Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DEZERT's First One-Man + DEZERT In-Store Event

So, so, so sorry I took so long to post the DEZERT one-man even though it was only a day after the MEJIBORN show.  See, there were two problems.  1) I realized it would be more efficient to wait until I’d gone to the DEZERT in-store event the following Sunday and then write about both of the events together, and 2) I’ve been too busy at work to write, and too busy with my social life after work to write.  When I’m not in class, I’m doing mindless chores likes spending hours signing and stamping hundreds of spelling bee awards or grading literally hundreds of practice exams, and I’m actually fairly close to cracking up.  Like, I get it, it’s my job, but the demands just never stop lately, and seem completely senseless.  I frequently tell my coworkers something is a bad idea, am forced to do it anyways, and then spend twice as long fixing what inevitably went wrong.  Finding time to write these days is really hard, and it doesn’t help that this blog isn’t the only thing I write.  I’m hoping things will calm down in the next week or two so I can start posting on this blog closer to actual event times.  Cuz sometimes I feel like I’m being rude making people wait so long for posts I promised.

Whatever, tl;dr.  This is a double-post of DEZERT:

So let’s start with the one-man itself.  The show was at Ikebukuro BLACKHOLE, which I haven’t been to in ages, so my friends and I (including our n00b fan H) met up in Ikebukuro to do the usual dull crap we do, like family restaurants and what have you.  Fascinating, I know, but its best to avoid too much walking before a show.

Around 3:00, DEZERT decided to open up the venue for early merch sales.  There was nothing I wanted, being the stingy bastard that I am, but we went to the venue anyways cuz MelJay wanted some stuff.  I’m glad we went, though, cuz it gave me a chance to take a picture of the band’s epic flower bouquets from the fans.  These bouquets are, hands down, the most impressively epic gawth bouquets I’ve ever seen at a show. 

Here’s the first one, from “all” the fans:

And this one here is from only two fans, because they’re special snowflakes or something:

I feel like this must've taken an obscenely long amount of time to make.
Aren’t the bouquets cool?  I’m glad I had the chance to get daytime photos of them.  Unfortunately, the only thing I had interest in doing with merch was exchanging a ticket I got for buying one of their singles.  The ticket could only be handed in at the one-man show, and in exchange you’d get a free CD with a new song.  Unfortunately, when I got to the booth, they told me I could only exchange the coupon after the show.  What kinda bullshit is that?!  So yay me, I got to wait in line twice in one day.  Sigh.

After merch was over, we still had a couple hours to kill, which found us chilling in a Mos Burger (but we just got drinks) over by Romance Road.  Yes, there is actually a Romance Road in Ikebukuro.  Now you know.  I saw some DEZERT fans wearing DEZERT t-shirts wandering around that area too.  I guess it makes sense that bored souls would stagger around Romance Road when there’s nothing better to do.  I jokingly referred to it as Forever Alone Road.

Anyways, let’s get on with the show.  We went back to the venue and went inside when our numbers were called.  Then we joined the crowd and stood about halfway back, waiting for the show.  First thing a lot of us noticed was the monster drum set up there.  It as different from Sora’s usual, borrowed drum set, obviously.  This thing was a beast, with limbs splayed all over the stage.  Would he even need that much drum set…?

Demographics, um… largely female, with a few scattered sausages here and there.  A lotta “dark”-looking chicks.  There was an obvious band standing behind the barrier in the back watching the show.  They were doing a terrible job of hiding their VK hair and piercings, but I couldn’t figure out who they were.  Several girls went over to them and were like, “squee, aren’t you ____________?!”  VK ninja fail.

When the lights went down and the show finally started (less than ten minutes late, not bad for a one-man), there was a new intro of some sort, kinda dark and epic sounding.  The band came on stage one by one, but they pumped so much fucking smoke up there, it was hard to see them until the intro was over. 

As for the band members, we’ve got Sora on the drums, with really weird purple/silver/brown hair.  Then there’s Kira on guitar, and his hair’s just weird looking right now – like he mis-shaved and put it into a ponytail to hide it.  SaZ is on bass, and he wasn’t wearing his ninja clothing.  His face was exposed, and he had blue lipstick.  He also had a large clump of black hair flat-ironed over his face into a single canvas, upon which he’d somehow drawn/dyed white paisley designs.  It honestly took me a good five minutes to realize it was SaZ’s hair, and not a bandana.  Last but not least is Chiaki on vocals.  He had rather toned down make-up, but was sporting some nice red lipstick.

The band launched right into their Garnet rip-off song, which kinda made me laugh, but at least it’s a kinda “hard-core” song to start on.  I was wondering what the hell DEZERT was gonna do, to be honest.  I mean, did they really have enough songs to fill a freakin’ one-man?  They’ve only released five or six songs, and they only have maybe another six or seven that haven’t been released, from what I can tell.  I figured they’d have no choice but to blow forty minutes on repeater songs.

Anyways, the setlist got off to a rather rocky start, to be honest.  It was very slow.  DEZERT crammed a lot of similar songs with similar furi together, so it was getting kinda dull.  They seemed a little nervous too, but I can understand that.  It’s their first one-man.  I understand that creating a full setlist and being awesome for a full show can seem like a very daunting task for a new band.  They’ve only been around for a year, and they’ve been DEZERT for less time than that (as you might recall, the band was called ACID CHERRY KING the first time I saw them live, and they had a different drummer).

There isn’t much to say about the first half of the show.  It went along very similarly to a normal event show.  A couple new songs happened.  They played this one new song called Chocolate Cream Chainsaw.  I’m not even kidding.  Considering the band’s name is pronounced like “dessert,” they used to have “cherry” in their name, and they have a single called “Boku no Himitsu to Reizouko” (“My Secret and Refrigerator”), I’m starting to notice a trend.  So is that the secret in the refrigerator?  That they keep a chocolate cream chainsaw in there?  How exactly does one even use a chocolate cream chainsaw?  Is it a chainsaw used to cut through chocolate cream, or a chainsaw made of chocolate cream?  I’m picturing a lot of delicious, chocolaty splatter.  Anyways, the song is pretty fun live, and it sounds like it’s gonna be on their next release.  DEZERT also played a new ballad but… it was, um… a bit out of place.  It sounded like a generic boy band pop song, which was really bizarre.  Like, I have nothing against ballads, but this was literally a pop song.  I guess DEZERT’s trying to add some variety, but the song just felt really weird and sudden and incongruous in their otherwise “hardcore” setlist.

