Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UnsraW, 6/22, Gate of Birth 【REWIND】


Today, I’d like to talk about the second-to-last show of one of my all-time favorites bands, UnsraW:

From left to right: Jin, Tetsu, Yuuki, Madoka, Shou
You’ll have to forgive any failures in this post.  I wanted so badly to have a day or two to reflect on the shows and then write the perfect blog entries, but divine powers had other ideas.  My reflection period was ruined by a train accident keeping me in Tokyo most of Sunday night and Monday morning, battling my way from station to station and spending a lot of time sniffling on benches.  I’ve also had a sinus and lung infection for a couple of weeks (including during the shows) and I’ve been too sick to sit down and write clearly.  I’m finally on antibiotics starting a couple days ago, but they give me a fever, so I wouldn’t say it helps the writing process.  I’m doing my best to write the perfect report, but I apologize if it seems… foggy.

Also, these last two UnsraW shows are very hard for me to write about, but I’m going to do my best to share the live experience and as many details as I can with you all.  I originally planned to combine the two shows into one post because they relate to each other in important ways, but I just have too much to say, so I’m gonna separate them.  Just know that the next post might be even longer than this one.

So the first show was entitled UnsraW SHOWCASE  —Gate of Birth Tsuika Kouen— REWIND(or “RIWIND”, as it’s adorably typo-ed on the tickets).  “Tsuika kouen” means “additional performance”, since the show was added to ease tensions after the Saturday show sold out too fast.

I had to leave school early to get to the show, and I purposely left even earlier than necessary so I could stroll to the show at a casual pace.  To be honest, I was so nervous I could’ve died.  Two nights prior to the show, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  The previous night, I slept and thought I was fine, until the morning of the show, when Yuuki finally appeared on his blog to write, “scream at me until you shred my eardrums.”  Suddenly, I realized it was really happening, and Yuuki was really going to be at this show, and this shit was actually gonna happen.  Then I just felt like hell the rest of the day, and pretty much drifted aimlessly through classes before leaving school.  I was such a mess that, when I got to Tokyo, I got on the wrong train and had to switch over and waste about ten minutes getting back.  That’s the first time I’ve taken a wrong train all year.

I found Peachy soon enough, and we went to a café while we waited for MelJay.  We all shared a locker in the station, nervously discussing the show without really saying anything.  Personally, I felt like saying too much would cause a jinx or a curse, or remind me that this was real and cause me to flee the station screaming.  It was safer to crack jokes, so we made fun of the band (how many Red Bulls has Jin had by 5:00?) instead of discussing anything serious.  Serious talk was too real.  There was a Japanese girl using a locker next to us who had stenciled UnsraW’s band logo onto her tights.  She gave us a big, knowing smile when she saw our tickets.  Good, I thought.  Foreigners are welcome so far.

Then it was time to face reality and walk down to the venue.  I felt like I was walking the plank to my own execution.  When we got to EDGE and saw all the UnsraW fans milling around, I suddenly got cold feet.  My friends and I had previously shuffled our tickets to decide who got which ticket from the auction results.  I had the lowest number (in the 40’s), so my responsibility was to hold spots for my friends (in the 230’s).  I suddenly panicked and started muttering, “I don’t wanna.  I don’t wanna do this.”  The thought of standing in that venue all by myself for even five minutes made me crazy.  It’s not unusual for me to have such minor freak-attacks, however, so my friends ignored me and we joined the crowd. 

So many fans were wearing UnsraW t-shirts (from Reborn or the KLEZA series), or UnsraW towels, or UnsraW wristbands (like me).  The entire crowd was in black.  There were even some people I recognized from a couple years ago, because I’m good with faces.  It felt so eerie being amongst the UnsraW fans, like I was on a ghost ship.  Most people were chatting and smiling as if nothing had happened, and that made it the strangest of all.

Anyways, there were some flowers on display outside the venue.  A super special thanks to Break for letting me use these pictures she took (seriously, girl, you’re awesome).


 There was a bouquet of flowers just for UnsraW, sent from “Ansura no ichidou”, which means “all the UnsraW fans” (most likely this was arranged online by the saizen):


If you’re wondering about the “Ansura” thing, well… as near as I can tell, UnsraW is pronounced “Ansurou” in Japanese, but UnsraW fans are called “Ansura” which would be like Unsrah or something.  I don’t get it either, but that’s how it seems to be.

The other bouquet was just for guitarist Madoka, and it says “okaerinasai”, which means “welcome back” or “welcome home”:


As for who the flowers came from, that’s a bit of a riddle.  It says the flowers are from “anata no jouzu.”  People who’ve studied even basic Japanese probably know “anata no” is “your” and “jouzu” is “to be good at.”  However, “jouzu” can also mean “superior.”  So my initial thought was that the flowers were from “Madoka’s superior.”  Maybe a sarcastic sempai sent them to him?  However, “jouzu” (in this case pronounced "kamite") has another meaning as well.  It also means “stage left.”  So then I thought the flowers must’ve come from Tetsu or Jin, who are the two band members on stage left.  But the “your” throws me.  I mean, technically, the entire band is Madoka’s stage left.  So maybe the flowers came collectively from his band mates?  It’s not clear, but I think that’s the most likely possibility.  However, I think "kamite" might be the right side of the stage from the audience's perspective, so maybe Madoka-specific fans sent them...?  I don't fucking know.  Overall, the "okaerinasai" makes me wonder about my old theory that Madoka hasn’t been in bands because he moved away.  Or just quit the scene 100%, even if he never officially announced he did.

Anyways, ticket numbers under 50 were lined up on the stairs, so I had to wave goodbye to my friends and head down the staircase alone.  We were supposed to line up in order, and I asked a girl what number she had.  Hers was higher, so she let me go ahead of her.  I asked the next girl, and she held up her ticket and it was also higher than mine.  When she saw that, she just turned away and gave me the cold shoulder.  Well then…  I’ve had this running joke about how you can judge the Japanese fans by whether they wear black or brown.  The ones who wear black are usually nice, but the ones who wear brown, or floral prints, tend to be bitches.  This girl was the only person on the staircase in brown, so I was somehow unsurprised.  Thankfully, I spotted my friend Crimson on the staircase and waved.  Although we were too far apart to talk, I felt a little better seeing a familiar face.

When we got into the venue, I passed the merch booth and was in awe of how pretty the t-shirts were.  I’d have to get one after the show.  They were also handing out pamphlets to preorder a DVD of Saturday’s show.  I made sure to snatch one of those too.  Also, a lot of the staff and roadies were wearing special Gate of Death UnsraW staff shirts.  Even weirder, the EDGE staff was wearing shirts that said EDGE on the back, and UnsraW on the front.  Did the band make special t-shirts just for the venue’s staff, or did the venue make them?!  Very strange.

Anyways, when I got into the stage area, I went running to the right side.  MelJay’s a huge Madoka fan, and I knew she’d want to be close to him. I took a spot in the third row, right where Madoka would be.  It was a little freaky to be so close but, as it turned out, Crimson was right in front of me.  She was like, “Madoka’s side?” and I was like, “yup, Madoka’s side.”  With her was Break, who I’d only spoken to on LiveJournal, but never in person.  We hit it off right away, and it was awesome to have people to talk to during that horrifying hour-long wait for the show to start.

Peachy and MelJay made it inside about ten minutes later, and the place really hadn’t filled up much, so it was easy for them to join us up front without bothering anyone.  Because it was an hour between doors and the show, it was a slow crawl to fill up the venue.  Those who didn’t care about being close made no effort to show up early.  Also, we had significantly less people at this show than Saturday’s (probably due to an excess of tickets being bought, then getting offered online and never picked up, which I saw happening on MBok).  As for show demographics: it was almost exclusively girls, and an incredible amount of foreigners (but we’ll see a swap in those demographics on Saturday).  There must’ve been at least twenty foreigners at the show.  But UnsraW toured Europe twice, so that makes sense, and I think the Japanese fans know that.

Anyways, the wait was awful.  The curtain was pulled closed, but we could hear roadies chatting behind it, and hear the occasional hiss of smoke being pumped onto the stage.  I was so nervous, I wanted to just lie down on the floor and die.  Yuuki will show up, he has to.  The people around us seemed agitated, which was making it worse.  Everyone seemed on edge, and my friends and I were talking and laughing way too loudly, trying to drown out the impending, well… the impending everything.  An hour… an hour is too much to ask of us, UnsraW.

When I checked my watch, I saw there was only a minute until seven.  By then, my friends had gotten pretty quiet.  We were all too nervous to talk anymore.  Many of the agitated UnsraW fans finally realized it was almost time for the show, so they started screaming and growling at the curtain like wild animals.  It’s rare for fans to scream before the curtains open, so that should tell you how pent up everyone was.  Some fans were screaming “UnsraW!” or “kakatte koi yo!” (“Come at me!”), but many of them were simply shrieking Yuuki’s name over and over.  I hope Yuuki heard that and realized the fans still want to see him, even after what happened.  I figured the band would be late, and braced myself for another ten minutes of screaming Hell, when the lights suddenly went down.  Well, I’ll be damned.  UnsraW is officially the first band I’ve ever seen start a one-man show exactly on time.  Congratulations, boys.

