Friday, July 27, 2012

Karaoke (a la Kita)

Aaaaaaaaaand now for something completely different.  Kinda.

Sooooo sometimes I do really stupid impersonations of JRock vocalists at karaoke.  We thought it might be kinda funny to film me doing two of my worst.  See, I can sing really low, and I can sing really high, and I can do some screaming stuff, although I'm hardly what you'd call "professional" about any of it.  In fact, you could make a drinking game out of every bad note I hit.  But maybe this'll amuse some of you, and it'll be a "comedic break" from my usual reporting.

Watch my melodrama at work!

First things first, YouTube hated my files, so I used some crappy free trial convertor that put a beautiful watermark over these videos.  If I cared about these videos, I would've been mad, but this isn't even my "best" as far as karaoke goes (it was actually my first time singing since getting over that lung infection).  Also, I find these videos really humiliating and don't want my face around the internet too much, so I made these videos practically untraceable by searching, hence the funny names and descriptions.  So, um... try not to spread these videos too much.  I look awful (my face is not red like that, I don't know what the camera lighting did to me!!!), and I sound worse, so........ let's keep the embarrassment-spreading to a minimum, eh?  I'll probably take these down eventually like I did my other karaoke videos, lol.

Also, pardon the weird, um........ alien-like wiggling in the videos.  I tested out YouTube's anti-shaky-cam, and the results were hilarious.  It's like I'm made of pudding!

Well, anyways, first up is my terrible rendition of Malice Mizer's Gekka no Yasoukyoku:

Lol, fucking phone.  Stupid karaoke place has the worst timing.  So that performance was just awful, right?  Don't worry, it gets worse.  Are you ready for D's Yami Yori Kurai Doukoku no Acapella to Bara Yori Akai Jounetsu no Aria?!!  Oh, that's right.  I went there:

Hope you enjoyed!  Next weekend is the Kiryu Festival!  Some of you probably never read last year's masturi post on this blog, so that means nothing to you, but the festival's pretty awesome, so expect a nice, pretty post about that, full of food photos and stupid dancing photos and you'll get to see my fucking awesome new yukata!!!

See ya then!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

-OZ- One-Man, 7/15

As you can see, I have not perished from the world of blog-writing.  I didn’t even think about the fact that it probably looked kinda cryptic that I wrote that whole miserable post about UnsraW ending and then disappeared for a month.  When it finally occurred to me that I should probably update the blog and prove I haven’t ditched it in a fit of UnsraW-induced rage, several weeks had already passed.  The truth is, I just haven’t had any shows to go to, or anything particularly exciting to post about.  I’ve been really busy and I’ve had a shitty schedule and I just haven’t had a chance to go to anything.  But I finally got to go to a show with today’s featured band, -OZ-:

Indeed, for smartphone.
These guys have come up at a few event shows I’ve been to in the past, and my “reports” on them have ranged from “somebody get this band an energy drink for the love of God” to “hmm, not bad” to “okay, that was pretty fun, cool beans.”  A lot of my mixed reviews have stemmed from the fact that vocalist Natsuki seems to have multiple personalities, which can bring the show up or down accordingly.  To compensate for that, I came up with the NCS (Natsuki Coherency Scale) to judge how mentally invested Natsuki is into any given performance.

How does the band fare today?  Well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

For starters, my day.  Ya know, I used to think I shouldn’t write about anything I do on a concert day outside of the concert itself, because who the hell cares about my boring life, right?  But I’ve been told it adds a human face to this blog if I do, so… I’ll keep talking about my “adventures” to make sure Kita doesn’t come off as a robot.  I was told the “human” element of my UnsraW posts was what made them good, so… I’ll try to keep that in mind.

Um… what did I do before the –OZ- show…?  Well, for one thing, it was a Sunday.  I don’t usually bother with Sunday shows because of work the next day, but Monday was a national holiday, so three-day-weekend, fuck yeah.  Um, we went to an awesome burger restaurant for lunch (I don’t usually like hamburgers, but this place is bitchin’ and actually offers gouda cheese and avocado and shit, and spiced fries).  Yeah, if you’re ever in Shibuya, go to J.S. Burgers.  Shit be tight, yo.  Oh, right, we were in Shibuya, cuz the venue was in Shibuya. 

Anyways, after burgers, we went to Tokyu Hands for some shopping.  Man, there’s so much weird shit in there.  Like, why would anyone ever need playing cards that look like different kinds of toast?  And what’s the purpose of a stretchy, rubber banana?  They also have a store that sells pet supplies and fish, and they had a cool albino newt that was see-through, and you could see all its creepy organs and shit.  I mean, it’s nightmarish, but I would still totally own that little bastard and name it Mr. Cellophane if I had the chance.  Oh, and some store employee was doing magic tricks.  Because why the fuck not, I guess.

While shopping at Tokyu Hands, I got a text from an old friend of mine from when I studied abroad.  Sonia came up on my blog waaaay back in the day, and some people might recognize the name from one of my big DIR EN GREY posts at the Budokan.  Anyways, Sonia was gonna be at the show too, and we hadn’t seen each other in a couple years, so we met up at the Hachiko statue to go to the show together.

Our venue today is Shibuya TAKE OFF 7.  Take off seven what, exactly?  I’d never heard of the place at all, but it turns out it’s in the basement of the same building as Club Quattro.  How weird is that?  So you can have a concert upstairs in Club Quattro while a concert is going on in the basement at TAKE OFF 7.  At the same time.  It’s a concert sandwich!!!

Anyways, when we got to the venue, I had a brief moment in which I very seriously thought, “am I in the right country?”  Um… I dunno how to put this lightly, so I’ll just say it:

There was a giant ass-load of foreigners.

Like… holy crap, man.  Just… just herds of them.  My own herd seemed tiny in comparison.  Bearing in mind that only about two-hundred-and-fifty people were at the show, and I lost count at around forty foreigners… that’s like a fifth of the audience was straight-up not Asian.  Isn’t that weird?  I mean, I don’t care, obviously.  I’m a foreigner at a JRock show, so why would I give a shit if other foreigners are at a JRock show?  It’s just highly unusual.  Like, is anyone who was at the show reading this?  What are you all doing in Japan?  Study abroad?  Working?  Traveling and happened to be here at the time of an –OZ– show?  I’m honestly curious.  I mean, I’ve always kinda suspected –OZ– is the most popular J-indies band amongst foreigners, but dayum.  This was my first –OZ– one-man, but I’ve been to event shows, and there are usually only a couple other foreigners around for –OZ–, nothing too unusual…  So, does anyone know if the one-man shows are always like this?  Or were there just a lot of foreigners due to summer holidays?

Well, anyways, whatever.  So we finally got into the venue (it took fucking forever.  Who the fuck decided it was a good idea to let people in one at a time at the bottom of the stairs?).  –OZ– had a big bouquet of congratulatory flowers outside the door, although I’m not sure who they were from, or why the band was being congratulated.  I guess this show and the show the next day were tour final shows, so I guess that’s kind of a celebratory thing.  It was quite a goth bouquet, with black balloons and shit.

Aaaaanyways, the venue itself.  While Club Quattro is a pretty large venue (I saw MERRY there once), TAKE OFF 7 is pretty small.  It only holds maybe three-hundred people, and it’s one of those venues that’s a lot longer than it is wide, which I find really obnoxious.  Like, unless you’re in the first ten rows, you’re pretty far back, just by nature of the venue’s shape. 

Bored, my friends and I chatted about random crap.  Sonia had an awesome story, though.  I guess she went to an –OZ– in-store event one time, and Natsuki asked her where she was from.  When she said she was from Spain, Natsuki shouted, “PAELLA!!!” and struck a Flamenco pose.  I seriously died laughing.  That’s one of the funniest fucking in-store stories I’ve ever heard.  Even stupider, one of the other members was immediately like, “ooh, I know some German!” to which Sonia was like, “um, well… I don’t.”  Good job, –OZ–. 

Um… oh, right.  So… –OZ– was playing a very, um, interesting soundtrack before the show started.  It was a weird, chipmunk-y soundtrack with songs like “If I Only Had a Brain” and “The Lollipop Guild.”

Get it?  Get it?  They were playing the “Wizard of Oz” soundtrack.  Haaaaah.  Very funny, assholes.  Well, okay, it was legitimately funny for about five minutes, and then I just wanted to tear my hair out.  It didn’t help that the band was about fifteen minutes late, which meant fifteen more minutes of being welcomed to motherfucking Munchkinland.  And then finally, finally the lights went down.

