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Zeus

DIR EN GREY TOUR 2019: THIS WAY TO SELF DESTRUCTION

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Tracklist:

1. "絶縁体" (Zetsuentai)

2. "人間を被る" (Ningen o Kaburu)

3. "Downfall"

4. "Devote My Life"

5. "Values of Madness"

6. "Celebrate Empty Howls"

7. "赫" (Aka)

8. "Merciless Cult"

9. "Rubbish Heap"

10. "軽蔑と始まり" (Keibetsu to Hajimari)

11. "谿壑の欲" (Keigaku no Yoku)

12. "Ranunculus"

13. "The World of Mercy"

 

Encore:

14. "Followers"

15. "朔-saku-"

16. "詩踏み" (Utafumi)

 

After an unceremonious dinner of two donuts, I trudged my way through the rain and darkness to Gramercy Theatre for Dir en grey's TOUR 19: THIS WAY TO SELF-DESTRUCTION stop at New York City. I had concerns about the weather since it was raining all week, but thankfully the rain eased up by the time I reached the back of the line. The line wasn't the sea of umbrellas I had anticipated; other Dir en grey fans were less fazed by the weather and relied on the scaffolding to shield them from the elements. I made quick friends in line with the fans around me and we got to shooting the clay about different visual kei bands, which really helped to pass the time.

 

Like I noted with my previous live experience at Playstation Theater, all types of fans rolled out to see the band; goth kings and queens, scene kids from high school and college, older metal heads, obvious netizens like myself, and everyone in between. One cosplayer impressed me with his "OBSCURE"-era Kyo outfit, while another gaggle of friends looked like shinobi. It's refreshing to know that Dir en grey's appeal is still universal. Unlike my experience in line at the GazettE, Dir en grey fans know their trivia.

 

The organization was impressive until I stepped inside the venue, at which point it looked like a bomb went off. For those not in the know, Gramercy Theatre has a max occupancy of 499 people. There felt like way more than 499 people in line and in the venue. The security check was much more extensive - the guy went through my bag twice to make sure I had no recording equipment before searching me for weapons - but that part was organized. The true chaos was differentiating the merchandise line from the coat check line from the alcohol line. Everything and everyone was one vibrant, pulsating mass the minute I made my way down the stairs to the basement level.

 

I fought my way to the merch line, which at this point was short because everyone was checking in their coats, and ten minutes I later I was greeted with disappointment. There were legit five pieces of merchandise available for sale, and the items I wanted were not in my size. Shirts were $40, the hoodie was $70. I spent enough money to pay down the karma debt on my years of downloading Dir en grey's music in one shot, and nabbed myself a sweet hoodie so big I could swim in it (as they only had small and extra large available). I'm shocked they didn't bring any copies of The Insulated World to sell, because I'm sure plenty of fans would have bought.

 

Shoved the goodies in my bag, checked in all my stuff for eight dollars (definitely recommend buying a ticket with guaranteed coat check to ease the process here), then fought my way upstairs and into the venue. It's pretty narrow at first, but quickly opens up to two sections, one for standing and one for sitting. There were easily 400 people here by the time I found the alcohol bar, and seats were disappearing fast. Copped a Bud Light for $14, then ended up sitting off to the left side for the entirety of the show. For sonic balance reasons I suggest you sit or stand as close to the center as you can; Die stood to the right side and I could barely hear him, but Toshiya and Kaoru stood to the left and I could hear them clearly.

 

BYSTS cancelled at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts, was no opening act for the New York show.  This was not communicated to us beforehand, so I sat around for what felt like an eternity before the show actually began. Once the lights dimmed the crowd came to life. As the band members strode onto stage one by one backed by an SE I've never heard before, all I could see were the instruments faintly coming into the light as the strobe lights moved so fast one could catch a seizure, and the crowd heads bobbing with the occasional camera capturing the live. 

 

It was time.

 

Despite Dir en grey performing both "絶縁体" (Zetsuentai) and "The World of Mercy", the show felt as if it passed even faster than the GazettE. Dir en grey gave a great show overall and performing the album songs live has changed my perspective on them. Kyo's Joker-lite face paint was a nice surprise for sure; I wonder how influenced he was by the eponymous movie released earlier this year. He tried to get us to sing along a few times and was obviously pissed when we didn't know the words, but what can you expect from a crowd whose first language isn't Japanese? I can recall he tried during "Rubbish Heap" and "The World of Mercy", and the second attempt was much more successful than the first. 

 

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Photos courtesy of u/ raggedypan from Reddit.

