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):
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
HESITATING MEANS DEATH
A MOTH UNDER THE SKIN
Akai One Piece
Ride with the ROCKERS
LINDA～candydive pinky heaven～
Kantou Dogeza Kumiai
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!