Thursday, September 22, 2011

Indies Four-Man, AREA, 9/17

Today I have a very interesting show to report on. It was a four-man, and the lineup included AUBE, Awoi, -OZ-, and BORN. The show wound up taking me by surprise in the best of ways, so this is going to be a fun report for me to write!

This show happened to fall on a three-day weekend for me, which was kinda awesome. MelJay and I (and a friend of hers) met up and went to a burger place we'd never tried (they had avocado burgers, yay!) and goofed off around Tokyo until it was time for the show. This event was, surprise surprise, at Takadanobaba AREA. Isn't everything? Well, especially cuz this one was a sort of borderline-super indies show. And, as usual, we had crappy ticket numbers (320 and 321). Why do we always have crappy ticket numbers? Because, generally speaking, MelJay and I don't plan for shows much more than a week in advance, so we usually buy the tickets towards the end of the sale period. But it really doesn't matter because you can always go up for something you want to see, so... no big deal. But we still had to start in the back behind the second barrier. Pretty crowded show, though. Probably had about 400 people.

So MelJay and I decided to use our “inspiration” and predict the band order. We decided it would go AUBE, Awoi, Oz, then BORN would headline (and we were right cuz we're awesome). We decided AUBE would go first because, unlike the other three bands, we'd never heard of them and they looked oshare. Oh goody. MelJay and I figured we'd hate them and planned on staying in the back and possibly even sitting down if it got too bad.

So, our first band up is AUBE (pronounced oh-beh). Picture:

Now, if you look at that picture, you can probably predict was I'm going to say, right? I'm probably going to unleash a slew of anger against cutesy bands, and I'm probably going to start swearing and using words like “crap” and “shit” a lot. You're probably waiting for me to insult the band and their families all the way back to the prehistoric era.

You would be wrong.

AUBE is rated HS for Huge Surprise.

Yeah, I'm actually about to give an oshare band a positive review. The thing is, though, I'm not sure AUBE was really oshare-kei. I don't really know what they were, to be honest. When they first came on stage, I groaned because they were just so sparkly. Every freaking thing they were wearing was sparkly, and the vocalist's microphone stand was actually encrusted with sparkles. No joke. They also pissed me off by doing that thing some bands do where they blast a super hard, death metal intro, and then come out looking like a unicorn puked a rainbow all over them. But then they started playing the first song and, like... it was some kind of jazzy thing. But, like... really good jazz. Like, super fun, makes you wanna dance, kinda jazz. I felt very confused. The audience was doing the craziest furi, though. It wasn't even furi, I think it was actually full-blown para-para. It involved hip-shaking and spinning in circles and all sorts of whacky shit. Except... the music was so fun I felt I couldn't really blame them for all the stupid dancing.

But after the jazzy first song, they went into a whole other kind of song, and that one was actually... rock music? Like, they were actually playing hard guitar riffs and there was screaming and... I don't know, I was soooo confused. But the thing that really got me was the drummer. He was the token girly member, but... holy shit could he play drums. MelJay actually turned to me partway during their performance and whispered, “their drummer is awesome!” He was a drumming powerhouse! There was one song where, every now and then, he would just explode into this frantic, chaotic seizure of drumming. It was crazy! And the vocalist did some death metal growling at one point and... he actually growls better than some of the “hard core” band that are supposed to have a lot of growling. I couldn't believe it! The thing is, though, I think the band knows they don't come across as very hard core. During the MC, the vocalist was like, “wow, we have some really strong bands here tonight. Bands with really strong names like AWOI and OZ and BORN” (he kinda growled/shouted their names). “But AUBE... what kinda name is that? It sounds like 'obi'” (an “obi” is the giant sash Japanese women wrap around their waists when they wear kimonos). So even AUBE was making fun of itself for being a contradiction.

Anyways, the point is, I actually really enjoyed an “oshare” band for once. Mostly because they weren't actually oshare and had a lot of talent and I imagine they're probably a lot of fun on CD if I was ever feeling not-lazy and actually bothered to look them up. As performers, they had a really good presence. The vocalist had a lot of energy and he seemed to genuinely enjoy himself. I didn't feel like he was faking anything. Sometimes he even danced, but he seemed to do it for fun. The members had really good charisma, but it was effortless charisma. They didn't have to force it. The audience was crazy into them. All 400 people were up and moving. Overall, just a really good time.

Next up, let's meet Awoi. Awoi, Awoi, Awoi....... Picture:

This band is rated ZDP for Zombie Dance Party.

I don't even know where to fucking begin with Awoi. Awoi is one of those bands that's actually been around quite awhile for an indies band. By “quite awhile” I mean they started in 2004. So they're seven years old, and that's a long lifetime for an indies band. Also, unless I'm mistaken, I believe they're an Osaka-based band? VKDB definitely says they're from the Kansai region and they mostly play concerts in Osaka. Anyways, they're one of those bands whose name I've been hearing here and there for years and years but never paid much attention to. I think I even watched one of their music videos years ago and then promptly forgot about them. And, since they're Osaka-based, I never saw them in concert when I studied abroad. Non-Tokyo-based bands are just generally more obscure as a rule. According to my friend Evan, Awoi is also really popular in Nagoya.

