Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Tanka Poem

Oh, beautiful snow,
Falling like soft marshmallows,
Mixing in the street.
Hey, speeding car, please slow down!
You're gonna -  ...Ruin my dress...

I hate slush.  And walking to school in said slush.  Where's a flamethrower when you need it...?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Indies, Takadanobaba AREA, 2/19

This indies post was written with love.

You may be thinking, "well, that was fast."  It wasn't, but it was so soon after my last, frustratingly loveless post that even I thought, "well, that was fast."  We'll get to that later.

There was an interesting little spin on this show for me.  The show was on a Sunday, and I never go to event shows on Sundays.  However, I actually took off a day of work on Monday.  The reason was that a friend from college was visiting Japan, and she was interested in going to an indies show because she's read some of my blog posts in the past, and because she's had the "joy" of coming over to my apartment in the past where MelJay and our other JRock-loving housemates would overwhelm the place with the stench of visual-kei (yes, you read that right, MelJay and I used to live together.  No, we're not lesbians).  I suppose after all that, I'd be interested in finally seeing what the hell it's all about too.  My friend also brought her friend with, meaning we had 100% fresh eyes at this thing.

I think I was excited for this show long before it happened, which is unusual for me.  I can't even put my finger on why, exactly, that was.  I like some of the bands, like BORN, but it was more than that. I'm just not sure what.

I should also add that it was a good thing the show was on a Sunday and not our usual Saturday, because my friends and I got utterly shit-faced on Friday and ran around Tokyo.  Word of advice: five highballs, a long island iced tea, and a can of chuu-hai does not a good night make.  You will have an incredible six hours, and then find yourself sitting in a McDonald's with an untouched cup of coffee and your head on the table, and then sleep through your stop on the train ride back.  Classy, I know.  Despite all that, MelJay and I still hung out in Tokyo on Saturday.  Our friends, on the other hand, were the smart ones, and they stayed at the hostel and slept.  It's times like that I thank the lord that I never, ever get hangovers.  Ever.  Not even after... all that.

Well, my drunken frolicking aside, I think we were all back to normal by Sunday.  Thank goodness.  The only thing was that we did a lot of sight-seeing stuff before the show, like going to Senso-ji in Asakusa and stuff, so we were a bit tired before the show.  My feet hurt a little, but I wasn't gonna let that get the best of me.

Soooooo we got to the venue, and our tickets numbers put us at the ass-end of nowhere.  Oh well.  By the time we got into the venue, we were pretty far back on the second platform, but I didn't mind cuz I figured the stuff at the beginning would be less my cup of tea than the later stuff.  Weren't really tall boys or anything at this show (with a couple exceptions) so I could see just fine.

First band up is ROYZ:

I wasn't expecting to like this band.  I also wasn't expecting them to be first (I thought that honor would go to Black Gene For the Next Scene but, as usual, my "inspiration" failed for most of the show and I was wrong almost every time).  The hair colors going on in ROYZ were quite... loud.  Their right guitarist had purple hair pulled back into some kind of Super Saiyan x troll doll combination.  It almost looked fake.  If it wasn't fake, then I'm guessing a whole bottle of carpenter glue when into it.  Sound-wise......... perky, electronic-y pop stuff.  With some rock elements.  Like, really not my kinda thing, but not bad for what it's supposed to be, I guess.  I was impressed by how excited the audience was.  Seemed like the whole venue was on their feet and all "fuck yeah" about ROYZ.  Well, it was funny cuz people in the audience were either excited as fuck for ROYZ, or they were sitting in the back in a complete dead-pan, looking like they wanted to kill themselves.  Some girls had their heads on their knees and may have been asleep, lol.  From the vocalist's MC, I gathered that ROYZ is pretty popular and doing nation-wide tours and playing at some pretty big venues.  Guess they just went on first cuz they were the show's black sheep (or... purple sheep...?).  ROYZ's stage presence wasn't bad, but the vocalist seemed, like... tired to me, or something.  But maybe he's just always like that.  Also, their drummer, daaaaaaaaaaang.  Welcome to the gun show.  The arm muscles on him are fucking terrifying.  That's a guy you don't want to get in a fight over an onigiri with.  He was the best part of the show, though.  While Vocalist seemed sleepy, and Guitarist seemed to be collapsing under the weight of his hair, Drummer was a smiling, bouncing, excited super nova of drumming muscle.  I just watched him for most of the performance.

It was interesting for me because of my college friend and her friend being there.  I felt like I was a vicarious virgin, seeing an indies show for the first time through their eyes.  For the first time in years, I was suddenly struck by the strangeness of it all.  The fit men in make-up... the tiny stage... the synchronized audience participation... the clock-work patterns... the saizen... the hostess girls... the guitarist's ridiculous purple hair...  But it also gave me an appreciation for the experience, which is something I've been lacking lately.  It was like getting smacked in the face with a tuna by someone screaming, "This is what you do!  And this is what you like!  And this is how it is!  So man up and enjoy yourself, you fucking asshole!"  So I wouldn't say I particularly enjoyed ROYZ, specifically, but it was the beginning of an upward happiness trend that continued for the rest of the show (with explosive results, but we'll get to that later).

Next act up was finally Black Gene For the Next Scene:

So this band is the new project of Rame, the bassist of VIDOLL.  Which is a big-ish deal, if you know JRock, since VIDOLL was a major band (that was formed by Rame in the first place).  So that's pretty interesting.  Furthermore, their drummer Sala has been in bands like spiv states and Megamasso.  As for the vocalist, I encountered him for the first time at the New Years show as EROS, the vocalist of XodiacK.  Oh, wait, pardon me... according to their site, he is just EROS.  He isn't a vocalist.  He's literally "the absolute EROS."  Right.  Well, he's not EROS anymore (for the first time since 2000, from what I've gathered).  He's now going by the name Ice.  Why is his name Ice?  According to his blog, it's because he likes ice cream (which is usually just called "ice" in Japanese).  If you think that's lame, you're missing the cherry on this ice (cream sundae).  See, in Japan, band member positions are written with abbreviations.  Vo. = vocalist, Ba. = bass, Gt. = guitarist, and Dr. = drummer (which is why many drummers look like they have a PhD in Japan).  Then the abbreviation is put in front of the performer's name.  For example, bassist Rame is written Ba. Rame.  So Ice is Vo. Ice.

Vo. Ice

Get it?  GET IT?!! 

So Ice, then EROS, made quite an impression on me at the New Years show by literally demanding that the spot savers in the audience move their shit and part the crowd so his fans could have a mosh pit.  Then he told the audience that anyone who wasn't there for XodiacK could basically get fucked (or, more specifically, that they should just leave).  Daaaaaamn.  Dude's got balls the size of Neptune.

And now we're encountering this guy in his side project (since XodiacK isn't officially over).  There are some noted differences between Ice's two bands.  For one thing, if you can disregard the picture above, Black Gene isn't particularly visual-kei, unlike XodiacK.  Despite what the picture might lead you to believe, Ice was in jeans, for goodness' sake.  The other thing is the music itself.  I don't know much about either band, but it seems XodiacK was more like a metal band, and Black Gene For the Next Scene is more like a hard rock and electronic fusion band (which isn't what VIDOLL was like, right?  I don't know much about VIDOLL, but I get the feeling Black Gene isn't like VIDOLL at all).  A lot of people have responded negatively to Black Gene's musical shift away from stuff like XodiacK (and VIDOLL?), or have at least been like "meh" about it.  I'll admit, listening to Black Gene samples, I thought, "hmm... not as interesting as XodiacK."  But live, well... live, they're a lot of fun.

Which brings us back to Ice's, um............ personality.  Because, let's face it, at an indies event, personality is just as important as music for reeling in a new audience.  Let's just say, if there was an award for audience domination, Ice would have to fight yo-ka of DIAURA over it.  I've never seen a vocalist take over a crowd like Ice did.

See, the difference between ROYZ and Black Gene's audience reaction was huge.  When Black Gene came on stage, the audience certainly didn't look away or sit, but no one really gave much of a response (other than the people who actually came to see Black Gene).  For the most part, people just stood and watched politely but didn't participate or give much of a crap in general.  It was actually kind of sad and awkward after the massive response ROYZ got, to see Black Gene doing their best to rile up a crowd who looked like they were watching paint dry.

Ice was not okay with this.

When it was time for MC, Ice was like, "So... it seems most of you haven't see us before.  Yeah, clearly you people haven't seen us before."  See, most of the time, a vocalist will ask who hasn't seen the band before.  But Ice wasn't even going to bother with that.  If we weren't interested, it obviously meant we just didn't know the songs.  Couldn't possibly be any other reason than that, because Black Gene is so awesome, right?  This is obviously how Ice saw it.  So Ice took it upon himself to tell the audience how the furi and movements were going to go for the next song.  And Ice told the audience they were going to do those moves... or else.  But Ice was demanding with charm, so people were listening.  To make sure the audience was paying attention, Ice demonstrated the moves to the next song for us.  For the next thirty seconds, Ice ran back and forth across the stage, leaping, doing furi, and adding sexy noises to his jumps because why not, I guess.  His band mates looked extremely amused.  On the other hand, the audience seemed quite intrigued.  After his "demonstration", Ice was like, "so you're all gonna do that, and you're all going to have fun, god damnit."

And the crowd started to respond.  As Ice strutted back and forth across the front of the stage like an angry puma, more and more people started yelling or throwing the horns in response.  Ice yelled that we were going to participate, and we were going to do all the moves, and we were going to have so much fucking fun we were gonna explode.  Well, that's not an exact quote, but you get the idea.  Still on the prowl, Ice screamed for everyone to get out their towels.  Normally, when a vocalist demands that, it means they want the audience to get out the band's own towel.  But very few people in the crowd had Black Gene towels.  Usually, when a band gains some new fans at a show and then asks for people to use their towels, audience members without the band's towel will just raise their fist and imitate the gestures of the people who do have towels (like rotating their fist in a circle to imitate swinging a towel around).  But the more Ice yelled, the more towels went up.  Towels for other bands.  FEST VAINQUEUR towels... BORN towels... MEJIBRAY towels...  Almost every audience member with a towel lifted their towel, regardless of band.  Some turned their towels backwards to hide the incorrect name, but many didn't bother.  Ice literally led a crusade on that crowd and conquered it.  LIKE A BOSS.