When the lights went down, the curtain pulled aside while UnsraW’s old end of finale intro started.  I was surprised, since that’s such an old intro.  When I saw the band during study abroad, they always came on stage to the ZERO intro (the one with the air-raid sirens and Yuuki counting in German), but I guess that one isn’t relevant anymore, since UnsraW are no longer dressed like Nazis.  When the music started, the crowd began screaming hysterically.  The thing with the end of finale intro is that you always know when each band member is gonna come on stage, because those weird whistling noises signal each entrance.  So when the whistling began, and I realized Shou was about to come on stage, I thought I would simply die right then and there on the floor.

And then, suddenly, Shou was swaggering across the stage, that huge, crooked smile of his lighting up the fucking venue.  I know I saw Shou in Para:noir, but that was just a normal-clothed, background Shou.  This was the real Shou, as I remembered him.  All in black, with black make-up, a halter top, and spazzy hair.  The audience screamed his name over and over as he walked across the stage, beaming and throwing the fist.  Shou looked so happy, I thought he’d explode.  Then the whistling began again, signaling the next member: Tetsu.  Tetsu came on stage in a black dress, surveying the audience with that strange, hesitantly cold smile he always has.  For me, Tetsu’s expression was startling, because it was exactly how he always looked two years ago.  It was like seeing a ghost.  The third member was Jin, wearing his witch hat and everything.  He was another startling one, because he blogs all the time with pictures of himself, but I haven’t seen him in person in so long.  In my mind, he’d become two-dimensional, yet there he was in 3D.  It was so eerie!  He looked uncharacteristically happy, and came right up to the crate with a big smile.  He was practically shaking with excitement, which would’ve amused me if I hadn’t been so completely numb with shock at the sight of UnsraW.  The fourth member to come on stage was Madoka, all wrapped up like a goth Christmas tree.  His hair was black and spiked straight up, and he was wearing black, torn-up fabric over half his face.  He also had massive, blue sclera contacts in his eyes that made him look psychotic, and the cat-claw scratches across the left side of his face (which are actually from the old Nazi costume).  Also, his facial piercings are gone, including his lip rings and nose stud.  When Madoka came on stage, I knew immediately that this was going to be hard for him.  He looked almost… shy.  He wasn’t really smiling (just smirking a little bit, but very stiffly), and he seemed very hesitant, even as he approached the front.  Madoka’s always had a hard time hiding his emotions on stage, and this time was no different.  After a year away from the scene, I think Madoka was really nervous.

After Madoka’s entrance, the music went into a drop section where it intentionally stretches out the time between whistles, making sure to build the maximum amount of tension before the final entrance.  Everyone was screaming for Yuuki, some girls repeating his name over and over like a battle cry.  I felt like I was going to erupt out of my skin, I was so excited.  I just wanted to see him, even for a second.  I’d spent months fearing Yuuki wouldn’t be able to do this, but there was no turning back now.  The music was playing, getting us ready, and that meant Yuuki had to be right outside that door, ready to show his face for the first time in over a year.

And then the whistling started, and the door opened, and suddenly… there he was.  The Big Guy.  When Yuuki stepped out of that door, the audience suddenly surged forward and I found myself slammed into Crimson’s back.  The crowd shoved into a crush-pit as everyone scrambled to see Yuuki.  He came on stage in an almost casual stroll, wearing a black trench coat and leather pants.  His hair is no longer black.  Instead, it’s yellow-blond, with black under-layers.  He had it spiked up pretty high, but not in the dandelion-poof he usually has.  It was more styled than that (kind of Super Saiyan-esque).  Also, all his ear piercings are gone except for one ring on the lobe of his right ear.  When his chest was exposed, it revealed a small, sparkly stud pierced into his chest as well.  He was also wearing a strange mask that covered the left side of his face from eye to cheek (the part of his face he always likes to cover for some reason).  I didn’t recognize the mask from a previous costume.  It was black and red, with a sparkly, masquerade-mask border.  The inner part was more grotesque, as if the area around the eye was decaying.  Yuuki had red make-up underneath to make it look worse.  He also had a white-out contact in one eye, and a blue contact in the decayed one.

To tell the truth, Yuuki startled me.  On the one hand, it was shocking just to see Yuuki, alive and moving and dressed up for a show.  On the other hand, he seemed changed somehow.  I affectionately call him Big Guy because, as anyone who’s seen Yuuki in person knows, he’s a rather large man.  He’s extremely tall and muscular, with a big frame for an Asian.  He’s not even the tiniest bit fat, and fuck anyone who says he is (I’ve seen people say that shit on the internet), but he comes off as a bit monstrous in person.  I still remember the first time I saw UnsraW at a S’elm two-man.  Some S’elm fans physically pulled back in shock at the sight of Yuuki – massive, uniformed, and drooling out of his grills.  However, the Yuuki that took the stage on Friday was… shrunken, somehow.  He was still tall, of course, but his body seemed small and frail.  He had long lines down the sides of his face that I didn’t remember seeing two years ago, and his costume seemed to be hanging off of him.  His belt was cinched in at the waist, yet the fabric of his coat was pooling over the top of it, and his pants were as loose as bags on his legs.  I was shocked to see the Big Guy looking so thin and fragile, and I was immediately flooded with worry.  However, I ask anyone reading this to please not worry, because we’re going to come back to the issue of Yuuki’s physical presence at the next show, and I can assure you he’s okay.  I’ll explain more later, but let’s just say it was Yuuki’s aura that shrank more than his body (although I do think he’s lost a lot of muscle this last year).

Yuuki strolled up to the front of the stage and reached out to take his ropy microphone stand.  I thought he might look nervous or worried or unsure at this show, but he didn’t.  He was scanning the crowd, locking eyes with everyone he saw, and there was a calm expression on his face I never could’ve anticipated.  He took the stage as if no time had passed, and everything was as it had always been.  The fans, on the other hand, weren’t going to pretend things were the same, and they screamed and pushed forward as if Yuuki was some kind of deity.  I didn’t mind getting completely crushed over this, however.  Yuuki means more to some of the people in that audience than any other vocalist.  Seeing our ferocity, Yuuki’s face darkened into one of rage, and he screamed at us to come at him.  His distinctive growl is still as intact as it ever was.  He stomped the ground furiously and went so far as to kick his leg over the crate and slam his heel down on top it, screaming at us to yell louder.  We responded with our voices and fists, and the crowd continued to scramble forward.

It was time for a mother-fucking UnsraW show.

Setlist (thanks to Jin):

end of finale
-9-
REBORN
Platonic Bitch
BREATH
REW
ALIVE
IN THE FACT
WITHERING BLOOD
-509-
Fugen
Rhythm SessionSEVEN
STARVING MOON
Dust To Dust
Social Faker
Warai Oni

Encore 1:

Sakura no Namida
Enshoku no Yume

Encore 2:

WINE

I’m not going to do this song-by-song.  If I did that for both nights, this blog would get bogged down in rambling.  Instead, I’m going to go over general details and the most important minor details.  Song-by-song details just aren’t that important this time.

The stage exposed, we could see UnsraW brought their own custom-designed crate.  It was white with a solid front.  On the front, the words Gate of Birth were spray-painted in black, using the same font DIR EN GREY used for It Withers and Withers (thank you, Crimson, for pointing that out to me).  Also, Yuuki had about fourteen bottles of water lined up along the drum platform.  Oh crap…

The band tore straight into -9-, which was exactly the song UnsraW should’ve played to make the audience lose its fucking shit.  -9- is probably still the band’s most popular song (not my favorite, personally, but we all have our own favorites, I’m sure).  The band was able to rock out just like the old days.  Shou was slamming the drums with that dorky, open-mouthed-concentration face he always has, and Jin was still grinning like crazy.  He and Tetsu kept mouthing stuff to each other like gossiping school girls.  Madoka was still struggling, unfortunately.  He was pretty stone-faced for the first few songs, and seemed unsure about everything.  I think he was trying really hard to be his old, crazy self, and he kept looking around at people in the audience and widening his eyes at them like a psychopath, but it was still obvious he was having a hard time getting into the groove.  I felt like he was holding back a little.