Aaaaaaaanyways, I wasn't sure if I should look forward to them or not. Part of me was looking forward to them because I'd heard the name a million times and I knew they were a “darker” band. I had a friend recommend them to me once too and I'd heard good things for the most part. But I'm also suspicious of a band that stays indies for so long without going anywhere (checking their schedule, however, I am humbled. They're waaaaay more super-indies than I thought). Plus, MelJay watched some live footage of them from V-Rock Festival and said they looked really boring. So I was maybe a little excited, but also prepared for extreme disappointment.

They were not what I expected at all.

Let's see... they had a typical “hard core” type intro, but that's to be expected. The drummer came onstage (guess he's new from what I've heard). He was in all black, but I expected that too. Then the right guitarist came on stage and there was so much black around his eyes he looked like a zombie. Then the left guitarist came on stage. By then, they'd pumped so much smokescreen onto the stage that you couldn't even see the band anymore. The guitarist jumped up onto the crate and then... did an interpretive dance in the smoke.


I mean, all you could see was his scrawny silhouette in the smoke, but he was dancing like a serpent and undulating every part of his body. And this was not a short dance. This went on for at least a minute, with the audience cheering and applauding while his arms twisted and his hips wiggled. He was actually really damn good at it – like some kinda zombie belly dancer. It was around that time that I realized all 400 people were not only up for Awoi, they were all kinda freaking out about Awoi. Huh. Now, I'll admit, I thought the guitarist was the vocalist because of the dancing, so I was more than a little shocked when he jumped down from the crate and put on a guitar. Then came the bassist with a bandana around most of his face.

And then came the vocalist.

I've been to around forty indies events in Japan in my time, and I have never seen a vocalist get a reaction like this guy did. To say the audience freaked out would be putting it mildly. It wasn't just the usual growling and shrieking that the indies girls toss out there, it was more like the Second Coming. Girls were screeeeamiiiiing. Some of them were practically seizing. People were jumping up and down and clutching their faces and shrieking. The girl in front of me was seriously going into convulsions about this guy. The audience reaction was so extreme, MelJay and I gave each other a surprised look, like “whoa.” I later told MelJay I thought some of the girls were going to rip their chests open and throw their organs at the vocalist, that's how excited they were.

My guess is that Awoi receives this reaction because they almost never come to Tokyo, so they're a rare gift. You can buy their music at any music store in Tokyo, so the indies girls have heard Awoi's stuff and seen their music videos but don't get to see them live a whole lot. So, yeah, needless to say, these girls turned into possessed demons at the sight of the vocalist.

So imagine my amusement when the vocalist took center stage and I finally got a good look at him. With that kind of screaming, you imagine some kind of god coming on stage. Instead, the vocalist was this scrawny little thing in a suit with flat, black hair, and gallons of black makeup smeared around his eyes. He was kinda... like an adorable little zombie. And he was making the silliest angry faces and scrunching up his nose at everyone. I think MelJay and I just laughed at him.

But, the truth is, once the band started playing, I realized they were actually kinda awesome. The music was really hard, but also very melancholy, and the vocalist had a very interesting voice. Well, to be honest, his voice made it sound like someone shoved a wet sock down his throat, but I don't really mean that in a bad way. And the vocalist was a crazy little thing, which kept a smile on my face.

Then you've got the guitarist on the right. He looked so normal and not-crazy when he came on stage, but then he seemed to get weirder and weirder as the show went on. I dunno if anyone remembers this, but there was a macro, like... seven years ago or something (I feel old) with various screencaps of Kaoru from Dir en grey staring up at something in the upper left of the screen. He did it on stage, in music videos, in photoshoots, etc. The macro read: "for Kaoru, there was no escape from the thing in the upper left-hand corner." That macro's been a joke amongst my friends and I for quite awhile, and never has it applied so much to something as it did to Awoi's guitarist. He just... kept... staring... at something... in the upper left-hand corner. What in the world was he staring at?! And the really scary part is sometimes he kinda... mumbled things at it. Like he was talking to something up there. Something was just really weird about him. He was super spacey. But sometimes he would suddenly break out of his trance and start singing along to the music, which was cute. But seriously, what the hell was floating in the upper left-hand corner?!

Meanwhile, the guitarist on the left was totally dancing while playing for the entire show. As if we needed more interpretive dancing over there. What a nut.

