Actually, I didn't go to the show to see anything in particular, which might seem strange. I kinda broke my 2-3 Rule for this one. The show had a bunch of 3's, but no 2's, and I usually won't go to something without a 2. But there were a lot of 3's so I let it slide mostly due to boredom. We had nothing better to do, and that many 3-level bands don't usually gather together, so we said, "eh, what the hell" and went.
Uuuum, let's see what happened before the show... Shopped around Shinjuku for awhile, bought stupid stuff like muffins and bagels and put them in our bags for later, despite the risk of them getting mauled at the concert. Also bought the prettiest macarons ever:
In case you're wondering, the sparkly ones taste like Oreo's, but their actual flavor is bamboo charcoal. I bought the two in the middle. The yellow and pink one was actually pistachio and strawberry, and it was awesome, and the yellow one was lemon (duh). What else, what else... Well, we were pretty bored, so we went to Takadanobaba early and looked around. Found a cafe down a side street with delicious sakura lattes and a good view of the road where we could watch giant stray cats roaming around, as well as cute little birdies. That might become our new pre-show hangout.
Let's get to the show. It was at AREA, but it wasn't particularly crowded. Maybe my 2-3 Rule is a good system for predicting how crowded a show will be, lol. At a place that can hold at least 450, we had something closer to 300. Enough room to sit around the area in the back without a problem. And we pretty much did stay in the back, cuz there was a lot of room to be free-spirited, lol. No 2's to move up for anyways.
Also, one of my frequent blog commenters found me, lol. Hope I didn't scare you off with my incessant talking, hahaha. But, as I've said before, my friends and I are a friendly group, so it's okay to say hello! We don't bite! We just talk too much. But it was great meeting one of my blog readers! Yay for meeting new people!!! =^________^= Come say hello anytime!!!
As for the show, let's see... The first band up was L&DS.
|This band is rated HD for Hamster Dance.|
Next band up is Velbet.
|This band is rated SF for Sofa Fabric.|
Anyways, Velbet's one of the oldest indies bands on my personal experience index in Japan. I saw them for the first time back in June of 2010, which is impressive because most indies bands that I saw in June of 2010 have already imploded. Although, interestingly enough, the first time I saw Velbet was at a show with Elm, ALSDEAD, and Para:noir, all of whom still exist. Except Para:noir's about to break up. See what I mean? Anyways, the point I'm trying to make is that I've had a long time to form an opinion on Velbet. I think this was my sixth or seventh time seeing them. It's actually rather a shame that, by the time I learned to appreciate them at least a little bit, they were already losing both guitarists. But Velbet (spelled in katakana) used to be VelBet, a different band run by vocalist Riuki. I think he was the only one to move on to Velbet (in katakana) and Velbet even lost a drummer once. So, considering Riuki is the leader and the "brains" behind the operation, I think Velbet can continue on so long as he does, dragging his sofa fabric behind him.
Okay, so I'm not saying I appreciate Velbet as in, like, "oh, I'm suddenly a fan after two years." It's not really like that. It's more like... I took a step back and thought about them a little more. They're basically The GazettE's version of VAJRA. They dress just like The GazettE, have the members set up as equivalents to the members of The GazettE, and their music is strongly reminiscent of The GazettE's music. In fact, they have one song that's almost identical to a GazettE song. But, like VAJRA, Velbet serves a bizarre purpose. VAJRA was so hated by the JRock world that I'm surprised they didn't get lynched, but I came to their defense on my blog because I think the indies scene created them with a mission: to fill the hole left behind when Dir en grey stopped being visual-kei and stopped going to small, personal live houses. The indies scene knew they could make some money off of VAJRA by filling that void, while the major scene knew VAJRA could never threaten a powerhouse like Dir en grey, even if VAJRA got popular (which they knew would never happen). I wrote a whole "article" about this on my blog, comparing VAJRA's role in JRock to the role doujinshi (fan comics) play in the manga world. I even submitted a cleaned up version of that article to a professor of manga at my university, lol.