And you know what?  The whole audience participated for the rest of the performance, and it looked like they had a fucking good time.  So thank you, Ice.  Well played, sir.  Well played.

As a slight nod to the world of psychology, I'd like to mention that Ice never once got down off his crate for the entire performance, except to jump around during the MC.  Not once.  I checked.  And I think that's hilarious.

The next band up............. believe it or not, Lycaon went third out of six.  Freakin' madness:

I didn't expect Lycaon, so I was a little shocked when some of the girls on saizen started screaming "Yuuki!" at the top of their lungs.  I was so surprised that Lycaon was going third that I loudly went "eh?!" in the silence.  A girl behind me found that very funny and laughed and imitated me.  Bitch.  Nah, I'm just kidding, lol.  Nonetheless, all around us, people were like, "Lycaon?  Lycaon?!"

As opposed to their usual, more rousing introduction, Lycaon was already on stage and playing before the curtain opened.  They started off with a slow, sultry song.  I hadn't realized they had a costume change, so I was a little surprised.  My god, Yuuki's... he... he's... he's wearing a shirt.  What the fuck is this?!!  Kidding, lol.  But it's time he got rid of that boa.  That thing looked like a wet weasel by the end of every performance, lol.

Now, I noticed right away that Yuuki seemed....... hmmm...... not himself.  Which is strange because, for all intents and purposes, he was putting on a really good show.  He was being even more seductive than usual, and yet... something was strange.  And his band mates seemed weird too.  Satoshi seemed like he was off in his own world, and Rito was staring at the wall next to him like it had erotic cave paintings scribbled on it.  Hiyuu was as still as a statue.  And yet... somehow, they were all having a good performance.  Like... Satoshi would be gazing vacantly at nothing, and then he'd suddenly have a huge burst of energy and jump up onto the crate and have a big guitar solo.  Furthermore, the band was playing all their fastest, jazziest songs.  Meanwhile, it seemed as if Yuuki was actually rocking out more than usual, and he even spent half a song with the microphone stand flipped over his shoulder.  However, each sudden flurry of headbanging always seemed to end in a sudden meltdown of exasperation.  Like Yuuki kept periodically thinking "fuuuuuuck" in the middle of nowhere or something.

During the MC, Yuuki put one foot up on the crate, wrapped his fingers seductively around the microphone stand, leaned forward in a sensual pose, and told the audience that when he woke up that morning, snot was running in rivers out of his right nostril.

Thanks, Yuuki, you sexy motherfucker.  He even pantomimed snot flooding all over his face.  Real fuckin' sexy.

Now.............. I'm gonna tread some thin ice here and give my own theory on why Lycaon all seemed like they had their heads in the stratosphere (because I somehow doubt they were all sick, and I'm not sure I believe Yuuki's story either).  See, believe it or not, Lycaon and DIAURA's Bisexual tour is still going on right now.  This show at AREA was just a pit-stop in the middle for Lycaon.  The day before, the band was having a Bisexual show with DIAURA that was the last one for awhile.  Now, I know Japan.  I know what it means when Japanese people reach any kind of milestone (like puberty).  They drink.  And they party.  And they drink some more.  And they make asses of themselves, usually with several drinks in their hands.  My theory is that Lycaon and DIAURA had a Bisexual party the night before, and Lycaon were hungover as fuck.  I'm certainly not accusing them of it since I have no idea what the hell Lycaon and DIAURA really do on a, ahem, Bisexual tour, but it seems a little strange that the whole band was out of it.  Plus, the way Yuuki kept headbanging and then suddenly sagging into exhaustion looked like the telltale signs of a headache to me.  Or the telltale signs of a fucking good night.  Plus, he spat about a full bottle's worth of water on the audience right after saying he was sick.  Somehow, I doubt he's that much of a jerk.  Deep down, he knows he's not really sick.  Then again, last time I saw DIAURA, yo-ka thought he had the flu and still spat all over the audience.  But he might really be that much of a jerk.  Now, the less exciting possibility about the performance is that Lycaon was just tired from the long tour.  But, I dunno... I saw them on a Bisexual tour final one time and they were just fine.  They were kind of insane, actually.  So let's just assume they had a damn good night and pat them on the back for it.

The other weird thing I wanted to mention about Lycaon is that Yuuki decided to stage-dive a few times but, for some reason, the roadie was absolutely not okay with this.  I have no clue why, because Yuuki stage-dives all the time and it never seems to be a problem.  If anyone reading this was at the show and was closer than I was, lemme know if you had a better view of this and can explain why the hell the roadie wouldn't let Yuuki stage-dive.  Every time he did, he'd crash-land into the crowd and then find the roadie's hand wrapped around his arm and already yanking him out.  The audience barely had a second to hold him up before the roadie would pull him out.  At one point, I think I even saw Hiyuu pull Yuuki out.  The weirdest one was when Yuuki jumped in and the roadie lunged for him so fiercely that he wound up snagging Yuuki around the chest and yanking him back by his lungs.  Based on the expression on Yuuki's face, I would say that was extremely uncomfortable.

So, actually, despite the oddity of it all, I thought Lycaon had a really good show.  Maybe I was alone on this one, but I was very amused.  As always, Lycaon's music has never been to my liking when I listen to it outside a live house, but I always really enjoy their performances.  It's like being in some kind of lolzy night club.

So who's next...?  I think the next band up was FEST VAINQUEUR:

I... I... I... really don't like the vocalist's voice.  I can't even try to sugar-coat it.  The moment he started singing in that high-pitched whine, I literally cringed.  And I'm using "literally" in the "literal" sense.  I turned to Melissa with a look on my face like I'd just swallowed raw horseradish.  I mean, I've seen FEST before at the BORN two-man and I kinda remember not liking the vocalist's voice, but this time it felt almost unbearable for some reason.  It's really a shame for me because, musically-speaking, there's absolutely nothing wrong with FEST.  Their music is fine, and the instrumentals seem fine, and their performances are alright, but the vocalist's voice is like nails on a chalkboard for me.  This caused the usual problem where I became disgruntled with what's on stage and then noticed that my feet hurt.  I just had to wait until it was over.

The next band up was MEJIBRAY:

I was really surprised they went on so late.  Every time a band ended, I was like, "the next band's gonna be MEJIBRAY."  But I was wrong every time.  This time I knew I had to be right because the show was being hosted by PS Company, so BORN had to go last.  Leaving only MEJIBRAY.  But I knew it wasn't just me.  I heard other people between bands being like, "it's probably MEJIBRAY next."  So I guess we all had poor "inspiration" at this show.  I was surprised they went on so late, cuz it seems like they've been struggling lately.  Whatever, maybe bands just draw straws over this shit.  Unfortunately, despite knowing it had to be MEJIBRAY next, MelJay and I couldn't seem to figure out how to move forward.  There were so many people sitting on the stairs, and so many people crowding around the pathways to the front that we just gave up and accepted that we could rock out just fine in the back.  And, to be honest, it's actually easier, since there's more room.

To be honest, I can't recall too much of MEJIBRAY's set because I spent too much time headbanging and stuff.  I'd gotten really tired of standing around doing basic furi, and I was starting to feel really pent up.  I basically told myself, "you will be excited about this, you dumb bitch."  Overall, I think it went well.  The band didn't look depressed or anything, and Meto's face has gotten closer to looking like this: D: than ever.  They also played Apocalypse, which really surprised me.  I hadn't heard that song live yet.  It's only two minutes long, but it's pretty awesome.  Like I said, I'd say more about MEJIBRAY, but I mostly just remember what my own hair looked like.

Oh, and the girls in front of me suddenly noticed Tsuzuku's ring-shaped chest implant and freaked out.  They were pulling down the front of their shirts and pointing at their chests and shrieking in horror.  Good job, Tsuzuku, lol.

Our last band up was BORN:

Setlist via guitarist K:

with hate
Ranshi ℃
Grave Dancer Punish


I don't know why, but I got really excited about seeing BORN.  I'm not saying that because I don't like BORN or something - I really enjoy the epileptic air-punching-ness of their music - but they don't put on particularly rousing performances.  At least, not anymore.  They used to, a few years ago, and then they just started seeming tired... and a little dead inside.  And yet, I hadn't seen BORN in several months, and I was feeling more pent up than ever.  Pent up in a way I hadn't been in a long time.  The kind of pent up where you can feel it crawling under your skin, like tingly lightning try to burst out through your flesh.  MelJay was tired and starting to get really "blah" about the show, and - in contrast to how things normally are these days - I was the one being like, "but it's BOOOOOORN.  C'moooooon!  Get uuuuuuuuup!"  The thing is, the BORN fans around us were festering with an addictive excitement.  Girls were wrapping their red BORN bandanas around their wrists like they were going into battle, and a few girls actually wrapped them around their faces like they were going to rob a bank.  How could I not get excited?!

When BORN came onstage, however, I realized I'd been right to get pumped up about the show.  As each member came on stage, I was struck by the overwhelming look of pure "fuck yeah" on their faces.  Rather than BORN's usual disinterest or forced excitement, the members of BORN had their fists up and a nasty glint in their eyes.  Then Ryouga came onstage, and I almost didn't recognize him.  MelJay actually told me the same thing after the show: that Ryouga's expression was so different from usual that he seemed like a different person.  Ryouga's face basically said: "I'm about to fuck some shit up."

And fuck some shit up, we did.  Personally, I may have gotten a little too excited about BORN.  I jumped and danced around to such an unnecessary degree that I actually made myself nauseous.  I was like that kid who gets so excited about Christmas presents (or, in my case, Chanukah presents, I guess) that they go running down the stairs, trip, and vomit all over the carpet.  Except we all know that kid gets the fuck up and runs to the presents anyways and squeals in delight when they find a PS3 or something in there.  Man, I want a PS3..............  Anyways, yeah, that was me.  Nauseous but fucking happy.  I had so much room in the back that I wound up dancing around this little one foot radius of space that I had.  I found it impossible not to hop back and forth, even when no one else was.  A few times I turned to MelJay and did a silly dance move, just because I could.

