Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tokyo Decadance Halloween 2011

Tokyo Decadance Halloween 2011.  I was looking forward to writing a very nice blog post about this party.  Hell, I was looking forward to the party, period.  But we can’t always have what we want.  It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the need to rant on this blog, but I’m afraid a rant is what this is going to be.

But let’s start with the non-ranty parts.  Preparation for the party itself went fine.  It’s Tokyo Decadance, so dressing up is very important.  There isn’t technically a dress code, but you can get various discounts based on how dressed up you are.  MelJay and I decided to do a themed costume together. The theme was basically me attempting to make up for a failed costume I did about four years ago (it just looked stupid), and our success as ganguro at Madison’s FreakFest last year made us realize we work well together as a pair when it comes to  costumes.  So we spent the last few weeks shopping for our costumes, which mostly involved going to Closet Child, Okadaya, Black Peace Now, Okadaya, Body Line, Okadaya, oh, and probably back to Okadaya again.

Story!  During one of those trips to Okadaya, I saw Jin from UnsraW in the store!  It was brief, and he walked out really fast, but I was still like O____O

Anyways, MelJay and I had inverse costumes with a card suit theme.  We had card suit earrings, rings, bracelets, pins, and then drew a card on our faces.  We did all the hair and make up in the living room of our hostel so, needless to say, we got a lot of stares and comments from people.  Especially the hair.  We teased that shit up to the ceiling, although it definitely collapsed as the night went on.  I should add that MelJay got the idea to tease our hair after seeing Hibiki at Dark Castle last weekend, lol.

After we were done, we had the pleasure of walking through Asakusa, riding the Ginza line, and walking around Shinjuku in these outfits.  There was a lot of staring, and some people stopped us and asked for our picture, lol.  Anyways, here are our costumes:

Sorry, that isn't the most flattering picture of us, lol.  And several of these pictures were delightfully taken on the Ginza Line again.  That poor line.  Sorry we didn’t get more pictures, but we were in a rush.  Also, one of the people who took pictures left rather suddenly, and I have no idea if she has done anything with them.

Anyways, we met up with Caroline (as seen above, obviously), as well as a lovely young woman from Poland that MelJay met on LiveJournal.

So we headed off to the party, which was set to start at 10 pm.  We arrived at about 9:40 and got into the general sales line.  There were two lines, you see.  The regular line for regular people, and the line for people who bothered to get the Fast Pass.  Those people could skip the regular line.

Ready for this?  Okay…………..

To get the Fast Pass, you have to go to the Christon Café ahead of time (and pay the cover charge at the bar for it), or go to a costume shop called Bad Little Boo.  I had no idea where that place is.

So it turned out about 90% of the partygoers got the damn Fast Pass.  What this turned into was a group of people who had loyally stood in line right when doors opened watching a parade of Fast Pass people go in ahead of them.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal, right?


Us general line people waited three hours to get in.  Yes, you read that right.  Three hours.  People who showed up at midnight were allowed to get in before people who showed up at ten.

Does this sound fair to you?  It sure as hell doesn’t sound fair to me.  By the time we got in, my friends and I were so miserable we weren’t even interested in the party anymore.  All the people around us looked so hollow and unhappy you would’ve thought we were waiting in line to get slaughtered.  Um, is that how a party is supposed to be?  Isn’t a party about everyone having fun, not trying to leech extra money off the attendees?

And you know what, I could’ve maybe dealt with it, until the end, when my part of the general line finally got up to the elevators.  The elevator came down, and Adrien - the party’s host - was riding it.  A bunch of staff members had to come through, so Adrien let them on.  But there was still room for at least ten people on the elevator.  Adrien glanced at us standing there in line looking like we wanted to die, and asked repeatedly if we were Fast Pass.  When we said no, he pressed the button, and sent the elevator off without us.

What are we, just a pile of shit?  By that point, I’m not sure I could’ve enjoyed the party, even if I’d really wanted to.

Thankfully, my friends and I did all get discounts.  The maximum discount was 1500 yen off (oh, I should add that Tokyo Decadance has raised its prices on top of everything else.  It used to be 4000 to get in, now it’s 4500).  1500 yen off was for really over-the-top costumes (like this one girl in line whose hair was so elaborate she had a whole fake bird in it).  1000 yen off was for costumes that showed dedication and effort, though they aren’t crazy.  500 yen off means you at least wore something costume-y.  And no yen off means you didn’t dress up at all.  All my friends and I got 1000 yen off, yay!  This year’s drag queen was much nicer than the one two years ago.  Maybe to make up for the raised prices, lol.  MelJay managed to convince me to use cuteness to win him over.  When the drag queen was all like, “ooh, what do we have here?”, MelJay and I put our hands together in a heart shape and batted our eyelashes at him while he went, “ah, kawaii!”  So I guess that worked and got us a good discount, but I also threw up a little inside my mouth and probably developed a cuteness-induced ulcer.

As if to further enforce that this party is only about money now, and nothing else, we had to wait in line for about a half an hour just to do coat check.  Why?  Because they had one staff person doing it.  One.  Why did that piss me off?  Because, across from the cloak room they had about a dozen different staff members selling merchandise.  So apparently selling shit is more important than moving along a line of about forty people blocking the hallway?  Sure, whatever, I get it.

But I thought maybe getting in would make everything that happened a little better.  Maybe it could still be fun.

It.  Wasn’t.

First of all, by the time we got in, we’d already missed stuff.  We missed the dancing robot Shinji, for example, and I was really looking forward to him.  Also, the DJs sucked.  That was the first thing I noticed.  Where were all the good DJs from two years ago?!  These DJs were all boring, not wearing costumes, and playing repetitive dance beats over and over again.  I wanted to dance, but how the hell could I dance to that?!  They kept putting dancers on stage to move to the music, but even they looked out of ideas sometimes.  How do you move around to repetitive, lifeless crap?  Now, there was an alternative to this: Tokyo Dark Castle had put itself in a small room upstairs, so that people could duck up there occasionally if they wanted to.  And the music was certainly better up there.  But the room was tiny, and full of strangely creepy people.  Like a really fat white guy wearing nothing but an over-the-shoulder thong who occasionally flashed his privates at people.  So fuck that.

Well, okay, there are more reasons to go to Tokyo Decadance than dance music.  There are usually acts and performances.  Except there really weren’t many listed, to my dismay.  Pretty much just DJs and the small handful of main acts.  I wanted to see Selia, for sure.  And obviously I wanted to see Hizaki.  And Kaya.  I figured that would at least fill the time between 1 am and 5 am, which would otherwise be nothing but mindless dance music.

Well, around 2 am, some important-sounding music started, so we all headed down from our perch on the staircase where we were sitting doing nothing, and went down into the crowd.  I thought it was too early to be any of the potential party headliners.  We came down there to find Selia on stage, which made sense to me.  But then Kaya came onstage.  Ooookay.  Those two together makes sense, as well, and it's kinda awesome, but it seemed a little early for big acts like Kaya.  I mean, we only just got into the party… Well, whatever.

Here’s Selia:

Here’s Kaya:

Anyways, Kaya went straight into a song, with Selia singing backup vocals, which was a lovely combination.  They both have great singing voices, but they also have very different singing voices.  Kaya has a more masculine (kinda) voice, while Selia has the high, operatic voice, so the two sounded really nice together.  I think Selia's voice deserves to be displayed on this blog.  This guy should get more credit for what he does.  He has the voice of a woman, and a very talented, operatic woman at that.  Whether or not you like the sound of opera, I still think this video is worth checking out:

So Selia and Kaya did one song together, and then Hizaki came onstage.  Oho.  I had a feeling Kaya and Hizaki would do something together.  Here’s a picture of Hizaki:

All of this happened really fast, I should add.  I’m not trying to skimp on details, it’s just that this whole thing was very rushed.  So Hizaki came out, and then he played guitar while Kaya sang and Selia did more backup vocals.  I’m tellin’ ya, Selia’s the closest we will ever get to having a Blind Mag in this world, unless Sara Brightman one day decides she wants to take on the role forever.  Anyways, there’s really nothing much to report about these last couple songs.  They sounded very nice, and that’s about it.  But then, next up, they went straight into Kaya’s Rose Jail song, which is only to be expected.  So that was a lot of fun.  It’s hard not to like Rose Jail.  I mean, I’m not a big fan of Kaya’s music (not the solo stuff), but even I think Rose Jail is fun.  So we had Selia doing backup even for Rose Jail, and Hizaki on guitar.  Although… MelJay pointed this out, and I kinda wondered about it too… I’m not entirely sure Hizaki was always playing.  I think sometimes he was physically going through the motions, but his guitar wasn’t actually doing anything.  Or plugged in?  I mean, I guess for a performance like this, it’s really more about presentation than substance, but it was still rather odd.  Especially since we all know Hizaki’s a damn good guitar player.