So, I noticed a lot of people pulling out lighters before the show, and I remembered something about –OZ– and lighters.  Like, I saw an American convention video on YouTube where Natsuki mentioned that Japanese fans like to pull out lighters during their shows, and he wanted to encourage American fans to try it to experience the “real” – OZ– (at which point a message at the bottom of the screen said the American venue wouldn’t allow lighters, so they were gonna hand out glow sticks instead.  That made me nearly snort my drink out of my nose).  Anyways, when I saw that video, I remember thinking, “what’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Natsuki?”  I’d seen –OZ– at least two or three times at event shows and didn’t see any goddamn lighters.  I guess it’s just a one-man thing.  

So what happened was, they kept the venue really dark and played some kinda hardcore intro music.  If my memory’s serving me correctly, the audience did the “lesser” version of forward headbanging, where you kinda, like… cross your hands in front of yourself and then uncross them and make a pinching gesture near your shoulders.  I don’t fucking know, furi sounds like bullshit when described in words.  Well, some people did that move, and others just threw their fists.  The audience was in disagreement.  But anyways, we did this in time to the beat for, like, eight counts or something, and then everyone held up their lighters.  And, honestly, it scared the hell outta me.  I mean, the ratio of hairspray fumes to fire was just terrifying.  I thought the whole goddamn place would go up in that cloud.  Too much fire around too many bangya.

While all the lighters were raised in the darkness, our first member took the stage.  I haven’t had a chance to introduce the members of –OZ– on the blog yet, so let’s get the names straight, shall we?  Our first member is the drummer, Zukki (pronounced “zoo-key”).  Isn’t Zukki the most awesome name ever?  Any time he comes up, I’m like, “Zukkiiiiiiiii.”  After Zukki got a proper screaming reception and took his place behind the drum set, the audience went back to air-punching or air-pinching, depending on who you were looking at (I did the pinch, cuz fuck da police).  Then, after the designated counts, all the lighters went back up.  The next member on stage was the right guitarist, Aki.  Aki’s the one I called the “sneaky-snaky” guitarist in previous posts, cuz he likes to dance in a way that reminds me of Shou from Awoi.  Anyways, the next member to take the stage was bassist Nao, who is way more adorable than I ever noticed before and a had a big smile on his face.  The fourth member we welcomed by fire was the left guitarist, Tama, who also seemed more smiley and less stoic than usual.  Some guys really flourish at one-man shows, as opposed to events, and I think Tama’s definitely one of them.

Aaaaaand the last member to get a flaming welcome was the vocalist, Natsuki, who strutted across the stage in a huge, fur-trimmed trench coat.  He got a pretty crazy welcome from the audience, and people started screaming like Natsuki was naked or something, which was really the opposite of the situation, because fur coat.  I could tell right away we were gonna have Natsuki high up on the NCS.  He looked way more excited than usual, and he was screaming at the audience and trying to get us all fired up.  I think someone drank a Red Bull before the show.

Now, I’d love to, like, give you guys a setlist, or tell you what songs they played, but… um… can’t do it.  No one in the band posted a setlist, and I’m just waaaay too unfamiliar with –OZ– songs to say much of anything with confidence.  Like, I saw the band at some event shows and thought, “hmm, not bad,” so I grabbed some music and tried to learn it, but I only have, like, thirty songs out of at least eighty, and I haven't really looped them a whole lot.  I’m a n00b, and I was at the one-man just kinda getting a feel for what –OZ– is like on their own turf.

But what I can tell you is, seeing the band on their own turf was an awesome idea.  The setlist was awesome, first of all.  They played all the best songs from the small collection I have, and the ones I didn’t recognize were kickass too.  The show never slowed down for a goddamn second, and even the ballads didn’t feel like much of a break.  Every song had headbanging.  Every single goddamn one.  My neck hurt so bad the next day, I decided anyone stupid enough to stand on my left side was officially irrelevant.

As for the Natsuki Coherency Scale… so it’s on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being literally unconscious, and 10 being a complete fit.  I’d have to give Natsuki a solid 11.  Dude was on fire.  He was a furry blur of energy, and it didn’t seem like he wanted the pace to slow down for even a second.  He was screaming like crazy, calling out to us any chance he had, and rocking out to the music.  He was even being an “interactive” vocalist and putting his arm out into the crowd for people to grab at him.  I didn’t really think he was that kinda vocalist.  Actually, It was kinda funny.  At one point, he put his arm out, and a bunch of girls latched onto his hand.  Then some girls latched onto the hands of the girls holding Natsuki, and more girls added their hands to that, and the whole thing piled up like a Katamari.  I’m not even sure how Natsuki freed himself.

As for the other members, they were way more active too.  Tama and Nao don’t usually move much at event shows, but they seemed really excited for this one-man.  Tama came up to the front of the stage a lot and tried to encourage the crowd (as opposed to hiding in the back like usual), and Nao was smiling about every goddamn thing and even standing all the way up on the barrier sometimes.  Aki was dancing around and mouthing all the words as usual, although he seemed a little tired.  He still moved an absurd amount for a guitarist, but I’ve seen him dance around even more than that before.  Nonetheless, Aki was really amusing to watch, especially the way he would snake his arms around unnecessarily all the time.  As for Zukki, unfortunately, I couldn’t fucking see him at all.  I tried, I really did, but Natsuki was always in the way (the stage was so goddamn narrow).  Between songs, I jokingly muttered, “Natsuki, get your fat ass out of the way, I can’t see Zukki.”  The joke being that Natsuki does not have a fat ass, nor does he appear to have any ass at all.

What else, what else… so, yeah, my opinion of –OZ– improved immensely at this show.  I mean, truth be told, they’d never be my favorite band or anything.  But I’ll move them up my chart, I think.  They can be in the 2 category of my 2-3 rule for shows, and that’s a pretty high honor coming from me, since I hate everything.  Like, –OZ– was a lot of fun, and I appreciate that.  Every song had a nice “dark” sound to it, and audience participation was mostly headbanging and fist-throwing, instead of stupid stuff.  And the band suddenly evolved from Magikarp performers to Gyarados performers.  The band was all over the place, rocking out and being badasses.  Aki and Tama and Nao constantly switched places and threw their hair around excitedly, and I have way more fun when the band’s having fun.  They were even interacting with each other, and Aki and Tama even managed to share the crate at one point.

Natsuki really did seem like a different person, though.  He was so “wild.”  The dumbasses at TAKE OFF 7 didn’t seem to think air conditioning in the middle of Japanese Summer Hell was important, so it was about as hot as a pizza oven in there.  Despite that, and the fact that he was dripping with sweat, Natsuki’s face was frozen in an angry growl and he was headbanging right along with us.  Of course, he wouldn’t take off his bloody coat, despite the heat.  He was red in the face, yet he still seemed to think a fur-trimmed trench coat was a good idea.  Sometimes he pulled it down off his shoulders to air out, and one time he actually dumped a bottle of water down the front of his shirt, but the coat stayed on.  I started to wonder if he was hiding something under there, like a big scar or something, cuz the last time I saw him at an event show with the coat, he pulled the same shit.  I mean, it’s not unheard of for indies performers to faint in the heat up there, so it seemed pretty stupid to keep the coat on.  Whatever, Natsuki, suit yourself (literally). 

But yeah, the point is, he seemed like a different person.  Like, I always thought Natsuki seems kinda standoffish at shows, like he wants to keep several feet between himself and the audience.  But at this show, Natsuki wasn’t content to just let the audience grab at his hand.  At one point, he got up on the crate, turned his back to the crowd, held out his arms, and let himself free-fall backwards into the audience.  Now that’s brave.  In the two years or so that I’ve been going to shows, I’ve seen every kind of stage-diving fail, from the time yo-ka (when he was in Valluna) jumped into the crowd and everyone ran away (thank goodness Peachy and I caught him), to the time Ryouga from BORN dove off the stage and flattened a couple girls beneath him on the floor instead of getting caught, to the time Yuuki from Lycaon tried to jump into the crowd and got midair-strangled by a roadie from behind instead (seriously, what the hell was that?!).  The point is, stage-diving at indie shows is risky business, so what Natsuki did was a literal “trust fall” like they do at support group meetings.  And, luckily for Natsuki, the audience actually caught him and kept him up, allowing him to do a nice, relaxing back-float on their heads before a roadie dragged him out.  He did a second “trust fall” later in the show, and the audience did catch him, but they didn’t keep him up that time and he wound up standing in the crowd and having to climb back out.

Soooo, continuing with my rambling… what kinds of songs did they play?  I think it was kinda 50/50 old stuff and new stuff.  There was older stuff like DETOX (I think, fuck me if I'm wrong) and new stuff like STIGMA.  They played that one song Another Reign.  Ya know, I’d heard that song many times and thought, “hmm… that chorus sounds pretty cool, but it also sounds like incomprehensible English.  What the hell is he saying?”  I look it up, and what do I get?