But hell, who could blame me?  Ryouga was on fire up there.  He was like a thrashing, seizing, dancing ball of energy.  Every song was faster and faster, and Ryouga was screaming till he was red in the face.  It was almost comical watching Ryouga spazz around the stage.  Because of the band's high energy, the songs were even more high energy than ever.  Imagine Radical Hysteria on speed, and you've got an idea of how this shit went down.  They played this one song........... okay, if any BORN fans can help me out, please do, because I've fallen out of the loop on their music and haven't updated my music in about six months (for shame).  They played a song that was basically a remix of one of their old songs.  As in, like........... a dance remix?  It was weird because sometimes drummer TOMO didn't actually have to do anything.  He'd play drums a bit, and then a techno drum track would take over.  It just felt weird because snippets of a familiar song kept happening, but... they were different somehow.  All I know is, it was really fun, whatever it was.  I'm wondering if it was Grave Dancer Punish, cuz of the "dancer" part.  See, I don't know if the whole audience was doing this, but the circle of about fifty people around me took the fist-punching gesture and turned it into a dance move.  They'd take their right hand and punch up to the left, then take their left hand and punch up to the right.  It felt like some kind of aerobics dance, but it was really fun and fit the weird beat of the song.  So yeah, if anyone actually knows what that song was, and what it was a remix of, lemme know.  I feel like it was a remix of something off DOGMA, especially because it had a lot of "whoa"s and "yeah"s that Ryouga kept making us yell back at him.  Then again, what BORN song isn't about 85% "whoa" and "yeah"?  Just kidding!

Edit: I just double-checked using my mad internet skillz.  The song was definitely Grave Dancer Punish.

Anyways, the really nice thing about the band's high energy wasn't even just that they actually cared about being on stage for once, but the fact that there was love and puppies and rainbows exploding out of them.  I always got the feeling the members of BORN kinda... don't like each other.  They never interact, never goof around, and never so much as look at each other.  And that's fine, I mean, band members don't have to be friends.  As long as they can make music together, it doesn't matter.  And yet, it's still sad to think that five guys who don't like each other are forced to spend so much time together.  I mean, that would just suck.  So I was surprised to notice that the members of BORN were actually, like... being friendly up there.  They were smiling at each other, nodding to each other, going up to each other to play instruments together...  At one point, guitarist RAY got a little too close to Ryouga's cloud of hyperactivity.  He moved next to the crate and looked up at Ryouga, who then grabbed RAY by the head and dragged him closer.  Then Ryouga started mussing up RAY's hair and grabbing his face and squishing it while RAY made a face like a baby trying spinach for the first time.  I mean, the whole thing was just strange to me, since I've never seen the members of BORN interact in any way, shape, or form. K got so excited, he just bent over and started spinning in rapid circles at one point.  Honestly, BORN was unrecognizable at this show, and I mean that in the best of ways.

For me, it was just too much fun to not go a little crazy.  All that room in the back... I not only took part in the side-to-side jumping, I actually instigated it a few times.  I jumped around so much, I actually felt the need to go up to a foreign girl after the show and apologize in case I ran into her a few too many times.  I just felt this incredible desire to match the band's hyperactivity with my own.  Or something.

Anyways, when it was time for encore, the band left, and everyone called for them to come back.  As usual, this involved a lot of snarling and growling and bizarre animal noises from the crowd, which made one of our indies virgin companions come up to me and ask, "why is everyone barking?!"  I actually wasn't sure what to say to that, lol.  I explained that the audience just gets really excited, so they growl the names of the band members and stuff.  After a few minutes, the lights went up, and RAY came on stage alone with his guitar.  Then, smirking, he told us we weren't yelling good enough, so the band wasn't gonna come back.  Then he left the stage and the lights went back down.  Hey!  HEY!!  Come back here, asshole!  The whole crowd was mortified and started yelling as loud as possible for encore.  Thankfully, the whole band came back about thirty seconds later, RAY still grinning mischievously.  Yaaaay!

Now, a strange BORN show should only have a strange ending.  I'm still not sure what the hell happened here.  The show was over, everyone was cheering, the band was yelling back at us and throwing their fists, Ryouga was up on the crate shouting and making the same face as an angry mountain lion... and then Ryouga just fell off the crate.  He didn't misstep from what we can tell, and he didn't jump off.  As MelJay put it, he just kinda "melted" off the crate.  Like his over-caffeinated brain just suddenly decided to stop firing signals to his bones and muscles.  So Ryouga "melted" off the crate and fell to the floor in what looked like a very not-not-painful fall.  His band mates were quick to run in front of the crate to hide him from view while Ryouga was most likely squirming on the floor.  Honestly, Ryouga didn't get up for at least a minute.  When he did, he was clutching his head and making a face like a pissed off wolf bearing its fangs.  Then he stumbled off the stage, still clutching his head, and that was the last we saw of him.  His band mates followed him out.  Later on, Ryouga put a picture of one of his "chekki" photos online.  I don't know if that picture was from before or after the show, but Ryouga had a big bruise on his cheek.  But he didn't say anything about the fall, and just gushed about how much fun the show was.  I honestly have no idea what happened.  I'm wondering if Ryouga had some crazy adrenaline rush for the whole show, and then lost it the second he knew the show was over.  Sort of like he had a miniature fainting spell or something.  Who knows.

So yeah, basically, BORN was totally awesome, and exactly what I needed!  I think......... I spent so many months not caring, that it all finally exploded out of me.  Like, I never actually stopped "caring" about what I was doing, but I was bottling up all that caring and putting it somewhere out of the way where it wouldn't bother me or anyone else.  But then the caring kept building and building and building and, by the time BORN was on stage, I was pretty much exploding.  Add to that the fact that BORN was in such a great mood, and it was like I got electrocuted back into giving a shit.  So, thank you, BORN.  You were the last band I expected to pull me out of my funk, but you managed it.  Good job!

Sooooooooo that was the show.  I hurt all over by then, but I didn't care.  It was nice to suddenly care again.  Maybe because I wrote that big post on my blog and got all that off my chest, I was able to start caring again.  Of course, I could lose my "care" at any moment, but at least the show reminded me why I even do this shit in the first place.  Why do I do it?  BECAUSE I JUST FUCKING DO, THAT'S WHY.  It doesn't matter why I do it.  I found something I like to do, and something I like to write endlessly about, so I just fucking do it.  Enough over-thinking and analyzing.  Enough looking.  Enough seeing.  Back to doing.  Back to caring.

Oh, and stay tuned for a bullshit tourism post with shit like Tokyo Tower and stuff.  Yawn, I know, but this blog needs that kinda thing occasionally too, I suppose.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Labels are Complete; This Blog in Retrospect

Labels/tags are done, I'm happy to say. Now, if you want to find anything on this blog, just click on the tags, which are alphabetical along the right-hand side, and it'll show you how many related posts there are, and take you straight to them. Most of the tags are band names (surprise, surprise), but there's other stuff, like food posts, posts about places I've traveled to, posts about Gunma, cat cafes, and other silly things. The label “Kita” usually refers to more personal posts, “Life” is like my miscellaneous label for things that just happen in my life, and “Rant” is for posts where I'm letting off steam. Not as many of those as you'd think.  I mostly did the label thing to organize the horrifying amount of bands that have been mentioned on this blog.  Some of them might be disappointing.  You might think, "OMG, Kita saw __________ two years ago and wrote about them!" and click on the tag, only to find a single sentence about that band.  And maybe not a positive sentence.  But I really did all of this for organizational purposes.  Especially if, for example, someone is interested in DIAURA and wants to see stories I used to tell about Valluna, now that person has easy access to any posts involving Valluna.  Etc., etc.

For me, this labeling process has turned up some very interesting information I never would've found otherwise (which is why I labeled bands I barely mentioned).  For example, at the first indies show I ever went to (about three years ago), I saw a band called Dizly.  Obviously, if I hadn't gone back and labelled that post, I never would've remembered something so obscure.  Especially because the band wasn't very good, and I didn't have much to say about them.  However, I'm glad I labelled it, because it turns out that, without knowing it, I saw Shoya from DIAURA that day, in his previous band.  Who knew.  Sometimes I see a band "for the first time" and then find out I saw that band before and didn't remember it (like MoNoLith, who I had no recollection of seeing before the New Years show).  In another case, the labels helped me notice that I saw the vocalist of Signal in his previous band, dizSOLID, which would have escaped me completely if I hadn't gone back to check.  I only realize I've seen certain bands because I can see the name listed among my labels.  So even the most seemingly pointless of labels ultimately serves a purpose.

The other thing I want to mention is that labeling took as long as it did because I read through every single post. All 200 of them. Not many people have the ability to go back and read three years of their life in detail, but I was able to do just that. The result was disheartening, at best, and prompted me to make changes to some of the old posts, even though I swore I'd never do that. MelJay doesn't agree with my decision and has had no problem lecturing me about this. But I agree with her - it goes against my “true beliefs” to change old posts. I've always believed in facing forward and allowing the past to remain as it is. Changing the past is to deny it.  But, deep down, I felt I couldn't let the blog fester in its own bog the way it was.

There's good and bad to this, I suppose. On the one hand, I've been told my blog is a much nicer place now, and more fun to read (the cleanup actually started before the labeling did, so I've had time to gather some opinions from people). On the other hand, people who know me personally don't believe the blog reflects my true self anymore. Which wouldn't really be a problem (after all, I'm free to reveal or withhold as much as I desire around here), except that it changed me in real life. The more I read, the more I crawled away from the things I saw.  Once upon a time, before this blog, I considered the words I put on paper to be poison.  To this day, on my computer, there are literally hundreds of stories, essays, and thoughts that I've written with no intention of showing them to anyone.  In the past, whenever people read my writing, I wanted to curl up in a ball and die.  This blog was the first time I ever put aside my disgust and put my words online somewhere where they could be read and attributed to me (because I have written a few stories anonymously on the internet).