About halfway through Rose Jail, however, a fourth person burst onto the stage.  Well, I’ll be damned, it was Kamijo:

Kamijo decided to make a guest appearance.  Which was lovely and all but……….. I think he was drunk.  My friends agreed.  First of all, his hair was only about half done.  Second of all, he looked all clumsy and wobbly.  It was cool to see him, but I also wanted to face-palm very badly.  But Kamijo, at least, was proud of himself.  He shouted, “Kamijo ga kita ze!” (roughly translated to: “Kamijo has arrived, bitches!”).  Then he took a shaky bow.  They finished up the song, the four of them, but it was a tad awkward.  Kamijo kept trying to encourage furi, but he didn’t really know the furi (or was too drunk to remember it), so he and Kaya were doing two totally different things.  This turned the whole thing into a chaotic mess.

After Rose Jail, I think they went into the Versailles song Zombie.  I think?  Sorry, I’m really not all that familiar with Versailles.  Kamijo and Kaya sang together, while Selia hovered awkwardly in the background doing his part as much as he could.  Kamijo pretty much overtook the stage at that point, and Kaya got overshadowed for the most part.  Generally I forgot Hizaki was there, lol.  I felt kinda bad for Kaya.  He’d been upstaged pretty badly during the last two songs, including his own.  But then, in the middle of the song, Kamijo suddenly grabbed Kaya and kissed him right on the lips.  That wouldn’t be such a big deal, except… well, you either know why, or you don’t.  Let’s just say, Kaya has said some stuff about himself and Kamijo that some fans claim was a joke, and some fans claim was completely serious.  Either way…….. it made this kiss a lot more awkward than necessary.  Not only that, but it took Kaya so much by surprise that he sorta lost himself, and Kamijo had to catch him.  After Kaya was back up and had steadied himself, Kamijo suddenly grabbed him again, leaned him back, and gave him another kiss.  And this one looked serious.  There’s fanservice kissing, and then there’s whatever the hell Kamijo did to Kaya's face.  It was quite intense, and Kamijo meant business.  The whole audience was like O_____O  After Kamijo let go of Kaya, let’s just say………. Kaya didn’t look very happy with him.  And I can’t say I blame him. Not the, uh... classiest moment ever, lol.

That was pretty much the end of the performance, to be honest.  That's all it was.  Tokyo Decadance only had this small handful of performers, and they stuck them all on stage during the same quick, 25 minute time slot.  Kaya practically only got two songs to himself.  Goddamnit, Tokyo Decadance.  I mean, seriously.  I understand that both Kamijo and Hizaki probably wanted to leave because they had to perform at V-Rock Festival the next day, but still… a little bit of time-staggering would’ve been nice.  Now it was 2:30 am and we had nothing to look forward to (well, I noticed on the pamphlet the next day that Selia was listed as doing his suspension routine at the party, but maybe we missed it while in line, who knows.  Also, if you don’t know what “suspension” is, don’t look it up.  Save yourself some nightmares, I’m serious).

Well, anyways, my friends and I tried to get back into the party after the performance was over, but it was getting harder and harder to even fake enjoyment.  After the performers left the stage, the party went straight back to mind-numbingly boring DJs, foot pain, and a crowd attempting to dance to nothing.  After another hour or so, my friends and I were starting to think it wasn’t worth staying.  After a quick conversation while hiding out in the crowded bathroom, we finally decided to bail.  We just couldn’t take it anymore.  It was so boooooooooooooring!  And anything we were interested in had already been onstage.  Sure, maybe Kaya did a small something again at the end - who knows.  Admittedly, I’ll be a little sad if I find out Selia’s suspension routine happened after we left.  But I wasn’t willing to gamble that on the possibility that we missed it during the three hours in line, because I certainly wasn’t willing to stay until 6 am (then again, wouldn’t Selia probably prefer to do suspension at the end, since he would get all bloody?  Who know…).  Whaaaaaatever.

I should add that coat check left us standing in line for another half an hour.  Fuck my life.  I am so not going to Tokyo Decadance's Halloween party next year.  Screw it.

Eventually, we managed to escape and hunted around for any goddamn restaurant that was open at 4 am.  After awhile, we wound up at Matsuyama and we all got curry and sat around sighing about how lame the party was.  Then we all went home once the trains started running again.  MelJay and I went back to the hostel and got three hours of sleep.  It could’ve been more, but we needed to get up at 10 am because we needed to do some Ticket Ninja action.

I haven’t added this to the schedule yet, but I will once I make another schedule update.  BlackHole is hosting an end-of-the-year indies show with a bunch of really good acts.  The ticket sale was staggered with A-tickets sold one day at Lawson, B-tickets sold the next day on e+, and C-tickets sold at the venue at a later date.  But BlackHole isn’t really big enough to host this kind of event.  MelJay and I found that out the hard way the previous day, when we made a stab at A-tickets.  We hunted around for a Lawson we heard was in Asakusa.  Once we found it, tickets had been on sale for an hour and a half, but this is indies, so maybe we’d be okay?  Nope.  A-tickets were looooong gone.  So we had to make a stab at B-tickets.  But e+ always crashes at 10 am due to server overload, so it was time to put Ticket Ninja skills to use.  Basically, right at 10, I sat there clicking and refreshing each page repeatedly until I was able to make it all the way through the process and reserve our tickets.  I had to get through about eight windows, and I had to click about fifty times to get to each one.  It was a crazy process, but I did manage to pull it off and get the tickets.  And that’s why they call me the Ticket Ninja.

The show will be December 30th.  Bands of interest include: Lycaon, DIAURA, THE GALLO, Para:noir, DEPAIN, AUBE, DEZERT, and a few I’ve been meaning to check out, such as BLOOD.  Some nostalgic acts will be there too, like SCAPEGOAT, and Velbet.  The show will go all day from 11:30 am onward, and will have 17 bands.  Should be pretty crazy!

Anyways, this weekend will also be packed!  I have the Lycaon x DIAURA Bisexual tour final tomorrow, and an indies show Saturday.  Stay tuned

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tokyo Dark Castle 2011

I was waaaaaaay too late writing this and now I have to focus attention on the Tokyo Decadance post, so I'm going to keep this brief (besides, haven't my posts been getting too wordy lately?  I think so).

Tokyo Dark Castle.  I'd never gone before, but it sounded like fun.  I didn't have a costume prepared yet or anything, but I figured it was a good excuse to put on some goth shit and go have a good time all night.

Unfortunately, I don't really have any goth shit on me these days.  Totally stupid.  Did I think I'd change upon entering the work force or something?  Hell no.  If anything, being a teacher has further enforced all the reasons why I want to retain as much "me" as humanly possible.  But I was able to throw some last-minute stuff together so I wouldn't look like a total tool at the party.

So Dark Castle is a Halloween "party" but it's really more like a concert event with DJs that play between each act.  It even takes place at a concert venue: Shinjuku MARS.  It's also an excuse for people to doll themselves up all crazy in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Soooo MelJay and I prepared some gothy shit and then plastered a bunch of make up and glue on our faces.  Result:

Wanna know where this picture was taken?  It was taken on the Ginza subway line, lol.  People were staring at MelJay and I like we were crazy (it was already after 11 pm).  This one guy standing in front of us turned to his wife and was like, "how do eyelashes get that long?"  To which his wife replied, "they're fake."  Um, DUUUUH.

Anyways, we met up with Caroline in Shinjuku and went off to the party.  It was so weird arriving in Shinjuku that late.  95% of the people in the station were standing in groups waving goodbye to each other or were already seriously drunk (a couple people were being carried through the station, and we had a puker outside the exit).  But hell, our night was just starting.

Well, I'd never been to Shinjuku MARS, but Caroline knew the way.  The number of serious weirdos increased as we headed in that direction.  People in full-body leather, people in giant wigs, people in Renaissance dresses.  Some people weren't really dressed up, but that accounted for only, like... 3%.  We all crowded around outside the venue, waiting for midnight.

Eventually we got in and headed downstairs, where a DJ was already doin' his thang.  Uuum... I'm no good at keeping DJs straight.  Super sorry to the DJs.  There were three DJs and they were all very good, but I'm not sure which one was which...........  I think it was DJ KENZO-A: 

And his set was mostly dubstep.  I'm not the biggest fan of dubstep, but it was a good choice for getting people into the "underground" mood as more and more costumed people piled into the venue.

