Friday, July 30, 2010

SPECIAL THANKS and the future of this blog

Well… it’s been over ten months since I arrived in Japan and so many things have happened that it’s hard to say if I will ever be the same person again. I owe this year to a lot of things/people, so I thought it only fitting to write up a “special thanks” list to commemorate all the things/people that made these ten months possible (and totally awesome). If I forget anyone/anything, I apologize, you are still appreciated. Anyways, here are all the things/people that I want to thank.

First of all, a special thanks to my host family. You gave me a place to stay, a great room, you cooked meals for me, and even did my laundry. Sure, sometimes I hated your food (my hatred for Japanese chicken is well known), but you never protested, complained, or made me feel like a nuisance. And you never told me what to do or stopped me from doing what I wanted. There was no curfew and you didn’t even question my frequent habit of disappearing on weeknights and not showing up till well after midnight. Definitely a special thanks is needed.

Special thanks to my own parents, who had the difficult job of sitting on the other side of the world wondering what the hell I was doing. Still, they never stopped me from doing anything or expressed any disappointment in any of my choices. They kept in contact with me through e-mail and Skype and were always 100% supportive. They even read this blog! A huge special thanks to them!

Special thanks to my friend Ashley for becoming my Tokyo Companion. She gets a special thanks for being my concert buddy and surviving Dir en grey pits with me. We were somehow able to keep each other amused through endlessly boring indies events, and we took all the same classes at school during our second semester to avoid succumbing to an early death via classroom boredom. Ashley’s love of seeing multiple indies events a week (and my inability to not come along) probably killed my grades at school, but I feel like that deserves a spot in the “special thanks” section because Ashley probably helped me pry out that massive stick I had stuck up my ass for the past three years. I needed a semester to be bad and do whatever the hell I wanted, and Ashley helped me achieve that. I think I came out of it a much looser person than I started.

A special thanks to my friend Caroline for being hilarious and helping me out with tickets for D’espairsRay and The GazettE and keeping concerts amusing. Thanks to you, I was able to rekindle my love of D’espairsRay!

Special thanks to my friends back home as well, for keeping in touch with me via the internet. You guys didn’t let me stray too far away, and thank goodness for that. I really enjoyed the random Skype IM sessions, even if Evan had a tendency to catch me right as I was about to leave for school, lol. You guys kept up with me on Facebook or through e-mail and even read my blog sometimes. A special thanks to all of you (you know who you guys are!) and I'm going to see you all real soon!!!

Also, a special thanks to the staff of Orchestrated Chaos for answering my incessant questions, never being impatient with me, and always being so kind and friendly at concerts!

I also want to thank some of the bands from this year, even if they won’t read this.

First of all, as always, a very special thanks to Dir en grey for being one of the best things that ever happened to me. You guys rocked my socks off again this year with some of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life. You guys continue to be completely amazing and I’m honored to be your fan. Kyo, Die, Kaoru, Toshiya, Shinya… I love all of you.

A special thanks to the following major bands:

D’espairsRay, for being the most lovable idiots in the world and providing us both wonderfully catchy tunes as well as general hilarity. I may have fallen off your wagon for awhile, but I’m glad to be back on. You guys are fun, dark, ridiculous, and entertaining all at once. Special thanks for being my first concert in Japan and for later providing me with one of the best concert experiences I ever had.

MERRY, for being one of the most lovably eccentric bands I know of. You were always completely unpredictable every time I saw you and you are, so far, the only band that has ever given me two full concerts in one day. Your energy combined with your strange brand of grotesque and class gave me some great times.

D, for being fun and hilarious. And for writing the 7th Rose album this year. You guys were so much fun in concert and you never failed to surprise me or leave me with fantastic stories.

A special thanks to the following indies bands…

UnsraW, for being amazing and showing me that indies does not have to equal bad music. In fact, it can equal awesome music. A huge thanks to Yuuki for providing me an odd source of inspiration over the last couple of months. Thanks a million, big guy. Never stop being you.

Ha;qch, for being a lot of fun and giving me some great times. Especially Chihiro, who’s blog was a constant source of amusement to me. A special thanks to Chihiro for spitting on me at my first indies concert ever.

Valluna, for being both entertaining and sexy and providing some of the best one-mans I ever saw.

VAJRA, for being so bizarrely lovable. You guys weren’t afraid to show us who you really were under the costumes and make-up, and you guys loved breaking the rules as much as possible. I suppose, in that sense, I just loved your spirit as people, and the strange bond the five of you have with each other.

Shout-outs also go to Re:dis, Kaya, and exist†trace . And Nesting Girl for being fucking hilarious.

I also want to thank some random things. Special thanks to…

Pure Gummies, for being delicious.

All things that are green-tea flavored.

Jonathan’s endless drink bar with green tea lattes.

Japanese KFC for having the best chicken ever.

Hippo the neighborhood cat.

The Akita I named Yuuki (after Yuuki from UnsraW) who lived next door and was always sleeping under the car. You made me smile every morning while I was still mad at the world for waking me up.

O1O1 One for having the best goddamn clothes ever.

Like an Edison and other stores that sell JRock goods.

The massive cluster of hosts that stood outside Don Quijote every night with their fancy clothing and gravity-defying hair.

The karaoke place in Shinjuku for having a great staff.

The karaoke place in Yotsuya for being cheap but surprisingly high quality. A special shout-out to the completely fucked up staff working there. You guys were the absolute dregs of society but you always recognized the music Ashley and I sang and gave us adorably knowing smiles.

Namja Town for having the best gyouza and ice cream in the same building.

Japanese people in general, for being really weird and apparently not being ashamed of that.

And, of course...

A HUGE SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO'S BEEN READING AND/OR FOLLOWING MY BLOG! Your comments and e-mails were always welcome and I thank you so so so much for the encouraging words I received! Sometimes I wanted to quit, but all my readers helped inspire me to continue! Even if you never left a comment, thank you so much for reading my blog! Whether you read only one post, two posts, or all posts, a special thanks to anyone who read my blog and enjoyed it! Knowing many people read this blog gave me huge encouragement to continue! I hope everyone enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed writing it!

As for the future of this blog...

Well, I certainly don't want the blog to roll over and die just because I'm leaving Japan. At this point, I've become so attached to the blog that I think it would be almost painful not to update it occasionally. It's already confirmed that I'll be seeing D'espairsRay in Chicago on August 9th and Dir en grey on the couple tour with Apocalyptica in Chicago on September 1st. I will undoubtedly write full reports for both those shows! Besides that, I might blog occasionally about whatever comes my way. I'd like to think the adventures won't stop now and that I'll find more reasons to write all sorts of things on the blog. The world of music never stops turning, so I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to blog about!

Also, if anyone is attending the D'espairsRay or Dir en grey shows in Chicago, come say hi! I don't bite, and I might bring cookies! Never be afraid to come over and say hello!

Once again, a huge special thanks to everyone! You all made it happen!

Thank you so much!!!

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last Concert Report in Japan

Well, it's that time! Time for my last concert report in Japan! I'm going to keep this one pretty brief. Even though it was an event show, I was really only interested in UnsraW, lol. Anyways, this marked my 44th show in Japan! 44 shows in total... not bad, eh?

Our last show was held at Takadanobaba Area and was being hosted by PS Company. The performers at this particular event were all "super indies" bands. Super indies are the bands who have advanced beyond the early stages of indies. They've released full albums, have good followings, and have usually managed to do a one-man at Shibuya O-West. They're some of the few indies bands who might face going major some day. Because this show contained six "super" indies bands, the event was sold out. I wasn't sure what constituted "sold out" for AREA. Turns out 400 people is sold out...?  Anyways, 400 may not sound like a lot, but for a little venue like that it's a crap-load. Ashley and I had tickets 301 and 302. There were so many people that they had to form a giant line snaking around the building by number just to try and organize it. Unfortunately, our shitty tickets meant that, by the time we got inside, the whole front section was taken up. Ashley and I went to the area behind the second barrier, which is raised above the front section. I really wanted to be down there for UnsraW, though. I couldn't bear the thought of spending my last concert and my last time seeing UnsraW in the back. I figured I might be able force my way down there for UnsraW, but I didn't know when they were playing. Still, I had a bad feeling they'd play first because they were the black sheep band of the night (they're not under PS Company and they're not very PS-like. They were probably only there because they're friends with the headlining band). While we stood there, cramped and crowded, I started to get that itchy feeling I had at Dir en grey when I was stuck behind the barrier. It was that same urge to destroy all the obstacles in front of me and go running.

After about a half an hour of waiting around in that hot, overly-crowded area, the lights finally went down. Then an air raid siren went off. I literally yelled "SHIT!", dropped my purse to the floor, and began shoving people out of my way. You know, I wouldn't have been so vicious about it normally, but the people I was shoving were assholes standing on the only fucking stairs between the front and the back section. This is an event concert, people switch in and out for different bands, get off the goddamn stairs! I tripped down the stairs in the darkness, somehow landed on my feet, then began pushing into the crowd until I knew I was in the action. Air raid sirens, machine guns, and eins zwei drei vier can only mean one thing: UnsraW. Or Nazi Germany. But in this case, UnsraW, lol.

The curtain flew open and yes, it was indeed UnsraW. Welcome back to the blog, boys. Here they are showing off their new hair (yes, they updated their official site just because they had new hair, lol):

Anyways, when the curtain opened, the band was already on stage and Yuuki started yelling immediately. I love the reaction the band gets when they first show up on stage. People in the audience who don't know UnsraW seem to draw back in surprise the moment they see Yuuki. Visual-kei is all about skinny little men in tight clothing, so I think it comes as a huge shock to the audience when they see Yuuki's massive presence. He's probably twice the size of some of the guys in indies. Combine that with his angry makeup and silver grills and sparkly, gold lipstick and, well... it's quite the shock!

Anyways, I still remember the setlist:

ZERO
REBORN
-9-
~Tsuioku no Kanata~
ROSE OF SORROW
Warai Oni

UnsraW went straight into REBORN, which I had yet to hear live. Yay! Anyways, I noticed immediately that Yuuki was behaving differently at this show. I don't know if you guys remember, but when I wrote about UnsraW the last time we saw them, I said Yuuki was having a "clumsy" day. He kept swaying, fell three times for seemingly no reason, and didn't make any sense during his MC. At this show, he was totally stable and normal.  Anyhoo, great performance of REBORN! Madoka was still being creepy and making weird faces at everyone and dancing around with his guitar. Tetsu was being totally adorable and pouty. Jin was being all stoic and serious business and having beautiful hair. And Shou was adorable and smiling like crazy with his mouth open the whole time he drummed.

