Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kiryu Festival (Six Months Late)

Well, I really don't have any excuse for posting about something that happened six months ago.  I guess my only excuse would be that I didn't have any internet six months ago.  Of course, I've had internet for about five months, so that's a pretty flimsy excuse.  Laziness is the only real reason, since uploading pics from my camera onto the blog is a hassle-and-a-half.

But I think this blog could use some non-concert-related content.  So let's talk about the Kiryu Matsuri (Festival)!  As I've mentioned I live pretty close to Kiryu City.  Going to the festival was one of the first Kiryu things I did.  It was pretty cool, so I took a lot of pictures.  Let's take a look!

This is a big... lantern-y thing.  It had people standing on the balcony playing various traditional Japanese drums and flutes and stuff:


As you can see, this was a pretty big event.  The main roads through Kiryu were all blocked off and taken over by the festival, so this thing took hours to get through.


They had entire streets converted into food stands (had to start brightening some of these pictures):


OM NOM NOM, food:


Let's start taking food pictures!  These were bags of juice.  The different colors were different fruit flavors (except blue, which was Ramune-flavored):


I bought the pink one, which was peach flavored!  Also, this weird ice cream was being advertised by a large penguin, lol:


There were also people dancing to the music.  Kiryu has its own "song" called the Yagibushi, and that's what they were playing all up and down the streets.  It has its own dance and everything.  This particular group of people dancing was actually quite small compared to some of the other dance circles going on, but we'll get to those later.  Besides, this one had little kids in it, which is pretty cute (for the record, anyone can join the dancing.  Literally anyone).


The music performers (who have to play the same tune continuously for two days straight, lol):


 And yes, I found pikachu cakes (castellas, a type of sponge cake, to be specific):


Okay, these next few pictures I took early the next day (the festival is two days long), so they get bright alluva sudden, lol.  These are the big decorations that were hard to see in the previous pictures:


More food!  I bought grilled scallops and clams on a stick and they were soooooo good!


Okay, this was a very interesting dessert.  It's basically ice cream pumped up with air, and the result is this airy, wispy ice cream that almost disintegrates in your mouth.  But it was really good.  I got the green tea flavored one:


We also had the happy Japanese tradition of a bunch of guys running down a street with a massive, movable shrine as fast as possible, practically running people over:


And the crowds began to increase as the festival geared up for Day 2:
OH GAWD, THEY'RE COMING, RUUUUUN!


I bought myself an extraordinarily phallic chocolate-covered banana.  Or a sprinkled dildo, if you prefer:


This next food is a Kiryu specialty.  I forget what it's called, but it's like dough filled with cabbage and pork and stuff, and it's fried and covered in a barbecue-like sauce.  I don't like this dish personally (I think I just hate the sauce, lol), but a lot of people really love it:


Next up, we have kebabs!  There are many Turkish people living in Kiryu who like to sell kebabs during the festival.  I was reluctant to try one (I'm not a big fan of meat, especially saucy meat), but it wound up being super delicious (so much so that I think I had another one later, lol).
I remember the vendor said, "you are my sunshine" to me.  Uuuuuh.... thanks....?

Now here's something interesting.  Near the festival was a dance competition for all ages.  I managed to snag some pictures of a few of the dance groups that performed (all of them from local dance classes, I believe).



Okay, confession: I'm friends with several of the dancers in this next picture, lol.  That's why I was there!


Back over at the festival, shit was gettin' reeeeeeeeal:


All those people you see above were dancing.  Massive, street-wide dance circles were forming and people were going crazy.  My friends and I got roped into it and had to do it too, and the random Japanese people around us were more than happy to show the dumb foreigners how to Yagibushi.  But some people were just crazy-dancing because it was late and they were sugar-high and drunk, lol.  Some girls were suddenly only wearing bras and stuff.  Oops...

Not wanting to let the party slow down, my friends and I went to a bar nearby, where they were giving out free tequila shots through an ice sculpture.  I hate tequila, but I'm never one to turn down free booze, so I did one.  Fuck yeah!


And that's about all I've got for pictures of the Yagibushi Festival!  I didn't manage to snag photos of everything (like the epic amounts of kara-age (fried chicken) I ate, or some of the more insane dancing), but I think that should about sum the festival up!  The Yagibushi Matsuri is definitely a blast, and I'm really looking forward to going back next summer for another two-day adventure!

I have more pictures that I've recently uncovered, so more pic-spamming will ensue!  See ya later!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Indies, Takadanobaba AREA, 1/7

Almost caught up!  Almost caught up!  So, this was a week after the big winter break concert binge.  MelJay and I were pretty bummed out that week, which is why we went.  Coming back to Gunma after two weeks in Tokyo felt like an even bigger culture shock than moving to Japan (which has never given me any culture shock whatsoever).  Gunma felt like a miserable place to me, and all I wanted to do was return to Tokyo.  So this concert was basically just an "escape" show, even if we didn't have a very strong reason for going.

Uuuum... yeah, I dunno, we chilled in the Beck's Coffee inside Takadanobaba Station and drank rasberry mochas before the show.  Watched the people walk by... etc. etc.

Okay, let's just get on with it.  Went to the venue, went inside, threw our stuff down in the back, and chilled back there until we had a better idea what the band order would be (as in, pull a name out of a hat and hope you're right).  For some reason, I realized I had a headache pretty early on (probably even before the bands started playing) and that I generally felt like crap.  I think I was really dehydrated (I tend to let that happen).  But I was hoping to enjoy the show anyways.

Let's get started with Codomo Dragon:

No one will recognize me behind these glasses.  It's the perfect disguise!

So... is the band name a pun?  A Komodo dragon is a type of really big lizard, and a codomo (or "kodomo") dragon would be a "dragon child" in Japanese.  Is that the joke?  No idea.

As far as "colorful" bands go, they really weren't bad.  I mean, I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to it myself, but it really wasn't bad.  The music was pretty catchy, and the audience looked like it was having a good time.  I was fairly amused by the fact that only one lens in the vocalist's glasses had slats.  Maybe to preserve his depth perception so he doesn't go flying headfirst into a guitarist or something.  Although MelJay told me later that the glasses pissed her off because it seemed like the vocalist wanted to headbang, but he didn't want the glasses to fall off, so his "rocking out" was really restrained.  Probably true.  Don't sacrifice performance in place of style, guys!  But yeah, overall, I really don't have anything bad to say about them.

Next band up was, uh... phasefaith...?

There must be a black hole in my brain that draws in phase faith and then evaporates.  It's science!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the moment this band gets off the stage, it's like they're wiped from my memory forever.  They leave so little impression on me, I'm completely incapable of recalling them within moments of their exit.  I think they had a costume change... if my memory serves me right.  The guitarist wasn't wearing that hideous wagon-wheel scarf, so... I'm assuming there was a costume change.  But seriously, that's all I've got.

Neeeeext up.  Ah, okay, so no one seemed to know who the hell was next.  Like, the worst case of it I've ever seen.  There was absolutely no one up at saizen because no one had any idea which saizen should be up there.  The emptiness up there made me think MEJIBRAY was next, since they were essentially snubbed at the show I saw a week earlier (still no idea why that happened), and I was feeling a little worried that we were about to see a very sad Koichi again.  But then I noticed girls tentatively lifting the curtains and trying to sneak a peek at what band was next, and I realized the audience literally just had no idea.  There was a really loud boy next to us who was debating with a couple of girls about it, and he was convinced it was MEJIBRAY.  He seemed so sure of this (and his friends seemed to agree) that MelJay and I decided it must be true, and went down to the lower area.

Except it wasn't MEJIBRAY.  It was LIPHLICH:

If you're thinking this band is another baby MERRY... in some ways you're right...
LIPHLICH............ This... band... was... very... interesting...  Very, very interesting.

It was like a demonic... bohemian... gypsy... cabaret... carnival... theater.  Yeah.  Like that.

