyuki remaining on the left and Yuuri over in Eru's old spot on the right. What's really interesting is that, not only did the band opt not to have a support guitarist, they also didn't have a pre-recorded track of Eru's part. Instead, Yuuri somehow managed to split up his own guitar part and selected pieces of Eru's guitar part and effectively play the role of both guitarists. Um, wow.  Only problem was that it made the furi kind of confusing since the music sounded a little different. We had our half-Japanese Club Leader up on the barrier as usual, and even she kept making mistakes and laughing in embarrassment.

Their performance was fine, but the crowd felt so lacking without Nesting Girl's wild enthusiasm and tom-foolery. I already knew that losing Eru meant losing Nesting Girl, but it was still rather empty without them. Also, due to the order change, a lot of people were up front who didn't realize it would be VAJRA, so they were a little "whatever" on the whole thing. Nobro, already the world's most pissed-off Asian, seemed to grow pissier every minute. He seemed to be looking around at us in disgust, and his disgust eventually turned into aloofness. He didn't even self-mutilate (though his torso seems to have accumulated some more foot-long surgical-slashes since the last time we saw him). I still think this is due to Eru's departure. Those two were a team. Eru was the extreme sadist and Nobro was the extreme masochist. Eru's presence amplified Nobro's presence. The other members are all too sweet and nice. Nobro needed someone to grate on his nerves and piss him off. Nobro needed someone who wasn't afraid to come over and bother him and upstage him and make him angry. Without Eru, Nobro seems deflated. I still don't entirely understand those two, but without Eru it just seems wrong.

According to Yuuri's blog, Eru actually came to see the show. I don't know how a man with violent pink hair could've been so sneaky (I certainly didn't see him).  Now the band is saying that they'll have Eru play with them on Saturday, even though he's been removed from their official site. More and more, Eru is beginning to remind me a dog scratching at the door to be let back in. Something's just not right.

As for their performance, Kiyuki seems to be getting braver and even put his foot up on the barrier. Nobro was making lots of crazy faces and crouching on the crate. They didn't do any gyaku-daibu, however, which might have helped to relieve the rage Ashley and I had been accumulating. Overall, they did fine, though Nobro definitely seemed aloof without Eru's grating presence on the stage with him.

Let's move on, shall we? Anyways, Ashley and I were feeling annoyed with all the shitty bands we were being subjected to, so we went and used our drink tickets outside. Shinjuku Ruido K4 is set up with windows between the bar and the actual stage area, so you can watch the bands from outside (as many equally picky or bored people do).

Next band up is Elm:

Wow, a Halloween-themed band... haven't seen that before.  Ashley and I just watched in horror from the window. The vocalist had blades for hands like Edward Scissorhands... and he was doing para-para with them. I couldn't figure out what this reminded me of until Ashley said "he looks like Voldo." Oh. My. God. YES! If you're not familiar with Voldo, the creepy, boneless pervert from the Soul Calibur games, you should look that shit up.  Anyways, I thought to myself: "well, maybe I'm not being fair. I can't really hear the band's music." Then some girl opened the door and oooookay, not my cup of tea.

Let's move on. Next band up was Velbet:

OH MY GOD THE GAZETTE PLAYING AT AN INDIES VENUE?!! OMG I'M SO EXCITED I - wait... you're not The GazettE. Damnit.

Let's play a game called count the ways this vocalist looks like Ruki from The GazettE:

1. Gloves
2. Red, velvety outfit
3. Identical make-up
4. Bleached blond hair styled the same way
5. Lines drawn on his neck (no, really, I'm not even kidding)

You know what... I don't even know anymore. Ashley and I stayed outside and every now and then then the door would open and what seemed to be The GazettE would come blasting out. Uuuuugh. You know, I understand that VAJRA is a Dir en grey rip-off, but at least they don't look exactly like Dir en grey on top of that. But now it seems we have bands who are willing to sound and look like other bands at the same time.

