Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaching... in General

I'm sure there are plenty of perks to teaching in a good school.  The students are easy to deal with... the teachers are less stressed out... you don't have to worry about being mauled at any given moment...  But teaching at a school whose students' overall grade point average is 10% lower than all the other local schools (this is a true fact) has the benefit of being hilarious.

Today, one of the English teachers was very happy.  "Our students did better on the final exams than they did on the midterms!"

"That's great!" I said.  "Improvement is good.  What were their grades?"

"The class average," said the teacher.  "Was... 59%."

Sigh.

Not much later, the student I often refer to as Perv was herded into the staff room.

"Smell him!" shouted the teacher who escorted him.  The teachers looked understandably confused.  "Someone come here and smell him and tell me his hair isn't soaked in cologne!"

The brave male teacher sitting across from me stood up, went up to Perv, stuck his nose in his hair, took a big whiff, nodded, and sat back down.  Perv wailed in protest.  Then we all watched, giggling, as the teacher dragged Perv into the staff room kitchen, shoved his head in the sink, and started washing the stink from his hair in front of everyone.  I hadn't smelled the cologne until that moment... at which point I was punched in the face by a fist of Axe.  Perv laughed hysterically as the teacher scrubbed his hair and lectured him.  No one in the staff room could keep a straight face.  Finally, Perv emerged from the kitchen, dripping wet.  It was the first time I'd ever seen him with flat hair.  Usually it sticks straight up.

"Aaaaaw, he's so cute!" a female teacher squealed.

Perv took a deep breath and shouted, "sappari!" ("I feel refreshed!") and left the room.  Then everyone cracked up.

Not much later, the English teacher from before was handing tests back to another class of students.

"How did we do?!" one of the girls shouted as she watched the faces of her classmates getting back their final exams.

"Out of the five 2nd year classes, your class was the 4th worst."

The class burst into cheers, with students jumping up and screaming, dancing, and making animal noises.  Hey, I guess it's better than beating yourself up, right?  Some time after that, in a fit of boredom, the student I call Spike pulled his pants off.

After we were done with that class, I sighed to the English teacher and said, "that class is crazy.  They're so loud!"  His response in English was:

"Sometimes, when I'm in that class, I want to shout 'shut the fuck up!'"

Hehehe.

And that's my life 5/7 days of the week.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Future Plans and Stuffs

Hokay, clean up post.

Actually, cleaning is all I've been doing the past couple days.  I'm, like...... the worst cleaner ever.  I essentially moved into my new apartment, dumped everything on the ground, and let the filth of my existence accumulate.  Then, this weekend, the horrible realization dawned upon me:

I've become some kind of otaku.

I freaked out and started cleaning up.  Upon ripping apart my futon and washing it, I discovered it had molded.

Panicked psychosis ensued, during which I hallucinated an alien abduction, cried in a corner, and threw myself into a river.

Obviously I'm kidding.  But there was definitely panicking.  The rest of the weekend was spent running around picking up everything, vacuuming, dusting, and mostly trying to turn my apartment into a habitable location for the first time in months.  That is, of course, still a work in progress.

But it just goes to show that some weekends are best spent not in Tokyo!

But speaking of Tokyo............ plans and stuffs.

Here's what's set in stone so far:

12/10, indies, Takadanobaba AREA.  Bands of interest: -OZ-, Lycaon (I'm mostly going to this show out of boredom, lol)

12/23, indies, Harajuku Astro Hall, Awoi final one-man.  Yup.  Should be interesting, lol.

12/29, SHIBUYA-AX, D tour final.  Horrible ticket numbers, but I'm excited!

12/30, indies, Ikebukuro Black Hole.  Bands of interest: DIAURA, Lycaon, AUBE, Para:noir (Shou from UnsraW is their support drummer now!), DEPAIN, The Gallo, DEZERT.  Yeah, this show might kill me.

1/28, indies, Ikebukuro Black Hole, The Gallo one-man.  Brace yourselves, insanity is coming. 

I must confess that during the time period of 12/23 and 1/2 (when I'm taking my winter vacation), I have even more concerts planned than just the ones listed above, but those are the only ones 100% set in stone right now.  I'll update the list later when I know more.

Also, I have no concerts planned for this weekend either!  Can you believe that?!  But I do have other plans of an interesting variety, so we shall see if they work out!  If they do, I'll have an interesting, non-concert-related post with cool pictures, so let's hope this weekend goes as planned!

And now back to cleaning :-(

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Indies, 11/19, Ikebukuro Black Hole

Today's post is a story of fail and win, stupid and awesome, frustration and triumph.  But, as usual, it was a wild ride.  Wouldn't expect any less of one of my adventures, lol.

Well, the adventure begins with MelJay and I deciding we wanted to go to a show that featured a bunch of bands we were interested in.  But only the first 100 tickets could be bought online, and the rest had to be done by pre-order through a band.  Well, DIAURA was hosting the event, and they were the biggest draw for me, so I went to their website and sent them an email asking for two tickets.  Weeks went by, and I waited and waited, but I never got a confirmation email.  Now, that doesn't necessarily mean anything sinister.  The staff isn't required to respond to the email.  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't, but it was making me nervous that they hadn't said anything.  Being paranoid, I became convinced that they blew me off, and was worried we wouldn't be able to get into the show.  And, sure enough, the day of the show arrived and DIAURA's staff hadn't said a word.

Ooooookay.  Well, no choice but to plunge into it anyways and hope for the best!  So MelJay and I met up in Asakusa and went to our hostel, where we had Fail #1.  I won't get into details, but there was a screw up with our reservation and it wound up costing us some extra cash that I was not happy about.  I'll be honest, I'm a fucking cheapskate.  And I'm a hypocrite because cheapskates drive me crazy, even though I am one.  But some are worse then me and they suck and and and shut up.  Anyways, that made me super grouchy, but the silver lining was that we always go to the same hostel, and the staff really likes us and is always happy to see us and stuff, so they apologized by giving us keys even though it was too early for check-in, and they gave us keys to a room that would normally cost more than what we actually paid for the night.  So we paid for a crappy dorm but got a nice one for the same price.  I think the hostel was worried about losing us as regular customers, even though it wasn't actually their fault, lol.  Oh well, shit happens I guess.

Then MelJay and I went off to Ikebukuro.  Fail #2: by then, it was absolutely pouring outside.  Even my umbrella was failing to keep me dry.  Now, I was still a little worried about us getting into the show, and MelJay brought up the idea of going to the venue early and asking them about it.  I'd thought of the same thing, to be honest.  We figured if something went wrong, we might as well make our stupidity obvious early, and increase our chances of getting in.  But MelJay was worried because we were having bad luck, and bad luck might lead to more bad luck.  She thought maybe we should start doing the opposite of our instincts.  But I decided that was crazy - one piece of bad luck doesn't cause another, right?  So we went to the venue, despite the rain, to check up on the situation.

When we got there, there was a van outside, and some guy who seemed to be a performer heading down the stairs.  He had badly faded pink hair, but I didn't recognize him.  MelJay and I stood there awkwardly shaking water off our umbrellas and glancing down into the venue, but I was wary of going in.  I'm not sure if you're supposed to or not...  In all these years, I've never been sure of reception desk protocol for indies concerts.  Luckily, there was a staff member who must've been waiting outside for just such a thing, because she came up to us and asked if she could help us with anything.  I quickly explained to her that I'd pre-ordered tickets through DIAURA and never received a confirmation email, and was wondering if it was okay.  Admittedly, she did look surprised that I never got an email back, and told me she'd go inside and ask at the front desk for me.  While she did that, some guy came around the back of the venue and started rummaging through the back of the van parked there.  I glanced up and realized he was another indies performer.  Feeling horribly awkward, I tried to glance away.  But, as my eyes moved away, they accidentally fell upon another performer coming up the stairs.  Nose piercing, lip piercing, massive gauge in ear, lemon-yellow hair......  Oh fuck, it's Jojo from The Gallo.  Fail #3.  Okay, normally this would've been okay, but there's a twist to this one.  After the indies event where I saw The Gallo for the first time, I became interested in them and passed my interest onto MelJay, who friended them on Ameba.  They friended her back (as these performers usually do), but then some strange stuff started happening.  The strangest being that Jojo kept peta-ing MelJay (peta is like the Ameba equivalent of "poking" on Facebook).  So that was weird.  So Jojo was perfectly aware of the fact that he had a foreign fan who was in a peta war with him.  When Jojo appeared, we made eye contact for a moment, and then he quickly turned towards the van, just as the rest of the The Gallo came up the stairs.  Feeling bad that we were seeing the band without their make up on, MelJay and I politely turned away.  Embarrassed, I stared at my feet, hoping I could make it as clear as possible to The Gallo that I wasn't some asshole fan who was standing around the venue just to sneak a look at indies bands.  Luckily, the staff lady came back while The Gallo was still unloading their van, so hopefully the band could easily see that we were there with a legitimate question, and weren't being creepy stalkers.

Thankfully, the staff lady had good news.  She was pretty sure they took down the names of every single person who sent in a pre-order email, regardless of whether or not a confirmation email was sent, and that saying my name to the front desk would be enough for me to get my tickets.  She also said that, if it turned out my order didn't go through, I could go up to the reception desk where they would be willing to give me tickets.  So at least we got the venue on our side early in case of disaster.  I asked her a couple more questions, blah blah blah, and then MelJay and I thanked her and left, meanwhile we could feel the oppressive eyes of The Gallo on our backs.

Run away!  As good as that news was, MelJay and I felt like the bad luck truly had followed us all morning.  Why did it have to be The Gallo out there?!!  Why couldn't it have been any other band with significantly less awkwardness?!!  Even DIAURA would've been less awkward!  We fretted the whole way back to the station, weighing the possible reactions The Gallo had to the incident.  Is this paranoid?  Yes.  But the thing is... we were planning on going to The Gallo's one-man.  The last thing we needed was to look like some weirdo foreign stalkers.  All of this only made worse by MelJay's peta war with Jojo.  We fretted all the way through the station, and all the way to Sunshine City, where we went back to El Torito because tacos.   Yeeeeeesssssss......... tacooooooooooos.  Despite our tacos, we were feeling pretty gloomy.  Our day just wasn't going well so far...

After tacos and some gloomy cake in the mall, we went back to Black Hole.  The staff lady mentioned that the band pre-order was first-come-first-serve, so we wanted to get there early.  We joined the line and stood there in the pouring rain, waiting to get in.  It was soooooo weeeeeeet.  The sidewalks were flooded and everything.  Yuck.  Eventually we got in, and the lady did have my name on a list (yay!  But she laughed when I said it.  Were the staff members gossiping, hmm?).  Then we put our stuff down, picked some spots kinda in the middle, blah blah blah.  Oddly enough, the floors weren't wet.  I think because we had to stand on the stairs for awhile before getting in, everyone's shoes dried, lol.  Also, we had more guys than I swear I've ever seen at an indies show, but I had no idea who they were there for.  In total we probably had around fifteen boys at the show, and they weren't all necessarily dragged by girlfriends.  Some were alone or in small groups.

Well, let's get right down to business.  Our first band up was a total n00b band: Devine.  Unfortunately, they're so new I couldn't find a picture of them.  First of all, their name renders them utterly unsearchable, but I also think they just don't have any pictures.  There wasn't even a picture of them among the pamphlets the venue gave us when we walked in.  Sorry.  But you know what?  It wouldn't even matter.  I didn't get to see them as they probably really are anyways.  First of all, for reasons I didn't quite catch, the hair and make up person didn't help them that day, and they all had flat hair, no make up, and no costumes.  Which is fine, but they looked pretty miserable.  Turned out the faded-pink-haired guy I saw outside earlier was one of them.  But no spiky hair and make up isn't a fail.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem was Fail #4, which I think will win the prize for second biggest fail we'll encounter during this post.