After that, the band did their obligatory -9- performance. I hope a day will come in which UnsraW doesn't have to play -9-. I'm not dissing -9-, but I just think UnsraW's too good and has too many songs to have to lean on the crutch of a single hit song at every performance. Anyways, it was a fun live. I think the girls in front of me didn't know UnsraW at all, but they cooperated with all the furi and headbanging so that I was able to do it freely myself. At one point, Jin and Testu and Madoka all began headbanging in the same direction at the same time, completely synchronized. Best part is, I don't think they meant to do that, lol!

Next up was ~Tsuioku no Kanata~. Uh oh, ballad time. Having seen Yuuki perform the GUILTY ballad, I was a little worried about how this one would go. I had good reason to. Just like last time, Yuuki basically cried his way through the whole song. He makes this unbelievably tragic face while he performs. He was clutching the left side of his face in one hand, his whole face scrunched up miserably while singing. He seemed to get more upset as the song went on. Eventually, he dropped to his knees and collapsed over the crate with his face pressed into it. He was so close to the girls on the barrier that his hair was brushing up against them. Then, quite suddenly, he slammed his fist down on the crate. The sound reverberated across the whole venue. The two girls in front of the crate were startled and jumped back a little. They cautiously returned to their spots, but Yuuki slammed his fist down yet again. The girls decided to move back to give him some more space while he tossed and turned on the crate sobbing. Yuuki seems to be a very unhappy person. The whole song I kept thinking, "it's okay, big guy! Really!" Eventually, he leaned back and collapsed to the floor, though he pulled himself up pretty quickly. All I could ever see of him was the giant dandelion-poof of his hair moving around on the crate while he sang. Since this was my last show, I was already feeling upset, so this whole thing was generally upsetting to me. Thankfully, the song ended without Yuuki full-blown bursting into tears (which I've heard has happened before) and he climbed back to his feet in the darkness to resume his regular performance.

Yuuki went into an MC at this point. He didn't say anything all that important... just mumbled a bit and yelled some shit at us to get us fired up. But at least he made sense this time and Jin didn't have to come over and whisper at him to sober the fuck up and say what he's supposed to say, lol.

Next song up was ROSE OF SORROW which was, oddly enough, the only GUILTY track they played. The mood perked up considerably here. Yuuki got to do some rapping. While he rapped, Madoka kept rocking his guitar back and forth while stomping his feet. It's... a very strange little dance, lol. At one point, Jin and Shou caught eyes and Shou shot Jin one of his unbelievably dorky and adorable smiles. Jin's attempt at being the stoic, serious member totally crumbled under that smile and he gave Shou a huge smile back. It was soooo cute. We got the whole audience jumping up and down and it was a lot of fun! Only strange moment, though... Ashley and I are still totally baffled about this. In the middle of the song, for seemingly no reason, Yuuki suddenly looked over at the two of us and started waving. I mean, literally waving, like was saying hello or goodbye. He looked each of us in the eye with a blank look on his face while waving one hand back and forth in the air. And believe me, you know when Yuuki's making eye-contact with you. Yuuki never, ever makes eye-contact with anyone, so this was seriously weird. I didn't know what to do so I just smiled uncomfortably back at him. But... why was he waving at us? Why?? I don't understand! Ashley and I are still totally confused about this. Why would he single us out and wave?!

Well anyways, as always, the band had to end on Warai Oni as their extended mosher song. I waited for the appropriate cue when the band moved towards the edge of the stage, then shoved my way through the people in front of me and rushed forward with the rest of the UnsraW fans. Then we got to dog pile. We had a good hundred people up there, so dog piling was fun. We made a wall of humans and we just shoved and slammed into each other over and over again while the band prowled around. Yuuki got out some water bottles in order to start soaking the audience. The first bottle he held down at his crotch and he started shooting water at us with it. He was also dancing around and rubbing his thighs and grabbing his crotch. Pervert, lol. But then Yuuki licked all his sparkly, gold lipstick off. Yuuki, eeeeeew! That is not for eating, lol! Madoka was roaming around, grabbing people's arms and drawing them towards the stage or slamming them onto the dog pile. He was pulling people near me and then hesitated because it wasn't one of the slam-cues in the song. Still, I held out my arm and I was like, "me me meeee! Grab meeee!" He gave me this look like, "lol, it's you again, you crazy bitch" and reached out and grabbed me by the wrist even though it wasn't the right time. He gave my hand an appropriately good scrape as he pulled back. Thanks Madoka, lol! Yuuki started grabbing people's hands and arms too. Ashley was super lucky and got a hand grab from him. Unfortunately, he started grabbing hands to her right, and I was on her left, so I didn't get one. Oh well! I got a loooot of water on me, though. Yuuki was throwing water left and right and shooting whole bottles at us. Super perv. He never actually drinks any of it himself, either, and he probably should because he always looks like he's roasting in that stupid uniform. But yeah, we all got totally soaked and it was a lot of fun as always.

When the song ended, Yuuki staggered off the stage without a single word. See ya, big guy! Tetsu and Jin threw some picks and Shou gave us some cute smiles. Madoka threw some water and then reared back to throw his bottle. Everyone got ready with their arms up, but then he faked us out and didn't throw it. Everyone was like "yeeeeee- oh." But then, just before he left the stage, he suddenly shot the water bottle behind himself without looking back or giving any warning. The audience yelped, but no one got hit in the face or anything, lol. Someone caught it.

And that was UnsraW! Another great performance, you guys, thanks! I'm gonna miss ya!

After UnsraW, a lot of shit got clogged in the drain. We had 【_Vani;lla】 who sucked. We had R-shitei, who sucked. We had HERO who sucked.  They had this one song that was like, "metcha metcha suki! Metcha metcha suki!" ("I really, really love you! I really, really love you!"). Yeah, well I don't love you! They had this one song where they wanted everyone to hold hands and put their arms around each other and sway around being best friends.  No.  Just no.

As far as things that aren't total shit, we also had BORN:

Once again, they opened with Marilyn Manson's The Bright Young Things, so I couldn't resist dancing around a bit. They were amusing as always. The audience was a bunch of idiots, though. They couldn't even figure out a direction to go into when it came time to slam dance back and forth in front of the stage. It all turned into a giant mess. The vocalist jumped into the crowd and crowd-surfed a few times, but his plan to crush us all with the element of surprise was foiled by the stupid audience not even being able to coordinate slam-dancing. They caught him just fine. I think that vocalist is like... messed in the head or something. He kept dancing around like an uncoordinated idiot and faking seizures. Okay, man, whatevs, lol.

The headliner for the night was SCREW:

Hmm... pretty good. I think I was expecting more from them, so I didn't wind up being that enthusiastic about it. But I think if I heard them on an album and not during a live maybe I'd get a better impression of them. It was the drummer's birthday, though. The other band members each had a cake for him. Four whole cakes! Geez! No way the record company will let him eat all that cake, hahaha. Anyways, he seemed really embarrassed and didn't really want people talking about his birthday. For some reason, vocalist Byou told the drummer to sing happy birthday to himself. Um, what? The drummer took the microphone and, in a rather meek voice, went, "happy birthday to me... happy birthday to me... happy birthday dear, uh...... me. Happy birthday to me..." Wow, that was kinda... one of the saddest things I've ever heard, lol. What the hell? Anyways, they lit Byou's cake and had the drummer blow out the candles. Then they took the cakes backstage and the drummer thanked everyone. Mmmmkay. So yeah, their performance was pretty good. Byou threw a lot of water too and made a lot of sexy faces at the audience and grabbed lots of people. Pretty good overall.

And that was the show. W00t!

Anyways, although this is my last concert report in Japan, there will be a couple more posts coming up regarding the future of this blog and other such matters. So stay tuned, the blog's not dead yet!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

the GazettE TOUR 10 NAMELESS LIBERTY SIX BULLETS 7/23

Time for my last major live report (meaning not indies)! Today's report is on the GazettE performing at the Nippon Budokan! As mentioned in previous posts, the Nippon Budokan is one of the largest venues in Japan (second largest?). When a band gets there, they've officially hit the big time. GazettE was doing two days in a row at the Budokan, completely sold out.

Now, here's the thing with me and the GazettE... we're not close buddies. I have to apologize for the fact that I simply don't know that much about them. I know them musically, but all that other stuff... I don't know much. My history with them has been fairly rocky. I first heard them about five years ago. I was curious as to what all the excitement was about and I watched some of their old music videos (from Madara). I thought they were a lot of fun and decided to pursue the band further. My mistake was to pursue them by listening to their then-latest album: Nil. I hated it. I really did. I barely made it through the album even once. Disappointed, I gave up. A couple of years went by and a friend bought me the GazettE's Stacked Rubbish album. I grumbled and gave it a listen, and I found that I really did like it a lot more than Nil. Figuring the band just had its ups and downs, I became a semi-slightly-casual listener and popped in Stacked Rubbish every now and then. Now, for whatever reason (I have no idea why), I suddenly felt this urge a few weeks before the release of DIM to go through everything the GazettE had ever done and just... try it again. I had a friend dump everything by the band onto my computer and I listened to everything while cleaning my room. I was surprised to discover I liked Disorder more than I expected. I still disliked Nil (minus a few exceptions), but a lot of the band's mini albums or B-sides had buried treasures I didn't know about. In the end, I came to realize that The GazettE is a love-hate band for me. What I liked I loved, what I didn't like I found pretty intolerable. Still, I loved more than I hated, so I decided to hesitatingly call myself a fan. I was excited for DIM (especially because I loved all the singles and B-sides leading up to it). And - I know many fans don't share my opinion on this - I actually loved DIM. No, really, I really did. I decided to unhesitatingly call myself a "fan" after DIM. Still, this was pretty late in the band's career to become a fan, so... as I've said above, I just don't know that much about them.

Beyond their music, I know the band members by name and a little bit about them as people, but even there I don't know too much other than what people tell me about them. I do love Ruki's idiotic fashion sense, though, lol. I saw the band live at V-Rock Festival and I have to confess that I was disappointed. They just weren't very interesting live. The band members just stood there not doing anything. Eventually, they did some obligatory "fan service" and that was about it. I watched one of The GazettE's recent DVDs and found it to be much the same.  Thus, as much as I wanted to enjoy the Budokan show, I admit I was worried I would be, well... bored.

So let's find out if I was bored or not!

Ashley and I arrived at the Budokan fairly early. Pictures!

Here's a fucking bad-ass caterpillar I saw that morning:


Fans heading into the venue (I wanted that shiny hoodie sooo bad but it was insanely overpriced):

The big gate:

Giant advertisement truck for the GazettE:

Fans waiting around - tons of cosplayers (some of these costumes were unbelievably elaborate):

The sign:

Flowers from magazines and guitar companies etc.:

More flowers from magazines and television stations and stuff like that. Also, two bands sent flowers. If you can kinda see them towards the back they have flowers from SADS and GLAY. Wait, GLAY...? Lol.

