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:
Cat fisT member: WELCOME!!!
Fan: Great job today!
Fan: I really like your shirt.
Cfm: IT'S FROM CHROME HEARTS!!!!!
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?
Me: Right, Stonehenge.
MelJay: No, Signal.
MelJay: NO, THEY'RE CALLED SIGNAL, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!!
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.
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"?
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!