The vocalist.  Due to him, I withhold all judgment of this band.  It simply wouldn't be fair.  He wasn't just sick.  He was sick sick.  Like, he never should've been on stage, and shame on anyone who let him up there.  I've seen sick vocalists occasionally, where they've got a cold and sound kinda nasal, or look really tired, and then they apologize during the MC, but it's not a big deal.  But this guy... this just crossed the line.  I noticed it within the first minute of him being on stage.  His eyes were bright red and swollen and glassy and watery, and he looked really out of it, although he was trying his damndest to smile through the whole thing.  But then the coughing started.  He kept pulling his shirt over his mouth and coughing, and he couldn't hit a single note.  Occasionally, he tried to headbang or throw his fist, but he looked weak and miserable, and his smiles were more forced every second.  The audience members were all glancing at each other and whispering, and MelJay and I were shooting each other looks like, "omigawd, this is pathetic..."  Eventually, the vocalist started to lose the battle and would occasionally go crouch over by the sound equipment in the middle of a song to gather himself.  And his occasional coughs were turning into coughing fits.  And he was forced to skip whole parts of songs, because he was losing his voice.  By the last song, he couldn't sing at all anymore.  Even sadder, his throat must've hurt, because he kept clutching at it as he sang.  I felt so sorry for this guy!!!  I wanted nothing more than to rush up there, drag him off stage, and throw him into a bed.  And his stupid band mates did nothing to help him.  You know, usually, if there's a weak member at a show, the band members are supposed to upstage him a bit and take some of the burden off.  But the rest of the band just stood there, looking bored and miserable, and forcing this poor little vocalist (he was really tiny!) to bear the burden of the whole performance himself.

During the MC, the vocalist apologized for being sick, and said he felt extra bad because it's their first time at Black Hole and there were a lot of people who'd never seen them before.  Aaaaaaaw!  He coughed a little and said it was hard to talk and asked his band mates if one of them could take over the MC for him.  And those fucking assholes did nothing!  The string section just kinda glanced at him like, "whatever" and made no effort to take the mic.  Finally, the drummer - who was the only member actually into it during the show - agreed to take over and let the vocalist crouch by the equipment and drink some water and take a break.  Thank you.  How can you put that poor little guy on the spot in that condition?!!  Kinda random but, as he passed off the mic, the vocalist mentioned that, despite being sick, he made an effort to gel up his hair and make it look nice for the show.  Now that's dedication!  That's more than you can say for the flat-haired string section who looked like a bunch of corpses up there.  During the second half of Devine's performance, the poor vocalist was looking even worse, and smiling less, and even put a hand to his forehead and swayed like he was going to faint at one point.  I think he had a fever...  But he made it all the way through, I'll give him that.  He stayed up there the whole time and did his best, and that's pretty amazing.  He shouldn't have performed at all, but he sure was a trooper about it.  When the band was done, his band mates pretty much just stormed off (assholes), but the vocalist hovered on stage waving, and the audience burst into applause for the poor guy.  Man, he earned that applause, lol.  I hope he went straight to bed after that!!!

Now, I'm not positive, but I think DEZERT was next:


I guess this is Part 2 of my last blog post, lol.  At this show, Chiaki was looking a lot like a Hizumi cosplayer.  As I've said, this band is definitely doin' the D'espairsRay thing.  But they're a lot of fun, although I think they only have, like... three songs, one of which is just Garnet in another key (I mentioned this to MelJay who rolled her eyes, but then a few minutes later she was like, "yeah, it totally is"), lol.  It even has the "Days! [yell]  I wanna die! [yell]" part.  Oh well, whatever.  The rules are more flexible before bands go major I guess.  Anyways, as mentioned in my last post, MelJay and I had a bit of an encounter with bassist SaZ, who didn't like our lack of gyaku-diving and decided to push us forward and intimidate us until we did it.  After that, MelJay and I sent a message to him online saying we'd do it next time.  Which meant we couldn't back out on our promise at this show, since this was "next time", of course.  Furthermore, SaZ said some really weird stuff on his blog after the pushing incident, basically implying that he'd discovered his new "self" at that show, and wanted his fans to "read the air" from then on and try to understand him.  Did MelJay and I manage to do gyaku-dive?  We shall see!

But first, someone asked in the comments of my last post what gyaku-dive is.  My apologies for not re-explaining it more often.  I used to explain it a lot in the early days (like... three years ago, lol), and then I got lazy, so let's have a refresher course!  Gyaku-dive (which I'd previously been writing as gyaku-daibu, before getting even more lazy with katakana), is a very strange little routine that happens at indies concerts during more "hard core" acts (or in similar but not-quite-the-same degrees at major concerts for bands that spent a long time playing live houses, like MERRY).  But the pure indies version goes as follows: when a certain part of a song comes up that's designated as a gyaku-dive part (and if you've been to as many shows as I have, you know when it's coming just from a change in drum rhythm), it's time for gyaku-dive.  When that rhythm starts up, the girls standing along saizen (meaning the first row of girls standing along the barrier in front of the stage), pull themselves up onto the bar, and fold themselves over it like strips of meat hanging out to dry.  They literally just hang there over the bar, with their butts facing the audience.  Then the few rows behind them begin alternating running up to the saizen and leaping backwards through the air and slamming their backs against the saizen's butts, while throwing their fist into the air.  And they can only do it on the correct beat of the song.  That probably sounds confusing right?  Simplified: the girls in the front row hang themselves over the barrier, and the girls behind them run up and slam their bodies backwards against them in time to the music.  Pretty weird, I know, but it's pretty common, at least among the harder bands.  I mean, oshare bands and cute bands and light rock bands don't really do it, but a band like DEZERT that's all about thrashing drums and heavy guitar riffing are all about the gyaku-dive.  In fact, bands like DEZERT often have a song that's written simply for gyaku-dive, and those songs are sometimes extended well past the length they last on a CD.  As in, a four-minute song written for gyaku-dive can go on for well over ten minutes at a show.  Gyaku-dive can also turn into what I call a "dog pile", but only a small handful of bands let it get that chaotic (like DIAURA).

If you'd like to kinda see what gyaku-dive looks like, I did find one video.  It's usually really hard to find videos of indies bands performing, and even harder to find ones that show much of the audience, and it's almost impossible to find ones with gyaku-dive because it doesn't happen that often (only some bands do it, and those bands usually only have one or two songs where it happens).  I wasn't sure how to find one, so I typed in the name of a song I knew had gyaku-dive on YouTube, and then kept clicking bands and songs that showed up on the "You Might Also Like..." section until I hit something that worked, lol.  I wound up with a NEGA performance, lol.  Now, this video is crap quality and it's hard to see (because the venue is really big - usually gyaku-dive breaks down when the venue gets so large, but I guess NEGA fans know how to keep it pure, lol).  But you can see the human wall forming up front, with people flinging themselves into it.  You have to squint and look carefully but....... gyaku-dive goes on at least four times in this video whenever they start doing that "Yell!  Yell!  Yell!  Yell!" thing that sounds like a dog barking: Anyways, continuing on, Chiaki had a hilarious MC.  Every now and then, a vocalist does an MC that wins over an entire audience.  It reminded me of this band I saw when I studied abroad where the vocalist did a hilarious MC involving Fire Coffee, and it was so funny that the previously uninterested audience was suddenly all over the band.  So Chiaki's MC was about how much he wanted the audience to move forward.  At first he was like, "you all have to move up."  So of course no one budged.  But then Chiaki started pointing at specific sections of people and demanding they move forward.  Everyone started glancing at each other, and a few shuffled forward tentatively, but everyone suddenly seemed unsure of themselves.  Then Chiaki started being like, "c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon!" and he kept going until everyone started moving forward, giggling.  Then he started getting real specific.  Like, pointing at people and being like, "You, with the pigtails!  Move up!  You, in the black dress, move up!"  At one point he stared at a girl with crazy blond hair was like, "You there, blondie, move up!"  It was kinda funny though, cuz then he glanced at MelJay and I as if making sure we didn't think he meant us.  Pffft, that girl was waaaay blonder than me, lol.  As we shuffled forward, he yelled out, "You have to move up cuz the stupid ticket number system means some people who want to have fun can't get up here!"  That seemed to get people moving, as they all suddenly realized they might be blocking DEZERT fans behind them.  As we moved, Chiaki yelled, "I know we're not DIAURA, but seriously, move up!"  Everyone burst out laughing.  Then he yelled, "If you don't move up, you won't get to see DIAURA!"  Hahahahahaha.  The audience was cracking up.  By then, he had the whole crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.  Everyone was moving up and stirring excitedly.  Good job, Chiaki.  That's how a n00blet wins over a tough crowd.

Anyways, in our last episode with DEZERT, MelJay and I ran into a bit of trouble with bassist SaZ because we didn't do gyaku-dive.  But what about this time?

Long story short: we managed to do it.  I wasn't going to let the first few rows cut me off this time, mostly because SaZ is kinda scary, lol.  When it was time for gyaku-dive, I slowly nudged my way through each round until I could finally get a jump in, before moving politely back to where I started.  In total, I managed to dive about six times, as did MelJay.  Was the SaZ Monster satisfied?

Nope.

Somewhere in the middle of gyaku-dive, Chiaki went over to SaZ, whispered something in his ear, and then it looked like he kissed him on the back of the head?  I dunno, it was weird.  At that point, SaZ suddenly jumped off the stage, into the crowd, and we discovered what this new "self" is that he's discovered.  His new self likes to push people, lol.  He started running around the audience, shoving everyone up into the front and trying to make them dive.  Chiaki was pulling people forward to help him.  But I figured I was safe, right?  Because I was diving, right?  Nope.  SaZ actually pushed me a few times, and at one point yelled something at me when I didn't run away fast enough, but I couldn't hear what he said over the music.  I wanted to whip around and scream, "FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!!  I can't read the air like you want me to!!!"  MelJay's theory is that SaZ wanted us to step it up beyond gyaku-dive and actually form a dog pile, but he didn't manage to make it happen.  I saw a couple girls jump and then stay up at the front pressed against the saizen girls, but I didn't realize SaZ wanted everyone to do that.  Sorry, SaZ.  Next time you push me repeatedly, I'll go up and stay up, lol.

And that's about all I've got about DEZERT today.  Next up was a band with an unusual name.  This band is called JokArt au Legal:


Shit......... I don't remember much.  Um...... yeah, I don't think much went on here.  I just stood and politely did some furi so it wouldn't look like I was being a spot-saving asshole.  If I hadn't been at Black Hole to see literally half the bands playing, I would've moved back occasionally, but I wanted to be up there for four bands, so I did polite furi for the stuff I wasn't there for and held my ground in the fifth-ish row.

Yeah, I've got nothin'.  Let's move on.  Next band up is The Gallo.  Or THE GALLO.  Or Gyaro.  Or Gallo.  Or 9allo.  Whatever you want.  Take your pick, lol.