At first I was like, "aw, fuck" when I realized it wasn't MEJIBRAY, because now I was stuck down in the front area for a band I didn't know, and I would have to do furi or else look like a jerk.  But not only was I pleasantly surprised, I was actually very glad I stumbled upon these guys.  "Unique" music is hard to come by in the indies scene these days because the economy sucks and bands aren't willing to try anything interesting for fear that it won't sell.  But LIPHLICH seems like one of those "night job" bands that probably work at a convenience store by day and play music by night.  Thus, they probably aren't as concerned about "selling" as other bands are.  One of the things that makes me convinced LIPHLICH is a "night job" band is the fact that no one has any idea when the band actually started activities.  It's the first time I've ever seen VKDB simply throw in the towel and say "no fucking clue" (except in Japanese, and much more eloquently).  Even when I looked around online, I saw varying accounts from people.  Some claim they saw the band as far back as 2007, while others claim it's a completely new band that sprouted up last year.  Which makes me think these guys just pop in and out of the scene whenever it suits their fancy (or when the convenience store salary just isn't cutting it).  But LIPHLICH is suddenly showing up at a lot of shows, and they're included in a lot of pamphlets, so I think they're finally crawling out of the darkness.

So yeah, they were really interesting.  While the band members themselves seemed like really good musicians, the music also relied heavily on the sounds of pre-recorded "exotic" instruments (something I would normally find kind of annoying when used in excess, but which really worked for LIPHLICH).  They have songs with sitar, songs with koto, songs with accordions.....  But the thing is, unlike a lot of bands that rely heavily on pre-recorded instruments or synthesized sounds, LIPHLICH weaves it perfectly into the music they play by hand.  The result is music with atmosphere.  They've nailed the "carnival" atmosphere perfectly.  In fact, one of their songs appears to be sampling Kefka's Theme from Final Fantasy VI, which is a carnival-esque song because it's the theme for a villain who dresses like a clown.  Which is perfect, because the band kind of sounds like villainous clown music sometimes.  The whole time I was watching, I felt like a dog with its head cocked to the side in surprise.

But who cares what I have to say?  If you want to listen to them, you can watch the video they put on their YouTube channel.  They purposely blended the songs together in this video to make them sound "ugly", however, so be warned:

   

If you want "clean" samples of LIPHLICH's music, you can find it at their MySpace page (and I apologize that it's all in Japanese, but it should be easy enough to navigate if you know how to use online players): http://www.myspace.com/liphlich

Seriously, if you're looking for something new and interesting (or not so new, since it's possible the band's been around longer than people realize), I recommend checking them out.  Next time I see them, I'm picking up their album at the merch booth for sure.

Performance-wise, they opted out of the flamboyance seen in the video above and went for a more toned-down performance, but it certainly wasn't boring, and it was still thick with that theatre-esque atmosphere.  They had very few fans, however, so it was somewhat lonely down there.  The only odd thing I noticed (and MelJay noticed this too) is that the band never makes any eye contact with the audience, or even looks at the audience at all.  Which is definitely a little strange.  If the band was a stiff and "serious business" band, I could understand it, but they really aren't, and the vocalist even crouched down and licked/made out with his microphone stand at one point.  So it's just an odd observation, I guess.  Anyways, we've talked about LIPHLICH enough, and I'm sure they'll show up again.  Let's move on for now.

Next band up was finally MEJIBRAY:

I couldn't make this picture any smaller or it got grainy.  Clearly, this is a very arrogant picture.

Hey, I was wondering if anyone knows this... MelJay and I were kinda pondering what "MEJIBRAY" means... and we have a theory, but I wonder if anyone knows the real meaning for sure.  The band's banner has the image of a brain with a single eyeball in the center, so I guess that's their symbol.  "Meji" in Japanese means "white eye", and I'm guessing "bray" is short for "brain"...?  So... "brain with a white eye?"  Is that what it means?  Just a guess...

Anyways, their saizen seemed more "with it" at this show, although it was still more quiet than I would've expected before.  It wasn't as bad as the last time we saw MEJIBRAY, but it wasn't quite what it had been before The Great Snub.  No idea where this sudden backlash is coming from.  Perhaps the band's simply trying to rise too quickly.  It happens.

Anyways, it was a more typical performance from them.  Meto started in his wheelchair again and rose up all creepy puppet-style.  Then he stumbled around the stage, slammed his hands down on the crate, and pinned the audience with a creepy, vacant stare and weird, crooked smile.  Koichi came on stage and looked wary, for sure, but he didn't look quite as sad as the last time we saw him.  And he got up on the crate and did a sexy pose because... why not, I guess.  MiA and Tsuzuku were the same as always, I'd say.

The band had the audience do their version of the side-to-side, which is more like the audience stampedes back and forth across the front of the stage, trying to trample each other (but ends with a cute hop at each end of the stage because this is indies and it has to be cute for some reason).  Would've been fine if I hadn't been so tired and headache-y.  Unfortunately, I just felt kind of grumpy.  I participated the whole time, but I kinda wanted to sit out.  Oh well.

When the show was over, Meto stumbled around the stage clutching his stomach and pretending to have a stomachache.  Then he collapsed face-down on the crate and the staff closed the curtain.  Some Japanese girl near me was like, "is he okay...?"  DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUR.

Anyways, yeah, MEJIBRAY was fine and not quite as awkward as last time.  Also, MelJay noticed another fun code on Meto's blog.  k0_1 = Koichi!  k0 = ko, and "_" seems to imply extended vowels, and "1" in Japanese is "ichi".  Ta da!

Next band up was super nostalgic for me.  Welcome back to the blog, ALSDEAD:

Anyone else think they look like Final Call-era D'espairsRay...?
ALSDEAD performed at the very first indies show I ever went to, and I saw them a lot back in the day.  I was never a huge fan, but they were always good enough, and seeing them again was definitely nostalgic.  But wow... a lot has changed since the heretic sound music days.  ALSDEAD is no longer visual-kei!  I was so surprised!  Sound-wise, they didn't seem any different to me than they did a few years ago, and they even played one of their old songs (and I stunned myself by still knowing the furi after all this time), but their image is completely different.  No make-up, no costumes.  Jeans, t-shirts... but still fashionable.  I was definitely surprised.  Honestly, I say good for them.  If they don't think they need the VK, then fuck VK.  I, for one, have never found visual-kei necessary unless it truly adds to a band's sound/atmosphere.  Otherwise, it really just gets in the way of a band being taken seriously.  I've never been for or against visual-kei, but I fully support an artist's decision to suddenly get into it (like THE SOUND BEE HD did) or to simply drop it (like Dir en grey did).  Anyways, the performance was fine, and definitely nostalgic.  Although, I think the most nostalgic thing for me was watching MAKI turn the color of a tomato within thirty seconds of singing.  Oh, MAKI.  Some things never change!

So that was the show!  We left before the last two bands played.  Unfortunately, it turned out we left before a band called A (spelled "A" but pronounced "S" because Japan sucks like that), which is a pirate-themed band that has a violinist.  That probably would've been interesting.  Oh well, we'll catch them some other time.  MelJay and I were both feeling crappy, so it just wasn't worth staying.

Also, the labels are sloooowly coming along, but I'll announce when they're finished.  It's gonna be awhile, though, because I've been re-reading each post as I label it, looking for things I need to get rid of.  Reading those old posts... ugh, just awful.  Just... awful...

Anyways, THE GALLO one-man is this weekend!  Whoo!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BlackHole 2011 Final Gig

Sorry this wasn't up sooner.  I would've had it up days ago if not for an extremely busy week that I did not see coming.  Even my weekend, which would've been nice and relaxing since I stayed in Gunma, was instead taken over by an all-night birthday party for some friends of mine.  But now I'm getting back on track.