In the beginning, I blogged very freely.  I was surprised by my own openness, because it wasn't like me at all.  At the time, however, this blog was created as a way for me to talk about what I was doing in Japan in a place where my friends and family could easily see what I was up to.  It was never meant to become what it is now, which is essentially a weirdly-styled concert blog.  The more readers I got, the more amazed I was by my continuing openness.  Normally, I would've clammed up and lost the will to keep writing.  The truth is, unfamiliar people reading my writing sometimes scares me, for some reason.  As time passes, I grow more comfortable with it, but it was nerve-wracking at the beginning.  Unfortunately, a few months into Twisted in Tokyo's life, I did feel threatened by my own writing and put a "ban" on the blog.  The ban meant I wouldn't talk about myself in a personal way anymore, and that ban remained in affect for a very long time.  It's debatable whether it ever fizzled out at all.

Now, re-reading 200 posts worth of material, I once again have to fight the instinctive urge to slash the words from existence.  There was even a point, a few months ago, in which I vowed to delete the blog forever.  Thankfully, a few people talked me out of it before it was too late.  Now I've found a happy medium by going back and editing some posts and writing current posts in a way that doesn't make me shudder.  But there was a tradeoff.......

MelJay's grown increasingly frustrated by my overall indifference to concerts, indifference to performers, and indifference to music. By cleaning the mud off Kita's face, I wiped away her features too. At first, I vowed to open my mind and expand my horizons. Then I let in so much that I felt overwhelmed. Then I deflated, and all that remained was apathy.

I guess I addressed this issue a little in my last indies post where I talked about NEGA. Once upon a time, I would have judged Jin harshly for mimicking Kyo on stage. Instead, I decided not to judge, because I'm in no place to speak about a man I don't know. In theory, it sounds like a great idea. After all, I've made an effort to mature and be an open-minded, accepting person. Except that it resulted in an inability to have any opinion about Jin at all. He was neither something to be mad at, nor something to praise, and, in the end, he became nothing to me at all.

The result is that I perpetually walk across thin ice on my own blog.  Again, it wouldn't matter, but the blog and I have become intricately fused at this point.  Of course, I can have an opinion about something and just not say it, but the blog's current runs backwards. By denying opinions, I stop having them.  By spreading them out, they lose meaning.

I've told MelJay that I "don't know how to care again."  She thinks I have to "want" to care, before I can truly care.  But I don't think it's for lack of wanting.  And yet, even if I love DIAURA, I can't bring myself to read their blogs without being forced to.  I can't bring myself to buy their merch.  I didn't even bother pre-ordering their new CD.  It's the same reason I got in line and then simply walked away from Signal's merch booth recently, even though I knew I wanted their music.  Going up to the booth was literally too much "caring" for me.  I don't even look for shows to go to anymore.  MelJay does all that now.

My current theory is this: after UnsraW broke up, I became afraid of getting hurt again.  All the bands I used to see broke up, and then major bands like D'espairsRay broke up.  Then there were all those deaths in JRock last year.  Eventually, I felt like it wasn't worth getting emotionally involved anymore.  Of course, that's stupid, because it robs me of the chance to fully enjoy the bands before their inevitable demise.  But my thought process is very pessimistic at this point. 

The point is, I don't know at what point the changes to the blog were mature, and at what point they were defensive.  I'll admit, there are some old posts that are simply gone; I just removed them (none of them were concerts posts, I promise).  Some posts were harmlessly edited.  For example, my punctuation usage used to be abysmal, so I fixed a lot of commas, and everything reads smoother now.  Some stuff I removed for personal reasons, especially if it revealed too much about myself.  Some stuff I changed because I simply couldn't stand it anymore.

However, no matter what happens, there are no lies on this blog.  I never went back to a post and changed it so something awesome happened to me when it really happened to someone else.  Instead, I just took things away.  Of course, you could argue that withholding the full truth is a form of lying, but I don't think I've done anything extreme enough for that.  If I see a band and think "that guy's really hot" but don't say it, I'm not lying, I'm just not bothering to mention it.  If I said the performer was ugly when I thought he was hot, then I'd be lying.  But I don't know why I'd say that.  Intentionally lying just seems ridiculous to me.

Basically what I'm saying is, if you notice that some posts look different from how you remember, or there are comments that don't make sense anymore, it's because I did some editing.  Nothing too extreme, but enough to appease myself.  The blog, as it was, was a mangy creature I started to hate.  But I gave the beast a bath, combed its hair, and now I just feel relieved, even if I shouldn't.  It wasn't honorable, what I did, but it felt right.  If I ever need to use this blog in a writing portfolio for a professional job, I won't be embarrassed to show it to the higher-ups (because, deep down, the only job I want to have is a writing job).  And, despite MelJay's fears, no post was changed enough to sound like someone other than myself.  I might have removed a sentence or two in some posts, or changed a little wording in a sentence, but I never went back and changed a post's content.  I just cleared away some old tracks and got rid of redundant nonsense, etc.  Honestly, if I never mentioned the changes here right now, I don't think anyone would ever notice them.  But I'm writing this to show that, no matter what, I still value being honest.

Maybe what I've written above is confusing.  I still care about going to shows, and I still care about certain bands, but I've lost that extra, emotional spark.  I think it'll come back, but it'll be at a random moment, when I least expect it.  I felt love at the last DIAURA show, and that was surprising to me.  I'm hoping the love will return soon, so I'll enjoy the shows more, and this blog won't be so dry.  Maybe I shouldn't have re-read the old blog posts while in such a loveless state, but that's just the way it is.  MelJay thinks if I had waited until I was myself again before re-reading and editing everything, I wouldn't have torn pages out of the diary of my past.  I don't know if that's true or not, but I'll keep it in mind, I suppose.

So the blog has been altered, but probably for the best.  And not in a huge way.  And maybe not in a permanent way.  I've never been one to talk about myself much on the blog, and I keep a lot to myself, so maybe the changes weren't even noticeable.  But they're there.  I just wanted to mention them, since the changes wormed their way into this blog's history, and will probably spread into its future for a little while.  In fact, given how personal this post is, and my mood lately, it's possible even this post will get deleted eventually.

For now, I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing, and wait for my old spark to return.  I want this blog to continue to flourish, and I have no plans to stop writing it.  But Twisted in Tokyo has a more solid foundation now, and I'm working on finding my "love" again.  I'm hoping this blog will have a positive future in general.

And thanks to all my readers for helping this blog continue to thrive!  The people who read this blog have shown me that strangers reading my words won't cause me to spontaneously explode, and that I can't get a disease from writing on the internet.  Sure, there have been some rocky posts, and there have been times when commenters have lashed out at me.  And I know I've made an enemy of plenty of people on the internet.  But it's a good growing experience for me, and it all helps me get over my terrible writing stage-fright.  Thank you, all!  You're all awesome!  ^_______^

And now back to our regularly scheduled posting.............

Thursday, February 9, 2012

DIAURA One-Man, 2/5

Time for another DIAURA one-man. Although, truthfully, I haven't seen DIAURA in quite awhile. Even skipped my last chance to see them so that I could see THE GALLO instead. Originally, I wasn't planning on going to this show at all because it's on a Sunday, and Sunday shows are a huge hassle for me. If they run too long, I have to leave the show early, meaning I have to check the time constantly during the show. Furthermore, the last cheap and convenient train home stops running around 8:00, so I have to make a very complicated bunch of transfers to get home, ending in a taxi ride. And all that costs about twice as much as it would have before 8:00 (we're talking close to $50). Unfortunately, spending the night in Tokyo isn't an option because trains don't run early enough for me to get to work on time if I do that. So it's an ugly situation.

But I'd said no to so many Sunday concerts that I was starting to feel like a jackass, since MelJay doesn't really have a problem getting home on Sundays. I finally gave in on this one because I felt guilty.

But I'm glad I picked this particular show as the one to give in on, because it was a lot of fun!!!

The show was at Black Hole, so we decided to just spend the day in Ikebukuro's Sunshine City.  We went to El Torito for more Mexican deliciousness, and I got a an amazing taco salad-like thing:

Then, after that, we spent a really long time chilling in La Maison, which is awesome because they have fancy tea and cake.  I got earl grey tea, and then indulged in this amazing new cake they have.  It's a chocolate tart with mixed berries.  I can't remember the last time I had rasberries and blackberries, so it was super awesome.  And it even had a strawberry macaroon on top (which is good, because I've had a sudden addiction to strawberries and everything strawberry-related lately)!  Look at it's beauty!

While we were enjoying our tea, we were glancing at DIAURA's blogs to see what they had to say about the upcoming show.  Now, here I was, sick with a cold and prepared for a really miserable journey after the concert.  Nonetheless, I was trying to make myself look forward to the show because DIAURA are a lot of fun and stuff.  Unfortunately, yo-ka's blog said something like, "I'm sick... could this... could this be the flu?!"

Greeeeeat.  Our lovely front-man was sick enough to think he was coming down with the flu again.  Just great.  I finally give in on a Sunday show, and then yo-ka and I both wind up sick.  Then again, when we saw yo-ka at the Bisexual tour final, he had only just come back from having the flu and he seemed 100% fine, despite his later insistence that his performance was lacking.  Maybe... he could still do a good job...?  Even with potential flu?  As long as he didn't give the audience the flu, of course.  Then I'd have to kill him >__>

Well, we finally got off our asses and went over to Black Hole and joined the line outside.  I felt bad because a lot of people had obviously ditched their coats and bags and were standing there freezing so that they wouldn't take up too much space in the venue.  Unfortunately, I couldn't do that because of the possibility that I would have to run for my life, so I had to bring in my big puffy coat and my backpack and my purse and stuff.  Sorry, Black Hole.  As soon as we were inside, I made sure to shove them as far into a corner as possible.

Our tickets numbers weren't great, but not the worst either, I suppose.  Maybe 2/3 back in the audience.  We bought the tickets kind of late, and then the show sold out kinda suddenly after that.  They had a one-man really recently before the show, so I'm guessing some people were hesitant to jump on another one so fast.

Unfortunately, no one in DIAURA posted the setlist for the show.  Which is balls.  I was counting on Yuu to post it, but he never did.  So we're just gonna go straight into my usual one-man ramblings, since I'm so terrible at explaining one-man shows, lol.

First of all, look who had a costume change!

They're all... shiny and leathery.  And yo-ka's got diva feathers, hahaha.