Anyways, the first band up was AUTO-MOD:

I don't think this is any kind of official picture, but I'm making do with what I've got, lol.  So the guy with no hair is the vocalist, and he's also the guy who hosts and runs Tokyo Dark Castle.  So a special thanks to him!  The one who appears to be a woman is actually a man named Selia, and he's kind of awesome and appears at a lot of underground parties in Japan (he was also at Tokyo Decadance).  Selia did backup singing, where he sang opera like a woman.  I'm not too familiar with Selia, so I actually thought it was a woman, just because of the voice.  But he's almost six feet tall, so I wasn't sure.  MelJay admitted there was a point during the performance where she thought Celia must be a woman.  But no, just a really convincing drag queen.  He kinda reminds me of a real life Blind Mag.  Anyways, AUTO-MOD's music was a lot of fun.  It was like hard rock Halloween music, and included a song that served as the "theme song" to the party.  Very good stuff.

Then we went back to DJs.  Can't remember if it was the same DJ or if they switched yet.  I think it was the same.  DJ KENZO-A won a lot of brownie points with me by doing some mixing of Combichrist's Get Your Body Beat, and Nine Inch Nails's Wish.  Thumbs up, mah man.  Anyhoo, next band up is Royal Cabaret:

So I think this band was going for the "hot mess" angle.  Chick vocalist (yes, she's a real chick, trust me), and the music was some kinda... rock... something.  Fairly straight up music, but still really good.  Probably memorable enough that I would recognize their songs if I ever heard them elsewhere, particular because of the vocalist's shrill, warbling way of singing).  But definitely the vocalist was going for "hot mess."  She came onstage dressed in what I guess was supposed to be a Black Swan costume.  Except her whole ass was showing.  No, really.  Less was covered than if she wore a tight bikini.  She pulled the stuff out of her hair fairly fast and spent most of the show screaming, messing up her hair, and making a big scene all over the stage.  But I enjoyed them, they were good.

I think we switched to a new DJ then.  I could be wrong, but I believe it was DJ †nAo12xu†.  If you can read that, you get a cookie.  Picture:

Anyways, he was pretty good too.  His mixing involved a lot of hardcore music combined with Halloween-esque tracks.   Unfortuntately, I don't remember a whole lot.

The next band up is Kaiki Gesshoku:

This band.  I have no idea how to describe their music.  It was like some kind of rock... metal... hip-hop... thing.  The stage was crazy over-crowded with people, too, which only added to the chaotic feel of their music.  They had tons of musicians up there, multiple vocalists, a couple of girls dancing around in tight leather... just a big, crazy bonanza.  And their drummer had his face painted like some kind of evil mime-clown with shock-blond hair, or something.  Anyways, they were also really enjoyable, particularly because they just sounded so different.


I know this is a repetitive statement at this point, but this band was also very good.  So far I'd really enjoyed every act, and that's pretty impressive.  Yay, Dark Castle!!!  This band was more of the angsty rock variety.  Something that amused me... now, I don't know, I didn't ask these people, this is just how it looked to me.  This group of foreign guys seemed to be mocking the band at first, by hopping up and down to the repetitive intro riffs.  However, their mocking actually seemed to turn into legitimate rocking out, as the band proved their worth after the first couple songs.  Just a good, solid band.  The vocalist seemed very quiet and downtrodden to me, until the last song where he suddenly turned into a spazzy maniac.  I'm not sure what prompted the sudden transition, lol.

Once again, we switch DJs to DJ Chihiro:

IIIIIIII don't really remember, sorry.

Now time for the absolute worst thing of the night.  Highfashionparalyze: 

I'm not even sure that picture is actually him, because I made an effort not to watch this performance.  This act never should've happened, especially not as late as it did (it was already approaching 4 am).  Basically, highfashionparalyze was one guy standing on stage moaning and wailing and warbling randomly while also randomly strumming a guitar.  That was it.  There were no "songs," just 25 minutes of a guy making noise.  It.  Was.  Awful.  I'd been sitting down on the floor for a lot of the show because I somehow managed to horribly twist my left foot two days before the party (that's what I get for stepping on a big rock in flat shoes), but this was the first time I sat for a reason other than foot pain.  And not just me.  The whole party, there were always small handfuls of people sitting, but more and more people started sitting down during highfashionparalyze because it was just so painful.  What's more, some people even fell asleep!  There were people against the walls totally sleeping!  Gawd, I just couldn't wait for it to stop, especially since the only band I'd been interested in before the party was the next one, who was also our "headliner."

One more DJ switch.  The next one up was definitely my favorite DJ of the night, though his set was tragically brief.  This is DJ P.R.D.  I found one picture of him, but you have to view it at the site cuz it's copyrighted:

I can't quite put my finger on what I liked about his work.  I just liked the way it all sounded.  His mixing had a great beat, but was still spooky, and just overall made me want to move around.  Also, he was dressed like Marilyn Manson, lol (in a pinstripe suit with the creepy makeup and hair swept to one side).  Anyways, as much as I enjoyed his set, he only got to play for about fifteen minutes before getting cut off, since some of the acts had been running late and the party needed to stick to its schedule.  When his music stopped, the audience went "aaaaaawww."

The last band up is Calmando Qual:

Well, Calmando Qual was certainly interesting, lol.  They were a lot of fun.  As far as nostalgia goes, I enjoyed seeing their guitarist, Tak, since I saw him perform in THE SOUND BEE HD during my study abroad year (he still plays for them.  He's in both bands simultaneously).  But, in general, the band was just ridiculously amusing.  As many know, Calmando Qual's vocalist Hibiki is known for being... a strange fellow.  He was dressed in some kind of Mad Hatter meets Chucky outfit (as seen above) and had been walking around the audience without me even realizing who he was (he gave my friends and I a seriously creepy smile at one point).  Anyways, his performance style is hilarious.  Between his bizarre, pompous MCs, his creepy villain laugh, and the fact that he couldn't stop dancing or moving for one damn second the whole performance, it was definitely a good way to end the night.  Or morning?  Also, someone threw a hat on stage during an MC, so Hibiki picked it up and balanced it on top of the bassist's hat, lol.

Well, the rest of the party was spent having the different bands and DJs give out gifts to audience members.  It ranged from small things like Pikachu pajamas, to huge things like Tokyo Disney Resort tickets.  Unfortunately, no one could find Calmando Qual after their performance, so their gift was never given, lol.  Also, the clown-faced drummer from Kaiki Gesshoku was really, really drunk, and had to be politely scooted from the stage.

All in all, it was a really fun party, and I had a really great time.  It was certainly a lot more fun than Tokyo Decadance, which I'll get to in the next post.  After the party, MelJay and I took advantage of the fact that we had a hostel booked for the night and went back to get a whopping three hours of sleep before we had to check out.  Yaaaaaaay.

Also, can anyone tell me whether it's better for me to keep the posts brief like I just did, or if my usual long, rambling style is better?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Blog Translations

Damn, it's been awhile since I've done one of these.  I used to casually read lots of indies blogs because I was bored and it was good Japanese practice.  Then, towards the end of my study abroad year, the blogs started getting sad, with bands breaking up and people dying and stuff.  Then I just stopped reading them.  But now I've got all this free time on my hands and my kanji reading skills are going down the shitter, so I've decided to start reading some blogs again and practicing translation.  Today, I'm just doing a short translation from the blog of yo-ka from DIAURA.  These were taken off his "nau" - which is similar to a Facebook status update.

First he wrote this:

Now I remember.  During the time when the seasons change, I keep catching colds for about half a month.  Fuck me.

He literally wrote "fuck me" in katakana as "fakku mii."  Now, I can only assume he got a bunch of concerned emails from fans who were worried about him catching so many colds, because yo-ka then wrote another update that said:

Ah, don't worry about me, because I am a phoenix.  Fuck you.

Literally "fakku yuu."  Not gonna lie, this shit made me laugh out loud right in the school staff room.  Thanks a lot yo-ka, lol.

Monday, October 17, 2011

MERRY x -karasu- Tour Final, 10/9

Tokyo Dark Castle was awesome!  I'll report on that soon!

Soooo anyways, I did actually wind up going to the MERRY show, even though I said I might not go.  As I mentioned earlier, I was a dumbass and thought I couldn't go because it's so hard to get back to school on Monday after a Sunday show in Tokyo (without missing part of the show).  Well, I'm an idiot and failed to realize Monday was a national holiday and a day off for all the schools.  DUUUUR.  So of course I was gonna go, since MelJay accidentally bought too many tickets anyways.  The third ticket was intended to go to Caroline, but she wound up unable to go, so the ticket was passed on to a friend of Caroline's.

Anyways, the show was at Shibuya CLUB QUATTRO, a venue I've heard of a million times but never wound up at.  Place wound up being unnecessarily hard to find because Google Maps lists the entrance as being down the wrong street.  If you see an Outback Steakhouse, you're going the wrong way.  It's one street over to the right, lol.