Ashley and I were, admittedly, not in particularly good moods about the show. First of all, we'd just been destroyed by a totally unfair Japanese final exam. Also, Ashley's at about the same fan-level as me when it comes to The GazettE. We were going to meet up with our friend Caroline and her friend Sarah. We ran into Sarah first and chatted for awhile. I wanted to look at merchandise because usually the GazettE has pretty pimp merch. Actually, I didn't care for the merch at all. Even the cool stuff didn't have the band's name on it. And the damn hoodie was 9000 yen ($90)! That thing doesn't even have sleeves! Well, whaddya expect... even tickets for the show were more over-priced than any other Budokan show I'd seen/heard about this year. Ah well...

Eventually, the doors opened, but we didn't go in for awhile. The show was entirely seated so it didn't matter when we got in there. Eventually, we made our way inside. Ashley and I were in the first floor balcony (which is a huge improvement from the second floor balcony I was stuck in for Dir en grey) and off somewhat to the left on Aoi and Reita's side (not by much). We could see the stage set up already. Some of the sound equipment seemed to be painted with Christian religious figures (I'm sorry if I sound stupid to GazettE fans who know this already... again, I'm a n00b and I don't always know what I'm talking about). There were also several very large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. There was a large section of the ceiling that included movable lights. The backdrop was also set up in a way that hinted at background footage being played on it.

Aaaaand then the lights finally went down! The show started up with some kind of funky intro. I don't even know how to describe it but it got the whole audience clapping to the beat. The intro was sort of cute and evil at the same time. The band members came out one by one dressed kind of like this:

Since this blog is somewhat new to the band, I'll be sure to mention their names! We have Kai on drums, Reita on bass, Uruha on guitar, Aoi on guitar, and Ruki on vocals. I didn't get a very good look at Kai but he had the really long braids in his hair. I wasn't able to see Uruha very well either (sorry... balcony seats suck). I definitely remember Aoi was wearing a large, leopard print coat, though, lol. Reita was being Reita and wearing a nose-band. Duh. Ruki's outfit left the biggest impression in my memory since it was, well, a shiny silver one-piece like above. I mean, he was sort of like a beacon of shininess in the middle of the stage, lol.

And here's our setlist:

Filth in the beauty
HEADACHE MAN
HESITATING MEANS DEATH
SHIVER
A MOTH UNDER THE SKIN
Ruder
Akai One Piece
Toguro
Naraku
Kare Uta
D.L.N.
LEECH
Maggots
OGRE
DISCHARGE
COCKROACH

Encore:
Ride with the ROCKERS
LINDA~candydive pinky heaven~
[DIS]
Kantou Dogeza Kumiai
☆BEST FRIENDS☆

The band decided to start things off on a totally awesome note by opening with Filth in the Beauty! Oh hellz yes! I knew I needed to get my mood out of the gutter and get into this as much as possible or I was going to miss out on a good time and it would be my own damn fault. I was finally able to do something I'd been dying to do at a seated concert and hadn't yet done: use the chairs in front of me to headbang. Along with the rest of the crowd, I bent over, grabbed the seat in front of me (which was below knee level), and used it to headbang like crazy. It was deeply satisfying, lol. However, for all our headbanging, the band didn't seem particularly enthusiastic. Already I was thinking "oh, not again. C'mon GazettE, do something!" I'd been told that they started off camera-shy at the 7/22 show but picked up about halfway through, so I decided to withhold judgment and give the band a chance to warm up. One of the best moments of all was when the entire audience got to grab the seat in front of them and, along with the band, do the spiral headbanging together.

The GazettE was apparently trying to win my love at this show by going from Filth in the Beauty to Headache Man. Oh come on. How can I resist that much headbanging in a row? Anyways, despite the disconnected feeling one gets at the Budokan (due to distance from the band and other fans), the audience was able to keep everyone together really well through furi and synchronized headbanging. For a song like Headache Man, you get the whole audience slow-headbanging back and forth together at the same time and it's totally awesome.

After that came one of the new songs from the new single: HESITATING MEANS DEATH. I have to confess that I hadn't listened to the new single yet by the time I went to the show. I've heard it now, however, and I remember it pretty well from the show. Anyways, it's a pretty fun song. It fit well in the live setting by having lots of headbanging and furi. A good combination of hardcore rock but with a fun chorus (that doesn't become too cute).

That was followed by the actual new single itself: SHIVER. I'm not going to lie... I just don't like SHIVER. I'm sorry, I know it's their new song but... I just don't like it. Didn't like it live, still don't like it on CD. The song is really boring to me. It falls into way too many of the GazettE's old patterns that I thought they were maturing out of. The instrumentals are solid but the song doesn't offer GazettE fans anything they haven't digested already. When the song was over, Ashley and I both looked at each other and we were like, "eh, pretty boring." The band still hadn't perked up and I should add that, for whatever reason, the GazettE takes a break after every - single - song. Why do they do that? That kind of annoyed me, but it gave Ashley and I a chance to gossip between songs, lol.

GazettE won back my love after SHIVER by playing A MOTH UNDER THE SKIN. Alright, there we go! Now that shit's fun! It was hard not to just stop everything and start dancing. Some fans were swaying side to side to the music and I found myself doing much the same. Also, the GazettE started having some very trippy backgrounds. The entire backdrop could be used like a video screen and there were all sorts of swirling patterns and other strange things on the screen. Kind of like an acid trip back there. Meanwhile, the giant chandeliers were completely illuminated, which was cool.

After A MOTH UNDER THE SKIN, Ruki grabbed the microphone and talked a little bit. After a few words, he started yelling "I am! I am! I - am!" I turned to Ashley and I was like "oooh, I know what this is!" Yup, it's time for Ruder! This was one of the songs I heard five years ago that made me want to check out the band in the first place. This was a lot of fun. I got so into it that using the chair in front of me didn't feel satisfying enough. Instead, because I had an aisle seat, I turned to the side a little, grabbed the chair behind me with one hand, and used that to hold me up while I bent over and went crazy. Now that was satisfying. Ruki was definitely starting to get into the concert and he had his foot up on the crate and was starting to actually move around to the music. Uruha also finally noticed that the front of the stage had several extra crates set up for the guitarists to goof off with. He jumped up on his own crate for awhile and rocked out. What I really loved was that the whole audience got to yell the "chuchuchuru chuchuchu ran ran" part and everyone threw their fist or jumped on the "Tsu! Tsu!" part.

Up next was Akai One Piece. Veeeery old song. Wasn't that song from before Kai was the drummer? Anyways, that was a lot of fun too. We got to do a lot of jumping up and down. It might have been during this song that Aoi and Uruha perked up and realized they could use the ramps along the sides of the stage to run around the edge of the stage and up close to the audience. Aoi decided to be really strange and basically do a hoe-down along the ramp. No, really, he kinda hopped and boogied his way along the ramp like an idiot. It was nice to see the band finally starting to get into their performance.

Up next came the first huge surprise of the night for me: Toguro. Uruha brought out his acoustic guitar, so I thought it would be a ballad. Boy was I off. Wow. I did not see that one coming. Toguro has always been one of my favorite GazettE songs but, because it's just a B-side from Cassis, I think it tends to get overlooked by people. When the song started up, I turned to Ashley and I was like "whoa!" The furi for this song was really fun. The lyrics are "guururi guururi" (best translated as "round and round" I suppose) and the whole audience held up their arms and rotated their hand around in an elegant whipping gesture. I love how evil and mysterious the song is. The backdrop was a giant red moon hovering over a red sky. The moon lowered as the song went on. It was a lot of fun. During the part at the end where Ruki just yells "Itai! Itai!" ("It hurts! It hurts!") over and over, he really started to get into his performance and leaned down onto the crate shouting over and over.

Toguro was followed by the third new song from the new single: Naraku. I really like this song too. Can't help it, I prefer the B-sides over SHIVER, lol. It was solid live and lent itself to some really fun headbanging and guitar solos. The audience didn't quite know the furi for some of these new songs but that's okay, we improvised.

Up next was Kare Uta. That's kind of a rare song, isn't it? I barely even remembered it existed. Anyways, this was the "ballad" portion of the show. I remember my complaint at V-Rock Festival was that the GazettE put two ballads in a row (Guren and Taion) and, because that made my feet hurt terribly, I wasn't able to enjoy them. For this show they actually did that yet again! Timing, boys! It's a good thing my feet didn't hurt or I would have gotten annoyed, lol. Anyways, this song was nice as always and we all just stood still and quiet and watched the band perform.

The next ballad was D.L.N. Now, as I said above, I never cared much for the GazettE's Nil CD. However, I love D.L.N. I didn't even remember that I loved it until this show. The band held very still and the lights went very dark. A childish, female voice sang the words, "song of the sheep in dark long night" then fell quiet. A single light bulb turned on in the middle of the stage in front of Kai's drum set. As the song started up, the light bulb - which was hanging all the way down from the ceiling - began to swing back and forth across the stage like a pendulum. It was really eerie to have this single spot of light swinging back and forth above the heads of the band... swinging slowly in time to the beat of the song. During certain parts of the song the light even pulsated on and off as it swung. Now, I have to confess... I hate pendulums. Yes, I know that's weird, but ever since I was a child, swinging motions have made me nauseous and repulsed me. I don't know why. However, that added an interesting element to the performance for me because nothing fascinates me more than that which repulses me. Thus, I was both somewhat sickened by the swinging motion and often unable to look away. During the chorus, while the childish voice continued singing, "song of the sheep in dark long night", Ruki turned around and began moving his hand back and forth above his head, following the light as it swung across the stage. This pendulum thing was a really cool effect, I've got to hand it to them.

Anyways, the GazettE jumped right back into rocking out by following D.L.N. with LEECH. Boy was I glad they played that song! I was really disappointed at V-Rock Festival when they didn't play LEECH because it was their newest hit single at the time and they didn't even play it! Then I heard they didn't play it on 7/22 and I was shocked! But they played it at our show, so that was awesome! I went back to grabbing the chair behind me in order to rock out as much as I damn well wanted.

Not wanting to kill the pace, GazettE moved into an older mosh song: Maggots. I'm beginning to notice a trend here that the only songs off of Nil that the GazettE ever play are the ones I like. Maybe I'm not crazy after all, lol. This song is very indies-like in its style but that kind of made it fun. Actually, even though the GazettE's been major for about seven years, a lot of their live style has an indies flair to it. Even the furi is done indies-style and not major-style (there's actually a difference). A song like this is simply an excuse for the audience to do the weird fist-grabs and other strange furi that originates in indies. It was also a great excuse to get the string section to yell angrily into the microphone and for Ruki to yell and run around a bit.

Actually, the pace was only getting crazier. Up next was OGRE. I was really hoping for OGRE because I heard it wasn't played on 7/22 and, sure enough, we got it! This was awesome fun! We had times where the whole audience would headbang side to side together and everyone would slow-headbang simultaneously during the weird slow-down parts of the song. And when I say slow-headbang, I mean slow. The whole audience would throw their whole bodies backwards and then lurch forward like they were vomiting. Then everyone would jump up and down together. We even had a part where the whole crowd grabbed the chairs and spiral headbanged again. I love how Japanese audience work sometimes, lol.