 

The biggest change are my opinions on "絶縁体" and "Devote my Life", tracks I didn't enjoy on disc but enjoyed greatly live. Unfortunately, "The World of Mercy" is still a big miss for me. Even understanding that the song is the thematic end to The Insulated World didn't shake my convictions, although I must admit that the music video for this song is unapologetically brutal, even for Dir en grey. It is hard to describe what I saw since the video was censored with a triangle overlay, but there was a bloody rampage that starts about halfway through. I don't understand what's so shocking that it needs to be censored live, considering they played the uncensored versions of the "朔-saku-" and "人間" PV's. Having said that, Kyo pantomiming disembowelment during "The World of Mercy" is one of the highlights of the show for sure.

 

Aside from "赫" (Aka), most of the time the projects were little more than a lyrics video. "赫" (Aka) has a beautiful music video of burning baby dolls and piano with a red filter over all of it accompanied by some lyrics. It's tame so I hope they officially release it after the tour's conclusion. In comparison, "絶縁体"'s video is a more cryptic affair of flashing imagery, one that works better live than as a standalone music video. The way "絶縁体" ends stuck with me far after the show is over. At the end, the music video was revealed to be within the mind of a human, so thematically  "絶縁体" and "人間を被る" are much more connected than I thought. It also ends on same "human slicing" technique that we saw in "人間"'s PV. The heavy use of projection imagery also explains why the set lists for each stop on the North American tour are almost identical, save for one song in the encore.

 

I hope all of the visualizations and more come our way via the next installment of the AVERAGE collection of uncensored music videos (AVERAGE INCEL?).

 

This was an album-heavy show, but we still got some throw backs in the form of "Merciless Cult" and "朔-saku-". The former came on halfway through the show where as the latter was part of the encore. The new version of "朔-saku-" - which is basically the studio version with gutturals replacing the  screams - was pretty dope, but I felt that the new version of "Merciless Cult" live hit so much harder. "詩踏み", the encore closer, was also much better than the studio version. The extended distortion was the perfect way to end the encore. I'm jealous that Denver got "腐海" (Fukai 2018) and that Dallas got "理由" (Wake), but that's how it is sometimes.

 

The New York crowd was a rough one. I sat in the back like the old rock geezer I am, but at one point during the show I saw security pull one person out from the crowd who was getting crushed. There was also a crowd surfer at another point during the show, which was also wild. I actually got to spoke to him after and he was a pretty chill dude. If you are of a smaller frame or have doubts about the ferocity of the pit, I would find a seat before the show begins.

As the show winded down to a close, the band members disappeared one by one. Shinya and Kyo were the first to go, leaving the stage almost immediately after the encore. Shinya threw his drum sticks into the crowd and disappeared second; Kyo was first. Toshiya hung around for a bit but didn't engage the crowd much and left soon after. It was the two guitarists, Die and Kaoru, that entertained the crowd the most. They waved at the fans, threw picks and water bottles at the crowd, and took their leave after two minutes. We were treated to a bit more darkness before the lights cut on and reality came crawling back. The show was over and it was time to go home.

If getting inside the venue was a pain in the ass, getting out was an even bigger one. I played my cards right and still had trouble getting around. The downstairs area was simply too small to contain all of us. I heavily advise buying merchandise before coat check. There's a wider assortment of goodies available before the show and a lot of people wait until after the show to buy, so more likely than not you will always be on the shorter line. I was on line long enough to meet up with @Ro plz and chat about our experiences for a bit, but the scene was too chaotic and we were quickly separated. I tried to wait outside, but there was another show for SURFACES lined up and the security were motioning for us to disperse. I stuck around for ten minutes, chatted with some random fans, and bounced.

 

I had a blast and can definitely recommend seeing Dir en grey live if you have the money or can snag the tickets for a reasonable price. Money was the biggest contributing factor on my decision to go; buying the tickets from a scalper ran me almost $200!  This was one of their better live performances judged solely off of all the live recordings I have seen and heard of the band, and Kyo is in good shape vocally for this tour. Go with friends if you can, and if not try to arrange to meet up with people from here! Fans are really friendly to talk to considering none of us knew anything about each other other than that we were fans of the same band, but that speaks to how deeply music can connect people.

 

:3 Until next time! :3

 

 

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On 12/23/2019 at 4:33 PM, Zeus said:

 

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 :tw_tounge_xd:

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On 12/25/2019 at 12:08 AM, The Reverend said:

 

 

I don't know who that opener that wasn't is... but a one-man show sounds better anyway.

 

It was better IMO. It sucked that we had to wait an extra half hour, but in retrospect I wouldn't have preferred hearing BYSTS. I came for Dir en grey, I didn't want what they were offering.

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