Anyhoo, MelJay and I spent the morning "hibernating" so we'd have a lot of energy for the show.  Sushi and sitting around a Starbucks seemed the best way to do it, lol.  But we had to head over to CLUB QUATTRO fairly early to exchange the ticket with someone we'd never met, so that gave us plenty of time to stand around watching the MERRY fans frolicking.  Or wallowing in darkness.  Whichever.  CLUB QUATTRO had this dumb system where A tickets (basically fan club tickets) stood inside the venue, while B tickets (everyone else) stood outside the venue.  Discrimination!!!  Well, whatever, the whole thing turned into a big mess when they decided all the people outside were creating a roadkill hazard and moved them all upstairs before they were even done calling A tickets.  Which meant they crammed a couple hundred people in a very tiny space, and it was stupid.

Also, MelJay and I hesitated so long on tickets that we were some of the last people to get called.  Super embarrassing.  Since we figured we were screwed either way, we went and checked out the merchandise.  Which was really meh.  MERRY, I am disappoint.  There was nothing I wanted, so I didn't buy anything, but MelJay bought a really cute MERRY key cover.  Once we got inside the venue, we realized we were so far back we might be stuck back in the bar area.  I wasn't gonna take that shit for an answer, so MelJay and I pushed in through the side of the crowd, where we realized there was a giant pole blocking everyone standing behind it.  Who built this stupid venue?!  We decided to slip through one of the back rows and get into the middle.  I felt like a complete tool shoving in front of a whole row of people, but I was hoping the show would push up later and ticket numbers would stop mattering anyways.  Trying to make things right, I asked the girls behind us if they wanted to move in front of us.  They said no, and looked more offended by my asking than by the fact that I pushed in front of them.  Oooookay.  Suit yourselves, ladies.

Also, the music playing while we waited was the most horrible, annoying shit I've ever heard.  It sounded like some kind of bizarre Japanese Disney soundtrack in opera.  I don't know what it was, I just knew I wanted it to stop.

Well, as expected, the crowd shoved up in a crazy stampede the moment -karasu-'s intro started.  I don't give a crap about -karasu-, but I ran up there with everyone else so I'd have a good spot for MERRY.  SO SUE ME.  Wound up only about six rows back from the stage, squeezed in on all sides by a very pushy audience.  By the way, I need to make sure people aren't confusing bands named -karasu-.  There are two of them.  There's Karasu in katakana as カラス, and then there's -karasu- who writes their name in kanji and English as 鴉-karasu-.  Karasu in katakana is a visual-kei band made up of members of a bunch of famous VK bands.  -karasu- in kanji is the band I saw on Sunday.  Kiiiinda confusing.

Anyways, here's the correct -karasu-:

Sorry for the totally gank picture, but this is about as good as it gets.  Anyways, I was a little baffled when -karasu- started up with some extremely MERRY-like jazz intro.  For a moment I even thought MERRY was gonna turn the tables on everyone and go first.  But no, it was -karasu-.  From what I could tell, a lot of MERRY fans are also -karasu- fans.  At least up in the first ten rows.  Lots of dudes up there too.  Anyhoo, what to say about -karasu-........  So they were a lot like MERRY, to be honest.  They were basically baby MERRY, without the hardcore.  Jazzy, bluesy, rock music.  Take a MERRY song and pull out the screaming and the speed and you've got -karasu-.  I guess that's why the two bands decided to tour together.

For the most part, -karasu- didn't leave a huge impression on me.  Musically, I'd say they were very talented, and the vocalist - who had a great voice - was also the one and only guitarist.  I even highly recommended them to a friend of mine after the show.  They were definitely good and I was never bored.  They were of the "serious musician" variety.  Buuuuuut... the vocalist might've been a little too serious.  As in, he came off as a totally self-absorbed asshole.  I know, I know, music should come first.  And it does, which is why I recommended the band to a friend and why I praise their skills and nodded my head to the music and enjoyed myself.  But still... the vocalist seemed like a total tool.  He had this really smug look on his face and tried so hard to look deep and meaningful while playing that he often looked like he was having a stroke.  MelJay leaned over to me at one point and whispered, "this vocalist seriously needs to take it down a notch."  At one point, the vocalist actually had the nerve to make us all wait while he stood there slowly tuning his guitar and getting ready for the next song.  For, like, four minutes.  Um, dude, seriously?  Way to bring the performance to a crashing halt.  During the MCs he spoke in this little whisper, still with that damn smirk on his face.  Hey, why so full of yourself?!  Cuz you can play guitar and sing?!  Well, halle-fuckin'-lujah, let's get you a badge to pin on your hipster sweater!  After the show, MelJay told me she enjoyed the band but flat-out hated the vocalist, lol.  She said he seems like a real douche bag XD

Well, whatever.  Enough ranting.  The thing I found most baffling was that, despite not exactly being "hardcore" music, the crowd behind us started moshing.  For real moshing.  I mean, the audience was really pushy during -karasu- and I had to pay attention to my footing the whole time since everyone was pushing and shoving (and hopping?) so much, but I didn't expect full-blown moshing behind us.  I first realized it was there when something came down hard on the back of my leg and scraped it.  I whipped around, furious, and saw that a mosh-circle had formed and a bunch of people were punching and throwing each other.  A guy had been tossed out of the circle and his shoe decided my leg was the best way to keep from falling.  I sighed and ignored them, but it was only a few minutes later that something suddenly bludgeoned me in the back of the head with enough force to give me a headache afterwards.  I whipped around again and discovered that someone in the mosh-circle had literally thrown a guy at me.  Gee, thanks.  Just what I always wanted.  Also, there was a hilarious fight in the circle.  A tiny girl and a massive dude both had their fists up boxing-style and were circling each other.  I kinda wish I'd watched the fight, but my head hurt and I was annoyed and ignored them, lol.

You know, I'm amazed I have any brain cells left.  I can't believe how many times I've had my brains knocked out at a concert.  I got a full-blown concussion at a Dir en grey show after I looked up at Die in the balcony and failed to realize the vocalist of The Human Abstract was flying into the crowd (he landed on my head with his belt).  I also crowd-surfed Yuuki from UnsraW one time and made the mistake of putting him on my head when my arms couldn't hold him up anymore, which gave me a violent headache for the rest of the night (sorry, Yuuki, I love ya, but you are a seriously big dude).  Not to mention the time a Dir en grey fan accidentally punched me in the head in a fit of excitement.  I really can't believe I'm not a vegetable yet, lol.

Uuuum... enough about -karasu-.  Let's move on to the reason I went to the show.  Our headliner for the night is MERRY!

For some reason, MERRY didn't seem to have much of their own staff.  The stage was being set up by a bunch of -karasu- roadies in -karasu- shirts and, when that wasn't sufficient... Tetsu and Yuu came onstage themselves and started setting up.  The fuck?  I mean, it was some nice pre-show eye candy but... why?  Does MERRY seriously just not have their own staff to do that shit for them?  Also, goddamn Tetsu is tall.  He was a head taller than all the roadies, lol.

Anyhoo, lemme go look up our fancy setlist aaaand... here it is:

Crisis Moment
Japanese Modernists
Friction XXXX
sweet powder
Tasogare Restaurant
Zaa Zaa
Fukinkou Kinema
[human farm]
Oriental BL Circus

Encore 1:

Encore 2:

Encore 3:
Crisis Moment (acoustic version with Nero on drums, Yuu on rhythm guitar, and -karasu-'s vocalist on lead guitar and vocals)
Yume (acoustic version of a -karasu- song with -karasu-'s vocalist on guitar, Gara on vocals)

Phew, that was a complicated setlist to type up.  Had to translate it all from Japanese off a Japanese person's Ameblo, plus all that weird bullshit during encore.  Anyways, on with the show!

The concert opened up with that creepy intro off the new MERRY "album" (yes, I put album in quotes for personal reasons, lol).  I like that intro - it gave the concert a good, creepy aura.  Everyone started pushing up even more and I wound up in what appeared to be fourth row, on Yuu's side.  Yay!

How to go about this review...?  I don't really wanna go song-by-song because I've reviewed these songs at other MERRY concerts before, and I'll be seeing MERRY three times next month and I don't wanna overload the blog with MERRY.  Let's do this by "highlights" shall we?  Lest this get too long.......

The band came onstage looking very snazzy.  They don't wear make up anymore, but they're still nicely dressed.  Already knew what Tetsu and Yuu were wearing, though, since they had to roadie themselves!