The show was cut in half by a drum solo from Sora that went on for about twenty minutes.  However, I think Sora’s drum solo was the highlight of the entire freaking show, and the source of my biggest frustration with this post.  I have absolutely no idea how to transmit the solo into words, and it makes me crazy.  But I guess… I have no choice but to try.

So the band left the stage while Sora started tapping out the obvious beginnings of a solo.  The solo built up, getting more intense and complicated by the second.  I looked to see what drummer MelJay thought of the solo.  Normally, she just smiles in amusement when a drummer is, well… he’s tryin’, ya know?  That look happens a lot.  Or she grins if a drummer is doing something unexpectedly interesting.  She nods along if a solo is “decent enough.”  I know the MelJay Drum Solo Code.  For this solo, however, I could see her delight turning to excitement turning to explosive joy as Sora’s solo got more complex and more insane.  He was all over the set like an octopus, smashing out faltering yet on-beat rhythms, constantly shifting tempos and intensity levels.  It was absurdly exciting, like a rollercoaster ride through every possible drumming form, drum piece, pedal, rhythm… and then, suddenly, as Sora was in the midst of smashing the shit out of that monster set, everything momentarily halted, and Sora began cheerfully tapping out the George of the Jungle theme on these tiny, cymbal-like drum extensions (MelJay says they’re called temple blocks).  The audience burst out laughing.

The rest of the solo teetered back and forth between crazy death metal drumming and adorable little tunes on tiny cymbals and bells (all of them were well-known tunes we could clap along to).  It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  The audience clapped along to a lot it (prompted by Sora knocking his drum sticks together over his head), but it was hard to keep clapping with the constantly changing tempo and the fact that we were all laughing too hard.  Sora was being a total ham, and paused the solo to tell us he wanted us to scream his name.  Then he would hit the drums and wait for us to scream “SORA!”  Naturally, he was like, “that was pathetic” the first time (the first one really was, cuz we weren’t all sure what we were supposed to do).  But after the first few hits, our shouts got louder and louder, until we were like, “SORAAAAA!”  Once we reached a good level, Sora would hit the drums, we’d shout, “SORA!”, and Sora would moan, “kimochi iiiiiii!” which means, “feels gooooooood!”  Freaking weirdo.

Anyways, for the last half of the solo, Sora tied it all together.  They played the band’s creepy intro as background music while Sora continued to smash out a crazy, amusement park-style solo.  He also had us shouting along as he played, and he even incorporated the cute little cymbals and bells into the solo itself, instead of using them as comic relief.  The whole solo was extremely double-bass-tastic.  It was honestly one of the craziest indies-show-things I’ve seen.  One of my pet peeves is when a drummer puts an insane-looking monster drum set on stage to show off, then doesn’t use (or possibly can’t use) all the pieces.  Because then you know they’re just trying to look cool, but they don’t have any skills to back it up.  I’ve seen this happen at too many American music festivals.  But Sora actually used the whole set to its maximum potential, and it was awesome.  If we weren’t already standing, Sora probably would’ve gotten a standing ovation.

As the solo ended, the rest of the band returned to the stage one-by-one.  SaZ came back and did a bass section with Sora while trying to make us rhythmically shout with him.  That went on for awhile before Kira joined in.  Kira was being shy as usual, so he only did the shouting for a minute before passing the whole section back to SaZ.

Other stuff, other stuff…  There were a couple MCs.  The first one had the squeaky, silly voice talking instead of Chiaki.  I don’t really remember much from that MC, but it was actually pretty amusing, even though I normally find the pre-recorded MC kinda stupid.  The squeaky voice kept making us yell really dumb crap.  Later on, there was an MC where the band actually talked for real.  They each spoke one by one.  As usual, Kira was far too terrified and panicked-looking to say much more than, “thank you.”  Sora, on the other hand, continued to ham it up.  When it was his turn, he rose slowly from behind the drum set and went, “da da da daaaaa!  Sora desu!” (“I’m Sora!”).  My friends and I were making fun of that all night.  Sora was much chattier than Kira, surprise, surprise.  Chiaki didn’t have much to say, other than announcements and stuff, but when it was SaZ’s turn to talk, Chiaki made sure to interrupt him and banter with him as much as possible.  Those two work better as a team.  Chiaki made a joke about SaZ’s hair, and SaZ told us it took two freaking hours to get the flat-ironing and paisley-drawing perfect.  That’s some serious hair dedication there.  Sora interrupted them and talked a lot too, while Kira stood there looking like a terrified kitten caught in a windstorm.

Back to the show… the last half was when things finally got crazier.  They played the song Himitsu, which is the one with the circular headbanging part and the part where we all drop to our knees and headbang on the floor.  A lot of side-to-side went on too.  Unlike the MEJIBORN show from the day before, the DEZERT fans were either not as coordinated as the BORN and MEJIBRAY fans, or were simply too excited.  We had several wipe-outs.  I didn’t really mind, though, I just hopped along on my way.  There’s one song they have where it’s not even meant to go from side-to-side.  We’re all supposed to push and shove and mosh around in a big, disjointed mess.  Once I realized what we were supposed to do, I just laughed and started shoving too.  My friend H joined in because she has magical perfect-participation-despite-being-new-powers.

And, of course, there was the dog-piling.  It was less chaotic and “violent” than usual, which I think was a combination of the band’s nerves and the fact that we had a very large audience.  For the first several rounds, the band seemed very reluctant to deal with the crowd, and I think it might be because such a large mass of girls scrambling at the front of the stage was intimidating to them.  After awhile, however, the band started to join the fray.  Eventually, SaZ jumped the stage – surprise, surprise – and went running straight for the back.  I didn’t have to deal with the SaZ Monster personally, since he wasn’t interested in roughing up people who were already fully participating.  But I glanced back a few times and saw him dragging out people who were standing in the back and trying to get them into the mess.  Chiaki and Kira put their arms into the crowd a bit, although they were also somewhat cautious (okay, I guess Kira is always cautious).  It was hard too, cuz everyone was wet and slippery.  A few times, Chiaki or Kira would grab my arm, and then I’d slip right out of their hands like prison soap.  At one point, Kira grabbed my hand and then, having no idea what he should do with it, shook my hand like he was making me go, “yaaaaaay!”  Wow, Kira… very hard-core.

