Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Indies Report, 8/13 at Takadanobaba AREA

WHO’S READY FOR AN INDIES REPORT?!! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? At least… a year, I’m pretty sure!

For starters, how did I get to Tokyo? When I first found out I’d gotten into the English teaching program, I was worried about the future of my blog in relation to its previous standing. After all, the blog is called Twisted in Tokyo. You can’t really keep a blog named Twisted in Tokyo if you’re not even in Tokyo. However, I soon discovered that traveling from Gunma to Tokyo is easy as pie, so the name stayed. I could go to Tokyo every single weekend if I wanted to (and I just might, hahaha), and I can even go on a week day so long as I'm careful.

This was my first time traveling to Tokyo on my own, but it wound up being really easy, thanks do semi-express trains.  MelJay booked us a night at a hostel in Asakusa. We met up in Asakusa, dropped off our stuff at the hostel, then went off to Shinjuku for lunch. Ate at Miami Garden (Bismark pizza = delicious) and they totally had kabocha pudding, squeeee! We dicked around for awhile by going to Like an Edison (they’re all out of MERRY’s new DVD! Fail!!!) and indies shops. Then we picked up some liquid sustenance and went off to Takadanobaba AREA, my dear old “friend” (as in, love the venue, hate the staff).

A couple of things made this particular show different from the others shows I’ve seen in the past. Those two things were:

1. I was going with my dear friend MelJay, who’d never seen an indies show before.

2. There wasn’t a single band I was there to see.

So why go? Well, MelJay really wanted to start trying out indies, and she and I hadn’t seen each other in weeks since we separated in Tokyo to move to different prefectures. So then why this particular event out of all the other possible events going on in Tokyo? Allow me to explain my 2-3 system. The 2-3 system means I won’t go to an indies concert unless there are at least two bands I really like, or three bands I sort of like, and any combination of that. Basically what that means is, I won’t go to a show to see just one band - there has to be something else. Since summer tends to be an indies dry spell (and involves waaaaay too many session bands), and MelJay and I were desperate to see something, I took a peek at my 2-3 list and discovered the band DEPAIN would be playing at this event. They’re a 3 but, in such a desperate situation, a 3 was enough incentive to go. That and DEPAIN is kinda hardcore, so I thought the other bands might be on the harder side as well. The other thing of note was that Shun from the band Vidoll was going to be in one of the session bands of the night. I never followed Vidoll at all, but I knew him being at the show was kind of a big deal.

I must say, my 2-3 system worked out quite well for this show. It was a surprisingly good show, and I saw a couple of really promising acts.

For MelJay, indies was quite a new experience. We went into AREA and sat down in the back section, behind the second barrier, and I explained the “ways of indies” a bit to MelJay. As I talked, she looked around at all the girls roaming around doing what they do before indies. After a moment, MelJay said, “this is weird,” which made me laugh. When I asked her what was weird about it (after all, nothing had happened yet), she said she felt like she was in some kind of house party. Later on, she chose to rephrase that description, saying that the pre-indies atmosphere felt more like a flea market than anything else. Now that made me laugh. Her reason for saying that is because girls at indies shows spend the first half hour walking around talking to circles of friends like they’re checking out various shops. Also, members of various saizens are walking around discussing and planning saizen stuff and having mini-conferences with each other. In a way, it really does kind of look like a flea market. I’m no better. The whole time MelJay was observing the weird market atmosphere, I was looking around taking stock of what kinds of bands might be playing based on the audience members and merch desks set up behind us. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out anything from the audience (which is unusual) and gave up.

After a brief wait, the lights went down and our first act of the night began! The evening’s first act was called Le-vert (I’m kinda guessing on the English spelling. Their named is written in katakana as reeveruto, which I think is supposed to translate as Le-vert. You’ll have to excuse possible inaccuracies during this post. Without internet, I’m unable to achieve the high quality of accuracy I usually aim for.  If an inaccuracy is pointed out to me, or I notice one later, I'll edit the post!). Here’s a photo of Le-vert (uh... sorry it's a casual photo.  I couldn't find their promo picture so... you'll have to make do with a picture of them looking like dumbasses, hahaha):

From the moment Le Vert stepped on stage, I knew they were our resident n00b act. Even MelJay was giggling at how cheap and sad their costumes were. Later research revealed that Le-vert only formed in March, so they’re only about five months old and they seemed kind of nervous.  MelJay and I stayed seated for the first few seconds, but stood up when we realized Le-vert was actually pretty good. Despite their dinky outfits, their music was leaning towards more hardcore rock, and they could actually play their instruments pretty well. They already had a small saizen who was really into them, but their good beats and intense music got the whole audience pretty into it. Even the people in the back were nodding their heads to the music. I asked MelJay if she wanted to try furi, then I started doing standing and hands-only furi (meaning no head banging or anything like that) as a demonstration, and she joined in.