“Take a reigning grundy for distance.  Take a reigning shade for me.”

Huh.  I see.

Excuse me, um, Natsuki?  Could you come over here for a moment?  We need to have a talk, buddy.  I don’t know what you think a “grundy” is, but I’m quite sure it’s not what you’re thinking.  You see, a “grundy” can mean a “narrow-minded person”, but that’s an obscure term no one ever uses.  It usually means a “wedgie” or, as my mother uses it, “a piece of disgusting cartilage hiding inside a hamburger.”  It can also mean “gross”, and it’s the last name of the comic book villain Solomon Grundy.  So you see, Natsuki, your use of this word is equivalent to using the word “asshat” in a deep, thought-provoking song.  Why, exactly, is this grundy “reigning?”  Even if we assume you mean a “narrow-minding person” is reigning, what are they reigning over, Natsuki?  And if this grundy is, in fact, reigning, how does one take this grundy?  And why does distance want it?  For that matter, why do you want a shade that’s somehow reigning?  You see, Natsuki, if you don’t explain these lyrics to me, I will be unable to stand in the audience while you dramatically sing this song and not laugh hysterically at you.  I don’t care how “into it” the audience is, I will laugh.  Hard. 

But at least it’s not a “reckless driving cucumber.”  I’m looking at you, Ruki from The GazettE.

Alright, anyways.  Um… what else is there to talk about…?  Hmm… audience was kinda boring.  Didn’t move a whole lot, or make much effort to move up and stuff.  I’m really amazed Natsuki’s trust fall worked.  Um… the heat was eventually bad enough that even Natsuki decided it was time to ditch the coat.  Except he somehow ditched his shirt with it at the same time, and I have no idea how.  That was my first time seeing Natsuki shirtless.  Honestly, I always thought he had something to be ashamed of under there because of the way he’s always acted about it, but no… bitch be lookin’ fine, actually.  He’s in pretty damn good shape, so… good job, kid.  And actually, once the shirt was off, Natsuki seemed pretty confident about it, and was even standing with one hand on his hip like a proper bitch.

Towards the end of the show, the band played newer stuff, and then they left for encore.  When they came back, they played stuff like REVERSE (duh).  The whole band came back in t-shirts, I think.  Um… well, when the last encore was over, a big projector screen came down over the front of the stage.  I looked at the venue’s access map before the show and noticed it had a screen, so I suspected –OZ– would use it at least once before the show was over.  They played a clip from the STIGMA music video (why?) and then some words on the screen said there were two important announcements.

The first announcement was that –OZ– is putting out a new mini-album (due in November).  While the audience clapped, my friends and I burst out laughing.  Why?  Because the album is gonna be called CRUNK.  First of all, I’m sure I’m not the only one who automatically thinks of Krunk from the Justice Friends, right?  Second of all, “crunk” is a word my friends and I use to mean “drunk,” like, “let’s go get crunked, guys!” or, “that guy’s so crunked.”  So of course my friends and I immediately started making jokes like, “wow, I can’t wait to get Crunk in November.  Party hard, y’all!”

The second announcement is that –OZ– is having another one-man tour.  What’s it called?  “Crunk and Insanity.”  Hahahaha, what the fuck, guys, seriously?!  What the fuck?!  However, the tour final is at AREA on a Saturday in early December, so I am so down.  Tickets go on sale in August, and I’m totally going.  I can’t wait to spend my Saturday night getting Crunk, hahaha.

Anyways, so the show was over, and I went to go use my drink ticket.  While waiting in line at the bar for a good eight minutes, people were still screaming over and over for encore.  I just rolled my eyes.  I always think it’s really greedy when fans do that.  Like, if the show’s obviously over, let the guys go have their smoke and ramen break, alright?  However, right as I got up to the counter, I suddenly hear the crowd cheering.

Oh, goddamnit.  I had to go ditch my well-earned spot at the front of the bar, dying of thirst, to rejoin the crowd.

Natsuki was on stage in a red t-shirt, being all like, “you guys screamed pretty loud, yeah?!  You want an encore?!  You better scream even louder!”  Soooo we did, and the rest of the band came on stage, and we got one more song, but fuck if I know what it was.  Sorry, –OZ– fans, I don’t know nothin’. 

Then the show was actually over.  Sonia stayed behind because she bought a meet-and-greet ticket and was gonna go see the band, and Peachy and MelJay and I went off to Gusto to get some food and abuse the ever-loving shit out of the drink bar because fucking hell TAKE OFF 7 was hot and disgusting.

At Gusto, I couldn’t bear the thought of eating anything hot, so I ordered a cold noodle soup.  After I finished the noodles, Peachy went off to the bathroom while I stared down at my broth forlornly.  I was like, “I wanna drink the broth because it’s so cold and salty, but the bowl’s too big to pick up, and we don't have any spoons.”  Jokingly, I gestured my straw towards the bowl, and MelJay was like, “I dare you to drink the soup with the straw.”  Of course, I was like, “why would you dare me to do something like that?  You know I’ll do something like that.”  So yeah, I stuck my straw in the big steel bowl of cold soup broth and started drinking it like a milkshake.  Peachy happened to come back in the middle of that.  She just shook her head and sat down without a word.  Yeah, this is normal for us.  The waitress probably thought I was mental.

Spent the rest of the night watching Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.  What the fuck, Ice Age?  If you wanted to make a movie about dinosaurs, why didn’t you just make a new series?  You guys outta ideas, or what?  And how is there a sky underground?  And why did you think a weasel with an Australian accent would be funny?  Also, damn you for the line about using a clam shell to turn someone into a t-rexual.  That’s just dirty.

Uuuum, that’s about all I’ve got for this post.  Pretty lame, huh?  I’m outta practice writing on here, and I didn’t know –OZ– very well, so I wasn’t able to write much of a report.  My bad.  My next one will be better.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any scheduled shows for, like… almost another month… but I’ll try to find something.  It’s summer vacation here, and even though I still have to go to work, coming and going is more flexible, so I can hopefully slip some stuff sneaky shows in.  I’ll be back on the blog ASAP.

And sorry for any errors above.  I edited this post while drunk.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

UnsraW's Final Show, 6/23

Today, this blog says a final farewell to one of indie’s greats, UnsraW:

From left to right: Madoka, Shou, Yuuki, Jin, Tetsu

The band’s final show was entitled —Shuuketsu— LAST LIVE Gate of Birth(“shuuketsu” means “ending” or “closing”).

As you can imagine, it was hard for me to wrap my mind around what was coming.  Logically, I knew UnsraW ended a full year ago, but all that happened far away, across the ocean, and I just let it slip by without a second glance.  I was too upset to care back then, and simply tuned it out when it happened.  But now I was going to have to face the band, in person, and say farewell.  I would have to look Yuuki in the eye, knowing he was going to close the Gate of Death right in front of me.  When Yuuki first ended the band, he admitted we might think him cowardly for not showing his face to us for the last shows.  Well, now he was going to have to stand there before us and end it, with all our eyes upon him.  If I was him, I’d be terrified, but I wonder if he ever considered how scary it would be for the crowd, too.

Also, something I wanted to mention…  Over time, I’ve erected barriers around this blog, blocking out a lot of the personal feelings that go along with the shows I go to.  I don’t particularly like talking about myself, and especially not my feelings, but I’ll attempt to take down the barriers today, to allow this post to show the truest essence of the UnsraW show as I saw it.  I don't want to talk too much about little details at this show, because there will be too much overlap with the last post.  Instead, I'm mostly just gonna talk about the "feeling" of being at the show.  For two days only, UnsraW opened the Gate of Death, so I’ll try to open my own gate too.

The morning of the show, my friends and I felt dreadful.  As you can imagine, we tried to fill our morning with fun things.  We discovered Japan has Auntie Anne’s pretzels, so we went to one of the shops in Ikebukuro.  They have a really good sesame seed pretzel and tasty peach-lemonade slushies.  The pretzel was good, but I was really nauseated, so I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have.  Then we went around arcades, looking for toys to win, although we didn’t really find or win anything.  Most of the day went like that, and ended in a café where we sat around nervously waiting for the show.  Thankfully, because the REWIND show was really fun, we were able to share a lot of happy stories and talk positively about UnsraW.  And that kept us from thinking about what the end of the last show would be like.  There had been no tears at the end of the REWIND show, so maybe we’d get spared too much sadness this time…?

