japanesedream_72: (hyde)
Madison Square Garden, that is!

That’s where my brother, Johnathan, & I saw the NYC performance of L’Arc-en-Ciel’s 20th Anniversary World Tour on Sunday, March 25, 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttIVzyuPihs&feature=g-vrec&context=G2a69eacRVAAAAAAAABQ

We were supposed to go with a couple of friends, who, for various reasons, were unable to make it. To them, & to my other friends who wished they could have been there – I dedicate this post.

Somewhere over the rainbow... )

Anyway, I want to get this posted, since it's 3 months overdue!

To see the full set of photos from the day, have a gander at my Facebook album:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&l=751f423601

Thanks for reading!
japanesedream_72: (kyo-love)
The subject line is Latin, meaning, "through the thorns to the stars" - http://www.latinsayings.info/search/label/Page%206.

Okay, you know how this stuff usually goes, but I'm gonna keep to the basics this time, skipping over the personal aspects in favour of covering the show itself, with a little of the fan experience thrown in.

And down the rabbit hole we go... )

Euphoria

Oct. 16th, 2010 03:11 pm
japanesedream_72: (hyde)
Before reading about this year’s Vamps show, you may want to take a look at my write-up on last year’s:

http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/310947.html
Vamps - 11 July 2009 at the Fillmore/Irving Plaza, NYC

Flash forward now to 2010...

Ready, set, fly away! )
japanesedream_72: (diru)
A note about the subject line: It's a play on Haiiro No Ginka, Dir en grey's newsletter. I don't have an exact translation for that, tho' I know it has to do with the colour grey, & possibly a feeling of gloom. Henko is, according to a translated quote from Kyo that I read on [livejournal.com profile] diru_tabloids, what they call strange children in Kyoto, where he comes from. And we are definitely strange children! XD

It was obvious that Dir en grey have some rabid fans in Toronto. As the five-piece Japanese band walked on stage, the screams coming from the crowd to greet them were quite impressive. I am ill-fitted to really wax-on about the songs Dir en grey played live, as my only experience with them as a band is the recently released live CD/DVD package ‘Uroboros’*. I recognized a few tracks from this live package during the band's performance...but for the most part, I was watching Dir en grey as a newbie.

Kyo's vocals throughout the hour long performance were pretty amazing. He can hit notes so menacingly low followed by ear piercing highs, it was hard NOT to be impressed by his singing. He’s a smallish fellow, but what he lacks in physical height, he more than makes up for in massive stage presence. As his band-mates belted out technically amazing song after song, Kyo twisted and bent in all directions as he belted out the lyrics to about a dozen Dir en grey songs. They were pretty damn awesome.


- Mike Bax, Lithium Magazine (in a review of the Toronto show, the first date on the 2010 North American tour)

*I am certain the “live package” to which Bax refers is “Uroboros - with the proof in the name of living - at Nippon Budokan”, as opposed to the studio album “Uroboros”; I will refer to the Budokan concerts later in this write-up.

I hope everyone has had a chance to check out my posts about the Monster-Mania convention:

Day 1 - http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/382408.html
Day 2 - http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/382836.html
Day 3 - http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/383075.html

But if that hadn’t been awesome enough, the 3-day horror-fest was quickly followed by my third Dir en grey concert! (24 Aug., 2010, Nokia Theatre, NYC.)

Down the rabbit-hole we go... )
japanesedream_72: (shinya)
The day DEFINITELY ended on a much better note than the one on which it started. Now I'm kinda back to feeling sick, & feeling a LOT like a tool.

But I'm really, really happy.

Find out why! )
japanesedream_72: (hyde)
Where to begin?

Yesterday morning, I suppose. These things for me are an all-day affair. Unfortunately, they’re a 2-day pilgrimage for others (I heard that there were already 30 people camped out in line at Midnight the night before), & I just can’t do it. But things worked out well, in any case.

Okay, let’s not jump ahead here. So, I managed to get some sleep yesterday morning (I really needed it, my insomnia, as some of you know, has really been acting up lately), but once I was up, all the trappings of my day centered around getting ready for the Vamps show! Spent a little time after breakfast going through the lyrics, prepping them for the booklet I’ll be making (yes, I know, I still have a gazillion others to finish - I’ll get there, I swear!). Thought I could actually finish the booklet & bring it with me to peruse while waiting for the club to open, but I haven’t hunted down enough pictures, & with dial-up, that would take excessive amounts of time. But at least the words are ready (sometimes, that’s the hardest part, since J-rockers don’t always sing exactly what they’ve written). Anyway, I’d already had my outfit picked out, so it was just a matter of getting the hair & make-up right. And I think, for all the time & side-tracking involved, I did a good job:

I’m a Vamps addict

The side-tracking was both joyous & annoying (though the latter proved slightly humourous in hindsight). The joyous bit came when my mom called me, & Johnathan told me that he passed his road test! He’s had a permit for a while, but now he can get his license ~ way to go, kiddo! I promised him I’d pick him up something at the concert, since he’s been really generous (he picked up food for when Mark & the gang & I were at my mom’s, during my last visit, & even barbecued; he also got & planted some flowers in their backyard) & helpful (to my mom at home) & whatnot. Plus, I’ve gotten him into some J-rock, & he does enjoy Hyde quite a bit.

The annoying/humourous part happened 3-quarters of the way through my preparations. I ran out of eye pencil! It kept breaking (I use a soft kind), but I thought I had more. Sadly, I didn’t, & had to run to CVS down the street to pick up a couple - without my eyes done, or even eyebrows! (I shave them & draw them in with liner, ‘cuz I’m too impatient to let them grow in enough to get them shaped, seeing as how the hair there grows in so oddly). On went the sunglasses (which I haven’t worn in a while, ‘cuz they have a scratch on one lens; I need to either get them fixed or get new ones), & to the door I flew…& opened it to find 2 women on my porch inviting the entire neighbourhood to their church service next week for a special guest speaker.