So, stuff about Le-vert… holy daaaaaaaang is the vocalist tall! Definitely 6’2” at least, and skinny as a bamboo pole (wait, I just looked it up.  Their site says he's 189cm!!!  So he really is 6'2"!!!). He was really good and really into it, though the audience interaction thing seemed to make him kind of nervous. I think he’s still in the stage where he thinks the girls will bite if he gets too close. Also, their red-headed guitarist had some of the worst on-stage technical difficulties I think I’ve ever seen at indies. First his guitar strap broke, so he had to be out for most of a song. After awhile, he had to step off stage entirely for most of a song and get the guitar properly fixed. When he came back onstage, however, he didn’t even get one note in before the strap broke and the whole guitar flew off. While he’d previously been smiling his way through it, he finally broke down and stared up at the ceiling like “why god?!” He had to step out yet again. Le-vert paused at the MC and the vocalist apologized for all the “trouble” they were having. To Red-Head’s credit, he didn’t freak out or get nasty about it, so he handled it fairly well for a n00b.

The thing that most impressed me about Le-vert was that they actually attempted gyaku-daibu, despite being the first act, and a n00b act. That’s the thing where they have the saizen drape themselves over the barrier while the other girls leap and tackle them. The thing is, gyaku-daibu only works if you have enough fans and the audience is really digging the music. I’ve seen n00b bands who aren’t even going first attempt a gyaku-daibu song and have the whole thing fail, so this was pretty ballsy of Le-vert. Even more impressive was that it actually worked, and pretty well.

Over all, I’d say I was just really impressed with Le-vert as a n00b act and I’m going to keep my eye on them.

Anyways, let’s move on before this gets too wordy (too late!). The next band up was LucaRia. Picture:

They were just “whatever” in my book. Typical band leaning towards oshare-kei. Nothing much to say about them. MelJay and I sat most of it out. While they were playing, however, several members of Le-vert went behind the merch booth and stood around chatting with people. I found watching them more interesting than LucaRia, lol.

After LucaRia was done, I noticed a sudden change in the saizen. While previous saizen girls had been wearing floral pattern dresses or had bows in their hair, the saizen suddenly became a row of girls wearing black, with lots of black make up. Not only that, but the saizen seemed miserable. All the girls were talking to each other with this look on their faces like, “hey, how was your day? We didn’t die, so that’s pretty cool, I guess. By the way, I saw a dead bird in the street.” I turned to MelJay and was like, “man, that is one sad looking saizen.” I told her that was probably a good sign, hahaha. I mean, a sad saizen usually means more hardcore music! I told her I had a feeling DEPAIN was next, judging by the saizen.

Since this was my 45th concert in Japan, it should come as no surprise that my intuition was correct and, yes, DEPAIN was next. Picture:

I’ve reviewed DEPAIN a couple times before. They’re still on my 3 chart. I don’t really find them that good, but they put on a good show. I started off by doing just hands-only furi, but DEPAIN’s music is really intense and I found that I couldn’t just stand there for the entire act. I graduated the band towards the end and started head banging to my heart’s content (which I think took MelJay by surprise a little. Sorry!). But a band like DEPAIN is fairly hardcore and just standing there waving your arms around while strobe lights are flashing and the vocalist is screaming and everyone’s whipping their hair around… I just can’t do it. I get overcome by the music, lol.

I will say, though, that the vocalist was a little off. He actually sang a lot better than he has in the past (I’ve always joked about how DEPAIN’s vocalist can’t sing to save his life). He was really on key for once. But he just seemed out of it. Like he was overtired, or kinda sick, or… hung over, lol. I mean, it was a Saturday. He just wasn’t as ferocious and crazy as usual. Oh well, maybe next time.

By now, LucaRia was behind the merch booth, but… Le-vert was still there too! Friendly bastards!