Anyways, Velbet is to The GazettE what VAJRA is to Dir en grey: a more visual-kei, sillier, "old-school" version of The GazettE that plays in small, personal live houses. Frequently. For little money. It's not like they threaten The GazettE in any way, and it's not like a die-hard GazettE fan would ever shove The GazettE aside in their hearts to make room for Velbet. I mean, I really enjoyed seeing VAJRA live because their shows were obscenely fun, but the ratio of love I had for them compared to Dir en grey is like comparing a chihuahua to a St. Bernard. It's just that VAJRA was readily available, played often, cost little money, had an amazing audience and saizen, and Eru liked to punch out fans. Consenting fans, strangely enough.
So basically... every time I've run into Velbet this year, I felt like I "understood" just a little bit more. The thing is, they're really fun. Their songs are obviously written with a live house setting in mind, and it shows. Every song is geared towards audience participation and entertainment, and I can dig that. Would I ever be a huge fan of Velbet? Probably not. But I like participating for them and having a good time. The audience sure as hell has a good time. During the side-to-side, this group near us decided to do the side-to-side even though a lot of that area wasn't participating. So one girl kept turning backwards and herding her area away from the wall with her butt. Then, when that group bounced back the other direction, she hopped forward until they slammed her face-first into the wall, with her palms flat against it. Then she butt-herded them back the other way, laughing. Aaaaaand that's how you have a good time, lol.
Anyways, as I said, Velbet's guitarists are leaving, so they got extra cheering and stuff, and the left guitarist stayed behind to say goodbye to the audience and all that.
As for Riuki, here's a fun little thing: Tetsu from UnsraW is having a session band soon, and he's including Shou (from UnsraW) on the drums, and putting Riuki in as the vocalist! Isn't that a weird combo?! UnsraW and Velbet...
But what if........ what if............ what if that means Tetsu could become the new guitarist for Velbet........?!
Anyways, let's keep going. The next band up is Lycaon:
|This band is rated F for Fabuloooooouuuuuus.|
Aaaaaand I'm getting off-topic. Anyways, not much to say about Lycaon. I do have one complaint, although it's not directed specifically at Lycaon. Rather, it's directed at a trend I've noticed in the scene lately that I happened to notice especially during Lycaon.
For some reason, a lot of bands right now feel the need to layer the fuck out of their vocalist's voice. A little layering is fine, and sometimes necessary to replicate a moment on an album. And sometimes layering helps add some volume and strength to a vocalist's voice during opportune moments. But lately, indies bands are abusing the ever-loving shit out of vocal layering, and it's starting to annoy me. Especially when an entire song is layered. Halfway through Lycaon, I realized I couldn't even tell which voice was Yuuki, and which voice was a recording. There seemed to be at least four voices at once sometimes, and Yuuki's real voice was lost in there. It especially bothers me when it's abused by a band with a vocalist like Yuuki, who I know for a fact can sing live without a problem. But I'm not just picking on Lycaon. L&DS was abusing it too, and so do a lot of other bands. I just think that, when too much layering is used, it actually does the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than making the singer's voice sound bolder and more harmonious during a song, it starts to make it sound flat and artificial. Using layering a little bit is fine, but when I'm spending four songs wondering if Yuuki is actually singing at all in that mess, there's a problem.
But, other than that, I participated and enjoyed myself, and enjoyed Lycaon's usual slutty fabulousness.
The next band up is -OZ-, sporting a sassy new look:
|This band is rated DW for Dead Weasel|
I feel like -OZ- is one of the #1 foreigner-magnet bands. So, like... I've heard about them since forever. I can remember talking to an -OZ- fan when I was in high school, lol. Even though I've had friends try really hard to get me into -OZ-, I never really gave them much of a try. I saw them in concert a few times and thought, "wow... this band is really depressed, and their vocalist is half-asleep." So I wasn't particularly impressed. A couple shows later, -OZ- finally perked up and I thought, "hmm... not so bad. Some potential here." So then I tried to pay attention to what they were playing and I thought, "hmm... definitely some potential here." I tried out one of their CDs later, and it wasn't the most amazing thing ever, but it had some pretty rockin' songs on it. I was surprised by how strangely creative the more hardcore songs were, and how badly they got stuck in my head. Some of the songs were downright awesome.