Eventually, we had no choice but to return to Ikebukuro EDGE.  I was worried about being a foreigner seen at both shows (and being accused of being a ticket stealer), but I saw tons of people at the Saturday show that I saw on Friday, and they weren’t at all trying to hide it.  Many of them were wearing the Gate of Birth t-shirts from the previous night (has anyone else thought about the fact that UnsraW named their final show “vagina”?).  Anyways, I felt a lot better knowing over half the audience was from the first show.  Actually, one of my justifications for going to both shows was, “well, anyone who recognizes me as an asshole at the second show must first be an asshole too.”  So I guess it was okay.

Anyways, there was a new bouquet of flowers (with balloons!) outside the venue, all nice and purple.  The new flowers were just for Shou.  The sign says the flowers are there because it was two days before Shou’s birthday:

Again, a super-special thanks to Break for letting me use her pictures.
The flowers were a cute gesture, but it made me realize this is now the second year in a row that Shou’s had to watch his band end right before his birthday.  Poor guy!  What bad timing!

Anyways, my friends and I had gone through another ticket shuffle that, once again, put me in the forties and well ahead of my friends.  So I went down the stairs to join the under-50 tickets.  Crimson wasn’t at the show, however, so I was prepared for a long wait by myself.  Oh goodie.

When I got into the venue, I decided to move more to the middle than the right, even though it meant being a little further back (more like fourth/fifth row than third).  I did this because Peachy was saying she wanted to be able to give Jin and Tetsu some love after giving Madoka all the love on Friday, and I also wanted to be closer to Yuuki’s section.  Not because I’m choosing favorites here in the band’s final hours, but because the fans in front of Yuuki are the most fun.  Madoka’s saizen was a little stiff and his fans were more cautious, but the Yuuki fans were nucking futs.  I wanted a piece o’ that.  Plus, I wanted to be in the Yuuki support section when the Big Guy had to say farewell.  This show was really for him.  His band mates never would’ve considered a reunion show if Yuuki hadn’t wanted to do it so badly.  The instrumental members all said their goodbyes already, but this would be Yuuki's first and last farewell.

I noticed Break standing a few rows behind me and encouraged her to come join me.  The wait is much less painful when you’ve got a friend to talk to!  Soon enough, Peachy and MelJay made it into the venue and moved up to join us, although it was a little more difficult than Friday.  There were a lot more people early to the venue this time, and they were all much more interested in being close to the stage than Friday’s group.  Demographics were switched up too.  There were significantly less foreigners (just my group, and a couple other stragglers).  Nonetheless, the bitchy middle-aged woman behind me was grumbling about foreigners.  Bitch, please.  Also, there were a ton more boys.  I remembered UnsraW having a lot of male fans when I studied abroad, and I wondered where they all were on Friday.  Well, they all came out for Saturday.  And many of them weren’t just hovering in the back like boys at visual-kei shows usually do.  Instead, many of them were right up there at the front with the rest of us.

Another interesting thing in the crowd: a very old man and woman.  Very old, like late sixties or early seventies.  They were standing in the back at first, but eventually moved all the way up front and stood along the wall on Madoka’s side before the show started.  They looked very stern and irritable, not like fans, and they weren’t even talking to each other.  Possibly… one of the band members’ parents…?  Probably Madoka’s, if they were standing on the right like that, unless they just wanted to be along the wall cuz it’s safe there.  Honestly, having heard some of the stories Yuuki’s told about his (psychotically) strict parents, I kinda wondered if they were his.  They certainly fit the description.  But they were kinda short, and Yuuki's so tall... maybe they weren't his.  But they were someone's parents.

Other than demographics, I noticed some other differences too.  For one thing, there were some cameras, obviously there to film the show for the DVD.  Also, the venue had these crazy lights ghosting over the walls, and a scrim was pulled down over the front of the stage.  Most of the lights were big geometrical shapes, making it look like ghostly squares and zig-zags were drifting across the scrim and circling the audience.  A lot of giants hearts went floating by too, most of them full of shapes.  One of them looked like a big leopard print heart.

For that hour-long wait, I felt strangely okay.  Just seeing the band the night before gave me the peace of mind I needed, so I didn’t feel as nervous for the Saturday show.  That is, until 7:00 passed, and there was no sign the band was coming.  My friends and I started cracking jokes about how UnsraW blew their perfect-timing award from the previous night.  I was so proud of you guys for being on time on Friday, and now you're late!  Your make-up looks fine, Yuuki, leave it alone!  But after five minutes, I was starting to feel anxious.  Then it was 7:10, and then it was 7:15… and still no sign of the band.  I tried to crack some nervous jokes about counting how many times the leopard print heart drifted over the scrim, but I didn’t really feel like laughing.  Oh god, something’s happened…! I thought.  Someone broke a bone backstage, or someone’s crying, or someone’s sick… or Yuuki isn’t going to do this!!!

By 7:20, the tension in the audience was like a hot, wool blanket draped over the crowd.  Unlike the Friday show, no one was screaming the band’s name or calling out for them.  Everyone was kind of freaked out, I thinkI was starting to pray someone would start screaming, so it might encourage the band to come out.  Maybe they were waiting for us to yell...?  Please just come, please just come… just one more show…!  Now I felt more nervous than I ever had at the first show.  The people around us were looking extremely anxious, and many people were fidgeting.  One girl in front of us kept crouching down and burying her head in her knees, and her friend was talking about how she felt like she was going to cry before this was all over.  A thuggish-looking man in front of us looked like he was going to throw up.  It was still a few more minutes before finally, finally, the lights went down.

Music began to play, but it wasn’t the end of finale music from the Friday show.  Instead, it was some kind of dark, evil-sounding track, something similar to the ZERO intro, but more symphonic than that.  The floating hearts across the scrim vanished to be replaced by an image… I don’t remember it well because I was too busy screaming and freaking out about the show finally starting.  I believe it was flames on the scrim, and stuff like “Gate of Birth” was being written across the fire.  I’m sure when I see the DVD the beginning will come back to me, but right now all I remember is everyone crushing forward in a mad panic and screaming.  Obviously, UnsraW wanted a much more dramatic entrance than Friday.

After the dramatic words were done scrolling across the scrim, lights began to flash across the smoky stage.  Unlike the end of finale intro, it wasn’t entirely clear when the band members would take the stage, so the audience was squirming in anticipation and screaming everyone's names.  As always, the first one to cross the stage was Shou, smiling even wider than the day before.  The next one to cross the stage was Tetsu, looking as diabolical as Day 1, and a tad less nervous.  The third one was Jin, who skipped the witch hat this time.  Next up was Madoka, who no longer had the mesh veil hanging down over his face.  He seemed much more confident this time, and he was even smiling a little.  I wish I could remember the band members’ entrances better, but the scrim was still down and the stage was so smoky, so everything was blurry.  I was trying so hard to see everyone that the little details escape me.  I think the footage continued to play over the scrim during their entrances, but I was doing everything in my power to see past it, so I don't remember it well.

And, of course, the last motherfucker to take the stage was Yuuki.  Even before he entered, the crowd surged forward and everyone started screaming hysterically, especially a lot of the boys who weren’t at the Friday show.  And then, at last, Yuuki came strolling through the door, strangely calm even as the audience shrieked and battled forward.  Yuuki came up to the front, growled at us, and glared at us through his grotesque mask.  It looked more decayed than the previous night.

Time to close that mother-fucking Gate of Death.  Prior to the show, Jin blogged and said he and his band mates were gonna show us the “true meaning of UnsraW.”  Well, you know what, Jin?  Come at me, bro.  Show me the true meaning!

Setlist (again, courtesy of Jin):

Opening SE
Gate of Death
under the skin
Drum solo
Rhythm SessionSEVEN
Mawari Dama ni Terasareta Umi wa Namida ni Karete

Encore 1:

Enshoku no Yume

Encore 2:

end of finale
Warai Oni

Instead of going into some kind of brain-basher, the band went into the more melancholy Gate of Death, the song from which the final concert got its name.  The song itself got its name from UnsraW's first concert.  Thus, it's one of UnsraW's most significant songs.  If you haven't heard the song before and are curious, it's one of the only UnsraW songs with a music video.  Just bear in mind that instead of Jin and Madoka, we have bassist Jun and guitarist Rai:

The scrim stayed down for most of Gate of Death, obscuring the band in shadows and blurring their edges.  The stage glowed yellow.  After the Friday show, my friends and I lamented the fact that the band didn’t play Gate of Death or Maria, yet here they were opening right up with one of them.  I’m quite sure it was meant to be significant, since Yuuki had talked about closing the Gate of Death at this show.  But to close the gate, maybe they first had to open it.  Halfway through the song, when it began to build up, they finally dropped the scrim, revealing the band in full.