Thankfully, they didn’t take a lot of time, & once they were a few houses away, I felt it was safe to resume my flight. Got 2 pencils, just to be safe. Then I flew back home, continued with the preparations, & managed, while doing so, to sneak in yet another viewing of Ginger Snaps. I really am obsessed with that movie lately. I’ve gotta get it on DVD (& the other 2, as well, if I can find them).

In any case, I’d planned to leave the house around 2:30, thinking I’d get to the venue at about 4, which would give me a decent position in line.

Guess the gods had other plans.

I was finished prepping by 2, & psyched myself up by watching my Vamps DVD (4 music videos). Incidentally...

YouTubers can watch them here! )

Then it was off to catch the train, with more Vamps playing in the car (I’ve been playing them pretty much incessantly since I got the CD). That slightly nauseous feeling that often accompanies excitement was starting to set in (by the time I got there, I could hardly breathe). In a few hours, I’d be in the same room as Hyde! I’d wondered, here & there during the week, when he & the boys had flown in, & even Johnathan was saying, when I spoke to him (as I was getting ready), that they were probably already at the venue while we were speaking, rehearsing & such. The thought had crossed my mind, as well.

Call me an idiot for not looking up the train schedule. Go ahead, it’s okay. ‘Cuz I am. I had to wait 40 minutes for the train! I’d missed the 2:44 by a couple of minutes, & the next train didn’t come until 3:29. Ugh! There was a pseudo-snide comment I had to deal with, as well, from a guy who asked me if it were Halloween. Trying to think on my toes, I said, “Every day.” Then he said something that sounded remarkably like, “Damn, I want to marry you!”, & then he & the guy he was sitting there with cleared off. Very strange.

It just kinda got worse from there, ‘cuz it seemed I had to wait for all the trains. The subways, the shuttle, everything took a while to get there. Naturally, considering I wanted to make it to the Fillmore without being at the end of a 6-block line.

Guess what? When I finally did make it to the Fillmore...you guessed it. I was at the end of a 6-block line. Argh! It was Dir en grey 2007 all over again! Though, unlike the Diru show, it wasn’t blistering cold out. (Thank goodness!)

Still, next time I go to a show, I’m bringing a folding chair or something. All that standing (I got there around 5 & the doors didn’t open ‘til 7, though, for some reason, we didn’t get in there ‘til 7:30, maybe even a little later) was starting to bother my back! It was a very diverse crowd in the line, though - J-rock seems to bring out all types of people. I even saw some very nice Loli gals/bishettes, & a bishi or 2 (the boys at these things tend to be more rocker than Loli, I find).

There were a couple of nice line moments, though. As I was going to the end of the line, a couple of girls commented my bag, the one I got in Harajuku for the Moi dix Mois show. (I also got various compliments on my necklace & collar, most notably from a couple on the subway going down there, the girl having some very interesting piercings.) And a lady (on the staff, I guess) passed out glow-stick bracelets to everybody. Then, she came around & gave us more! I had 3, though I would later lose one in the melee of the pit (another, I picked up off the floor before the show got started, ’cuz I didn’t want to slip on it when the crowd got going, though it had lost the little piece that held the ends together).

At one point, a guy, done up in kind of a punky Goth outfit, trailed his female friend, going, “Don’t leave your homo behind!” Later, they came up toward the front, & he was admonishing her: “You left your homo behind, I’m calling animal abuse on you!” It had me, & the 2 Asian girls (not Japanese, though) behind me, cracking up. They were kind enough to share their Pocky with me.

A whole lot of people seemed to know each other in this line. I don’t know if they were coming in groups or what, but I got the impression some did, & a few of them got there early to hold places for the rest in their group. Others, who had been in line, would go get food/drink, leaving at least one person to hold their place, & then return. Some could be seen leaving & re-entering the line multiple times. It almost didn’t seem fair for those of us who just stood there for those 2+ hours.

A yellow balloon was making its way along the ground near us, with a face drawn on it. Kind of looked like the cover of Smile by L’Arc-en-Ciel (y’know, that other, famous band Hyde is in?), with a touch of the well-known Nirvana t-shirt thrown in. Last I saw it, it ended up in the lobby of this place I was stuck in front of, some kind of therapy center for people with physical/mental challenges. A few of us would have to clear the way whenever people went in or out of there. One lady came out & marveled cheerfully at all of us standing there (esp. since there were a number of Goths/Lolis & whatnot), asking what we were there for. I said a concert, & when she asked whose, I said, “They’re called Vamps, they’re from Japan.” She said that was cool.

I enjoy the opportunity to spread the word of J-rock. ^_^

Sadly, a few unscrupulous types were traipsing up & down the street beside the line, asking if any of us had an extra ticket. Undoubtedly, they were planning to buy them cheap & sell them at an inflated rate. Someday, I hope they can obliterate scalping.

There were some people filming the line, some of which were folks going to the end of it (which stretched, by the end, quite a ways back from me), a few of which belonged to the Vamps crew! Initially, we heard screaming from further up in the line, & some people said they thought at first that Hyde had come out (of course, a couple of us in the queue figured nobody would be keeping their places if that had been the case! I still believe they were inside, getting ready for the show). When the cameraman passed me, I made the V for Vamps. It occurred to me later that I prob’ly should’ve said something, like, “Vamps wa saiko desu!” (Vamps is awesome!), but oh well.

