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  1. SCAPEGOAT presents 全国TOUR 『死体は語る』Koriyama Club #9 2016/6/7 So I really wanted to see The Gallo while I was in Japan, and perhaps my best chance was to head up to Koriyama (about an hour away on the Shinkansen), a not particularly noteworthy city but that didn’t matter to me much. The day before I actually tried to use the 7-11 all in one business machine (or whatever they call it) to buy a ticket through Ticket Pia but the p-code listed on the website returned no results (maybe this was because the show was less than 24 hours away?). So with no more reassurance that I could get in after a train ride other than the fact that it didn’t say ‘Sold Out’ anywhere I boarded a train bound for Fukushima. I arrived at the venue (which had a real marquee out front!) about an hour before the doors opened hoping they had a ‘box office’ of sorts where I could buy a ticket. It turns out I could not, but maybe the most helpful staff member ever assured me if I came back at showtime I’d have no problem getting in. And when I returned he was super gracious about making sure I knew where the stage and bars were, props to you Club #9 guy. I imagine because this show was a bit more in the boondocks then the Tokyo or Osaka concerts I’d been attending, this was the first time I was the only foreigner in attendance… and I think I got a couple more (not unwarranted) looks of “what’s this old white dude know about VK?” than before. (All the attendees were super nice when we had reason to interact… which was mostly when I wanted to make sure I wasn’t blocking somebody’s view haha). This show started at a ridiculous 4 in the afternoon… do VK fans not have jobs or is it literally all high school girls and me in here? I think the entry foyer and bar might both be about the same size as the stage area at Club #9… yet they still have all the merch crammed here at the back. (though again the venue proves smarter than me because it was far from sold out and probably would’ve appeared painfully empty if they let people spread out any further.) Before the first band I headed up to the bar to grab a drink and marvel at the various band posters plastering the walls of the place. I don’t always even bother to cash in the drink ticket they make you buy at the door… but Club #9 actually uses little laminated tickets and I would’ve felt like a dick keeping that, intentionally or otherwise. On to the bands! IV - A band I’d never heard of. They’re like a filler VK band. Not good or bad. Hit the exact beats you’d expect them to. Here’s the headbanging at the waist part, here’s the jumping one way and then back the other part, etc. The worst part was the singer headbanging like he didn’t want to mess up his hair, get the fuck outta here with that. The bassist had a shirt that said “Less Stress More ____” with a block of white to fill in the blank, he definitely should write something in there. (or better yet get a cute fan to do it!) IV were eminently forgettable at this stage of their career. Forgot any melodies from their songs as soon as they stepped off the stage. As they were exiting the drummer tossed his water bottle into the crowd and it hit the floor and rolled limply to the feet of a girl near the back. After a second or two she resigned herself to picking it up and then offered it to fans of the band as they were filtering away from the stage. Between sets I spotted my first pair of earplugs on an audience member… though maybe there have been others with them covered by their hair. Iggy - To someone unfamiliar with VK you'd be hard pressed to explain the difference between IV and Iggy’s sets. But Iggy were acting like they *meant* it and having fun on stage. That feeling can come through a little bit on CD but is a huge factor in a live show. Iggy actually give me slightly Heisei-Ishin vibes during some tracks, so I was excited to see their set. The halloween looking guitarist came out with black make up smudged all around his mouth and lips and was definitely wearing gym shorts. I mean, they were VK-ified with some pointless zippers, but they were definitely just basketball shorts. Their bassist busted out a quick little slap solo that perked up my ears, not because it sounded great but because it sounded so unique in a VK song. The vocalist liked to make prolonged eye contact with people in the audience not participating, and also just used a girl up front to lean his foot on so he could get closer to the crowd at one point. Ouch. They played the song that stuck with me longest after the show/on the train ride home… always a good sign for a band. Nihilizm - Another band I have a soft spot for but would be hard pressed to explain why I like them over a hundred other bands that basically sound the same. I mean, I’ll be honest, the vocalist is not a very good singer. He’s like the epitome of an over nasally VK vocalist. But he was an imposing figure on the metal riser at the front of the stage screaming and snarling at the audience. Nihilizm also looked great, they came out with those red lace bands over their eyes that I think is just an aces look. They probably had the breakdown that sounded the most like legit deathcore (and there’s nothing I love more than skinny Asian boys who look like they’re cosplaying Louis