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):

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!


  1. I've heard good things about Liplich so I've been wanting to see them^^ Ah... I'm so looking forward to spring break!

    I totally know what u mean about feeling miserable after coming back from Tokyo. I do like Shikoku, I do, but... it is complete inaka. It is super hard to go anywhere else from here. After spending two weeks in Tokyo, with all my Japanese friends from studying abroad there... coming back here was a downer. Luckily I have my 3 heidi. concerts coming up in feb/mar to look forward to :)

  2. Yeah, like I feel bad even complaining about Gunma because I live only a 20 minute train ride from a (small) city and I can get to Tokyo easily, but... the unfortunate thing is, Gunma just depresses me (especially because everyone I know in Gunma lives in the city, and I'm the one stuck in the inaka town). Gunma will never feel like a home like Tokyo did when I studied abroad. Every time I travel back to Gunma from Tokyo, I just want to turn right back around. But I don't know of any way to ditch Gunma, so... guess I'm stuck. But it's good to stay positive! Always keep those upcoming concerts in mind!!! :-)

  3. It's nice to hear the MEJIBRAY had a better performance :)
    and Congrats to you and Meljay.One step closer to figuring out Meto-nese XP

  4. I dont know how I stumbled upon your blog, but i love your posts haha! I was at the baba live too but i missed alsdead's concert by 1 song T_T *so sad*