As for Yuuki… he was a vocal powerhouse.  His singing was perfectly on-key at all times, and he hasn’t lost his ability to scream like a motherfucker.  I would say the overall theme of the show for him was “temper tantrum.”  Every song, Yuuki would start off calm, and then lose his shit.  He would start stomping the ground or punching the air or screaming when the song didn’t call for screaming.  The most unusual thing about the night (which wasn’t really present at the Saturday show) was the fact that Yuuki kept personifying his microphone stand.  He would constantly lean the microphone stand back and hold it with one hand, then sing to it like a crooning lover.  Sometimes he even caressed it.  However, Yuuki wasn’t happy with whoever he saw in the microphone stand.  Sometimes, he would start out singing to the stand, and then his singing would devolve into furious, wide-eyed screaming.  He would shriek at the stand, shaking it with manic fury in his eyes.  At the end of almost every song, Yuuki furiously threw the microphone stand to the ground, and sometimes he threw it even before that.  I felt kinda bad for their roadie, who had to crawl across the stage over and over to set the microphone stand back up, knowing full well that Yuuki would just throw the damn thing over again.  At one point, the roadie picked up the fallen microphone stand and I realized Yuuki threw the stand so hard against the crate that a chunk of the stand had broken off.  Oops.

Other than the stand, many songs ended with Yuuki throwing himself around in a violent tantrum, screaming and stomping his feet.  One time, Yuuki threw himself to the floor and repeatedly slammed his fist into the ground.  Somehow, the frailness I detected in him that day made the whole thing seem even sadder, like a thin shadow trying to punch the floor.

Anyways, the Friday setlist was amazing.  I was really hoping to hear some of the newer songs, like from the KLEZA releases, and my brain pretty much exploded when they played BREATH.  By the third song, Yuuki was already throwing water at the crowd, and that continued throughout the show.  By then, he’d also ripped off his trench coat and thrown it furiously on the floor for the roadie to collect.  That poor, poor roadie (I wonder if he was the same roadie Yuuki used to refer to as the kawaii-kawaii roadie).

The only bad thing so far was… we had a problem fan at this show.  Goddamnit.  I was really hoping for UnsraW’s last two shows, everyone would be on their best behavior.  But clearly, that was too much to ask.  This one girl decided to spend several songs attempting to shove herself up in front of all of us, especially Crimson, and attempt to take the saizen, even though she didn’t sign up for it.  She physically fought Crimson out of the way, and continually tried to seize the barrier.  The saizen girls were, as expected, really pissed.  They yelled at her several times to back off, but she wouldn’t.  After a few songs, she stopped trying to take the barrier, but continued to do everything in her power to fight the people in the second row.  She kept pushing at Crimson and shoving Crimson’s hand out of the way, even when she was just throwing her fist at the band.  Eventually, I got stuck behind her, and she continually knocked my hand out of the way or pushed it aside, and even grabbed my arm and moved it away occasionally.  And she would purposely back herself up to move me backwards whenever possible.  So I decided to teach her a lesson.  I continually slammed her back as hard as I could, pushed her head down with my hands during times we weren’t headbanging, and kept my arm next to her whenever she tried headbanging so that I would “accidentally” punch her in the head.  I have a wicked bruise there now, but I imagine her headache is much worse.  I really don’t want to talk about her anymore because she was a selfish bitch who was ruining the second-to-last UnsraW show for the people around her.  Plus, she’s gonna ruin this report, so I’ll tell you the aftermath of the fight right now and be done with her.  When the show ended, she apologized to the saizen for trying to intrude on them, but said nothing at all to Crimson or I.  Fucking typical.  So, when she tried to leave, I blocked her path and angrily yelled, “tanoshikatta kai?!” (“was it fun?!”) at her.  She bowed her head, looking embarrassed.  Then she tried to get around me, so I shouted, “anata no kao oboeteru yo!” at her retreating back, meaning, “I’m gonna remember your face!”  She turned around and ducked her head at me again before running off, since everyone was staring at her by then.  Bitch.  Has no problem fighting with a person behind her, but is a complete coward when she has to fight them face-to-face.  And she’s an idiot, since she was alone, and I had a posse to back me up.  She was at the second show, but I guess she learned from her experience.  She stayed at least five rows back at all times and didn’t bother anyone.  Considering she looks older than me, it’s pretty pathetic that I had to fucking discipline her.  Anyways, enough about her.  It’s done.

By the way, the girl was wearing brown.

So yeah, UnsraW played BREATH, which made my fucking night, and hearing Yuuki perform REWwith perfect growl-accuracy was like a dream come true.  And they played ALIVE, another one I’d been dying to hear.  It was one of the few songs Yuuki stayed relatively still during, although his face was a mask of tragedy while he sang it.  There’s this term I started using called the Yuuki!face, and the term’s caught on amongst my friends (my friend Caroline does an awesome impersonation of it).  Do you guys know the face?  I’ve seen hundreds of pictures of UnsraW on the internet and never found a good shot of it (probably because Yuuki tends to hide his face with the microphone).  It’s like… if someone were to draw an exact definition of what tragedy looks like, Yuuki’s face would show up.  I tried to take a screenshot of a semi-Yuuki!face, but it’s pretty lousy and not even close to what I’m picturing:


The real thing looks way more distinct than that.  Like, he pulls the corners of his lips down with his mouth open in an expression of pure grief (like a D: face).  And he doesn’t just sing like that, sometimes he’ll just stand there with that face.  It’s one of the most intense facial expressions I’ve ever seen, and it gave me goosebumps to see it again.  The Yuuki!face didn't show up quite as much on Saturday, so I can only assume that face was a part of his ongoing fits on Friday.

Anyways, the band eventually went into something the setlist calls Rhythm SessionSEVEN.  It started off with the stage going dark and everyone disappearing except for Shou.  The audience started cheering for Shou, who looked taken-aback for some reason.  He giggled and said something that was impossible to hear without the microphone.  Everyone laughed at Shou’s bewilderment, and Shou was like, “oh, you can hear me?” and then everyone laughed again.  Shou, I know you’re a grown man, but you’re fucking adorable.  Anyways, Shou kept banging the cymbals and waiting for us to scream for him.  We kept screaming louder, but Shou told us it wasn’t loud enough and smashed the cymbals again.  The more we called for him, the bigger the shit-eating grin on his face got.  I think poor Shou missed being in the limelight.  Anyways, after we’d called sufficiently, Shou started playing the drums.  It started kind of like a drum solo, but Jin and Tetsu and Madoka came onstage within a minute, and everyone cheered like crazy.  Rather evil-sounding symphonic music started playing as the rest of the instrumental band members joined Shou in a sort of pseudo-song.  It sounded really cool.  It was really dark, with heavy riffing, and Shou was crashing the drums in a way that was adorably reminiscent of Slipknot (who we all know Shou adores enough to own a Slipknot mask).  I actually really loved the sound of Rhythm SessionSEVEN, and found myself Western-style headbanging to it.  I wish it was a recorded song.

Anyways, when the session was over, Yuuki returned to the stage (and the audience screamed and cruuuuuushed).  The setlist only continued to be amazing.  During Dust To Dust, the whole audience did the actual, proper version of a gyaku-dive dog-pile.  These days, when indies bands have songs like that, it’s usually during some kind of interactive repeater song.  Because of that, the girls tend to pile up, but they don’t actually do any “diving” because they’re too busy trying to get snatched by a band member.  Which is fine, I certainly understand, but it was fun to do it for real.  Basically, at the end of every measure, the crush-pit would lunge forward and bring their elbow down on the person in front of them, like a semi-dive.  All of us doing it in unison looked pretty cool, although I’m sure my ribs got bruised somewhere in all that.  And Dust To Dust is so fast that the dive felt as if it came every two counts or so, even though I know it was four.

Also, after Dust To Dust, the band played Social Faker.  Social Faker will always have a special place in my heart as the song that got me into UnsraW (I’ll be honest with you, when I heard the song and realized there’s a guy out there hard-core enough to bark like an attack dog during a song, I was sold).  But I think the band tweaked the song for the show, and somehow managed to take an already incredible song and make it even more fucking awesome.  I saw Social Faker live once when I studied abroad, and I don’t recall it sounding any different then, so it must be a recent thing.  I think it’s mostly something in the drums and bass, like the beat is slightly changed somehow.  Especially during the barking (is Yuuki supposed to be saying “fuck” or is he really just barking?), it felt like the drumming was really different, but in a way that made the crowd slam their heads forward in time to the beat.  Gah, I can still hear the live version in my head, and it makes me want to jump up and start headbanging.

If you're a curious reader who doesn't actually know UnsraW, you should seriously check the song out.  Maybe you'll enjoy Yuuki's barking too:


The last song before encore was Warai Oni, which UnsraW fans know is the band’s version of a Ball Pit Song (as I like to call them).  For those who haven’t heard me use the term lately, a Ball Pit Song is a song that exists so the band can use the audience like a play-pen.  Although, in my experience at the S’elm two-man, Yuuki really shouldn’t mistake his crowd for a ball pit.  Yuuki, I love ya, but… you’re too heavy to crowd-surf.  UnsraW tends to drag out Warai Oni anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, and I’d say this one went on for at least ten minutes.  During it, the band roamed around and messed with the crowd.  Madoka was pulling people forward into the pit (and finally starting to smile a little), and Jin and Tetsu were playing switchies a lot.  When Jin came to our side and flashed us a big smile, I realized he was wearing fake vampire fangs!  OMG, so cute!  They gave him such a diabolical smile!  Jin also decided to stage dive on Madoka’s side, which certainly took me by surprise.  To my amusement, he dove in forward and basically belly-flopped the crowd.  I got him by the shoulder (Jin, your shoulders are like razor-blades!) and helped push him back out, all the while he laughed with those adorable fangs.  Tetsu came over to our side at one point too, and started scanning the crowd with his usual cold, holier-than-thou gaze.  He started to get an evil sparkle in his eyes, and I was wondering what he was gonna do.  Then, alluva sudden, he leaned forward, opened his mouth wide, and started snapping repeatedly at our fingers like a rabig dog.  He didn’t bite any of us, but he came awful close.  Oh, Tetsu, you’re too funny.  Also, he leaned in too close and my hand accidentally punched his guitar.  I’m sorry, I'm sorry, I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean to!