At the sight of Yuuki, fully visible, I was shocked.  He was wearing the same costume as the day before, and nothing had changed other than the fact that his hair was styled up in a giant poof like a lion's mane.  But that’s not what struck me.  It was him.  The day before, Yuuki had seemed thin and frail, as if someone had sucked the very life out of him.  Yet somehow, at this show, it looked like he’d grown in just twenty-four hours.  It’s the craziest goddamn thing.  Even his costume didn’t seem nearly as baggy.  How could he have changed so much?!  It made me realize that what had looked like a physical change in Yuuki on Friday was really an emotional one.  Something in the way he held himself had made him seem frail, when he wasn’t physically frail at all (although I do think he’s lost a little weight since two years ago).  MelJay noticed the change in Yuuki too, and described it very well.  As she put it, no matter how calm and confident Yuuki seemed on Friday, what we saw on that stage was a “scared little boy.”  But the Yuuki who took the stage on Saturday was not a scared little boy… he was the Big Guy; the dominating motherfucker I remembered from two years ago.

And I seriously missed the Big Guy.

After Gate of Death, it was as if UnsraW read our thoughts after the Friday show, and went straight into Maria.  Oh.  Fuck.  Yes.  During study abroad, I never once got to see Maria live, so that was awesome.  Saturday’s setlist was even better than Friday’s.  We got BREATH again, and IN THE FACT and WITHERING BLOOD and -509-… it was like every song I adored on Friday showed up again on Saturday, plus a bunch of additions.  We even got LUST!

Everything was such a blur, it’s hard for me to remember details.  They played ALIVE again, and Yuuki spent a lot of the song in a messiah pose, with his arms held out and his head thrown back.  I remember being blown away by Yuuki’s epic scream during IN THE FACT.  One of the best screams I know of.  Yuuki wasn’t into the “temper tantrum” thing at this show, he was into a “pure fury” thing.  Instead of throwing the microphone stand at things or beating his fist against the floor, Yuuki was just a straight-up monster.  He was headbanging and snarling and constantly up at the front of the stage.  On Friday, his performance seemed directed “inward.”  He didn’t pay as much attention to the crowd and instead focused on the things around him, like the microphone stand, or the crate, or the floor, and how much he wanted to beat those things up.  At this show, however, Yuuki was all about the audience.  He seemed to make a sport out of glaring into the eyes of each and every person in the crowd and making horrible faces at them.  And seriously, when you’ve been pinned by those furious, mismatched eyes, it’s terrifying.  Yuuki would prowl along the edge of the stage occasionally, teasing all the hands grasping at him and glaring down at us.

The rest of the band was just as “into it” this time too.  Shou was smiling so much it looked like his face would crack, and I even caught Tetsu’s lips quivering into a smile a few times, although he quickly corrected his facial error.  Jin was headbanging like crazy and totally rocking out (and is still complaining about back and shoulder pain on his blog days later).  Madoka was actually up at the front, making wide-eyed, spooky faces at his fans.  It was nice to see him feeling a bit better.  Maybe he was just faking it for the camera, but overall, he seemed a lot happier and more “accepting” of this show than the REWIND one.  The band members were all interacting a lot too, even more than the Friday show.  Jin and Tetsu continued to gossip like little girls (seriously, what were those two talking about all the time?!) and everyone was bothering Shou.  I can’t even count the number of times I caught Jin or Tetsu or Madoka playing at the drum set and trying to get his attention until they were finally rewarded with a big, lopsided grin from Shou.  Some people have pretty smiles, and some people have cute smiles, and then there’s Shou.  That smile is like an eruption of light in the darkness.  The band members played switchies a lot too, so the whole crowd got to enjoy them.  Sometimes Jin even came over to Madoka’s side while Madoka was still there.  At one point, Madoka whispered something to Jin, and Jin responded by opening his mouth as wide as possible in Madoka's direction and snapping it closed like an alligator.  Madoka smirked and Jin laughed.  What the… what did Madoka say?!

After Fugen, the band left the stage except for Shou, and we finally got a real drum solo out of him (the one on Friday was kind of short, and more like an intro to the rhythm session).  As always, Shou made us call out to him as he smashed the cymbals, that big, dorky grin on his face.  He yelled some stuff out too, although it was hard to hear without the microphone.  His solo was very fun, and we clapped along, and it drifted into Rhythm SessionSEVEN just like last time.  The other three instrumental members came on stage amidst cheers and joined Shou for the pseudo-song.  It was the same as the Friday one, with the dark symphonics and heavy instrumental work.  The males in the crowd were especially loving it and headbanging along to Shou’s cymbal-crashing.  Seriously sad UnsraW never recorded Rhythm Session〜SEVEN as an actual song.

Finally, Yuuki came back, and UnsraW played Mawari Dama ni Terasareta Umi wa Namida ni Karete, which didn’t show up on Friday.  I don’t know why, but I love that song.  It doesn’t seem like the kind of song I’d like, since it’s kinda “perky”, but I love it, and I never thought I’d see it live, so that made my night.  I remember leaning back, catching MelJay's eye, and flashing her a huge smile when it started.  I sang along to the entire thing, which I don't usually do, and Jin smiled when he saw me doing it.

But after Mawari Dama, the band left, and it just felt way too soon.  How can it be encore time already?!  This time, we never bothered to call with the word “encore.”  Everyone called “UnsraW” instead.  We didn’t have to call for too long before the band returned, fists raised.  I suspected they would return for some ballads, and I was pretty sure I was correct when the band very quietly took their designated spots.  I figured we would get Sora again, until the tell-tale drum taps and lonely guitar melody of Kyuumin-Oyasumi- started up.  Aw fuck.  My friends and I had been discussing UnsraW the weekend before the shows, and talked about how Kyuumin-Oyasumi- is one of the saddest songs we know of.  Like, every time I hear it… instant depression.  And while a part of me wanted very badly to see such a powerful song live, another part of me didn’t think I had the stomach for it.  If you’re a curious reader who doesn’t know much about UnsraW and would like to hear UnsraW’s idea of a ballad (since they’re mostly known for hard rock music), Kyuumin-Oyasumi-'s a good way to start:

As you can hear, it’s pretty goddamn powerful.  The band performed it very passionately, and even Shou no longer smiled.  Yuuki sang with the tragic Yuuki!face I talked about in the last post, and he constantly had his arms out as if he was waiting for someone to embrace him.  His singing was perfectly on key, down to the last high note, and it was stunning.  The entire audience stood perfectly still and silent, just watching in awe as Yuuki spun his magic.  The "mou sukoshi dake" ("just a little more") part made my skin crawl.  It was like watching someone bear their soul outside their body.  The whole thing was chilling, and Kyuumin-Oyasumi- was the first moment during the night that I started to feel the cold fingers of horror crawl up my spine.  No other indies band can make me feel emotions like this… and they’re going away forever…

After Kyuumin-Oyasumi-, the band moved into another ballad, which was Sora.  Any other time, Sora wouldn’t have felt so bad, except that I was still feeling completely dead inside after Kyuumin-Oyasumi-.  I felt kind of paralyzed watching Yuuki sing.  It was hard for me to see because of the extremely tall boy in front of me, but I was always able to find some window to watch through, and Yuuki’s face never looked any less tragic.  After the heaviness of those two ballads, Enshoku no Yume was a huge relief.

Then UnsraW left again, and I wondered if this next entrance would be the last one we ever saw.  We all called “UnsraW!” again, and it went on for quite awhile.  The boy next to me earned the nickname Overzealous Fan, because he was so freaking excited all the time that he was nearly punching me in the face.  It didn’t seem intentional, I just felt like I was dodging his flailing limbs quite often, and sometimes it seemed like he was gonna hyperventilate.  It’s alright, Overzealous Fan, I understand your excitement.  There was this other guy in the audience who was cracking me up, though.  He was the large, thuggish man who was so excited about UnsraW that he looked like he was going to vomit before the show started.  Anyways, instead of just calling for UnsraW, he was doing this hilarious growl in time to the beat… I can’t even describe it…  He sounded like a wounded, charging rhinoceros.  Or maybe a lawn mower starting.  I really hope they keep some of the encore-calling on the final DVD, because this guy needs to be heard.   I know the guy knew it was funny, though, because he kept chuckling to himself while he was doing it.  One of the girls next to me was staring across the crowd at him like he was insane, but I couldn’t stop laughing.  Fuck, whatever it takes to get the band back, man.  We called for a damn long time, and I was like, gaaaah, just come back!!!