Up next was DISCHARGE. More Nil. Once again, the GazettE managed to play a Nil song I like. Thank goodness. This song was more crazy rocking out and headbanging. Uruha and Aoi were jumping up on their crates and headbanging with us.

The next song up was COCKROACH, which I think followed up DISCHARGE perfectly. This song is really old but it's still really awesome. Hello funky bass line for me to jump to! We had people going out into the aisles to headbang because they needed as much room as possible to rock out! I was determined to have as much fun at this show as possible so I rocked out like the damn ship was sinking!

Aaaand then Ruki was shouting thank you at us and the band waved and took their leave. But it's not over, obviously! Encore-calling time! Most of the audience sat down so that they could save up their energy for encore. Ashley and I sat too. Actually, we were both reeeeally hungry, which had made our mood bad at the beginning on top of everything else. But I think the hunger actually added to how much fun I had rocking out. It was sort of like my survival-thrash instinct kicked in or something, lol. Anyways, kind of a funny thing... So Ashley and I were discussing the show during encore-calling. The two of us were still being casual-listener skeptics. We agreed the setlist was really good so far, but the band needed to get more into it (and stop taking breaks between every - single - song). Then we were talking about how boring Reita seemed to be. Like, everyone else was perking up but Reita was just standing there doing absolutely nothing. No sooner had we talked about this when the lights go up and out walks Reita, alone, wearing a black bandana around his face. He grabs the microphone and starts to do an MC and gets the audience to start yelling with him. Soon, Kai joined him on the stage. They stood on the crate together and side-hugged a bit before Kai jumped down and went behind the drum set. Kai did a small MC but left most of the audience-riling to Reita. Reita and Kai then began to do a song called Ride with the ROCKERS. This isn't an actual GazettE song as near as I can tell, but instead a live performance they do in which Kai and Reita perform a rhythm-only song together. Reita, strumming the hell out of his bass, lead the audience into a bunch of shouts and fist-throwing with him. Ashley and I looked at each other like "oh, for fuck's sake." I leaned over and whispered, "I think he heard us." After Reita had gotten the audience really pumped, I jokingly shouted, "make a liar out of me!" at him, lol. Alright, Reita, you win! Anyways, Ride with the ROCKERS was really fun and got the whole audience really excited to get back into music. The band came back holding up their arms, excited to start playing again.

Eeeeexcept the next song up was LINDA~candydive pinky heaven~. Can I just say I hate that song? I really do. Every band has at least one song I hate (even Dir en grey - I hate JESSICA, lol). LINDA is the GazettE song I hate. When they went into LINDA next I just threw up my arms like, "oh, for fuck's sake!" Still, I grudgingly participated and did all the furi so I wouldn't look like an asshole.

The band won me back over by going into another surprise song that I totally wasn't expecting: [DIS]. Ruki took the microphone and yelled "D - I - S!" I was so surprised that my brain scrambled to even figure out what those letters were and why I liked them. This song is so much fun and I was sooo excited when I realized what it was that I could barely keep still. The band got the entire audience chanting "Heisei jidai jitai kaero!" over and over again and then jumping up and down over and over shouting "Hanran! Hanran! Hanran! Hanran!" with the string section. Aoi and Uruha were running up and down the ramps again trying to rile up the crowd. Even Ruki decided to join in and ran up the left ramp and started pointing out audience members.

The next song up was when shit got crazy. As I've said a million times on the blog, all indies bands and many major bands who got a good start in indies have one song that they like to play for about ten minutes straight with no other purpose than to make the audience rock out as much as possible without stopping. For the GazettE, that song would be Kantou Dogeza Kumiai. The title of the song could translate into English as something like "The Association of Kantou Residents Kneeling on the Floor" (Kantou is the Eastern half of Japan which includes Tokyo). For this song, however, the audience takes that title literally. When the song started up, pretty much the entire audience suddenly dropped to their knees. This Budokan show was entirely seated, so the entire audience got down. At first I was confused, then I realized what was going on and dropped down to the floor myself. Then I got excited. I know some bands like to do a kneeling song and I hadn't had the opportunity to do one yet. This song... was ridiculously fun. I mean seriously... I could've kept it up for twenty minutes instead of ten and I think it would have remained just as fun. First, we kneelers would grab the chair in front of us in order to headbang better. Many people took to kneeling in the aisles on all fours throwing their hair around. Eventually, a pattern starts up. I can still remember it exactly. You get up on your knees and wave your arms to the rhythm "hey - hey - hey hey hey hey!" Then you headbang over the seat once, twice, three times, HEY! - and jump up and throw your arm into the air. Ten minutes of that. It was insanely fun. There were people in the audience down on the first floor who were just running up and down the aisles or slam-dancing in giant pits because they were so excited. Eventually, I wound up half in the aisle myself because I needed as much room as possible to get as crazy as possible. Now, a lot of the audience eventually crapped out from knee-pain and got back up onto their feet (they kept up the sequence, just standing and replacing the HEY! with a full jump) but I felt like, if I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. I stayed on the floor for the entire number. Many other people did too. It was just way more fun on the floor. I did wind up with bruised knees the next day, but so what! Anyways, the band spent the whole ten minutes running around like crazy. They ran up and down the aisles trying to rile everyone up. Ruki headbanged and jumped the sequence with us too. But you know what... describing it doesn't do much good. How about a video of what this on-the-floor madness looks like? This video is a little squished and not the best quality, but you can veeeeery clearly see the girls on the floor doing the routine (the camera spends a lot of time on them). This is a fantastic video to watch if you want to see what crazy, synchronized Japanese concerts are like. I really recommend this one:



Isn't that awesome?! You'd be amazed at how much fun that is for ten minutes straight! Even if you wind up with bruises!

After that the band ended with ☆BEST FRIENDS☆. Damn. They ended with a song I can't stand. Call me an embittered old fool, but I'm simply too much of a crab-ass to listen to songs about love and friendship. We had whole lines of people in the audience holding hands and swaying together and being OMG best friends. Nnnnnno. Not for me.

Then the band threw picks and waved their farewells! Ruki kept taking big swigs of water and then spraying it straight up into the air. Ashley nudged me and said, "he sprays water like a whale!" I paid more attention and realized... oh my god, he does. Ruki literally tilts his head back and shoots the water like he has a blowhole. Hahaha, nice.

And that was our show! Overall it was a lot more fun than I expected it to be! I think the band had a rocky start, but they perked up a lot and it wound up being a lot of fun, despite the stupid seating. The band did a great job and the setlist was fantastic! I forced myself to have a positive attitude about the show (even if it took me awhile) and it paid off by allowing me to have a good time! Money well spent! I still feel safe calling myself a GazettE fan, lol!

I hope you enjoyed! Just one more concert report coming up!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

DIR EN GREY THE UNVWAVERING FACT OF TOMORROW TOUR 2010 7/21

Anyways, sorry for the late post! I'm soooo backed up on posts right now! I just saw The GazettE at the Budokan yesterday and I'm trying to write up the Dir en grey entry while not forgetting The GazettE show and I'm seeing one last show tomorrow so my brain is exploding. Thus, I also want to apologize (so much apologizing today... I'm so stupid...) for any inaccuracies in this blog. My memory has probably gone to hell since the show and I may not have everything perfect. Some songs and events might not be lined up properly, etc. If you were at the show and notice an inaccuracy, please forgive me.
So I wound up getting into the concert about 1200 people after Ashley did. We hatched this plan in which Ashley would watch the door for me and then, upon spotting me, wave her arms frantically in the air so that I could find her and use her as an excuse to push in towards her. She's tall so this didn't seem like it would be too difficult. When I got inside, she actually did see me and wave her arms. Then I began squeezing my way through people while apologizing and saying, "I have a friend up there!" Most people didn't really react to this. One guy looked annoyed but then shrugged when I said I had a friend. I think it's because so many people duck out after the initial rush that having a few people shove in at the beginning doesn't do anything. So yeah, I managed to get in beside Ashley. For this show, we decided to take Die's side since we were on the other side on Tuesday. We were a little worried about taking Die's side since his mood had been so bad the day before, but we figured he'd probably be more cheerful this time.

Unlike at the previous show, everyone rushed forward about five minutes before the show began, and for seemingly no reason. I don't really know what triggered it. The only trouble was that we then had to stand there completely squished and hot for five minutes while nothing happened on stage. Oh well. Ashley and I got up within about six rows or so from Die (moved up to fourth row eventually). There were some odd people in the back of the crowd too. At first, some guy made a loud, dinosaur-like screech from the back of the venue. Everyone whipped around in surprise, then started laughing. Only a few minutes later, a couple of guys started going "Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!" and making various battle-cries. We whipped around again and could see the arms of some guys spinning their towels in the back. Yeah, this was going to be interesting, lol.

And then the lights went down and the show began! Here's our setlist:

SE: Kimigayo (arranged by Kaoru)
Zan
LIE BURIED WITH A VENGEANCE
THE FATAL BELIEVER

OBSCURE
STUCK MAN
Doukoku To Sarinu
THE DEEPER VILENESS
-inward scream-
Gyakjou Tannou Keloid Milk
ROTTING ROOT
Shokubeni
BUGABOO
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS -unplugged-
DOZING GREEN
NEW AGE CULTURE
-saku-
Gaika, Chimoku ga Nemuru Koro

Encore:
Sajou No Uta
Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami
REPETITION OF HATRED
Reiketsu Nariseba
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS
Rasetsukoku

Once again, the show opened with Kaoru's curiously dark and evil rearrangement of Japan's national anthem. Very strange. Everyone began surging forward again and we immediately had people fleeing for their lives in the crush. As for those of us who stayed, I guess we just took in as much air as possible and prepared for the long-haul.

The band came out one-by-one like always. Much to my surprise, Shinya had cut his hair! Just like Toshiya in June, Shinya decided to get a haircut between shows. It's still blond and curly, but now it's even all the way around and around shoulder-length (and layered, I think). Also, he was wearing the exact same thing as the day before but his white, long-sleeved shirt was unbuttoned very low. Die was wearing a white wife beater with a sleeveless black hoodie and black pants and looked much happier than the day before. He held up a fist and grinned and nodded at everyone as he took his position. Toshiya and Kaoru were also dressed identical to the day before. Kyo was wearing a jacket and white pants with massive wallet chains hanging from them. The waistband of his boxers was visible even before the show started. He also had his hair gelled back in a sort of Elvis style. The band took their places, took their instruments, smiled and nodded at us, and then, without any warning, Kyo bent over and unleashed a gut-wrenching growl.