So this is the big gun. This is Black Hole's New Years event. Seventeen bands. Twelve hours. If I'm not mistaken, I saw more bands in that twelve hour time period than I did spending two days at V-Rock Festival a couple years ago.

So this shit's about to get serious. Black Hole actually hosted two New Years shows, and this was the second one. But the first one was the more colorful, oshare-type event, and this was the “dark” event. Wasn't a difficult choice to make. Also, this event worked like a lock-in. You could only enter once, no leaving, and everyone was only allowed one carry-in item (like a purse or backpack). Because it was a lock-in, Black Hole posted the schedule online so people could see exactly what time bands were playing and for how long. That way, people could choose when to arrive and get locked in, and also figure out when they wanted to leave. Unfortunately for MelJay and I, the first band playing was DEZERT, and the headliner was DIAURA. Meaning we had to stay for the whole thing. Crap.

So we got up extra early in order to make sure we had some food for the show. Doors opened at 11:30, and the show started at noon. We originally planned on going to Jonathan's for a real meal before lock-in, but MelJay realized she forgot her ticket right before we got on the train, so she had to go back to the hostel to get it. We only lost about twenty minutes, but it was just enough time loss that we decided we had to downgrade our meal to McDonald's. So we went to Ikebukuro and went into the McDonald's for some shaka-shaka chicken and fries. There were a few other people in there who were obviously going to the show.

Including Jojo and Andy from THE GALLO. Oops. Well, that's the second time we've run into them without their make-up on. Sorry, guys. Next time, try not eat in a popular fast food joint right near the venue you're about to play at. I didn't actually see Jojo, other than his blond hair as he went down the stairs, but MelJay got a good look at him as he went by, and said he looked right at us, then quickly turned away. There's kinda no mistaking his face. I clearly saw Andy go down the stairs about ten minutes later. Wonder why they didn't leave together. Anyways, MelJay and I finished up our food, then left McDonald's. We stopped in a convenience store on the way to pick up food (like sandwiches and rice balls) and water for the show. Saw plenty of other indies girls in there buying stuff too.

Then we joined the line. At which point I got the first indication that we were going to be dealing with some serious bitches at this show (I mean, indies girls are often bitches, but this show took it to a whole new level). While in line, I looked down and noticed someone's Suica card lying on the sidewalk (Suica cards are used like debit cards and in place of tickets at train stations). I picked it up and said, “someone dropped a Suica card...” The girl in front of me whipped around, snatched the card out of my hand, and grumbled, “su'masen” (“'scuse me”). Geeeeez, sorry. I wasn't stealing it! In fact, I was seconds away from asking the people around me if it was theirs! A "thank you" would've been nice. No way that bitch would've noticed she dropped her card if I hadn't picked it up! But you know what really caps off this story? A few minutes later, I accidentally dropped my 500 yen coin on the ground while digging through my wallet. The same girl who dropped her Suica made absolutely no attempt to fetch it for me, even though it landed between her feet, and she moved out of the way and gave me an extremely annoyed look when I apologized and crouched down to retrieve it. I should've smacked some manners into that fucker! But I got revenge by having a better ticket number than her and getting in before she did. So HAH!

Although, I should mention that when the staff walked up and down the line shouting that we could only enter once, a lot of girls gasped in shock.

Seriously?  Fuckin' seriously?  Well, enjoy starving and dehydrating for twelve hours, ladies.  Even the foreigners read the Japanese information better than you did.

Once inside, I began to realize how many girls smuggled in extra bags. Sigh. That oughtta help the situation. It wasn't too crowded yet because a lot of people didn't care about stuff like DEZERT, but I knew it was going to get nasty in a few bands. And, in fact, spot-saving had already begun, which is just so unbelievably obnoxious, I have no words for it. We'll deal with some of those brats later.

Let's get started, shall we? No time to spare! For ease of scrolling, if you want to jump around, here's the order of the bands (and this is exact - I got it from Black Hole's official list):

DEZERT
XodiacK
THE GALLO
Luzmelt
BLOOD
DEPAIN
SCAPEGOAT
LuLu
Velbet
MoNoLith
Lycaon
AUBE
Para:noir
MEJIBRAY
FEST VAINQUEUR
heidi. (special guest)
DIAURA

So our first band up is DEZERT:

So gawth, they shit eyeliner.

They've appeared on this blog several times. They're a n00blet band, which is why they went first. MelJay and I went up to the front for them, which was difficult, since we had spot-savers around us taking up space and looking pissy whenever hair hit them in the face. But whatever. DEZERT put on an enjoyable show as always, and Chiaki decided to wear make-up like The Crow, with a creepy black smile drawn on his face. Their drummer dropped out of the band recently, but the band continued on just fine and did a good job of establishing the dark atmosphere of the next twelve hours. Chiaki's MC wasn't quite as confident as usual, however. It was still funny, but he seemed nervous and unsure of himself (maybe because of all the obvious spot-savers). He also asked bassist SaZ to say something, at which point SaZ just went up to the microphone and muttered, “ohayou gozaimasu” (“good morning”) and then backed away. Love you too, SaZ, lol. We did gyaku-dive as usual, and I managed to get several jumps in to appease the SaZ Monster. He jumped off the stage as usual and pushed people up, but didn't bother with me, which made me happy. Maybe I'm finally doing it enough, lol.

Unfortunately, MelJay didn't have such a good time of it, thanks to the goddamn bitches spot-saving up front. One of the girls – who I'm going to call RatFace from here on out – was trying to hold a good three spots in the second row. According to MelJay, RatFace kept pushing MelJay out of the way while she was trying to enjoy DEZERT, because MelJay seemed like a threat to RatFace's spot. Weeeell, I guess MelJay finally couldn't take it anymore, so she whipped around and pushed RatFace back. That's when I finally noticed what was going on, simply because RatFace suddenly started screaming at MelJay like she'd murdered her puppy. I couldn't hear what RatFace was yelling over the music, but it involved a lot of “r”-rolling and everything was ending in “e” and “ze”, which means she was using extremely confrontational attack language in Japanese. Geeeeeez. I thought MelJay must've crushed the girl's foot or punched her in the face, the way she was screaming. I can't believe she was screaming at MelJay just because she pushed her back while trying to enjoy a band.

RatFace, you are officially sitting on the throne of Queen Bitch. Fuck. You. 

Our next band up is............. XodiacK:
Are those abs real, or computer generated...?!!

Okay, I'm not positive about what's going on with XodiacK, but I'll do my best.  I guess they started activities in 2008 and used to be a genre they called "galaxy metal."  Then, much like the band LuLu, everyone but the vocalist suddenly fled from the band, leaving the vocalist to figure out what the hell to do.  I guess XodiacK's vocalist recently replaced three of the four missing members and started up activities, but the band may no longer be "galaxy metal" (at least, that's what their fans seem to think).  But now it sounds like XodiacK was set to go on hiatus for an undisclosed amount of time... the day after this show.  Which might explain a few things, so keep that in mind!

So, from what I can gather, XodiacK's vocalist is not a vocalist.  He is -the Absolute-EROS.  As in, websites do not list him as a vocalist.  They list him as EROS.  Simply being EROS is his job.  But he actually can sing.  And his live growling abilities are actually pretty impressive.  I was watching casually until EROS started growling, and then I suddenly perked up and paid attention.  He really reminded me of some performers I used to see... like someone took Magack from SeVIIens and Nobro from VAJRA and squished the two into one being.  Which only added to my extreme amusement when I looked them up and realized their new bassist is from SeVIIens.  Haaaah, I used to see that band all the time, lol.

So for awhile I was just enjoying them because, hell, they were putting on a good show.  Good energy, good stage presence, overall pretty intense for the second act.  I never would've guessed that these guys were already scheduled for hiatus.  But what really surprised me was the end of their performance...