Finally, the lights started flashing, and UnsraW’s end of finale intro started playing.  How weird, to put the old intro at the end of the show!  It was like starting the show all over again!  Anyways, just like Friday, the band members came onstage one-by-one to the crazy whistle-noises.  They were all wearing the Gate of Birth shirts again, except for Yuuki, who came back with his previously-removed coat back on his shoulders and his costume completely fixed up.  I thought it was a little weird that the whole band semi-removed their costumes, yet Yuuki put his back on, but there was a purpose to it that we’ll get to later.  Yuuki was growling at the audience and demanding that we scream.  He pointed to the left and shouted for the left to scream, and then to the right, and then the back, the middle, and he stomped his feet until we satisfied him.

Now it was time for the final encore, literally.  The first song was -9-, which isn’t at all surprising because I’m pretty sure UnsraW would get rocks thrown at them if they didn’t play -9- at their final show.  -9- was very fun, of course, but I think it’s about time we get to Warai Oni, hmm?

As I mentioned in my last post, Warai Oni is the band’s interactive repeater song, which can last anywhere from five to fifteen minutes.  I guess the DVD can prove me wrong, but I’m fairly certain this particular Warai Oni went for over twenty minutes.  Seriously.  When Jin said they were gonna show us the “true meaning of UnsraW”… he wasn’t joking.  That 20+ minutes of Warai Oni that occurred at this show was the truest essence of UnsraW:

Pure.  Fucking.  Chaos.

When it started up, it seemed a lot like the Warai Oni of the previous night, with everyone jumping up and down excitedly while the entire band got a wicked look in its eyes.  However, when the actual repeater part of the song started up and everyone slammed forward into the dog pile, I suddenly noticed - through the heads and shoulders of the people I was crushed into - that Yuuki - whose coat was removed again - was right up at the front, holding two pistol-shaped, weapon-like things.  He had them crossed in front of his chest like some kind of Wild West gangster.  There was a loud bang as Yuuki shot them off, and insane amounts of silver streamers went flying out over the crowd.  We all got blasted in the face with them, and I was so shocked to suddenly have a bunch of silver stuff in my eyes that it took me a second to realize they came out of Yuuki's "guns."

Yuuki tossed the streamer-pistols aside and he and his band mates came rushing forward, ready to start fucking with the crowd.  Almost immediately, Madoka was yanking people forward into the pit (with a big smile on his face at last).  Jin and Tetsu were running back and forth, teasing the audience and letting people grab at their ankles.  The audience is supposed to slam forward in time to Yuuki's screams in Warai Oni, but most of the audience just threw themselves forward into a writhing mass, while the saizen girls were literally hanging themselves over the bar and shaking their hair around like crazy.  Yuuki was almost immediately putting his upper body out into the crowd and letting people grab at him.  That's when the chaos started.  The more people put their hands all over Yuuki, the more "violent" the look on his face got.  Soon, Yuuki was moving back and forth across the front of the stage, but instead of yanking people forward, it was like a wild fury took hold of him.  It's hard to describe but... it looked as if he was trying to "shred" the audience.  He would lean over the crowd, put his arms into the pit, and just start ripping at people.  He would grab at every arm or piece of clothing he could find and drag that person forward.  But he did it so rapidly, he looked almost like a dog digging frantically through a garden.  I saw him do this in some areas and thought, "wow, that looks both terrifying and exhilarating."  And then he came over to my area...

Honestly, it was crazy having that man tear up the audience right in front of you.  We all reached out to grab him, and it was hard to tell who was shredding who.  I remember Yuuki grabbing onto my arm and pulling me against the guy in front of me.  So I latched onto Yuuki's arm, and he responded by pulling me harder, until it felt like he was trying to rip my arm out.  The wild look in his eyes never diminished.  Meanwhile, everyone around me was groping frantically at Yuuki's arms and shoulders, and so did I.

Soon, Yuuki disappeared, and I thought maybe he was taking a break from everyone clawing at him.  Around that time, Madoka started throwing himself into the pit and stage-diving, and Tetsu started dragging people into the pit too.  There were times when Jin said "fuck it" to playing his bass and came up front to focus on riling everyone up.  There were also some times when Madoka literally just threw his guitar away so he could freely toss himself out into the crowd.  There was a huge smile on my face every time a band member came over to my area, when all of a sudden, a blast of cold, white mist shot into my eyes.  I felt really disoriented, blinking through the white stuff, before I managed to crane my neck and see Yuuki stomping up and down the front of the stage with a huge hose, shooting some kind of dry-ice at the audience.  It was like being blasted with a fire extinguisher!  I kept spluttering on the smoke, which meant opening my mouth and having to taste it.  It didn't taste too bad, but it was full of grainy, flaky stuff, which was kinda nasty.  But I didn't care, because Yuuki was purposely trying to make a mess out of us.  Yuuki was prowling around, shooting the dry-ice all over the crowd, and then sometimes at himself, and then back at us, all while shouting and snarling at the audience.  Madoka was just as excited as Yuuki, so he ran up to one of the microphones and started screaming at us too.  It was good to see, since Madoka choked at the microphones the previous night.  This time, instead of going quiet, Madoka was all like, "fuck yeah, raaaar!" and stuff.  If you want to see what this fire extinguisher thing looks like, Yuuki did something similar in 2007 for UnsraW's Screaming Birthday DVD.  I didn't want to post any footage from that DVD because it features the two older members (Jun and Rai) and they're irrelevant right now, but this is pretty good footage of the fire extinguisher.  Watch this clip of Warai Oni from 2:00-3:30 (or watch the whole thing if you find this kind of performance intriguing.  It's a great example of an interactive repeater song, and the fake blood is, uh... foreshadowing for later in this post.  Although, honestly, this video clip of Warai Oni from 2007 isn't nearly as insane or chaotic as the one I'm writing about) :

Anyways, so Yuuki "extinguished" the crowd for awhile, and by the time he was done, the audience had become as ravenously monstrous as him.  I remember something smashing down on top of my head as hard as possible and thinking, "sonnuva bitch!" until I realized people were crowd-surfing and rolling themselves across the top of the audience.  Then I realized some of those surfers were climbing up my back and using me as their ladder.  Fucking ow.  I must've gotten surfed on over twenty times, as several different girls rolled themselves over the crowd, kicking every head they passed.  UnsraW made no attempt to stop stirring the pot of chaos, and they were elbow-deep in the audience.  Yuuki was throwing water all over the place, drenching the crowd.  I even saw him shooting water at one of the crowd-surfers.

Eventually, Yuuki disappeared again.  Now I was onto him, and wondering what kind of trick he'd pull this time.  Well, Yuuki came back over to the front of the stage, and this time he was holding a cup.  A cup of red, gelatinous goop.  Suddenly, he was tipping his head back and dumping the bloody goop all over his face.  Yuuki shook his head like a dog, shooting flecks of "blood" everywhere as it ran down his face and neck and chest.  That was the point during the show in which everyone collectively said "fuck it" to everything.  Yuuki put his upper body out into the crowd again, blood dripping all over the place, and everyone latched on to every inch of him possible, even as red slop smeared all over their faces and arms.  I remember Yuuki grabbing onto my arm, and his hands were all slippery and sticky with the stuff, leaving the back of my hand and fingers completely covered in it.  Soon, Yuuki was dumping another cup of it over his head, flattening his hair and turning his face completely red.  Goop was dripping from his chin.  He dumped another cup of it right onto the crowd, getting everyone as sloppy as possible.  When he leaned back into the audience, people completely stopped trying to be modest or hold back.  People were running their hands over Yuuki's face, through his hair, all over his chest, smearing the red stuff everywhere.  At one point, Yuuki got up in my face and he had goop dripping from his chin.  Amused, I reached up, took him by the chin, and smeared the fake blood off.  There, now you look better.

It was pure insanity.  Yuuki used several more cups of fake blood, pouring it on himself and the crowd, and everyone in the first few rows was covered in it.  I had it all over my arms.  But then Yuuki came around, shooting water at everyone and washing a lot of the blood off the audience.  Then he started shooting water at his band mates too.  He ran over to the drum set and started threatening to throw water at Shou.  Poor Shou was pulling away with this look on his face like, "no, no, no...!"  Then Yuuki dumped a bottle of water on him, and Shou was like, "gaaaah" but laughed nonetheless.  Then Yuuki ran over to the left side and sprayed Jin with a bottle of water, soaking him all over.  Jin just laughed.  Then Yuuki crept up behind Tetsu and sprayed him, and Tetsu looked over his shoulder, annoyed, and turned away.  Oh, Tetsu, lol.  Wanting to get revenge for both himself and Tetsu, Jin grabbed a bottle and waited for the perfect moment to use it.  Honestly, Jin is a diabolical motherfucker.  Right after Yuuki drowned Tetsu, Yuuki threw his head back and screamed at the crowd.  When he did that, Jin snuck up behind him and poured a bottle of water right into his mouth.  Hahaha, what a bastard!  Yuuki spluttered a little but, thankfully, he didn't choke on it.  Then he turned around and gave Jin a look like, "what gives?!"  Jin just skittered away.  Around that time, Madoka failed to realize what Yuuki was doing and ran over to the left.  Run away, Madoka, Yuuki's on a water rampage!  Sure enough, while Madoka was playing up at the edge of the stage, Yuuki blasted him with a bottle of water.  Madoka, like Tetsu, just looked over his shoulder and turned away with an annoyed huff.  Unfortunately for Yuuki, as he was attempting to leave the left side, Madoka grabbed a bottle of water and soaked Yuuki from behind, smirking.  Man, it was Revenge Night!  Yuuki didn't even turn around.  I've always found it very strange and interesting that Yuuki and Madoka seem to be best friends for life offstage, but onstage they always 100% ignore each other.  Like, offstage they talk about each other like they're soul mates, but onstage it's like the other one doesn't even exist.  That was the first time I've ever seen those two interact onstage, and it was awkward as hell... but still pretty funny.