As expected, Yuuki was spraying water at the audience like crazy.  He must’ve used about eight bottles on us during Warai Oni, so everyone was soaking wet.  Yuuki was also pulling people forward into the pit, and putting himself into the crowd for people to grope (sometimes he sorta half-surfed us, although he kept his feet on the stage).  Plenty of bands have vocalists who will interact with the audience, but none ever look as perverted about it as Yuuki.  At one point, Yuuki stood in front of the crate and stared down at the crowd while seductively licking his lips, rubbing his bare chest, and making suggestive faces.  Then he leaned himself into the pit and let everyone grab at him, which made the whole thing seem filthy.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  I’ll admit to grabbing onto his arm or touching the back of his hand whenever he leaned out into the crowd.  I mean, who didn’t?!

Unfortunately, Madoka was still having a hard time, the poor guy.  At one point, he went up to the microphone and took it into his hands, then opened his mouth to shout something at the crowd.  But then he had a sudden change of heart and clutched the microphone under his chin without saying a single word.  Instead, he stared down at the floor, looking depressed and thoughtful.  Poor Madoka.  He’s never been good at hiding his feelings, and returning to UnsraW for even a single show was obviously difficult for him, or gave him too much to think about.  But he did his best, and I appreciate that.  I’ve always admired his honesty, even if he’s honestly sad.  Plus, I think his band mates knew he was sad, so Jin and Tetsu frequently came over and gave him encouraging smiles and goofed around with him.

Anyways, Warai Oni soon ended with Yuuki dumping an entire bottle of water on a girl’s head.  Then the band left.  Immediately, everyone began screaming for encore, and we managed to scream loud enough to call the band back within a couple minutes.  Kinda funny, but… when the members came back on one by one, each of them swinging open the back door, I could see Yuuki backstage, standing in front of a mirror, checking out his hair and make-up.  It’s just kinda funny because Yuuki’s “thing” is looking intentionally “ugly”, like wearing fake burns and decayed flesh on his face, or ghoulish make-up, or fucking grills.  So to see him back there preening like a girl was really funny.  I guess he wants to look scary, but stylishly scary.

So the band came back for a ballad, which was Sakura no Namida.  And it was beautiful, of course, although Yuuki went back to having tantrums.  At some point, he actually pulled the microphone out of the personified microphone stand and clutched it to his face with his lips against it.  He started shaking from head to toe and fingering the microphone like a flute.  I really wish I knew who Yuuki kept seeing in that microphone, because it was really eerie. 

Anyways, after Enshoku no Yume, the band took off again.  That time, instead of calling for encore (“an-ko-re”), we called for UnsraW (“an-su-rou”).  The only other time I’ve seen a crowd call for encore using a band’s name is D’espairsRay (“di-spahz-rei”).  So that was kinda cool.  We got the band to come back for one last song, which was WINE.  Also, the band came back wearing the new t-shirts, and the shirts look even more fabulous on a human body.  I’ll post a picture of the shirt at the end.  I must say, though… Jin looked kinda funny wearing the t-shirt with leather short-shorts and fishnet tights.  Anyways, after UnsraW rocked through WINE, the show was over, and a sad piano track began to play.  The band waved their goodbyes and threw some picks and drumsticks (I got nothing, of course).  Yuuki threw a couple water bottles, too, and one of them bounced off the top of my head and got snatched by the girl behind me.  Lol, I was a rebound point.  Anyways, Yuuki yelled some standard, “whoo, fuck yeah!” stuff, and the band left the stage while the sad piano music played.  I was so sad to see them go.  I mean, I was happy, because I knew I’d see them again the next day, but I also felt like the Dooms Day Clock had just ticked forward to 11:59.

Now, the end of the show was kinda weird, and I felt like the band sent us really mixed signals.  Like, the house lights went up, but the disco balls in the venue were still spinning and sending sparkles everywhere.  And the stage lights were off, but the curtain was still open.  Understandably confused, we all started calling for a third encore.  And we screamed and screamed and screamed for about five minutes before the venue told us to get the fuck out.  It was a bit of a sad ending to the show.  I know WINE was the last song on the band’s setlist (I could see it on the stage floor), but the audience literally screamed their lungs out for the band to come back (I couldn’t even breathe from all the yelling), and they didn’t.  It was almost 9:00, so the band might’ve had a curfew, but it would’ ve been better not to lead the crowd on, then.  If you can’t come back, close the curtain so we know it’ s done.  Personally, I was fine with the end of the show (I’m used to weird, awkward endings like that), but I think some people were disappointed with what looked like a cold shoulder, even though I don’t think it was meant to be a cold shoulder.

So that was UnsraW, Day 1.  Overall, it was completely awesome, and I would’ve given it an even more raving review, except that Day 2 was a fucking mind-blower.  So stay-tuned for some incredible stuff during Day 2.  Seriously.

Anyways, after the show, a lot of the band guys from the back were milling around, and two of them went up to the stage and were trying to figure out how to get to the staff door.  I’m pretty sure one of the guys was Jun, the original bassist of UnsraW (who had to quit due to a motorcycle accident wrecking his hand pretty badly).  I’ve seen plenty of pictures of Jun without his mask on the internet, and I think it was him.  MelJay thinks it was him too.  He and the other guy looked very confused as they discussed how to get backstage.  They had their hands on the barrier, and I thought they’d vault it, but I guess they didn’t want to ruin their expensive host clothes.  Dude, guys, just go ask the staff!

After that, I went to the merch booth and picked up some stuff.  They were selling UnsraW Gate of Birth lighters, and I decided to buy one.  I don’t smoke, but the lighters were only 200 yen (about two U.S. dollars, seriously) and you never know when you might want to light a scented candle or burn down an ex-boyfriend’s house (kidding, lol).  Here’s a picture:


I also picked up one of the gorgeous, sparkly t-shirts (which were actually really cheap, only 3000 yen):

Front:

Sorry, I could not get that fold or the shitty lighting in my apartment out of the picture.  This was my third try.  The shirt says "Death" on top, and "Birth" at the bottom.
 Back:


Aren’t they pretty?  And all the words on the front and back are made of sparkles!  Unfortunately, mine’s too big.  At first, I was worried about buying a shirt because I’m not the smallest person in the world and I’ve got, um… two problems up top, if you know what I mean.  But I saw a rather large staff guy wearing one of the shirts, so I figured I’d be okay.  Unfortunately, I’m dumb, and didn’t reach the obvious conclusion that a large guy in an L shirt means the L shirt is really, well… large.  So I bought an L instead of an M, and it’s enormous.  It’s nice that UnsraW thought of the male fans when they made the shirts, but it made me totally misjudge the sizes.  Ah well, I don’t mind large shirts.  I can always belt it at the waist.

I also went over to the counter with my filled-out DVD pre-order form (the bar was handing out pens for it).  When I turned it in, the really young staff guy seemed concerned about whether or not I understood the instructions on the form about emailing the staff our information, so he was pointing at my flyer and being like, “Go here.  This email.  Understand?  Okay?” and making the “OK” symbol at me.  He was laughing nervously and smiling, and I assured him I understood the instructions just fine.  But it was nice of him to make sure.

For the record, the DVD that we could preorder from the show is different from the one they’re selling online.  It comes with the Saturday show DVD and the documentary DVD like the online one (at least, I assume it’s the same documentary), but it also comes with a CD with acoustic recordings of -9- and Sakura no Namida, and it comes with an UnsraW clear file (like a folder), and a photo set, and even a freaking photo book.  For only 8000 yen.  That’s a steal.  I’m so excited to get that DVD box set.

Anyways, that’s my story for Day 1.  I need another day or two to post Day 2, UnsraW’s final concert, but I promise it’ll be worth the wait.  Day 2 was, for lack of a less childishly slang term: epic.  But also one of the most difficult shows I've witnessed, so I'm gonna have to sort of "get through" this one.

See you then.

Monday, June 25, 2012

UnsraW and Signal, Important Announcements

UnsraW:

The two shows are done, but I need another day or two to write the report.  I'm still very upset, and exhausted, and I want to do the reports justice.  I'll just say the shows were beyond amazing, and everything I could've hoped for, but I need a couple days to get the words down.

