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.

16 comments:

  1. Holy hell, that's intense. Only live experience i have with UnsraW, is their Screaming birthday DVD.

    If only the show in Sweden didn't get cancelled... oh well, they have always been my number one band, with good reason.

    Thank you for these words, wish i could have been there.

    Now to hope i can get the online version of that DVD.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post :-) And I hope they get back to people about that online DVD soon! I know some people emailed the staff, but no one's responded yet, from what I can tell :-/ I've got my fingers crossed!

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  2. I~ am still in love~ with these SHIRTS!
    SERIOUSLY. And they SHED so I walk home thinking "I'm a fucking UnsraW FAIRY, AND whut?"

    Breakで~す。

    I think it's really interesting that we were stood so close but made different observations (and no no no I'm not at all CHALLENGING you, just commenting). I really didn't think he looked frail. His costume was FAR too big, for sure, but when he came out with that (shiny fairy) tour shirt on, and he flexed his arms ... that man has lost NO muscle at ALL, I was actually a little taken aback by those biceps, and I am not new to them!

    I never noticed anything pierced in his chest though, whatwhatwhat? I'm glad the nipple/navel piercings are still there, but one in his chest??

    Oh the mic-stand, the poor fucking mic stand. What the hell was he seeing, who was he looking at when he sang to that thing. I'm so glad you made comment on it here because it was occassionally a little disturbing.

    And end of finale. Girl, damn. Throughout both nights I think that the second half of end of finale was one of the biggest highlights, just because I don't think I have EVER felt tension like that in a crowd EVER. Those moments, seconds that feel like hours when you're just left thinking "Only one thing can happen here, only one person can come out now ...". It was unbelievable. Words can never do that moment justice.

    I should get around to my own reports soon but ... damn it. Still dwelling. That memorial box is going to be the most treasured souvenir in the world. Even more so than the pick Madoka managed to throw at my left eye.

    Such a pleasure meeting you ladies, really.

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    1. Hey Break!!! :-D

      OMG the shirts shed soooo much. I wasn't even wearing one on Day 2, but I came out of that pit completely covered in sparkles from everyone else's shirts, lol. MelJay said I looked like Edward Cullen T______T

      And no worries, I never take it as a challenge when people see something different at a show than I do! I actually find it really interesting to hear what differences people see at the same shows as me, since I rarely get to hear other perspectives. Seeing Yuuki on Day 2 made me realize he wasn't nearly as gaunt as I thought, and that it was the way he was carrying himself that made him seem so small. It was weird to realize how much a change in someone's emotional state could change their physical state in my eyes. But it was a huge relief when I realized he was okay! But seriously, why doesn't he get that costume tailored, lol XD

      And the piercing in his chest was only there on Day 1. I think he realized it was a hazard cuz it could get pulled out, so it was gone on Day 2. And given that Warai Oni pit, that was probably a good decision, lol.

      Anyways, I hope your report's going well! I enjoy reading other people's reports about the same shows! And I sympathize with the dwelling-on-it factor =____=

      It was great meeting you! I hope we can hang out at another show soon!!! And I hope the DIAURA/MEJIBRAY show is fun ^___^

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  3. Jesus !! you seriously made me jealous for not being able to be in japan and participate in that show-and I'm not an Unsraw fan (although I do like some of their songs). I think this is one of my favourite,if not even my favourite concert review of yours since you have returned to japan and started blogging again. I could really read out of your post that you had a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to the second day of the Unsraw concert ^-^

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    1. Wow, I'm glad you enjoyed the report so much! When I read comments like these, it reminds me why I even returned to this blog. I had long considered abandoning it, but if I can write reports like these to share my adventures with people who can't be there, well... then I guess what I do is worth it ^___^ Thanks for reminding me about why I do this :-) Day 2's almost finished!

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  4. Oh god I don't know what to do with myself after reading that, I've been behind on reading your blog for a few months but I hoped you'd be posting about this show soon so I read through everything I'd missed knowing this was at the end! Ooooh, I'm so confused with how I feel right now lol
    Ffirst off thank you so much for putting that report together - I was so gutted knowing they were playing their last two shows and here I was stuck half way around the world. The one regret I have in life (and I really mean that) is both times UnsraW came to Europe, I could have gone to see them, probably in a few different countries on both occasions but there were always other things going on and I said to myself 'third time lucky', 'third time will be when I put seeing them first'. Except of course there was no 'third time' and it's something that really tears at me when I think of it so thank you so so much! Sorry I just had to get that out.