The line only moved a couple of times, but finally, I turned the corner & was back on 15th St., with the Fillmore just ahead, at the start of the block. Earlier, a guy came around inspecting ID’s. If we were over 21, he tied a yellow band around our wrists. I guess the place has a bar. Prob’ly explains the fight we nearly witnessed outside the entrance (though there were about 6 guys breaking it up, so it never became an actual brawl). I put my earplugs in (yeah, I learned after Diru), & we were told to have our bags open & tickets ready. I brought an extra bag (my jack-o-lantern one) with something long-sleeved (in case the night got chilly) & my little umbrella (I put black electrical tape on the end where it’s broken), & to put t-shirts or whatever in, & stuck my Rirakuma bag in there, as well, in case I was able to pick up any of my fave Japanese snacks before going home. They searched the bags when we got to the door (despite this, & their not allowing cameras in, a few people managed to smuggle them in), & scanned the bar codes on the tickets.

This concert had a couple of things I’d never seen at shows before, the first being a little bin at the front entrance where you could put presents for Vamps. Damn! I wish I’d brought them something. I’d actually contemplated giving them something I had with me, but most of it was kind of necessary (like my Rirakuma bag or Umbrae, my little travel talisman doll), or stuff my mom gave me. Sorry, boys.

Had to go upstairs (through a very nicely-decorated hallway, with a pretty, ornate mirror at the foot of the stairs & framed posters, I guess from acts that have played the venue, going up - it’s a rather historic place) to get to the show, & since there were a lot of people in there, already staking their claim to spots in front of the stage, I figured I’d forego buying souvenirs ‘til after the show (besides, I didn’t want anything delicate, like a CD or DVD, to get crushed, & it was too late by the time I got in - or so I thought - to buy anything & then check the bag at coat-check). I was pretty close, about half-way back on the left, near the great, big speakers, which were blaring techno-rock (I noted a Marilyn Manson song). Good thing I had my earplugs in! There was a really nice chandelier overhead, & a balcony (maybe for people who got drinks? I noticed a waitress weaving in & out of the crowd). We could see the techs getting everything ready, & a couple of them started filming us (I believe they filmed part or all of the actual performance, as well). I howled a bit (as is my custom), & we all raised our hands in devil horns or fists or waves or V for Vamps as the cameras passed over us, our wrist-bands glowing in the dimness.

The invariable push started before the band even came out, when the roadies were tuning up & such. (I think the screams started when one of them played the riff from “I Gotta Kick Start Now” & they must have thought it was the actual show - funnily enough, I honestly don’t remember them playing that number during the performance, although they may have; my brain is not what it once was.) I had a pretty decent view of everything - Hyde’s mic stand with the fake roses going all the way up it, the drum kit, with “Vamps” written in a half-circle on the front of the bass drum, in a sort of Old English font (& a number of water bottles lined up in front of it, on the riser), the tuning of various guitars, even the computer set-up; the band has techno-style sequencing in a number of their songs, & while guitarist K.A.Z. is credited with programming, there is an extra member of their live act, Jin, responsible for “keyboards & hard-disc & metal percussion”, though I’m not sure if the person I saw doing something with the computers was actually Jin.

After a while, & chants from the crowd of, “Vamps! Vamps! Vamps!”, the suspense was finally over, & the boys appeared. Drummer Arimatsu & bassist Ju-ken came out first, followed by the main duo, K.A.Z. & Hyde. They all looked really good! I could see them well (even better later, as I got closer), down to their jewelry, tattoos (including Arimatsu - all those boys are inked up!), the lot (including Hyde’s teeth when he sang!). I don’t think Arimatsu was wearing a shirt. Ju-ken had the top hat (he later took it off; it had a V emblem on it), with a tank top (they were all wearing tanks), I think with some sort of crest on it, & a jacket, which he later removed. K.A.Z. had his hair up (spiky), with a black tank with lots of white words in a variety of positions (this would later be changed to a grey striped shirt with Vamps written across the front). Hyde had a black tank with what may have been a skull & cross-bones (K.A.Z. wore something similar in a photo-shoot, the skull had fangs), &, I think, a vest over it (he later removed the vest). Hyde’s hair was red, & kinda poofy-frizzy. But he looked quite scrum-delicious! I could see he was wearing black eye-liner, & noticed, at one point, he was playing his red guitar. Ju-ken did that upright bass thing a lot, &, I believe, played a bass fiddle on one song (“Sweet Dreams”, as I recall). I saw K.A.Z.’s dark blue Flying-V guitar near the end of the show.

Songs...the Vamps instrumental/effects piece, “Bite”, played as they took the stage, & after, I think, something like, “Hello, New York!”, they launched into “Sex Blood Rock & Roll”, with the crowd chiming in on the “ooh” parts, & yelling out the title line of the chorus right along with Hyde. This boy’s a mover & a shaker! He gets his hips going (when I got really close, nearer the end, I could see the holes in his jeans!), & flips his head from side to side, shoulder to shoulder, so the hair gets going & everything (even while he’s on guitar). He makes these groovy faces, too, purses his lips a lot, & does a lot with his eyes. Sometimes, he appears to be experiencing a sort of supreme ecstasy, riding the music’s emotional high.

All the boys were quite energetic, & seem to be really happy & excited to do what they’re doing. During one song, Arimatsu tossed his drum-stick in the air, it did a flip, & he caught it before picking up the drum beat. And Ju-ken was wild! He seems like he’s just a really fun guy (he used to play for Gackt, incidentally). K.A.Z. gets very into his playing (during one song, he threw his guitar back - it was still strapped to him - & it did a complete revolution around his body), but he, Ju-ken, & Hyde (oh yes, Hyde!) made a lot of contact with the crowd, prompting us to be very responsive. The 3 of them also changed positions several times, so people on both sides of the stage could get to see them (Moi dix Mois did that, too). There was also a moment when Hyde & K.A.Z. were ‘head-banging’ together!

