LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK “Who are you?? Who are we??” Tour Live in Singapore (November 22, 2013)

ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 1: Hello Singapore!

THE BEGINNING

The time: 7:15 AM (yes, morning). The place: Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa. I took my place at the end of a still short queue and braced myself for the monumental wait ahead. The live was still 13 hours away. The people in front of me arrived 3AM, some even 6PM the day before. Ah the things we do for love.

Fortunately, Tsu and Sharon arrived a few minutes later. We passed the time talking about random stuff and people watching. But the hours moved…ever….so….slowwwwwwwly. The temperature was climbing too: from a tolerable 29°C to a sweltering 32°C. There were even moments wherein we felt there was no air circulating.

Around noon time, more and more people had arrived. The line was already snaking around the waiting area. People are getting more restless too as coupled with the heat, there was lesser space to move. We were all sweating like pigs.

Soundcheck began and we were treated to the voice of someone who must have had discovered the microphone for the first time. I had no idea checking the microphones would be such an arduous task. He was making these strange noises as if calling out to the fishes at the nearby marina (think Finding Nemo). He kept at it for hours! The guitars were tuned, then the drums. Then he was at it again! Around 4PM though, we heard the unmistakable voice of Taka. The band was rehearsing “Be The Light” and we could hear it very clearly. That lifted everyone’s spirit up. I saw smiles albeit weary ones.

The Singaporean ST passed around a banner and a notebook for everyone to sign on. A photographer from LAMC productions asked around for anyone who wants to have their picture taken. Familiars faces popped up. I saw Jac again and met the L’Arc~en~Ciel Singaporean Street Team. Someone opened a purple L’Arc~en~Ciel umbrella as a girl toting a VAMPS bag passed by. Marshals kept the line intact as tourists wondered what’s with this mass of sweaty individuals, mostly wearing black with skulls on it, were up to.

At 5PM (?), the goods kiosks finally opened. The skull wearing people were now joined by more skull wearing people and even those wearing a druid design. I got myself another shirt (skulls!) and after a moment’s hesitation, a copy of OOR’s latest album. Sharon got a skulls shirt too. It’s amusing because earlier on we were both decided on getting the druid version.

And then we waited some more.

7PM came and HOLY SHIT, THIS IS IT. We were finally ushered into the venue. We ran ahead and landed at this spot: 3rd row, between Taka and Toru’s positions. In other words: PERFECTION.

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We still have an hour to go before the boys get onstage but that’s nothing considering how long we had already been waiting. What got me worried though was that even though the venue was open air, there was lack of air! There was little room to move and everyone’s sweat was mingling with someone else’s. Thankfully, the production people gave us cups of water to pass around and they kept this up all throughout the live.

A few minutes more til 8PM and final soundchecks were made. The guy tuning Toru’s guitar was really good. And he even checked the drums! Made us wonder though if he was also the one “toying” with the mike earlier. I didn’t wonder long because my heart just skipped a beat. All the lights went out. The crew shuffled out of the stage. The live was about to begin.

THE LIVE

At approximately 10 minutes past 8PM, ONE OK ROCK hit the Singapore stage with a stirring performance of Ending Story?? It was stirring because by the time they reached the chorus, the audience had become a whirlpool. Toru hovered over me, just 10 feet away but I couldn’t concentrate because I was worried of being crushed. I’m not entirely sure how it happened but the crowd started swerving from left to right. I literally toppled over the people right next to me only to be pushed back towards the other direction. This went on for quite a while and it was actually very frightening.

Deeper Deeper followed and the girl in front of me signaled that she felt faint. The people around her including me waved frantically to the crew to get her out. One of the big burly bouncers lifted her to safety. Later on, about 2-3 more people were carried out in the same fashion.

The human whirlpool settled down a bit as the band segued to Nothing Helps. Then they sang C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. and the swaying was reduced to the hands only. I was finally able to gawk at Toru and Taka. Ryota’s abs and the rest of him occasionally ventured to our side too. They were so close! They’ve also gotten bajillion times hotter since the last time I saw them.