If their myriad names tell you anything, it's that this band delights in making absolutely no sense, and watching the audience's baffled reactions to them.  Basically, they troll.  As I mentioned, I developed an odd fascination with this band after seeing them at another show last month.  Well, actually, I had no plans to pursue them after seeing them.  I was extremely amused, yeah, but I don't generally listen to "funny" bands (except maybe Rammstein, and they're only 50% funny, and the other 50% is pretty serious.  Also, where does D fit on this scale?  No, fuck it, that hurts my head, lol).  In fact, I'm not sure how my fascination began.  When I blogged about them last time, I did post a video of them performing because I thought vocalist Jojo's rather, um...... unique behavior with chocolate was funny.  But hearing their music in the video didn't make me go, "hey, I should check these guys out."  If I recall, what happened was MelJay complained to me on Facebook that she was annoyed with some recent major JRock releases sucking.  Half-jokingly, I sent her a page I found with links to download some of The Gallo's music.  I'm not condoning downloading!!!  I found the page while looking up stuff for the other blog post, and I was just sorta joking around.  But then I was like, "ah, what the hell" and downloaded the links myself while I was at it.  I dunno, I'm not sure what happened.  MelJay was looking at their blogs and became very amused, I noticed that their music had a lot of hidden hilarity I never noticed before, and then I started to realize that The Gallo's music was actually... not bad.  Like, what initially made me not pay attention to it wasn't the music itself, it was the recording quality.  The fact that it sounds like it was recorded fifty feet below sea level (credit goes to Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation, lol) made it sound like something typical when it really wasn't.  Now that my ears were at attention and I was tuning out the band's painfully obvious poverty, I began to realize I really liked some of their songs... and even loved some.

Soooooooooo I was definitely interested in seeing them again, and looking forward to this performance.  And, surprise, surprise, The Gallo/THE GALLO/Gyaro/9allo didn't fail to amuse.

Their performance began the same way it did last time: by blasting the opening music to Final Fantasy VIII through the venue.  Somehow, I'd forgotten that the band comes on stage to Liberi Fatali, and I burst out laughing as it all came rushing back to me.  One thing I didn't forget, however, was that the saizen holds up white bowls (actually, they're more like rounded plates for sauce) and white spoons, and bang them loudly together in time to the music.  One girl (who actually wasn't on saizen) decorated the inside of her bowl, lol.  Then the band (minus Jojo) slowly marched onstage holding lanterns.  The fuck, hahaha.  Somehow I'd forgotten about that too.  Then, while the band members stood there holding lanterns, Jojo came on stage with his own plate and spoon, and started banging them together along with the audience.  I just... don't even...

But they were quick to set down the funny props and pick up their instruments and do real music.  And they started off with my favorite song: ALICE IN DEAD END!  I actually really love that song, so I was jumping up and down the whole time and being super happy.

I also didn't recognize some songs, which made me sad.  I knew I would have to prepare if I was going to tackle their one-man later.

Uh...... highlights!  This is my new way of handling posts when my memory's failing, lol.

Lesse... Jojo did his ventriloquism act during the MC again.  They have this creepy goth girl doll they call Vivi (seriously, why don't these guys just wear shirts that say "I <3 FINAL FANTASY"?) and Jojo uses her to help him with his MCs.  And he does a damn good job.  He can make his voice really high-pitched and throw it to the doll without moving his lips.  I don't know where the hell he learned how to do it, but it's pretty impressive.  A lot of people in the audience had obviously never see The Gallo before, so some people were being all like, "whooooa!" and clapping a lot, lol.  What really made me laugh was that Jojo actually factored a mistake into his performance.  I don't remember it exactly but he made the doll say something like, "And don't forget we have a show on November 28th!"  And Jojo was like, "No, Vivi, you made a mistake!  We have a show on the 29th!"  So yeah........ Vivi is apparently bad at scheduling, lol.

Uuum........ Hikaru exists.  That's a highlight all on its own, I think.  I know I mentioned the last time that Hikaru looks like a psychopath and sticks his tongue out all the time, but I don't think I've shown it on the blog (in the video I posted, he hadn't switched over to crazy make up and stuff yet).  Folks, I present to you... Hikaru:

AAAAAAAAAAGH.
Actually, Hikaru had slightly different make up at this show.  He was, like... coated in sparkles, lol.

Um......... other stuff.  Jojo didn't bring out the chocolate at this show, but he did do this one really amusing thing......... I'm not positive, but I think it was during their Tokyo Harenchi Dai Circus -Shin Sekai- song where he started doing these, like.......... poses.  Like, really effing weird poses.  He would frame his face with his arms, or strike what looked like some kind of pirate stance (which makes sense, because over half of The Gallo was in a pirate-themed band before forming The Gallo).  Anyways, it looked really weird, and the audience was just staring at first.  But then, slowly, they started doing it too.  And the more the crowd mimicked Jojo, the weirder he made the poses.  I'm tellin' you......... trollin'.

Anyways, that's all I've got to say about The Gallo for now.  We'll come back to them at the end of post, actually.

Next band up is THE SOUND BEE HD:


They lost their guitarist recently, so they're down to four members.  Anyways, I saw these guys a few years ago when I was studying abroad, and enjoyed them for the sheer fact that they don't sound like all the other bands.  Anyways, the band's been around forever.  And their guitarist is also the guitarist of Calmando Qual.  Also, their bassist (all the way on the left) is a chick.  No, really, she's actually a girl, lol.

Anyways, they were enjoyable as always.  Kind of an odd mix of industrial music with traditional Japanese sounds and rock music.  I enjoy them but, just like a few years ago, the audience was less than enthused.  The problem is that THE SOUND BEE HD's sound doesn't really fit in with the "scene" in which they're playing.  Little girls in pigtails aren't interested in industrial music, and DIAURA fans who like yo-ka's more "visual-kei"-sounding voice (even writing that I'm not sure what the hell I mean by that) aren't going to like vocalist DAISUKE's rough, grinding, alternative-sounding voice.  They have a loyal saizen, but the rest of the audience is more likely to just stand and watch politely.  They actually have a strong following on their own, it's just when they play during events that it gets awkward.  It was only made worse by the fact that spot-saving for DIAURA was getting intense, with people literally pushing their way through between bands as everyone tried to ensure a close spot for DIAURA at the end of the show (MelJay and I just kept holding our ground around the fifth row).  In fact, as soon as THE SOUND BEE HD was over, the scrambling through the crowd resumed, with DIAURA fans from the back starting to seem more and more like flies banging against a window behind us.

Anyways, the next band up is Thomas:


An odd name, lol.  It's katakana-tized at Toomasu, so I was really confused at first until I figured out what they meant.

Anyways, Thomas was actually pretty fun.  They had a good rock sound, a good beat, and the choruses were catchy without being crappy (MelJay was complaining the whole next day that she had one of Thomas's songs stuck in her head).  I don't really know what else to say about them, other than the fact that they were a really good time.  Definitely made me nod my head and join in on the furi.  Kinda made me want to dance a little too, lol.  I think the next time we run across them, I'm going to pay more attention.  Also, the vocalist commented on the crazy number of boys in the audience during his MC and made them all raise their hands so he could see how many there were, lol.

Anyhoo, the next band up is phase faith:


What's weird is, I've seen these guys before, but couldn't remember it for the life of me.  I think I have a mental block against these guys.  The last time we saw them, MelJay and I left the show before the last band.  Then, when I was trying to write the blog post, I kept asking her if we saw phase faith, and she couldn't remember.  And neither could I.  They left no impression on me at all.  But then we decided we did see them.  This time, I looked at their outfits (particularly this really ugly scarf their guitarist was wearing with pioneer wagon wheels all over it) and realized, yeah, I saw these guys, let's try to remember them.  But then the show ended, and they fled my mind completely.  They're gone.  I remember nothing.  Sorry.

When they were over, it was time for DIAURA, and we could feel the squirming of the impatient fans behind us.  As people started running forward, I turned to MelJay and said, "brace yourselves, Winter is coming" hahaha.  Sorry, I've been reading/watching Game of Thrones lately, lol.  Anyways, yeah, people were getting pushy, but we just stayed where we were.  Whatever.  It's not like yo-ka gets hotter the closer you get or something.  Actually, we noticed that none of the boys at the venue had left.  As in... maybe all the males were there for DIAURA...?  There was a boy in front of us the whole show who MelJay was in an apology battle with because they both kept accidentally hitting each other or stepping on each other's feet or something, and finally he just started turning to us and smiling or making little jokes.  Anyways, at one point I whispered to MelJay, "that boy is still here.  Do you think he's here for DIAURA?"  And MelJay was like, "he wants yo-ka's sexy body."  I rolled my eyes and didn't respond but then, a few minutes later, I noticed the boy was wearing yo-ka's self-designed necklace... the one that costs a hundred freaking dollars (literally 10,000 yen).  Oh.  Em.  Gee.  Hahaha.  Then we noticed the group of girls he was talking to were all wearing the necklace too!  And he was practicing that impossible furi with them!  Holy crap!  I mean, when I got the flyer about the necklace, I thought it looked really cool (it's a crucified skeleton on a cross with DIAURA's logo on the back) but hell naw I ain't spending 10,000 yen on that!  But apparently some people - boys included - are willing to, lol.

MelJay and I then got into a discussion about this.  See, I remember back when yo-ka was in Valluna, I went to a free Valluna live where there were large groups of boys in attendance (some boys were just on their own, too, and some were in large packs).  And now, even in DIAURA, yo-ka is reeling in boys (it must be him, since Kei is the only other constant factor here, and he's not the frontman).  So what does that mean?  The thing is, I don't think all these guys are, um....... in it for yo-ka's sexy body.  I think a lot of them are, um..... heterosexual?  I'm treading thin ice here I know but... eventually I came up with a name for what I think is going on here.  I've decided to call it Sephiroth Syndrome.  It's sort of like... even though Sephiroth has many "girlie" qualities (like the absurdly long hair and the pretty face), the fact of the matter is, he's a fucking bad-ass with a giant sword who murders a lead female character with a big grin on his face and probably eats babies for breakfast.  So guys think he's awesome, even though all the girls are fawning over him.  I think something like that is going on with yo-ka.  Even though yo-ka is a visual-kei performer wearing make-up, and a lot of girls probably like him for all the wrong reasons, the fact of the matter is that he's a total bad-ass with an awesome screaming voice who isn't afraid to put a girl in a headlock if he damn well feels like it.  Sephiroth Syndrome.

So yeah, let's get on with it.  Once again, we have DIAURA:


Well, they're back again, lol.  No escape from DIAURA on this blog.  I've probably DIAURA-ed this place to death, so I'll try to keep it brief.

Um, it was great as always, big surprise.  They started off with Beautiful Creature so it was obviously meant to be an "intense" show.  Actually, other than yo-ka appearing in a session band recently, DIAURA hasn't played in weeks due to being in the recording studio, so I think they were pent up.  It was lots of fun, and yo-ka got so wild he started stomping his foot on the crate repeatedly.  We had a dog-pile, though the audience was kinda hesitant to pile at this show.  I kept trying to back out to give other people a chance, but apparently the girls behind me just wanted a damn pile (or a squishy American body to jump on) so they started pushing me forward every time I moved back, until I finally just gave up and threw myself straight into the pile and let those girls bludgeon me.  But man, they were hitting me hard.  Either the DIAURA fans were also really pent up, or they forgot that the fat on my body still contains nerves, because I was getting mauled.  A girl came down on my shoulder funny and caused me to pull a muscle (ugh, that hurt the whole rest of the performance), and another one landed on me so hard I face-planted into the girl in front of me and briefly thought I broke my nose.  I've never had my nose slammed into anything before and man, that shit hurts!  I actually pulled back a little and pinched my nose and wiggled it to make sure it was okay.  It hurt like hell, but nothing seemed to be broken, thank goodness.