So let’s move on. I noticed at that point that the order of the bands was going backwards in the order they were listed on the ticket (instead of in a totally random order like usual), so I assumed the band Downer (katakana-ed as Daunaa) was next. Judging from their merch table, I didn’t think I’d like them, so I told MelJay that we should prepare for another sit-out. However, when the next band’s intro music started to play, a creepy voice in the song whispered, “Acid Cherry King…” This was one of the other bands listed on the ticket and one that looked promising in the pamphlet pictures, so I gestured for MelJay to get up. However, she didn’t hear the voice say “Acid Cherry King,” so she was really confused and thought I was psychic for a moment, lol.

So our next band up is Acid Cherry King:

This band wins the award for Best Surprise Band of the Night. I totally wasn’t expecting them to be awesome. But then they were. When they first came on stage, I’ll admit I raised an eyebrow. The intro music implied that the band wanted to be all hardcore and stuff, but the vocalist… it’s like he was too pretty for the role. He had such a pretty face and pretty make up. The rest of the band was trying to be scary, but they also seemed… like they didn’t fit the part, or something. But then the first song was a sort of mellow, sad rock song, so I figured the band was going for the emo thing. Nope. After that first song, the band took a sudden turn down Hard Rock Alley. The pretty little vocalist suddenly started acting like a feral animal, snarling and shaking his head around. The saizen started getting really into it (actually, the whole audience was really into it, which made me think the band was doing really well during the year I returned to America, and I’ve just been out of the loop). At one point, the whole saizen climbed up onto the barrier, straddled the bar, and started head banging in a circle. I nudged MelJay the moment I noticed the girls were up to something, and then we got to spiral headbang too! One of the most surprising moments was when gyaku-daibu was going on (the gyaku-daibu got rather intense during Acid Cherry King, with some girls diving into the saizen girls so hard they bounced off and nearly went flying). The little vocalist suddenly dove off the stage during the gyaku-daibu and started roaming around the audience, stirring everyone up. And then, to my great amusement, he actually started throwing himself at the saizen girls too. The mask-wearing bassist got too riled up watching all of this and dove off the stage too. While the vocalist was still roaming the audience, he suddenly grabbed a foreign girl and hurled her at the saizen. Where in the world did that little guy get all that strength?! I think he kinda scared the foreigner though, haha.

Because this band was being so awesome, I wound up head-banging like crazy for the entire thing. Unfortunately, I’m really out of practice, so my neck is still killing me two days later. It was totally worth it, though. Acid Cherry King gave us a great time. I would best describe their music as atmospheric hard rock. MelJay and I agreed that it kinda reminded us of old D’espairsRay. Even their look is D’espairsRay-like. I highly recommend giving them a listen (once they, uh, put something online).

Moving on… the next band up was the actual Downer. Pic:

Sorry, I think the picture is kinda out of date.  I think they only have four official members now, but I couldn't find their latest promo picture.

Anyways, this band confused the hell out of me. By the time MelJay and I sat down after they were over, we were looking at each other like, “what the…?” A lot of VK indies bands are genre-benders - it’s not uncommon at all. Many of them are really cute but have some hard songs, or play hard music but have cute songs. That kind of mashing isn’t unusual because indies bands are trying to reel in as many fans as they can. But Downer… just… what the fuck. They were hard core and adorable simultaneously in a way that made no sense and made my head hurt. I didn’t know if I should sit down, stand up, rock out, or throw paper hearts at them. They just… didn’t make any sense. I don’t even know what to say about them. By the end of it, MelJay and I decided we’ll just have to give them another try some time when we actually know what to expect.

Oh, and Le-vert was still standing in the back! I guess those guys didn’t have anything better to do. To my amusement, the vocalist and masked bassist of Acid Cherry King were also standing in the back, chatting with fans and watching the show. ACK vocalist… you are too cute and adorable. How could someone who threw a foreigner into the saizen have such an adorable smile??

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand the show kinda went downhill after that. Virgil played next. Pic:

I wasn’t impressed. Too oshare for me. I started standing, then sat down a couple songs in. To the audience’s credit, so did a lot of people, hahaha. Probably the DEPAIN fans, lol. Le-vert, standing in the back, looked pretty disgruntled, lol. They were glancing at each other and making faces, haha.