After this, I really wanted to leave the venue and skip whatever the fuck else might be playing, but Ashley and I decided to at least wait it out for ALSDEAD, since we'd made it that far. We were pretty sure ALSDEAD would be next and we would skip the band that went after them. Thankfully, ALSDEAD was next, so...

Next band up is ALSDEAD wearing their new (and much improved) costumes:

God, what an improvement from those heinous white outfits from before. Part of the problem with those outfits is that vocalist MAKI gets reeeeeally red when he performs, and the white brought out the red. He looks a lot less flushed in black, lol. Plus Dorkmaster (sorry, his real name is Reito but he's dorky so I gave him a new name) is actually wearing pants, which he seems far more comfortable with.

Anyways, they were enjoyable at the "mid level" as always. A band I don't dislike, though I don't really follow them either. The music is good, although MAKI's voice is kinda... I dunno. Sometimes it annoys me. They did a fine job as always, except for the part where MAKI somehow managed to fall off the (unstable) crate and pitch into the barrier and nearly take out the girls on saizen. Good job, MAKI, hahaha. He looked pretty embarrassed and later apologized and laughed it off during the MC.

After the show, Ashley and I grabbed our shit and ran for our lives. Out in the hallway I spotted MAKI walking around. Ten minutes later, and his neck and face are still the color of a tomato, lol.

Anyways, that's that for the double post. I hope you enjoyed my sarcasm and annoyance.

Next week, I have three concerts in a row, but they're expected to be really awesome, so be on the lookout for a much happier post from me.

Here's next week's super exciting schedule:

6/28: The Indies record label Heretic Sound Music's last indies event. Bands include Valluna, Ha;qch (been awhile!), Navir, ALSDEAD, and O_DBLE (the band that VAJRA came from, consisting of Nobro, Eru, and Yuuri).

6/29: DIR EN GREY FAN CLUB ONLY CONCERT

6/30: Lycaon one-man (Eve and Mio's last concert)

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I'm excited! See you all soon (with much better reports)!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Memory of Xena - The Funniest Dachshund I've Ever Known

As many of my friends already know, on June 15th, my beloved Dachshund Xena passed away at the age of eight years old. Many of my friends knew and loved her, and even people who didn't know her were instantly charmed by her adorable face. She was something of a maniacal, even psychotic dog at times... but that just added to her charm. Rather than dwelling on her untimely death, I think the best thing to do is remember all the amazing times we had with her. Thus, I'm going to do a small tribute to her here on the blog.

We got Xena back when I was still in middle school. I think I was only twelve years old at the time. We traveled to Indiana to get her, and faced the difficult decision of choosing between her and her sister. They were both adorable and so young that you could still hold them in one hand.

Here's a picture of my mom holding Xena and her sister when they were still puppies. Xena's the one on the right with the big paw.

Still, Xena's exquisitely beautiful and cute face was charming us and we began to lean towards her quite quickly. Here's my dad holding Xena in only one arm with a pile of other loving Dachshunds on his lap:

I guess you could say that's a real-life dog-pile! Xena was ridiculously small and we grew attached to her. Eventually, we knew she was the right one:


We had difficulties with Xena from the beginning, which shouldn't have surprised us considering she was biting her sister the entire time we were at the breeder's house. She had a lot of behavioral problems, and training her was nearly impossible. She loved to bite, and sometimes she didn't even need a reason to do so. If you were sitting on the floor not paying enough attention to her, she'd bite you right in the back. Still, we were able to overlook this in light of her otherwise loving nature.

She was a quirky dog, even down to her fur. When we got her, she had a curious black skunk-stripe down her back which eventually faded. Later in life she developed two shiny, silver stripes down her sides which a friend of mine referred to as her "racing stripes." This name made sense when you considered how much Xena loved to run in circles around the house as fast as possible, making carpet-tearing noises as she went. She grew up quickly and turned into a beautiful dog who was known for the markings around her eyes that looked like Egyptian eyeliner:

She was a wild dog with a fond love of toys and stuffed animals:

She was very destructive with her toys but it was part of what made her so funny. Any time we bought her a toy with a squeaker, she would chew and bite at the toy for weeks until she was able to rip the squeaker out. Stuffed animals were also troublesome. Sometimes we would come home to find the entire house covered in a snowstorm of fluff and Xena staring at us with an expectant look on her face.