Much like last year, Taka asked everyone squat down as an intro to Let’s take it someday. He had to repeat the request several times before the crowd exhibited a semblance of compliance. Taka, you have to understand. There was no space for us to move. We did do our best though to jump.

It all literally became a blur to me after that. Literally and figuratively. My glasses had fogged up and I was so afraid to remove them knowing that if my clammy hands dropped them, they would turn to dust in a hearbeat. (Note to self: get contacts for succeeding lives).

As for the band itself, they were flawless. Their energy was bountiful and their showmanship was superb. Perfect form all throughout. I must also give special mention to Taka’s voice. It has gotten steadier and it’s amazing how he can sustain it as he growled and reached long notes. The emotions he poured into each song was very tangible. At one point, (can’t remember if it was during C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. or Be The Light), he achingly sang the final notes of the song as he crouched down to the floor. He remained in fetal position for quite a while, as if in anguish. Then he walked off to the side of the stage and wiped his face with a fluffy white towel. It was mesmerizing.

Their performance of Be The Light was especially poignant for me. Toru shifted to an acoustic guitar and he silenced the rowdy crowd with just the initial chords. As we all know, this song was in memory of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. As OOR performed the song, I thought of my country, the Philippines, and prayed that just like what the song says, our nation, especially the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, would find the strength in our hearts to start anew and “keep it up and not give up, with out heads held high“.

The band followed it up with LIAR and boy, what a complete turn around in emotions. As Tsu empathically said, “NERISSA, IT’S YOUR SONG!” Indeed, it was and I sang it with full vigor.

Taka made another request prior to Answer is Near. He asked us to do the WOHOHO a few times with a few variations. These guys surely know how to keep the crowd hyper. Sometime before or after this segment, the boys did their MCs. Basically, their MCs were different ways of saying that the Singapore crowd was FUCKING AWESOME! Impressively, their English had improved a lot. It also seemed that they were not reading off as script just like last year. Ah but Tomoya stole the show when he introduced himself. I don’t know why but he was wearing a nose clip which was probably why when he introduced himself, he had a really strangely cute voice, almost like a toddler who knows how to get his way.  If only someone was able to clearly record his “Hello, I am Tomoya”, I would make it my message alert tone immediately.

Toru and Ryota had their moments too. No, make that TORU AND RYOTA HAD A MOMENT. It bugs me that I cannot remember for which song it was for but the two of them had a guitar duel of sorts. Toru ran to Ryota’s side and they exchanged a few rifts, face to face. Ryota would surge forward and Toru would meet him head on. And then…and then they touched their foreheads. Or at least it seemed that way. They continued with their duel, faces just inches apart. Elsewhere in the venue, fanfics were being hatched and fan arts were being scheduled.

A few more electrifying performances later, Taka took to the mike and said, “In Japanese, ok?” He then went into a lengthy spiel  which mentioned “kokoro” a lot. Forgive me, that’s the only word I understood. He ended it in English: “This is our last song: The Beginning”. It was no question that OOR’s fanbase really swelled after they were given the opportunity to record Rurouni Kenshin’s theme. The Beginning had endeared them to a wider audience hence when Taka introduced it, the crowd erupted even more. We were in unison as we sang our hearts out, even as the band members exited the stage.

They came back moments later to finally close the show with a gut-wrenching performance of Wherever You Are. What a beautiful moment and what a fantastic show!

AND THEN THIS HAPPENED

All throughout the show, I was carrying the banner brought over by Michelle and Mariz featuring the messages from Philippine fans. I raised it up whenever a band member leaned over, long enough for him to see what it says but still in consideration of the people behind me. As the live wounded down, the Singaporean ST gave their banners to the band. They were just in front of me so I asked if they can give the Philippine banner as well. I forwarded it to a girl who then promptly threw it to the stage. Ryota saw what happened and he laughed. He then went over to pick up the banner and scanned the contents. I only learned later that while this was happening, Taka caught a red thong as it was thrown to the stage. I didn’t witness any of that as my eyes were transfixed to Ryota as he was holding our banner. He showed it to Tomoya and then both of them raised it over their heads. There on the stage, Ryota and Tomoya were brandishing a banner saying “We want ONE OK ROCK in the Philippines” with all our messages written around it. Taka then asked them what they were holding and Ryota said “Philippines”. Probably realizing that it should have said Singapore, Ryota and Tomoya sheepishly brought down the banner. But that’s fine. All is fine with the world. ONE OK ROCK has our banner. Mission accomplished.