Basically, EROS paused the show (like a pseudo-MC).  Then he proceeded to say one of the ballsiest things I've ever heard a vocalist say.  First he yelled at the audience to clear the front and get their shit out of the way.  He literally said something like, "if you don't move your things, we're going to ruin them!"  So the audience quickly scrambled to gather their possessions and run to the sides and the back of the venue.  Except spotsavers.  Sucks to be them.  Then EROS basically yelled, "and if you're not here for XodiacK, go home!"  Except he used the word "kaere!" with an "r"-roll, which means he basically yelled, "if you're not here for XodiacK, get the fuck out of here!"  The audience looked absolutely stunned.  I was like, "oh damn.  This dude has balls."  The reason they cleared the area was so that the XodiacK fans could mosh during the next song.  Not just cute bouncing around and pinball-ing each other, but actually pushing and shoving and fighting and moshing.  So yeah, anyone who left their shit in that area... it probably got totaled.

When their performance was done, EROS pulled out what looked like a big glass bottle of soda.  Aaaaw, he really is like Nobro!  Then, after the band was done exiting the stage, their drummer came out and gave me Shock #2.  He took his unfinished water bottle and, with absolutely no expression on his face whatsoever, baseball-pitched the bottle into the crowd as hard as he could, hitting a girl in the face.  As everyone rushed to the girl's aid, the drummer simply left without a single glance.

Holy.  Shit.

XodiacK wins the award for Biggest Balls in the Scene right now.  Daaaamn.  Too bad they're going on hiatus, I'd like to see that shit again.

Moving on, the next band up is our old friend THE GALLO.  They recently completely changed their image and costumes, but I couldn't find a damn picture of it, so just enjoy Jojo's fork hat one more time:

Delicious, delicious fork hat.  You could eat a whole pie at once with that hat.

As usual, they started up with Liberi Fatali.  MelJay and I moved back up, despite RatFace bristling like the rodent that she is.  There was the usual  banging of spoons on bowls as the band came on stage with lanterns.  When Jojo came out, I noticed the first unusual thing going on with him that day: he held up his bowl and spoon, but he never actually banged them together.  He just mimicked the motion without making the utensils touch.  Which was... odd.

Basically, I think Jojo was having a bad day.  He gave no indication of that while actually performing, and the band did a great job as usual and played lots of fun songs, and Jojo performed like he always does.  But his usual flairs were missing.  No chocolate, no goofy posing...  I wouldn't have thought much about it, except Jojo skipped his MC.  When it was time for MC, the band all stood around while Jojo faced away from the audience.  The band looked like they were waiting for Jojo to say something just as much as the audience was.  Normally, Jojo grabs the doll Vivi and does a ventriloquism act.  Instead, he just faced away from us for awhile and pretended we weren't there.  The doll was sitting on the equipment, but Jojo didn't touch it.  Then Jojo finally turned around and signaled for the music to start, and they continued on.

So that was weird.  I wonder what Jojo's problem was.  It was their first day in their new costumes, but I doubt that would've put him in a bad mood.  And the rest of the band seemed fine.  Strange.

Ah well!  Let's move on!  Next band up is Luzmelt:

Are they standing in water because they're LuzMELTing?!  Haha...

So... they announced they were breaking up a few days after this show, so..... talking about them seems kinda pointless, lol.

Actually, it's too bad, cuz they weren't bad, and they were the first band that had at least half the audience participating.  The vocalist has a good screaming voice, and the songs were fun enough.  Kinda felt bad for them during the last song, because it was obviously supposed to be a "marching" song, and the vocalist was on the crate marching and trying to get the audience to do the fierce, march-y hand gestures with him (it was a really screamy song, too, and that's when I noticed that this guy was really good at screaming), but those girls just jumped up and down all cheerfully, which didn't fit the mood too well.  I don't know why Luzmelt decided to quit, though.  They gave no indication of any problems at the show.  Oh well, another one bites the dust, I guess...  Typical indies...

Neeeext up... oh fuck, I have to talk about BLOOD now.  Alright, here's BLOOD:

So gawth, they shit... I'll shut up now :-/

Oooooh my gawd, what.  Whaaaaaaat the hell was this?!!  I have no idea if this band was supposed to be serious, or funny, or evil, or comical, or what.  Maybe it's just... really dark humor?  I have no idea.  I was standing there with one eyebrow raised while MelJay was laughing her ass off, so that should tell you something.

Sooo... the band was dressed like a typical, gothy VK band.  Nothing unusual there.  The music sounded pretty typical too.  Atmospheric-y, metal-y, gothiness.  That's not what was odd.  It was the vocalist.  This guy......... what the fuck, man?!!  Where do I even begin?!!

First of all, he was wearing a g-string.  How do I know this?  Because his pants were pulled down below his hips, and most of the g-string was showing.  I initially shrugged it off, because dressing like a skank seems to be "in" in the indies world lately.  But then... the vocalist kept dancing around and pulling at his g-string, or jumping on the crate and wiggling his half-naked butt at everybody.  Or belly-dancing.  Very strange, awkward belly-dancing.  Which seemed to be for comical purposes.  It looked like he was making fun of club dancers.  But then sometimes he did more typical stuff, like when the crowd did gyaku-dive, he pulled people into the barrier and stuff.  So that's more standard... until he jumped off the stage, ran around the audience, squeezed between two girls, grabbed their hands, and started jumping up and down happily with them.

Dude... the hell?

It gets weirder.  He climbed back on the stage, jumped on the crate, turned away from the crowd... and then pulled his pants down.  And slapped his bare ass at us.

My god.  A VK guy just flashed his bare ass at the audience.  Well I never...  The crowd looked stunned, lol.

So it sounds like pure comedy, but then there was other stuff... like the fact that the vocalist decided to scratch his chest over and over with such intensity that it looked like he'd been attacked by a thorn bush, and he was literally dripping blood.  He didn't just leave marks on his chest, he drew enough blood to drip the stuff.

Because the band is called BLOOD, I guess...?  So what I'm gathering here is that the guy is just literally insane.  It's not a matter of whether he's funny or serious... he's just out of his fucking mind.

So that was BLOOD.

Next up!  DEPAIN:

They say if a man touches his belt, it means he's thinking about sex.

Last time I saw them, I thought they seemed a little tired, but it went better this time.  Nothing much to report, other than the fact that they were very good, and I enjoyed watching them.  Also, the vocalist wasn't wearing any lipstick, which surprised me (he's usually wearing an obscene amount of it), and I noticed he kept licking his lips the whole performance.  Must've been nice to be able to do that without a mouthful of chemicals, lol.

Next band up is SCAPEGOAT.  Hoo boy.  I used to see SCAPEGOAT all the time, back in the day.  I had a certain image of SCAPEGOAT in my mind, based on what I used to see.  They were always just a standard VK band doing rock-esque music.  Nothing too strange about that.  That was back in the days when the band had a lot of black and leather going on in their costumes, and the vocalist wore black lipstick and put fake cuts on his chest.  The band definitely had a darker feel to it.  You know how I know I've been out of the scene too long?  This is SCAPEGOAT now:

My eyes!  The goggles do nothing!!!

Hey, JRock!  Anyone else wanna go oshare?!  Anybody?  Guys?!  It's anybody's scene now!  Band isn't going too well?  That's okay, just dunk your body in a tub of mixed paint, no one'll mind!  It's popular.  It's not like SCAPEGOAT's music was ever that amazing anyways, but now... now it's cheerful.  Ew.  If I hadn't recognized the vocalist's face, I never would've believed it was the same band I used to see.

Le sigh.

Oh, and the vocalist dragged some staff guy on stage and humiliated him in front of everyone by trying to get him to stand on the crate and sing.  The poor guy looked like he wanted to die, lol.

Next band up is LuLu:

Jailed for malpractice?  BA-ZING!

LuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLu, LULU!  LULU! In my head, that was the Batman theme.  Shut up, I'm sleepy.