Xena was rather destructive with people too, and she was known to bite strangers or attack anyone who came to the door. Sometimes she would bark for seemingly no reason. If the doorbell rang while she was eating, she would bark right into her food dish. Still, once she came to love someone, she loved them forever. Many of my friends received rough treatment for the first few hours at my house, only to find Xena jumping up on their legs in excitement the next time they came over. She also had a bit of an incontinence problem.  When she was excited, she would pee with happiness. If a whole group of my friends came over at once, we would put Xena on the driveway to greet them and she would leave spirals of urine around the driveway. How she peed in circles I have no idea, but it sure was funny.

She was always hilarious and quirky. In the winter, she loved to hide under the blankets with only her face sticking out:

Xena was also an absurdly smart dog. She even played tricks on us sometimes. For example, she learned that scratching to go outside would make my mom stand up. Sometimes, she would scratch at the door, wait for my mom to get up, then run into the kitchen and stand by the treats. This would often earn her a treat just because she was so clever. She also understood how mirrors work. Sometimes, she would lie on the floor facing the glass panels over the fireplace. From there, she would watch everything that happened. Occasionally I would try to sneak up on her but she would watch me in the reflection and wait until I was a foot away before leaping to her feet and running over to a toy to get me to play. She was a dog who never seemed to tire out.

Nonetheless, she enjoyed lying on our laps at night:

Or she would curl up on her own in the shape of a doughnut:

Xena loved to be outside all the time, sometimes even when it was snowing:


When she was outside, our neighbor just had to run over to play with her, and Xena would leave her spirals of pee everywhere with happiness. She was just the right combination of cuteness... and insanity.

For example, one of my favorite memories of her... We were sitting inside watching TV while Xena was outside barking at things that don't exist. Eventually, we heard a horrible screaming sound and something hit the window with a bloody splat. When we went to investigate, we discovered that Xena had caught a squirrel. Of course, it's not that strange for a dog to catch a squirrel, but Xena had to give it that extra Xena flair she was so known for. After she caught the squirrel, she shook it around violently and then flung it right at our window as hard as she could, leaving a blood trail down the window like some kind of horror movie. Xena was always awesome like that.

She was very expressive, and you could almost always see the whites of her eyes:

Because of that, you could always tell what Xena was thinking or feeling. Like, in the above picture she's obviously glancing at someone and thinking "don't even think about taking me off this blanket."

She always had pretty eyes and beautiful black tips on her ears:

She and I got along wonderfully well. I think we understood each other's quirks really well. She understood that I had to swing her off the ground and squeeze her every now and then, and I understood that she doesn't like to be squeezed for more than a few seconds. I knew that she liked if I switched the toy we were playing with literally every minute so she wouldn't get bored. Even when Xena did something stupid or annoying, I just laughed it off because she was so funny. The day before I left for Japan, Xena had to leave her mark all over my stuff by nesting into my clothes while I was packing:

It's always great when a dog with lots of hair colors nests into your all-black clothes, lol.

But hell, how could you not love her? She was crazy and unpredictable and adorable and loving all at once. Maybe we let her get away with too many behavioral quirks, but she was always entertaining because of it. She'll be missed terribly, but it's definitely best to look back upon all the good times we had with her.

R.I.P. Xena
Feb. 24th 2002 - June 15th 2010

Yes, she had the same birthday as Shinya from Dir en grey. Because, again, she was just awesome like that.

If you were a friend of mine who knew Xena and you wish to leave a comment with some funny or amusing memory you have of her, feel free to comment below!