Hyde introduced a couple of the songs & said thank you to us after a few of them, but also took time to speak to us in English. He asked if we were having fun (& later, before some rollicking number, if we were ready to get crazy), said thank you to us for coming to see them (& also said, “Please be nice to us”). He told us they’d be here for a month (I think the last date is 1 August). Then he said he’d eaten pizza, & it was “yummy”. He told us he’d had 2 pieces (but I don’t think he was saying the word “pieces”, I’m not sure what word he used), but they were “this big” (& held his hands out wide). He also said it was “too hot” - he meant the climate; even he & the boys were sweating. At various points, he got up on his box (he has one like Diru’s Kyo - Hyde, too, is a Short Person, though he didn’t look very much smaller than the other members of the band), to stand on to play guitar, or prompt the crowd with a hot look (those expressive eyes!), a “come on” gesture with his fingers, or the V for Vamps. Oh, & he licked his lips/teeth quite a bit. I saw the tip of one of his wings (he has a pair across the top of his back) when he jumped off the box once, peeking out from under his shirt. He also has flame-like designs around his arms, just above the elbows, which I could also see.

I was pleasantly surprised that they mixed some of Hyde’s solo numbers in with the Vamps tunes, although it makes sense, since K.A.Z. has played on Hyde’s “666” & “Faith” albums (I believe he co-wrote some of the music on “Faith”, & also co-produced it). In no particular order, & to the best of my recollection, the other songs they did (including the encore tracks) were:

Vamps stuff:
Love Addict
Cosmos
Secret In My Heart
Evanescent
Vampire Depression
Redrum
Sweet Dreams
Hunting (during this one, Hyde is supposed to yell, “Where’s my lamb?” - which he did - but somebody had a sign that said, “Here’s UR Lamb!”)

Covers:
Trouble
Life on Mars

Hyde stuff (666):
Hello*
Midnight Celebration
Hideaway

Hyde stuff (Faith):
Jesus Christ
Countdown
Dolly
It’s Sad

*EDIT: When I was initially writing this, I kept thinking I'd forgotten one track off 666, & it appears I did. It was "Hello", according to the 'official' setlist, here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/vamps/2009/fillmore-at-irving-plaza-new-york-ny-43d65f0f.html

I tried singing along with some of the songs, but I couldn’t really hear myself well, so I was prob’ly just screaming a little off-key. Besides which, the crush got SO bad, it was really difficult to breathe a lot of the time, let alone sing. I did manage a few howls in between tunes, with an occasional shout of “Haido-san!” just for Hyde’s benefit (pardon my fangirly-ness, but Mrs. Hyde - yes, there is one - is a very lucky woman!), with what I thought might be my last breaths before losing consciousness. I truly did feel as though I were going to pass out - I didn’t even feel like that during Diru. And those boys are metal!

Honestly, it was the worst pit crush I have ever been in, but I would NOT allow myself to be propelled backwards or faint, so I endured. I was drenched in sweat (most of it not mine - I keep joking that the crush was so bad that I lost my virginity), far worse than at Diru, & boy, did I miss that “tame” crowd I had at Moi dix Mois! My Harajuku bag sustained a bit of damage - the ring holding one end of the strap on got bent a bit & slipped out, but I still have it & it can be repaired. Though I may have to drench it in Spray-n-Wash to get the sweat smell out. XP

One other thing I have never seen at a concert before, that I saw at Vamps - people passing around bottles & cups of water. You’d take a swig, & pass it on to the next person. It was really lovely! At one point, I saw K.A.Z. throw out a bottle or 2 of water to the audience, which got passed around. He also splashed people with water (he got me on the hand), as did Hyde (who got me several times, right on the head/face!!).They also threw out picks & such (J-rock guitarists often do that - occasionally, you’ll even get a drummer throwing out their sticks). One of K.A.Z.’s bounced right off me! It went on the floor, & a very nice girl next to me bent down & got it between numbers, as we protected her from getting killed by the stampeding pit crowd. We swayed to & fro, had to put up fists & elbows to keep our rib cages clear for breathing, occasionally coming very, very close to tripping over each other. There was even pushing during the SLOW numbers! A couple of guys, I suspect, were doing it on purpose, though most of us were just apologising to each other for whatever body parts we smacked each other with, remarking back that we understood; it really wasn’t a choice. I was just happy I didn’t get hit in the face by any of the crowd-surfers! There were a few, but none of them seemed to make it very far. At least one of them may have done it just to get some air.

We got them to do one encore, after several bouts of chanting “An-ko-ru!” (encore, as pronounced by the Japanese - I think the guy shouting it next to me actually was Japanese). I believe that was when Hyde asked us about getting crazy, & they launched into “Love Addict”. For the life of me, though, I can’t remember exactly what song they played last. Whatever it was, the whole show was completely & totally awesome, & I wish them the best of luck with the rest of the tour. Tonight (Sun.), they join the Warped Tour in Connecticut.

