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.