At some point in all that, SaZ decided to take the microphone and try to rile us up.  He wound up saying one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.  See, here’s the thing with SaZ…  Like, I don't think I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog because it’s not important, and it shouldn’t matter, but… SaZ is kinda… how do I put this lightly…?  SaZ is a larger fellow.  Like, not height wise but… y’know…  Anyways, SaZ grabbed the microphone and was like, “I want you all to scream so loudly you manage to shake my body!  And that’s not easy, cuz I’m a big guy!  ………..Look, I like food, alright?!  Food is delicious!”

I was completely shocked by SaZ’s words.  Like, it’s kind of unusual to have a larger man in the visual-kei scene, but practically unheard of for him to admit it.  Musicians’ weight is one of the ultimate taboos in VK.  But y’know what, I say good for SaZ.  If he makes jokes about it, then he owns those jokes, and no one can use them against him.  Better to seize control of the situation than let people think their words can hurt him.  For his troubles, I tried to scream loud enough to shake his body.

Anyways, soon enough, we wrapped up the dog piling and finished up the show.  As we wound down, Chiaki spat water at us.  Then he tried to force a water bottle into Kira’s mouth, but Kira nearly had a seizure with panic, and Chiaki wound up having to just hand him the damn bottle.  Geez, Kira.  I’m gonna start saying “geez, Kira” to a lot of things.  Sora came out and threw a lot of drum sticks.  SaZ also stole some of Sora's drum sticks and threw them.  H, being a boss, managed to catch one of SaZ's.  That thing was beaten to holy hell, and so splintered I wouldn’t have been surprised if it broke in half eventually.  Sora also brought out a full bag of newer sticks and tossed those.  Peachy got one of those.  Then the band said their goodbyes and left.  It looked like there could’ve maybe been an encore, but the audience wasn’t so great at yelling, so even if there was a small chance, it didn't happen.  The show was pretty short – only about an hour and forty-five minutes – but that’s to be expected when a band practically has no music.  I didn’t mind, though.  It was a long weekend and I was tired, and I was satisfied with the show.

Afterwards, we had to rejoin the merch line, which was so long we had to stand outside the venue to get through it.  Then I was able to finally exchange my damn ticket for the free song.  After that, we took off and got food and gazed in awe at H’s nearly shattered drum stick.  It’s like Sora was beating boulders with that thing.

Anyways, a week after the show was the DEZERT in-store event. 


This was one of the band’s first, in fact.  I had a ticket for it because I bought a single at Jishuban Club.  So the event was at Jishuban Club, obviously.  MelJay and I were the only two in our posse that went.

Unfortunately, it was rainin’ balls that day, which made everything wet and disgusting.  By the time 5:00 rolled around, the thought of sitting on the floor for an event made me want to puke.  They herded us all inside (there were about sixty of us) and gave us these little foam puzzle pieces to sit on, although it didn’t help much.  There were wet umbrellas all over the floor and everyone had to clutch their wet bags and purses on their laps.  Bleeeagh.

The crowd was entirely female, mostly on the darker side, with some random lolitas and stuff thrown in.  These two blond girls came in wearing Cheshire Cat pajamas (head-to-toe costumes, technically) and surgical masks.  They sat down right in the front like special flowers.

Eventually, the band entered the store while their intro music played.  None of them were wearing any make up, meaning they looked like adorable little kids instead of "scary" band men.  Sora came first, followed by Chiaki wearing a surgical mask, followed by Kira.  They took their seats, and the guy running the event began explaining how it would all go down.  There was to be a Q&A section, followed by each of us taking a picture with the band.  We were also told we’d be allowed to choose which band member we sat next to for the picture.  I hate that kinda choosing bullshit, so I inwardly cringed.

Of course, everyone was wondering where the hell SaZ was.  The band members introduced themselves one by one, then apologized profusely, saying SaZ would be late for undisclosed reasons, and that they would carry on just as the three of them.  Then they apologized again.  Chiaki also apologized for his surgical mask.  See, without really thinking about the ramifications, Chiaki had his wisdom teeth taken out a few days earlier.  Apparently, his fans sent him a bunch of messages telling him, “don’t do it until after the in-store, you’ll look all fucked up!”  Unfortunately, according to Chiaki, he didn’t think of that and didn’t see the fan messages until after the surgery.  He told us that, under the mask, he looked like the Japanese children’s television character Anpanman:

...........I sure hope not.

Anyways, the Q&A session was set up in an anonymous way.  Our in-store tickets came with a survey where we could fill out some opinions on DEZERT and then put a question at the end.  I didn't bother, but pretty much everyone else did.  So the guy running the event just picked up the surveys one by one and directed the questions at the band.  Of course, I can’t possibly remember all the questions, or who answered what, but I’ll go over the highlights and what I do remember.

Also, to set the atmosphere of this entire thing, picture a table with three make up-less men facing about sixty girls.  On the far right, Sora is sitting there acting very calm and cool, while Chiaki sits beside him, looking equally unabashed.  But beside Chiaki sits the Human Earthquake.  Kira… Kira might seriously suffer from an anxiety disorder, and it’s even worse when he’s offstage and outside his element.  He was literally twitching, and I’m not speaking in hyperbole about this.  His whole body twitched and jerked for the entire hour like he was wearing a mild shock collar.  Even stranger, he had this bizarre and inexplicable cycle.  Every few minutes, his whole body would shudder, and all his hair would fall in front of his face.  Then he would try to brush all the hair away, but his hand was shaking really badly for the first twenty minutes or so (the shaking eventually stopped, thank goodness).  But after pushing his hair back, it would only take another minute or so before Kira would shiver and wind up buried under his bangs again.  He wouldn’t look at the audience, and any time a question was directed at him, he would turn all the way to the side and speak only to the event organizer.  Honestly, he answered all his questions calmly and even goofed off a few times, but that didn’t stop him from looking like he was thirty seconds away from fainting or exploding.  I found myself transfixed by him for most of the event, but whether it was due to pity or fascination, I have no idea.  All I have to say is: “geez, Kira.”