THE AFTERMATH

My hair was matted to my face and my shirt was drenched not only with my own sweat but also of the people around me. My legs were like jelly and my whole body felt as if it had run a marathon. I looked like a mess but instead I was gleaming. The grueling waiting period, the brush with heatstroke and being caught in a human whirlpool were all worth it. ONE OK ROCK was worth it.

And yes, I would do it all over again. In a few hours from the time of this writing actually. ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 2: Welcome to Jakarta is happening later today and I really should be sleeping right now.

A few more random observations before I hit the sack:

  • The band members bow to the audience after almost every song. Wow.
  • Taka remained looking pristine as we all sweat like pigs, even his co-members. He looked so radiant and fresh all throughout the live it was so unfair. Must be because he was wearing a loose shirt with the sleeves cut off? But Ryota was half naked and he was all sweaty too. And then there was Toru, darling Toru. He was wearing a black V neck shirt which clung to his torso as he was very sweaty. So sweaty in fact that crew members had to wipe his sweat off the floor sometimes. Haha. I don’t know about Tomoya but he looked comfy on his throne.
  • There was no hoodie on sale despite being listed as official goods. Then again, considering how hot and humid that day was, selling a hoodie was ludicrous.
  • I wasn’t able to see them before or after the live like last year 😦 Too dead tired to conspire with the universe. Perhaps in Jakarta? 😛

Finally, the setlist courtesy of @ONEOKROCK_SG:

  1. Intro: Where idiot should go-
  2. Ending Story??
  3. Deeper Deeper
  4. Nothing Helps
  5. C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.
  6. Let’s take it someday
  7. Jibun ROCK
  8. Clock Strikes
  9. Be the light
  10. Liar
  11. Answer Is Near
  12. NO SCARED
  13. Re:make
  14. Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer
  15. The Beginning
  16. Encore: Wherever you are
top photo grabbed from LAMC Production's Instagram
top photo grabbed from LAMC Production’s Instagram
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Come on bloodsuckers!: The VAMPS LIVE 2013 Live Viewing in Jakarta Experience

(Guess who’s back from the dead! Hi everyone! Finally back with another update. I’ve recently moved to Jakarta and compared to Manila, there are a lot more J-rock related events here so expect more frequent updates. What’s next on my calendar? Another encounter with ONE OK ROCK this November!)

It all started with a countdown. The onscreen audience was shouting “VAMPS! VAMPS!!” while we, the cinema audience, were staring intently as the clock shifted. And then finally, it read 6:66. The curtains gave way to a stage bathed in red light. No adornment apart from the slim columns of light coming from above which changes color during the live. One by one, the band members emerged. HYDE’s entrance was dramatic. He had these contact lenses which glowed in the dark and the effect was mesmerizing.

VAMPS kicked off their performance with VAMPIRE DEPRESSION. He took to the spotlight with Ju-ken on his left and K.A.Z. on his right. Interestingly, the pianist and drummer each had their glass encased section by the back of the medium sized stage.

They segued to MADE IN HEAVEN next which transitioned nicely to Devil Side. HYDE spoke a bit before launching into COSMOS. Secret to my Heart followed. By this time, the band and the audience (both in ZEPP and in the cinema) were really hyped up. HYDE shouted “Come on bloodsuckers, let’s go to heaven’s gate!” He referred to the audience as “bloodsuckers” a few times during the live. The band then played Replay where the heaven’s gate reference came from. Just HYDE-era fans (like me!) were in for a treat as VAMPS performed Countdown and DOLLY next (wished they played Season’s Call though!).