Anyways, Madoka kept going up to the microphone and screaming at the audience and trying to rile us up.  Crowd-surfers were tearing over the audience.  Meanwhile, Yuuki was all up in the crowd, getting groped all over.  He was clawing at his chest, and there was some real blood on his chest now, mixed up with all the fake blood.  Good thing he didn't wear his chest piercing at this show, although his nipple piercing and navel piercing were still intact.  No one held back anymore.  People were clutching at every inch of Yuuki and running their hands over his face and torso.  It was like we all knew he was leaving, and none of us wanted to let him go.  I found myself clutching his arm at one point when it dawned on me that this was UnsraW's last song ever.  I squeezed Yuuki's arm tightly, thinking, please don't go, please don't go!  His arm was nice and soft.  But soon enough, he was pulling out of the crowd, leaving gooey blood behind him and the audience.

And so began one of the most incredible moments of the night.  Break described it perfectly when she called it "Yuuki's deconstruction."  It technically started when he took off his coat, and now it was time to get serious.  First, he dumped a bottle of water over his face, letting it run over the fake blood.  Then he grabbed an UnsraW towel and began furiously wiping at his face, removing all the fake blood and dying the white part of the towel completely red.  At one point, he just draped the towel over his face and tilted his head back.  He stood like that for awhile, and then pried the towel off his face as if it weighed as much as a brick.  He came up to the front of the crowd and stared at all of us, but it was hard to say what his expression meant.  Then he looked angry very suddenly, and he ripped the mask off his face and threw it furiously into the crowd.  Dozens of hands went snatching after it.  The way Yuuki tossed the mask, it was as if it had burned him.  I always thought that mask covered very little of his face, but when he removed it, I realized just how much of his face was actually hidden.  After he removed the mask, he started furiously pulling his fake eyelashes off.  He threw those into the crowd too, then screamed at the audience to remove their own.  At first, I didn't even realize what Yuuki was trying to do.  Then Yuuki started digging around in his eyes, trying to remove his contacts, but I think he realized it was too hard to do onstage with one hand, so he gave up. But that's when I realized what Yuuki was doing.

He was obliterating and tearing down UnsraW's Yuuki... and just becoming Yuuki.

With his mask and eyelashes gone, Yuuki grabbed another towel and began furiously wiping all his make-up off.  The change in his face after he removed the eyelashes was incredibly extreme, and now that the make-up was gone, the face of a young man emerged from beneath the layers of grotesqueness.  Pictures of Yuuki without make-up are pretty rare, and he's always wearing sunglasses when he happens to get caught by a camera.  For most of the crowd, this was the first time seeing Yuuki completely "unmasked" like this.  The music was winding down at this point, and Yuuki was just standing there with one foot on the crate, make-up-less, flat-haired, and staring into the crowd.  His still-mismatched eyes were darting around the audience as if he was trying to make eye-contact with every last fan he saw.  The look on his face was almost surreal, and I couldn't possibly describe it.

When the song ended, Yuuki threw the UnsraW towel back over his face and held his arms up into the air.  Sad piano music began to play and the audience began cheering as Yuuki stood there, his face hidden.  The rest of the band raised triumphant fists at us.  Then Yuuki dropped to his knees and collapsed to the floor.  And he didn't get up.  He was completely hidden by the crate, and I couldn't see him at all, but his band mates didn't react to it, so I decided he was okay.  Shou came running out from behind his drum set, a huge smile on his face.  He ran back and forth across the front of the stage, his arm out so people could grab onto him.  He was kinda high-fiving some people while everyone cheered for him.  Then he stood there waving goodbye while grinning.  Tetsu also threw the horns and called out to us.  Madoka was just staring at the audience, a strange, unreadable expression on his face.  As for Jin....... we lost Jin.  He was at the back of the stage, facing away, clutching a towel over his face.  I'm 99% percent sure he was crying.  He was completely frozen, and he stayed there with the towel over his face the entire time the band was saying goodbye.  Of all the members of UnsraW, I honestly didn't expect Jin to be the one to cry.  It was shocking.

That was when the crushing horror came down upon me.  Some people in the audience were starting to cry, and Madoka was just staring out at us with a completely blank look on his face.  Shou seemed to sense the sadness beginning to wash over the audience, so he quickly waved his goodbyes, tossed some drumsticks, gave us a few more smiles, and left the stage.  Tetsu seemed in a hurry to run off too, so he just threw the horns at the left side of the crowd, tossed a couple pick, and then left the stage without a single glance at anyone else.  Yuuki was dragging himself to his feet around that point.  Madoka pretty much just turned around and left when Yuuki got up, and exited the stage with that same, strange look on his face.  The band looked completely overcome with emotion, and their hasty exit looked like someone trying to rip off a band-aid as fast as possible to avoid feeling the pain.  Many people were screaming for Yuuki, and I felt bad for his band mates that Yuuki was getting so much attention as they were saying goodbye.  But, again... this was really for him.  The rest of the band already said their goodbyes a year ago, and this show was for Yuuki to say farewell.  Jin was still in the back, crying, when Yuuki came forward.  His real face was exposed, and he was staring into the crowd.

Everyone started hysterically screaming Yuuki's name and pushing forward, and Yuuki just continued to look at us in silence.  I'll never forget that look on his face as long as I live.  It wasn't sad or happy or angry, it just was.  His eyes flicked back and forth across the audience, locking eyes with each and every person he saw.  His eyelids were lowered slightly, indicating maybe a drop of sadness, but, for the most part, the look on his face was simply resolved.  Finished.  And he was determined to look each of us in the eye, one by one.  There wasn't a single tear in his eyes, or even the tiniest sheen of sadness.  Before the show, I predicted he might cry, but he didn't look even close to tears.  Maybe some people in the audience thought he was a coward when he first broke up UnsraW, since he couldn't bring himself to show his face at the last shows.  But at this show, Yuuki stood there alone before us, and he faced each and every one of those fans with dry eyes.  The "yuu" in Yuuki's name means "bravery", and what he did at that show was incredibly brave.  He stood there without any make-up, with his true face showing, and he ended UnsraW without a single mask to hide behind.

For that, I can't possibly thank him enough.

By then, Jin was finished crying, and he came up to the front and we all yelled for him, but then he ran off the stage pretty fast too, leaving Yuuki all alone.  The look on Yuuki's face didn't waver, and he continued to stand there, just a normal man, silently watching the crowd scream and cry for him.  I wish I could describe his face.  It's burned into my memory forever, yet I don't have the words to describe the way Yuuki was looking at us.  There was... exhaustion on his face, and weariness.  But also a look of satisfaction and completeness.

Finally, Yuuki backed away.  He yelled something, I don't even know what.  Then he threw his towel into the crowd and headed to the back of the stage.  Before he left, he turned back around and completed his deconstruction before us.  He clutched the front of his shirt and tore it open like the Hulk, then threw it to the floor.  Then he stood there, bare-chested, covered in sweat and dried blood, his ribs showing through his skin.  Then he turned around and exited the stage.

The Gate of Death closed silently behind him.

There wasn't even a moment of silence.  The second Yuuki was gone, even over the sound of the piano music, the venue overflowed with the sound of sobbing.  Every single person around me was crying, some of them hysterically.  The girls in front of me were pressing their towels into their faces, and some girls dropped down into a crouch to cry into their knees.  As for me... I was just paralyzed, staring at the spot where Yuuki had just been.  I didn't cry, but I didn't feel like I could move either.  Just like that... he's gone...