XIV’s leather daddy courtesan rocking those downtuned guitars the fuck out.) Between sets I saw a bunch of those bowls (one of which I bought later) come out of girls’ bags… The Gallo must be next! ギャロ (or 大日本黒鶏主義者聯盟 as they’re going by for this tour for reasons I don’t know) - all had slightly matching sparkly black marching band inspired outfits (except for the support guitarist ). The stage left guitarist handed out small paper plates to the crowd before the music began so that even people who didn’t have an official Gallo bowl and spoon could join in the clapping (damn it I could’ve brought mine!) So I like The Gallo and their kind of weirdo, a little jangly take on VK; and the band lived up to that billing live. Jojo had lots of ‘I just escaped a mental institution’ faces and the other members too did lots of things I can’t describe as anything other than ‘weird’. Had some fun crowd participation bits. In addition to the bowl clapping, there was also one song wherein the crowd did a miniature version of the wave back and forth across the venue. During another the crowd all did that ska dance with the short little kicks I can’t remember the name of from high school…. Ahhh memories. Jojo, whose vibrato is just as intense live, could really wail like a banshee and was even a bit scary when doing so thanks to his blood red contacts and matching red lips. The guitarist could really bend backwards with the best of ‘em and did a lot of… I can’t really describe it was like he was feathering his strings with his fingers picking softly and rapidly. Their best bit of fun on stage was when the guitarist and bassist lined up behind Jojo and would pop out in opposite directions, or wave their arms to make a kind of hindu goddess figure from the front (if you’re as old as I am… think that Cosby Show intro with all the arms haha). Again, though, the support guitarist kind got left out of this. The song with the theremin did not have any theremin in it live (neither pre-recorded or extra-disappointingly played on stage). When their set ended the PA played a Gallo song and some of the crowd did the synchronized furi as if the show were still happening, glad to see the Gallo fans have as much fun as the band. (Though I must say Jojo seemed kinda angry or slightly detached during this performance, though again he’s a weirdo maybe it’s just part of the act.) Savage - Oh hey this is Depain with a new name (literally, not just that they sounded like them)! I would’ve paid them $100 to play Black Bother Barbarian. So they do dark/heavy VK with poppy choruses… which isn’t breaking any ground on wax but works for me live. When you’re not great musicians you can bury that shit in distortion if you’re playing metal! So the vocalist used to be charmingly bad but now he’s just average, I think I prefer the former. He does have a lot of confidence on stage though, and a slight oral fixation if how much he stuck his fingers in his mouth or spit water at the crowd is any indication. His best move of the night was crouching low on the riser, tumbling backwards into a reverse roll of sorts, then springing up perfectly timed to a big guitar/drum hit. I noticed the drummer looking totally envious of the other members during the ‘moshing’/diving part that he was stuck behind his kit not grabbing and throwing a bunch of pretty girls around. Ah the life of a drummer. Does anyone know which song of theirs (I’ve never listened to Savage) had the ‘whoa-oh-oh’s part? I rather liked that song, and enjoyed that the guitarist and bassist led the ‘whoa-oh’s rather than a pre-recorded vocal track. Reign - Reign, like And before them, are basically right at the center of the VK bell curve… it’s hard to have a take on them. They did do some cool roto-headbanging that included switching direction halfway through. Bet that took some rehearsing. Scapegoat - As the curtain opened one band member was standing on the riser posing with a scythe over his shoulders (which was probably intended to be badass but he also had a hat with feathers on it, which when lit from behind, may as well have been a straw hat lending the scene some serious scarecrow in a field vibes). To my surprise the scarecrow dude turned out to be the drummer… very rarely does the drummer get a chance to shine up front like that. And even more strange that the drummer had the most elaborate outfit of the four, in addition to the floppy hat he also had a very high vinyl collar. Scapegoat began their set with a piano and acoustic guitar ballad. Which would’ve been a really awesome move except we just listened to a pulsating SE track for their intro. The acoustic stuff should have just literally come first for more impact. Their bassist may have been the first VK bandman I’ve seen whose makeup was probably covering up a bit of a five o’clock shadow. He also achieved the lowest note I’d heard at any of these shows… he had my organs shaking during one track. So Scapegoat are by all appearances VK pros, and have some songwriting chops, but their tunes have just never clicked with me. It was a fun live, but I still left feeling that they were missing something. But I fully acknowledge that this is probably a failing on my part and not theirs. Different strokes and all that.
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