 Personally, I'm really glad about the costume change.  The marching uniforms they had before were kinda "meh" in my opinion, and they were covered in ugly gold.  Black and silver suits the band much better, and I approve of yo-ka's feathers.  Plus, yo-ka dyed his hair back to silver and black, which I think is absolutely the best hair color on him (it was lemon yellow the last few times I saw him and... I dunno, even though he was often a lemon-head in Valluna, I've never cared for it on him).

Anyways, after starting late (as usual), I think DIAURA came on stage to a new song.  Or I could be insane.  I dunno.  I don't think I recognized it, though.  Yuu keeps trying harder and harder to seem like a supportive band member, so he jumped on the crate and threw his fist at us, but I still think he'd rather just hide in the back, lol.  But at least he's trying.

Of course, I was immediately trying to see if yo-ka seemed sick or not.  He was fine as far as I could tell.  He came on stage in a screaming rage as usual, jumped up on the crate, growled, and dove right into the first song like it was nothing.  He seemed 100% to me, and I was baffled that he would think for a moment that he had the flu.  But I'll admit, about halfway through the song, he started to seem kinda "foggy."  It was only during the second-half of the first song that I ever noticed it, but he definitely got really vague and hazy for a few minutes, and I started to worry that he wouldn't come out of it.  It's not like him to lack concentration like that.  But I think he finally got the adrenaline rush he was looking for, or maybe the caffeine set in, and he got so hyper after the first song that I would dare say it was one of the most hyper performances I've ever seen from him.  Way to rock the potential flu, man!

After the first song, they went into DICTATOR.  Except there was no pause.  The first song just turned right into DICTATOR, so the audience was like, "bwuh?!"  This was kind of a trend for the rest of the performance.  Virtually no breaks, and a lot of songs got cut up or sliced and blended in strange ways.

Yo-ka was definitely hyper as fuck, though.  During one of the early songs (which was also a new song I didn't recognize), yo-ka got so hyperactive that he started doing what I can only assume is his workout routine at the gym.  It was like there was an invisible punching bag in the air that only he could see, and he was doing tae-bo with it.  And I don't mean that he was just punching at the air.  I mean, it was like a precise work-out that he was doing with... whatever he was hallucinating about, I guess.  Maybe it was some ex-girlfriend's face, who knows, hahaha.  But it was pretty funny, watching him punching furiously at nothing for an entire song.  He must've had a lot of extra energy to expend.

Aaaaah, let's see... so there were tons of new songs.  There was this one that wasn't given a name, as far as I could tell, and I have no idea if it's going to be on the band's upcoming first album or not.  All I know is, it doesn't sound anything like DIAURA's other songs, from what I can tell.  It started out with this robotic voice in English saying, "caution: a virus has been detected."  Yo-ka's flu...?  But then the song turned into this weird... I don't know... I don't know how to describe it without hearing it again.  It was like... kind of perky?  Except it was good?  It kind of reminded me of the kind of song LuLu would put out (and I don't just mean because of the "virus" thing).  It was really catchy and fun, except it wasn't annoying at all.  The whole time I was like, "huh... I'm... enjoying this for some reason."  It involved this extremely bizarre furi, though, that most of the audience didn't seem to know, so yo-ka guided us through it.  You put up your right hand above your head, palm facing yourself.  Then you put up your left hand and put it over your right hand.  Then you flip them both out so that they're facing away from you.  Then you move them down your body in a little zig-zag.  And it ends with using both your fists to punch the air like you're going "yes!".  It was weird how well it fit the song.  I don't know, I really don't know how to explain the song.  All I know is, after it was over, I really wanted to hear it again, and I'm frustrated that I can't.  It was really enjoyable, whatever the hell it was.  Also, by that point, yo-ka ditched his feather-coat.  Turns out that ruffly part underneath it is actually a sleeveless, button-down vest, but the buttons are hidden by the ruffles.  Who knew.

Other stuff, other stuff... Ah, well, there was a dog pile as usual, but MelJay and I were in the unfortunate position of being just far back enough that a few rows in front of us didn't move forward.  Near as I can tell, it's still acceptable concert etiquette to shove people out of the way and bust through the crowd to join the pile (girls do it every time), but I've always felt awkward and uncomfortable doing it, and I've only busted through a couple times in extreme situations (like the first time I saw UnsraW, lol).  So we kinda just stayed back and watched the whole thing, which was a unique, new perspective for me.  I felt bad, though, cuz yo-ka kept looking at me like he couldn't believe I hadn't come forward.  Between Valluna and DIAURA, I've probably seen yo-ka perform about fifteen times, and I never fail to join a dog-pile.  During Valluna, I was even "lucky" enough to be one of only three people who caught yo-ka at a rather sparse show.  I caught him by the ass, thank you very much, and he proceeded to kick and flail in my arms while laughing hysterically.  To put it in a way that is in no way meant to sound dirty, yo-ka's gotten used to that curly-haired foreigner getting her hands all over him.  But it was definitely interesting to watch the process from the back and see the silly humans throwing themselves at each other.  Even funnier was watching yo-ka stage-dive from a distance.  You know, I've always known he's kinda spazzy when it comes to stage-diving (why else would he think it was okay to stage-dive into a near-empty audience and aim himself right at two surprised foreigners?), but from far away, it was hilarious.  At one point, he actually decided it was a good idea to somersault into the crowd, then attempt to somersault head-over-ass-backwards across the audience as they were surfing him.  Genius.

After one song, yo-ka suddenly left the stage without a word, and everyone was really surprised.  But then he came back with his guitar, so it was like, "ah, of course."  Anyways, they started to play a new song with yo-ka on acoustic guitar, but the song suddenly came to a screeching halt about fifteen seconds in, and in the middle of a sentence.  Whoa, whoa, what?!  Shoya and Kei both whipped their heads around, looking for the source of the accident, when Yuu suddenly began playing a whole new drum beat.  Then yo-ka started strumming the guitar and, in his best Mariah Carey, melodramatic style, started singing Happy Birthday.  Oooooh.  I knew Shoya's birthday was earlier in the week, but I thought they already celebrated that, so I was confused.  But the audience quickly joined the singing, and it turned out the song was for Kei.  Ooh, I didn't know it was Kei's birthday!  So everyone was like, "happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Keeeeei!"  Then yo-ka suddenly stopped playing guitar and everyone was like, "huh?"  Then yo-ka pointed at Shoya and, in a hilariously high-pitched voice, sang, "and Shoooooyaaaaa!" .......... "happy birthday to you!"  Later on, Shoya blogged and admitted that he was really pissed off when yo-ka and Yuu first started performing Happy Birthday, because he thought the two of them planned a surprise for Kei without him.  It took Shoya a moment to realize the surprise was for him too, lol.  Kei, on the other hand, wrote something on his blog that basically translates to, "I thought the song stopped due to a typical fuck-up from Yuu."  Pfffffffffffft, OUCH!  Geeeez, Kei, hahahahahaha.  Anyways, yo-ka brought out a cake for Kei, and Yuu crept out from behind his drum set and fetched a cake for Shoya.  The fans had gifts for them too.  It looked like they both got fan-made scrap books full of pictures and messages and stuff.  Kei's had a big, sparkly-embroidered portrait of him on it, so he propped it up on his equipment.  Of course, as usual, Kei looked somewhat embarrassed and stiff about the whole thing, but I think that's part of his endearing charm.  Shoya just took everything in stride as usual.  Kinda hard to disturb him, I think.  Yo-ka and Yuu had gifts for them too, but I don't really remember what they got.  Kei did an MC and thanked everyone, but the audience kept yelling out, "Nansai?!  Nansai?!" ("How old are you?!  How old are you?!").  Looking embarrassed, Kei was just like, "well that... that's not important."  I do wonder though, lol.

Also, they went back to the song they started with and it was indeed a new song.  So there's now another song in which yo-ka plays guitar, other than Kesshou. After they played it, Kei went up to the microphone.

Kei: We played a new song.  Did you guys notice?
Audience: Haaaaaaaaaaaai.
Me: *facepalm*

Other stuff... Yuu did a drum solo.  That's the first time I've ever seen him do one.  It was definitely a unique solo.  It started off with a lot of focus on percussion and strange rhythms and timing, before moving towards the pedal side of things.  I consulted drum-expert MelJay on it, and she agreed that it was a very unique and interesting solo, although she caught a couple instances where Yuu probably made a mistake.  So maybe's Kei was right, hahaha.  Just kidding, Yuu!

The band played another new song, and they told us during an MC that it's called Miss Psycho (not sure if I'm spelling that the way it's intended or not).  They also told us they wrote the song in only thirty minutes, while sitting around smoking.  Um... great?  That's not something you usually want to admit to your audience, lol.

Another just, like, random tidbit I wanted to throw in here, concerning yo-ka's behavior...  As I've mentioned a few times, I've been going through the horribly laborious process of labeling everything on this blog.  In doing so, I've been reading all the posts, meaning I've recently re-read every story I've told about Valluna.  While reading it, I thought to myself, "hmm... I guess I really do describe yo-ka differently now.  I guess he's changed."  I didn't think that in a negative way, it was just an observation.  His behavior as a front-man has changed.  During Valluna, yo-ka played the role of a deranged monster, twitching and shaking and bugging his eyes out and lashing out suddenly at girls with intent to cause harm and fear (like pulling their hair.  Or, in one case, hitting my friend Ashley over the head with a mannequin, lol).  In DIAURA, which stands for "Dictatorial Aura", yo-ka takes on a more, well... dictatorial role.  He's traded in the "monstrous" side he had in Valluna for a furious, domination-type performance.  He doesn't pull hair anymore, but he'll scream at the audience until he's red in the face until he gets what he wants.

