Our first stop is the Awoi one-man. It was quite literally the first thing I did. The previous day, I was stuck out late after work because of a staff party (where I proved that I'm as bad at bowling as the sixty-five year old secretary), and then got up early the next morning for Tokyo. The Awoi one-man was that night.
For starters, here is a picture of the lovely Awoi:
|Otogi will eat your soooooouuuuuul.|
The concert was at a venue I'd never been to called Harajuku Astro Hall. After looking around for it a bit, MelJay and I felt pretty stupid when we found it. I dunno how I never noticed it before. It's right down one of the main streets. Pretend you're heading towards Laforet, and you can easily see Harajuku Astro Hall right across the street from Forever XXI. It has a brightly lit sign and everything.
MelJay and I goofed around in a cafeteria on Takeshita Street while we waited for the show to start. We enjoyed some bubble tea and started seeing potential Awoi fans in Harajuku. There was one girl in the cafeteria wearing all black with one white-out contact that I was convinced would be at the show. Sure enough, she was.
Anyways, it was freezing cold that day, but we still wanted to use the lockers (thank you, Astro Hall, for being a small venue with lockers). So MelJay and I dropped off almost everything, including our coats, to make the show easier. Then we had to loiter in the semi-line with everyone else while freezing our asses off. I mean, we weren't the only ones. Most people in line were coat-less and dancing around looking miserable. Our ticket numbers weren't very good, so we were out there awhile.
The venue itself really reminded me of the Bottom Lounge that I went to in Chicago to see D'espairsRay. It had that same small, grungy, pub/venue feel to it. Despite our shitty ticket numbers, MelJay and I had no problem going past second barrier and hanging out in the back of the first level. A surprising number of Awoi fans just stayed in the back for some reason. There were only about 300 people, and it was pretty spread out, not cramped. I didn't really expect a huge audience, though, since Awoi is pretty indies (despite being around for seven years), and they rarely even come to Tokyo (they're an Osaka-based band). I was actually really surprised their tour final was in Tokyo, but who the hell am I to complain?
Anyways, appropriately creepy music started playing and the band members made their way on stage one by one. Okay, I'm trying to learn the Awoi members' names. I'm so fucking bad with names. First we had drummer Ryo, then guitarists Saki and Shin, and bassist Shou, and vocalist Otogi. I see so many bands these days, all the names are starting to blur together. Especially since there are so many Shin's, Shou's, Ryo's, Yuu's, and Yuuki's. One of these days, I wanna see a band with a member named Cornstarch or something. Shut up, I'm eating a sandwich.
Oh, I never really explained why I was at the show. I just suddenly really got into Awoi. After seeing them at an indies event awhile back and really enjoying it, I started shuffling their music on my iPod a lot when I was riding trains or walking around town and stuff. The music kept coiling tighter and tighter around my brain until I became addicted. Somehow, Awoi wound up scratching the exact itch I've had lately. Their music is..... I dunno, dark? Dark, but it's also catchy, melancholy, angry, eerie. It's a lot of stuff. And I like Otogi's weird, melodramatic voice a lot. All I knew was, I absolutely had to see their one-man show. But, despite knowing all their songs and the exact "personality" of each member...................... I can't do names, graaaaar.
The members came on stage looking quite excited to be there, and they did their best to look extra dark in their black clothes and panda-levels of black make up. Guitarist Shou didn't do an interpretive dance this time, but he and his band mates were fired up and throwing their fists, and the audience screamed appropriately. Otogi came on stage looking like a little psycho with two black eyes and no eyebrows. Sometimes he looks like a little Marilyn Manson, especially when he goes out of his way to make ugly faces at the audience. Otogi has a seriously big mouth. The crowd didn't push up or anything, but the audience still felt "hot" with excitement, if that makes any sense.
Setlist, setlist... Saki posted it, just gimme a moment to Romanize it:
under a skin
closet in my room
Obviously a totally awesome setlist. I think the encore songs are missing, though. Saki just posted a picture of the setlist paper, he didn't actually type anything up. I know they played Koe, so I think there might be two or three songs missing on that list. Sorry. Either way, I was extremely happy with this setlist and got to hear a ton of my favorites. The band kept up a solid pace for two hours straight, and it was awesome.
As for the audience, MelJay and I were in a bit of a bum area. The girl to my right didn't move almost at all, and I started to wonder why she even came. MelJay and I were too far back in the front area. We could've moved up, but we didn't want to be rude. We weren't in a bad spot, it just wasn't as enthusiastic as what was happening a few rows ahead of us. Except this bleached-blond girl in front of me (who was really tall and appeared to be in her forties) was rocking out Western style, by constantly headbanging her head forward and shaking her body around to the music. I was actually very amused by this. There was a foreign guy in the audience too and, unless I'm insane, a small child was in the audience with her family. There was also a random tall guy in middle of the audience wearing a bunch of Awoi's scrunchies around his wrist, hahaha. Get it, man. Get it.
