Monday, April 21, 2008

Live Report 4/19/08, Urawa Narciss: LAVERITE, WHITEBLACK, OZxBONE, Kanabun, Lerise, Selphy, Sigma


LAVERITE's most recent live felt like a complete 180 from the last one. I felt good about our performance, about our interaction with fans and the other bands, and just plain good about myself for the first time in awhile.

We were going up first, which meant we rehearsed last, don't spend any time in the upstairs dressing room the whole night, and didn't have all that much time to do costumes/makeup. The first band always uses the backstage dressing room right off stage. In a way, I like that: I notice that I'm extremely self-conscious doing my makeup/hair/costume in front of other bands. I'm relatively inexperienced and I'm still experimenting with technique and I don't want to look like a total tool in front of everybody. It's a totally irrational fear, but as the "one of these things is not like the other" guy, it's hard to push away.


We get up on stage, and I notice that there are girls standing in front of Ryota's place on stage, girls standing in front of Yue's place on stage, aaaaaand nobody standing in front of me. You know, I thought, at this point, it's kind of amusing being the guy with no fans. Might as well roll with it! And at that moment, Inertia showed up, running to get into position in front of me. Bless her so flippin' much, seriously. I can't believe she came to support us; I was really happy about that.

Ryota was spot-on for the whole set, Yue rocked hisself good, and I was feelin' pretty good. The set list was straight-up metal the whole time, which pleased our crowd and left me pleasantly exhausted. I had vocal parts on the 2nd and 3rd songs: harmony in the chorus and background shouts, respectively. I consider myself a good singer but I cannot do screams or shouts for jack. Still, it sounds pretty interesting. Can't wait to see how it turned out on the tape. (By the by: I'm having trouble ripping/editing the DVDs, so please be patient while I hack up the good performances into Youtube-sized chunks!)


We always open up with "Sephirot" and end with "Criticism". "Sephirot" drags on a little long and I don't really do anything interesting during it. "Criticism", on the other hand, is way fun to play... I do tapping in the beginning and toward the end, some slap and a sexy bassline in the bridge (which isn't in the recording linked above, but whatever). Also a big ol' jump just after the guitar solo. We have quite a few ballads that I think are composed well instrumentally and have great solos but we've been told they break up the flow of a set. We also have some very Malice Mizer-y/Lareine-y tunes that I always worry won't get a good reaction but I tend to be wrong. And then the traditional metal numbers; the ones we did that night were "Delusion" and "Dirtiest", with "Delusion" being the most fun for me to play--probably my favorite song to play, along with "Sexy Dance". (Actually, any song in which I get to show off is fun for me.)


The next band up was Lerise, a 4-piece with the vocalist also playing rhythm guitar. Completely refreshing. They didn't sound Visual, if visual has a distinct sound: there were portions of their tunes that sounded like a throwback to much older VK, but for the most part their sound was alternative rock, and competently written and performed. There was also acoustic guitar in their 3rd song, and the vocalist was genuinely a talented acoustic player. I enjoyed watching their rehearsal. Also, their bassist and I have the exact same bass so that was cool. Or awkward? Maybe cool.


After them was OZxBONE, who are quickly becoming our buddies. We've played with them 3 times already and will be playing with them again in June. Ken-ken heard me speaking English with Inertia and told me that my English was very good. He was surprised to hear me say that I'm not Japanese. I don't know why this is so hard to understand; I don't look Japanese at all! Still, it was a nice indirect compliment of my Japanese. OZxBONE is very Sex Machineguns in their approach; the songs are silly and the performance simply fun. They're very easy to get along with, too; some of our fans overlap so we did demachi together and Ken-ken and I got to talk a lot more.


4th was WHITEBLACK, who are certainly talented, but I missed their set as we were in the office taking care of money issues and having our little pep talk with the manager.

One thing we talked about were my concerns as the one non-Japanese in VK. It's been largely a non-issue for Japanese fans, and if anything it's been somewhat of a plus. Very little of what's been said has gotten its way back around to me, so I've been in the dark and worried about if it's been helping or hurting us. What the Narciss staff told me put me at ease and really gave me more confidence. I mentioned the fact that if anyone's had anything negative to say at all, it's been a tiny handful of foreign fans of VK, as if since VK originated in Japan and has been done solely by Japanese, that it is only to be ever done by Japanese. The entire staff jumped in and said variations of "That's a wall that you need to tear down, then", which felt really good.

I don't know that my ambitions are that great at the moment. We're a dinky little indies band with next to no resources and a tiny fanbase. I just want to have fun, meet cool people, and play music. If I'm supposed to be That Guy, then the opportunities will present themselves and I'll do my best not to pass them up. If anything I hope I can at the very least open the door to the non-Japanese VKer who will make a big splash in Japan, and in Japanese. (I realize there are VK-ish non-Japanese artists based in various places around the world--Brazil, Australia, etc--but the heart, the most important network, is still Japan.)