So... we met up with LuLu during my last indies post, and I said I'd talk about them more this time.  So here we go.  LuLu is a "doctor-kei" band.  They, like last time, were wearing doctor coats and had the stage covered in gauze and sirens and stuff.  Vocalist Taa introduced the band by saying something (don't remember exactly what) that translated to something like, "welcome to the hospital!"  So... yeah... um... it's a cosplay band and stuff.  They're unusual, I must say.  The music itself is nothing intriguing - it's pretty standard rock-esque VK music, though I'll admit it's very, very catchy.

Taa's voice and behavior, however... Hmmmmm...  I find Taa to be such a baffling human being, I actually went online just to see what other people have to say about him.  What I've gathered is that LuLu fans practically worship the guy, whereas those who are just checking the band out for the first time have a variety of, um... "colorful" opinions about him.  I believe I saw a YouTube commenter say something like, "the vocalist's voice makes me gag."  I'll admit, Taa's voice is not exactly pleasing to the ears (although, oddly enough, I think his voice sounds better live than it does recorded).  In some ways, Taa's voice is perfect for his role because he sings like he's sick.  Or has a brick stuck in his throat.  Something like that.  It almost sounds fake, but when he MCs, his voice is no different.  In fact, when he was doing his MC at this show, some of the girls around me were laughing.  And I'm not sure I blame them.  LuLu fans, you gotta admit, the guy doesn't exactly sound normal

And he doesn't behave normally either.  Like, he'll stop in the middle of a performance, lift his hands in the air, and wiggle his fingers with a face like O_O  Why does he do that?  Some of the girls in the audience were laughing and imitating it, so now I randomly do it in MelJay's face when I'm bored, lol.  And Taa's face never seems to change.  He always has the same expression, no matter what's going on.  Which is why I'm so confused about how good the audience is at catching him when he stage-dives, since his face gives no indication that he's about to jump.  Yet they catch him every time, no problem, and throw him back.  Actually, I think this one girl forgot that Taa has fake blood all over his coat, because she caught him, and then suddenly her hand went flying away from a bloodstain like she'd been burned.  Duuuuur.

So I'll let you dear readers be the judges.  Here's some footage of LuLu.  Check out Taa's voice for yourself.  He doesn't really start singing until about 1:25, but when he does, it's pretty epic.  I start laughing the moment he starts singing, I can't help myself.  Also, enjoy Taa's many hand-movements, despite an ever-unchanging face:



One last thing about LuLu.  I guess they take this doctor-kei thing to a level in which each member of the band is actually assigned a role at the "hospital."  So vocalist Taa is the "hospital director", and guitarist Saiyuki is the band's psychiatrist.  Their other guitarist, Sayu, is the doctor of internal medicine.  Drummer Manami is their ophthalmologist (eye doctor, basically), and bassist Ryusuke is their ear, nose, and throat doctor.  This caused an odd discussion between MelJay and I, which went something like this:

MelJay: I'm really disappointed in that list.  Why don't they have a lady doctor?!

Me: What...?

MelJay: You know, a gynecologist!

Me: Uuuh... cuz that's dirty?

MelJay: Isn't the band supposed to be dirty?

Me: It... it's just a cosplay band.

MelJay: Well, yeah, but they're dressed like doctors.  Isn't that supposed to be kinky?

Me: I... hadn't thought about that :-(

MelJay: How could you not think that?!  That's the first thing I thought!

Me: I don't know, I just didn't think doctor-kei was supposed to have a sexual connotation.  I guess we can't prove that it does.  The band hasn't implied anything sexual about it.

MelJay: Doesn't mean the fans haven't thought about it.

Me: ..........................one of their old members was a pediatrician.... :-(

Determined to figure out if LuLu is meant to be taken sexually/is taken sexually by the fandom, I returned to The Internet.  I looked at the comments under their #1 hit song, and the top rated comment read, "I want Taa to be my SEX doctor."  It had 121 thumbs up.

Fuck.

And I'm aware of the fact that I didn't actually give a personal opinion on LuLu.  At this point, I simply don't have one, other than confused amusement, lol.

Next band up is Velbet:

Cosplay: it's fun for the whole family.

The usual.  Not bad.  Nothing to say.  They've changed costumes and now look more like The GazettE than ever.  I mean, the vocalist is even wearing the fabric from an ugly sofa, just like Ruki would!  I also just found out the vocalist's name is Riuki.  My gawd.  That is fucking HILARIOUS.  But whatever, they're fine, even if they never leave much of an impression on me.  The fans were still driving me crazy, so I was staying in the back at this point to avoid all the bitches.  It was getting so crowded, it was impossible to sit or move, and everyone was getting nasty and starting to give each other really mean looks.  I didn't want any part of that, so I started to go into shut-down mode.

Next band up is MoNoLith:

The goggles still do nothing!!!

I... don't... remember... anything...  I was getting pretty brain-fried by this point.  It had already been at least seven hours, and my ham sandwich and onigiri hadn't done much to replenish me.  A lot of girls had been rocking out and hadn't had anything to eat this whole time, and it may have been around this time that we had a girl finally faint and get carried out by the staff.  Whoops.  Also, I can't remember who started it, but it might've been the vocalist of MoNoLith (or maybe Velbet...?  Fuck if I know) who realized the crate was higher than usual and lent easy access to the bar holding up the lights across the ceiling.  Which began a trend of vocalists hanging precariously off that thing.  Which was probably not a good idea.

Next up is Lycaon:

Pull one thread on these guys' outfits and the whole thing comes undone.
So Yuuki, probably backstage, saw what MoNoLith was doing and was like, "oh, fuck yeah, I want to be a monkey too!"  While the band's performance was the usual (with plenty of tongue from Satoshi), Yuuki decided the light fixture hadn't taken enough stress from grown men hanging off of it (although I'll be surprised if Yuuki actually weighs as much as a Golden Retriever).  He spent most of the performance clutching the beam holding up all the lights and hanging over the audience.  Which was making the pole start to bend.  Which did not look good from where I was.  What really got me was that Yuuki actually looked up at one point, noticed that he was crippling the light fixture, and just shrugged and continued what he was doing.  A staff guy came by at one point and tapped him on the back, and I thought the guy was telling Yuuki to stop it (and I think Yuuki thought that too because he let go pretty fast), but the staff guy was actually just giving Yuuki a new mic, since the last one was having problems.  I feel like the staff guy picked a pretty awkward time to switch out the mic, though, lol.

Uuuuuuum, not much else to say about Lycaon.  The audience cleared out big time after that, which was nice.  It was like the venue unbuttoned a tight pair of pants. 

Next band up is the return of AUBE:

That does it.  I'm throwing out these goddamn goggles.

Well, there was no reindeer costume this time.  Just normal costumes.  Performance wasn't bad.  Thanks to all the Lycaon fans bailing, the audience had plenty of room to do the (borderline ridiculous) para-para that goes on for AUBE.  There's spinning, dancing, and towel-tossing involved.  Unfortunately, when the vocalist tossed his towel, it simply never came back down.  Oops.  Must be the light fixtures getting revenge, lol.

Next up is Para:noir:

Fun fact of the day: Para:noir is actually pronounced "paranoia."

Can I squee for a moment?  Is squeeing okay?  I know I'm not very fangirly and I don't have much squee inside me, but this is a squee moment:

I GOT TO SEE SHOU FROM UNSRAW AS THEIR SUPPORT DRUMMER, SQUEEEEEEE!