So I had been thinking, that is.  But all that changed at this show, when yo-ka decided to make a liar out of me.  I'm just gonna assume he took an ass-load of caffeine before coming on stage, because that "monster" side of yo-ka was out in full force for the first time since... well, it was kinda there the first time I saw DIAURA, and then never again.  So... at least six months, lol.  The twitching, the seizing, the spazzing, the face.  It was all there.  Yo-ka didn't give two shits about his hair and spent half the show making it explode with his hands.  His face for most of the show looked something like this: (O__O)  At one point, he grabbed his own neck and started strangling himself while shaking his head like he was being electrocuted.  I haven't seen him do that in years.  He was getting so worked up that he was getting downright insulting, just like the old days.  He was yelling at the crowd to scream, and we kept screaming, and he kept yelling for us to scream louder, and we kept screaming, but it was never good enough.  Finally, yo-ka lost it and screamed, "BAKA YAROU!", which would basically translate to "YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!"  Now it was the audience who looked like (O__O) .  I wanted to go up to yo-ka and pat him on the back and tell him to calm the fuck down, lol.

I just found it interesting that the maniacal side of yo-ka is still there, despite his new "dictator" image.  I wonder why it came out at this show, and not at other shows.  Even more interesting is the fact that, the night I wrote the above few paragraphs (yes, I don't write a blog post all in one go, I'm far too lazy for that), MelJay told me a video was up on YouTube showing DIAURA performing MASTER live.  It's a bit dated now (about eight months old, before Yuu became official), but it shows that more monster-like side of yo-ka that I was talking about.  It makes me wonder, then... is yo-ka's change in performance style due to wanting a different image for DIAURA, or has it changed during the last eight months because of DIAURA's natural progression away from Valluna, or is the video I'm about to post just particularly wild because yo-ka knew he was being filmed, and he's a ham?  Well, either way, this video's awesome (despite the terrible sound quality), and might prove once and for all that I'm not lying when I say yo-ka has abs of steel, even though you can never see them in pictures:

Anyways, I don't care what yo-ka's performance style is as long as he puts on a good show.  And he always does, without fail.  It was more just an observation on my part, as someone who's familiar with him from both Valluna and DIAURA.

Man, I've gone off on a ridiculous tangent here.  Sorry, when I'm bored, I ramble.  Uuuuh, back to the show.  Shit, now I've totally lost my train of thought.  Oh, right, I mentioned Miss Psycho before.  So that's another new song, but it doesn't seem to be on the new album.  Alsoooo... ah, right, I remember where I was going with this.

Okay, so the band left and then we cheered them back for encore, of course.  And then they played some songs, and they left, but we cheered them back for another encore.  So then they played some more songs, and we were all like, "yay!"  Then all the band members took a big bow and waved their goodbyes and tossed picks, and then they left, and the staff finally pulled the curtain closed.  But the house lights still didn't go up for about thirty seconds, so the confused audience started calling for encore again.  But then, after we'd called encore a bunch, the house lights went up.  Aaaaaw.  The audience was like, "eeeeh?!"  MelJay was like, "well that was awkward."  I just shrugged and started heading over to my stuff, happy that the show got out early enough that I could safely make it home without having to run or leave early.  It was only about 8:20 at that point, and I didn't need to leave until at least 9:00.

However, a lot of fans weren't taking "no" for an answer.  About half the audience was gathering up their stuff and heading out, and the other half was standing around, still calling for encore, even though the house lights were up.  Hmmmmmm......?  As I was putting on my coat, I turned to MelJay and said, "you know, one time Valluna pulled a stunt like this.  They made it look like the show was over and then, after a lot of people had already left, they suddenly did a surprise encore.  I would've missed it if I hadn't been at the bar."  Was it possible DIAURA - which is 3/4 made of Valluna, if you count Yuu being Valluna's original drummer - was pulling the same stunt?  Unsure, we hovered near the door, waiting to see what would happen.  There was a staff guy standing next to the door.  After a show, the staff usually yell at us to leave calmly and not loiter too much and stuff, but this guy wasn't saying anything.  I kept glancing at him questioningly, but he just kept looking away like, "no, no, I have no opinion on this, stop looking at me..."  It was fun to see how uncomfortable I could make this guy.

But then Black Hole did the usual announcement over the loudspeaker when they're trying to get a stubborn audience to budge: "Today's show has ended.  Please leave the venue, blah blah blah Japanese Japanese."  But I was like, "uuuh........ wasn't that yo-ka...?"  He was trying to disguise his voice by making it kind of high-pitched and whiny, but it was totally failing, and I don't think anyone was fooled.  The crowd continued to call for encore, while I continued to torture the stone-faced staff guy with my eyes.  But MelJay and I were like, "this is bullshit, that was so totally yo-ka saying that message."  After another minute, the "guy" repeated the message about the show being over, and we still didn't move.  At this point, fans who went outside were creeping back into the venue to see what was going on.  MelJay was like, "I bet yo-ka's bullshitting this long just so the people who left will have time to come back."  I was like, "I think yo-ka's just a smartass."  The mysterious "guy" started to give the message again, but he was starting to crumble.  It kinda went like: "Today's show has ended.  Please leave the-BAHAHAHAHA."  Yo-ka started laughing hysterically in the middle of the message.  He tried to keep talking, but he couldn't stop cracking up at that point.  What a dumbass, lol.  By then, even the audience was laughing.

After that, I think yo-ka realized not a single person was fooled, and they pulled open the curtain for a surprise encore.  I think they played a new song.  And after that song, yo-ka was like, "remember Miss Psycho?  Do you remember?!  Remember it!  Remember it!  Remember it, goddamnit!"  And then they played Miss Psycho again, I suppose to force us to remember the furi and stuff.  Two times in one show, and I honestly still don't remember what Miss Psycho sounds like, or how the furi goes.  Sorry, yo-ka.  Don't kill me.  After Miss Psycho, the band waved their goodbyes and left for real.  The house lights went up immediately, and Mr. Stone-Face staff guy was finally yelling for us to get the hell out.  At that point, it was still only 8:40, so I was fine, and we headed back to the station, shaking our heads at DIAURA's silliness.

As expected, my journey back was no fun, but it could've been worse.  I got stuck at Kita-Senju Station for about forty minutes, but they have a Starbucks there, where I discovered they currently have apple-caramel scones.  Oh fuck yes.

After catching a cab at a station near my apartment in Gunma, I safely made it home, extremely pleased with the overall experience.  I don't want to give in on Sunday concerts too often, just because they're expensive, but there are definitely times when it's okay to do it.  This was one of those times, and it was super awesome.  DIAURA, you guys never fail to put on a great show.  Keep being awesome.

And now back to finishing up the labeling!  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayfuckmylife.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Indies, Shibuya Rex, 2/4

Just an update: I'm aaaalmost done with the tags/labels. Very, very close. I want to be done some time next week at the latest.

Anyways, time for another indies report! Upon first glance, it would look like MelJay and I went to see a bunch of bands we're unfamiliar with, but some preparation went into this one, and I was really excited to go.

We started out our day in Shinjuku, even though we were heading to Shibuya. Wound up at Ducky Duck for lunch, because they have these awesome set deals where you can get pasta, a drink, and a slice of cake for under $15. It was super awesome. Then we actually moved onto Shibuya.

We went to a new venue! How exciting! I hadn't been to a new venue in awhile. This particular venue is called Shibuya Rex, and it's new from what I can tell. The only problem is, they're so new, their website isn't mobile compatible yet. So MelJay and I never actually bothered to look up where the venue was before going, yet we couldn't seem to access the site on our phones while we were at Ducky Duck. Oops. The problem is that the site requires Flash, which phones can't usually handle. Luckily, MelJay remembered last minute that she downloaded an app that could sort of “imitate” Flash on her phone, and that allowed us to sneak through a loophole and find the website and a map to the venue. And good thing too, because I was prepared to head all the way over to Like an Edison and ask them, lol. So keep that in mind if you need to go to Rex! Prepare a map ahead of time!

When we got to Shibuya, we decided to find the venue first, just to be sure. We also didn't actually have tickets for the show, since the whole thing was kind of last minute, so we wanted to be near the venue and ready to pounce. Rex is in a really odd location. You have to exit Shibuya Station, and then go all the way around Mark City and go up this massive hill until you're at the equivalent of Mark City's fourth floor. Rex is up there, next to a Lawson. Except we walked past it and didn't even notice it, and wound up wandering aimlessly for awhile before realizing we were dumbasses and Rex had been right there all along.

While we waited, we went to a cafe that was selling awesome holiday drinks. We needed to chill out because, unfortunately, I had a cold.  As usual, my body has awesome timing and will give me a cold just a couple days before a weekend in which I have an indies event and a one-man (yes, a one-man happened on Sunday.  I'll get to that later).  While I didn't feel all that bad, I wasn't feeling 100%, and MelJay was starting to think she was coming down with something too.

So, after enjoying a gingerbread coffee drink, we went to Rex, where a line had formed outside the venue. But a small line. They had signs up directing where ticket numbers should stand, and the numbers only went up to about 160. So I figured Rex was a small venue. We waited until everyone was accounted for before explaining that we wanted toujitsuken (“day of” tickets), then we went inside. And I gotta say, Rex is awesome-looking inside. It's so clean and new, and they don't even have a whole lot of band posters up or anything. But they do have a massive, fake guitar jutting out of the wall, lol. Rex is also one of those venues that charges 600 yen for the required drink ticket instead of 500 yen, which is lame, but there's a catch. Your “ticket” is actually two guitar picks. You can put two picks towards one alcoholic drink. Or, unlike other venues, you can use the picks one at a time for non-alcoholic drinks. So, basically, if you want alcohol, Rex is a rip-off. But if you don't want alcohol, it's actually a way better deal than other venues, because you can get twice the drink for just a dollar more. I went with that path, personally.

Anyways, as expected, Rex is a very small venue. It can only comfortably hold about 200 people, though they might be able to cram in another fifty for a one-man. Also, it's one of those venues that's longer than it is wide, which I always find kinda awkward, and it makes the shifting between bands that much worse. But I think the place is used as a dance club when it's not hosting shows, and it has a DJ booth and everything. But I really can't complain about the awkward shape because the venue is so nice. It has really great lighting and sound, and they even have laser lights. Overall, I really liked the place, even if it's shaped like a sardine tin.