Sadly, when “Greensleeves” starts to play & the techs come back on-stage, you know the show is over. So after some brief conversations with a few of the people I’d been crushed up against, turning me into the dripping, hot Gothic mess I had become, it was off to the souvenir stand. Unfortunately, the lines were very long, & there was a bit of a crush - almost (but not quite) as bad as the show itself! Fortunately, I’d brought along my little fold-out Asian fan, so I was at least able to get that going. I was also nice enough to fan a couple of the people I was speaking with; they appreciated it. Met 2 very nice gals with whom I engaged in much conversing, though, unfortunately, they were sold out of t-shirts by the time I got to the front of the line! Actually, they were sold out of a lot of things. Most things, come to think of it. But I managed to get some stuff. Got the CD for Johnathan (it doesn’t come with the DVD, though, like the one I found in Book Off a couple weeks ago), along with a wristband with the Vamps logo on it. Got a wristband for me, too, as well as the Tour Book (I took some shots of it when I got home), & a canvas bag. It’s black, with VAMPS LIVE 2009 on it.

Outside, it had begun to drizzle, & it was cool with a slight breeze. Most of us agreed it felt really nice! There were a number of people from the show standing around; somebody said they were waiting for the boys to come out, but we later learned they’d already left (or so we were told). Said good-bye to the nice girls I’d been talking to & headed off - unfortunately, in the wrong direction at first - toward the subway. But things happen for a reason, & a very sweet-seeming Asian girl (Japanese, I think) asked me to take a photo of her & her friends. I was happy to oblige.

Turned around & made my way (the right way this time) to the subway. You could tell who’d been at the show by the Vamps bags & whatnot (reminded me of high school, when there would be a concert & half the school would be wearing the t-shirts the next day). While waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street, a guy said to me, “Now, those stockings are hot!” (I didn’t tell him they’re actually thigh-high socks.) He mentioned something about them being sectional, so if you broke it down with regard to my legs, first you get an ankle, then you get a slightly larger ankle...He asked if I watched a show called “Dexter”, about a serial killer. I haven’t seen it. He said to check it out, then I’d know what he was talking about. That’s the first time someone has used an allusion to killing me as a compliment! XD

Happened upon another of my fellow concert-goers (whom I’d spoken to in the souvenir line) waiting for the subway. We conversed about the show & Hyde & other shows & such while riding to Grand Central. She & her companion were making their way back to Connecticut (I wonder if they’ll be at Warped today?). I went up to Times Square to make my way to the other subway station to get a train back to Penn. Before catching the train, however, I came across a mini-concert: a Beatles cover outfit, the Meetles, were performing, & got the crowd to join in a rousing rendition of "Hey Jude". After that, they were starting "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", but I had to catch the subway to get to the train station, or I'd never get home!

To my chagrin, Penn Sushi was closed, so no snacks. I bought an iced tea (diet, with lemon) on the way to the shuttle between Grand Central & Times Square, so I wasn’t much in the mood for anything like a milkshake or even junk food - or, at least, junk food that wasn’t Japanese. But that’s the only Japanese place I know of in Penn, & nothing else seemed to appeal to me, so I supposed I’d have to wait ‘til I got home.

Had to wait for yet another train, so I phoned my mom to let her know I’d gotten out okay. (I’d spoken to Johnathan when I first got there - I called from the line.) Told her a few highlights of the show. Then they called for my train to board, so I ended my call & got my tired, sore body on the train. It was a little cold, so I put my long sleeves on & perused my Tour Book several times.

Got back to the station & made my way to the parking deck, which cost me $12. (Blargh! It used to be free on Saturdays!) Didn’t hit my house until 1:30 am. Had some food, but of course, I wasn’t tired (well, I was, but I was still running on adrenaline or whatever). Made it to Death Note, clunked out after that.

Then I woke up, had breakfast, & started writing this thing. Talked to my mom, had some lunch, & finished writing this thing.

And there you have it. ^_^
japanesedream_72: (mana)
Day 6 - You have read up on Days 4 & 5 first, right?

My neck had started to hurt for some unknown reason. Must have slept funny on the bus back from Mt. Fuji or something. Hypochondria kicked in - hoped it wasn’t a blood clot (from not moving around enough on the flight over) going to my brain or anything. Couldn’t really turn my head without a fair amount of pain (it’s still a little bit stiff; I’ll get my chiropractor to look at it one of these days). But I braved it without comment (there’s a first for me!) because this was the day I’d get to see another of my J-rock heroes.

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline was going to be a touch late that morning, so we planned to meet in Shinjuku. First, however, I did some shopping in Shibuya, at Tsutaya (why do I always want to refer to that store as Tatsuya?). Looked all around, got confused by the Japanese alphabetisation technique again, finally found a few of my bands but no CD’s that I needed. Got my Diru “Average Psycho” & Malice Mizer concert (“Bara ni Irodorareta...”) DVD’s there, though.

Took the train to Shinjuku, walked all around the shopping area near the station there. Nice, but a little expensive for my tastes (me, who will spend $400 on CD’s in a single night, lol). Checked out Keio (dept. store), Mosaic Street (line of shops), walked over the bridge to Odakyu (another store), took some photos. Thought I’d check out a little book shop on the side of the main street under the bridge, but it turned out to pretty much be nudie books & I didn’t want to embarrass the dudes in there, so I split pretty quick. ^_~

Met [livejournal.com profile] styxonline on the bridge, & she took me for breakfast. Got to try some cold chawan-mushi (egg custard w/other yummy things in it; it’s usually steamed), & a potato salad that beats anything they do here! Then she took me to the Government Building, with its indoor observatory that features a panoramic view of Tokyo. On a very clear day, it’s said that you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji. Couldn’t see that far on this particular day, but got a lot of good pictures all the same. You can even see the top of the Meiji Shrine, & the surrounding woods. Kind of reminded me of the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Snagged a few goodies at the souvenir shop, & then it was off to Harajuku again.