I'm sorry.  Really.  Truly.  I don't usual squee unless it's over a baby animal, a Dir en grey ticket, or pumpkin-flavored anything.  But... but... but... it's Shou!  From UnsraW!!!  I'm sorry, it's stupid, but it made me happy.  The demise of UnsraW might be #1 on my list of music-related frustrations these past few years.  I found something amazing, only to have it taken away from me within half a year.  To this day, I still have a pang of sadness every time UnsraW comes up on my shuffle (and sometimes I just sigh and skip the song because it'll just make me sadder).  So seeing Shou was aaaaaawesome.  Omigawd, he's as cute now as he ever was.  He looked kind of bored sometimes, but the rest of the time he was all happy smiles, just like the old days.  He's such a bright thing at the back of the stage and even the members of Para:noir kept going over to his drum set and smiling with him.  The rest of the band was fun too, and put on a very good show.  Para:noir is one of those bands that's improved immensely since I used to see them.  I feel like they've "grown up" these past few years.  Even if Shou wasn't there, I find their performances really fun.  But having Shou there was like the strawberry-cream frosting on the cake, and made me way happier than it should've.  Considering Shou was actually in Para:noir's last music video, I think he'll probably become official.  Which is probably for the best.  As much as I'd love to believe Yuuki will someday return and they'll reform UnsraW, realistically, I know this will never happen.  So they should all go find good bands to join!  But if Shou joins Para:noir, he might have to change his name.  They already have a Shou, lol.

Next band up is MEJIBRAY:

Possibly wearing less clothing than Lycaon.

Hrrrrrrrrm.........  Something was strange.  It started out normally enough.  A man in a black cloak with the hood pulled up was standing on stage, holding Meto's wheelchair while Meto sat, slumped over in his seat.  Then Meto rose eerily from the wheelchair and stumbled around the stage, staring wide-eyed at the audience, before putting his teddy bear up on the drum set and taking his position.  Some girl next to me was muttering about how scary it looked, lol.  I noticed the audience was strangely quiet, but I I didn't think about it much until Koichi came on stage.

Thaaaat's when it got weird.  Koichi came on stage, throwing the horns as usual, and the MEJIBRAY fans also threw the horns, but no one screamed, or yelled, or made any noise, or anything.  Which is, like, unheard of.  I just stood there, wondering what in the world was going on.  To me, it felt like a snub.  And apparently Koichi thought so too, because he came up to the front of the stage, and his eyes were darting around the crowd in confusion.  Honestly, it was a terrible moment.  Koichi looked so hurt.  Compared to his band mates, Koichi tends to be the most transparent when he isn't happy about something, so it was a pretty bad moment seeing that hurt look on his face.  He went to go pick up his bass while MiA came onstage, but the crowd was quiet for him too.  Luckily, MiA didn't bother to look hurt, and just threw the horns and went to his guitar like he always does.  When Tsuzuku came on stage, there were a few scattered screams, but not much else.  Tsuzuku didn't look as upset as Koichi, but he certainly didn't look happy.

What the hell was going on...?!

MEJIBRAY's performance at that point was all over the place.  They played fine, and it was fun and stuff, but the band's mood was a mess.  Tsuzuku seemed really distracted, and he was staring around the audience a lot like he was trying to figure out what the problem was.  At one point, he and I made eye contact, and he stared at me for a moment before making a weird, disgruntled face.  Then he mouthed something I couldn't understand and looked away.

What... what does that mean?!  Okay, now I was the one feeling slightly hurt.  I have no idea why he gave me that look, but I'm just not going to take it to heart.  I understand that the performance didn't go the way Tsuzuku wanted it, and he was probably in a bad mood.  I know I tend to be a complete poker-face at indies shows and never really look like I'm enjoying myself (which is probably why Sakura from Valluna used to pick on me so much), so maybe my blank face pissed him off after the crowd's bad reaction.

I suppose I'll never know.

When they were done, the band just sorta stormed off, except Meto, who stumbled around the stage clutching his head and shaking, before faking a seizure and collapsing to the floor.  Then the staff pulled the curtain closed.

That.  Was.  Weird.

Later on, MelJay and I were so disturbed by that hurt look on Koichi's face that we took a look at his blog to see what he said about the show.  He wrote something that roughly translates to, "the saizen sucked, but the view sure was nice."  Uh... ouch.

Next up was FEST VAINQUEUR:

So gawth they shit lightning...?  Also, why are so many bands posing above reflective surfaces lately?  Seriously, look at the other band photos above.  Why are they all doing that?!!
I....... sat down.  Nothing against FEST (although they didn't really impress me at the BORN two-man I went to), but I was tired, and it was already after 9:00, and I needed to get ready for DIAURA, who were scheduled to do a full show's worth of songs (because, clearly, Black Hole and DIAURA want to kill us).  So... I don't remember much.  My bad.

Next up was the show's special guest, heidi.:

They look... so happy to have their photo taken...

My apologies, heidi. fans.  I know these guys are popular and they were the special guest, but I still didn't get up.  So I don't remember anything.  Sorry.  The music sounded fine, though.

And then we finished off our twelve-hour stint in the darkness with DIAURA:

Now with 50% more Pimp Chair.
DIAURA somehow magically got the honor of headlining this big-ass event over bands like Lycaon.  Very impressive, you guys.  Very impressive.  However, as one would expect, most of the audience was gone by then, leaving under a hundred of us.  But who could blame them?  Many of the audience members were exhausted and hungry.  If they weren't a serious DIAURA fan, why stay?  Especially since, unlike all the other bands who only got to play 4-5 songs, DIAURA was scheduled for a full show's worth.  Only DIAURA fans were willing to stick it out through that.  Not to mention we had no way of knowing if DIAURA would be done in time for last train.  I was a little worried about it, but decided we'd just deal with that when it happened.

Anyways, we all looked pretty tired, but we made sure to cheer and throw the horns for the band when they came onstage anyways.  Yo-ka had previously commented on his blog that he understood we'd all be tired and worn out by the time DIAURA came on stage, but I didn't think for a moment that he'd actually show us any mercy.

And he didn't.  DIAURA played all their roughest songs - all the ones that require the most moving and rocking out.  Thanks, guys.  Buuuut I think we did our best, and that's what counts.  I'm sure that was good enough for the band.  Actually, due to the way our positioning shifted around for the entire show, MelJay and I wound up on Kei's side, which is unusual for us.  Man, Kei was on fire for the New Years show.  He was really hyperactive and spent most of his time up at the front of the stage, urging us on and taunting us.  He even spent a good amount of time standing on the barrier itself.  Go, Kei, go!  Usually Kei seems a bit reserved, but he did a great job at the New Years show.  Afterwards, MelJay was like, "I can't believe it, but being on Kei's side was actually really awesome!"

The rest of the band was in a good mood too, probably because they knew they were headlining this big event.  And because they'd been able to relax all day, unlike us.  Although, yo-ka started blogging about drinking coffee before noon, so I guess he was preparing.  And prepare he did.  I dunno how much caffeine yo-ka had by 10:00, but his eyes were like O__O for most of the performance, lol. 

Actually, I know yo-ka was in a damn good mood because he had another one of his ridiculously thankful MCs.  Sometimes he just gets like that, and I'm never sure where it's coming from.  Even though only a fourth of the audience stayed for DIAURA, and we all looked like zombies, yo-ka decided it was one of those times in which he had to explode love and puppies and kittens all over us.  He started going on and on about the birth of DIAURA, when it was just him and Kei, and how thankful he was to the fans who supported them.  Then he talked about how happy he was that they got Shoya (at which point Shoya looked really confused, pointed at himself, and was like, "me?!"  I think it's rare for Shoya to hear nice words directed at him by yo-ka, lol).  And then yo-ka said he was thankful that they got Yuu.  And he was thankful to the fans who continued to support them.  And he was thankful to us for coming to the show.  And he was thankful to us for watching all the other bands and supporting them too (no, really, he actually said that).  And he was thankful to us for staying so late.  And he was thankful to us for doing our best.  And he was thankful to us for existing.  And for breathing.  And for being alive.  And for not spreading The Plague.  And for helping him bury that dead bod - just kidding, lol.