Oh hell, we're starting with Zan?! Ooooh geez. So yeah, that was a hilariously violent way to start off the show. Unlike at Tuesday's show, the audience was much more agitated and unstable (probably because it was the tour final). We swayed a lot and had a lot of near-falls, though the collapsing mostly stayed to a minimum. Still, we were able to synchronize and coordinate all our headbanging, so it was still a good feeling. Kyo's melancholy seemed to have dissipated somewhat from Tuesday's show. He didn't seem to have any sudden somber moments, so maybe he was feeling a little bit better.

After Zan was LIE BURIED WITH A VENGEANCE which was just a good excuse for all of us to yell "fuck!" over and over again. That was followed by THE FATAL BELIEVER, which also happened to have been the third song on Tuesday. Then the band took a break. Toshiya was already sweating like crazy, but he probably feels better now that his hair is short. I saw Kyo go over and have a quick conversation with Shinya, though I don't know what they were saying. Also, when Die walked back to the front of the stage to prepare for the next song, the whole right side of the audience suddenly started going, "Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!" over and over again. I was shocked because I've never seen Dir en grey fans do that. At first I felt like it was a bad idea because it's not fair to the other members to cheer specifically for one member like that. However, it really was incredible how effective the chanting was. Die, who had been extremely angry at the end of Tuesday's show, stood there looking around the audience with a somewhat confused look on his face. Then, this seemingly uncontrolled grin spread across his lips and he cocked his head at us like a puppy. Still looking very amused by our chanting, Die shook his fist at us and then lifted his whole guitar over his head and shook it. If I am to assume that the fans cheered for Die because of his mood on Tuesday then... good job, fans, it really worked. Die was so unbelievably cheerful after this moment that it was like he became a different person.

The band returned to rock us the hell out with OBSCURE. I think it might have been even this early in the show that Toshiya started wandering around. Not wanting Die to get all the cheering on the right side of the stage, Toshiya came over to our side and started grinning and curling his finger at us. The people around me were screaming "Toshiyaaaaaa!" and the shoving got about twice as bad as before. Toshiya just grinned at the reaction before skipping back to his side of the stage. I was surprised OBSCURE showed up on both nights but it was totally awesome. Kyo swapped out the second chorus for pure singing. He stood upon the crate, one arm held out, and belted us with voice.

Up next was STUCK MAN. This was as fun as always. With his mood so greatly improved, Die kept coming up to the front of the stage and leaning towards us while mouthing words at us and grinning. Even caught him singing along a little.

After that was Doukoku to Sarinu, which I absolutely love (also surprised it was played both nights). The audience sang along as loud as possible and it was totally fantastic.

We also had THE DEEPER VILENESS after that. Shinya on those drums... just amazing. He throws his arms about every which way and creates absolute thunder. As I said in my other post, there are certain songs where I like to watch certain members. This is the song where I like to watch Shinya. He's such a monster on the drums and even with his shorter haircut his hair was flying around like crazy. He makes drumming look so damn easy... how does he do it? As the song wound down, Die and Kaoru allowed the venue to overflow with strange, rolling feedback while Kyo sang random, tuneless notes. His singing continued even as the feedback faded, drifting into...

An -inward scream- solo. For this solo, Kyo focused on a lot of deep, sutra-like chanting and mumbling. Amidst his mumbling, he would occasionally tense up and release high-pitched squeals from his body. Sometimes he made these noises that I could best describe as "Jurassic." He also sang loud, heavy notes. At one point, while holding a note, Kyo began smacking himself in the chest. After another deep breath, he held another note and began thrusting the side of his hand against his neck to create a staggered, somewhat choked sound effect. His solo was stunning and effective as always. The audience barely dared to move or breath while he performed.

When the solo ended, Oriental-like music began playing and, like at the 6/29 show, the whole audience went "whooooooa!" Yeah, it's time for Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk! I'm so excited that one of my favorite Kisou songs has returned to the lineup! Unfortunately, pretty early on, Die suddenly stopped playing. I froze, thinking it was a repeat of yesterday, only to realize Die had broken a string. This time he didn't seem particularly mad. He just stood there looking slightly disgruntled while he waited for a change of guitar. After getting a new one, Die went right back to being happy, as if nothing had even happened. Anyways, this was a ton of fun. Toshiya was prowling the stage and improvising a lot of the bass line. Kaoru was strutting around and nodding his head at everyone. Die looked so happy I thought he might burst. He would headbang like crazy, then stop suddenly and cock his head at the audience with a big smile on his face. I don't know how appropriate it is to call a 35 year old man "cute" but... I'll be damned if Die wasn't the cutest thing I've ever seen at this show.

The next song up was ROTTING ROOT. Something I forgot to mention in the last blog is that Kyo has started to do a new thing in the chorus that I love. At the June shows Kyo was playing around with different voices during the chorus, but I think he's finally found the one he likes. When Kyo yells "fucking tricky men!" (and the audience shouts it just as loudly with him) he now finishes it off by "meowing" the word "men." In a very high-pitched voice he goes "me-e-en" like a cat meowing. It sounds absolutely fantastic. It just fits so well for some reason.

Up next was another fantastic rendition of Shokubeni. I remember Kyo's solo section was particularly incredible this time. It really seemed as if he couldn't get the words out of himself. He was stomping the crate over and over with each word and turning red from the effort of projecting his voice across the audience without the microphone. He started hitting himself in the chest and, even without a microphone, the sound could be heard all across the venue. He threw every ounce of strength into every word and managed to battle his way back into the song.

This was followed by BUGABOO which was amazing as always. They did the same trick as Tuesday where they shot plumes of smoke onto Kyo while he stomped the crate, adding a hissing noise to the song.

When it was over, the stage went dark and Kyo bent over double and began screaming wildly into the microphone. AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS -unplugged-. This was a particularly ferocious performance of ASOM -unplugged-. Kyo stomped and growled so much that he dropped to his knees pretty quickly, even before the slower part. More strangled, semi-human noises came out of him. Everyone watched in amazement. A boy next to me actually started hyperventilating and panting during this song. I was going to ask him if he was okay but then the performance ended. The boy actually bailed a few songs later.

Just like at Tuesday's show, ASOM -unplugged- went straight into DOZING GREEN, which was awesome. This was followed by NEW AGE CULTURE. That song is great live! The whole string section gets to shout along and it looks like so much fun! Die, who was still explosively energized, actually ran over to Kaoru's side of the stage during this song and stood next to him with an expectant look on his face. Kaoru looked up and quickly figured out what Die wanted. The two of them faced each other, waited for a good part of the song, then began slow-headbanging at each other simultaneously. It was sooo funny. Die was laughing like crazy and even Kaoru couldn't hide a small smirk at Die's enthusiasm. While Kaoru and Die headbanged at each other, Toshiya ran over to our side so we wouldn't get lonely. He was grinning like crazy and running around in front of the stage riling us up. I didn't even know where to look anymore - everyone was being adorable!

Next up was -saku-. Absolutely fantastic. Kyo stood upon the crate during the chorus and sang his heart out. Die was still going crazy and he actually dropped to his knees at the edge of the stage and began playing on the floor. He shook his hair all around, grinned at us, threw his head back, and went nuts. Then, as I mentioned before, he stopped suddenly, looked at us, smiled, and cocked his head like a puppy. He kept doing that all night. It's like... he's 35 and I'm trying to take him seriously and stuff but... damn was he cute.

When this song was over, there was a brief pause before the next song. Toshiya ran over to our side of the stage and then jumped up onto Shinya's drum platform. Shinya, of course, didn't even flinch or look at him. How very Shinya! Anyways, Toshiya stood up there, poised and ready, and then the band went into Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro. Toshiya played the whole beginning of the song up there. Kyo had the audience sing a large part of the chorus for him while Toshiya (back in his own spot) yelled loudly into the microphone. At the end of the song, during the big wind-down, Kyo began stomping and slow-headbanging on top of the crate while growling. The entire crowd slow-headbanged with him. The audience was totally passionate and fired up. It was great.

Then the band left the stage as quickly as they ever do. Die did give us a pretty big smile on the way out, though. I couldn't believe how happy he was. And then it was time for encore-calling. It wasn't too bad. It took a long time as usual but... I don't know, maybe I'm just getting used to it. Then the band returned. Shinya had changed into a black wife-beater, I noticed. And Toshiya's hair was magically dry again. Incredible. When Die returned to our side, the "Die! Die! Die!" chanting started up again. Die smirked and put up his hood and started laughing. Die lifted up his guitar and put it over his shoulder and continued smiling at us. It was nice to see him so happy.

Then Dir en grey went into Sajou no Uta. You know, this was never really one of my favorite songs, but the band seemed really into it so it was really enjoyable. Also, it got the crowd moving instead of the previous pattern of having the first encore song be slow and sad. However, I must confess... I am sad that Tokyo never got to have -mushi- in their setlist. That song has always held a very special meaning to me and I was really hoping Tokyo would get to hear it at least once like the other cities did. But... well, if Dir en grey doesn't feel like playing it, then playing it would be futile. They can only play what they feel, so there's no sense in even thinking about it. So I just sat back and enjoyed Sajou no Uta and Die's pretty hair.

Up next was Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami. Totally amazing yet again. I couldn't believe it, but Die actually dropped to his knees at the edge of the stage yet again and started playing on the floor and laughing. Wow, he was like a different person.

Hageshisa was followed by REPETITION OF HATRED. Hell yeah! I've noticed this at a lot of lives but when Kyo yelled "kamikaze!" the whole audience held out their arms in salute. I've started doing it too - it's like a reflex now! I can't remember, but it might have been at the end of this song that Toshiya decided it would be a good idea to throw his microphone stand straight into the air. Of course, a wire got tangled and tossed along with it, and Toshiya came pretty close to breaking yet another bass. When the next song started, Toshiya looked very fearful that his bass would sound funny, but thankfully there was no harm done and he looked pretty relieved.

That next song happened to be Reiketsu Nariseba, ensuring the crowd would get totally pumped up during encore. Toshiya was wandering yet again and continually coming over to our side of the stage. During the middle section when the music quiets down, Kyo jumped onto the crate and, like at Tuesday's show, turned around to reveal his giant Kannon tattoo. He held out his arms and simply allowed us to admire his impressive new ink. When the song started up again, Toshiya went back to stomp-dancing in a circle and jumping up and down.