    The show sounds amazing, I can't imagine what the tension must have been like waiting for them to start and that set-list! Oh my, and the DVD box... well now I'm kind of jealous! lol But I'm so happy for you that your ticket ninja skills came through for you this time as well and for both shows in fact. Now that's talent! :D

    I always seem to write so much when I comment on here, I should probably stop now but I'm really looking forward to the next report, don't feel the need to rush to get it out though - I know it must be pretty tough to write :'(

    (Also, sorry for putting this on the UnsraW post, but in your last BORN report - you solved the riddle of the intro! I always drove me crazy trying to figure out what the fuck Ryouga was saying, I would never have guessed 'Mosh pit' in a million years. ha ha You are officially my hero now)! lmao

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    1. I'm sorry you never got to see UnsraW :-( I kinda understand how you feel. I... I didn't check out UnsraW until almost the end of study abroad because, well... I had some petty, stupid reasons, and I was always shrugging off people's suggestions to try them because of some really dumb, prideful excuses. I was a stubborn jackass back then and I didn't want to listen to anybody >__< And when I finally tried UnsraW and fell in love, I had just missed their one-man show, and I had to leave Japan in only a month or so. When I got back to the U.S., I told myself my stupidity was okay because I'd be back in a year, and I'd forget about how petty and stubborn I'd been. And then UnsraW ended while I was applying for teaching abroad... and I had never felt stupider. Now I try almost every band I come across, for fear of making that mistake again :-( We just never know when these bands will suddenly fall apart :-(

      Anyways, I'm glad you enjoyed my blog post, and I'm glad I was able to share the concert with you :-) Day 2 is aaaaaaalmost finished!

      And no problem solving that BORN riddle. It'd been driving me insane for such a long time (I always heard "mash-a-peel-oh", lol), so when I finally figured it out, it was instant relief, lol.

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  5. My…God…

    I can honestly say that I was so nervous with anticipation as I sat down to read this. At some point it was almost hard to read –not because of your fabulous writing but because of the topic, I was chickening out for some reason…Maybe because I knew how mind blowing it would be. But as I read on I was overwhelmed and practically trembling with excitement.

    You just made my day infinite times better. I couldn’t be there myself and I never would have been there but this lengthy report at least made me feel like I was there (and just to add extra effects, dork that I am, I played the songs on the setlist while reading). :p

    D’awwww, Yuuki checking out his hair and make-up sounds…. freakishly adorable…. I wonder what he is thinking. “Do I look grotesque enough?” XD

    Can’t wait for the next one. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of history with us. :’D

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    1. LOVE your idea about listening to the setlist songs while reading :-D

      And I'm glad my UnsraW report was able to bring you along to the show :-) Even the nervousness, well... I'm glad I was able to share all that tension with you, along with all the excitement! And I'm glad I'll be able to share Day 2 with you as well! It's almost finished, promise!

      Hehe... I bet Yuuki spends HOURS on all that fake face-decay XD

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  6. Hey~
    I know I talked to you on LJ before, but this time I have an actual reason to bother you.
    Now I may be totally wrong, but I was standing near you during the live! And I talked to your friend Crimson later as well xD
    So now I'm wondering who of the group of foreigners you were... you may remember a girl asking the group to save a spot for a moment? That was me... xD

    Also thanks so much for the report!
    I just now realized how many many things I actually didn't notice in all the haze of finally seeing them...

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    1. I remember you ^_____^ You have red hair, right? Yeah, and we were holding your spot behind us before the show! As for which one I was... well, there were three foreigners in front of you, and two in front of them, right? Well, in that group of three, there was one straight-haired girl, and two curly-haired girls. I was the taller of the two curly-haired girls, and my curls are darker. I had an UnsraW wrist-band on, with black nail-polish with red sparkles. And I was wearing a red-and-black striped shirt, although it probably just looked really red from behind. Do you remember me? :-D I was being kinda loud before the show, sorry, lol.