So the first question was kinda weird.  The question was: “is there any member of the band you guys hate?”  I was disgusted by the question, and the band members looked at each other like, “uuuuh…”  Then one of the Cheshire Cat girls was like, “it’s SaZ isn’t it?”  After some awkward squirming from the band, the girl stood up, turned to the crowd, and was like, “ta da!” 

Yeah.  It was SaZ the whole time, disguised by the Cheshire Cat costume, the surgical mask, and a long, blond, pigtailed wig.  For fuck’s sake, freakin’ weirdo.  The other cat girl turned out to be their make up artist, who promptly bowed and left the store to clapping from the fans.  So now we get to continue the Q&A with all the members of DEZERT, and one of them is dressed like a deranged cat… girl.

Stuff I remember from the Q&A:

·      SaZ was the captain of the baseball team at his high school.  One of the others – I believe it was Chiaki – was also the captain of a sports team in high school, and it turned out all the members of DEZERT were really, really into sports when they were younger.  Sora was on the basketball team and in the school's band.  The event organizer seemed really surprised by all this.  I guess you just don’t normally picture goths throwing down their guitars and grabbing tennis rackets.  Apparently all of DEZERT had to have buzz cuts for their sports, too, which seemed to embarrass them to no end.  Chiaki tried to say he had long hair, but eventually had to admit he had a buzz cut like the rest of them. 

·      Collectively, the band’s favorite food is sushi.  SaZ kept insisting the whole band also loves natto (fermented soy beans), while Sora kept wailing about how much he absolutely despises and hates natto.  For whatever reason, SaZ ignored this and continue to insist that they all love natto because all Japanese people love natto.  Sora looked like he wanted to vomit and was making the most disgusted face I’ve ever seen.  Sora also claims he once ate thirty-nine plates of sushi (that’s seventy-eight pieces of sushi).  The band looked at him in disbelief, and I’m still convinced he’s making it up.  You would fucking explode if you attempted that.  Oh, and DEZERT all love peaches (which is "momo" in Japanese), and somehow that caused a couple of the boys to start singing "momomomomomo" for no reason.  Yeah, they emphasized many times that they all fucking love peaches.

·      As expected, the “what kind of girl do you like?” and “what kind of woman do you want to marry?” bullshit questions came up.  I don’t remember much because I find that an overwhelmingly dull topic and I zoned out pretty badly (seriously, the talk went on for at least ten minutes), but I do remember SaZ acting all pathetic and being like, well if someone wanted to marry him somehow, he would want to marry a woman with a lot of lip and mouth piercings.  Kira’s answer was pretty funny.  He was like, “I like meat.”  And of course we were all like, “oooookay.”  And then he was like, “so I like meat, right?”  Yyyyeah……?  “So I wanna marry a woman who’s really good at making steak!”  Ah.  Thank you, Kira, for finally clearing that up.

·      One question asked if DEZERT are fans of Korn, which I thought was a strangely specific yet somehow relevant question.  The organizer asked if we were all familiar with Korn, and it seemed most of the crowd was, although a few looked unsure.  Sora said he enjoys Korn and listens to them from time to time.  Chiaki, on the other hand, said he barely knows them and doesn’t really listen to them because he only listens to pop music.  Yeah, seriously.  The audience looked like WTF.  So yeah, Chiaki only listens to pop music.  Kira, on the other hand, said he also likes Korn, and Sora pestered him into standing up and doing his best Korn impersonation.  I thought Kira would explode into a million quivering pieces if asked to stand up, but he actually took the whole thing in stride.  He stood up, looking awkward and uncomfortable for a moment, before grabbing an air guitar and rocking band and forth, throwing his hair in front of his face the way Korn does.  It was pretty funny, and we all laughed.  As for SaZ, he says he loooooooves Korn (full-blown “daisuki”), which is not at all surprising because his bass-style has that same thick-and-heavy sound that Korn is famous for.  SaZ also got up and did an impression of Korn by grabbing an invisible microphone and headbanging under his Cheshire Cat hood.  He seemed extremely excited about discussing Korn, but cut himself off before it got out of hand.

·      There was also a question about Disney.  All of DEZERT likes Disney, except or SaZ, who says he doesn’t like it at all and thinks it’s kinda stupid.  Naturally, Sora pointed out that the pink and purple Cheshire Cat is, um, y’know… a Disney character.  SaZ was quite surprised.  He had no idea, seriously.

·      DEZERT was also asked what their favorite Ghibli film is.  I believe Chiaki said Princess Mononoke, and he was very serious about this, and said his first crush was the girl in the movie.  No, really.  Kira said his favorite is My Neighbor Totoro, and they made him do his best Totoro impersonation, which was… well, I’ve heard better, but the fact that Kira did it without having a heart attack was a step in the right direction, even if he still wouldn’t face the audience while doing it.  Oh, Kira.  You are a spaz.

What else did I learn…?  I’m drawing a blank…   A lot of the questions went on for quite awhile, but if the answers went on too long, SaZ had no problem cutting off his band mates and being like, “whatever… NEXT!”  He’s such a bossy-cow, or bossy-cat, or whatever.  Sora was getting bored a lot, and the store was playing their music in the background, so Sora kept hand-drumming on the table and nodding along to the songs.  I guess I don't blame him - in-stores must be hella boring for bands.  

 Well, that’s pretty much the gist of the kinds of questions they got, and the kinds of answers they gave.  It was all pretty amusing, although my attention span is extremely short at these kinds of things and I found myself fidgeting and staring around the room instead of the band (I really only went to the event because the ticket was free).  At one point, I finally looked back at the band and saw Sora had his head on the table, but I still don’t know why.  Sorry if this post isn’t all that great, but I’m notoriously bad at things like in-store events.  I just… I just don’t pay attention well when I’m being talked at, and I get bored fast.  This one actually wasn’t boring at all, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t often have to snap myself awake when I realized I was gazing at a poster on the wall instead of paying attention.