Basically, yo-ka was just spewing happiness and thankfulness for no apparent reason.  That's alright, though.  I guess it's better than him being like, "I HATE YOU ALL!" and storming off, lol.

Despite our exhaustion, the band decide to throw in some dog-piling for encore.  Some people left before the band came back, but I can understand it, because we were getting dangerously close to last train and a lot of girls were pulling out their phones and checking train schedules (fun fact of the day, Black Hole has free wi-fi).  But DIAURA came back really fast, so I think they knew there was a time crunch.  The dog pile was small, and not that great, and I was feeling kinda "bleagh" by that point (mostly because all the rude people around me had put me in a bad mood), so I was just sorta staying out of it.  But then I noticed how happy and smiley yo-ka looked every time someone jumped in, so I finally sighed and ran up to the pile and threw myself into the mess.  At which point yo-ka looked at me, grinned, took a swig of water, and sprayed a geyser in my face.  Thanks, yo-ka.  I love you too, asshole.  I made sure to jump in the pile over by Kei, too, since he was being cool.  When Kei leaned down, I wound up with a handful of his hair, lol.  It was... crispy.

Anyways, the band actually ended the show before midnight (around 11:40), which was perfect.  They thanked us a bunch and exited the stage, and then the audience pretty much fled the venue in terror.  MelJay and I ran to the station, but it wasn't too bad.  I think we caught the third-to-last train, and we were able to make our transfer and get back to the hostel.  Yay us!

Then we spent the following night (actual New Years) in the hostel drinking a massive amount of Captain Morgan's rum and Dr Pepper while watching "How to Train Your Dragon."  That movie is so fucking cute when you're drunk out of your mind.  The other guests at the hostel looked incredibly amused by our drunken giggling.  Man... that's the most rum I think I've ever had at one time.  Happy New Yeeeear, lol.

So that's my post.  Yaaaaaay.  Not the best, I know, but hopefully that'll do.  I've got one more to go before I'm completely caught up on shows (and I'll probably throw in some miscellaneous posts I've been meaning to do some time soon, like food pic-spams, shopping pic-spams, and other such things).

See ya soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

D Tour 2011 Legend of Heiron (Tour Final)

This show will get me, uh... halfway caught up with shows, lol. Just two more after this, although one of them is massive and will be time-consuming to write. This also marks the only major concert I've seen in Japan this year other than MERRY, which is for no reason other than the fact that major concerts never seem to fall on a goddamn weekend. In fact, neither did this one, but I happened to be on vacation, so there ya go.

So today's band is D, who have temporarily decided they're Chinese:


I've seen D several times in the past, but it's been a damn long time. I haven't seen them since the 7th Rose tour, and that was 1 ½ albums ago. To be honest, I was really frustrated that I never got to see D during the Vampire Saga tour, but what can ya do. Major bands are very elusive.  Although, this show only further emphasized my frustration about missing out on Vampire Saga.

MelJay and I showed up an hour early for merch, because I have somehow lost my D flags. How the hell did I manage that?! I mean, it's alright, I guess, cuz I never decorated the flag case or anything like a lot of people do, and I still had my 7th Rose tour final fan. But why could I find the fan and not the flags?! Maybe I left them in America by mistake. But I also wanted to see what other merch was available, and MelJay was thinking of getting some flags too (I dunno why, though. I don't think she really likes D, and she was just being a good sport, lol). Even though I swear the sign said merch would start being sold at 4:30, it was nearly 5:00 before they actually started letting the line move. Which kinda sucked, because I wanted to get a locker, and go get something to eat before the show. But I always enjoy looking at the fashion of the D fans. So many of them are wearing awesome boots and dresses (I'm a sucker for anything from Black Peace Now and h.Naoto), and the cosplayers are always some of the most impressive I've seen. We already had a few people dressed in Asagi's Chinese outfit, and they looked pretty amazing. But I think I spent much more time wanting to buy the clothes off the people waiting around the merch line than I did actually wanting to buy any merch, lol.

Once we got up there, I took a look around, and I did see some nice stuff, but nothing was jumping out at me. The new fan is pretty (it's black with a Chinese dragon embroidered across it), but it's embroidered in gold, and I don't like gold. My red, lacy 7th Rose fan is awesome and doesn't need replacing any time soon. But I definitely picked up some new flags and a new case. Except I forgot to bring anything to hang the case off of, and I wound up shoving it awkwardly in my purse. Then MelJay and I used a locker and ran off to a Freshness Burger nearby and got something to drink.  And wolfed down some onion rings. Oh, and used the bathroom. Most important.

Actually, it was kinda funny... while sitting in the Freshness Burger (for a whopping ten minutes or so), there was a couple sitting near us. The girl noticed my flag case sticking awkwardly out of my purse, and she was like, “oh wow, D, I haven't seen them in so long...” And her boyfriend was like, “yeah, at least a couple years.” And then the girl was like, “we should see them again...” So... I think I accidentally just sold a couple future D tickets, lol.

Anyways, MelJay and I returned to the venue and waited around for our abysmal ticket numbers to get called. I was lucky number 777, which is only lucky in Las Vegas, and not so lucky at a D show with a thousand people (especially when you're stuck standing outside without your coat). Once we made it in, we were able to slip easily through the side door to get a spot fairly close up. The only problem being that we were shoved as far to the left as possible. I was pretty sure I would have to just pretend Ruiza was there, but never actually get a good look at him.

The backdrop of the show was really nice. The whole background was covered in long tapestries, each with a Chinese dragon designed on it. Stage lights colored the backdrop red and made the dragons kinda look like they were carved there. More lights were soon added that moved in a rippling fashion and made the background look like it was liquid. It was pretty cool.

Oh, and Awoi repeatedly hinted that they were going to be at the show, so I kept looking up at the balcony to see if I could see them.  Honestly, there were a lot of band-type people up there, so it was hard to tell, but... it sounds like Awoi was there, lol.

The show started on time, which was nice. The few times I've seen D in the past, they have a tendency to be late (one time, I think they were almost twenty-five minutes late). So being on time was definitely good. They came on stage to some Chinese-ish sounding music, which obviously fits the current theme. Their mini-album Huang Di (which is apparently pronounced “fahn di”, which sounds to me like a pun on “fan” (us) and “D” (the band), but who knows) was centered on a Chinese-style theme. I was apprehensive about this show, however, because the Huang Di album was just “okay” in my opinion, and I didn't want the Chinese theme to dominate the entire show. D have always been a bunch of chameleons when it comes to theme and image, but an entire show of Huang Di would probably start feeling like something other than D. Whatever D is. I'm not really sure.

Let's get out the setlist, shall we?  And please, please forgive any Romanization errors I make.  I took this from a Japanese blog, and some of the names are impossible without looking up, so I'm cross-checking some of this with D's official site.  And a few of these.............. I just gave up and left in kanji................. =___=

Heiron ~Yami ni Umareta Mukui~
Crimson Fish
Meteo ~Mubi no Kiza~

-MC-

Night-Ship "D"
Makutsuenshuuki
Honoo no Kairo
妖奇譚
花惑

-Drum solo-

Ryuugan no Shizuku
義侠双伝

-MC-

Barairo no Hibi
Sansuishi
7th Rose
Guardian
Koutei ~Yami ni Umareta Mukui~

Encore 1:

Grand Master
Dangan
Kaze ga Mekuru Peeji

Encore 2:

Toki no Koe
EDEN

Encore 3:

Dearest you

So you may notice a few interesting things about this setlist. For one thing, unless I'm mistaken (which is always possible) not a single song from Vampire Saga appears. Which is highly unusual, since it was their last full-length album. Three songs from 7th Rose do appear, however. Their latest single, ~L’Oiseau bleu~, doesn't show up either. Also, several of their classics, like Yami Yori Blah Blah Blah, and Yami no Kuni no Alice are missing. Even Night-Ship “D” was thrown in right at the beginning as though the band wanted to get it over with.