Signal:

Drummer Korey's leaving the band due to musical differences.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

UnsraW: Pre-Show Explanations


Note: If all this rambling prior to the UnsraW shows is too long, go to the end for a list of this post’s important points.

As I mentioned a few times before – usually buried ten pages deep in an unrelated report – I will be attending UnsraW’s last two concerts.  I apologize for anyone who’s interested in UnsraW who didn’t know I was going sooner.  I didn’t especially advertise it, and never even made a follow up post to the emergency post I made about getting tickets.  Please consider this my belated follow-up post, where I’ll talk a bit about how I got the tickets and all that stuff I don’t want cluttering the actual concert “report(s).”

As many know, UnsraW’s last two shows are a bit of an… unusual circumstance.  Over a year ago, the vocalist and band leader, Yuuki, became unable to continue with band activities.  As near as we can tell, he had some kind of mental breakdown a few months after someone close to him died.  And, because Yuuki was the band’s creator, song writer, lyricist, and supreme leader, UnsraW was officially over without him.  So, with Yuuki’s withdrawal from UnsraW, so too did UnsraW end.  Yuuki was so distraught, he couldn’t even show himself at the band’s last few scheduled concerts, and he made no appearance at UnsraW’s official last show either.  Instead, Shou, Tetsu, Madoka, and Jin had to perform without him.  It really seemed like Yuuki was gone forever.

However, several months ago, it was announced that Yuuki wanted to come back and do one last show to “close the gate of death” himself.  From the sound of it, he felt really bad about not being at UnsraW’s last show, and felt he should be the one to end the band in person.  He called up his ex-band mates, and everyone got on board, even though many of them had moved on (Jin was supporting Chariots, Shou was supporting Para:noir, and Tetsu was doing session bands with Riuki from Velbet.  Madoka wasn’t doing anything we know of).  So it was decided that UnsraW would do a last show exactly one year after their original last show, with Yuuki there to put on a proper final performance and end UnsraW for real.

Obviously, this is an unusual situation, and an awesome opportunity (although also very sad).

So I imagine there was some disappointment when I announced I failed to get tickets to UnsraW’s final performance.  After all, I’m rather known for long-winded and extremely detailed “reports” of such events.  Those who can’t go to the show, especially English-speakers overseas, have no choice but to rely on “reports” like mine, and I probably write some of the most long-winded JRock reports on the internet.  Of course, no one was more disappointed than I was about the tickets.  I was especially disappointed in myself.  I thought I’d lost my Ticket Ninja touch.  I thought the lack of ticket battles (especially now that DIR EN GREY’s on hiatus) had made me soft.  It didn’t matter that I started tackling e+ at 9:59 and was met with a “sold out” message at 10:01.  That wasn’t the point.  The point was that someone told me “no.”

Anyone who’s read blog entries from when I studied abroad knows what happens when I’m told “no” about a concert.  It’s not just that Ticket Ninja powers activate, it’s that I turn into some kind of vicious werewolf, rampaging through the night until the moon passes.  That ability got me into a lot of sold out DIR EN GREY shows, and even got me into my first UnsraW show, even though tickets were sold out at all machines.  After a brief period of “what the hell am I supposed to do?!”, I managed to pause long enough to remember how to fight.  Then I was all over Japanese auction sites, ready to rampage.  But this time, I had an equally vicious werewolf alongside me.  Namely, MelJay. 

MelJay became an UnsraW fan after I returned to America from study abroad and moved into an apartment with her.  She, like me, held a lot of contempt for Japanese indies bands in those days.  I think UnsraW was one of the first ones she heard that she was able to respect enough to become a fan of.  When we were filling out applications and getting prepared for a shot at going to Japan, UnsraW was one of the things she most wanted to see when she crossed the ocean.  But UnsraW disbanded in the middle of our application process, and their last show occurred a month before we arrived in Japan.  MelJay was always bitter about it, and I always felt bad about getting her into something that was so quickly taken away.  It was like giving someone a beautifully gift-wrapped present and then throwing it in a fire before they have the chance to open it.  As for me, it was devastating, because I only got to enjoy UnsraW for a couple months in Japan and, during that time, they became my "favorite indies band."  And then eventually a "favorite band", equal to major bands in my eyes.  I wanted to see them in Japan so badly, and I knew it would never happen again.  I fell in love too fast and lost them too fast, and it was awful.

I still remember waking up that morning – a school day, I believe – and shuffling out into the living room.  MelJay was already on the couch with her laptop.  In those days, I was pretty miserable.  My best friend had died just a month or two prior, and I was simultaneously studying for finals, preparing applications for teaching abroad, and working as a dishwasher in the most disgusting cafeteria on campus.  I didn’t care about much of anything in those days.  When MelJay looked up from her computer at me standing there in my morning daze, she simply said, “UnsraW’s disbanding.”  I don’t remember clearly, but I think I said something along the lines of, “of course they are.”  Then I sat down, grabbed my own laptop, and pulled up pictures of lolcats.  The issue didn’t come up for the rest of the day.  I didn't even want to think about it.

There were warning signs, I admit.  At the second of the three UnsraW shows I saw in Japan when I studied abroad, Yuuki was…  I don’t know…  He wasn’t himself.  I have theories, but I won’t share them here.  The point is, I knew something wasn't right, and this was long before he could’ve known that unnamed person in his life was going to fall terminally ill.  There were more warning signs even after I returned to America.  The comment DVDs were short and cold, and Yuuki seemed uninterested in them.  He stopped writing on his blog for months, and Madoka began writing frustrated blog entries that seemed directed at Yuuki, even if he didn’t use his name.  I started to wonder why Madoka couldn’t just tell Yuuki those things to his face.  And then UnsraW put out some singles, and Yuuki wasn’t credited as the song-writer, even though he’d written every UnsraW song ever up to that point (although Shou co-wrote some of them).  That was when I grew really worried.  Yuuki’s withdrawal became more and more obvious, but I shrugged it off, because Yuuki’s always seemed like "that kind of person."  It was his "dark" personality that made him so good at writing the kind of music he was known for.

I just didn’t think, after everything that happened to UnsraW (losing a bassist due to a hand injury from a motorcycle accident, losing a guitarist, Yuuki’s year-long lung illness), that Yuuki would actually quit.  I didn’t think he would break a band he dedicated so many years of his life to, even going so far as to tour Europe twice and appear in a movie.  To me, it spoke volume that being bed-ridden with pneumonia didn’t defeat Yuuki, but the death of someone close to him did.  Personally, I don’t think that death was the entire reason Yuuki left.  He’d been withdrawing for awhile.  But even the Big Man himself had to have a breaking point, and that point finally arrived.  It wasn’t sudden, either (despite how his band mates portrayed it).  After all, the unnamed person died before the Europe tour; Yuuki said they left for Europe the day after the wake.  So I can only assume Yuuki spiraled deeper and deeper into depression for a long time, until he was so deep in the rabbit hole, he couldn’t even crawl out long enough to appear at UnsraW’s last show.  And Yuuki did that knowing full well that many fans would never forgive him.  It's one thing to break up an entire band, it's another to not have the courage to face the fans in person.  I imagine some fans honestly never forgave him.

So, of course, when I discovered that - a year after UnsraW’s disbandment - Yuuki was ready to finally face the fans and close the gate on UnsraW (and that show even happened to fall on a Saturday) it was practically all I could think about until the day tickets went on sale.  For a lot of personal reasons (that I might get into in the report, or might not, we’ll see), I needed the closure of seeing UnsraW finish.  Yuuki’s sudden disappearance and inability to attend the last UnsraW shows always felt like a raw wound that wouldn’t close, even if I didn’t attend those shows personally because I was already back in the states.  The thought that someone could finally stitch up that wound was too good to be true.  So, as you can imagine, the moment I failed to get the tickets, I simply couldn’t let it go.

In order to go to the Saturday show, I needed three tickets.  One for me, one for Peachy (who was my UnsraW concert companion during study abroad), and one for MelJay.  One ticket I won through an auction battle.  Sadly, that was after losing at least two others because my Ticket Ninja skills were so rusty. 

The auctions were scary.  Saizen number tickets (particularly 1-10) were going for as much as 30,000 yen (that’s about 300 U.S dollars and almost ten times the original ticket price).  And even crappy numbers in the mid-200’s (there were only 250 tickets available) had “buy-it-now” prices of 20,000 yen.  Obviously, some raging assholes anticipated the success of the show far better than UnsraW did, and bought the tickets just to scalp them.  There’s a special place in Hell for those people.  Other people put in the maximum number of tickets on E-Plus (eight tickets, I believe), so they had a bunch of extras to sell for too much money, since their seven friends probably went in for eight tickets each too.  If it was an accident, oh well, but those who did it on purpose also have a special place in Hell awaiting them.  Sometimes, I would check the bidding history on a ticket and see that nineteen different people had already placed bids.  How could I compete with so many?! 