Up next was AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS. This was tons of fun. The whole audience was rocking forward and backward going "Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai!" to the beat. When the song ended, Kyo started shouting to the audience. Once again he was yelling to the back, to the front, to the boys, to the girls, trying to get everyone to out-shout each other. Then Kyo started yelling "last song!" Dir en grey quickly jumped into one of my favorite concert-closers:

Rasetsukoku! Now this was a wild ride! The audience seemed to realize, quite suddenly, that this was the last song of the tour final. Thus, everyone flipped out and the pushing got crazy. We even had some near-falls in the audience, but we came out of it okay. Kyo was both running around behind the crate and putting one foot up on the crate to growl at and scream at everyone. The whole audience would throw their fists and scream "jaki!" with the string section (some people even managed to jump on this word, though the result was crashing back down on other people). Toshiya came over to our side yet again and gave us huge smiles (I could see his invisible braces, lol). He kept making a "come on!" gesture at us. Kaoru also decided to wander over to our side (of course, Toshiya went back to the left when that happened). I was glad to see Kaoru wander over since he doesn't switch sides very often. He stood up near the front of the stage and started making hardcore faces at us and posing while he played. I think Die was even more surprised by Kaoru's presence than we were and he ran over to Kaoru immediately. Die, being way too enthusiastic for his own good, pressed up behind Kaoru and started to reach under Kaoru's arm to try and play his guitar. Kaoru, being too serious for his own good, nudged Die's arm out of the way and wouldn't let him. Aaaaaaw. I'm not going to lie, I felt kind of sorry for Die. Mostly because I once saw Kaoru sneak up on Die and play his guitar for him at another show, and I think Die should be allowed to do the same thing back to him. However, Die didn't seem even slightly fazed by the arm-block and the enormous, wide-mouthed smile never left his face. Instead, he did something kinda... strange... and just kept pressing up closer and closer behind Kaoru with his whole body against him. Um, Die...? Kaoru had a rather strained look on his face like Die was invading his man-space. Girls around me were squealing or just making sounds like "whoa!" I'll admit, I was a little surprised by Die's, um... "friendliness." Eventually, Die moved to the side a little and threw an arm around Kaoru and hugged him. At that point, Kaoru just made a face like "oh, alright, if you must be so damn cheerful" and let Die hug him for a good ten seconds. Die just continued laughing and smiling like Christmas had come early. Die was just being too cute for his own good.

Then the song ended and the show was over. The band stayed around for a surprisingly long time. Kyo stood on the crate clapping his hands. Then he pointed at his eyes, pointed at audience members, and clapped again. He jumped back down and I thought he was just going to leave like he usually does, but instead he grabbed three bottles of water. He had one in each hand and was holding the third bottle in his mouth and walking around like that. Whoa, ouch, how did he do that? Then Kyo began to take each bottle and throw water over the audience. Yes, three bottles worth of water. Kaoru was walking around smirking and throwing picks into the audience. He made sure to throw picks on his own side as well as our side of the stage. Toshiya also wandered around, grinning and throwing picks at us. He was also throwing water and water bottles. He threw this one water bottle and it was soaring right towards me. As I was about to reach for it, the water splashed me right in the eye and I flinched and missed. The guy next to me got it. Oh well! Die was also laughing and throwing a ton of water. He even crouched down at the front of the stage to throw some, and pretty much handed a girl on the barrier his bottle. Toshiya gave us all a big bow and started clapping his hands, so we clapped with him. Shinya came out from behind his drum set with his water bottle ready. He had it set up with the straw so that he could water-gun us. While Kaoru was on our side throwing picks, Shinya snuck up behind him and shot the water over Kaoru's shoulder into the crowd. Kaoru didn't even notice! The whole audience was laughing and I don't think Kaoru even knew why! As always, Shinya didn't even so much as twitch a facial expression. Totally stone-faced. Then Shinya jumped up onto the crate and began throwing drumsticks. Then he took his tour towel and stood there folding it. Everyone was watching him with this look on their face like, "...what is he doing?" Shinya folded, folded, folded, until the tour towel was round like a soccer ball. Then he threw it into the air and attempted to side-kick it into the crowd. His aim sucked and it only went into the third row, but everyone started cheering anyways. Shinya jumped back down and I saw a quick little pout on his face for failing to kick the towel-ball very far. At this point, the whole band was gone except Die, who continued to smile and laugh and throw picks. As Die left, he grinned and waved at the audience the whole way across the stage. Wow, what a difference from Tuesday. Wow.

And that was the show! Sorry if this report was no good... I'm brain-dead.

Hope you enjoyed! The GazettE post is coming up next so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DIR EN GREY - THE UNWAVERING FACT OF TOMORROW TOUR 2010 - 7/20

I literally just got back from seeing Dir en grey live at Shinkiba Studio Coast. The show was absolutely fantastic. It was everything I needed...

Getting tickets to the show was a bit of an adventure since we didn't win the lottery. I set up an Mbok account and Ashley used my account to win an auction. Due to the extremely close deadline, the auctioneer decided to meet Ashley and I at Tokyo Station to do the transaction in person. The girl was very sweet and found us right away. We gave her the money, she gave us the tickets, and we went on our merry way (and discovered a place in the station that sells cherry sandwiches).

Anyways, the day of the show started with Ashley and I taking a history final. Ew. Thanks to that final, I'd been up very late studying and gotten very little sleep (thanks to my friends Mark and Marina for letting me chill at their place and study with them!). After the final, Ashley and I hung around Jonathan's eating food and chatting. But we were sooooo sleepy that we kept wondering how we'd survive the show. Eventually, we decided to head out to Shinkiba and wander around the venue. We bought some popsicles and sat around outside 7/11 watching all the Dir en grey fans wandering around. Shinkiba is one of the most boring, empty parts of Tokyo so, on the day of a Dir en grey concert, the entire place becomes overrun by goths. 95% of people you see in Shinkiba are wearing black. It's pretty funny. Ashley and I resumed our game of "Who's Going into the Pit?" A girl walks by in high heels and a frilly dress... she's going to the back. A girl walks by wearing sweat pants and a towel around her neck... she's going into the pit. At one point, these guys walked by wearing t-shirts and jeans. It was hard to tell if they were going to do the pit or not... but then they disappeared behind the 7/11 and, when they reappeared, they were wearing basketball shorts and carrying their jeans over their shoulders. Ashley and I burst out laughing. Yeah, I think we know where they're going.

Well, we headed over to the actual venue, put our shit in the coin lockers, and waited around for our numbers to be called. It seemed to take forever for them to call us, even though it hardly took twenty minutes. After our numbers were called, Ashley and I ran inside as fast as possible. We had decided before the show to go to Kaoru and Toshiya's side. For the last two Dir en grey shows I'd started in front of Die and moved towards Kyo, so we decided today would be the day to give Kaoru and Toshiya some love. I'd give Shinya some love but he's stuck in the back, lol. Anyways, it's easy to squeeze in on Kaoru's side because a big gap remains until the crowd fills out. Ashley and I ran all the way to the other side of the venue (doors are on the right side by Die) and side-stepped our way in towards the left side of the stage.

The setup of the show seemed to be the same as the last two Tokyo shows. They had the same background banner declaring the name of the tour. Also, I forgot to mention this in either of my last two blogs, but the candles and on-stage altars have nearly doubled in size lately. At this point, the band has a bunch of candles lit in front of Kaoru's equipment, and there's a large altar in front of Shinya's drum set that includes religious figurines, candles, and even a large, stained-glass skull (it looks like it's made out of church windows). Ashley and I have this theory that Kaoru set that stuff up to ward off the evil spirits of onstage accidents. It really seems as if Dir en grey's onstage accidents and injuries have decreased to almost zero since they started putting up the candles and altars. Well, it's just a silly superstition, but it is kinda funny. Also, Kaoru's pre-show music selection was all death-metal and trance music. Lol.

Anyways, with absolutely no warning, all the lights went down. The crowd surged forward like a pack of enraged rhinoceroses. Ashley and I took this opportunity to rush up as fast as possible, sealing a spot around the third and fourth row between Kaoru and Toshiya. Anyways, Ashley and I decided to do one teensy little thing that I thought would be funny... As we were all rushing forward and shoving each other, Ashley screamed "this is madness!" as loud as she could. In response I screamed "THIS - IS - SPARTAAAA!" The Japanese fans were probably very confused, lol.

The third Shinsou track from Kisou began playing and the band members came onstage one by one. Everyone looked fantastic. Shinya's hair is still curly and he had a long-sleeved, somewhat see-through white shirt. He was pulling a poker face as always and barely so much as looked at the audience. Die came onstage wearing a black shirt with mid-level sleeves and jeans. I know I mention this a lot but... his hair. It is simply perfection. Toshiya was wearing a low-cut, mid-sleeve shirt with funny embroidery around the collar (same shirt he wore in the Rhythm and Drums book) along with a pleated skirt and leggings. Kaoru was wearing jeans, mid-sleeve black shirt, and the giant blingin' cross necklace. If that necklace wasn't blingin' enough, he was wearing another giant, silver necklace underneath it. He had a slight mustache too, yuck. Then Kyo came out and he looked pretty damn pimp too. His short, black hair wasn't gelled this time. He just had it spiky and fluffy. Trimmed his beard a little too. He was wearing a jacket, jeans, massive wallet chains, and sunglasses (but he took those off almost immediately). The audience was screaming bloody murder while the band members set up. The band was smirking at us and taunting us in that slinky Dir en grey way of theirs.

Just a quick mention of instruments that I forgot to do in my last few blogs... Kaoru has this absolutely beautiful new guitar. It's kind of round and black and it has the design of creeping tree branches spread across it. Almost like the Withering to Death album cover. Also, Toshiya's new bass was, of course, not used during the show. The poor guy got overly excited and broke it during their performance in Fukuoka. I feel bad because he was so proud of that bass (he designed it himself) and he sounded so sad when he blogged about it. He just had to settle for his other basses during the show. Oh, and Shinya's drum set is completely gold and white. Stunning.

And onto the setlist!

Shinsou
Byo Shin
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS
THE FATAL BELIEVER

Gaika, Chinmoku Ga Nemuru Koro
RED SOIL
Doukoku to Sarinu

Kasumi
-inward scream-
Shokubeni

ROTTING ROOT
BUGABOO
OBSCURE
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS -unplugged-
DOZING GREEN
THE DEEPER VILENESS
Reiketsu Nariseba
Zan

Encore:

THE FINAL
DISABLED COMPLEXES
STUCK MAN
CLEVER SLEAZOID
CHILD PREY
Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami

So yeah, after Shinsou, the band slammed right into Byo Shin. I really love this song live, I really do. The audience was extremely pushy, but right away I could tell that this crowd wasn't trying to topple each other over or even change spots. Everyone just wanted to move up as much as possible against each other. Everyone quickly became a synchronized, harmonious-type audience. I had a good feeling about this show. Not to mention the damn venue had the air-conditioning on this time. Anyways, I didn't want to linger on it too much during the show because that would be futile and counterproductive, but I couldn't help but keep an eye on Kyo towards the beginning of the performance and see how his mood was. As many mnow, Daisuke from Kagerou/the studs passed away five days ago at the age of 32. Kyo and Daisuke were extremely close, so I couldn't help but wonder how Kyo would be feeling. Kyo came onstage seemingly like his usual self, nodding at the crowd and wrinkling his eyebrows at everyone. But during Byo Shin it did become obvious that something was bothering him. Occasionally, during the song, Kyo would suddenly become very somber. He'd be going along like normal, screaming and growling, and then his face would fall and he would seem somewhat melancholy for a few seconds. I thought perhaps it was an illusion or a trick of the light (or that I was merely imagining things because of recent events), but then Kyo's fierce expression dropped away, he seemed to grow lost in thought, and he actually messed up the song. He was so lost in thought that he started doing the shouts at the wrong times. Kaoru's head whipped around and he gave Kyo a somewhat startled look. Kyo paused, they exchanged a glance, and then Kyo waited a few seconds until he could catch up properly with the rhythm. Whoops. That's okay, though. Kyo's human. We all make mistakes.