The next band was called Selphy, and it's a darn shame I can't find any evidence of their existence or a website because they were fantastic! Great twin guitar work, killer drummer, and this really awesome vocalist who totally reminded me of Bruce Dickinson, both vocally and a little bit in the face. He had all these well-practiced moves and never missed a note. Good god they were fun to watch.

And then there was Sigma, who use the Greek letter as their name, and to whom I didn't pay that much attention to. Sorry guys.

And last was Kanabun, a session band with some members from Ghost, some other band, and two pleasant surprises: Masaki, formerly the vocalist of Sulfuric Acid and current guitarist of +ISOLATION, and Dan, formerly the drummer of Ensoku! I talked to Dan backstage earlier in the day and he was very glad to see me. And Masaki!, that guy is just seriously way cool. He's not really that good of a singer at all, but his performance is fun, his smile is cute and infectious, and he just always looks so dang happy. Ryota and I were psyched that we were taiban-ing with him; "I wanna be that guy's friend!" we both said to each other. They did this way cool heavy Japanesque nu-metally opener song, then did Dir en grey's "New Age Culture" poorly, and then did a really muddy version of hide's "ever free". They weren't that great, but Dan is never, ever bad and Masaki was there so you sort of forgive everything and just have fun, because they're having almost too much fun. It's epidemic.


After the last band, in an effort to be less nervous around fans, I started passing out tickets too the free show on 5/1. It seemed to have a really positive effect on everybody; some stopped to talk to me a little longer, even if just to ask how to read my name 慈弥 (which, to most Japanese people, initially looks like "Jiya"). Two girls in particular took an interest in me and we talked for awhile. They asked me where I was from; I said "Atlantis" which is my answer to that question. Now, one girl knew I was just putting on a character; the other thought that it was the name of a city in some other country. Anyway, then they asked me a lot about Atlantis and I wasn't prepared for that so I had to make stuff up on the fly.

They reacted in a way that made me feel like a mannequin--they were clearly interested in me and they talked about me in front of me, as if I couldn't hear them or something. I suppose that's normal? It was all good stuff, though.

The Demachi was lots of fun. Those two talked to me a lot, too, and I revealed that of course I was from America. The one was surprised, so we made fun of her. She was pretty bold and asked if I'd get with her, so maybe one day she could get Atlantean citizenship. I deftly avoided that by saying we could talk more about that if she came to our next live. And that, my friends, is how you keep them coming back. I went from 0 fans to probably 3 or 4 that night! One step at a time, right? :)

Mish, Brandon, Lika, and Ryo finally came, and it totally made my night. So glad they made it out to support me. They actually enjoyed it!

Next live is 5/1, and free. Looking forward to it!


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is really cool man! You give hope to every non-VK artist around the world! It's good that you're developing a fanbase little by little. Good luck on your next performance with the band! ^_^

off-topic question: What kind of bass do you and the bassist of Lerise have?

Go said...

lol @ Atlantis * congratulations on your growing fan collection!

And about being the wall-tearer-downer / "That Guy" -- don't even try to force it, just keep going with the flow.

great report!

Go said...

(what i mean is: don't feel like you have to be the official representative of gaijin in VK -- just do what you wanna do.)

Elec said...

Evillevonrandom: Thanks!
And we both use a black 5-string Ibanez Soundgear. It was relatively cheap, plays well, smallish body, and man I just seriously love it. The only other bass I would consider getting at the moment is MAYBE a Yamaha 6-string.

Go: Yeah, that's sort of what I plan on doing. I'm not on any mission, unless that mission is rocking out. In fact I think if I (or anyone) DID have any sort of conscious mission it would universally fail to endear itself to anybody.

mrvolt said...

Two girls in particular took an interest in me and we talked for awhile. They asked me where I was from; I said "Atlantis" which is my answer to that question. Now, one girl knew I was just putting on a character; the other thought that it was the name of a city in some other country.

She's was probably thinking of Atlantis, Florida. XD

They reacted in a way that made me feel like a mannequin--they were clearly interested in me and they talked about me in front of me, as if I couldn't hear them or something.

Ah, but that's because you exist merely as an aesthetic object to them, which of course is your role in that context. ;-)

Another excellent report, Elec! Thank you!

marius said...

God that all sounds so cool! I'm really hoping you guys are gonna play shows in June! I think the final word is that wolfgang and I will be in Tokyo from June 8th to the 17th. We'll totally hit up any gigs you've got then.

Oh yeah, cool side note: we had to put on a presentation for the class we're going to Japan for, and our topic was Contemporary Music in Japan. We totally plugged LAVERITE.

Sweet report. Keep rockin!

Nakamura said...

It's always great to read your reports! And I'm glad things went better this time!

Don't think too much about you situation as a non-japanese in a VK band. Just keep doing your best, having fun and enjoying every second of the experience! I wish you all the luck in the world!

Oh, and thanks for the mp3s, I've already listened to them and it's been scrobbled at my page. ^_^

fuzzurin said...