Yo-ka got a little goofy during the dog pile.  He kept looming into the crowd and, at one point, for no reason whatsoever, he leaned down and bit MelJay's finger, lol.  He also climbed up onto some sound equipment, grabbed one of the lights up near the ceiling and, um... started licking it.  Um.... eew?  Yo-ka, you don't know where that's been!!!  It's probably all dusty!!!  It was also probably really hot, because yo-ka was more, like... tapping it with his tongue, lol.

Also, I accidentally wound up grabbing yo-ka's armpit when he stuck himself in the crowd again.  Fucking eew.  That is the last damn place I want to be, and yet it keeps happening.  And yo-ka was extra sweaty at this show, so it was extra gross.  I think he knew he was particularly sweaty because he actually took his soaking wet shirt and started whacking audience members with it.  I wound up getting swatted on the back of the hand with it, and it had the consistency of a dish towel.  Eeeeeeeeeew.

Then the band left, and it looked like there'd be no encore.  The house lights went up, but people were like "WTF?!" and started calling for encore anyways.  A very long time passed, and I started to think it really wouldn't happen, but they actually did come back and played one more song.  Yaaaaay!

And that was that.  But I have one more story.

MelJay and I wanted very much to buy some stuff from The Gallo.  For one thing, I felt bad about downloading, and the other thing was that only a small chunk of their music is even available for download, so I wanted to buy a CD or two and get some more of it.  So we tried to find their merch table, which wasn't in the normal spot.  Eventually we found it out by the bar... where it was being run by Jojo and Lulu themselves.  Uuuuuuuuuuuuh............. awkward...............

MelJay was actually prepared to just say screw it and leave, but changed her mind once we were out the door and we wound up going back in to try again.

We got in line behind a Japanese girl currently dealing with Jojo trying to get her to buy tickets to their one-man.  She didn't want to, and the whole thing looked awkward.  Here's the thing about that one-man: I think The Gallo thought they were real smart picking a Saturday for the show but, unfortunately, there happens to be an event that day with both BORN and DIAURA.  Which means The Gallo is screwed.  I mean, I'm going to the one-man, but that's because one-mans are much more rare than BORN or DIAURA events, but I don't think many other people will see it that way.  Anyways, while Jojo tried to guilt the girl into buying a ticket, I was stuck dealing with DEZERT's merch lady, who seemed to speak some English and was trying to see if I wanted to buy anything.  I thought I politely declined, but she looked like I'd threatened to kill her family and apologized.  What the...... what did I do?

Anyways, soon we were standing in front of Jojo and Lulu, faced with the decision of what to buy.  MelJay turned to me and asked how to ask what the latest single is.  I misheard and thought she was asking me what the latest single was, so I told her what I thought the name was based on glancing at the kanji one day, and she said that to The Gallo, and it was probably gibberish, and they definitely didn't understand.  Oops.  Meanwhile I was trying hard not to really look at them, after the make up-less awkwardness we had before the show.  Jojo tried to recommend something to MelJay, and it appeared to be the latest single (that or he finally just figured out what she wanted), so MelJay agreed to buy it and started rummaging through her wallet.  But she was taking forever, so I started poking her repeatedly going, "hayaku, hayaku, hayaku" ("faster, faster, faster").  That at least made Jojo and Lulu laugh, but I'm not sure it helped the situation, lol.  When MelJay finally managed to purchase the single, I said I wanted the same one.  I don't know why, but somehow me wanting to purchase something broke a piece of The Gallo's fragile brains.  While Jojo fished around in a box for the single I wanted, I held out a 5000 yen bill, and Lulu - who was the one who told me the cost of the single (only 1500 yen, so not bad) - looked at it like it was made of unicorn sparkles.  Then he started looking around for something.  Confused, I sorta hovered my hand there.  When Lulu looked back at me, I held out my money again.  Still apparently confused, Lulu started doing something else again.  O.....kay......  Then Jojo handed me the single, which I took, and then I held out the money again.  At that point, Lulu was finally like, "do you... want to pay with that bill?"  I was like, "yyyyyeah."  So he was like, "oh, okay," and started rummaging around for change.  In that moment, Jojo apparently realized that he handed me the CD without the whole payment process being completed, and was like, "oh, could you wait a moment?"  Baffled by the lack of social skills going on here, I was like "suuuuure..." and put the single back down on the table.  Seriously, what the hell?  Finally Jojo gave me my change, and I picked up the single and put it in my purse.  Then Jojo was like, "want to buy tickets to our one-man?"  To which I responded: "I already did."  Jojo didn't appear to believe me.  I got a raised eyebrow in response.  I think Jojo forgot that you can buy the tickets through Lawson, not just at the shows, so he thought I was lying or something, since he never saw me buy the tickets in person.  Well, I'll prove him wrong at the one-man!

Long story short: The Gallo are socially inept, hahaha.  MelJay and I thanked Jojo and Lulu a few times and then pretty much ran away from the weirdness.  Either those guys were trolling us right there at the merch booth, or they are seriously weird in person, lol.  Oh, and that one single didn't feel like enough, so I picked up one of The Gallo's mini-albums over at the Tower Records in Shibuya.  Man, that store has everything.

Now, remember how I said there was a Fail #5 that was greater in failness level than the sick vocalist of Devine?  You might be wondering, what could be a bigger fail than that?  Let's just say, this whole post has a punchline.  Ready for this?

The next day, MelJay and I were riding on a train towards Hamamatsucho because we wanted to go to the Pokemon Center.  So this should've been a happy train ride, since we were journeying towards a magical land of adorable stuffed animals, toys, and video games that allow us to orchestrate glorified cock fights (kidding, kidding...).  But on the way, MelJay started rummaging through her wallet.  Suddenly, she froze.  Very slowly, she turned towards me and said, "Kita...... I just found something really upsetting in my wallet..."  I don't even think I said anything.  I just turned and looked at her, waiting.  Then, slowly, MelJay pulled something out of her wallet and handed it to me.

It was a ticket to the show we'd just seen.  An A Ticket.  A non-band-pre-order ticket.  A ticket purchased online and picked up at a convenience store.  A ticket apparently bought months earlier and then forgotten about.

WE ALREADY BOUGHT TICKETS TO THAT FUCKING SHOW BEFORE I EVEN PRE-ORDERED THEM THROUGH DIAURA.  WE WENT THROUGH ALL THAT TROUBLE AND PARANOIA OVER TICKETS WE ALREADY HAD!!!  WE EACH BOUGHT A TICKET TO THAT SHOW TWICE!!!

At that point................ I just................. jbhuyghdj9w[3ty0[qhier bdh90aqyhbjos..................   

Sooooooo, that's pretty much all.  Spent the next day in Harajuku, where I tried to buy earrings to replace the ones that crowd surfer at MERRY kicked out of my ear, lol.  Of course, I also wound up buying a sparkly silver scarf, but this was probably also the fault of the MERRY concert, because Yuu's awesome scarf put the idea in my head, lol.

Anyways, I'm not going to Tokyo this weekend, so there may not be much on here for a bit, unless I wind up doing something completely awesome in Gunmaland, but that's unlikely, lol.  Truth is, I have no concerts planned for two weekends from now either!  But I'm sure I'll find something lolzy to do.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indies, 10/29, Ikebukuro BLACKHOLE

Eeeeeeeeeeeer yeah, I kinda skipped this one and now everything's out of order.  My OCD is screaming bloody murder, but I'll post this (three-week late post) anyways, despite the out-of-order-ness.  I've only ever skipped writing up one indies show, and I don't even remember why I skipped it, but I'd like that to not happen again.  The truth is, I write up these posts for myself more than anything else.  I want to be able to always look back on these events and remember what happened.  This is like my own personal log/diary of all the stupid shit I did when I was young, and I want these details to remain when I'm old and senile, so that I'll always remember what a dumb kid I was.  So skipping shows, even kinda boring ones like this one, is a no-no.  So here we go...  This'll be short and brief, with DEZERT being the only story worth telling.


Let's see... well, for starters, MelJay and I went to Ikebukuro, since that's where BLACKHOLE is.  We went to Sunshine City to shop and have lunch, and while we were there, we discovered something so utterly mind-blowing and amazing, it broke the fabric of our universe.  In Sunshine City... there's a place... that sells Mexican food.  I mean, for serious, the Americanized tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and all that good shit Americans curl up and die without consuming often enough.  It's in the food court part of Sunshine City mall, a place called El Torito.  Seriously, go there if you're a foreigner missing Mexican food in Japan.  As picture evidence of this glory, here's what I ate (it was a taco sampler thing with a shredded chicken taco, a ground beef taco, and a fish taco):




See?!  Isn't that amazing?!!  And it tasted just like the shit back home, even down to the guacamole.  Good day was good.


After that happiness, MelJay and I continued on to BLACKHOLE.  We weren't at the show for much.  MelJay likes LeVert, so there's that.  And I was curious to see DEZERT again.  What's that, you say?  I've never written about a band on this blog called DEZERT before?  We'll get to that later.


Sooooooooo... I have zero recollection of who played first, so let's just start throwing darts in the darkness here.  Let's say it was............ VURNY:


Do I even have to say anything here?  I mean, really?  Isn't the photo self-explanatory?  We all know I don't care for oshare-kei.  Actually, this band wasn't even full-blown oshare-kei, and they did have some rock elements, but they just weren't that good.  They were wreaking of "n00b."  Also, this was the first band I've seen this year that has a truly token "female" member.  MelJay's never had the joy of seeing one live before, so she actually turned to me and went, "oh my", hahaha. 


Um, dunno.  Who might be next?  Let's throw out another dart and say it was Kid:




Yyyyyeah, we've seen them before.  And, like last time, I really have nothing to say about them.  Nothing exciting.  Because it was Halloween weekend, they were all dressed up, but I don't remember what they were wearing.  I think it was just, like... gothier than usual, at least according to them.

Moving on, um.......... must've been Le-vert.



As far as the Halloween costume thing goes, this band definitely pwned Kid.  I can't remember all their costumes, but the 6'2" (188 cm) tall, skinny-as-a-bamboo-pole vocalist was wearing a girl's school uniform, showing off his gangly legs under a plaid skirt.  Seriously, where the hell did he get a female uniform big enough for someone of his height?!!  Their bassist was dressed up in some kind of weird boys' middle school uniform and he was wearing thick glasses and had lipstick on.  Which was weird.  During the MC, the vocalist asked him what the hell he was supposed to be, and he said the name of some character from some manga, which no one seemed to recognize, including the vocalist.  Oh well.  I can't remember what the drummer was wearing, but their red-headed guitarist was wearing a full Spiderman costume with the mask over his face and everything, hahaha.  Anyways, that's about all I remember.  I've seen them a few times, and they're fine for a n00b band, though I don't really like them as much as MelJay does.  Let's move on.


Next band up is DEZERT:




If these guys look familiar, but the name doesn't, it's because I very fondly reviewed them once before, back when the band was under a different name.  The last time I saw them, they were called Acid Cherry King.  But, for some reason, they've undergone a name change and nothing else.  No change in the lineup, no change in music or image, just a name change.


This band is definitely more up my alley than a lot of the other stuff playing.  As I mentioned last time, they have kind of a D'espairsRay-ish sound, and I'm pretty sure the band knows it, cuz one of their songs is a total rip-off of D'espairsRay's Garnet (like, from start to finish, it was just like Garnet.  Guess they thought they could slip that one by without anyone noticing.  Typical indies, lol).  But, in general, they're just more my kinda thing, with a loud, dark sound, and lots of fun headbanging for the audience!