However, I have this scale in my head that I call the NCS: The Natsuki Coherency Scale. While the instrumental section of -OZ- generally seems kinda bored and disinterested, Natsuki, in particular, doesn't seem to always be "with it" at shows. Or ever. Thus, the scale.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 0 = Unconscious, and 10 = So hyper Natsuki rips his clothes off.
I was watching the New Years comment DVD that -OZ- did a few months ago, and I could barely make it longer than five seconds without laughing myself to tears at Natsuki. His speaking voice sounds nothing like his singing voice, and instead sounds more like a robot voice putting you on hold over the phone. The things he said seemed strangely incoherent too. These aren't exact quotes, but the comment DVD went something like this:
Natsuki: The New Year is here! But who cares about that - it's mah birthday!!! :-B
Band mates: ............................
Natsuki: Isn't that exciting?!
Band mates: ...................................................
Natsuki: Say something awesome about me! :-B
Crickets: *chirp............. chirp*
I turned to MelJay and was like, "what the fuck is this guy smoking?!!" That's Coherency Level 2.
But I think the Coherency Scale applies at shows too. I mean, last time I saw -OZ-, Natsuki zoned out so bad during a ballad, I thought he fell asleep with his eyes open.
Coherency Level 1
I even warned Peachy before the show that seeing -OZ- is a gamble. You just reach into a hat and pick a card, and it'll either read "incoherent" or "coherent."
So how about this show?
At this show, Natsuki was.........................
COHERENT! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! And so were his band mates! Possibly for the first time I've ever seen!
Everyone gets a Coherency Level of 8.5!!!
To be honest, this was a side of -OZ- I didn't recognize. Is it because they have a new single out? Is the band suddenly excited?! Well, if that's the case, I can get on board with that! I'm almost sorry I didn't move down into the floor area for them. I saw tons of foreigners heading down there, and I turned to my friends and was like, "I think the foreigners know something we don't know. I bet -OZ- is next." Oh well, some other time. We just had fun in our own area.
I think -OZ-, like BORN, is a band with completely dual personalities. Both bands are always fun, but the right mood makes them super!crazy!awesome!fun. If the band's having a good time, then the audience is too! For example, the guitarist on the right... hell, I don't know their names. Um... is the one on the right Aki or Tama? Well, whatever, Right Guitarist turned into some kind of snake-dancer for the entire performance. He reminded me soooo much of guitarist Shou from Awoi, who I affectionately refer to as Snake-Dancer Shou due to his love of solo interpretive dancing and undulating his arms like a mother-fucking snake while performing (only made more awesome by Shou's incredibly vampire-like teeth that are apparently real and natural). Right Guitarist of -OZ- was acting just like snake-dancer Shou, and that made me very happy. The whole time he played, he was wiggling around, undulating his arms, and using every moment of down-time to dance in place in a sneaky-snaky fashion. He seemed just as interested in side-winding like a serpent as he did in playing guitar. I was extremely amused by this. I think he gets a Coherency Level 9 to 9.5, lol. But the other members suddenly seemed "on" too. In fact, they even interacted with each other sometimes, putting their arms around each other or going up and smiling at each other while playing. This was a side of -OZ- I didn't think existed, but I'm glad to know it does.
And, as I mentioned before, Natsuki was especially coherent. And happy to be on stage, I think. They played lots of badass songs, so we got to do lots of jumping and headbanging. The girl in front of me wasn't an -OZ- fan but cut in front of me anyways because she's a bitch, so I made sure to hit her with my hair as much as possible and drive her crazy, lol. Let's see... they played the new single... and they played, um... some other hardcore stuff. They also played that really pretty ballad whose name I don't know and I have no idea what release it's from. All I know is, it's super pretty. When I realized they were playing a ballad, I was like, "ooh, I hope it's the pretty one!" Then I realized it was, and I turned to Peachy and looked up at her with my head bowed and whispered, "I love this song!" Peachy laughed at me because she couldn't believe how incredibly embarrassed I looked about this. I'm just not the ballad type. I've never cared for ballads unless they're really fucking pretty. Usually, when I hear a ballad, I'm just like, "lol cheesy." But I looooove this one. It's like a lullaby with an epic chorus, and Natsuki has a huge voice. He freakin' blasts that chorus.