MelJay was crying next to me, and Peachy was sniffling on my other side, but I just stood there.  Somewhere to my right, MelJay turned around and threw her arms around a Japanese girl who was sobbing hysterically.  Someone was hugging me, but I don't know if it was Break or Peachy, because I was too busy staring, unblinking, at the stage.  Somewhere in all that sobbing, a boy to my left screamed, "YUUKI, ARIGATOU!!!" ("YUUKI, THANK YOU!!!") as loud as possible.  Suddenly, everyone in the audience started screaming, "Yuuki, arigatou!" or "UnsraW, arigatou!" as loud as possible, and everyone started clapping.  I was able to come out of my paralysis long enough to scream "thank you" at them too, and then the clapping died down, and everyone began to back away.  Still, there were pockets of sobbing fans everywhere around us, and those who weren't crying just looked dazed.

I was just standing there, frozen yet again, when someone put a hand on my shoulder.  I think it was Peachy.  I turned around and hugged her, and whispered, "this is the definition of 'devastating.'"  I hugged MelJay too, and was starting to worry that I'd cry, when Break came over and made a joke about the "shiny-shit" all over the floor.  That got a laugh out of me, and Break started attempting to pick up the "shiny-shit", except it was all over the floor in these seemingly endless ribbons, and we couldn't figure out where the "shiny-shit" ended.  The shiny-shit jokes got me laughing, which was probably the best thing at that moment.  Thank you for making me smile, Break, it really helped.

But seriously, this stuff was everywhere.  In this picture, the shiny-shit was trailing all along the floor, and out into the hallway:

Peachy's in the background, and that's my arm in the front.  Thank you, Break, for the hilarious photo.
We joined the line for merch, because this would be our last chance to ever get any.  Unfortunately for MelJay, they were out of the t-shirts.  Sorry, MelJay.  I bought a bunch of cheki, even though I don't care about cheki, because I figured it would be the last possession I could ever have of UnsraW.  I was sad to see Yuuki smoking in both the cheki pictures I bought.  You said you quit, Yuuki!!!  And MelJay said she could smell cigarette smoke on your coat!  For shame!

Anyways, people were still crying, even in the merch line.  A group of sniffling girls recognized Peachy from some DIAURA shows.  The girls got big, teary smiles on their faces when they saw our whole group together.  We all kind of laughed about going to the same shows.  Whatever Japanese fans might think of us foreigners, I think we all became equals at the end of this show.  Clearly, we all felt the same thing, regardless of race or fandom.

When we finally got outside, people were standing around, and we decided to take some pictures by the bouquets.  A very nice Japanese fan took a picture of our whole group for us:

Me, MelJay, Break, Peachy
I'm not even sure how I managed that drop of a smile for that picture.  I still felt totally devastated.  We went off to a convenience store, where the very confused workers had to deal with girls covered in fake blood.  I still had it on my hands.  One girl came in with streaks of it down her face and timidly bought some wet wipes to clean up with.  The cashier was looking at her like she was crazy.  Also, we noticed that, in the SoyJoy section, every last strawberry SoyJoy was gone, but all the other flavors remained.  UnsraW fans, did you do this?!  How much strawberry SoyJoy do you think poor Yuuki can eat, lol?!

Anyways, so I have this very bad problem, and I've had it my whole life.  I tend to, um... mix up my emotions, or displace them horribly.  Like, if I'm sad about something, I might laugh, or if I'm happy about something, I might get bitchy, or if I'm angry about something, I might get depressed.  And sometimes, I'll displace an emotion onto the wrong thing.  Like, if I'm worried about something, I won't noticeably worry about that specific thing, but I'll fret about something totally unrelated.  Well, it's still a problem for me, so...

I wanted to use the bathroom, and there was only one person in line.  I really wanted to go, so I rushed over to the line as fast as I could.  The second I got there, however, about four people suddenly got in line ahead of me.  For a moment, I was just shocked, and then... I just burst into tears.  As I was crying, I was thinking idiotic things like "everything's broken forever!!!"  No, I wasn't crying about the bloody bathroom, it's just that I didn't manage to cry at the appropriate time, back in the venue.  MelJay was quick to comfort me, since she's used to my behavior and knew I most definitely wasn't crying about the bathroom.  But it was really embarrassing, and probably looked really silly.  Thankfully, since all the UnsraW fans in the convenience store looked pretty fucked up, I probably didn't stand out too badly.

I couldn't bring myself to eat, even though it was already after 10:00 (seriously the show went on for almost three hours, probably because of Warai Oni), but MelJay forced a drink on me and we sat on the curb outside, being depressed and watching all the other UnsraW fans standing around drinking and looking sad.  Eventually, we saw the EDGE staff come outside to unload the pieces of Shou's dismantled drum set.  I couldn't even look at it.  We just stood up and walked away.

We said goodbye to Peachy at the station while MelJay and I returned to our hostel.  On the way, we stopped off and got some easy-to-eat food and some Smirnoff Ice.  We purposely got a private room in the hostel a few weeks in advance, since we knew it would be a hard night.  While we were in our room, we took our Smirnoff Ices and decided to have a toast.  But... a toast to what?  I mean, we could've had a toast to UnsraW but... UnsraW was over.  With a sad smirk on my face, I said, "well, at least you got to see the Big Guy truly being big."  MelJay agreed.  With a shrug, we clinked our bottles together and toasted "to the Big Guy."

Many days have passed since the final show, but Yuuki finally appeared on his nearly-abandoned blog to write a message.  I decided to translate it, although I apologize if there are any errors on my part.  Here's what Yuuki had to say:

The Living Proof

UnsraW First LIVE
Gate of Death
Before death, UnsraW was born.

Gate Of Birth
“With this hand, I shall crush UnsraW.”
Before the ruins of everything I destroyed…

I give the first cries of the newborn UnsraW to you all and ask

That you please take UnsraW into your hearts and raise it with great care for me,

So that a bright light will shine before the "Gate of Death."

Even more than death, life is a heavy, painful, bitter thing.

If you die, there is nothing.

What remains is only sadness and trouble for those around you, which can never be swept away.

Only that.

I want you to never forget the joy of having
Clothing, food, and shelter.

I only have one request for you all.

“To be alive”
“Right now”
“This second”

“ a given.”

Please don’t think life is merely a given.

All living things must come to an end.
That’s destiny.

Not just humans,
But grass, and trees, and flowers, and even the Earth.

Your beloved band can die too.

Your best friend.

Your lover.

And even your family.

It’s a cruel thing but,
That’s reality.


To give up on life is easy.

In life, the most bitter, painful, agonizing thing is
I think.

I haven’t lived for very long, but that’s what I believe.

Because of that,

No matter how painful,
Or how bitter,
So that I won’t have any regrets,
“This very moment”
Will be precious.

Please continue to live in this world with me, okay?

I’m here for you all.

For those of you who supported UnsraW these last six years,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

- Yuuki

P.S. Thank you for all the emails and letters. 
From now on, I’m going to keep this blog alive as long as possible.
From now on, more than ever, let your voices resound to me.

Because all of them, all of them, reach me.

Thank you, Yuuki, for everything.  Thank you for coming back and giving UnsraW the proper burial it deserved.  When UnsraW broke up, I understood why you couldn't show yourself, yet I couldn't shake the feeling that UnsraW's ending was "wrong."  It's one thing for a band to end with a missing member, but Yuuki... you were the creator, the music writer, the lyricist, the hand that turned the crank of the entire machine.  To end UnsraW without you would be like shoving a headless corpse onto the stage to say goodbye.  So thank you for coming out two final times and looking each of us in the eye.  You faced us without a single tear of regret, and you gave us the farewell that we, and your band, deserved.  I hope you had a good time, maybe enough to want to be a vocalist again someday.  Talent in indies is so hard to come by now, but you... you were special.  You had a vision, and you stuck to it in this scene of glass-eyed puppets and hand-painted marionettes.  You had a passion that few performers could ever match, and you made me so happy.  Your band... is probably the only indies band I would ever say I "loved."  Not enjoyed or liked, but loved.  I've been trying to fill that hole UnsraW left behind with the hundreds upon hundreds of indies bands I go to see... but none of them can ever come close.  I just keep filling this jar with useless, rusted pennies, hoping it'll simulate the satisfaction I once had.

Even if I could only be an UnsraW fan for a year before its disbandment, it was an amazing year.  I learned that even a small indies band can be meaningful, and that something amazing still existed in the sinking ship of the visual-kei industry.  Yuuki, Madoka, Jin, Shou, Tetsu... I hope you all go on to do something wonderful, regardless of whether or not it's on a stage...  The Gate of Death is closed, but maybe another gate can finally open for you all.  I wish you luck and happiness wherever you wind up, and I'm thankful for everything you've done up until now.   

And for making me feel anything at all, even sadness, even for two nights... that means more to me than a hundred concerts ever could.