For DEZERT, I have a lolzy and extremely embarrassing story that actually caused MelJay and I to contact a JRocker for the first time ever.  This one revolves around their bassist, whose name is SaZ.  He's the one in the picture with the dreadlocks. 

Well, for starters, it happened to be SaZ's birthday.  It was during this time that I realized if I ever had to give a nickname to SaZ, it would be Poker Face.  I'm usually pretty good at reading people - which is very important in Japan, where people will almost never directly let on about how they're feeling - but SaZ was a mystery.  Everyone sang happy birthday while he stood there, completely stone-faced.  He didn't even twitch a muscle.  Then their vocalist, Chiaki, brought out a box with a cake in it for SaZ, who had absolutely no reaction to the cake whatsoever.  I even thought he was annoyed at first.  Chiaki handed the box over to their guitarist, who held it out for SaZ.  SaZ turned and stared at it, but didn't say anything.  After an awkward moment in which the guitarist tried to interpret what SaZ wanted, SaZ realized most humans can't read minds, and gestured for the guitarist to take the cake out of the box.  He did so, and very carefully handed it to SaZ, who set it up on the sound equipment.  Then SaZ went up to his microphone, still without any facial expression whatsoever, and began talking.  In a somewhat robotic voice, he thanked everyone, and said he got many fan letters wishing him a happy birthday.  Then he asked if it was okay to read one of those fan letters.  The audience was like "heeeeee?!"  So then SaZ pulled out a letter, unfolded it, and asked the staff to do him the honors.


At which point the venue began playing sappy, children's TV show, story-time music.  The audience laughed, and even SaZ maybe almost kinda sorta a tiny bit smiled.  But I might've imagined it.  Then he began reading.  The letter went something like this (note: I don't know what "kyappi" means.  MelJay seems to think it's the Japanese word for a smiley-face emoticon, but I couldn't find any info about that online, although I did find a few examples of people using it the way it's used in this letter.  Let's just assume it's a silly fad word until someone can explain otherwise).


"Dear, SaZ.  You are the best, kyappi.  I think SaZ is the most awesome person ever, kyappi.  I am so glad to know about the awesome SaZ [dramatic pause]... kyappi.  I love you soooooo much, kyappi.  I hope you have the best birthday ever [even longer dramatic pause]............... kyappi.  Love, Chiaki."


Hahahahahaha.  The audience burst out laughing.  Chiaki was trying hard not to laugh, but it was impossible, and SaZ was staring right at him, lol.  What a bunch of idiots XD


Anyways, I haven't even gotten to my story yet, but that should at least give some necessary background about SaZ.


So there was a song only one or two songs after SaZ read his "fanmail" that happened to be pretty intense, and involved gyaku-dive.  For DEZERT's entire performance so far, MelJay and I had done all the headbanging and fist-punching necessary, and didn't hold back or revert to lesser furi.  But when it came time for gyaku-dive, MelJay and I held back.  It wasn't so much that we didn't want to do it, but we were about four rows back and the first few rows obviously had a good turn-system going on, so why disrupt it?  And besides, it was only our second time seeing DEZERT, so it was probably too early to get ballsy and do gyaku-dive anyways.  Well, apparently SaZ did not agree with this logic.  He kept gesturing for MelJay and I to get our asses up there and do gyaku-dive, but she and I just kinda smiled apologetically and stayed where we were.  I think MelJay maybe made a couple attempts to move up, but then moved right back to where she started when she saw the next row taking a turn.  So SaZ kept gesturing at us, and we continued to stay back.  I mean, it's not a big deal.  It's not the first time I've had a JRocker try to get me to move up or do gyaku-dive, and I've found that they give up if you refuse long enough.  I mean, they've got better stuff to do than play "Pick on the Foreigner" for a whole song, right?

Count SaZ as the poker-faced exception to everything.  Maybe a better nickname for him would be Stubborn Fuck.  For a minute or so, it seemed SaZ had given up on getting MelJay and I to throw our over-sized American bodies at small Japanese girls.  I was content to just watch DEZERT rile up the crowd and run around having a good time, as bands are wont to do during gyaku-dive.  Somewhere in all that, I noticed SaZ climbing up onto the barrier and jumping down off the stage.  He went stampeding through the crowd and disappeared somewhere behind us.  I didn't think much of it, because it's not unusual for indies performers to roam around the audience.

That is, until something shoved me in the back so hard I stumbled in shock and nearly fell.  In that second I realized MelJay had also stumbled, and was whipping around to see who in holy hell pushed us.  Still in a state of complete disbelief, I turned around and came face to face with........ SaZ.  And his face was bloody murder.  He was coming towards us, so MelJay and I practically squealed and went pushing forward into the crowd to try and do gyaku-dive before the SaZ Monster came to kill us.  But that was easier said than done.  The turns had been set for quite awhile now, and no one was willing to let us through.  Every time I tried to get up to saizen, some girl would push past me and take her turn, or even move me out of the way.  Horrified, I look around for SaZ, only to discover that he'd gone up to the barrier, casually rested his arm on it, and was leaning against it watching MelJay and I with a look that said, "I'm waiting..."  I didn't want to make him mad, so I tried to get in a turn at gyaku-dive again, but it was impossible.  At one point, I almost pulled it off and the girls had left me an opening, when another girl finishing her dive suddenly darted back to her spot by running in front of me.  I missed the beat, and the gyaku-dive session effectively ended.  Thankfully, MelJay managed to get a proper dive in, and that seemed to satisfy SaZ enough that he climbed back onto the stage.  And he's kind of a big guy, so I was pretty impressed with how nimbly he hurtled himself back up there.

Anyways, I spent the rest of DEZERT's performance doing my absolute best in order to appease the SaZ Monster.  I've never had an indies guy actually get physical on me before, other than the playful kind of physical, like when yo-ka pulls hair.  But I'm not mad at SaZ.  Not at all.  In fact, I now have incredible respect for the guy.  Man, it takes serious balls to get physical on a couple foreigners in front of everybody.  I respect that he took the crowd unity that seriously.  He saw a couple girls not participating as much as he thought they should, and he took matters into his own hands.  I'm not at all mad at him, just in awe that he actually did what he did.  He is one brave motherfucker, and that's kinda awesome.  Point goes to SaZ, lol.

Anyways, that's about all I've got for DEZERT for now, so let's just finish this one up.  The next band up is SOMATIC GUARDIAN:

 
I don't even fuckin'............... I should just not say much about SOMATIC GUARDIAN.  Anyways, this band......... I don't......... just........... it's not for me, lol.  In fact, before they played, the venue started playing this really obnoxious music that sounded like the kind of music you might use for the opening to a hyperactive, comedic anime.  But then I noticed the girls preparing saizen - all of which had little crates that they were sitting on for some reason - were giggling and doing furi to the music.  I turned to MelJay and was like, "this couldn't possibly be the music of the next band, could it?"  To which MelJay responded, "no way, it couldn't be."

It was.

The band wore Halloween costumes, with the vocalist dressed like a vampire, and the red-headed guy dressed like Jason, and I don't even remember what the other two were wearing.  To make things extra creepy, they had two girls on stage wearing giant bunny heads and doing all the furi with the audience.  Except....... um, this band had the audience not really doing furi... it was more like full-blown para-para, most of which I tried to avoid as much as humanly possible.  I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in having a butt-wiggling, super-hero posing dance party.  With the two girls on stage doing the para-para as well, the whole thing looked like a fitness video.  I was pretty happy when it was finally over.

The last band up is VII-Sense:


Hey, wouldn't you think a band called VII-Sense would have seven members instead of six, lol?  Anyways, I'll confess that I had no idea until after I left the venue that the vocalist of this band was Juka from Moi dix Mois.  I guess he goes by SHAURA now.  Honestly, I just don't keep up with that gothic-y, lolita-y side of visual-kei.  Mana's projects and anything involving them, including its members, are usually pretty far off my radar.  But the vocalist being Juka would probably explain why there was a sudden herd of foreigners in the venue during that time.  Man, we had about seven foreigners in the venue during VII-Sense.  That kinda thing never happens.

Anyways, the band was......... not my cup of tea.  The main reason being that I found the three guitarists thing to be really distracting.  It just didn't sound good, in my opinion.  I think there's a reason why most bands only have one or two guitarists.  It always seemed like two of the guitarists would be doing something that sounded good, and then the third one would be doing something that just sounded really out of place.  The band has a perpetual third wheel.  I'm sure many people really like the sound of the three guitars, but I didn't care for it, personally.  That was probably my only real beef with the band, though.  SHAURA's singing was fine, but he's always had a pretty decent voice. I just think it's funny that I didn't even realize it was "Juka" till after the show, lol.  Oopsie.

Speaking of which, I heard SHAURA's scheduled for throat surgery any day now, isn't he?  Or he just had it?  I'm not sure.  I know he has a history of throat polyps, so maybe this'll fix it.  Well, good luck, SHAURA!  I wish you well!  Hope the surgery works for you!

Anyways, the last thing I'll say about this show was that, the whole time VII-Sense was playing, the SaZ Monster was sitting at a booth in the back.  MelJay and I sat down in the back for VII-Sense and, any time we turned around, SaZ was sitting there with this dark, evil look on his face.  He'd somehow gone from Poker Face to Demonic Face.  I was still feeling pretty guilty about essentially pissing off a guy on his birthday, so I tried not to look at him.  I actually planned on going up to him after VII-Sense and apologizing for having not done gyaku-dive when he asked us to, but he disappeared some time when I wasn't looking, and we didn't see him again.  Feeling bad about the whole thing, MelJay and I decided to get an apology to him online.  MelJay friended SaZ on Ameba, and I helped her write up an apology and told him we would definitely do gyaku-dive next time.  He didn't write back (we didn't expect him to), but he friended MelJay back pretty fast, so I guess he wasn't too mad, lol.

Well, that about wraps this one up.  I've since seen DEZERT again, and I'll post that story in a few days.  Did I manage to do gyaku-dive?  Did I appease the SaZ Monster?  We shall see!

Monday, November 14, 2011

MERRY 10th Anniversary NEW LEGEND OF HIGH COLOR『6DAYS』

Okay, I know I skipped an indies show from last weekend, but I'll get back to it after this (in brief).

Anyways, for now... Got to do something crazy last weekend!  Three major concerts in one weekend!  I’ve never pulled that off before!  Usually two is the most I do, and even then only one of them will usually be major (except for the rare double-Dir en grey).  Last weekend, MelJay and I joined MERRY for the last half of their 10th anniversary special at Ebisu LIQUID ROOM.  Each show was themed after a CD, with Day 1 being Gendai Stoic, Day 2 being Moderngarde, Day 3 being Nu Chemical Rhetoric, Day 4 being PEEP SHOW, Day 5 being M.E.R.R.Y., and Day 6 topping us off with Underworld.  There was a lot of stress and hassle involved in going to all three shows (especially since we live so far away), but I think it was worth it!