After that was the session band of Shun from Vidoll. I can’t offer a picture since it was a session band, obviously. Let’s just say, um… Shun… for shame. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I suffered through that horror. The music was just… annoying, is the only way I can describe it. The band members were all dressed in flashy yukata-type things and the vocalist… he was undoubtedly the most annoying part of it all. He stood up on the crate and did these stupid, annoying para-para things the whole freaking time. He was flailing his arms around like… has anyone here ever seen that movie Team America: World Police? Remember the secret signal they had if something went wrong, where they would flail their arms above their head in a panic? It looked like that. Even the girls in the audience were having a hard time taking it seriously and a lot of them were giggling and glancing at each other instead of participating.

That vocalist… he just isn’t allowed to have his balls anymore. They’ve been metaphorically sacrificed in my opinion.

The last band of the night was the show’s host, Ziggrat. Pictuuuuure:

Um. Wow. I don’t even know what to say. When that curtain was swept aside… if I’d been drinking something, I would’ve spat it all over the floor. First of all, it looked like the 80’s took a massive shit all over the band. They were wearing the most insane, brightly colored, absurd outfits I’ve ever seen. And their stage-right guitarist, wearing a halter top, was standing there with his hand on his hip and a look on his face, like… I’m pretty sure if someone looks up the expression “bitch please” in a dictionary, a picture of this guy shows up. They were also too oshare for me. After the first couple of songs, MelJay and I decided to bail, lol. We crept out of the venue as quietly as we could and went to McDonald’s instead.

After sitting in McDonald’s eating and chatting and rubbing our extremely sore necks for awhile, we finally left to go catch a train back to Asakusa. As we exited the McDonald’s we almost ran smack-dab into the vocalist of Le-vert, who was standing outside chatting with some fans. What the fuuuuuck? Is Le-vert going for a Friendliest Band in the Universe prize?! We managed to skitter past him (gawd, he was like a foot taller than all the girls he was talking to) and went to the train station, where we almost ran head-first into the red-headed guitarist from Le-vert, who was… coming back out of the station for some reason…? He looked surprised, then smiled kinda awkwardly at me. I smiled awkwardly back. Next time I’ll actually “rock out” during their set and it won’t be so awkward, lol. When I turned around, however, I realized the vocalist had been following us the whole way to the station. Now we were surrounded! VK AMBUSH! The whole thing felt really awkward, so MelJay and I rushed to our platform as fast as possible, lol.

And that was our day! I gotta say, it felt soooooo good to be back in the world of indies! It was like breathing in fresh air with, um… chocolate in it? I dunno… I’m not a poet, lol. Also, MelJay totally loved it, so now we’ve been pouring over schedule after schedule, looking for more indies we can go to.

I believe, as I type this, MelJay is on the hunt for tickets to a show at Shibuya BOXX on Friday! The reason we chose this one? Because the band DIAURA is playing. Who the hell is DIAURA, you might ask? It’s the band that yo-ka and Kei from Valluna are in! That’s plenty of reason to go!

Anyhoo, I’ll have more blogs up soon! Stay tuned!


  1. If you love band members messing in the crowd, you MUST see Eat You Alive. Honestly my favorite indies show (it was their oneman).

    Downer used to look a lot darker if I remember correctly. I haven't listened to them in forever, but they seemed okay.

    Can't wait for more reports!

  2. Oh yeah, I remember you mentioning Eat You Alive! I'll definitely keep them in mind! I do love me some crowd-messing :-3

    Also... I wouldn't be surprised if you told me Downer used to look darker... or lighter... or used to dress like pirates... or Care Bears... that bands was just, like, whaaaaaaaaaat?

  3. Yay! An indies report :). I've missed reading these!

  4. If you want to see a wtf show then I would recommend you Lycaon....I hope that you will see Re:dis too since they're evolved very much ^-^. Nice concert review btw.

  5. good review! Hope you guys do this again soon. Can't wait till next year when I'll be there and get to go to my first ^-^

  6. Thanx for the review! Hm, makes me wanna go to an indies show one of these days. :D Any recommendations?

  7. Hmmmmm... recommendations... I've been so out of the loop now a lot of my old recommendations have broken up or quit the industry already, lol. Um... definitely Red:is is really good. I'm gonna check out Yo-ka's new band this weekend and let everyone know if I recommend them, cuz he's a reeeeally good performer. I'd say my #1 indies recommendation is BORN. Definitely BORN. They're all kinds of fun. They put on a really wild show. And they play bigger venues now. I'm hoping to see them really soon. Maybe next weekend, lol.

  8. Also, thanks for all the comments, everybody! I'm glad I still have some readers remaining even after my stagnant year of doing nothing XP