I was in desperate need of a good, strong purse - I did NOT want to lug a backpack to the Moi dix Mois show that evening. I’m very particular about the kind of purse I carry. Has to have a solid latch or zipper, something to keep it closed (as opposed to just a flap), be a decent size - not too big, not too small - & a good shape, though preferably not hard. Has to be able to accommodate all the crud I stuff into it without being too bulky. And a shoulder strap that can allow the bag to hang across my body (like the way you put your seat belt on, not just off the shoulder, where any thief can grab it) & dangle a bit so I don’t really have to think about it, I can just know it’s there.

As you can tell from those parameters, I had my work cut out for me. But first, a shot of me with the Hello Kitty statue in front of the Family Mart konbeni - it was that chain whose Ticket Pia machines yielded our baseball & concert tickets. Next, crepes! I’d been advised by many to try those - they are really popular in Tokyo, esp. in Harajuku. We got a lunch & dessert one - teriyaki chicken, & banana...custard, I think it was. It’s neat to watch them make it right there in front of you. And they’re totally scrummy! But they’re kinda big, so don’t eat too much before you have them.

Searched the Goth-loli shops high & low. Found some nifty stuff (including some bishi/J-rock/Kei-boy stuff, cool Halloween goodies [their hats have veils!], & one or two things that looked very nice on my dear friend), but time was ticking & we still had to get back to the ryokan so I could change & re-do my horrible face for the night of extreme pleasure that I knew lay ahead.

A little Loli place called Body Line proved to be my saving grace. Lots of pretty dresses & other things in there, including these fun little rabbit-shaped backpacks that were, like, black leather. But what I got - & I have to thank [livejournal.com profile] styxonline yet again for finding it for me - was, as she put it, very me, & very Mana, too.

It’s sturdy & soft, with a good strap that won’t break, & a zipper closure. Lots of room inside, but not bulky. It’s black, coffin-shaped (the old, diamond-head kind), with black lace around the outside edges & a big embroidered cross on one side. On the other side is a nice, deep pocket. In between, around the zipper & on the bottom, are little silver silhouettes of cats, bats, paw prints, & spider webs, & some phrases such as mischievous kitty’s playclothes & the kitty’s eyes were full of mischief. Inside, it’s got more little silhouettes in white, sort of 18th century people & birds with ribbons & things.

And the greatest thing was, it was on sale! Only 1,999 yen - that’s, like, $20!

Back to the ryokan, where I got to see Yoshi again. Hadn’t seen him for a couple days. Asked if I could get a photo with him, but even though he speaks English, I think my question was a bit too advanced for him. Tried it in Japanese, & he said - in English - “I’m so excited.” Squee! [livejournal.com profile] styxonline got a nice shot of us together.

Oh, & I’d finally been able to buy [livejournal.com profile] styxonline that coffee I’d promised her for being so darned nice to me. She made me order it, too. Learned a point or two to add to my practical Japanese, which came in handy the next time I bought her coffee for being so darned nice to me. ^_^

After the Yoshi moment, I gussied myself up in truest Gothic fashion...& gave [livejournal.com profile] styxonline a good giggle in the process (those stupid leggings!). She gave me a smidge of scented oil to wear, too - Blood Rose. (Tres appropriate for the show, & a great scent, to boot.) Unfortunately, we didn’t use my camera for pictures, but she’s got a couple that she took with her phone. (And they’re decent!) Anywho, I was as Loli as I could be in my corset & short double-layered lace skirt with stripey socks & beads & my big white ankh & chain choker. Oh, & my spider-web gloves. My make-up probably left a bit to be desired (why is it that when you really want to look nice, your face wigs out on you?), but nobody was gonna see me in the dark.

Kind of startled Terai-san with my appearance. She asked about it & I said we were going to a concert. She wanted to know who we’d be seeing, but when I tried to tell her, “rock” ended up being a more sufficient answer than trying to explain who Mana-sama is in my half-@$$ed Japanese.

Caught our train, & finally found the club. Almost got lost, I think. Had to walk a bit & ask around before we got to it, but we made it in time. There wasn’t a line. There was, however, an extra drinks charge, which [livejournal.com profile] styxonline was kind enough to pick up. They gave you a flyer/questionnaire packet when you walked in, & a little badge you could present for your drink. Since I don’t drink, I headed right for the merchandising table & got a couple things for myself & [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae. Could’ve bought it all, but again, there’s the worry about schlepping everything home. Think my choices were good ones. Got a couple freebies, too! A poster advertising the latest Moi dix Mois album, & a bag to carry it all in, with the band’s logo on it (though this version also works Mana-sama’s fan club & clothing line into the design).

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline took hold of my stuff (she’d have put it in one of the lockers they had there, but the posters wouldn’t fit) & urged me into the main concert hall, which was downstairs. So down I went (nearly freaking because I’d heard a single note from an electric guitar, but it was just a tech doing final tuning), into a sea of...well, I couldn’t really see what kind of a sea I’d walked into. The room was dark except for a couple of lights over the bar on the side, which had a monitor posted above it, & a few tables in the back. I noticed a couple chicks in black dresses, one or 2 dudes with good hair (no transvestites or anything, though), a couple of 'normal'-looking people (gasp!), & that’s about it.

I’d kinda hoped people would be jostling a little, but claims seemed to be staked as to positions, & these folks were staying put. They literally do not move. It’s a very different experience seeing a show like this in Japan, as opposed to, say, my experience seeing Diru in New York.

(Incidentally, if you haven’t yet read about the NYC show, or want to compare it to what I’ll be detailing in this post, please go here: http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/159909.html.)