Hmmmm?

Overall, the show was a mix of good and bad (and please... no lectures about being an ungrateful, spoiled JRock fan. I'm allowed to have opinions and feelings, and it isn't healthy to say that every single show a band does is 100% awesome and amazing for all eternity, just because I have access to them. That's just not natural). The show was a mixed bag because I can't say it wasn't a good show. It was a very good show. But some things felt off or rubbed me the wrong way.

Let's get the negative part over with and end on a good note. For me, the setlist was a bit of a downer. Now, I knew the Vampire Saga tour was over, and I wasn't expecting to hear much from it. But I expected at least a song or two... maybe the singles? I was hoping to hear the last single too, because I thought it was so pretty. I didn't think that was an unusual desire. I thought it was strange that D would put out an album and a single and then, one mini-album later, completely forget about them. For MelJay, who's on the fence about D and had never seen them before, I think it was disappointing, which I felt kinda bad about. I mean, am I being unfair? I don't expect bands to cling to their old songs forever (I mean, I'm a Dir en grey fan, I'm used to entire albums getting tossed to the curb when the band changes styles), but it just seems strange to put out an album and a single, and then toss them away a few months later.  But maybe it's just because it was a tour final, they did things a little differently... who knows.

The other thing that felt off about the show was Asagi. I haven't seen him perform in a couple years, so I'm not speaking knowledgeably here, but he seemed... tired. Considering this was a tour final, I would've expected a bit more spunk from him. He sometimes seemed like he was just going through the motions and wasn't really into it. On the 7th Rose tour, Asagi was a force to be reckoned with. He was so much fun to watch, and he was an unexpectedly energetic frontman. The reason I even got into D was my surprise at how much fun Asagi was at the V-Rock Festival.  At this show, however, he just seemed passive and subdued. Even MelJay, who's never seen Asagi perform before, pointed out to me that it seemed like Asagi was just hiding behind his hair for a lot of the performance. Even on the occasion where he brought out a prop (like a whip), he never actually used it, and just held it as if to say, “don't worry, I didn't forget, I'm just sleepy.” As always, his voice was amazing, but his energy level seemed low. If anyone reading this has seen D within the last few years or so and can do a compare/contrast, lemme know what you think.  Or, if you were at the show, lemme know if you agree, or if I'm just crazy.  I might just be crazy.  It's okay to tell me I'm crazy.

Other than the setlist and Asagi's lethargy, it was a good show. The rest of the band was definitely into it. I couldn't see Ruiza well, but whenever I got a good look at him, he was rocking out plenty, and smiling. Tsunehito was jumping a lot, and smiling too. Hide-zou was just being a bad-ass as usual. And Hiroki's always fun on the drums, because he's so strangely animated about it (and also smiles a lot). I started to feel like Tsunehito took over for Asagi, as far as crowd commanding goes. In fact, Tsunehito just took over in general, which was kinda awesome. For example, if the crowd was just standing there, but Tsunehito decided it was time to start headbanging, he moved to the front of the stage and started headbanging, just to get us to follow him. And we almost always did. Tsunehito was responsible for about 25% of the headbanging and jumping that occurred in our area, and I kinda wanted to give him a big hug for it. Tsunehito doesn't seem like the type to take over the crowd, but he's actually really good at it. And since Asagi didn't seem to be in the mood for his usual puppeteer behavior, it was good to have Tsunehito for backup.

Highlights, highlights...

Hiroki had a great drum solo. I've always loved his drum solos. I don't know much about drums, but I know that his solos always feel weirdly musical somehow, but I don't know why. It really gets the crowd going. And Hiroki's just kind of adorable. He looks so happy about drumming, lol. The way he played this time, it involved a lot of really loud, solo crashes, like he was trying to imitate thunder. I don't know how else to explain it. But I know it sounded cool.

D had a very strange MC at the show (and, for whatever reason, only Hiroki and Hide-zou changed out of their costumes and into tour shirts). Asagi gave Ruiza a rather grand introduction, and it seemed Ruiza was expected to do most of the MC. But I guess Ruiza didn't know what to talk about, so he held up a bag full of every single merch item that D is currently selling, and introduced the products one by one. Which was... unusual. I'm not sure why 5+ minutes were spent going over each of these items when all that information can easily be found on the band's website. But it was funny to watch Ruiza try to play salesman. The band is also selling scrunchies right now (but seriously, what band isn't selling scrunchies these days?), and Ruiza showed us that Hiroki was wearing one in his hair (for the record, the scrunchies kinda look like roses). So the audience started screaming for Ruiza to use a scrunchie too. Ruiza seemed surprised, but he rather awkwardly gathered his hair and extensions of various lengths and put it all back into a ponytail.

Man, I wish I could remember more of the MC stuff. A lot of it was really funny. Hiroki and Hide-zou said funny stuff too, but... I don't remember any of it anymore. They talked about the year, and how it went, and how it was almost nothing but touring (maybe that's why Asagi seems tired).  I also remember something rather dirty was said (like something about someone being naked, or something), and it caused the audience to go, “whoo!” which made Ruiza go “whoo!”

I kinda felt bad for Tsunehito because, while he was doing his MC, everyone was laughing, and he had no idea why. The reason was because his bass was way too reflective, and it was shooting a laser beam of light at the audience and the back of the venue. I mean, this wasn't just a little beam of light... this was like a searchlight blasting off his bass, and the light moved every time he did. I felt bad because Tsunehito seemed really confused by all the laughter, but he just kept talking anyways. I think the band couldn't see the light at all, because Asagi kept looking around at his band mates, trying to figure out what was so funny. Sorry, Tsunehito. We weren't laughing at you, your bass just had the power to kill a hundred ant colonies.

Hmmm... what else, what else...

I was happy to realize I still remembered almost the entire flag routine for Night-Ship “D”. I mean, I had to look around at the audience a few times to make sure I had the moves right but, for the most part, I still remembered how to do it. D also had us do two or three songs with the fans (which seems like more than usual), but they weren't particularly hard to replicate. I noticed that my red 7th Rose fan seemed to be the majority amongst the audience members. I guess everyone just realizes that the 7th Rose fan is awesome, lol. I thought I'd be the only loser with an old tour fan, but it seems a lot of D fans are still using that one. Glad I brought it back to Japan with me!

During Toki no Koe, Asagi still did the thing where he waves his arm up and down to make it look like he's controlling the audience's headbanging. The audience does it with him now, which made me smile. I did it too, even though I think I accidentally slapped a girl in the head, lol.

They shot streamers at one point.  I can't remember where I put the one I brought home with me, otherwise I'd take a picture, but they're shiny gold, and they say the name of the tour on it and stuff.

Also, anyone who was at the show, help me settle this.  I'm convinced Asagi's hair-piece tassels were glowing in the dark, but MelJay thinks it was just the way the light was reflecting off of them.  I have no idea.  All I know is, every time the lights went out, the only part of Asagi's gold outfit that was glowing was the tassels, which seemed completely lit up.  Did anyone else notice this?

Other than that stuff, I don't have much to say. It was a good show overall, even if it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. The music sounded great, I had a really good time, and we got to hear some really great stuff (I was very happy for the inclusion of Meteo, and we got to do Toki no Koe, just like the old days). Hopefully, I can catch D on their next tour, and maybe Asagi will be a little happier.

Oh, and on the way out, we got bombarded by tons of indies performers handing out flyers as usual.  I was ignoring them, until I realized the vocalist of Le-vert was there.  I snorted and took one from him, and he looked very surprised.  I accepted one from their red-headed guitarist and got a double-take from him too.

Sorry for the short report, I just don't have much memory of the whole thing. Screw you, brain!  You always fail me when I need you!!!

Next up is Black Hole's New Years event. Sixteen bands in twelve hours!