Sooooo Crisis Moment was a good way to get the concert on its feet.  The crowd wasn't into beating each other up like the -karasu- crowd, but there was a lot of fist-throwing and jumping and headbanging.  A girl in front of me was attempting furi in that tight space.  Hah, as if.  That was followed by Yakou, which is reeeeeally pretty in my opinion.  And then Japanese Modernists.  Gee, big surprise.  But this was MelJay's first major concert in Japan, and her first time seeing MERRY.  And MERRY's her favorite band.  So, needless to say, this made her very happy.  I was surprised to see Gara is still pummeling himself in the head with his microphone.  He did it during the part where he makes the audience sing, "chichi yo, haha yo" etc. etc.  MelJay couldn't believe how awful it sounds in person when Gara beats his brains out.  Still, despite that, Gara seemed kinda tired at the beginning of the show.  He wasn't quite as hyper as usual, although his band mates actually seemed really into it.  Tetsu took me by surprise by being one of the most animated members of the night.  He's usually the stoic one, but he was all over the stage headbanging and making lolzy faces.

Uuuuuuuum blah blah blah more songs.  More fun times.  Something that amused me during sweet powder was that the audience - even the moshy people - still did the furi.  The furi is so much fun I don't think anyone can resist it, lol.  The next interesting thing that sticks out in my memory (which, unfortunately, has gone to shit since I waited so long after the show to type this), was Tasogare Restaurant.  I've seen this song live before (one of my favorites!) but not the way it was performed this time.  For some reason, Gara decided to turn it into a depressing, melancholic rendition of Tasogare.  The rest of the band played it the same way they always do, but Gara spent the entire song sitting sideways on the school desk at the front of the stage, his knees drawn into his chest with his head resting on them.  He sang the whole song like that, curled up in a sad little ball.  And Gara's skinny as hell, so he can curl up pretty tightly, lol (to his credit, it looks like he's put on a good 10 lbs.  10 lbs he desperately needed).  Anyways, this made for a very touching rendition of Tasogare Restaurant, which ended with Gara getting up and slinking silently off the stage without a single glance at us the moment the song ended.

While he was out, the sound of rain filled the venue.  I'm stupid.  I was like, "I wonder which song involves rain?  Sayounara Ame?"  Then Gara came back (now he was smiling, like he'd had a total change of heart backstage) and the band went straight in Zaa Zaa.  Oh, duh.  Right.  Anyways, Gara's mood picked up considerably after his little emo ball during Tasogare.  His lethargy seemed to melt away and he got progressively more hyperactive as the show went on.  In fact, by this point he had a pimp cane with red and black diamonds all over it that matched his snazzy microphone stand.  Hehe, pimpin'.

Oh, and they did -sabbat- (which, on the "album" in quotes, was just a live version of Ve-doro from what I could tell), but they only did it briefly, for about a minute.  No singing or anything.  It was kinda weird.  Also, I don't remember when MCs happened, so let's say it happened here.  Turns out Gara has decided to go back to his roots.  He is no longer speaking on stage (at least, not at this show).  Instead, he pulled out paper and ink and did calligraphy on the desk, just like the old days.  At one point, while we screamed, Gara wrote "motto!" ("more!") on a piece of paper and held it up.  After surveying the crowd a bit, he bent over and wrote "motto!" again, lol.  Aaaaaaaaand just like the old days, this "MC" ended with Gara grabbing the bottle of ink, pouring the whole thing in his mouth, and then spitting it up all over himself.  Eeeeeeew, lol.  Unfortunately, Gara was drenched in sweat (and shirtless!) by that point in the show, and the ink mixed badly with the sweat.  It made him look like he was sweating black water, lol.  Oh, this also marked the first moment where I noticed Gara and Yuu were having a mini fight on stage.  See, Yuu anticipated that Gara wouldn't need any time to vocally rile up the crowd, since he's not talking again.  But Gara wanted to at least scream something.  What wound up happening was Gara took a deep breath, and then Yuu suddenly started playing.  Gara exhaled, looking surprised, then turned and gave Yuu the Glare of Death.  I figured Gara was just mad at Yuu for the moment, but we shall see...

Uuuuum, more blah blah blah.  Gara got really hyper and there was lots of wild headbanging until his hair was sticking up in all sorts of crazy ways.  He kept sticking his finger in his mouth and making obscene gestures, and rubbing his pimp cane between his thighs.  During one song he jumped up on the desk, turned around, and wiggled his butt at everyone, lol.  During that one song where it suddenly breaks down into clapping... I don't remember what song, but the whole audience applauded appropriately, Gara rubbed the pimp stick between his thighs while making an obscene face.  Then the audience stopped clapping (because it doesn't go on for that long during the song).  But Gara wasn't impressed, so he paused, then started doing it again, and made everyone clap over his lewd behavior, lol.

It might've been during [human farm] that I noticed Gara throwing more glares at Yuu.  I dunno what his problem was.  Then, during that song, Yuu made a grave error.  Gara was backing up into Yuu's area, and Yuu happened to back up at the same time and collided into Gara, knocking him several feet the other way.  Oh.  My.  Gawd.  The look Gara gave him.  This was beyond a glare.  This was beyond fury.  The look on Gara's face said, "I will murder you the moment the show ends, and then I'll resurrect you and murder you again."  Chilling, that look was.

Um, whatever, let's say it's over and the band has left for encore.  The band returned to do Identity, with Gara re-clothed and wearing a black, fuzzy fedora.  It was time for Nero to take over the MC, especially since Gara is no longer speaking.  Nero ran on stage and, when everyone screamed, he pretended our screams had hit him and he stumbled.  Lol.  Gawd, I can never understand a word Nero says, though.  It's probably because I'm not all that familiar with the Kansai dialect, but I think it's also because he talks like he has peanut butter in his mouth.  All I could make out was the stuff he said to get us excited, nothing more.  Whatever he was saying, Gara was nodding and smiling, so... yeah, lol.  Then they did Identity.  Then they left.  Damnit MERRY, why do you always have to do that?!  Every song has to be its own encore!

Well, anyways, they came back after a few minutes to do Shoudoku.  This time, Nero once again pretended our screams had attacked him, and he did another MC I couldn't understand.  During this song, Gara finally realized he'd been pretty mean to Yuu during the show.  He ran over to Yuu, threw an arm around him, and gave him a big squeeze and a smile.  I guess he was apologizing for all the evil glaring, lol.  I mean, seriously, none of that shit was Yuu's fault!  Ken'ichi also spent a lot of time over on our side.  Man does that boy sweat a lot!  Geez!  Gara also went up to Yuu while he was over on the other side and shoved the microphone at him.  Yuu looked surprised, then confused, then looked like he wanted to resist, but Gara practically threw the microphone at him, lol.  Then Yuu had to do some singing, lol.  Also, in a totally adorable moment, Gara ran over to Tetsu and convinced him to headbang with him.  This was especially funny because, once he managed to get stoic Tetsu to do it, he waited until Tetsu was blinded by headbanging and hair before running away, leaving Tetsu headbanging alone.  When Tetsu finally stopped, he looked around all baffled, lol.

Then the band left again.  After one song.  Typical.  We called for more encore, and this went on for awhile because the roadies came out and started setting everything up for an acoustic song.  They put down the floor drum stuff, two acoustic guitars, and a microphone stand, with a chair in front of each one, and a stand with sheet music.  When the band came back, though, it turned out the guitars weren't for Yuu and Ken'ichi.  They were for Yuu and the vocalist of -karasu-.  And Nero on the drums, of course.  Soooo of course Mr. Smartypants vocalist sat there all smugly setting up and telling us he wanted to play his favorite MERRY song (which made the audience go, "oooooooh!").  While Mr. Smartypants talked, Nero nodded and watched intently with his mouth hanging open.  A pretty typical Nero face, I believe.  Every nod and smile was weirdly enthusiastic and exaggerated.  Which is just Nero, ya know?  He's just kinda weird, and I don't even think he notices when he's being weird.  But the audience did.  While Mr. Smartypants was trying to talk about what he was about to do, the audience was watching Nero and giggling.  At a particularly excited, open-mouthed nod, the audience burst into laughter.  Yuu looked up, surprised, and Mr. Smartypants stopped talking, looking confused.  Then Yuu and Smartypants both whipped their heads around and stared at Nero simultaneously.  Who else could the culprit have been?!  The audience cracked up, and Nero ducked his head, looking embarrassed and guilty.  Then the threesome went into Crisis Moment.  Smartypants sang it in his usual, over-emotional, I'm-so-deep-no-one-understands-me way.  He was also doing his best Gara impersonation, from what I could tell.  He also played lead guitar, with Yuu stuck on rhythm (which pissed off MelJay, since Yuu is more like lead guitar in MERRY, and Ken is more like rhythm).  Aaaand Nero played with as much open-mouthed, lurching enthusiasm as possible.  Because he's Nero, lol.