To pull off our MERRY weekend, MelJay and I both had to leave work early on Friday to make it all the way out to Tokyo.  For me, this was with a massive side of guilt.  So far, since starting work at my school, I’ve never missed a class.  Even on the occasional day where I take off work early to go to a concert on a Friday, I only take paid leave at a time when I have no more classes for the day and would just be sitting around doing nothing anyways.  But I couldn’t pull that off this time.  I had one class really late in the afternoon, and I couldn’t possibly go to it and make it to the show.  However, I foresaw that class being a problem one day, and decided to get the assistant English teacher on my side.  I decided to test the waters with her a month ago and mentioned that I frequently go to concerts.  I told her it was something of a hobby.  I did this because Assistant-sensei is so young, I figured she might understand.  In the end, she confessed to me something she’s never confessed to anyone in the office before: that she likes Visual-Kei.  A lot.  And used to go to a lot of concerts.  Her favorite acts are Gackt and Vidoll, lol.  In fact, she drove me to a staff party one time and played Gackt the whole way, lol.  So I cleared it with her a long time ago that, on a very rare occasion, I might not make it to that class.  And she said that was totally fine.
So a few days before Friday, I told Assistant-sensei I couldn’t make it to the class, and she said it was no problem.  I double-checked this with her many times.  However, that Friday, it turned out our school was on a “shortened” schedule.  And then it dawned on me that, with the times pushed back the way they were, I could’ve made it to that class and then gone to Tokyo and probably been okay.  Maybe would’ve been late for doors, but still would’ve been on time.  So I wound up feeling bad the entire day, and apologized to Assistant-sensei over and over, although she seemed confused as to why I was apologizing.  Just when I thought maybe I could get over the guilt, another English teacher that I’ve never gotten along with came up to me for the first time ever with a request.  He wanted help with something after school.

FUUUUUUUUUUUU.

I had to turn him down, which totally sucked, because that could’ve been a chance to improve our work relationship.  Later, as I was leaving school three hours early, I went up to him and apologized a whole bunch.  He was so surprised, he actually responded in a friendly manner and laughed with me for once.  The power of saying sorry!


DAY 4: PEEP SHOW


I took the train and dropped myself off in Asakusa.  Not the most direct path I could’ve taken to Ebisu, but I was really early.  I chilled in a Starbucks for awhile.

Oh, story!  So while I was in the Starbucks, there was a group of foreigners from various countries beside me.  There seemed to be a few from Germany, a few from Spain, and a few from America.  Anyways, one of the Germans asked the group, “does anyone know which European country has the most prostitutes?”  To which an American girl responded, “Mexico?”

Face, meet Palm.  Pardon me while I die of shame.

Anyways, after chilling in Starbucks a bit, I finally hopped on the Ginza to Shibuya, then took the Yamanote to Ebisu.  For those who don’t know, Ebisu is just one stop away from Shibuya, so it’s very convenient.  Once I got there, I wasn’t entirely sure how to get to LIQUID ROOM (which is embarrassing, because I’ve been there before for D, but that was a couple years ago).  But I saw some girls with MERRY towels and t-shirts, so I followed them while double-checking landmarks in order to text MelJay and help her find the venue.  She wasn’t able to get out of work as early as me and her bus was stuck in traffic, so she was worried about being late.

But then, by the time I got to the venue, I couldn’t at all remember any landmarks, or how I arrived, and I wound up sending MelJay a very vague text, which I just piled onto the rest of the day’s guilt.  Anyways, the venue was calling numbers already, so I ran into the locker section and attempted to stuff my things in there (I had too much crap with me).  Once everything was in the locker, I realized I didn’t have enough 100 yen coins to pay for it!

FUUUUUUUUUUU.

I asked the girl next to me what to do, and she said there was a café on that floor where I could exchange money.  There were barely any lockers left and I didn’t want to risk taking my stuff out and not having one, so I left my shit unattended in the locker (not my purse, though!) and ran to the café.  Thankfully, the guy was really nice and changed one of my 500 yen coins for five 100 yen coins.  Then I ran back and found my stuff was still sitting in the locker, untouched.  Only in Japan, lol.  Then I took my ticket, a 500 yen coin for drink charge, my locker key, and my dangly earrings, and stuck them in a Ziploc bag, which I then put in my combat boot.  Then I texted MelJay saying the phone was going bye-bye, and closed the locker.  I was about to leave the locker room, when I decided to double-check and ask a girl next to me if the drink charge was 500 yen.  She decided this meant it was time to strike up a conversation, lol.  She started asking if it was my first time seeing MERRY, first time to LIQUID ROOM, who my favorite member of MERRY is…  Being all frazzled as I was, I must’ve had “n00b foreigner” written all over my face, lol.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’ve been to, like, 60 shows in Japan or something, several of them being MERRY, lol. 
Once my number got called, I went downstairs and tried to get as close to the stage as possible.  But I noticed I was behind the second barrier, so I moved as far to the right as I could, to allow myself to slip through the side if there was a big-enough push later.  Then I waited around for MelJay, who was nowhere in sight. 

About ten minutes before the show was about to start, there was an announcement about rules (no cameras, no smoking, etc etc.) and, although we couldn’t see him, it was very clearly Nero making the announcement, lol.  No idea if he did that at the previous nights, but it was pretty amusing, and the audience laughed and cheered as he spoke.  Also, they were playing really random selections of MERRY songs while we waited and, when they played Fukinkou Kinema, the whole audience started clapping and cheering during the part of the song where that actually happens, which was really funny.

Anyways, MelJay wound up not showing up until 5 minutes before the show started.  When I asked if it was my fault due to my vague directions, she said yes.  Oopsie.  Weeeeeell the point is, we made it and didn’t miss any of the show, lol.

The show itself began with a large screen across the stage suddenly showing footage of a loud, ticking clock, and then it began flashing nostalgic images of MERRY over the years.  As expected, the audience pushed up like crazy, and MelJay and I slipped in front of the barrier, though we didn’t go super close.

The screen with the images on it was actually just a scrim, I think, and they dropped it to reveal a red curtain pulled across the stage behind it.  Then, suddenly, the curtain parted slightly in the middle, and a man in a masquerade-style cat mask poked his head through the curtain.  It was Gara, lol.  He crept through the curtain and prowled around the front of the stage like a sneaky cat, waving his checkered pimp stick at everyone while we cheered.  Oh Gara, you so silly.  Then he disappeared back behind the curtain, which they parted to reveal the full stage.  The band members came on one by one to the intro music to PEEP SHOW.  Nero was first, with his mouth wide open and his fist raised.  Then Ken’ichi, Tetsu, and Yuu all showed up, looking wonderful.  Tetsu was rocking some cornrows, and I noticed he and Yuu were wearing a bit of make-up.  Probably since this was supposed to be a nostalgic performance.  Gara showed up last.  The cat mask was gone, and he was now wearing a fedora.  Lookin’ classy, boy!  Time for PEEP SHOW!
First thing’s first, the Day 4 setlist (got these from someone named Jigsaw9 on Monochrome Heaven, by the way):

PEEP SHOW
Kyousou Carnival
Sentimental New Pop
Kimatteru Taiyou
-PEEP♂HOLE-
BLUESCAT
Retro Future
FREAKS A GO GO
-PEEP♀HOLE-
Kousou Biru no Ue de Last Dance
Sayounara Ame
Mado Kara Nigeta Love Song
Ringo to Uso
nameless night ~Namonaki Yoru~
Slow→Dive
PLTC
Mousou rendez-vous

Encore 1:
Japanese Modernist
finale
Yakou
Fukinkou Kinema
Zetsubou
Shoudoku

Encore 2:
Calling

As you can see, the first hour was dedicated solely to PEEP SHOW, with things getting a little more random after that.  Since I’m trying to cram three whole shows into one post, I’ll just stick to concert highlights, rather than attempt to talk about every little thing that happened.

Well, for starters, let’s talk audience.  The crowd is gonna be different depending on where you’re standing, but MelJay and I found that we were standing in a damn amusing section.  Really hyperactive fans were around us, and all of them were far more interested in dancing in place than doing furi.  There was one guy who I kept referring to as The Dancer (except I always said it in Justin Timberlake’s voice, from the Single Ladies SNL skit).  This guy was awesome.  He danced around to every single song with every little sound having its own movement.  At times it looked like he was going to break down into full-blown tap dancing, lol.  There was one girl in front of us who basically jumped up and down continuously for the whole two hours.  Goddamn.  But hyperactive fans make me want to be hyperactive, so it made it a lot of fun.  Every time I looked at The Dancer it made me smile and get even more into it.

However, the band itself was a little mopey that day, I think.  They seemed tired, even though they had a break the day before (the week was divided with three nights of concerts, one day off, and then three more concerts).  Maybe the break made them more tired than just going all the way would’ve, lol.  Well, Nero was as wild as usual and turned drumming into full-body interpretive dance, and Gara seemed on top of his game for the most part, but the string section was pretty dead (for the record, it was only the PEEP SHOW night that the band seemed tired, so it definitely goes up from here!).  Ken and Tetsu and Yuu hardly moved the entire show, and hardly head banged at all, which was kinda sad, and they made a lot of mistakes (particularly Yuu and Tetsu).  And although Gara’s energy level seemed fine, his head was all over the place, causing him to make a lot of mistakes himself.  In fact, in one song he actually seemed to forget the words for a moment, and there was a very awkward pause, followed by Gara attempting to catch up with a very angry look on his face.  I know I’ve mentioned this in other MERRY posts I’ve made but, when things don’t go perfectly, Gara gets pissy, so he had a few temper tantrums during the show.  One of them I didn’t even understand.  He was up on his desk doin’ his thing when he suddenly looked all pissed off and made an angry, “fuck this” gesture with his arm and jumped down and paced around a bit.  I think the band was just having a rough night for some reason, but I totally don’t blame them.  A full week of concerts is hard!  I’d be tired and scrambled too!

But the band’s mood didn’t affect the show’s entertainment level!  We still had a great time!  Kind of hard not to have a good time when you get to rock out to the entire PEEP SHOW album!

Highlights, highlights...

Oh, Gara decided to do calligraphy again, for old time's sake.  He wrote out a thank you message on paper and the audience collectively read the words aloud for him.  Then he took a swig of ink and spat it all over himself.  Gross, lol.  But at least he got to spend the rest of the show looking like a psychopath.

Shit got real during encore.  We had two different girls repeatedly crowd-surfing across the audience.  MERRY shows are the only Japanese shows I've ever been to where there's audience crowd-surfing, and it always surprises me because I'm pretty sure crowd-surfing is illegal in this country (even though indies musicians get away with stage diving all the time).  It just made me laugh because the girls kinda rolled over the audience, rather than surfed, lol.  Fukinkou Kinema got pretty nuts too.  MelJay and I were in an interesting zone of the crowd where we weren't so squished that it was a pit, but we were still in front of second barrier, so we had a lot of crazies around us.  Everyone in our area started hopping around in circles flailing their arms and knocking into each other like pinballs for the entire song.  It was like the world's happiest mosh pit.  People were getting nearly knocked off their feet by moshers smiling with love and joy.  Silly MERRY fans, lol.  The Dancer was really goin' at it.  During Zetsubou, the crowd-surfing got pretty crazy.  Those girls had an amazing ability to surf the crowd and then run to the back of the venue within ten seconds and then do it all over again.

Shit really hit the fan during Shoudoku, though.  Gara came on stage with this thing that looked like a cross between a fire extinguisher hose and a rifle.  He could use it to shoot massive jets of smoke at the audience (I believe what came out of the machine was dry ice, and my frozen hand at the Underworld concert a couple days later confirms that for me, lol).  Anyways, Gara got really crazy with the dry ice machine.  He was blasting the crowd, blasting the ceiling, blasting every inch of air in front of him.  Hell, if I had a dry ice machine, I'd probably go crazy with it too, lol.  Meanwhile, the back of the pit was having a damn good time.  Happy moshing turned into angry moshing, with rows upon rows of the audience running into the pit and body-slamming backwards into it indies-style, except much more violent (enough that some people did get knocked down, or got a face full of the people in front of them).  What I found really funny was that the people around me who didn't want to jump in (including The Dancer), took to shoving the jumpers as hard as humanly possible.  If anyone tried to back out of the pit, the people behind them would slam them with their hands right back into the pile.  It was pretty funny.