This place was actually smaller than the club where I saw Diru. I stood to the right of a pillar, with a decent view of the stage but for one head (maybe 2, but I think one moved over after a bit), which I had to stand on tip-toe to look around. Unfortunately, I’m no ballerina, so I can’t stay on tip-toe very long before I start to teeter a little because it throws my balance off. Japanese Goths may not mosh, or crush you, but they will push back (oh so subtly, mind you) if you get too close.

I’ll get to the main cultural differences later, as far as the audience. The show is what’s most important, & it was FANTASTIC! I mean, utterly glorious! Moi dix Mois’ decagram logo lit up behind where the band would be standing. Soon enough, they all started to appear: first, drummer Hayato (he cut his hair - he’s even cuter now), then bassist Sugiya (who seems to be growing his hair out; he looked good, too), followed by guitarist K (yep, that’s all he goes by; his hair was longer, as well), then Mana-sama himself. Vocalist Seth was the last to come out.

I wish I could tell you what song they launched into. I can’t even give you a complete set list. I only know 3 of their songs well (as of this writing), thanks to a single I found in NYC. A couple of numbers Seth introduced, so I knew the titles that way. Mostly, though, the stuff I’ve heard from them was listened to in the midst of my secretarial functions at my previous job (oh, the joys of YouTube, which I can’t get at home ‘til I get my computer or Internet upgraded). And though I’d bought their entire CD catalogue earlier that week (thank you, Tower), I didn’t have anything on which I could listen to it. They did play my 3 songs, though. ^_^

They were all a good deal different than I’d imagined, physically. Somehow thicker - especially K. Guess it’s seeing them in 3-D flesh. K is certainly taller than I’d thought. Mana, too. Though they might’ve been wearing Frankenstein boots. I couldn’t see their feet. I could see pretty much everything else, though.

K is a bit scary, but quite cool. He does a lot of support vocals, as well as guitar. He had a black knit short overlay on, atop a white outfit. They were all dressed in combinations of black & white...& had really great hair! I mean, really great. Seth was in a white long jumpsuit jacket thing, which he wore over a black outfit. And, of course, the eye patch - I think it said “Dix” on it. Sugiya had on an all-or-mostly black outfit, Hayato a white top, a little like one of those poet shirts as I recall, only not so frilly, & I think black pants.

Mana-sama looked absolutely astounding. I mean, this guy is so beautiful, it’s unreal. He was a pale, darkly made-up vision, dressed all in white, a ruffly dress with a fabulous corset w/black laces, & black lace gloves. Truly stunning - even the prettiest photos or videos of him do him no justice whatsoever. I could well see those piercing eyes, boring into every being from across the room. There is a strength to his face that is indescribable. Stoic, silent, graceful, all his motions are made with a flourish - including his bows when he left the stage. Even when he threw out guitar picks for lucky audience members to catch & cherish (Japanese bands do a lot of that, throwing picks into the crowd), there was a dramatic air to it. It’s majestic, poetic, a quiet power. I watched him a great deal, even during the moments between songs. I fondly recall him adjusting his gloves or the ruff around his neck, or brushing his bangs away from his eyes. But don’t let that beauty fool you, this guy is hard rock to the core - he plays one heck of a mean guitar!

Speaking of guitars, the Japanese are into funky shapes when it comes to their guitars. K’s was black, but I can’t find a picture of it, suffice to say it, too was funkily-shaped. Mana’s was a white guitar much like this one (he designs his own), combined a little bit with the look of this blue one, ‘cuz it had the cross on it, though not the circular MDM logo on the bottom. The cross lit up! It pulsed or flashed red during certain songs. During a couple others, it had something blue on it, but I’m not sure exactly what the symbol was.

I really did have a nice vantage point, on the whole. I could see all the band members, except when Seth stood directly in front of Hayato. Plus, K & Mana switch places every so often, so if you’re on the other side of the stage, you get to see them. They also broadcast a shot of the stage on that screen above the bar, so if you were back there getting a drink you could still watch the show. Nice of them, ne? The lighting was set up really well, a combination of groovy colours, a teeny bit of mist, & quite a bit of mood. Sometimes, it would be bright or strobe-lit, other times, the band would be back-lit & you’d get these cool silhouettes. The decagram changed colour, too.

The sound was awesome, though it’s a good thing I’d brought along my earplugs, ‘cuz I had to use them. (Read the account of the Diru concert & you’ll know why.) They did a nice mix of the hard, fast stuff, & slower songs. It was so cute to see Seth, Mana, & K head-banging in time with each other! I also liked the “teaming up” moments, like Mana & K playing side by side, or Seth letting K sing out of his mic.

One thing these guys did that Diru was unable to do when I saw them in the States - they talked! A lot. [livejournal.com profile] styxonline was kind enough to translate. Seth thanked us for coming, said they will keep our thoughts for them in their hearts & will take them along whilst on the European tour. He wished us success, as well, & asked that we fill out the questionnaires, ‘cuz Mana reads them. (We never did fill ours out, though [livejournal.com profile] styxonline translated that for me, too, later that evening.) He then brought out a clipboard, with a message from Mana (who, in case you don’t know, never speaks in public), & read off an announcement about a secret live show in November, a Moi-meme-Moitie party (that’s Mana’s clothing line), & a DVD they’ll be putting together of the European tour.