But, in the end, I won one ticket off of MBok after a furious, late-night battle.  Unfortunately, the ticket cost quite a bit of money (although I assure you it still wasn’t even close to 20,000 yen.  Fuck anyone who put down a buy-it-now price that high).  I was so stunned when the battle was over that I didn’t even know if I’d won, and I couldn’t bring myself to look.  MelJay had to do it for me. 

The second ticket was a joint effort by MelJay and I.  We found a ticket on Yahoo Auction with an awesome number that no one was bidding on because everyone was busy over at MBok.  But you can’t bid on Yahoo Auctions without a Japanese credit card, and you need to live in Japan for at least a year before you can apply for one.  However, there was a service that, for a small fee, would bid on the ticket for you and mail it to you.  We decided it was worth it, so we co-wrote an email to the service and the company won the ticket for us at close to the original price.

MelJay bought the third ticket off an MBok auction for a buy-it-now price that was a bit more reasonable than 20,000 yen.  Granted, it was still a lot, and tickets started going for a lot less money soon after that, but there was no way we could've known that at the time.  Plus, we were too nervous to take any huge risks.  What if we waited too long for prices to drop and couldn't get anything at all?!  There was no way to know how many tickets would show up on MBok, or how many people were still willing to bid through the roof on them.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the Friday show.  Goddamn the fucking Friday show.  So, as UnsraW fans probably heard, UnsraW realized they really screwed up by having their last show be at Ikebukuro EDGE.  It was utter madness for them to think only 250 people would want to go to this thing, and shows how low their confidence was in the reunion.  I mean, there are some kinda ugly theories out there, such as Ikebukuro EDGE purposely requesting UnsraW in order to take advantage of the impending publicity the venue would get when the shit hit the fan.  But, either way, it was stupid, and UnsraW got flooded with messages from fans saying they couldn’t get tickets to the last show.  MelJay actually wrote one such message and sent it to Shou, since Shou was like Yuuki’s second-in-command and seems like a very sweet guy.  Within the hour of sending Shou that message, Shou peta-ed MelJay on Ameblo for the first time, which I guess was his way of saying, “don’t worry, I heard.”

So UnsraW set up a second show to occur the day before the final show.  The show was called RIWIND because, even after a year, Yuuki can’t spell to save his life (seriously, anyone who’s ever followed his blog or read his lyrics starts to wonder if he’s dyslexic).  Now, my original plan was not to go to this show.  Why?  Well, think about it.  Before, there were 250 tickets, now there were 500.  But there could easily be 500 people that wanted to go, and that 250+ people who didn’t manage to get tickets for Saturday were the ones who should go on Friday.  The second show was for them.  Anyone who stole those tickets away when they already had tickets for Saturday was well… a douchebag.

So here’s what happened.  None of my friends and I could get on E-Plus at the time the Friday tickets went on sale (a Thursday?!  What the fuck UnsraW, a Thursday?!).  But we thought we’d try anyways, for shits and giggles.  By the time MelJay got on E-Plus, twenty-five minutes had passed.  From what I heard, the tickets didn’t sell out in thirty seconds like the first night, but they were still gone within the first five minutes or so.  “Oh well,” I thought.  “We shouldn’t go anyways, and now we won’t have to go through the effort of finding people to give them to if we did win” (for the record, I would’ve handed them out for original price.  I’m not an asshole).

So how did all that turn into me going?  Well……..  That night, Peachy came home from a long work day with no internet, went on E-Plus, and saw that one ticket was available.  Obviously, someone at that very moment cancelled their order.  Peachy got a little too excited and bought it, then looked to see if MelJay and I got any that morning.

Well, fuck.  I was so stunned when I saw Peachy’s message about the ticket that I let a bowl of popcorn in the microwave keep going for about three extra minutes, until the bottom of the bowl was permanently burnt black.  I just… I had thought… if none of us had a ticket, then that was that…  Good riddance, and the battle could finally be over.  But now Peachy had a ticket for the original price.  What do we do?  Do we keep it?  Do we sell it?   

We decided to compromise:

Peachy would pick up the ticket.  Then we’d wait and see just how many people wanted tickets for Friday to determine if going to both shows would make us jerks.  I watched the auctions, I checked Ameblo posts from fans, and I waited.  What I discovered was that the frenzy for tickets was not nearly what it was for Saturday.  Buy-it-now prices had dropped to around 10,000 yen, very few people were bidding, many tickets were being won with one bid at the original price, and no one online was weeping about being unable to go to either show (unless they were someone who just lives too far away or has a job that makes them unable to go).  Anyone who still cares about UnsraW after everything that happened (and isn’t too angry at Yuuki) seemed satisfied.  I asked a friend of mine who was only going to the Friday show if it was right or wrong to go to both, and she seemed surprised that I ever thought going to both shows was such a bad thing.

So here’s what I concluded: UnsraW could’ve easily moved the final show to a bigger venue (Takadanobaba AREA used to the be the main venue they played at, and the band called it their “home”).  If they did that, then the original EDGE tickets could be A tickets, and the added tickets could be B tickets.  There, problem solved.  But they didn’t move it to AREA.  They made a second show at the same insanely tiny venue.  Why would they do that?  I think it’s because they wanted overlap.  They didn't have enough confidence in their ability to sell out a bigger venue, but if they did a second show at a smaller venue, they’d sell out because just enough tickets would get sold to people who were screwed out of Saturday, and just enough would be sold to overlappers going to both shows.  I mean, I can guarantee the saizen girls will be at both shows (for the record, saizen tickets for the RIWIND show still went for over 20,000 yen in some cases.  Saizen girls be scary).  So I think UnsraW was anticipating, and hoping, that some people would go to both.  After all, the money for any unsold tickets comes out of the band’s pocket, so it’s highly in their favor to sell out.  And so many tickets on the auction sites were just sitting there, not being bid on (some of them didn’t get bid on at all and had to be put up for auction again), that it would be stupid to just let them go when we could easily take them for the original price.  In the end, that’s exactly what we did.  We bid on two more tickets and got them without any problems or opponents.  My conscience felt a little clearer.

Then my friends and I split the price evenly on the six tickets.  The lower cost of the Friday tickets helped even out the price of the Saturday tickets, so none of us had to spend too much all together.  Seemed the most fair, although it made us look like suspicious drug dealers in the middle of a café, passing around the goods and exchanging money between us.

Now, one of my concerns was that a group of foreigners at both shows would be received way worse than some Japanese girls attending both.  It’s a double-standard, obviously, but it’s a legitimate concern.  How dare the n00b foreigners take tickets away from Japanese UnsraW fans who’ve been seeing the band since 2007 or whatever.  However, I actually encountered a lot of surprising kindness from the Japanese UnsraW fans.

First of all, thank you to the couple of blog readers who emailed me about tickets to the show.  I really appreciate that you tried to help me come up with ideas or told me about places where you’d seen tickets being handed out on the internet.  Second of all, a thank you to the Japanese girl who saw my post on Ameblo and emailed me with a ticket offer.  Someone else claimed the ticket before I saw her email, but it still meant a lot to me that a Japanese girl was color blind enough to offer the ticket to a foreigner as if I was no different from the other people she emailed.  I also want to thank the Japanese people we won tickets from who weren’t scalpers.  They were all very kind and patient, and didn’t dumb down their Japanese or talk to us like we’re stupid.  Even when MelJay had some difficulties with the shipping on one of the tickets, the girl (who was obviously an actual, non-scalping UnsraW fan) didn’t give MelJay any grief and was very nice about it.  Also, auctioneers can refuse the person who won the auction and give it to the next person in line.  I’ve heard of auctioneers doing that to foreigners in the past (and I once had a girl on Mixi suddenly turn me down on an agreed ticket sale because she realized I was foreign).  But the UnsraW fans gave us these tickets, no questions asked, and that was awesome of them.

I remember when I used to see UnsraW during study abroad, the UnsraW fans never made me feel unwelcome.  Even when I was second row one time, no one gave me a second glance.  Possibly because UnsraW toured Europe, the Japanese fans were more understanding about Westerners being interested in the band.  But overall, UnsraW fans have always seemed very chill to me.  I don’t know if that’ll be true for these last two shows when tensions are running high, but I’m grateful the Japanese didn’t give me a hard time when it came to at least buying the damn tickets.

Anyways, about the reports I’m gonna write…  First of all, I haven’t decided if I’m gonna write two separate reports, or if I’m gonna put the two together into one long report.  It’ll depend on how different the shows are, how much I have to say about either one, and how long I think it’ll take.  In the past, it’s always been a crap-shoot when I go to two-night events.  This will really depend on UnsraW.  It will also depend on how fast I think I can write.  I think it’s important for me to write up this report as fast as possible.  I think there are some overseas UnsraW fans who will be on the edge of their seats wanting to hear about the shows.  It wouldn’t be fair of me to make them wait a week to get a report out of me (I know I probably won’t be the only foreigner writing a report about the show, but mine will probably be the most horrifically wordy, lol). 