Shoudoku was the end of the first encore, and Gara was still having fun with the dry ice machine and blasting it everywhere even after the song ended.  At one point, he handed it to a staff guy in front of the barrier, and the staff guy shot Gara with it, lol.  After Gara left, Nero stole the machine and asked Tetsu if he could shoot it at him.  Tetsu reluctantly agreed, and then got a face full of dry ice.  Damn that's gotta hurt!  You can get frostbite from that stuff!  It looked funny from where I was, though, because all I could see was Tetsu's hair blasting back off his face, and then his miserable face as he turned away with a grimace.  After Tetsu left the stage, I guess Nero got curious and then blasted himself in the face with the machine, lol.  WTF.

MERRY came back for one last encore, which was Calling, and then rather awkwardly left.  They're good at awkward encores.  They just sorta walked off, and then the venue said the show was over.  Huh.  Okay.

Yay!

So MelJay and I left, and then checked out the merch booth for the next day, and used our drink tickets.
After we left the venue, MelJay and I were hungry but didn’t know what was in Ebisu.  In the end, we just went back to Shibuya and got some McDonald’s.  The new salt and lemon chicken sandwich is so good!  Then we returned to our hostel and sat around with the guests and staff watching extremely trashy late night Japanese television.  Thanks to a very bizarre comedy skit about taking a shit, every time someone yells, “PUNCH GONE!” I now laugh so hard I cry uncontrollably, hahaha.

DAY 5: M.E.R.R.Y.


MelJay and I have radically different opinions on MERRY’s M.E.R.R.Y. album.  To put it simply, I like it, she hates it.  I think I’m in the minority though, aren’t I?  Seems like most people I talk to don’t like M.E.R.R.Y. very much.  To be honest, I couldn’t tell you what it is I like about it.  Some people say the CD just isn’t very MERRY-like, but I guess that doesn’t really bother me so long as I enjoy it.  I’ll admit the CD is “slower” and more “mellow” than previous albums, but I think I just really like the whimsical feeling of it.  Well, the point is, one of us woke up more excited for the show than the other, lol.

MelJay had some business to attend to in Shibuya, so that’s where we spent the day before the show.  We decided to go to Shakey’s pizza buffet for lunch, and gorged on pizza for two hours.  Gotta carbo-load for the show!  Shakey’s is one of the only places I know of where you can get authentic pepperoni in Japan, and I really like the Japanese-style pizzas like tuna and onion pizza.  Good stuff!  After that, MelJay had to go to the Apple Store for a computer problem, then we went to H&M to buy winter coats, and then we stopped off at Don Quijote and bought character pajamas (you know, the ones that are basically just an animal Halloween costume, but Japan pretends they're pajamas).  SHUT UP.  You can’t live in Japan as long as I have and not eventually wind up with a pair of kigurumi.  MelJay bought a Gloomy Bear pair and I bought Nyampire.  I actually really wanted the bat one, but I didn’t see it.  Maybe some other time.  However, unlike a lot of indies girls, I don’t plan on wearing my kigurumi to a show, lol.

Aaaaaaaaanyways, we eventually went back to Ebisu, only to discover all the lockers at the station were taken.

FUUUUUUUUUUUU.

A station attendant told us there were more at the other exit, so we had to haul our luggage all the way to the other side of the station.  Thankfully, we did find some lockers, and then I repeated the process of separating a few items to put in my boot.  However, I also brought the ticket for PEEP SHOW as well as the Underworld ticket.  I’ll explain why later.

For this show, instead of me hovering kinda far back waiting for MelJay, we were able to get in and plow right up front.  We were still behind second barrier, but a lot of people were just force-squeezing their way through the side into the pit, so we wound up doing that eventually too.  We decided we wanted to finally get in on the action.  By the time the push-up happened, it was quite the tight fit, and we were pretty close to the front (due to us slipping through in front of the barrier at every show, we were in front of Yuu every night).

Here's our setlist:

M.E.R.R.Y.MARCH ~denwenkaukiyaukumikiyoku~
Utagoe Kissa "Modern"
Blind Romance
Saihate no Parade
Hirahira Tonderu
Seinen Himitsu Club
Coq d'or Mama
Hi no de Chou, Machikado Tsunderera
LuLuLu LaLaLa
Last Snow
sweet powder
Poetry
Charlie
Oriental BL Circus

Encore 1:
choral
finale
Yakou
Fukinkou Kinema
Hameln
Zetsubou

Encore 2:
Komorebi ga Boku wo Sagashiteru...

The show started the same way as the PEEP SHOW night, with Nero giving an announcement before the show, a ticking clock on the scrim with nostalgic pictures, and then the scrim falling down to reveal a red curtain.  In fact, when the curtain parted, we could see that the whole back of the stage was also draped in a red curtain, as were the sides of the stage, making the whole thing look like an old theater set.  When the band came on stage, they looked even snazzier than the night before.  Tetsu's cornrows were gone, and the whole band was dressed in "classy" clothes, like suit jackets.  Yuu had this amazing sparkly scarf that actually made me turn to MelJay and squeal, "I want that scarf!"  Gara was wearing a fedora and a black yukata-like thing, lined with red sparkles.  Pimpin', lol.

In general, the mood of the band was waaaaay up compared to the PEEP SHOW concert.  Maybe they finally got some sleep, lol.  Gara was just as energetic, but he wasn't grumpy, and the string section was actually active, with Yuu and Tetsu and Ken'ichi running around the stage and headbanging and jumping up on equipment.  It was a very different atmosphere, but one I was very happy about.

Highlights:

During one song, the venue turned off the lights and lowered an extremely bright light bulb from the ceiling on a cord.  I'm sorry I don't remember which song, but it was a slower one.  I thiiiiink it was during Blind Romance.  Gara used the light bulb like a fake microphone, and also batted it back and forth across the stage and watched it like it was a magical fairy flying around in the darkness, lol. This all looked very pretty, except swinging pendulums make me nauseous (had the same problem during The GazettE's D.L.N. performance at The Budoukan), so that sucked, lol.  But it was a cool effect.
Also, I'm lame and almost busted a gut with happiness that I got to hear Hirahira Tonderu live for the first time.  I don't know how many people really consider Hirahira Tonderu a song worth getting excited about, but for some reason I love that song and I was super excited when I realized they might play it.  It was just as beautiful and awesome as I expected, and I found myself quietly singing along the whole time, lol.  If anyone reading this has never had the pleasure of watching the massive acid trip the band calls a music video for Hirahira Tonderu, put down the drugs and check this video out.  It's awesome.  Couldn't get the fucking embed to work no matter what I did, so here's a link:

This shit is trippin' BALLS, man...

Yeeeeeah.  Speaking of songs I've never seen live before that were exciting, they played Charlie!  OMG!  When I realized what it was, I turned to MelJay and shouted, "well I'll be damned!"  The crowd squished up like crazy and everyone jumped up and down and threw their fists.  Every song MERRY played, the crowd got tighter and tighter.  Aaaaand we had a new crowd surfer.  We had a girl crowd surfer, but our repeat offender at the M.E.R.R.Y. show was a full-grown boy.  Wearing very big sneakers.  In fact, a couple times he actually used me as the ladder to get up on top of the crowd.  This caused a lot of pain in my neck and shoulder as he scrambled up my body like a koala up a eucalyptus tree.  He also managed to kick me in the head pretty much every time he went by, and one of those times he actually kicked me so hard, he somehow managed to kick two of my earrings out.  Which is amazing, because they were studs with backs.  Damn.

Let's see, what else happened?  It was an awesome show, but perhaps not as "eventful" as the PEEP SHOW concert.  It was sort of a trade-off since the band was in such a great mood this time. 

During encore, I got to experience things like Fukinkou Kinema in the pit section.  And you know what, people still tried to dance.  Meanwhile, Gara was standing up on his school desk wiggling his hips to the music and waving around his pimp stick.

Not much else to report on for M.E.R.R.Y. other than the fact that it was just as much fun as PEEP SHOW and that it was a great time.  And it was a lot of fun being in the pit, although that pit was pretty intense.  In fact, a foreign girl a few rows ahead of me was completely unconscious with her head on the shoulders of the people in front of her for the final encore song, and no one seemed to notice.  I was watching her worriedly for the whole five minutes, waiting for her to stir, but she never did, and I couldn't reach far enough to tap her.  When the encore ended and the pit relaxed, she collapsed to the floor and everyone finally realized what happened.  MelJay was able to get there fast enough to help her up.  She did come around, and said she was okay when I asked, and I saw her at the show the next day, so I guess she was alright.  Sucks to pass out at a show, though.

After the show, I finally decided to buy some merch.  I bought the key holder set that I was eying at the MERRY x -karasu- show, and I also bought their wrist band because it's super shiny and reflects like crazy when you throw your fist in the pit.

MelJay and I also gathered up our three tickets for the three nights and went up to a special counter.  Time for an amusing story!

So MelJay read online somewhere that if you have tickets for three or more nights of the anniversary special, you can get a special gift.  We had no idea what the gift was, but we brought our tickets up to the special counter anyways.  We could see people handing over their tickets and getting some kind of black card back, and there was a sign above the booth that said what the card was, but it was a kanji I'd never seen before.  All I could make out was that it was a "something card."  So MelJay and I handed over our tickets, and the staff guy punched a hole through them and handed us our "something card."  Then we walked away and examined them, but found that the stuff written on the card wasn't any more helpful.  It just said to hold onto the card at all costs.  We debated asking someone what the card was, and I suggested we ask the staff.  MelJay didn't seem happy with the idea, so we just hovered around awkwardly staring at the card.  But I was frustrated because I didn't know if we had to do something with the card now, or soon, or what.  Finally, I said, "I'm gonna ask them."  MelJay just gave me a, "if you wanna make a fool out of yourself, go for it"-look.

So I did.

I went up to the guy who gave us the card (he wasn't doing anything at the moment) and held it up.  It went something like this:

Me: Sorry to bother you, but... what is this card?

Staff guy: [gets an absolutely dumbfounded look on his face, waves hand in front of nose (this is the Japanese hand gesture for "no")]

Me: [cocks head] Um... what do we do with it?

Staff guy: [hesitates] It's a "nazo."

Me: [realizes "nazo" is the kanji I didn't recognize on the card].  What's a "nazo"?

Staff guy: [turns slowly to the staff guy next to him with a desperate look on his face]

Other staff guy: [smirks, gives horribly exaggerated shrug] I dunno.

Me: O... kay... well, thank you. [runs away]

Once we were out of ear shot, I burst into embarrassed laughter and told MelJay what happened.  She couldn't believe I was such an idiot that I asked them.  She was like, "obviously, it's a secret."  I was like, "yeah, I guess so... though they really didn't have to be so condescending about it."  Every time I pictured the look on the staff guy's face, I laughed all over again.  Even sitting at Saizeriya eating dinner, I kept giggling about the stupid conversation.

But wait, there's more to the story!  That night, MelJay and I went on the internet and looked up what a "nazo" is.

It means riddle or puzzle.

FUCK.