So our first band up is a repeater for us called Thomas:

Like last time, my opinion is that they're pretty good. They also start the trend for the night of very non-VK bands. They got off to a slow start by playing a ballad, which is fine, but maybe not the best choice when you have a judgmental, easily-irritated audience who doesn't know who you are. But after the ballad and another more mellow song, they stepped it up and played rock music like they did the last time I saw them. That's when they do a whole lot better. Their music has a really good rhythm to it that makes you want to move. I think Thomas knows this, because they actually rotated the drum set about 45 degrees to the right, allowing everyone a more in-depth view of what the drummer was doing. And the drummer's pretty good (and makes hilarious faces like over-concentrating drummers often do). They definitely play the kind of music that makes the audience nod its head, and they have a very charismatic vocalist. I'd say they're just a good act overall.

Also, the band took a break after two songs, and wound up doing about five or six songs in total, which is an unusually high number for the first band. I think because we only had six bands playing, a lot of bands got a lot more onstage time than they normally do at events.

Anyways, our next band up is one I'd never heard of called Cat fisT:

I think this picture's out of date.  I think one of these guys isn't in the band anymore...?

During their MC, the band implied that they don't come to Tokyo all that often, so I figured they were from Nagoya or Osaka or something, and that's why I'd never heard of them. I looked them up on VKDB later and you know where they're from? Kyushu. Freakin' Kyushu. For those who don't know Japan's geography, Japan has four main islands. From north to south they're Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. So Kyushu is the southernmost main island, and not exactly well-known for much of anything (other than hot springs, I guess). Like, I didn't think any kind of rock music - or anything cool whatsoever - came out of freakin' Kyushu. I've never heard of a VK band from Kyushu, but I must say, Kyushu to Tokyo is quite a long distance for Cat fisT to travel.

So, like Thomas, they weren't really VK per se. They were sort of VK in the sense that if you consider wearing eyeliner to be VK, then I guess Green Day is VK, lol. Except the vocalist literally had panda-eyes. When he first came on stage, I turned to MelJay and was like, “gee, do you think the vocalist needs some more eye-shadow?” To which MelJay smirked and said, “naaaah.” Looked like the vocalist was double-punched in the face or something.

Anyways, they were also a really solid act. Like Thomas, Cat fisT is leaning towards my personal preference: less VK, more rawk. I like acts that have a harder sound and don't do too much stupid, gimmicky crap. So I enjoyed what Cat fisT had to offer. They were hard music with a good, intense feel to it.

The only problem was that, as near as I could tell, the vocalist wasn't actually singing. And he wasn't trying to hide it either. He lip-synced almost everything, including a lot of the screaming, and he didn't seem to have any problem just stopping in the middle of everything and letting the track take over without him. In fact, his attitude was hilariously nonchalant and cocky a lot of the time, like he just didn't give a shit what we thought about him (he had a smirk plastered to his face for the entire performance).  But I'm going to withhold judgment on the guy because it turns out the vocalist is really sick. It was never explicitly stated, but it was implied during their MC. Their right guitarist did the whole MC in the vocalist's stead. After a couple minutes, he turned to the vocalist and was like, “do you want to add anything?” And the vocalist, who was facing away taking a break (yet still smirking), muttered, “I want you to keep talking.” And then the guitarist was like, “Yeah, it's hard for you, isn't it?  I'll keep talking...” and then bullshitted for another minute. That was all that was ever said about the situation, but I took that to mean the vocalist was all fucked up, and that's why he was lip-syncing.

Well, my internet sleuthing has led me to discover that the vocalist is indeed sick, and only returned to band activities about two months ago, after a six month absence on doctor's orders.  Apparently, he's suffering from dysautonomia.  It's an autonomic nervous system disease.  It looks like it causes various heart problems, which then cause all kinds of other problems, including severe fatigue and dizziness and other things that are in no way good for a vocalist.  Considering the disease doesn't appear to be curable (and not largely treatable either), I'm amazed the vocalist came back to the scene at all.

So I'm definitely not judgin' the guy for lip-syncing. I'll give him credit for the fact that he performs at all.  And it's not like he didn't sing or scream, either.  He did at least 65% of it on his own, and he screamed a lot when he was trying to work up the crowd (which he was good at, because we all responded well to his cocky attitude, lol).

Overall, I thought Cat fisT was a really enjoyable act.  Hopefully, the vocalist will be feeling better next time they're in Tokyo. 

Also, I dunno what the hell was up with Cat fisT as far as the merch booth goes, but all the members (minus the vocalist) manned the booth for the entire rest of the show, and they yelled about everything.  I'll put this in English for you, but a typical transaction at the booth went something like this:

Fan: Hello.

Cat fisT member: WELCOME!!!

Fan: Great job today!

Cfm: THANKS!!!!

Fan: I really like your shirt.


Fan: Uh... great.  Um... can I buy your latest single?

Cfm: OKAY, THAT'S 2000 YEN!!!!!

Fan: O-okay... [hands over the money]

Cfm: THANK YOOOOOOUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!11 ***explodes***

It got to the point that, between bands, people were going up to the Cat fisT members just to make them yell.  Seriously, groups of girls were going up to Cat fisT, giggling hysterically, and buying stuff or talking to the band, just because the yelling was funny.  Are people from Kyushu just loud or something...?  Or are Cat fisT just a bunch of weirdos...?

Anyways, the next band up is the band that even made us bother coming to the show. The next band up is Signal:

MelJay and I kind of accidentally discovered Signal not too long ago. We were in Like an Edison, shopping for something totally unrelated. Meanwhile, the TV screens they always have in the store were playing the music video for some new band called Signal. I think we both had our ears rotated towards the screens, even while we were looking at other stuff, because the song just sounded really badass. Like, most of the stuff they loop on those screens is typical indies bullshit (except the one time they were looping Dir en grey's DIFFERENT SENSE video on the screens, tentacle rape and all). MelJay was smart enough to look at the screen and take down the band's name in her memory, while I completely failed at that and couldn't remember their name no matter how many times she told me. We discovered that, despite advertising the band, Likea wasn't actually selling anything by the band. Which is lame as fuck. So we just figured, “hmm... there's a surprisingly hardcore band out there somewhere, maybe we'll run into them some time.

But I seriously couldn't remember their name. Any time they came up, it was like:

MelJay: I still haven't found anything by that band we heard at Likea.

Me: Yeah, what were they called again? Soufflé?

MelJay: Signal.

Me: Right, Stonehenge.

MelJay: No, Signal.

Me: Astigmatism?


Thank gawd MelJay has a better memory than I do or we never would've run into these guys at all.  Luckily, MelJay was able to pin down a Saturday show in which they'd be playing, but we weren't sure we really cared enough to go.  Was it worth the gamble having only heard one song?  The funny thing is, I've actually seen Signal's vocalist before, back when he was in a band called dizSOLID.  That was back when I jokingly called him The Last of the Mohicans because he had really over-the-top, beaded extensions in his hair.  But I never said anything bad about him.  In fact, my opinion of him was that "[he] had a pretty good screaming range and some interesting noises came out of him."

Well, we decided to go see Signal because we're desperate (no, seriously, we're desperate).  But then I was a bad girl and downloaded one of their singles just to see.  And then I was like, "AW HELL TO THE YEAH!" Their music's fuckin' tight, man.  And made of awesome.  They are straight-up exactly the kind of hard-core band I've been looking for.  So then I was really excited to see them live.

Okay, enough preliminary bullshit, back to the show.

So they came on stage and they were performing and I was like, omigawd, yes, they are so hard-core, I can't believe I've waited so long to see something so badass and awesome and - did the vocalist just do the chicken dance?!!

So here's the thing with Signal.  Yeah, their music's intense.  Yeah, their performances are intense.  Yeah, they're intense.  But....... for some reason, there is an explosive level of dork erupting from these guys.  Which was not what I was expecting, just based on listening to them.  You might think I'm stupid for having not expected that, since the band has a "token female."  Except their token female isn't really the dork.  In fact, he's just a big faker and acts really cute when we're looking (like playing peek-a-boo with audience members), then rocks out when he thinks we're not paying attention (like spiral headbanging, pigtails and all).  He's only there because the only way the industry can market a band as intense as Signal is by having something "cute" to dilute it.  No, it's not him.  The vocalist really does do a chicken dance sometimes.  He'll just hop on the crate, put his hands under his armpits, and jump up and down flapping his chicken wings.  Their right guitarist (the not-fake-female one) likes to do things like... take a running dive at the crate and flop on top of it like a fish and roll around.  At one point, the vocalist pretty much exploded my brain.  He was up on the crate, screaming, shrieking, doing everything you'd expect from a band like Signal.  And then... he turned sideways and did a booty pop.  Do you know what I mean by that?  Picture a girl turning, sticking her butt out, and bouncing it to make her skirt flip up.  Yeah.  He did that.  In pants.  For no reason.  And it went with the song, so it was like... he planned on booty-popping all along.  The right guitarist was so dorky, I couldn't even find an adjective for him and it drove me crazy.  Flirty?  Playful?  Cocky?  Smug?  Goofy?  Completely lacking in self-awareness?  Eventually, I decided he just embodied the term "fuck da police."  I'm pretty sure he'd pull his pants off if it meant getting attention, lol.

Needless to say, I was taken by surprise.  But I'm glad I know now.  Next time, I'll be expecting it, and it won't be so weird.  For the most part, the audience at this show was really dead and disinterested in everything, so we couldn't really rock out much because everyone was just standing and doing nothing.  In the case of Signal, most people were nodding along to the music, but a lot of people were definitely hesitating about furi and stuff, and I think it was because of the band's hilariously mixed signals (hahahaaaa).

I still think their music is fucking awesome, though.  I don't want to vomit love all over them until they've released more than just two singles, but I can say that those two singles have made me very excited.  They're exactly the kind of badass metal the JRock scene desperately needs right now.  All five of their released songs are fucking awesome.  Like, so awesome that I can't believe they came from a new band.  They sound like veterans.  They're great at their instruments, and the vocalist has the most incredible little girl scream I've ever heard, and he can do it perfectly live.  I've been playing their five songs over and over on repeat, just basking in the joy and happiness of finally finding something that truly suits my tastes.  Maybe someday they can even replace the hole that UnsraW left behind.  Maybe....?  Hopefully......