As a whole, the band was super hyperactive and very happy. I caught all the members singing along to the songs, including drummer Ryo. Even Shin would occasionally stop looking at The Thing in the Upper Left-Hand Corner long enough to sing along or skip about his area. But he still stared up at something random in the corner a lot. I don't know what's up there, but I'm guessing it's delicious. Just like this tuna sandwich.
Awoi did an amazing job of not slowing the pace for a moment. There were absolutely no MCs between songs, and virtually no pauses. Otogi sometimes announced the name of a song before performing it, and he always seemed to say the name in a lolzy voice. But I think Otogi might just have a lolzy voice, lol. Sorry, Otogi, I actually really like your voice.
Other than Shin's apparent hallucinations, I felt like I was able to get a really good look at the members of Awoi. That's one of my favorite things about one-man shows - you get a more intimate view of a band. Indies bands are always trying hard to impress new people at big events with other bands that they're comparing themselves to, so a one-man is a chance to see an indies band being itself just for its own fans. It's the more honest side of indies.
One thing I discovered is that I absolutely love drummer Ryo's style. I'm not a drummer, and I'm the first to admit I don't know much of anything about drumming (that's MelJay's specialty). But that doesn't mean I don't look at drummers and notice differences between them. One of my biggest complaints about indies is that a lot of drummers, on top of being practically useless at drumming, just sorta tap the drums over and over and don't have any sense of style. They're all virtually interchangeable. But Ryo had his own thing going on back there. He's, like... slinky? It's like he's dancing around back there in this smooth, sneaky way. I would dare say he's "laid back" about drumming, which makes him strangely pleasant to watch. One of my favorite things was during the song Fukaki Taidou. During the chorus, Ryo played so smoothly that he would lift his arm during each measure and twirl the drumstick over his head in a circle. The twirl was weirdly mesmerizing. But that's not to say that the guy is so laid-back that he's lacking energy. Not at all. At one point, in a fit of excitement, he punched the cymbals. According to MelJay, that is very painful. Ryo also smiles a lot while playing, so the other members liked standing on the drum platform with him and goof around. I dunno if I've ever seen a band spend as much time goofing off with a drummer as these guys did.
Other than staring at phantom tuna sandwiches in The Upper Left-Hand Corner, Shin definitely sang the most of any other member. He also sang backup vocals in place of any prerecorded singing, and happens to sing really damn well.
As for bassist Saki, he comes off as more stoic than the others. He stayed in the shadows a lot and seemed like he was hiding in the darkness. He came on stage wearing a bandana over most of his face, but he got rid of it about two songs in. He also played the bass vertically a lot and reared his whole body back pretty epically whenever he got into the music. In general, he was really into it, so I kinda wish he'd come out of the shadows a bit more.
And then there was snake-dancer Shou. Kind of a cool thing about Shou: he has this really gorgeous white guitar with a Buddha-like image and a lotus flower painted on it. According to his blog (with some photo evidence), Shou actually painted the guitar himself. Which is pretty awesome. It looks like it was made that way. And, although Shou didn't do an interpretive dance at this show, he still snaked his arms around a lot, which I thought was funny. Pretty much any moment where he wasn't strumming the guitar, he was wiggling or undulating in some way. He was also the easiest member to catch eye-contact with, because he was always very interested in the crowd. Also............. I need help with this one. It was driving me crazy for a lot of the show. I kinda thought Shou was wearing fake vampire fangs. Then I started to think...... those might be his real teeth. In Japan, the Land Before Orthodontia, crazy teeth like that aren't so unusual. Shou sang along a lot and, despite the teeth, showed no signs of awkwardness or discomfort... which made me think they're real. If anyone knows, lemme know. I noticed a brief smile from him in the abelcain music video where Shou still has fangs, so... I'm starting to think he is literally just a man with vampire teeth. I feel bad even suggesting he's wearing fake teeth if it turns out they're real, but... in his defense, the vampire fangs look pretty cool!
And then, of course, we have vocalist Otogi. He's a crazy little bugger. Typically, indies vocalists like to take advantage of the crate as much as possible, especially if they're, um... not very tall. But Otogi didn't seem interested in the crate most of the time, and instead spent his time running around like a lunatic. He sang and screamed really passionately and frequently screamed parts of songs that didn't originally involve screaming at all. At times, he sang so passionately, people in the audience would start crying. He had incredible energy and a lot of force for such a skinny guy. He slowly stripped throughout the show, removing jacket, tie, unbuttoning his shirt. At one point, he ran into audience and messed around with the people standing at the second barrier. Then he prowled around the crowd for awhile. When he wanted to get back on the stage, he climbed straight back onto the crate. He bypassed the stage entirely and somehow managed to hoist himself all the way onto an object sitting a good foot over his head. Like a monkey! He spent a lot of time walking along the edge of the stage and frequently jumped down in front of the barrier and lurked around in front of the audience. Also, if I can throw in a shallow comment... Otogi has beautiful fucking hair. Beautiful enough that I actually noticed it right away. It's just natural, straight black, but it's so smooth and shiny, and it flutters about everywhere he goes like it's weightless. Even when Otogi got sweaty and a little hair clung to his face (yo, Astro Hall, why was the fucking heat on the entire show? Do you have any idea how hot it was in there?!!), most of it still looked like it came straight from a shampoo commercial. I noticed he often hid behind hair when he wasn't actually singing (like when there was pre-recorded singing). I know he was just hiding his mouth, but it looked like a nice place to hide, lol.
