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The Reverend

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The Reverend last won the day on May 21 2018

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  1. Rakugaki showing everyone how to do it! Not self-conscious or awkward playing to no one... just going for it exactly as if they had a packed house. (not to mention an actual person doing the camerawork for a little extra immersion) Thanks for dropping this one @Jigsaw9 it's gold.
  2. The Reverend

    I mean, gotta take the good with the bad I guess. My particular mountain town is funded entirely by sales tax so we literally run because tourists come here and spend money. It's pretty wild how empty it is now that the ski areas have been closed. Glad I still have a job... though I currently have been home for ~a week with maybe Covid-19. (you don't get tested unless you're really bad off and in the hospital, which thankfully I'm not as of yet.) Be safe @YuyoDrift and everybody!
  3. So.. given that pretty much nobody anywhere can go see concerts at the moment, I thought I'd post this live report I wrote but never posted from back in 2016. Only one of these four bands even exists any longer, and a lot of the info and things I didn't know about VK shows is kinda glaring four years later, but maybe this can take your mind off real-world concerns for a few minutes. I’m still not used to the fact that shows start (and end) so early in Japan. At home a concert means dinner, and then waiting for the first band to start half an hour late, and then the show, and then finally getting home in the early hours of the morning. This show, featuring Shiva, Morrigan, and Synk;yet (and Elysion as an opening act), was scheduled to start at 17:30… before the evening rush hour has even started in earnest! A quick walk from Ikebukuro Station and I’m descending the steps into Ikebukuro Cyber, which was marked on the outside only by a spray painted name and logo on a black door. Shoutout to the fellow M-Her that helped me get into this show, I like to think I made a few VK fangirls jealous when I got to tell the ticket-taking-girl that I was 'on the list' and a 'guest of Morrigan'. (ok I didn't actually *say* those things... I said a single line I had rehearsed about being on someone's guest list... still pretty cool though.) The space inside Cyber is small but not tiny. Including the stage it’s probably a little bigger than half a tennis court, a little wider than it is long. The interior of Cyber was a bit spartan, but modern building aesthetics are in favor of lots of exposed ductwork and supports and other industrial touches anyway. The most charming part of Cyber is that one corner wall is just the rock they dug the basement out of…. no need to finish every wall if you don’t have to. Cyber has a pretty standard layout with the bar and march tables near the rear, and there are no columns or other obstructions blocking the view from any part of the floor. I was going to say the stage was high enough to offer a good view of the band to everyone, but I’m 6’4” (193cm) so, really, I can see no matter the height of the stage. Promptly at 17:30 the house lights go out, the background music is turned up for just a second as a warning the show is about to start, and Elysion is revealed (by the manually drawn curtain) looking positively 2000’s era Matina. The three members at the front of the stage had lots of black vinyl on accompanied with plenty of decorative straps, buckles sparkles, feathers, and plenty of visible thighs. The bassist was going for a creepy look with white and black lipstick and a ripped black stocking covering parts of his face. This bad ass demeanor was neutralized somewhat by the fact that he was definitely chewing gum throughout the show (I’m not even sure how he did that while doing backup screaming!). As they launched into their first song the vocalist remained lit only from behind striking an imposing silhouetted figure on the riser at the front of the stage. Elysion, as the opening act, only had enough time for a short set and that meant no time for ballads. They played four (I think!) bangers and called it a day. The head banging of the girls in the crowd mirrored the typical VK guitar leads in the songs; a little swirlier and dizzying than at most western shows. I was getting hit by hair not only from the front and back but also occasionally from the sides! Elysion’s sound didn’t have anything especially unique to separate them from their peers yet, but the members are starting to develop their on-stage personalities… and they had some fun parts where the vocalist and both bass and guitar were all singing/screaming slightly different vocal parts simultaneously. I like when bands go the more organic route of having the non-vocalist members do the gang-shouting and background vocals (however imperfectly they do them) rather than a pre-recorded vocal track. Between sets the room seemed to get slightly more crowded as many of the fans simply sat or squatted in place (I can’t even imagine doing this on the club floors I’m used to in America!). This was my first chance to some people-watching in earnest. I noted that it’s ok to be ‘that guy’ at VK shows… the only band tees I saw were of the bands playing. A stark contrast to the unwritten rules of American metal shows where the dress code heavily favors band tees but strictly of bands that are not playing the show you’re at. Over at the merch table I saw something fun and unique (though it wasn't there later… maybe it broke). Shiva had a gachapon machine with little containers filled with what I’m not sure; cheki or buttons I’d guess. Seemed like a fun way to sell small things, and kept the contents random to encourage trading among fans. Speaking of Shiva, it was obvious they were up next (I didn’t particularly trust the order listed on the sign outside) as the music between sets was a somewhat ethereal instrumental piece with sitars…. nicely tying in with the Hindu theme of their name and the names of their releases. Shiva came out and introduced themselves (not with words or anything, they just struck poses and preened for the crowd a bit before picking up their instruments) and were all wearing white except the singer clad in mostly black and his ever-present headband. The bassist for Shiva looked very young and very cute, with a pretty sparkly silver bass to match. He came out later sans shirt and, while I enjoyed the view, it was a bit ‘fit but you know it’. The three ‘headlining’ bands got to play sets long enough that they could actually devise setlists that had a purposeful flow and cadence. Shiva started with a couple scream-ier examples of their discography to get the crowd excited, slowed it a bit in the middle for everyone to catch their breath, then picked the pace back up straight through until the finale. The vocalist even did a ‘screaming with lots of echo and feedback’ interlude to give the guitarists a chance to grab some water. I’ve always thought Shiva’s vocalist had a versatility and unique timbre to his voice that made him special among a landscape of often interchangeable VK singers. His performance live just reinforced this thinking. He was energetic and charismatic… and I found it evidence of his versatility that in songs where there were two simultaneous vocal tracks they’d often switch whether he was doing the screaming or singing live with the pre-recorded vocal track handling the other. The most fish-out-of-water experience of the show for me, and a thoroughly embarrassing moment, happened when during one song the entire crowd (even back at the rear of the floor where I was standing) got down on their knees in a prayer position in unison… had everyone here already seen Shiva live or something?? I remained standing thinking with misplaced confidence “oh this will just be a second or so, I don’t want to get down there too late while they’re coming up.” No such luck. It was a solid 10 seconds of me being the only person standing around like an idiot. It was definitely a cool crowd participation thing to do… and I was a little more prepared when they did it a second time during ‘Bury Lullaby’. Overall Shiva did a good job inciting the crowd to headbang, dive into the girls in the front row, and do the other various synchronized dancing I wasn’t prepared for. The (cute, remember) bassist had the best fan service moment of the night when he sucked the vocalist’s finger fleetingly, but seductively. I haven’t mentioned anything about the drummers yet, as they are always (necessarily) sitting in the back and the bands so far hadn’t really interacted with them, but Shiva’s drummer was by far the hardest working of the evening. He was pounding his kit as if he was mad at it, and I swear he just got stuck in double-time halfway through a couple songs and just went with it for the next two minutes whether it was supposed to be that way or not. Shiva’s rhythm (for lack of a better word) guitarist was a bit shy at this show. He never jumped up on the crate or really leaned into the crowd from the front of the stage. As they waved goodbye the bassist flicked his pick at somebody as opposed to just up in the air to be caught. He had a cool/cocky swagger that I enjoyed. Another break between sets, more changing spots and sitting on the floor. If I had to guess I’d say Morrigan was the most anticipated band of the night; they seemed to have the most people move up before their set and definitely had the most people wearing some of their merch. There were even another couple guys in the audience that were excited for Morrigan to begin (I could be wrong, because I’m basing this on about five concerts worth of experience, but I get the sense the boys generally come out for one-mans…. not so much for event shows where they’d have to endure bands they don’t like to see the ones they do.) If I had to sum up Morrigan’s set in just a phrase it would be; holy hell the relentless energy! Morrigan appeared wearing their newish outfits that were mostly black with just a pop of color each (and in my humble opinion a big upgrade over their previous red vinyl look) and demanded the entire crowd jump, or headbang, or dance around, or scream the entirety of their ~40 minute set. I was hesitant to get too involved most of the night, seeing as most of the participation was synchronized and I didn't know any of it, but I couldn’t help but pump my fists and clap along with the rest of the crowd to Morrigan’s unique brand of driving riffs and digital bounciness. All the members of Morrigan had the confidence of a band on the rise. The vocalist, Aryu, especially interacted with the crowd in ways I’ve never seen at a VK show. He was singing while leaning on girls in the front row. He was splashing the crowd with his water. During the extended girls crashing into the front row (there isn’t really *moshing* at VK shows, rather during heavy sections of certain songs the front row of girls lean forward over the front of the stage and allow people behind them to rush forward and jump into them timed with the guitar/drum hits) song he went on a mission to make sure that every member of the audience was participating in one way or another. At first this was yelling and pulling from the stage, but it soon became lowering himself to the floor and literally pulling people forward from the back so that almost everyone in the venue had jumped into the back of another member of the crowd at least once. (for the record, he was content to simply give me a high five rather than try to coerce me into smashing into somebody.) My favorite moment of the show was when he walked into the entry hallway and scolded the few girls sitting out there for not joining the mayhem in the main floor (and a couple even listened and ran out to crash into the front row!), he was not content until every single person there was moving around enjoying themselves. Don’t let my praise for Aryu make you think his supporting cast wasn’t just as energized, the rest of the band were no slouches either. The bassist, Kuloe, and his one black angel wing were a blur in front of the two black coffins Morrigan had set up on the stage to give it a little flavor. And their guitarist, Pitty, jumped/bopped around endlessly while moving his head side to side to accentuate his pigtails. He liked to make maybe slightly longer than was comfortable eye contact with individuals in the crowd while playing, there was no doubt exactly who he was staring at and motioning to. Pitty surprised me with a couple guitar solos. When I think of Morrigan’s music I generally focus on the bombastic riffs and very purposefully computer-generated-sounding effects, but there was some technicality that bubbled up over the surface occasionally. Setsuna, Morrigan’s drummer, really knew how to help propel a riff and a couple times during the show he was basically the only member left playing his instrument as the others were busy yelling at and reaching into the crowd. Look out for Morrigan! Between the number of people in the venue excited for them and their upcoming one-man tour, they really have the characteristics of a band with the potential to do some things in the VK scene. Their sound is familiar enough to get into right away but has just enough unique elements that they have a USP they can hang their hat on to separate themselves from the crowd. I can guarantee that you won’t be bored during a set of theirs. During the last between set break one member of the crowd lit up a cigarette. I’m glad it was only one person who was taking advantage of this (lack of) rule. Quick shout-out to the member of Shiva (I think the drummer but I wasn’t sure out of their outfits and makeup!) who was helping to sell things at their merch table and tried to talk to me a little/seemed genuinely excited about me enjoying their set and buying some of their CDs. Our last band of the evening, Synk;yet (who I always want to call SkyNet), are a kind of melodic/symphonic goth-y visual rock band signed to Starwave Records. Starwave having hosted the event this evening, it made sense that the band they represent got to close the show. The first thing I noticed about Synk;yet, other than the vast amount of skin the two guitarists were showing, was that they had no bassist on stage and all the bass tracks were pre-recorded. I’d later learn when researching the band that they have a bassist but he is out with a pretty serious illness… get well soon! The stage left guitarist for Synk;yet did some very slinky dancing for most of the set, and while I would have called him the lead guitarist based on persona, it was actually the opposite side guitarist who had the tougher, sweep-picking infused solos. Synk;yet’s songs were pretty typical slightly heavier VK with a nod toward the dramatic thanks to the vocalist… who is the only singer of the evening who did a diva vocal run on a long note to try and show off his singing chops (he didn’t really hit Mariah Carey-esque heights, but I’m a fan of his willingness to just go for it). The most fun part of Synk;yet’s set was the last song where the vocalists from Shiva and Morrigan joined them on stage to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. Aryu even grabbed a guitar from one of Synk;yet’s members and played the simple riff for a couple minutes. I cringed when that same Synk;yet guitarist smacked his hand really hard on an overhead light while pumping his fist skyward… ouch. His recovery of looking disapprovingly at the light like it was its fault was pretty classic. More and more members of previous bands emerged with the sole intent of encouraging the audience to throw themselves toward the stage and the chaos of the night peaked. That last song in which all the bands and the whole crowd participated was a fitting crescendo for a night filled with passion and electric energy. The biggest mistake of the evening was that the show didn’t end on the fever pitch but the band members spent five minutes talking (maybe this was more interesting for the rest of the crowd who could actually understand what they were saying… My Japanese is non-existent to terrible so I really could only catch ‘thank-you’s and the months they were talking about things happening) after playing their last song. I’m more a fan of dropping the mic on a high energy note than letting the ending meander as it did. All in all the four bands who played as part of the show acquitted themselves well and left me with a big smile on my face. Each brought a little something different to the table, but their sounds complemented each other well enough that no one in attendance couldn’t find something to like in each.
  4. The Reverend