The card literally said, "this is a riddle card."  And, thanks to Japanese grammar, when I asked what a "nazo" was, it probably sounded like I was literally asking them what the riddle was.  Which was why the other guy shrugged all secretively and said, "I dunno."  MelJay burst out laughing and was like, "omigawd, Kita, you are such an idiot!  I can't believe you asked them!"  Then we went on MERRY's official site to see if there was more info.  The site explained that the card was a mystery, so just hold onto it.  And then, under the explanation, it said, "you can't ask the staff what the card is, so please don't."

OH FUCK I'M SUCH AN IDIOT, HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Yeah, so... MelJay still isn't letting me live this one down.  In fact, I don't think she will ever let me live this down.  I'm officially branded as a moron for the rest of my life.  Not that I wasn't already, but this one was pretty stupid.  I made a total ass out of myself in front of the staff.  I can only hope they just assumed I was a dumb foreigner, but I think what made them so baffled was that I obviously spoke Japanese, and could read enough to figure out how to get the card, yet I was clearly not understanding something.  So I looked even dumber than I would have if I'd just been a "stupid foreigner."  Oh well, lol. 

Let's move on!

DAY 6: UNDERWORLD


Third and final night, time for Underworld!  I happen to love the Underworld CD, and it was going to be really nostalgic for me since I saw a bunch of shows on the Underworld tour two years ago.  So I was pretty excited.  

MelJay and I had a ridiculous amount of luggage on us by Sunday and there was a definite fear of no lockers at the station (the venue lockers were too small for us).  We decided to be crafty and go to Ebisu first thing around noon and get a locker.  We got some of the last couple lockers at the right exit and stuffed all our stuff in it, except our purses.  Then we hopped back on the train and went to Shinjuku, where we had lunch at Ducky Duck's and went shopping for a pair of gloves we liked at O1O1 One.  Lucky for me, since I had a pretty crazy journey to get back to Gunma, the show started an hour earlier than all the others.  I can only assume this is because of travel times for people.  There were plenty of MERRY fans wandering around Ebisu with huge suitcases, and those people probably came all the way from places like Chiba and Osaka in order to see these 10th anniversary shows.  So I probably wasn't the only one who was grateful for the show being pushed forward an hour.

Anyways, we returned to Ebisu later and opened our lockers, then put more money in them to reuse them.  Which made a bunch of very hopeful and desperate-looking MERRY fans very sad.  Sorry, MERRY fans :-(  Then we went off to the venue.

Despite having the worst ticket numbers we'd had so far, MelJay and I managed to squeeze up really close in the pit.  Way closer than the previous nights.  Like the other nights, Nero gave the pre-show announcement, except he kinda screwed up part of it, paused, and went "chikushou!" really loudly into the microphone.  "Chikushou" is one of the closest words Japanese has to a swear, basically meaning, "shit!"  The audience cracked up and started applauding.  The wait in the pit was long and boring, so I managed to get Melissa to play shiri-tori with me, where you say a word, and the other person has to say a word starting with the last word of the previous word.  For example: Egg to Grass.  Grass to Sandwich.  Sandwich to Herpes.  Etc.  MelJay thought the idea was stupid, but we actually managed to make a half hour pass like a breeze, and we laughed our way through the game.  So there y'all go, now you have a game to play when you're waiting before a concert.

Soon enough, the concert began with the ticking clock and the pictures, blah blah blah.  Then the scrim dropped, and this time there was no red curtain on the stage at all.  Just a raw, metal backdrop and the opening music to Underworld.  Here's our setlist:

GI・GO
Friction ×××× 
under-world 
Kigeki no Taboo
montage
Piranha
Gesshoku 
Akai Kutsu
Katamichi Kippu
Kanaria
Enzetsu ~Surrealism~ 
[human farm] 
stupid×cupid 
Midnight Shangrila
Tozasareta Rakuen
Gekisei

Encore 1:
Fuyu no Castanet

Encore 2:
-choral-
finale
Yakou
Fukinkou Kinema
Zetsubou
Identity 

Encore 3:
Shoudoku

Phew, I've written a lot.  Okay, let's do this!

Anyways, the audience was a bit, um... high-strung for this show.  Many of them had gone to all six nights, so a lot of them were kinda flipping.  When the big push-up happened, I went running into the pit like everyone else, but this one girl was so determined to get in there that she was literally throwing people out of her way.  She shoved me so hard I stumbled into a bunch of people and stepped on some feet, and those people misinterpreted that to mean I was the crazy one who knocked people over to get in, even though it was the other girl who pushed me.  One MERRY fan got so mad at me she ran up to me and angrily shoved me from behind for revenge.  What the fuck, you dumb bitch?!!  I didn't do it!  And even if I did, who are you to start pushing people?!  This is a fucking pit, deal with it!  Her equally immature friend then had the nerve to run up to me and shove me and yell something at me a minute later, as if to seal in the point.  I decided to be the adult and ignore them, but it really pissed me off.  I hate being wrongly accused, especially of something so childish and stupid.  Meanwhile, the real batshit crazy girl was totally getting away with it a few rows ahead of me.

Well, whatever.  The band members came on stage, and it was a flood of nostalgia for me, because they kinda looked the way they did during the Underworld tour.  Ken'ichi was wearing sunglasses on stage, and Yuu was wearing these cool jeans with tears in them that were filled with leather.  Gara had his hair pulled up into a fohawk that kinda looked like the top of a pineapple, just like the hair he had during Underworld.  Yaaaaay!

Onto highlights.

Gesshoku was hawt.  But it's always hawt.  I was just happy to hear it again.  And I think it was during Akai Kutsu (I could be way wrong, sorry) that they brought down the light bulb from the ceiling and let Gara play with it again.  At one point he kinda stopped paying attention to it, though, and it swung back and hit him in the face, lol.  It didn't hit him hard, but I think it surprised him, and I think the light bulb was hot, cuz Gara jumped pretty badly, lol.

Well, for Enzetsu ~Surrealism~, just as I'd hoped before the show, Gara busted out the creepy bunny head and did his crazy Surrealism dance.  And you know what?  I've seen him dance around with the bunny head several times during the Underworld tour, but this was undoubtedly the most spirited, silly bunny-head dance I've seen him do.  His arms were flailing around like crazy, lol.  If you haven't had the joy of seeing Gara's bunny-head dance, here's a (poor quality) video of it:


I was really happy to see that dance again, and I knew MelJay had high hopes for seeing it too.

Also, it was sooooo exciting that they played stupidxcupid!  And, to my surprise, a lot of girls busted out a pair of panties for this one.  The number of people who did it on the Underworld tour was always dwindling, and I thought by now no one would bother, but we actually had a pretty good number of girls who whipped out fancy panties and spun them above their heads for the song.  Made my night, lol.

For the most part, the fans were awesome, but I must say, it was more than just the high-strung bitches at the beginning causing problems.  MelJay had a persistent fan who kept putting her arm in front of her face.  Bitchy, yeah, but the problem was that she kept putting her arm across MelJay's neck and effectively strangling her.  No matter how many times MelJay told her to stop because she was getting suffocated, the girl persisted.  I even glanced at her at one point, only to have the fan stare defiantly back at me.  Uuuum... what point are you trying to prove by strangling another fan at a show?  Are we comparing fan dick sizes here?  So yeah, the audience was definitely getting a little mental for the last show.  But I won't let a few bitches ruin my impression of the MERRY fans.  Most of them are nice.

They played Fuyu no Castanet as an encore song.  I've never liked that song (Christmas songs are eew), but it was pretty cute the way they did it.  Basically, it started "snowing" on stage.  Cute little flakes of something light and fluffy drifted down onto the stage for the whole performance.  Something I found amusing was that, for some reason, this stuff only seemed to stick to Yuu's hair (and a little bit of Gara's).  So the others all looked fine, but Yuu's hair was being massacred by fluffy dandruff, lol.  Upon closer inspection, I suspected the white stuff was actually soap, and the eventual stinging in my eyes led me to believe that was probably the case.  So imagine my disgust when Nero came out from behind the drum set, opened his mouth wide, and ate a bunch of it, lol.  Eeeeew.

As usual, things got whacky during encore.  The pit was getting close to Dir en grey pit levels of intensity.  We were squeezed so tight it was impossible to breathe, and everyone was swaying and stumbling and pushing all over the place.  At one point, we squeezed up suddenly and a girl in the row in front of me simply collapsed.  No one made a move to help her (MERRY fans, I'm starting to wonder about you guys...), so I grabbed her and hauled her up, and she came around after a moment, but that's how tight it got in there.

Anyways, encore was a lot of fun, and Gara was even interacting with the crowd and grabbing people's hands and leaning over the audience and letting them grab at him.  Tetsu kept jumping up onto the equipment and giving the crowd that wonderfully moody, dark, brooding glare he's so good at.  Even Yuu was climbing up on the equipment a lot in order to rock out.

During Shoudoku, Gara brought out the dry ice machine again.  Yaaaay!  He was blasting it all over the place, until the whole venue seemed to fill with smoke.  I made the mistake of reaching my hand right up into it at one point, and holy balls was it cold.  So imagine Yuu's surprise when he was up on a speaker and Gara shot him with the machine from behind without warning.  Yuu was so shocked he dropped down into a crouch and then whipped his head over his shoulder like O___O  Gara just laughed at him, lol.  Gara got pretty crazy at the end.  At one point, he unzipped his pants, took the cap off his water bottle, then stuck the whole thing in his crotch and let all the water pour over his nether-regions.  Then he started pelvic thrusting the crotch-water at the audience or getting his hands in it and flicking it at everyone.  When the water was gone, he took the bottle out of his pants and instead looped his microphone cord over the top of his belt and pulled the microphone out through the opening in his pant's zipper.  Then wiggled his hips around and let his naughty microphone flap in the breeze.  As the show wound down, Gara climbed up onto the school desk, did a headstand, and clapped with his feet.  Lol.

Nero came out from behind his drum set and wandered around the stage.  One of the drumsticks he threw landed near me and a guy and a girl started fighting over it.  But then they decided to settle things Japanese style: rock, paper, scissors.  She won, and there was no dispute, lol.  Nero grabbed hands with Yuu and tried to convince his band mates to do a finale jump with him.  Tetsu looked unsure, and Gara was pretty much like, "fuck that, that's stupid" and they abandoned the idea, lol.  Then the band waved at us and thanked us, and Gara suddenly took hold of the microphone stand and began talking.  Now, I know he does talk these days, but he still doesn't do it that often, and he definitely refrained from speaking at the other two shows I went to.  It sounded weird to hear his voice.  It sounds more boyish than you'd expect.  Anyways, he looked embarrassed, but he gave us a long thank you and said how much he appreciated us and stuff like that.  Very cute.  A girl near me actually started crying.

And that pretty much ended the show!  Phew!  It was a rather tiring weekend (and typing all this up was rather tiring too), but it was definitely fun!  Totally worth it!  I had a great time and got to hear a lot of songs I wouldn't normally get to hear!  Good stuff!

Anyways, I was happy to see that the show was over before 8:15, meaning I'd have less of a horribly rushed journey home.  Still, it was too late for me to go home by my normal methods, so I had to ditch MelJay at Ebisu Station and do a lot of crazy transfers and ultimately take a short taxi ride to get home.  But I was home by midnight and able to shower and get some sleep before work, so no complaints!

And now, if my preorder actually worked, I should be going to an indies show on Saturday.  Bands of interest: DIAURA (they're hosting), The Gallo, DEZERT, and THE SOUND BEE HD.  Speaking of which, I heard JoJo, the vocalist of The Gallo, was at the Underworld show!  Yaaaaaaay!