Anyhoo, they left after Crisis Moment and the roadies took away one guitar and the floor drums, but left the rest of it sitting there.  After some more encore-calling, Mr. Smartypants came back, this time with Gara in tow (and Gara's hair was all flat, lol).  Gara sat down in the chair beside Smartypants, who explained that they were going to play a -karasu- song.  Gara nodded silently.  Then Mr. Smartypants started tuning his guitar.  Are you serious?!  But you know what, apparently I'm not the only one who thinks -karasu-'s vocalist is seriously full of himself.  Gara sat there with his legs crossed, one eyebrow raised quite high, and a smirk on his face while he watched Mr. Smartypants setting up.  A couple times Gara's eyes flitted towards the audience and he smirked like, "can you believe this guy?"  The audience giggled.  Eventually, Mr. Smartypants noticed the giggling and looked up, confused.  He glanced at Gara, who nodded, like, "...ready?"  Smartypants nodded and said he was ready.  Not believing him, Gara nodded again, his eyebrow rising ever higher.  Smartypants looked rather humbled when he realized Gara was mocking him, and he immediately stopped what he was doing, lol.  Thank you, Gara.  Someone had to take this guy down a peg!  Then Gara sang a -karasu- song while Smartypants played guitar.  Gara sang the song in his own way, rather than impersonating Smartypants.

Then they left with some smiling and bowing.  Then we all started calling for encore.  Then that obnoxious soundtrack music started playing again.  Then everyone looked around, baffled.  Then the house lights went up.

Soooo... the show's over?  Well that was an awkward way to end a show.  And an even more awkward way to end a tour.  We didn't even get to see Ken'ichi or Tetsu at all at the end!  Or Yuu or Nero for the last song!  What the hell was up with that?!  MERRY should've at least come back and done one more song together or something.  Suuuuuper awkward.

Oh well, what can you do.  MelJay and I just shuffled ourselves out of the venue and went off to Miami Garden for pizza.

And that was the show!  Sorry for the scatterbrained, half-assed report.  I wrote it too long after the show, and I'm also anticipating a ton of MERRY coming up later, which made me hesitant to write too much.  Hopefully I can make better reports in November!

Next up is the Tokyo Dark Castle Halloween party (which is more like a concert event, lol)!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unexpected Indies, 10/7, AREA

This show, man... was probably the weirdest show I've ever been to.  I hope you'll all be as amused reading this as I was writing it.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I wound up at this indies concert completely out of the blue, with little warning.  I'd known about the show for awhile, but it was on a Friday, and the same weekend as a major concert, so MelJay and I sorta shrugged the show off...

But then, Thursday night, MelJay sends me a message on Facebook saying the show didn't appear to be sold out, and that she kinda wanted to go.  I was pretty skeptical, however.  My schedule was changed that week and I didn't even know if I could get out of work.  Plus I didn't give the school any prior notice.  And it was less than twenty-four hours before the show, meaning we couldn't use a Loppi machine or anything to get tickets.  We'd have to go to the venue and hope for the best.  But eventually MelJay was like, "I want to go" and I relented.  We decided we'd be in Tokyo anyways that weekend, so I booked an extra night at the hostel, and we decided we'd take off work and go to the venue and pray.  If it turned out I couldn't get off work, or we couldn't get into the show, then we'd just go drink our sorrows in Tokyo later and hope it worked out better some other time.

To add crazy on top of crazy, I went out on a limb and texted an old friend of mine from the study abroad year: Caroline.  She's back in Japan as well and, with our busy schedules, I hadn't seen her since we both made it back.  I told her about the show and asked if she wanted to do something totally crazy and join us as well.  Spontaneous though it may have been, she decided to give it a shot too, lol.

Friday comes along, first thing's first... ask off of work.  The principal looked surprised, but told me it was okay.  I didn't give them a reason, but the students had midterm exams all day and I wasn't needed for the whole eight hours, so he probably figured I just wanted to gtfo.  I left even before lunch and caught a train around 1:00 to Tokyo.  Managed to get some food for the train and then started chugging caffeine to get through the ordeal.  Drank too much caffeine and tweaked out for most of the train ride.  Pretty sure the other passengers thought I had Tourette's.  I'm really caffeine sensitive :-(

By the time I got to Takadanobaba, MelJay's bus was running late, and Caroline was trapped on the Yamanote Line, which had stopped due to "passenger injury" in massive quotation marks.  If you don't get it, I won't be the one to explain it to you, hahaha.  There were some indies guys waiting around in the station with their guitar cases and face piercings and stuff, but I ignored them.  Fearful about our tickets, I ran to AREA to go scope out the situation.  I didn't see a line outside, which was good, but I also didn't see any staff members around.  The sign definitely said the show was playing (doors would open in another hour) but I wanted to know if I could get tickets.  I glanced around sneakily and then, with a shrug, pushed open the door and went downstairs.  Probably wasn't supposed to but whatever...

When I got down there, there were definitely some indies performers hovering around the merch booth and stuff.  They looked at me like I was crazy, lol.  I went up to the counter where the staff was chatting, and it took awhile for them to even notice me.  When they did, they looked kinda surprised, lol.

Me: Sorry to bother you, I just had a quick question.  Can I get tickets to this show?

Staff lady: Um... yeah, you can get tickets.

Me: Can I... get them now?

Staff lady: Um... if you come back in an hour when doors open you can get them.

Me: Can I get... three tickets when doors open?

Staff lady: Yyyyeah.

Rest of staff: [snickers]

Then I left and went back to the station to wait for the others.  MelJay made it in time for doors, but Caroline didn't.  I received many texts from her, cursing the JR Line to hell and back again for its speedy trains and lack of gates at the stations.  If you don't get it, I'm still not going to be the one to explain it to you, lol.  Not knowing what else to do, MelJay and I went inside at 4:30 and bought our tickets.  We'd been so worried about tickets because there were all these big-name bands playing...

But the venue was barely filled.  Just a couple hundred people in there.  But why?  A Friday night with -OZ-, DIAURA, NEGA... it made no sense.  We racked our brains, and then MelJay remembered.... BORN was having a one-man that night.  Aha.  Everyone was over at the BORN show instead.  Well, whatever, as long as we got in I didn't care.  And, luckily, Caroline showed up about ten minutes later.

Well, anyways, let's get on with this, shall we?  This was quite possibly one of the craziest shows I've seen yet.  I'd play "Count the WTF" but I don't think it would ever stop, lol.

First band up is THE GALLO:

Sorry for the tiny picture, but I couldn't find any photo of this band that I trusted was actually them.  And their OHP was useless for photos.  Now, if you couldn't tell by the fact that the vocalist is wearing a hat covered in forks...

THIS BAND IS TROLLING.  No, seriously, I don't care what anyone says.  THIS BAND IS TROLLIN' HARD.  Also, I'm baffled by their name.  In katakana it's always written Gyaro.  But in English I always see it as THE GALLO.  Since I'm reporting in English, I guess I'll refer to them at THE GALLO but, in conversation, I call them Gyaro.

Anyways, back to their trolling.  The band came onstage to Liberi Fatali.  You know, that freaking opera song from Final Fantasy VIII?  This one:

Officially the nerdiest thing I've ever seen a band do.  To top that off, THE GALLO didn't just come onstage to Liberi Fatali, they marched onto the stage in a single-file line holding lanterns.  While they did this, their saizen pulled out pots and started banging spoons on them in time to the music.  Then the vocalist pulled out a pot and did the same thing.  Three minutes into the show and I'm already face-palming.  Plus the band decorated the stage with, like... Halloween-ish stuff.  There was a creepy doll propped up on the sound equipment, and they put the lanterns around the stage and hung them off the microphone stands and stuff.  There was other Halloween stuff up there, but I forget what.  What amazed me was that the audience wasn't even giggling at all this.  Like, the band apparently always acts like this and no one is even fazed anymore, lol.  Also, their vocalist's face is a pin cushion of piercings, and he has a massive gauge in one of his ears.  Perhaps because of the piercings, or perhaps because Caroline just didn't like the guy's face, she wound up calling him Busted Face.  This made me laugh so hard that I'm afraid I'm going to have to call him Busted Face on the blog until the next time I see them (which I believe is in November).  Sorry, Busted Face, I don't really think you're busted, but I don't usually use the names of band members until I've seen a band more than once.  And Busted Face sounds hilarious.

Besides Busted Face, there was also some red-headed creature on the right that I suppose was a guitarist, but looks more like a cocaine-addicted salamander in my memory.  I'm not sure what this creature was, but it played guitar, and it might have been insane, and it also had the longest tongue I've ever seen in my life.  This lizard thing flailed and spazzed and threw himself around, sometimes to the extent that he wound up rolling around on the floor.  And his tongue was sticking out about 60% of the time.  And his tongue could curl under his chin, it was so long.  I'm not sure how much of what he was doing was guitar-playing, and how much of it was dancing, and how much of it was a seizure.  The way he bugged out his eyes makes me think... all of the above.  And I couldn't decide if I was amused, terrified, or fascinated.  Besides him, the bassist could also high kick so high I thought he was going to knee himself in the face a few times.  But why was he high-kicking...?