You don't really know me (I'm semi-active on Go's blog but I read your LAVERITE reports and other entries from time to time), but I'm going to be in Tokyo from July 3rd - August 5th. I hope I can catch you guys while I'm there.

Congratulations on the growing fanbase; I hope all goes well for you guys.

An ani mouse said...

hi five. Sounds like tons o fun.

the report was well written and interesting as usual.

LOL word verification jhomo . I don't think it's THAT funny, but it is a bit.

Fumashi said...

Nice tunes, cool reviews, keep it up, dude ^~^

faith said...

dammit elec, now i'm gonna have to answer with "hyperborea" or "agartha" when i get asked where i'm from.

and i'm the opposite, people tend to assume i'm japanese until they hear me talk, alas.

but awesome report and it's pretty sweet that you're reviewing your own band too -- do your bandmates read or know about this blog? what you should do is convince more vk people to blog. beyond the whole "i bought an ipod, that makes me happy", "tomorrow i'm going to kobe" type thing.

haru said...

Hey, got to know about your blog from Go's site and have been reading it for a while now. Really enjoy reading your live posts! Don't worry if you're the only westerner there! Like you said, because of you, there could be more non-japanese coming into the scene!
If you guys have lives in July i'll definitely be there, as i want to attend some concerts when i'm there. I'll try to stand at your corner! (o^-')b

I'm curious though, i thought japanese girls like westerners? in australia, where i'm studying at the moment, the girls just crowd around the white guys whenever we have a party.

Elec said...

Thanks everyone! :)

marius: We have a live on 6/15 at Narciss! Lucky you! (Also would be awesome to see you guys again)

fuzzurin: I recognize your name; thanks for checking me out. We're booked on 7/26 at Narciss and we plan to have maybe 3 lives in August. :)

faith: Ryota and Yue know about this blog, and they know how honest I am on it, but they don't mind. (They can't wait to do a video interview!) They both have their LAVERITE blogs and Ryota links his private blog on his LAVERITE page but like you said it's all usually substanceless. Which is fine. I would like to see something similar to what I do, but I don't expect that to happen anytime soon, unfortunately.

Hi Haru; thanks! And yeah, the image is certainly that j-girls like the western boys, and while I could write a book on the truths and misconceptions of that statement, I'll refrain from any comment on that right now. Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, I haven't dated in awhile, and it's been awhile since I've been aware of anyone being interested in me. ^_^;; (I could very well be naively missing huge signs, but I wouldn't bet on it!)
But hey, more power to your classmates, I guess?? Just make sure they know to treat 'em right, though, and if they don't, punch 'em in the balls for me. I'm dead serious. You tell 'em Jimi told you to.

Kataomoi said...

Ah! 5/1 is my graduation day! Happy times ^^ I'll be there in spirit flinging my cap~

haru said...

don't worry, it's the Japanese girls that abuse them...:P

Klisk said...

Wow, sounds like you guys are just improving and improving. So happy for ya'.

The full recordings of those songs are great, by the way. I'm partial, though. I'm hugely into the whole "aristocratic" VK sound, so I'm genuinely a fan of your band now! If I ever win the lottery I'll go to Japan to see ya' live, haha.

M said...

About them talking about you in front of you, couldn't that be a way of complimenting you indirectly. I mean many Japanese girls (girls in general, really) have a hard time looking a guy in the face and saying something complimentary, but by talking to one of their friends about it in front of the guy, you a) make it so you're not the only one complimenting the guy and b) make the compliment somewhat indirect.

I could be wrong, of course, I wasn't there, but it's a thought.

Sara J. said...

Elec, you always post the poshest promo pics on your blog but I have yet to see an "official" one for LAVERITE...? When's the shoot?

Anonymous said...

I've been surfing into your blog from time to time (heavens knows how I found you; likely it had something to do with existtrace), and figured it's about time I comment.

I really love reading what you have to write about both your band and the other bands you play with. It's pretty contrary to most indies blog posts, that--as you seem to have mentioned--generally lack substance. It's refreshing, and it's a good heads-up on smaller bands to keep an eye on.

That said, I (like many other commenters here, it seems) will be in Tokyo this summer. It's my mission to go to as many lives as possible, and if you lot play while I'm over there, I'll be in attendance.

fabiano said...

yo man i found your blog by accident xD and i trully enjoyed your comments!! and i was curious about your sound i couldnt get in on your band's homepage so if you could upload something it would be very nice =D good luck with byakura singer kkkkkk y can do it =D

Amber said...

I mentioned the fact that if anyone's had anything negative to say at all, it's been a tiny handful of foreign fans of VK, as if since VK originated in Japan and has been done solely by Japanese, that it is only to be ever done by Japanese.

Hahahaha, that's stupid. Technically rock had its roots in blues music made by black people. So then, if we're limiting music by strictly cultural/racial divides, 90% of the rock scene just disappeared.

The only time an "outsider" should probably hold back is if they suck. Which obviously, you don't. :)