Um... I remember they ended with that song with the counting. They count up to four, and everyone holds up their fingers to it. That was a lot of fun too. Natsuki picked up the microphone stand at one point and swung it around and rested it on his shoulder and almost hit their bassist in the face, lol. The bassist looked terrified. Natsuki also pulled his coat down to his elbows a few times, and he had a wifebeater on underneath. That's officially the first time I've ever seen Natsuki's shoulders, lol.
I was just glad to see the band in such a good mood. I'm kinda confused, though... Like, BORN was so fucking depressed when I came back to Japan, compared to the incredibly happy mood they were in when I studied abroad. And -OZ- was depressed too. Yet now, at around the same time, both bands have perked up and become all OMGILOVEBEINGONSTAGEWHOO and stuff. What the hell changed?! Or, the better question is, what was wrong before?! I guess there's no way to know...............
Oh, and if the picture caption is any indication, I hate Natsuki's new outfit. It looks like someone murdered a family of ferrets and lined his coat with them, lol.
Our last band up for the day is Black Gene For the Next Scene:
|This band is rated NNO for Needs New Outfits. Yeesh.|
The band opened with their song DOOM, which I think everyone can agree is a super fun song, whether they know Black Gene For the Next Scene or not. However, at least half the audience didn't seem to know who BFN was. Even as I was rocking out, I kept thinking "uh oh" as I watched Ice's blue-contact eyes scanning the less-active parts of the audience. However, contrary to what I expected, Ice didn't do a nasty MC, or even an especially bossy one. Instead, he explained to the audience that he wanted everyone to slam dance around and get all messed up, but that he understood if people didn't want to. He told the audience that BFN's fans were gonna do that, but people who didn't want to do it still had a chance to escape. So he was actually taking the time to warn the audience about the slam-dancing, and giving them a chance to get away from it if they wanted. Which was strangely nice of him. He also imitated the slam-dancing again, although I don't know why that involved leaping off the crate as high as possible and landing flat on his feet. I cringed, waiting for Ice to hit the floor in pain, but apparently his feet are resilient. This time, Ice's imitation of us was much better and looked less drunk and made Rame laugh. Ice also told us that, while slam-dancing, we should yell, "HELL YEAH!" The audience stared at him in a dead-pan, so he was like, "Hell yeah! Don't you guys know that phrase?! It's Hell, like Jigoku (Hell in Japanese)! C'mooon! It's Hell spelled H-E-L-L!" I face-palmed, lol. We know how to spell Hell, Ice................. The other funny thing is that, when the audience yells for Ice, it really sounds like they're yelling for ice cream. "Ice" in Japanese just means "ice cream" lol. And, as you'd expect, Ice blogs about ice cream constantly. But it still sounds funny to hear an audience screaming hysterically for ice cream. Now whenever I hear someone in Japanese say, "ice tabetai" ("I want to eat ice cream"), I'm going to laugh.
The slam-dancing was pretty fun, though. Our back area didn't want to do it, but Peachy and Meljay and I were standing to the right of a fairly vacant row, so we did the slam-dancing in our own little space, just for the hell of it. When it was the last round of slam-dancing, Ice pretty much told the audience they'd better do it or else, so the back area finally joined in because Ice has a freaky power over audiences. I didn't notice that everyone was participating, however, until MelJay grabbed me by the sleeve and hopped me away towards the middle area, and then we broke through the disinterested fans and joined the crowd for the last round. It was a lot of fun. Those who just stood there should seriously join in. Ice only tells us to do it because he knows we'll enjoy it!
Once the show was over, we were like "yaaaaaaaay, it's only 8:00!" and ran off to Saizeriya to feast on pizza. Oh, and that Lycaon fan I call SheBeast was there, sitting right behind us. It was fascinating watching her try to eat with her seven inch nails. And a little disturbing.
Anyways, not sure I have a show this weekend or not (probably not) but there's some other stuff I could write about, so............. stay tuned! I think that tourism post I mentioned weeks ago will get uploaded soon.