Cuz this band be trollin'...............

Musically, they weren't bad.  They were of the rock music variety.  But I was so distracted by them and their stupid that I don't even remember their music that well.  Just that it wasn't bad, and it was stuff you could rock out to.  Now, if there needed to be any more proof that this band was trolling...  During the MC, Busted Face grabbed the doll off the sound equipment and did a duo-MC with the doll... via ventriloquism.

No, seriously.  No joke.  Busted Face learned ventriloquism and used it with the doll.  The worst part?  He was pretty good at it.  He definitely threw his voice to the extent that it sounded like the voice came from the doll.  And his lips didn't move at all.  The only slight give-away was that he kinda made a strange face whenever he threw his voice, but other than that, it was some pretty good ventriloquism.  He gave the doll a really high-pitched voice too.  I wasn't sure whether to laugh or.......... no, fuck it, I totally laughed.  MelJay was dying of laughter by this point.  Caroline was not amused, hahaha.  After the MC, the band continued to play, with Salamander getting so crazy that he managed to knock over a microphone stand, lantern and all.  He also tripped and fell at one point, and took to rolling around on the ground kicking his legs and laughing.

During the last song, Busted Face went to the side of the stage and grabbed a chocolate bar that was sitting on the sound equipment.  Apparently it was half-melted, because the vocalist squeezed the melty chocolate in his hand, jumped up onto the crate, continued to perform with a chocolatey hand, waited a couple minutes, and then suddenly smeared the chocolate all over his face.  Which was totally gross.  And hilarious.  Wanna see it?  Watch this video of THE GALLO and you, too, can enjoy Busted Face covering his face in chocolate:

We see 'em trollin', we hatin'?  Nah, to be honest, I don't think I could hate a band as stupid as THE GALLO.  If the band took themselves seriously and behaved like that, I would totally hate them, but the band obviously knows they're fucking stupid.  I can't hate a bunch of trolls.  Instead, I just let myself sit back and enjoy the ridiculousness.  And it looks like they're gonna be at another show I'm going to later, so... we'll see if the trolling continues, lol.

Moving on, the next band up is Vanish:

The vocalist was wearing obscenely tight, leather pants.  I feel like I saw too much, lol.  Pretty generic rock music.  I don't have much to say about them. It was a fairly uneventful half an hour. 

Next band up is Downer:

Meh, we've seen Downer before.  To be honest, we all decided conserving our feet was more important than watching Downer, so the three of us sat down.  Because of that, I have nothing to say about them. Really have nothing against them, honest, I just already knew what to expect.

And then along comes Elm................

Oh.  My.  God.  What.

Elm wins the award for leaving my mouth hanging open in shock for the longest of any band I've ever seen.  At least ten minutes.  So Elm........ I can only assume their name is Elm because of "A Nightmare on Elm Street"?  That's all I've got.  Basically, they're a Halloween-themed band.  But not just because it's October.  They're always like this.

The staff pulled the curtain aside and revealed a stage covered in Halloween stuff.  There was candles, plastic jack-o'-lanterns, buckets of candy, creepy dolls, etc.  A drag queen with blue hair and a bloody wedding dress came on stage with a man in a white top hat and coat, also covered in blood.  We all stared at them, waiting to see what they would do.  There were no instruments that I could see, just those two.  Then, suddenly, the man in white started "talking."  Except it was actually pre-recorded dialogue, with the man in white mouthing along and gesturing (very poorly.  None of these guys seemed to have their lines memorized very well, nor could they lip sync to save their lives).

And then I realized... these idiots were putting on a play.

I guess they forgot about that part where they're supposed to be a band.  But I've gotta say, the play was actually pretty funny.  So Top Hat and Tranny are going out on a date, and Top Hat - after declaring his undying love for Tranny - accidentally forgets his cell phone on top of the crate.  Cue very amusing scene with Top Hat patting himself down looking around frantically for his cell phone.  Needless to say, Tranny finds the cell phone and discovers - gasp - another woman!  He confronts Top Hat about it, and an extremely amusing scene ensues.  Top Hat tries to tell Tranny that the woman on the phone is, you know, just a friend.  I don't remember the dialogue exactly, but it went something like this:

Tranny: Who's Becky?!

Top Hat: She's just a friend!  Honest!

Tranny: [flips through Top Hat's contact list] What about Stacy?

Top Hat: She's a friend of my father's!

Tranny: And Emiko?

Top Hat: A friend of a friend!

Tranny: [still flipping through the contact list]  What about Rebecca?  And Kasumi?  And Anne?  And Mary?  And Hitomi?  And...

The name list went on for quite awhile, with Tranny's voice rising in urgency.  The audience was totally cracking up.  It was actually really funny.  Especially watching Top Hat flail while Tranny shouted girls names at him.  Finally, Top Hat is all like, "c'mon babe, you know you're the only one for me."  At which point Tranny starts screaming a lot of shit at him.  Then Top Hat pulls out a pistol.  Only in Japan can you pull out a fake gun that looks that real at a concert.  Man, you'd get fucking tackled in America for that.  Anyways, Top Hat pulls out a gun, and he points it at Tranny while he backs away in horror.  After a lot of pleading, Top Hat loses it and pulls the trigger, shooting and killing Tranny.  Tranny falls to the floor in a dramatic, puffy-wedding-dress death scene.

But wait!  Alerted by the sound of gunshots, a third person enters the stage!  It's a man in a velvet cloak and a huge necklace with a pretty face.  We'll call him Pretty Boy.  Pretty Boy enters, and Top Hat gasps, declaring it's the band's manager!  He tries to hide what he's done, but Pretty Boy sees Tranny's body!  "You've killed Tranny!" he cries.  At which point Tranny intentionally flails a little and makes the audience laugh.  Top Hat tries to cover up what he's done and begs for mercy, but too late!  Pretty Boy grabs the pistol and shoots Top Hat!  Top Hat collapses to the floor, half the band is dead, oh the humanity!

That was basically the play, lol.  I hope you liked my dramatic reenactment of it, hahaha.

So, okay, you're probably wondering if these fools actually played any music.  The answer is yes.  After that ten-minute play, something crawled along the back of the stage and popped up behind the drum set.  A guy in pumpkin-clown make up.  Iiiiintereeeestiiiiiing.  Tranny went to the right and grabbed a guitar.  Pretty Boy took bass.  Top Hat was the vocalist.  Then they actually played music, lol.  Aaaaaaaand their music was about Halloween, lol.  It was this symphonic-driven, dancy rock music with lyrics about Halloween and pumpkins and candy and stuff.  Damn, these bitches really like Halloween, lol.  In fact, while Top Hat was up on the crate at one point, his shirt kinda slipped out and we could see his boxers and... he was wearing orange Halloween boxers under his costume.


Just when I thought this couldn't get any stranger, two songs into it, Pumpkin Face comes out from behind the drum set and the rest of the band drop their instruments and form a line... and start synchronized dancing.  Yup.  The song was completely electronic with dance beats.  Top Hat was still singing, but the four of them danced for the entire song instead of playing instruments.  Complete with twirling.  Pretty Boy very obviously did NOT want to dance.  He was as unenthusiastic and dry-faced about it as possible, lol.  Can't say I blame him.  But the rest of the band seemed cool with it, lol.  The last few songs, they did take up their instruments again.  But still.... I'd say Elm is more a performance act than a band.  It kinda reminded me of old Malice Mizer, but with Halloween, lol.  Pretty damn old school, I must say.  Not exactly my cup of tea, but I'll be damned if I wasn't amused!

But for me the whole thing turned out to be a mind-fuck.  Turns out I've seen Elm before.  I saw them at a show about a year and a half ago when I was still studying abroad, but I didn't remember until I started writing this post, lol.  It was driving me crazy why the concept of Elm sounded so familiar, and then it dawned on me while I was working on this.  They were the band where the vocalist had Edward Scissorhands fingers and danced around with them and I said he reminded me of Voldo from Soul Calibur.  But Ashley and I stayed outside in the bar that day and watched Elm through a little window, so I really don't remember anything about them, except that I was too grumpy to enjoy them that day.