Well, let’s get to the most amusing part.  After the Q&A was over, it was picture time.  We all lined up outside in order (I was #30, but MelJay chickened out and made me take her #29 instead).  I was looking forward to the photo in that it might be funny, but dreading it in that I absolutely hate having to pick a “favorite member.”  Despite what you’d think from the way I write on this blog, I’m actually a big softie.  I might sound caustic and snappy, but I really can’t handle actual meanness.  The thought of the other three members having their feelings hurt because I didn’t choose them was too much to bear (especially since I think they subconsciously keep a tally of which member gets chosen the most out of all of them).  I needed to come up with a way to keep anyone from getting hurt… but how…?

Finally, it was my turn.  Along with the other fans, I politely turned away from the windows and didn’t spy on anyone having their picture taken inside.  So when I went inside, I had no idea what to expect.  A woman took all my bags and luggage as I went in, and I caught the tail end of the previous fan leaving.  When the band turned around and saw me, however, it was pretty funny.  I wasn’t actually the first foreigner in there, because there were a couple other foreigners at the event who were farther up in the line.  But I’ve been around since DEZERT first started and had no fans and a different band name, so they probably recognized me.  They all went “uwoooah!” at the sight of me (anyone who’s seen a Japanese movie or anime probably knows the sound I’m referring to).  I was horribly embarrassed, so I just bowed my head over and over, laughing, and made my way over.  Almost immediately, they started saying “thank you” in English, but I have no idea why.

And then, almost immediately, Sora was like, “so who do you wanna sit next to?”

But I had a game plan.  At first, I went, “ah, wakarimasen!” (“I don’t know!”) to make it look like I was panicking, even though I knew exactly what to do.  Then I suddenly put on a stern face and said, “okay!”  In response, Chiaki and Sora went, “whoa!” as if I’d said something really awesome.  Then I held up a finger, pointed at SaZ, and went, “eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers let him go, eeny, meeny, miny, moe!”

Yeah, that’s right.  I eeny meeny miny moe-ed DEZERT to their faces, hahaha.  Sora went “whoa!” again when I started, and then the four of them watched in utter fascination as I pointed at each of them in turn, playing Fate Roulette to see who would win the coveted prize of having to be within touching distance of me.  DEZERT was gaping at me like I was performing some kind of intricate witch craft.  Seriously, they were fascinated.  As the chant rounded down, it was like, “SaZ, Chiaki, Kira, Sora, SaZ… Chiaki… Kira… Sora… SaZ………. Chiaki……………. Kira…………………………..”


Yeah.  Fate Roulette landed me on the Human Earthquake.  For a moment, all I could think was, “oh shit, I just killed Kira, didn’t I?”  But you know what?  That’s not how it went at all.  Kira’s face actually lit up like he’d just won the lottery, and he was like, “yeah!” and lunged down into the seat.  The others were all like, “yeah!” too, but I don’t know why.  They just threw around as much random “English” as they could. 

So I sat down in the chair next to Kira while the camera lady got ready to snap the polaroid.  To be funny, I held up my thumb in an exaggerated, Western-style thumbs up.  I didn’t know what the others behind me were doing, but I knew what Kira doing.  He practically threw himself sideways into me, put his arm around my back, and put me in a weird peace sign bear-hug.  I’ll be honest, I was completely thrown off.  Kira went from a trembling train wreck, to suddenly squeezing up against me like he was staving off hypothermia.  It actually kinda freaked me out instead.  I kinda… I don’t really like being touched.  Like, it really bugs me.  Weird, I know, since I’m always in crowded concerts, but that’s anonymous touching.  This was Kira-touching.  I had to grind my teeth together to keep from flinging myself out of the seat in surprise.  Kira squeezed up on me so much I could feel him breathing, which made me wanna flip the chair and run away.  Waaaaay too close, buddy.  But I forgave him, because it was nice to see him come out of his shell and be outgoing for ten seconds.

Would you like to see the hilarious result of this awkward Fate Roulette photo?  Ta da!

Yeah, that’s my panic-smile.  And there’s Kira trying to murder me with feels.

Also for fun, I stole MelJay’s picture too:

According to MelJay, she also couldn't choose a favorite, so when she didn't know, SaZ volunteered himself, lol.  We always stand on his side, so I guess it makes sense.
When my picture was done, Kira pulled away, but his freaking hand slid all the way across me when he moved.  Down, boy.  Down.  I stood up, and by that point I think I was the color of a tomato.  The band kept saying, “thank you, thank you” over and over in English and bowing their heads at me.  Dorks.  I thanked them as well and said, “you’re welcome” for humor’s sake, and then scampered out of there like my pants were on fire.

Honestly, it was awkward as hell, but completely hilarious.  Afterwards, MelJay and I ran off to a Tully’s Coffee and sat there laughing our asses off at the polaroids.  Now I have pocket-sized hilarity to take with me wherever I want.

And that was my double-weekend with DEZERT!  Hope it was a good read despite the delay!  A huuuuge special thanks to MelJay for proof-reading this post and helping me put in some of the random loose ends I forgot.  I frequently have to use her like a USB.

Next up is the DIAURA/BORN two-man this weekend, but be warned: it’s a Sunday show, so I’ll probably miss at least half of BORN, and probably all the amusing two-man shenanigans.  Sorry about that.  But I’ll try to stay for as much as I can.

The following weekend after that I have a bit of an adventure in store, too!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BORN, MEJIBRAY Two-Man, 9/15

After a bit of a pause, it’s time for another indies show!  Today we’re tackling a two-man event with a brief opening band.  The two bands were MEJIBRAY and BORN, which is why the show was appropriately given the name MEJIBORN by just about anyone involved in or attending the performance.  So let’s go check out some MEJIBORN.

For starters, I used MEJIBORN as the “gateway drug” of choice for my friend H, who came up on the blog back during the Yagibushi Festival.  She teaches English is the same city as me, and I kinda sorta accidentally maybe somehow got her interested in BORN, but finding a decent show for her to go to was kinda tricky.  Eventually, I decided a two-and-a-half-man show was a pretty good way to start, and H even wound up joining us for the full three-day weekend and the DEZERT one-man on Sunday.  In other words, when H snorts her first line of indies coke, she snorts the whole tray at once.