However, if the band makes any important announcements (although I’m not getting my hopes up), I’ll put it on this blog immediately, even if a report isn’t written.  Also, if anything serious happens, I’ll put that here immediately too.  So, UnsraW fans, check this blog immediately during the weekend, because it’s possible I’ll have said something.

Obviously what I’m saying is, I have no idea how these shows are gonna go.  Will they have identical setlists to be fair to the fans who could only go to one show?  Which costumes will they wear, the military uniforms, or the black dresses?  Will they play songs that were released after their disbandment?  What if Yuuki gets cold feet right before the show and suddenly can’t do it?  Of course, I don’t even want to think about that, but it’s a legitimate concern.  He tried blogging again a few months ago and sounded positive, but then he had a post that said, “someone, please save me” and vanished.  He hasn’t been seen on his blog since.  So, obviously, I’m a little worried.

Anyways, I’ve rambled way too long.  The important points of this post are:

- I will be at both shows.
- I will get the posts up ASAP.
- I don’t know if I’ll make one post or two.
- I will put any urgent information from the show (important announcements or incidents) on the blog immediately, even if no report’s been written yet.

See y’all for UnsraW!

Can't Sleep...

I know I should sleep... I have a cold to get over... and I need to get over it by Friday...

Because UnsraW's on Friday...

But that's why I can't sleep T_______T

Life's a cruel bitch like that.

I'm looking at cute animal pictures to pass the time.

Baby skunks are fucking adorable:


Monday, June 18, 2012

Indies, 6/16, Ikebukuro BLACKHOLE

Today's show is an event show at BLACKHOLE, sponsored by the band DEZERT.  I will be completely blunt with you: I hated the show, I hated almost every band, I hated everyone at the show, I was completely miserable for about four hours straight, and I have absolutely nothing positive to say at all until I get to DEZERT (who were awesome).  So be ready for that.  I was sick at the show and couldn't even scream due to bad laryngitis, and I wrote this blog early in the morning because assholes at the hostel were keeping me awake with their rudeness.  So I'm just all-around bitter and in a bad mood.  And, honestly, my brain is already locked in the direction of the UnsraW shows on Friday and Saturday, so I couldn't give less of a flying rat's ass-shit about any of the stuff I saw at this show (other than DEZERT) because they're meaningless and insignificant in the face of the approaching UnsraW.  And also, everyone can go to Hell.

Blah blah blah, had lunch at Shakey's pizza buffet, yay real pepperoni, yay marshmallow, pineapple, and kiwi dessert pizza.  Blah blah blah shopping at Sunshine City.  Who gives a shit.

Anyways, went to the venue, I like BLACKHOLE, it sucks less than the other venues.  Staff is nice.  Etc. etc., went inside, it was too crowded, and there was more luggage on the floor than people because indies fans are cock-sucking assholes.  And also they smell.  And also they can bite me.  Everyone was a dick, everyone made me mad, everyone ruined the show.

First band up is Raddock:


They sucked.  Generic, boring shit.  They were trying to be unique with a dual-vocal set-up.  The vocalist sings, the guitarist screams.  And you know what?  I'd buy that as a really cool idea, if the actual vocalist was a good singer.  But he isn't.  At all.  He's a monotone Ruki wannabe who was lip-syncing half the time.  And the singing guitarist was absurdly talented at the guitar while the other guitarist did absolutely nothing.  So the right guitarist was a better vocalist and guitarist than his own vocalist and guitarist.  And you know what?  He's probably also a better bassist, drummer, and clarinet player too.  So Raddock has one awesome member supported by a bunch of nothing.  And also they can bite me for playing five fucking songs despite being the first band. 

Next band up is DOPES.:

 

Even more generic, boring garbage.  I don't... even remember... anything... which is probably for the best...

Next band up is 4tune_UNIT:


Get it?!  Get it?!  It's 4tune like fortune.  Ahahahahaha, they're so fucking witty!  They also totally suck too.  They started last month (no, I'm serious, they started in May of 2012) and their vocalist has no idea what the hell he's doing.  He's awkward, uncomfortable with the crowd, and makes annoying noises.  They did a repeater song that went on forever, and the vocalist made the same parrot-squawking noise every time gyaku-dive happened, over and over and over.  When it was done, MelJay turned to me and said, "Polly wanna cracker?"  And they only have fans because of the token girl with a bow.  And the pink-haired guy, for some reason.  The girls to my left were having a screaming match to see who could shriek his name the loudest during quiet moments.  Annoyed, I turned to MelJay and said, "gawd, get a boyfriend."

Next band up is NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST:


They seemed halfway decent at the show they hosted a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd give them a try online with real music.  Honestly, I couldn't get into it.  I think the vocalist is an extraordinarily talented screamer, but he doesn't have a band good enough to back him up.  None of the songs caught me at all.  Besides, the band acted way more hardcore at that other show because it was that kind of show.  This show was stupid, so NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST played way less interesting shit.  What do you expect from a band who went visual-kei just to tap into the teenage female money-jar?  It's like they showed up to the venue with their own shark to jump.  Even their silver-haired member wasn't especially funny, other than trying to balance his guitar between the palm of his hand and the ceiling.  The only redeeming moment was when the vocalist told a particularly obnoxious girl during the MC to shut up.  Except then he started calling us "baby-chan."  IF YOU CALL US THAT ONE MORE TIME, I'M PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE.

The next band up is Blitz:


I'm sure you can tell from the picture, but this band was undoubtedly the worst act of the night.  Obnoxious, annoying, fake-ass bullshit.  I love when you get these bands that do fanservice, and the one getting felt up looks more like he's grimacing in pain than smiling.  Disgusting.  Oh, and this band had a repeater song too.  Ahahahaha, wonderful.  Thank god BLACKHOLE has Wifi.  I spent the entire act wedged in an painfully uncomfortable position between some obnoxious girls while reading fmylife.com on my iPod Touch.

The next band up is DECAY:


This was the band Eigo recommended to us at the Signal show.  And, sure enough, Eigo showed up, and it was nice to talk to her.  But honestly, I wasn't impressed with the band.  They left no impression on me whatsoever, and I was really bored.  Which is unfortunate.  Oh well.

Anyways, before I get to DEZERT and the one not horrible part of this show, I just want to talk about the fucking fans at this thing, because these are the worst I've ever encountered, period.  It was, like, out of control.  It was too crowded because of all the fucking luggage, so people turned into raging jackasses.  People had no problem slipping in between people and trapping them sideways or against walls (I got trapped sideways at one point, and the look of horror on my face made a miserable girl behind me laugh).  At one point, so many people sat down that MelJay and I got trapped standing in an immovable island of bitches.  Luggage behind me, people's asses in front of me, and less room for my feet than the actual size of my feet.  When MelJay attempted to sit down, a girl in front of her simply sat on her.  Seriously.  Just sat on her like she was luggage.  There was a group of people sitting near the front taking up a ton of space, and the staff got so angry, a staff woman came out and actually started screaming at them.  I've never seen the staff scream at fans.  The staff woman was pointing at the girls and their luggage and screaming and dragging their stuff out of the way.  One fan was so traumatized, she just kept shaking her head band and forth rapidly like a bobble-head doll.  Good.  I hope she was scarred for life.  There were fans with hair down to their waists who would just suddenly start headbanging their hair around and hitting everyone around them in the face, even though no one around them was a fan of the band.  The girl in front of me spent most of the show with her hands covering her face because the cheap extensions smacking her over and over were causing her pain.  Not that I care, because she had a foot of space in front of her and refused to ever move up because she's a special flower and no one matters but her.  You know what?  There's more a shit-load more I could say about the fans, but I don't even want to talk about this anymore.  All I'll say is, they've made me consider never going to an event show again.  At the very least, I don't want to ever go to a shit-show again.

The next band up is awesome and gets a golden throne of honor on top of this dung pile.  Next band up is DEZERT:


Thank The Seven for DEZERT (and seven points to anyone who correctly guesses the reference in the comments).  Like, seriously, if not for DEZERT, I would've walked out of the show weeping at the tragedy of it all.  At least DEZERT knows how to give us a good time, and the crowds had thinned a bit by then (although not as much as you'd think, since DEZERT is a new-ish band).

Um, yeah, they played all hard-core songs, as opposed to the last time I saw them when a couple lighter songs slipped in.  Vocalist Chiaki was in a "demon" mood, and acted like a twitchy, flailing monster for a lot of the show.  He's getting quite the fanbase.  Girls were spazzing over Chiaki like he was some kinda major vocalist.  Fuck, I remember when they were nobodies.  Overall, the band has a bit of an "evil" presence, especially with the fully-covered SaZ Monster lurking, and the fact that guitarist Kira is starting to act a bit more like SaZ too.  And the new drummer, Sora, always has this smirk on his face like he wants to see someone in the audience spontaneously combust for his own amusement.