After Byo Shin they played AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS. Phew, way to go from one fierce song to another! Although the audience wasn't into the whole "kill each other" thing at this show, they seemed to have doubled in passion and energy (at least in my area - can't speak for the whole crowd). When it came time for Die to yell "I'll rape your daughter!" the entire crowd screamed it so loud that I didn't even hear Die yell it. Kyo: "On your grave!" Toshiya: "UWAAAAH!" Oh, Toshiya. Despite Kyo's occasional melancholy, he was incredibly energetic for this show. Actually, the whole band was. It was hard for me to see Die, but he was headbanging and throwing around that glorious hair even more than usual. Kaoru was strutting his stuff and making faces at the audience and dominating like always.

After AGITATED was THE FATAL BELIEVER, which was fun as always. After that the band took a break. The crowd was pushing really hard but we had air-conditioning, so it was survivable. Also, this was around the time I began to notice how strangely "kind" our audience was. For example, my hair was disgusting and wet and plastered to my back. Every now and then, though, the girl behind me would gather all my hair in her hand and then put it over my shoulder for me. She probably did that so no one would be tangled in it (including herself). That was a strangely considerate thing to do, and we had even more moments like that later on.

The band came back and played Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro. Kyo decided to skip many parts of the chorus and have us sing it for him as loud as possible - along with Toshiya yelling into the microphone as loud as he could. I could really feel the passion of the audience at this particular show. The audience sang each word with crystal clarity and energy. I had one girl in front of me who was so into it that she would seem to just collapse on herself occasionally.

Next up was RED SOIL. Yes! I was so glad they threw this one back into the setlist. Now, I've always had certain songs where I like to watch certain band members. RED SOIL has always been the song where I like to watch Die but, unfortunately, the smoke screen affect was really extreme at this show and, combined with the reflection of the lights on the smoke, I pretty much couldn't see Die at all (and I often couldn't see Shinya either). Oh well. The smoke cleared up more later on. But Kyo was really into it for this song. During the screaming parts, he would crouch down on the crate in this crazy position with his feet spread as far apart as possible and his knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Then he would unleash that hailstorm of growls he's so famous for. The audience growled everything along with him.

RED SOIL was followed by Doukoku to Sarinu - another song I was really grateful to see again. Three Uroboros songs in a row, eh? Well, this has always been one of my favorite Uroboros songs. Again, the crowd was intense. We were all pushing forward to such an extent that there was never any point in trying to breathe properly. But still... everyone was so into it. Toshiya has this incredible way of performing where he seems to throw his entire body into every movement. I had a really good view of the band at this show and I could see everyone really clearly most of the time (and I didn't have to waste brain power on surviving the audience as much). Toshiya throws every inch of his body into every beat of the song, and he stomps around almost like he's dancing. I was really glad I could watch him from up close today. Shinya was also throwing his whole self into it. His hair was flying around as though he was caught in a windstorm and, when the song ended, he slammed the drum set and then collapsed sideways as though all his energy had been depleted. And, as always, he did this with absolutely no change in his facial expression. The ultimate poker face. The band was just so on at this show.

The band took another brief break and came back to play Kasumi. This song is very pretty live - like a lullaby. The audience grew very still and watched quietly. Kyo sang very passionately, but that melancholy look kept darkening his face again. Toshiya, who always seems to work with Kyo's emotions, also started to grow somber. As Kyo's face grew more sad, his eyes seemed to get watery. Then he started wiping furiously at his face. I was like, "oh my god, is he crying...?" It's always hard to tell if it's merely sweat or tears, but Kyo was definitely wiping angrily at his face during the song. He was singing along like normal, but then he suddenly started screaming the line, "daisuki na ehon wo yomi nekashitsuke, kurayami no naka, sayounara" ("I lull the child to sleep by reading the child's favorite picture book. In the darkness, goodbye"). Kyo absolutely flipped out on this line, prompting some people in the audience to lose their cool and start headbanging like crazy. Toshiya began stomping the stage while he played and throwing his whole body around to the music. Then, when Kyo got to the line, "ato nannen de, namida ga owaru?" ("after how many years will the tears finally stop?") he wiped furiously at his face again, held out that hand, and shouted the word "namida" ("tears") at his hand. Then he made a gesture as though to toss the tears away. Again, I could never say for sure if Kyo was crying or not, but...

When Kasumi fell into silence, the lights dimmed, Oriental-like music began to play, and Kyo stood upon the crate to perform one of his -inward scream- solos. Thanks to my close spot, the harmonious crowd, and various other factors, I could watch Kyo's performance very closely. The sounds he was making were ones I've never heard come out of him before. At first, he made this strange, warbling bird sound. He held it for a very long time, and it flowed into some deep, sutra-like chanting. Kyo didn't seem to utter any words exactly, but this chest-deep sound was emanating from him through this single, tuneless note. After that, he sang some intense notes mixed with high-pitched screams and squeals. At one point, he put his entire mouth against the microphone and began to make this strange squelching and chomping sound. I think he may have been biting the microphone. While holding one note, Kyo began smacking himself in the chest in order to stagger the sound.

You know, there was something I wanted to write about here, yet I'm not exactly sure how to write about it without sounding strange or creepy. I brought it up with Ashley and we had a long discussion about it, and we definitely seem to agree on the matter. Anyways, I often find that, along with listening to Kyo's voice and allowing oneself to become enveloped in the incredible cacophony of sounds he emits, it's extremely fascinating to watch Kyo's body during the -inward scream- solos. And no, I don't mean this in any sexual way whatsoever. Honest to god. When I'm watching his performance, "ooh, Kyo's sexy" is the last thing on my mind. What I'm referring to is the incredible precision and intent that goes into each and every movement Kyo makes. Every single inhale and exhale is executed with clear and total purpose. It's fascinating to watch the way his chest and muscles seem to move in complete isolation with each other. He seems to have three "centers" - the chest, arms, and his abdomen/hips, and he uses each one independently. I know Kyo comes up with these solos on the spot, but it's clear to me that he puts complete and total thought into each and every breath and movement.  But really, watching Kyo's body is a performance in and of itself. Ashley has done years of belly-dancing, and she was telling me how in belly-dancing - where muscle isolation is key - sometimes the dancer is expected to be able to tell a story through their physical movements alone. I feel like Kyo does that. I feel like he paints an image across his torso as he performs. What I found really incredible... almost disturbing to me, actually... was that, when Kyo holds a sound, he inhales so deeply that his chest contracts and his heartbeat becomes visible in the middle of his chest. I suppose that's why so many people consider Kyo to be such an incredible performer. I confess that I've never seen anyone quite like him before...

I hope that didn't sound weird or creepy. I meant it in no sexual, fangirl-ish way whatsoever. I suppose you could say I'm more "intrigued" by Kyo or... "in awe" of him, even.

When Kyo started to wind down the -inward scream- solo, a spotlight suddenly came down upon Kaoru. Kaoru began to emit this loud, undulating feedback from his guitar. Much to my surprise (I've never seen Dir en grey do this before), Kyo continued his solo along with Kaoru's feedback. The two very deliberately began to perform together. Kaoru's feedbank and Kyo's chanting seemed to get tangled up in each other yet work together in perfect harmony at the same time. It was very strange but really cool. And then Kyo fell silent and Kaoru's feedback drifted into a very familiar sound. From the feedback alone I knew the next song up would be...

Shokubeni, of course. We had another fantastic performance of Shokubeni. Even through the smoke I could see Die's hair flying around as he headbanged like crazy. The audience did the every-other-line way of singing along. We have Kyo going "kagome kago no naka!" and the audience repeating "kagome ka go no naka!" back at him. This one girl behind me must not have seen Dir en grey live before because she accidentally started to sing the line when it's only supposed to be Kyo. She was like, "kagome kago - oh..." As always, they dropped out the music and let Kyo perform the chorus solo and without a microphone. It seemed to take a lot of effort for him to get the whole chorus out and, while he was singing and screaming, he began stomping the crate as though trying to stomp the words out of himself.

After Shokubeni, the band took a brief break, then jumped back into ROTTING ROOT. I love that song, I really do. During the actual touring for THE MARROW OF A BONE, it seemed like Dir en grey neglected that song a lot. But now, a whole other album later, the band now plays ROTTING ROOT at virtually every show. I find something strangely sexy about the song. Kaoru was strutting around like top dog. He likes to make a lot of eye contact with the audience and nod his head at everyone. At one point, he made eye contact with somebody and curled his lip into a little snarl, then smiled. He kept coming up to the front of the stage and making dramatic rock star poses while he played.

Next up was BUGABOO. Dir en grey were definitely hitting up a lot of Uroboros at this show. One strange thing I remember... during the beginning of the song, Kyo spent the entire first minute with his body turned completely towards stage right (audience left) with his right arm held out straight and his fingers pointed in a gun shape. It was like he was aiming his words at something off on the side of the stage that only he could see. Also, during the part where Kyo is growling, "lost. The justice died just now. It killed rationality and arrogance. I am crushed", they did this cool affect where the venue shot a plume of smoke down upon Kyo alternating with his growls. This was a really cool affect because Kyo was bent over stomping the crate while he shouted and the smoke would jet down upon him with his stomping. The smoke made this intense hissing noise that went with the song really well. It was a really cool idea.

BUGABOO was followed by OBSCURE. Oh hell yeah. It's impossible not to get into this song live. The whole crowd was swaying and headbanging in total unison. And I was able to enjoy it this time instead of spending the whole song on the floor getting trampled. That was nice. Anyways, the song was amazing. Perhaps I got a little too into it because somebody behind me put their hand against the back of my head to keep me from headbanging into them too much. Whoops, sorry.

After OBSCURE, Kyo fell instantaneously into AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS -unplugged-. At the other two Tokyo shows in June, Kyo opted for a slightly different way of doing this solo. For this one, however, he kicked it up a little more old-school and brought back the full piano score from the GLASS SKIN single. He put himself back into that crazy, spread-legged crouch on the crate and screamed bloody murder. When the piano score dropped down into the slower, eerier section, Kyo fell to his knees on the crate and began to sing strange, tuneless notes. Rather than reacting violently at the end of the performance like he usually does, Kyo simply fell silent. The silence melted effortlessly into the next song:

DOZING GREEN. Fantastic as always. Kyo was doing a little bit of belly-dancing during this song.