Anyways, MelJay and H and I grabbed some Indian food before the show, because fuck yeah.  Then we loitered around for a really long time, before eventually winding up in Takadanobaba, goofing off in the arcade.  Somehow, three massive Gloomy Bears were won (two for MelJay, one for Hebah), and then purikura pictures happened.  Tech-savvy motherfucker that I am, I snapped these pictures with my camera instead of importing them to my phone.  Classy, I know.

For some reason, purikura booths make foreigners look really, really creepy, lol.

This is the height of class here, yo.
Also, funny MEJIBRAY story insert: while walking around Takadanobaba, we passed a small van parked along the side of the road near the train station.  There was a woman in the driver’s seat, and two front passenger seats as well.  It took me a double-take to realize the passenger next to the window, with his pink ponytail and chin piercing, was Koichi from MEJIBRAY.  When I realized who it was, I looked at the other passenger and realized it was… okay, I think it was MiA, although it was hard to tell because the windows were tinted.  If it wasn’t MiA, it was Tsuzuku.  Anyways, MiA was smoking a cigarette, and gave us a hilariously confident stare and a long drag on his cig as we passed.  Koichi, on the other hand, looked like a bird with ruffled feathers.  The look on his face was like, “for fuck’s sake, can’t I escape the fans at freakin’ two in the afternoon?!”  Sorry, Koichi.  At least this wasn’t as awkward as the time we saw you at Jonathan’s.

Anyways, eventually we met up with Peachy about thirty minutes before the show, while chilling in a Doutour coffee shop.  By pure coincidence, we wound up at the table next to that BORN cosplay group that I’ve been seeing at shows a lot lately.  Sadly, they weren’t in costume, although I recognized them anyways (their Ryouga is kinda hard to miss).  They were having some pretty weird conversations.  They were talking about MEJIBRAY for awhile, and the topic of Tsuzuku’s sexiness made Ryouga!cosplayer start making frantic orgasm noises in public.  Then they all kinda did it.  Uh……. okay.  I always feel really outta the loop on that one.  Like, Tsuzuku’s a good-looking guy, but is he orgasm-noise-in-public sexy?  I don't think so.  To each his own, I guess.  It just further supports my theory that half the audience just likes MEJIBRAY for their looks.  It also sounded the cosplayers were talking about how BORN doesn’t need K, which made me kinda sad (they kept calling him “iranai K-chan” which means “unnecessary K-chan”).  I mean, it was hard to hear them, so I don’t wanna condemn these girls if I’m wrong, but that’s what it sounded like.  It’s true they don’t have a K in their cosplay group, but I never really thought about it until now.  I guess… maybe they just don’t like K.  Poor K...

Well, whatever, show time.  Halfway down the stairs at AREA was a giant bouquet from the MEJIBRAY fans in honor of MiA’s birthday (which wasn’t for a few more days, but I guess they decided he need hundreds of dollars worth of flowers anyways).  As for my friends and I, we had pretty good numbers, so we went straight down into Takadanobaba AREA’s front section.  I was hesitant to bring H – a complete n00b – down into the pit in case it was too hectic for her, but I just made sure to show her all the escape routes she could take in case the crowd got too chaotic.

So blah blah blah, our first band up isxxx」is D£AD:

Actually, their name is a bit of a fake-out.  Not knowing what else to call them, I’d been calling them “Triple X is Dead.”  However, their giant banner in the background had their name in katakana, and it turns out it’s just pronounced “Is Dead” (lit: izu deedo).  So the xxxis silent and useless.  And their banner declares they are “pop and heavy.”  You know, because every fucking indies band in Japan isn’t some horrible marketing attempt at both pop and heavy... usually with painful results.

As for not-xxx Is Dead, they were… I dunno.  Like, I can’t really say they were bad musicians or anything, but there was nothing that stood out either.  They were guitar-solo heavy, and I’ll admit their vocalist (who is named Louis, by the way), has a pretty good growl.  Other than the heavy music, the band continually fell back into the same dull, marketable, uninspired choruses that have turned the JRock scene into mashed potatoes lately.  It kinda sounded like not-xxx’s songs sorta gave up halfway through.  But for the most part, the band had an overwhelming air of “trying too hard.”  They’re new, I know, so it comes with the territory.  But there was just no need for some of the overblown facial expressions and audience-pointing going on.  I felt like I was doing furi because I felt sorry for them.  They only had about twenty fans in a sold-out AREA crowd, and even their saizen wasn’t especially enthusiastic (I actually apologized to H afterwards for the dull introduction into the world of J-indies).  For lack of having any actual songs, Is Dead opened up with a repeater song, which was even more repetitive than normal.  And Louis’s MC just made me sad.  Like, he kept trying to get the audience to yell or cooperate, to little effect.  I sorta half-heartedly threw the horns so he’d know someone was paying attention, but a lot of people as far up as the third row were just staring at him blankly.  Oh well, better luck next time not-pornography Is Dead.

After that was over, it was time to get to our main acts.  The audience didn't shift at all, meaning the MEJIBRAY fans had been in place all along (further emphasized by the full-blown Koichi cosplayer with sparkly horns standing near us), so we just stayed where we were.  So next up is MEJIBRAY:

Also, setlist:

Black baccarat
Chameleon YUMMY

Kore wo Izon to Yobu Nara

And Then There Were None.
Invisible Tower maker

Karma –Gareki no Mantichoras-

I hadn’t seen MEJI in awhile, for various reasons, and I’m sorta outta the loop on them (then again, wasn’t I always?).  They have a new look now, as seen in the above picture.  Meto, always the most politically correct of people, has decided to morph his “mentally challenged” act into a “man-beast” act.  I guess… take that as you will. 