Overall, they were just really, really good. I bobbed my head to the music the entire time they played. Great riffing, bass-driven music. Interesting melodies. They played many different kinds of distinct songs. I decided to check out their music after the show and found I could actually pinpoint which songs they played live because it was distinct enough. It made me very happy. I was also amused when, instead of an MC, the vocalist decided to make weird, echo noises and sing eerie notes while bent double over the crate. MelJay and I gave each other a meaningful look and smirked. With my fingers I spelled out K-Y-O and MelJay nodded in agreement. Honestly, it sounded exactly like one of the “inward screams” Kyo does. It had the growling and the whining and the warbling. The thing is, though, Awoi's vocalist did such a good job I feel like I can't even fault him for it. I mean, it wasn't exactly original, but it sure sounded good.

Towards the end of their set, their bassist finally pulled off his bandana. Turned out he was actually pretty good-looking under that thing, lol! Also, the vocalist shoved his fingers against his eyes and smeared his make up all over his face. He sure was an energetic little bastard who made a lot of hilariously ugly faces. I can see why the audience gets such a kick out him.

So yeah, I enjoyed Awoi a lot, and it's a shame that they almost never play in Tokyo. I probably won't see them again for the rest of the year. Oh well. I'll catch 'em again some other time.

So, next act up, we have -OZ- again. Picture:

They're rated NAP for Needs a Pulse, and also the thing I wanted to do while they played.

Hmm... I dunno. I've enjoyed -OZ- these last couple shows, but I wouldn't say they blow me away or anything. They're good, but they're also... missing something. Like, enthusiasm. In fact, they were so dead on their feet at this show that MelJay whispered to me that it looked like the band didn't even want to be there. I kind of agreed. It almost seemed like the band had a fight or something, and they were all really bitter and pissed off. Then, about halfway through their set, they all suddenly forgave each other and got really into it for some reason. But it took awhile. I don't have much to say about them. MelJay and I moved down into the front area to sorta spot-save for BORN, but it was rather uninteresting down there.  -OZ- played a new song which was definitely very pretty. Also, I've decided their vocalist looks like a Final Fantasy character, so I spent the entire set trying to figure out who. It went something like this:

Me: Maybe... Cloud?

MelJay: No...

Me: Zidane?

MelJay: Um, definitely not. Maybe that guy from X?

Me: I hope not, he's ugly... Maybe he's a hybrid of several characters.

MelJay: Maybe.

Me: No, wait, I've got it. He looks like Lightning.

MelJay: [gives me a weird look]

The next day.....

[MelJay and I are standing at the Square-Enix store staring up at a poster of Lightning]

Me: See! He does look like Lightning!

MelJay: No he does'n – oh, wait, yeah, maybe... fuck you.

Yeah, like that.

But seriously, does anyone else see it?!  Seriously, check this out.

Natsuki vs. Lightning:

Freeeeeeeaky, lol.

Okay, moving on, the next band up is, once again, BORN. Every weekend we're welcomed to the 666. BORN is rated C for Consistent.  Picture:


Anyhoo, they were really, really good. As usual.  Blah blah blah, um... good setlist, good energy.  Ryouga was way more into it today than he even had been the past few times.  He actually came onstage headbanging, which was amusing.  He really needs to take off that stupid outfit, though.  He's always sweating balls in that thing.  It's gross, and a heat stroke hazard.  Um... not much to say here except, once again... BORN, Y U NO PLAY SIX DAMIAN?!!  But it was great other than that.  I actually remembered my BORN bandana this time, so my wrist could be wrapped in a nice cloth of happiness that reads Agitate to DOGMANISM.  Whatever the fuck that means.  I dunno, like last time, all I can say is I had a really good time during BORN and they're super fun.  A+ etc.  I highly recommend them.  They make you jump like crazy and you wind up exhausted, but it's a blast.  I even started improvising some of my own shit during their set, which is something I haven't done for a band in a long time.  You kinda have to know the songs reeeeeally well to do that.  Which I now do.  Yaaaaaaaay.

Anyways, that was the show.  After that, MelJay and I returned to Shinjuku to find her friend and eat at Saizeriya.  Yaaaaaaaaaay.  I have nothing scheduled to see this week, but I'm sure I'll find something to post about anyways.  And it'll be a lot easier now because...



  1. Awesome written!. Yeah Awoi are actually very famous in osaka they had a oneman had osaka muse which was sold out.And-I'm very sorry to bother you with this buuuut-is there any chance that you may could see Re:dis? because they're breaking up.

  2. Yeah, Natsuki does look a lot like Lightning.

  3. @Emotional Days: It doesn't look like Re:dis will be playing at any time that I can see them :-( They're breaking up so soon too - in October I think. Sucks >___< These damn indies bands can never hold out for very long it seems.......

  4. That thing with Re:dis is ok, I have the DIAURA x Lycaon thing to look forward and hopefully the deg concert to.

  5. Yeah, I'm really sorry about that. I checked up on it and there weren't any shows I could get to >___< I wanted to see them at least one more time, but I don't think I can :-(