      And I'm glad I could share so many details with you in this post :-) It was hard for me to keep track of everything at the show, but I knew I had to write a report, so I was trying to look everywhere at once, lol. Day 2's almost done ^__^

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  7. Just wanted to say that I'm 99.9% sure that the sign said "anata no kamite", and yes, kamite is stage right looking from the audience perspective. So the flowers were from Madoka's saizen girls. And I kind of regret we didn't ask international fans to chip in and send them a bouquet "to UnsraW from international fans".

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    1. Okay, yeah, the left and right thing confused the hell out of me, lol. I was like, "whose left?!!" Okay, that makes sense that it was his saizen. Hmm... we really should've made a bouquet from the international fans. Although, to be honest, I have no idea how one makes those bouquets in Japan. It must be some kinda company that does that stuff O__o

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  8. Hello :)

    I only finally got around to start checking out the live reports although I have a busy schedule I think I deep down knew it would be upsetting to read/think about. At the same time I'm glad I did. First of all I wanna say it's a nice report with alot of details so thank you for sharing. I guess a warning is in order this might become a kind of long comment :/
    I'm glad that Unsraw had their final goodbye with Yuuki as well, still I miss Jun and Rai. Rai became my favourite the 3rd time I saw them which was on their 1st? oneman in March 07 I think. My memory isn't so intact anymore :p We went to see another band in Tokyo days before that and Unsraw was playing then too. I ofc totally fell for them then whereby my friend told me they would have a oneman a few days later. I changed my plans, stayed behind alone when they left for Osaka (which meant cutting class) and prayed they would have tickets left.
    I can't tell you how relieved I was and how good but nervous I felt for going to a concert alone for the first time. I might have written something about in my lj but not sure since I started writing about only much later. Anyway Unsraw without Jun and Rai is not MY unsraw quite if you understand what I mean. I love the way Yuuki is on stage, like when he grabbed my head and pushed it down between his legs (he was sitting down on his heals) or when he grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards him and bcz of a very excited fan behind me I had to lean over his leg when he was sitting on the "fence". I don't remember how many of their lives I went to but the feelings of happiness waiting for them in front of the curtains...the yelling which at least then even happened before the curtains opened...my heart felt as if it couldn't contain all that happiness without bursting lol
    Now reading your report I remembered some of those feelings and how sad it is that that was their last :( so I feel nostalgic and sad reading this since I wish I could have been there but at least I know if I had had a choice I would've gone...
    So many memories and chekkis not to mention tshirts and the photos taken with them, I don't regret a single thing. Unfortunately I had to go to most lives by myself so often I was the only foreigner there.
    Anyway I will head over to my own journal to write instead of making this like a diaryentry still I wanted to try and explain a little how it felt...I will read your other entry when I'm ready for it. Sorry for ranting but thank you / Ranayura

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    1. Hello ranayura :-)

      I'm glad you were able to read my report! :-D I wonder.... when I first got into UnsraW a year ago, I hungrily read as many concert reports as I could find on the internet to learn as much as I could, and I remember reading some reports from an LJ. The reports were dated around 2007. Could they have been yours...? If so, thank you for allowing me a glimpse into the past, since that was a part of UnsraW I would never be able to see :-)

      Also, I understand what you mean about Jun and Rai. For me, they were never a part of any UnsraW I knew, although I appreciated everything they did for the band up until their departure. But I understand the feeling that a certain member is irreplaceable for you, or that a band just "isn't the same" without someone. We become attached to these people one way or another, and when they're gone, there's a hole there that's hard to fill. Sometimes, it can't be filled. Jin and Madoka had HUGE shoes to fill after Jun and Rai, and I think they did their best. But I can imagine for older fans, it was difficult to accept. When I was writing this report, I wasn't sure if I should say anything about Jun and Rai. In the end, I decided not to. Since these shows were about finally "letting go" of UnsraW, I felt like that meant "letting go" of their past as well. And that meant letting Jun and Rai go free, to move on as UnsraW did. I'm glad Jun went to the show, though :-)

      Anyways, don't worry about writing a lot in the comments section! I welcome all comments, and I don't mind if you want to let your feelings out here. I can lend a sympathetic ear :-) UnsraW... is a hard band to be a fan of. And I understand that. They broke my heart at these shows, but I'm glad I was their fan nonetheless. And feel free to read the second report whenever you're ready! It's kind of a sad report, though :-(

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