Buuuut anyways, now the show takes a huge turn.  The first few acts of the night were all weird horror-themed stuff, but then the bigwig bands stepped in and turned the show back into a rock concert.  Next up is our good friend DIAURA:

Who was in a very strange mood.  Yo-ka sounded very excited about the show on his blog in the days leading up to it (because he hadn't played with NEGA in awhile and was excited), but he came on stage seeming lethargic and distracted.  I've never seen him like that before.  He's usually 140% on top of his game because he's yo-ka, and that's what makes him amazing.  Kei seemed fine, but Shoya also seemed a little less bouncy and smiley than usual.  And Yuu was just Yuu, lol.  As usual.  But it was weird to see yo-ka acting so strangely.  MelJay and Caroline and I had moved down into the front area and I was excited to rock out, but I was hoping yo-ka was up for it.  The band started with Master, which is one of their roughest songs, so we all headbanged and put our all into it (pretty much the whole crowd was up and down there for DIAURA.  The band is getting seriously too big for these little venues).  For all of Master, however, yo-ka just seemed distracted.  Then, during the part where the song suddenly drops off into piano, yo-ka totally blew it and forgot to sing.  He seemed confused and whipped around and glared at Yuu.  Oho, yo-ka, don't go blaming your mistake on the drummer.  Yo-ka managed to jump back in and did a quick save that made the whole thing look almost intentional.  Caroline said if I hadn't told her he messed up, she never would've noticed.

Buuuuuut yo-ka's mood completely shifted after that.  To one of anger.  And this was when yo-ka reminded us all why he's still one of the best frontmen out there.  Yo-ka took whatever was bothering him, compressed it down, and exploded.  The rest of the set was one of the most intense displays of yo-ka's onstage fury.  He didn't take it out on the crowd like he usually does, but rather took it out on himself.  He was wearing a white wife beater for most of the show, although he went shirtless later, and his skin was red with anger.  He screamed his way through every song, sometimes when it didn't even call for screaming, and yanked furiously at his hair until the style was gone and he was left with a flat mess on his head.  I know from the Valluna days that yo-ka loves pulling the hair of audience members (something he doesn't do in DIAURA), but I'd never seen him direct this angry hair-pulling at himself.  I remembered a strange article yo-ka wrote in a magazine recently where he referred to himself as SadisticMazo (literally written as sadisutikko-mazo, which is the Japanese katakana for Sadistic-Masochist).  In the past, yo-ka has always seemed like a raging sadist to me, and he still was when I first saw DIAURA a couple months ago (when he headlocked a girl in midair).  But in the article, he was trying to explain that he feels masochism creeping into his system.  Never was that more apparent than at this show.

In general, he was just acting strange.  During the MC, yo-ka just stood there, zoned out, muttering quietly into the microphone.  The opposite of his usual self.  His eyes were searching around the crowd as if he was looking for something in our faces.  At one point, he locked eyes with me while he talked, and stared at me like he was trying to puzzle out where he'd seen me before.  Uncomfortable, I looked away, but when I looked back, he was still staring.  The whole thing was just odd.  Once they started playing music again, the odd didn't stop.  At one point, yo-ka ran over to Shoya, grabbed his head... and kissed him right next to the lips.

......I have never seen yo-ka fanservice on stage before.  He sometimes puts an arm around a band member, or something equally innocent, but never something like that.  Some of the girls in the crowd squealed with delight.  Shoya didn't react much (perhaps he was too surprised?), and yo-ka carried on like nothing had happened.  I just scratched my head, baffled.

Speaking of which... during the song Beautiful Creature, yo-ka finally unleashed his chaos.  On himself.  For the first time I've ever seen, yo-ka flipped the shit, dug his nails into his chest, and scratched until furious welts blossomed all over his skin.  It was awful looking.  I never thought I'd see him do something like that.  He looked like an absolute mess with his hair in disarray and the red claw marks all over his skin.  He was screaming so much his face was red and veins were popping out all over his body - even across his shoulders.  I don't know what yo-ka's problem was, but he was totally nuts.  He pretty much left the stage the moment the set was over, too, so the rest of the band had little choice but to wave at us and follow.  Weeeeeeeird.  That night, yo-ka blogged and thanked everyone and said it was fun and all the usual shit he usually says.  It was like he totally forgot how it all went down or something.

Hmm.  Well, anyways, the the next band up is -OZ-:

But I need to make a correction to that picture.  -OZ- was at this show because they were making a "yuujou shutsuen," meaning "friendship appearance."  Basically, they were there because they're friends with NEGA and NEGA invited them there.  But apparently "friendship" has a fancy meaning for -OZ- and NEGA that I wasn't previously aware of, because -OZ- came on stage dressed like this:

Meeeeaning -OZ- was wearing NEGA's costumes, lol.  I remembered seeing pictures of NEGA in those outfits, so when -OZ- came on stage, my brain was completely flipped upside-down and I thought it was NEGA on stage for a moment.  Except I recognized the members of -OZ-.... meaning I was just very confused, lol.  At the risk of saying something shallow for a moment (oh, we wouldn't want that, now, would we?), Natsuki looked fucking fine in Jin's costume.  MelJay and Caroline wholeheartedly agreed.  Usually, Natsuki wears tons of layers of clothing, but in Jin's costume he was finally wearing something form-fitting.  The combination of vest over tight shirt and hip-hugging pants accentuated all the right things about Natsuki's figure.  I didn't even know he had a figure.  And the make up looked perfect on his face.  I'd never noticed much about Natsuki's appearance other than the fact that he looks like Lightning, but now I was suddenly like, "oh damn, Natsuki's hawt."  Also, we were laughing because one of the members of -OZ- was wearing the dress of one of the members of NEGA.  Except -OZ- doesn't have a token tranny, meaning one of them was forced into a dress, lol.  We decided they must have drawn straws over it, hahaha.

The thing that was really interesting, however, was the transformation that came over -OZ- when they put on NEGA's costumes.  Some might recall that I've been disgruntled with -OZ- recently for their lethargy and seeming lack of interest on stage.  A band that I'd been told was pretty hard core seemed pretty unenthusiastic at all the shows I'd been to.  I was getting frustrated with them after all the good things I'd heard.  But, for some reason, donning NEGA's costumes suddenly turned -OZ- into a bunch of badasses.  They played almost exclusively old, hardcore songs, and they totally rocked da house.  I'd put -OZ- up there with DIAURA for one of the most intense acts of the night!  It was like a whole other side of -OZ- I'd never seen before!  There were no, like, memorable instances or anything, but it was just a lot of fun.  The band was really wild and into it and there was lots of headbanging and jumping around and just having a good time.  Natsuki actually looked... dare I say, fierce?  Never would've thought, lol.  It made me curious, so I looked up some of their old music videos.  My gawd, they used to be a completely different band!  They used to be so... hardcore and gawth and shit.  What the hell happened to that -OZ-?!  The band in those videos is all screamy and angry and violent and wearing black.  The -OZ- of today wears white and stands still on stage looking bored.  How can it be the same band?!  I know people say VK bands lighten up to get more fans and be more mainstream, but that can't be right.  -OZ- used to be super indies and played at all the big name concerts.  Now they can barely fill a pit at AREA or Black Hole.  If someone told them lightening up would get them more fans, that person gave some seriously bad advice, and -OZ- should really stop listening to it.

Anyways, after -OZ- came our headliner, NEGA:

Uuuuuuum....... I guess NEGA is suffering from the same Lightening Syndrome as -OZ-.  I'd been told that even before I went to the show.  I guess NEGA took off a year or so to go be another band, and then reformed NEGA just recently.  But, from what fans tell me, the band just hasn't been the same.  From what little I know, I would have to agree.  I watched a couple music videos to prep myself before the show, and that was not the band I saw on stage.  NEGA was just...... meh.  They weren't bad.  I enjoyed myself and stayed through their encore, but it wasn't all that exciting either.  The most amusing part of the performance was when the audience decided to move side-to-side across the pit.  Except NEGA fans don't hop.  They stampede and slam each other across the pit.  So what do you think happened?  Surprise, surprise, a girl hit the floor within two seconds, then another girl tripped and fell onto her, then a third girl domino-ed on top of them.  Then they all got trampled.  Le sigh.  What a bunch of idiots.

So yeah, NEGA was just "fine" I guess.  Neither boring nor awesome.  Oh well.  But I still wouldn't count them as a bad ending to the show.  Overall, the entire event was just........ wow.  Hard to top chocolate bars, ventriloquism, dancing clowns, and costume changes.  

Oh, and on the way back to our hostel, MelJay and I passed a group of about fifteen hardcore X Japan cosplayers in Shibuya Station, and they were all boys!  They were super well-done cosplayers.  Then, on the train, a hide sat next to me, and a Yoshiki beside him.  L-O-fuckin'-L.  It felt weird cuz the hide next to me looked so legit!  Tokyo is such a strange city........

Next up will be my MERRY post!  See y'all soon!