One by one, each band member was introduced, & got to speak. They asked us to, essentially, give them power so they could do well in Europe. Hayato said the crowd was a bad one (you’ll understand why when I get to the cultural differences, though it’s saying something when even the Japanese notice it), but we all yelled out his name repeatedly (at Seth’s prompting), & then Hayato said he felt better. We did this for each of them, though the highlight was Mana-sama. He, of course, did not speak, but pretended to, affecting some lovely, subtly dramatic mannerisms. At first, just for a second, I thought perhaps he had begun to speak publicly, & that the silent thing was only from the Malice Mizer days, but I quickly realised his mouth wasn’t moving! (He’d have gotten away with it if he’d been lip-synching.) It was actually Seth who spoke for Mana; if you looked, you could see he was trying to hide it. Very cute! Not to mention a little Kabuki - Iwanga in AKOYA never speaks, either, but is spoken for by the narrators.

More songs, including a few where we had to shout along. I’d have done a better job if I knew the responses. I managed to get in a little support, however. The shout-backs on “Forbidden” I knew (that’s one of my 3 songs - I think it was the last song in the main set), & there was another tune to which [livejournal.com profile] styxonline & I finally figured out the response was “Dix Mois”, which I’d kind of assumed & had been shouting at the appropriate times (though I felt better when she confirmed I was actually shouting the right words).

They did TWO encores!

Prior to one song, “Dispell Bound”, Seth directed us to follow him with hand motions. His line was, “D - I - X - Dix”. On “D” we had to do the devil horns across our forehead. For “I”, we raised the horns above our head. “X” required 2 horn signs, crossed at the wrists, which we lowered in front of us on “Dix”.

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline was so cool, she kept hoisting me up so I could see over the crowd! I’d slip down after 10 or 15 seconds, but it was seriously awesome of her to do that. Think the band noticed? Ha ha. They might have - I was the only one howling. More on that later.

Seth is a great showman. Really knows how to work a crowd. He’s got a great voice, too. And he can be pretty sexy. I just keep wondering if he really only has one eye or if that’s just for show.

Mana-sama held his guitar up high at the end, before doing his quiet power thing, where he exudes himself over the audience (all he has to do is hold out his hands & this sea of little creatures is swooning in awe & admiration), then taking his bow (with a flourish, of course) & leaving. He was the last to exit.

Seth had said, at one point, that they would try to break the language barrier while in Europe. I would be more concerned, however (though Mana-sama may be used to it, either from the Malice days, or I think MDM might possibly have done Europe before, though I don’t know that for certain, so don’t quote me on it) about the difference in audience. Even Diru, on the Family Values DVD, said we in the US are “freer” when it comes to enjoying concerts. I now understand just what they meant. We let loose! Hey, if a band goes all out the way MDM did - & they were playing their hearts out - they deserve equal feedback. I just didn’t think the audience members were doing enough. Me? I howled my little tail off. (Hope I didn’t come off as obnoxious!) The rest of the crowd did better by the end, but they had to work up to it, almost to be given permission*. They were certainly encouraged, particularly by Seth.

Bring this band to NYC & you’ll really see something.

Yes, there were a few devil horns that went up, more after a while (though we didn’t do it nearly as much as at the Diru show). The Loli-jin are more content with waving one hand about with the music, almost as if they’re conducting it, but I think the limb is actually meant to just be swaying along. They don’t really scream or howl (except for cheese-balls like me) or even clap...except for calling out band members’ names on occasion. Primarily, though, what you’ll hear at an MDM show is -

“Mana-sama!!”

A lot of it.

It’s cute for a minute. Then it gets a bit grating. Not sure why. It’s just a bunch of girls in pretty dresses yelling out in squealy voices, showing their love. I think it’s something to do with that cultural difference I talked about earlier. I think I was geared up for a fight I didn’t get, which was almost (almost, mind you) disappointing (see what Diru did to me?). Wasn’t a sweaty, look-what-the-cat-dragged-in mess after the show, which I guess I expected to be - though I was happy to have had a good view, even though I was in the back a bit. But to my foreign eyes, the initial impression I got of the fans was one of pretentiousness. It was only after [livejournal.com profile] styxonline talked to me about it, & I’d had a chance to think about it for a day or so, that it went back to being cute again.

I suppose when you look on it in a cultural context, it makes sense. Kids in school wear uniforms, there’s no individual expression. And they’re largely a shy or private people in general, the Japanese. They just don’t do outright emotions all the time, the way we’re used to. So the little Loli gals screaming Mana’s name aren’t trying to be pretentious. It’s just that this kind of dressing up & yelling out is about as free as they get.

Seriously, though, all differences aside, that show kicked butt!!

Afterwards, my head was literally in the clouds. We went for gyoza & ramen. Awesome, but filling. (Honestly, I’m not sure whether I gained weight from all the amazing food, or lost it from all the walking!) Had a discussion about the economic, social, & political problems Japan has been having or is in store for, which is sad & alarming & yet somehow didn’t bring down my fantastically good mood or discourage me from wanting to return to the country or even (if it can ever possibly be swung) living there.

Maybe someday.

Next time: Day 7 - Kyoto!!


EDIT: Here's a photo of what MDM looked like that night (actually, they looked even better than the photo, but they're in the same outfits, so you'll get the idea):

http://www.amus-ent.com/japan/pics/picbig/444.jpg

FURTHER EDIT: For a taste of what the show was like, try this YouTube clip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSAyzH_oPKs

This clip is from the aforementioned European tour DVD (showcasing the final concert, in Paris), but I am certain they played this song when I saw them; however, when I listened to the album after getting back to the States, I recognised the awesome & distinctive guitar riff.


*After a good deal of thought, I realise there may be a different mindset, as far as the Japanese audience; perhaps they consider it rude to scream or sing over/with the band, as if it takes away from the performance somehow. They might feel it's more respectful to listen to the music, take in what the band is doing, rather than make their own noise or commotion...except when, as mentioned, encouraged by the artists themselves.

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