Next up was THE DEEPER VILENESS. Rockin' some MARROW songs. The male fans always love this song because everyone gets to scream "fuck!" over and over again. At the beginning when the song is winding into itself, the whole audience yells, "Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai!" and shakes their fists in time with the beat. I definitely remember Kaoru strutting around the front of the stage giving us tough-guy nods and occasionally throwing the horns.

Not wanting to drop the intensity level, Dir en grey leaped right into Reiketsu Nariseba. Hells yeah! Once again we had Toshiya doing his stomp-dancing. It's not just stomping because he tends to rotate in a full circle while he does it. He's one of the most free-moving bassists I think I've ever seen. He can't stand in one single spot for even a second. Anyways, during the middle part of the song when everything becomes quiet, Kyo jumped up onto the crate and turned with his back to the audience, showing off the massive 1000-armed Kannon tattoo on his back. He held out his arms and simply allowed the audience to scream wildly while the massive Kannon looked down upon us from above. It's a truly beautiful tattoo. According to a source on LiveJournal, the Kannon tattoo was done by the same woman who did Die's hand tattoo. Anyways, Kyo held this moment for a very long time. He continued to stand there, occasionally throwing his arms and trying to get us to scream louder. He even put his fingers to his ears like, "I can't heeeear you!" Everyone pushed forward shrieking.

And, of course, what's more Dir en grey-like than taking a ridiculously intense song and following it up with the ultimate mosher - Zan. Oh, Zan. How painful you are. But our audience was so wonderfully coordinated that Zan was virtually transformed from the other two shows. Rather than becoming a chaotic death trap of fists and falling humans, everyone combined their forces into one large killing machine. Everyone headbanged with such synchronized passion that one had to headbang or else risk receiving a concussion from the fans around them. I truly believe the new 2009 version of Zan is one of my all-time favorite mosh-songs.

And then the band left the stage. As always, we received only a few smiles and glances and nothing more. Then it was time to start calling encore. I don't know why, but I started to feel sick during encore. I got lightheaded and felt like I was suffocating. I didn't think I was letting it show, but then I felt someone pat me consolingly on the back. I thought I was imagining things so I ignored it. Meanwhile, some people decided to bail and flee the pit. This one guy next to me kept holding out his arms and clearing paths for people to flee. He also shared his water bottle with a girl who looked ill. As I stood there somewhat lost in thought, I felt someone pat me on the back again. After they patted me a few more times, I finally turned around and saw a tiny little Japanese girl looking up at me worriedly. In very sweet English she asked me, "are you alright?" Her friend looked equally worried. I hadn't realized I looked so bad and I quickly gave the girl an encouraging smile and nodded and thanked them. Aaaaw, Dir en grey fans in Japan are just so sweet... Unfortunately, my sick feeling didn't alleviate so I did something rather unlike myself and backed up a couple of rows where the crowd had eased up a little (not by much, but enough to make me feel better). Yeah, it's really not like me, but... I didn't want to wind up being one of the myriad fainters who get dragged out during encore-calling against their will. Anyways, we called encore for quite some time. It seemed to take forever.

But finally the band returned! Okay, just a really weird thing I've noticed... So, most Dir en grey fans have probably noticed that Toshiya sweats... a lot. I mean, he sweats a lot. Within just a couple of songs his hair is soaked and he's dripping with sweat. And yet, when he returns for encore, his hair is completely dry and perfectly back in place. How in the world...? Perhaps they just have a hairdryer and a gifted stylist backstage, I don't know... Anyways, they came back and Die had changed into Dir en grey's new black and red tour shirt. Kyo came back shirtless. Big surprise. The band returned, holding up their arms and shaking their fists at us. They took their positions and Kyo stood behind the crate, eyebrows furrowed. Then he took the microphone, held up a finger, and went "SHH!" as loud as possible. The audience fell silent like puppies that have been rapped on the nose.

Then the band began to play THE FINAL.

I... confess I wasn't sure what to think of this. Normally, this song isn't treated differently from any other song in a setlist (even though so many fans claim THE FINAL to be their favorite and most important song). Still, Kyo silenced us, made us stand still, and then the band played THE FINAL. The string section stood very still with very serious looks on their faces. I confess... I had a very perturbed look on my own face.

For those who don't know what THE FINAL is about, I'll post the translated lyrics here (note: this is my own translation, so it might differ from others you've read):

The intention is clear and I stare at it... with this left hand that is unable to write the words.
Every time I bleed, I discover the reason for living...
And the words become clear.

Even loved ones scatter like flower petals from my hand.
Even if I engrave the meaning that I lived into my hand,
It will only be known as flowers of vanity.

The Final

One by one it multiplies... why be bait that can't smile?

Deep within the hell of my heart... I can't go back.
A defeated masochist, unable to feel tomorrow.
Suicide is the proof of life.

Even loved ones scatter like flower petals from my hand.
Even if I engrave the meaning that I lived into my hand,
It would only be known as flowers of vanity.

So I can't live, so I can't live.
It seems that what I've lost...
So I can't live, so I can't live.
Can never be born again.
So I can't live, so I can't live.
I'm not even seeking...
So I can't live, so I can't live.
Proof that I'm alive.
Let's put an end, The Final...

Let's bloom flowers of attempted suicide.

I don't know how the band wanted us to interpret this scene because I'm not Dir en grey and I can't read their minds or know their true feelings. But I truly believe they were trying to convey something to us during this song. THE FINAL has always been a song that I don't quite "grasp" as well as others do. I suppose it's because I have no emotional connection or experience with the concept of suicide that the song never struck a chord with me as deeply as it did with other people. However, during the song, the girl beside me collapsed forward and clutched the shoulders of the person in front of her. She dropped her head down and began shaking it around even while everyone else held still. The boy behind her reached forward and wrapped his arms around her chest. I glanced over at this strange sight and saw that the girl had thick bandages wrapped around her wrists. This moment combined with the tight, serious expressions of the band helped me to understand THE FINAL better than I ever had before. Kyo held out his hand and gazed at it as though watching his loved ones scatter from his palm. The entire crowd held out their own hands with him. Again, I have my own opinions on what I think it all meant, but I won't interpret the moment in writing because it's up to everyone else to decide what they think... Still, I definitely think I understood things more clearly this time than I ever had before. The song ended with Kyo holding the "sa" during the final word "sakaseyou". He held the "sa" for an incredibly long time, until every last ounce of breath had left him. Then he swiped the microphone loudly through his hand and the song quietly came to a close.

To lighten the mood, Dir en grey moved into DISABLED COMPLEXES. I always love this song. The band shook off the somber mood of THE FINAL and went back to headbanging and jumping around. Kyo played around with different, eerie voices while he sang.

Keeping up with the mood, we went into STUCK MAN. We got the whole crowd jumping in unison, which was really great. Kyo even jumped with us a little.

After that came CLEVER SLEAZOID, which Dir en grey hadn't played at any of the Tokyo shows yet. Since they played AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS and CLEVER SLEAZOID at the same show, I guess you could say Kyo got to rape our daughter on our grave and then fuck our parents. But really, it is seriously fun having 3000 people screaming, "one day I will fuck your parents!" at the top of their lungs. I was glad they added this song to our lineup.

Keeping up the frantic pace we moved into CHILD PREY. I thought this would've been the ending song, but Kyo didn't say "last song" so I just decided to go with it. As I've said before, I never much cared for the song itself, but it's very fun live. Die and Toshiya seem so happy to sing along. However, something happened during CHILD PREY and I have to confess that it's still as much a mystery to me now as it was during the show. I've checked Japanese concert reports and I still can't figure out what in the world happened. If anyone reading this was at the show and can tell me what happened, please let me know. I was just going along with the music and enjoying Toshiya hopping around the edge of the stage riling up our area when, all of a sudden, I heard Die's guitar cut out. I whipped around to see what had happened but it was hard to see the other side of the stage past all the arms and heads. Still, I was able to make out most of what happened and, as near as I could tell, Die just stopped playing. He looked really pissed off and he was walking in furious circles. I thought maybe he broke a string, but then the roadie took a cautious step onto the stage with a curious look on his face and Die whipped away and stood in a very obvious "go away" stance. The roadie looked as baffled as I was since nothing appeared to be wrong. Die looked absolutely enraged and then he actually punched the air in anger. He seemed to calm down after a minute and went back to playing... but his mood was shattered after that and was never repaired. I'm sorry, I really don't know what brought on this sudden change in mood.

After CHILD PREY, Kyo began shouting to the audience. He called to the back, to the front, to the boys, to the girls (every time he did this, each gender seemed to try and shout louder than the other gender). In the background, Die took his water bottle and dumped the whole thing over his head, soaking his hair. Then Kyo screamed "last song!" In my mind I was going "ooh, what's it going to be?! What it's going to be?!" Then they began played Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami. Oh duh. I'm a total idiot and didn't even notice they hadn't played the new single yet. Anyways, Hageshisa is a fantastic concert-closer. During Kaoru's guitar solo, everyone was swaying back and forth drunkenly to the music. Hageshisa is so fast-paced and Kyo had the audience sing most of the chorus for him. It was really fantastic.

And then the show came to a close. Kyo stood up on the crate pointing at audience members and making snarling faces at them. Then he clapped his hands over his head while nodding at us. Kaoru and Toshiya walked around the stage throwing picks and nodding. Kyo walked around and threw some water at the crowd before clapping one last time and taking his leave. Kaoru threw some smiles our way and kissed a few picks before he threw them. Toshiya started clapping with us and even gave us a bow before he left. Shinya came up to the front and began squirting water at the audience from the straw in his water bottle. It was like a water gun. Then he began to throw drumsticks. With his face still completely expressionless, Shinya threw two drumsticks. Then he took the third, tossed it, and soccer-kicked it into the crowd. The audience burst out laughing and started clapping. Somehow, Shinya kept a completely straight face, but I saw a little flicker of amusement in his eyes. Die was pacing around his area and threw some picks, but he still seemed angry about something. He took his tour towel and placed it over his head and began walking across the stage with it. He glanced at the crowd, pulled the towel off his head, then threw it behind himself onto the stage and left without a single glance over his shoulder. I don't know what angered him so much but... well, I just hope nothing really bad happened.

And that was our show! Ashley and I started to make our way out of the venue (dodging a few security guards carrying unconscious people away) and headed outside to be excited and reflect on the show. For some reason, I just thoroughly enjoyed this concert. From start to finish I just enjoyed myself inside and out. I don't know why this one was particularly fun but... it was just a great show. The band was totally on fire, emotions were running high, and the audience was totally connected. It was just wonderful.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading my report as much as I enjoyed writing it! I'm working on the second Dir en grey concert report as we speak!