I wish I could do a breakdown of some of the songs, but it's all blurred together in my mind after two weeks. That's why I keep this blog - to keep that kinda thing from happening. But alas, it's unavoidable sometimes. I remember before Tsumetai Te, Otogi started saying, "tsumetai, tsumetai, tsumetai" over and over (for the record, "tsumetai" means "cold" and "te" is "hand"). I remember Otogi made the audience sing along for darling and Koe.
Since I'm failing at portraying what Awoi is like live, I'll leave it to the band. Here's a video of Awoi live, which shows two minutes of Melancholy, and then two minutes of Suzumushi. Check out the crazy energy of their shows!
Now, what I wasn't expecting from Awoi was the epic amounts of fanservice (which MelJay made me take notes on, so enjoy a sudden burst of detail). The band seems kind of serious business (albeit a tad deranged), so I didn't think the concert would eventually break down into fanservice-chaos. Before encore, Otogi grabbed Saki and was hanging all over him. Okay, fair enough. Then Otogi spat a lot of water at crowd while his band mates tossed tons of picks and water bottles at us. Then, somewhere in all that, Saki and Shin had a long make-out session. Like... full-blown kissing with no shame. Not the usual, "lets get this over with" peck on the mouth that a lot of bands do. No, this looked like it involved tongue. Otogi kissed Shou at one point, too. I...... was surprised, lol. But it was funny, so whatever.
After encore was over, Otogi gave a very long, rambling MC that didn't make much sense to me. He didn't know what month it was, for one thing, and still believed it was November. The audience just giggled. Then Otogi dumped a bottle of water on his head and left to allow his band mates to freely mess around.
Bad idea. It was like blowing the cork off a champagne bottle.
First, Shin jumped on the crate, thanked the crowd, and left. Alrighty. Then Ryo came up front and silenced the crowd to say thank you. As he was gesturing at us to stop screaming, Saki finally emerged from the shadows for the first time the whole show with a sneaky look on his face. He gestured at the crowd to wait a moment. Then, as Ryo started to yell "arigatou", Saki started waving frantically for us to scream over him. Feeling bad for Ryo, I didn't make a sound, but most of the crowd played along, and poor Ryo's "thank you" got drowned out in an explosion of cheers. Ryo looked confused, and Saki looked very proud of himself. Then Saki jumped onto the crate and made a big show of silencing the audience. After finally getting us to settle down, he waited a moment, then whispered "arigatou" really quietly and ran away.
At that point, Shin came back on stage and started spitting water at the audience. Then, out of nowhere, he glomped Shou suddenly and tackled him to the ground. After flailing on the floor a moment, Shou managed to untangle himself and got up, only to have Saki tackle him back to the floor. Poor Shou! To add insult to injury, Saki held Shou down and started humping him.
For some reason, Saki became a whole new person at the end of the show. He was no longer creeping around in the background, but instead became the biggest instigator onstage. After freeing poor Shou, Saki got back up. As Shin was drinking water, Saki took a swig of water, grabbed Shin suddenly, and kissed him. Since they both had mouthfuls of water, I guess Saki's plan was to have them "exchange" the water in their mouths. Whether or not this worked, I have no idea, all I know is that when Saki finally pulled away, water exploded out of Shin's mouth like vomit. I'll be honest, I almost died laughing. I'm seriously immature, and there's something about projectile vomiting that I find hilarious. Needless to say, I was hysterical watching Shin double over gagging up all that dirty water. The band members were all pouring water on each other's heads as well. As they were all leaving, Shou ran across the stage and leaped on top of Shin. Then he clung to his back like a koala bear on a eucalyptus tree and practically got piggy-backed off the stage.
You guys are a bunch of hilarious idiots.
After the show was over, I decided to pick up some merch. Unfortunately, MelJay and I are dumb and left all our money in the lockers. We had to run outside, grab our stuff, and run back in. That put us at the end of a nasty line that seemed to include all 300 people. Oh well.
The big thing in indies these days is scrunchies, but I don't usually buy them. The only purpose they really serve is to put on your wrist at an event to show off who you came for (cuz everyone can see it when you're throwing your fist and stuff). But the Awoi scrunchies were actually really cute and came in several colors. I couldn't pick, so I bought a pink one and a black one, because they were so cheap. I meant to take a picture of my scrunchies but I forgot, and now I'm stuck at school, so I'll post a picture later on when I have my big shopping post. The merch lady, perhaps surprised to see foreigners at the show, had a big smile on her face and asked us if we had a good time. Aaaaw. It's the little things like that that make you smile. I assured her I had a damn good time.
Overall, the show was awesome, one of the best I've seen, actually, and I'm really excited to see Awoi again the next time they haul their asses back to Tokyo. Totally awesome.
Next up is the DIAURA Christmas special. And boy was it....... "special."