So the show started up with Meto sitting in a chair.  Not a wheelchair, since he’s given up on “going full retard”, but a regular chair.  Oh, and that thing on his head is most definitely a dildo with a condom on it.  Fan-fucking-tastic.  Meto was tied to the chair with red string, while a dissonant musical track played with a voice whispering “tasukete” (“help me”) over and over.  There was a guy in a black cloak and hood standing behind Meto, and he started cutting the strings to free him.  When the ropes were sufficiently cut, the black-cloaked guy stepped back, and Meto stood up slowly like a zombie.  Then he lunged forward and leaped onto the crate like an animal, which would probably make a person unfamiliar with Meto piss their pants in fear if they were standing too close.  Oh, also, Meto’s teddy bear is tied up now too.

Next up on the stage was MiA, looking confident as usual.  Then Koichi, who got up on the crate and like… smiled or something.  I didn’t even know he could smile, so I was like WTF.  Last out was Tsuzuku, who did a slow strut across the stage in his comic book villain trench coat.  The band opened up with that new song, Sadisgate.  Is that supposed to mean “sadistic gate?”  How can a gate be sadistic?  Does it slam closed on you when you try to pass through it?  Does it refuse to open even when there’s cake on the other side?

Okay, anyways, um… yeah, so Sadisgate is new.  I guess you can go check out the music video here if you’re new to MEJIBRAY:

I wanted to hear the song live because I’ve found over the past year that MEJI sounds very different live than on CD.  And, um… I found the recorded version of Sadisgate to be, um… well… kinda annoying.  The guitar is surprisingly weak, which is unusual coming from MiA, who is normally one of the band’s strong points.  And Tsuzuku, um… let me address this in the form of a letter I’ve wanted to write for quite some time:

Dear Tsuzuku,

You are of the masculine persuasion, are you not?  If you are in fact a female, congratulations on the washboard abs the steroids have sculpted for you.  However, as I assume you are a man, I would like to kindly ask that you keep your voice somewhere between the level of an adult male and a pubescent teenager.  You see, when you either A) autotune your voice an octave higher than normal, or B) add an extra vocal layer in which you sing as high as a four year old girl being stabbed with a cattle prod, the otherwise “heavy” music becomes as diluted as American coffee.  The high-pitched vocals are never necessary, nor do they add any interesting element to your songs.  They are so unhelpful as to be annoying, and frankly, it makes me question if your balls ever truly dropped.

A mildly agitated indies fan

P.S. Enough with the stupid laughter.

Live, Sadisgate was mildly improved, I suppose.  The high-pitched background vocal track was indeed still there, and indeed still pointless and annoying, but I found I could ignore it easily given the setting.  The song sounded “heavier” in the live-house too.

Overall, however, the setlist was as I expected: it catered to the BORN fans.  BORN is a more “upbeat” band (well… I mean they have a more “fun” atmosphere, I guess), so MEJIBRAY certainly wasn’t going to blow this genius marketing opportunity and play songs that would turn away potential new MEJI fans from the BORN crowd.  This meant a lot less BABY CROSSING and a lot more Karma.  Damnit.  The whole thing actually felt kinda weird, like MEJIBRAY had a whole new personality they crafted just for the show.  Koichi was all smiley and happy and twirling around and looking thoroughly pleased with everything.  While it made me happy to see Koichi happy, it also made me worried he suffered brain damage at some point during the day.  Even Meto kept breaking character and grinning.  In fact, Tsuzuku was smiling a bunch too, and dancing around like a little boy who got a Playstation for Christmas.  You guys okay?  Just really happy to be playing with BORN?

Um, other stuff… Tsuzuku had a whip at one point, which he cracked to the beat of the song.  He was showing off his abs a lot, too.  He even pulled his coat over his torso and then threw it open in some grand “reveal.”  It was an inappropriate time to clap, unfortunately.  MEJIBRAY also faked us out after their MC.  They all went over to the drum set and Tsuzuku yelled, “ARE YOU?!  ARE YOU?!” while Meto hit the same drum beats that Tomo from BORN would play when Ryouga yells “ARE YOU?!” before launching into RADICAL HYSTERIA.  The entire audience looked around in alarm, and everyone suddenly tensed into position, prepared for MEJIBRAY to start playing a BORN song.  But then it stopped suddenly and MEJIBRAY laughed at us.  Assholes.

Uuuuuum, I don't have too much else to say about MEJIBRAY.  They played for about an hour, and it was entertaining enough.  A lot of our area consisted of BORN spot-savers, however, so they didn’t care all that much, and it made our section kinda dull at times.  Even the stampede was rather half-assed, although MEJIBRAY kept it relatively short, thank goodness.  The band was in a damn good mood, though, which is all anyone can really ask for.  So even if the setlist wasn’t to my liking, and the audience was lukewarm, it was an enjoyable hour, and H participated through the whole thing like a boss.  Seriously, she did the side-to-side stampede and furi and everything, and she’d never seen that shit before, ever.  Goddamn, girl.

Oh, and the performance ended with Meto dramatically collapsing as usual.

Also, MEJIBRAY fans who don’t care for BORN, don’t stop reading here!  MEJIBRAY will be back before this post is over!

Next up is our headliner, BORN:

I have their setlist as well:

Chemical Romance


* new song *

Criminal Berry (new song)

Although BLASTED ANIMALS is technically over, the costumes haven’t changed.  Worse yet, Ryouga came on stage wearing the unventilated version of his costume, meaning he was head-to-toe plastic without even an air hole to sweat through.  There was a huge shift after MEJIBRAY, so we were finally surrounded by true BORN fans wearing bandanas and towels and what have you.  BORN seemed to be in a pretty good mood, so I was starting to wonder if BORN and MEJIBRAY had been doing something backstage together that they shouldn’t have been doing.  Like eating cupcakes.

Although MEJIBRAY tried to “chill out” their setlist for the BORN fans, BORN, ironically, made no such attempt.  The setlist was pretty rough, and the BORN fans were pretty pent up from waiting so long.  The lukewarm stampedes from MEJIBRAY turned into push-and-shove relays, and the girls along the left side of the wall made a habit of stampeding so fast they slammed their bodies against the walls whenever they got there.  In other words, they literally pinball-ed the venue.  Nonetheless, it was a surprisingly coordinated crowd, and there were no falls or people getting trampled that I could see.