    Let me 2nd the "yes get a pro controller" I can't imagine things like Zelda or Mario without it (even mario maker really doesn't feel right on the joycons) Do let us know how that SNES-looking controller works though, it definitely *looks* awesome.
  5. The Reverend

    Noticed a few that haven't been mentioned: Vidoll (uses the romaji spelling of their name... but unlike the Vidoll in the first post actually has some albums) Emmuree Munimuni
  6. Velvet's one of the few A9 songs I ever really liked and this version is... fine. Not sure it needed to exist but it's pleasant.
  7. The Reverend

  8. The Reverend

    What a lineup!
  9. The Reverend

    Haha when I saw @Zeus was writing about Mar Maroon I was thinking "geez I thought he had better taste than that." Glad to find out you were writing about how remarkably *bad* it was!
  10. The Reverend

    Needed some kitchen towels... had some Rarezhut points.
  11. The Reverend

    For like half a second I thought this was going to be footage of a Motorhead cover... but quickly realized it was probably the name of a venue. I don't know who that opener that wasn't is... but a one-man show sounds better anyway. I've never had $14 worth of desire for a Bud Light
  12. Sounds like an awesome show! The energy in AREA always seems to be really good. Definitely. Batsu's antics are immensely enjoyable. (Weirdly, I too dragged a couple friends that had no interest in VK to a Mamireta show when I was in Tokyo last year.... and Batsu singled me out as well, dapping me up before his breakdancing in the crowd bit. ) An interactive frontman goes a long way in making a band 'good' live. These event lives that start at 4 in the afternoon are kind of a slog even when you like all the bands right??
  13. The Reverend

    That tetsu era *is* amazing! Welcome.
  14. The Reverend

    God Damn the Sun acoustic in a tiny cafe sounds like a pretty awesome show! I'm old and jaded and "back in my day we didn't have cell phones" enough to count not seeing anyone taking lo-res video at a concert as a serious blessing.
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