Highlights... well, Chiaki's still doing that stupid thing where, instead of MC-ing, they play a recording of a chipmunk-fied voice.  It's dumb.  But after that, Chiaki actually started talking, and he told us it's been three months since he'd actually done a spoken MC.  Three months?!  What the fuck is that?!  One of the reasons DEZERT has so many fans is because, in the past, Chiaki reeled in a lot of crowds with his hilarious, spoken MCs.

Anyways, Chiaki was doing a real MC because it was their drummer Sora's birthday.  As Chiaki was trying to explain the situation, Sora took a big swig of water and actually managed to spit it over the drum set and hit Chiaki from behind.  Chiaki was just like, "huh... interesting..." without even turning around.  Anyways, SaZ disappeared offstage and returned with a big, white cake for Sora.  Then, for whatever reason, SaZ bunny-hopped the cake across the stage to give it to Sora, which was the most bizarrely uncharacteristic thing I've ever seen SaZ do (but got us all to laugh, at least).  Then there was this awkward silence, and Chiaki was like, "so... what do you guys usually do when it's somebody's birthday...?"  There was another awkward pause, and then the audience carefully began singing Happy Birthday.  When the song was over, the saizen shot off party poppers and SaZ brought the cake over to Sora, who leaned over the drum set, stuck his face in the cake, and took a big bite.  When SaZ pulled away, Sora was like, "no, wait, I want more cake," and made SaZ come back and give him another bite off the side.  Very classy, Sora.  Very classy.  Then everyone started calling Sora's name to get him to MC, but they were doing it in that obnoxiously cute voice that Japanese girls do, where they're like "Soraaaaaaa" and go up an octave at the end.  Anyone who's watched a JRock DVD has probably heard this voice.  Anyways, Sora grabbed the mic and shouted, "why are you all using that cute voice?!  I want you to scream!"  Aw shit son, I like this guy.  So then everyone started banshee-screaming and growling Sora's name instead.  Then Sora did an MC, thanking everyone.  While he was talking, Chiaki decided to get revenge and threw a bunch of water from his water bottle into Sora's face.  When Sora got hit, he spluttered on the water and then screamed, "SPLASH MOUNTAIN!!!"

Sora, you are officially my hero, bro.

Other things... DEZERT now has two repeater songs, meaning twice the opportunities for them to fuck with the audience.  One of the things I like about DEZERT is the fact that they value audience-wide participation so much.  Almost every song has side-to-side slam dancing, or gyaku-dive, or a dog pile.  There's always a chance for everyone to have a mutual good time together, and the band likes to join in too (which is why SaZ spends half of every repeater song in the audience instead of onstage).  It makes me smile because it's a very n00b/young band attitude, but DEZERT keeps it up even when they're at a crowded show.  They're not willing to give up that youthful spirit, even if they're hosting a show.

As usual, the dog pile got pretty ridiculous.  The SaZ Monster was out for revenge this time, and was yanking people off their feet, running around the crowd pushing people into the pile, putting himself on the barrier so people would gyaku-dive him, and - most amusing of all - forcing groups of girls into tiny mosh pits with him in the back.  The mosh pits kinda looked like ring-around-the-rosy with fists, lol.  SaZ was being pretty rough, and he almost tore off my arm a couple times.  At one point, he dragged me into the pit and started yanking on my arm over and over like he was trying to start a lawn mower.  I was like, "aaaagh, why?!"  At one point, he grabbed my arm while I was stuck sideways and gave me a yank, and I thought he was gonna rip my arm out of its socket.  SaZ, you boy, me girl, be careful, lol.  I got yanked around by Chiaki a few times but, thankfully, he didn't go for my neck this time.  He did attempt crowd-surfing once, which was kinda funny.  He threw himself in, and the girls caught him, but they couldn't hold him up for some reason (even though Chiaki's not especially big).  The thing is, they didn't just drop him either.  Poor Chiaki slooooooowly sank towards the floor, until he was just standing there in the middle of everyone.  I wanted to try and help keep him up but, from where I was standing, I would've had to catch him under the front of his neck, and I'm not out to choke the poor guy (even if he has no problem choking me).

Kira is also starting to get in on the action, and seems to enjoy yanking girls around.  I'm guessing SaZ and Chiaki finally wore off on him.  And there's something strangely intimidating about Kira (something about his face) so it's kinda scary when he's suddenly got you by the arm (which happened to me a couple times).  And of course there's always that moment when you turn around and realize SaZ is right behind you and it's like OH GOD SAVE ME.  And then he's shoving you and you're running and then he's in the pile next to you and there's nowhere to go.  SaZ was particularly ferocious at this show.

Overall, DEZERT's just a lot of fun.  Even Eigo seemed to have a good time, and she wasn't interested in them at the beginning.  By the end, she was doing all the furi and smiling.  At one point, I stumbled out of the pit towards the back (the pit tends to decompress every few measures so everyone can take a quick break before running back in) and Eigo took one look at me and burst out laughing.  I had no idea what was so funny other than the fact that I probably looked really disheveled and someone ripped the bottom of my boot off during the side-to-side which made me limp, but I found out after the show that it was because I somehow got a streak of eyeliner across my forehead.  It certainly couldn't have been my eyeliner, so where the hell did it come from?!

When the show ended, Sora came out from behind the drum set with a massive squirt gun and sprayed the crowd.  Sora, you're an awesome bastard.

Anyways, those were the highlights of the show.  When it was over, my new left boot was nearly in pieces, and I went into my purse to discover some jackass fan somehow got into my wallet and stole all my paper money.  Isn't that nice?  After all the effort I go through to be as nice as possible at these shows and not step on people's luggage and always put my tiny purse way off to the side under other people's stuff, this is the thanks I get.  I just get fucking robbed.  I called BLACKHOLE the next day to see if the staff found any lost money, but the staff guy was pretty much like, "I bet someone stole it."  No shit, Sherlock.

Honestly, I'm just kinda done.  Done with shitty event shows, and done with all these fucking brats.  Obviously, I won't stop going to shows (because it's basically who I am), but I want to start avoiding shitty shows.  My 2-3 Rule has to be enforced again or this kind of thing will keep happening.  I can't stand the shitty bands, and I can't stand the kinds of people they attract.  Sometimes, when I go to event shows like these, it's because I think I might discover something new and exciting.  But the thing is, I rarely ever do.  Obviously, I come out lucky on occasion and find bands like DEZERT, but that's about it.  Most bands I like, I discovered at super-indies shows, with decent bands.  The rest I discovered online, or in indies shops, or flyers, or word-of-mouth.  Not at crap-tastic shows full of money-stealing bitches.

Whatever.

Oh, also, I bought DEZERT's new (and practically only) single.  It's called Boku no Himitsu to Reizouko, which means "My Secret and Refrigerator."  Well then.

That night, I went to a 100 yen Lawson and bought super glue and literally glued my boots back together.  Ghetto style.  The following day, I also told my friends I wanted tasty food since the previous day sucked so bad, so we went to Ducky Duck.  They had an awesome seafood doria:


And melon shortcake!

You are correct if you believe I bought this because it has balls on top.
Also, a funny story to finish this off with...  The next day, MelJay and Peachy and I were in a really sketchy cafe drinking banana smoothies when we noticed a VK band sitting in the corner.  I don't know who they were, although you can try to match the description if you want.  They had one member who was probably the drummer (he had a cymbal case with him) who had purple and silver hair.  They had another member with black hair with blonde on the sides, kinda wavy, with a lip piercing (I think).  They had another member with straight, black hair (which might be gelled up at shows, who knows).  I couldn't see the other two members very well.  Anyways, the band was goofing off like crazy, opening the electricity box in the wall, climbing over each other...  But what was really funny was that they had a Cure magazine open, and they were fan-boying over the visual-kei bands they look up to.  They were like little girls, being all, "OMG, look what so-and-so is wearing!"  They also pulled out a couple iPods and some headphones, listened to their own music, and started trying to come up with new furi.  It was hysterical.  They were headbanging over the table, bouncing side to side in the booth, doing a weird little finger-dance, and laughing their asses off.  I can't remember the last time I was so entertained in a cafe.  Thank you, random band, for being hilarious.  Your music's probably god-awful, but you gave me a smile for about an hour.

Well, I was smiling until I saw the old man in a tank top and booty-shorts.  Do not want :-(

Also, I want to say this... whoever the thief at the show was, she didn't take my UnsraW tickets, which were in my wallet too.  Seriously, THANK YOU.  I can always make more money, but I can't get another UnsraW ticket.

Speaking of which, UnsraW is on Friday, holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.  I'm going to do another post before the show, addressing things like how I got the tickets, why I'm going, all that kinda stuff.  I don't want to clutter the reports with anything unnecessary.  The UnsraW report(s) have to be clean and free of anything not related to the shows.  And as my parentheses has shown you, I haven't decided if I'll write two separate reports, or smoosh both shows into one.  I guess I'll see how the shows go before deciding.

But seriously, holy shiiiiiiiiiiit.  I can't believe after two years and the band's complete disbandment, I get to say:

See you all next time, for motherfucking UnsraW!!!