Overall, it was a great setlist.  RED DESIRE hasn’t shown up in awhile for me, and of course we got the new songs.  I can’t believe that one song doesn’t have a name yet.  All I  can say about it is that it’s frantic with a lot of shouting Ryouga and head-banging.  The other new song is Criminal Berry, and that’s the one with the finger-pointing furi.  I swear Ryouga didn’t even do it the same at this show, compared to the one-man.  Like, he’s just makin’ shit up to confuse us.

Also, this is the first time I’ve ever seen FACE live.  Usually, when BORN needs a ballad to give us a break, they play White Harmony (which is only kind of a ballad) or sometimes they’ll play PROUDIA or something.  But FACE is a first for me, and I love that song, so I got really excited when those melancholy opening guitar notes started.  Most of the audience stood perfectly still for FACE, but I was unable to resist swaying side-to-side for that one.  It’s like a sad lullaby, so it’s hard to stand still.

There was also an amusing MC, where Ryouga naturally talked about the MEJIBRAY and BORN situation.  Although everyone’s been calling it MEJIBORN, Ryouga jokingly tried to call it the MEJIBUBORN show, as if he was stuttering in the middle.  Then he talked about MEJIBRAY teaching BORN how to play Sabato backstage.  He was also saying that, although MEJIBRAY and BORN are hard-core (lit: hageshii) bands, when you put them together, it’s just cute (lit: kawaii).  Then he continually emphasized how adorable he thinks MEJIBRAY is, while I tried to hide my laughter behind my hand.  

Oh, and there were some announcements.  One of the new songs will have a music video, and BORN is gonna film the crowd at one of their November shows, and use it in the video.  And then, at the tour final in February, they're gonna show the music video to the audience.  So that's really cool, I think.

Highlights, as usual, include Ryouga’s sudden seizures of spaziness.  Lately, it’s been common for Ryouga and KIFUMI to have jumping matches to see who can leap the highest during a show.  At this show, however, they had a full-blown dance-off, with the two of them high-kicking as high as possible and try to out-cabaret each other.  There were actually many parts of the show where Ryouga hopped around backwards, kicking his legs into the air for absolutely no reason.  And seizures.  So many seizures.  He did The Robot during AGITATOR, too.  Oh, and he started pelvic-slamming at the crowd, like he was dry-humping the shit out of us.  The way he was dancing, all I could think of was this:


Oh, and Ryouga stage-dove at one point, and everyone kinda ran away.  He barely got caught.  Dumbasses.

Anyways, it was exhausting, because BORN played fourteen jump-tastic songs with virtually no break.  The band was sweating all over the place (especially the boiled lobster), and the audience looked like it was ready to give up on life.  So thankfully it ended before we all tired out too much.  However, BORN didn’t leave the stage for encore.  Instead, Ryouga grabbed the mic and asked MEJIBRAY to come out and join them for some true MEJIBORN.  MEJIBRAY came out in normal clothing, if you can call it that.  Tsuzuku was wearing an obscenely massive black shirt that fit him like a dress, and black genie pants.  His hair was flat too.  Koichi was dressed in his usual avant garde hippie clothes, which people who follow his blog should be familiar with.  MiA strutted around in normal clothing, downing an Asahi beer as he crossed the stage.  Even Meto had toned himself down.  His hair extensions were gone (although some of his hair is still curled and colored), and he was wearing baggie, colorful clothes with weird patterns (I think he was also wearing genie pants).  He still had his scary make up on, but he was smiling and mostly out of character. 

Anyways, BORN and MEJIBRAY were all like, “yay!” with each other and looked very happy to be onstage together.  Ryouga kept putting his arm around Tsuzuku, and Tomo kept trying to talk to Meto, although Meto would only nod.  Speaking was too out of character for him.  Then, of course, the bands got pretty weird with each other.  Ryouga dragged Tsuzuku up onto the crate with him, but KIFUMI decided to troll Ryouga and snuck up behind him, burrowed between Ryouga’s legs, and stuck his head out from under Ryouga’s crotch.  Tsuzuku looked like WTF.  Then Ryouga dumped a stream of water on Tsuzuku’s head, only to have Tsuzuku retaliate by spraying mouth-water at him.  This turned into a full-blown water fight, with the two of them spraying water back and forth at each other.  Eventually, Ryouga got Tsuzuku from behind, so Tsuzuku rounded on him and took a big swig.  Ryouga grimaced, waiting for the water to hit, but Tsuzuku kept swaying back and forth, faking him out.  Ryouga kept looking more and more afraid, waiting for the final blow, before Tsuzuku finally grabbed Ryouga by the head, pulled him down, and then drooled the water slowly into his hair.  I guess Tsuzuku wins that fight.  The bands also talked a bit, and Ryouga asked MEJIBRAY some questions and was then like, "let's talk to Meto!"  Meto looked shocked, and the audience was like "whoooooa."  I was like, "no waaaaay is he gonna talk."  So Ryouga asked Meto how the show was, and Meto looked kinda horrified for a moment, but then he turned to Tomo and whispered the answer.  So Tomo told us "it was fun."  Then Ryouga asked Meto something about the condom he was wearing on his head, and then asked if Meto ever uses it.  Through Tomo, we now know the answer is, "all the time."  

Anyways, after the bands were done embarrassing each other, Ryouga and Tsuzuku asked the audience to join hands (as did the bands).  A very cute little Japanese girl excitedly took my hand and was beaming up at me like we had just discovered El Dorado or something.  BORN fans are always crazy friendly.  Anyways, Ryouga told us we were all gonna make a "rabu tsunagari" (literally a "love connection").  Good lord.  So yeah, then we all jumped in the air like dumbasses, and the show was over.  The Japanese girl thanked me about a million times, smiling.

There was no encore, by the way, just that "love connection."  But the show ran really late, and it was almost 10 PM, so there was no possible time for encore.  After the show, we wound up forming this epic posse.  Between MelJay, H, Peachy, and I, we made four.  But then Break found us, as did pinku (one of the frequent commenters on this blog).  Next thing ya know, we're a terrifying group of six foreigners.  We decided to storm the Saizeriya for food, and the waiter looked positively terrified.  Hah, bitch please.

Anyways, that was basically the show.  Sorry I kept it kinda brief, but I gotta churn out the DEZERT one too.  Stay tuned!