If you want to see what Signal's like, this is the song they were playing in Like an Edison that made us decide to go.  To be honest, this isn't even their best song, lol (which is really saying something, because this song is awesome).  The growling chorus is a rip-off of Dir en grey's Hydra -666-, but I forgive them because this song is so much fun.  But seriously, if you think this song is awesome, you should hear the epic these guys do in their other songs.

Moving on, the next band up is ALSDEAD.

Ah yes, we recently resurrected these guys on the blog, and here they are again.  A band that's always just been "okay" in my book.  It makes sense that they were at this show, however, because they're not visual-kei at all anymore.  Most of the other bands at this show were about as VK as a dash of eye-shadow, but ALSDEAD doesn't even do that anymore.  Anyways, they were fine.  I must say, they really take themselves seriously now.  They pulled back the curtain to reveal the band already standing there in serious, solemn poses (which caused the audience to laugh for some reason, but I don't know why).  When I used to see ALSDEAD a few years ago, they still had an air of silly baby-indies about them.  But now they're so serious that they're almost a downer.  They played an old song that I recognized from a few years ago, and it was weird how out of place it seemed in their setlist.  Like it was too cheerful or something.  Their last song was a ballad, and MAKI looked so freakin' sad while he was singing that I wanted to go up there and hand him a teddy bear.  When the song ended, they just left the stage without a word.  Ooookay.  Between each band, the venue played some of the previous band's music, but after ALSDEAD, they just played this sad, melancholy, atmospheric stuff.  MelJay told me it sounds like the music they play in Silent Hill 2 when you're done with an area and the game wants you to gtfo (like after Maria gets stabbed by Pyramid Head in the hospital and the game lets you take control of James, but the game really wants you to leave the hospital and progress the story, so it plays mopey, atmospheric music until you leave).  I cracked up because that's exactly what the music sounded like.  There's nothing wrong with ALSDEAD taking themselves seriously (bands should take themselves seriously if they want to get anywhere), it's just that they're playing to the wrong kind of crowd, maybe.

Anyways, the next band up is another repeater.  NEGA:

NEGA...... NEGAAAAAAAA....  I really like saying that name.  Is is short for "negative"?  Does anyone know?  This was the band the audience obviously came to see, and it was really crowded.  The previously dead audience suddenly came to life, and some people were screaming the names of the band members like preteens wetting themselves over Justin Bieber.  Anyways, NEGA opened a Pandora's box of horrors for my brain, but we'll get to that later.

It seemed like a special occasion for NEGA or something.  Their vocalist - I think his name is Jin - came rushing onto the stage wearing black jeans and no shirt.  Instead, his entire face, and a diagonal cross-section of his body from one hip to the other shoulder, was coated in sparkly, silver crackle-paint.  Aaaaah, yes.  We have another Kyo in our midst.  The lid of Pandora's box is already lifting, you see.  I should also add that Jin had his pants pulled down low enough that we could see his matching, sparkly silver Calvin Klein boxers.  Teehee.

So I do wonder if it was a special night for NEGA.  They played a ton of songs (maybe nine or ten songs...?), which was significantly more than the freaking hosting band.  Not only that, but, like... last time I saw NEGA, they were, well... kind of boring, to be honest.  But this time, there were all these "antics" that came out of nowhere.  The crackle-paint was just the first stunt.  And it was quite disturbing because, as you'd expect of a vocalist, the paint on Jin's face was the first to start peeling.  At one point, he had this huge wad of paint dangling off his chin as if his skin was melting off.

Other antics included scratching his chest, fake seizures, belly-dancing, putting the mic in his pants, rubbing his crotch, and putting his head on the crate and holding his arms behind himself and flailing them around like worms detached from his body.

You do see what I'm getting at, right?  I'm hesitant to point fingers at Kyo-mimicry considering how often I used to go see VAJRA, but........

The icing on the cake came later, but I've gotta give Jin points... it was kinda awesome.  Basically, Jin was rocking out and jumping on the crate, and then he tripped and fell backwards.  He landed on his ass behind the crate, disappeared, and didn't get up.  But I wasn't worried, because the fall looked slightly staged.  But a minute passed, and Jin still hadn't gotten up.  Plus, their right guitarist kept looking at him.  Suddenly, I was feeling a little worried.  I'm not exactly a NEGA fan, but I don't want to see anyone get hurt.  After a few more anxious moments, Jin suddenly reappeared and stumbled back to his feet.

And blood fucking exploded out of his face.  I'm talking a mother-fucking volcano of blood.  So much fake blood erupted out of his mouth that it went all over his hair, his chest, down to his boxers, and even down his back.  It went everywhere.  Some people in the audience were like O__O, but I thought it was hilarious.

But it was just another nail in the coffin, I suppose.  Nobro from VAJRA may have been a Kyo impersonator, but I don't think I ever saw him do every single Kyo stunt in a single show.

But here's why Pandora's box was opened.  MelJay and I got into a big discussion about Jin's performance, and I found that the more we discussed what he does on stage, the more I felt like someone was wrapping a belt around my brain.

Performance vs. honesty.  Where does the line get drawn?  And where along the spectrum does it matter?  I tried to argue that, even though Jin's performance wasn't original, it was still a good performance.  But MelJay disagreed, saying the performance was too fake to be good.  But I argued that not just anyone can go on stage and do what Jin did (such as curl up in a ball on the crate and make horrible, dying baby noises).  MelJay disagreed, saying Jin was just well-trained.  But a trained performer can't do those kinds of things without the act holding some slight reality for him, right?  You can't pull any guy off the street and teach him to spit fake blood and make it look that intense, right?  But MelJay says it doesn't matter if it looks intense, because Jin wasn't transmitting any feeling or emotion behind it, so it wasn't a good performance.  So I said maybe Jin is so well-trained that he can't even show his true feelings, because he's so preoccupied with his training that his performance has lost all its original meaning.  Do you see how this is starting to sound like a riddle?  So Nobro from VAJRA used to mimic Kyo, but he used real blood.  Does that make his performance more "real", even if it's an imitation?  Or was Nobro just a puppet of the industry, to the extent that he would bleed for it?  But if Jin is imitating Kyo, but really shares the kinds of feelings Kyo has, does that make his performance "real", even if it's an imitation?

The rabbit hole just keeps going deeper...  What about yo-ka from DIAURA?  MelJay and I have had lengthy discussions about what a well-trained performer he is.  Everything he does, right down to the way he stands, is well-rehearsed.  And yet, yo-ka's an amazing performer.  So is he wrong?  If he sings a song so beautifully that people cry, but he's been trained to sing that way by someone else, is the performance real?  Is it a lie?  Is it a bad performance because it lacks real feeling?  Or is it a good performance because yo-ka moved people to tears?  If a performer creates feelings in an audience, despite not feeling those feelings himself, then is that a good performance?  Or is it still just a lie?  No one can prove Kyo's honesty, although I've always believed him to be honest.  And I can't help but want to withhold judgment about someone like Jin, because I don't really know who he is.  But we can't ever know who these performers are, right?  Would their true selves ruin the performance?  Jin was handpicked for NEGA for a reason.  What was the reason?  Can he fake cry because he's a good student, or can he fake cry because he's actually a sad person?  If you fake cry when you're legitimately sad, is it still fake?  Furthermore, is it possible that someone who's been handpicked as a front-man has gotten so good at pretending to cry that it's become the best they can do?  Has their own reality become skewed?  What should we even consider "reality" at that point?  

Why am I even thinking about this...?  NEGA opened the damn box, and now I can't shove the evil back inside it. But I really shouldn't worry about it, right?  It's just a show.  It's just marketing.  No one can ever prove a performer's integrity.  Ever since I started labeling this blog, MelJay's complained that I've gone soft, or that I've lost my voice on this blog.  The fact that I can neither defend nor judge Jin might be proof of that.  Part of me wants to call him a marketing gimmick, yet part of me can't help but wonder why he thought himself suitable for the job in the first place.  Then I remember that I'll never know.  And then indifference washes over me, and my inner voice vanishes.  For me, such a reaction is worrisome.

Anyways, the last band up was our sponsoring band, cocklobin:

Is it just me, or would the band's name be greatly improved by a well-placed "g" and a change of "l"?

Cock oblin

Right?  Wouldn't that be better?

Anyways, they weren't what I was expecting.  I sampled them on YouTube prior to the show, and found them very "melancholy", I suppose.  But live they were actually kinda screamy.  The vocalist doesn't look like a typical visual-kei vocalist (not that you can tell from the picture), so I was a little surprised when I saw him, but he was quite good at what he does.  They definitely put on a good show, and I enjoyed them.  Plus, everyone cleared out after NEGA, so it was only people who actually like cocklobin left in the venue.

It also happened to be the bassist's birthday, so they brought out a cake.  Actually, a blond guy brought out the cake, and he looked like he was from one of the previous bands, but he was already sans costume and make up, so I  couldn't tell who the fuck he was.  Edit edit edit: Yuri, the vocalist of Signal, just blogged and said it was him who brought out the cake.  WTF, I swear his hair wasn't that blond while he was performing O_o  Also, I don't really remember anything he said, but I remember the vocalist was really funny, and we laughed at almost everything that came out of his mouth.  The only thing is, the audience kept trying to get the bassist to eat the cake, and he really didn't seem to want to.  At all.  Some of these performers seem to have complexes about looking fat, so eating cake in front of us would've looked bad, probably.  But, after enough whining, the bassist sighed and took a big bite out of the cake while the blond guy (Yuri, apparently) was still holding it.  That shut everyone up, lol.

Overall, cocklobin was an enjoyable act, even though they played less than NEGA did.  WTF.

Aaaand, that was the show!  Yay!  Overall, definitely more my cup of tea.  Less VK, more rawk, more "hardcore".  I'm going to keep an eye on some of these bands and use them as magnet detectors for what kinds of shows to go to.  And I'm definitely keeping an eye on Signal.  I wanna keep seeing good things from them (too bad I can't see them in concert again until March).

Anyways, after the show, I thought about buying Signal's music, but then I had an epic cheapskate moment and didn't.  Maybe next time.  Besides, I'd lost my voice by then (even though I didn't do any yelling), so it was time to gtfo.

And the next day was a DIAURA one-man that wound up being all kinds of awesome!  Stay-tuned!