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After which, the mood on the stage shifted. The stage went dark save for a blue spotlight trained on the pianist playing a melancholic tune. Ju-ken was then showed playing a contrabass (?). The lights came back and HYDE began singing Sweet Dreams. The drums were a bit off during this performance, like it was not in synch with the other parts of the song. Anyway, what came next was actually a surprise for me. It was the David Bowie classic Life on Mars. HYDE said a few words then moved on to Ahead followed by Angel Trip.

Ju-ken had his moment as the next segment had him showing off some riffs. What followed was a really awkward performance of Trouble. I never did warm up to VAMPS’ version of this song and this performance was not doing the song any good. HYDE sounded like a drunken MIYAVI (and only MIYAVI can pull that off). A bit of a drum solo then BOOM! Live Wire was next. This probably was one of the most energetic parts of the whole live. Proof of which was by the time it ended, HYDE was breathing heavily. And boy, did he milk that moment for all it’s worth. After a few seconds of HYDE sexing it up for the camera, VAMPS performed Midnight Celebration. The stage then went dark and the band members left the stage. The set was over.

After a few minutes though, the band members then came back for their encore. When K.A.Z. entered he was carrying a blue water gun which he used to spray the audience. And where was HYDE? The camera revealed him crouched behind the speakers with a red water gun which he then used on the audience. HYDE then strapped on his guitar then went over to K.A.Z. and they did a really short guitar duet before finally launching into a frantic performance of Love Addict.

Next came the MCs. K.A.Z. was first and I was fairly amused hearing him speak that long. He talked for about 3 minutes? When it was HYDE’s turn, he said a really funny story because the audience was cracking up. As for me, all I understood were the words that kept popping up: okaasan, toire and arigatou gozaimasu. HYDE delivered it with so much glee and an animated face which was why I couldn’t help but laugh along. A performance of MEMORIES followed.

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The excitement onstage went several notches higher as the band segued to an extended version of Hunting. And just when we thought the song was over, HYDE would say “Again!” and true enough, the hunt would restart. With all that rambunctious energy, it was only natural that the next and final song would be Sex, Blood, Rock and Roll. There was no blood, but I could have sworn the stage reeked of sex and was definitely delivering some raunchy rock and roll.

Overall, the live viewing experience was really fun. It didn’t have the same elation a real live would give but seeing HYDE and the others projected that big onscreen brought a new level of awe. We can practically see their pores! And as every naughty grin, playful lick and loaded innuendoes were magnified several times over, it could be very breathtaking sometimes. At one point and I can’t remember when because I was too busy wiping the blood on my nose, HYDE addressed the camera and mentioned live viewing. He then proceeded to turn on the charm to maximum level and said hello in different languages. He ended the spiel by saying “See you soon!”.

Well, HYDE I’ll hold on to that promise. Jakarta, and hopefully Manila, better be on your worldwide tour. Until then, this postcard I got from the cinema would be firmly tacked to my wall.

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VAMPS LIVE 2013 July 07 Setlist:

  1. VAMPIRE DEPRESSION
  2. MADE IN HEAVEN
  3. Devil Side
  4. Cosmos
  5. Secret in my Heart
  6. Replay
  7. COUNTDOWN
  8. DOLLY
  9. Sweet Dreams
  10. Life on Mars
  11. Ahead
  12. Angel Trip
  13. Trouble
  14. Live Wire
  15. Midnight Celebration

Encore:

Love Addict

~ K.A.Z. MC ~

~ HYDE MC ~

Memories

Hunting

Sex, Blood, Rock and Roll

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LIVE REPORT: L’Arc~en~Ciel 20th L’Anniverary World Tour Live in Hong Kong (March 03, 2012)

FROM HOSPITAL TO HONG KONG: L’ADVENTURE DAY 1

Armed with my doctors’ clearance and sheer determination, I made it to Hong Kong around 9:30 in the morning, a day before the concert. I actually didn’t think I could make it considering that I just had a major surgery more than 2 weeks ago but I’ve planning for this since last year and everything has been laid out. Besides, this unique opportunity to see one of my favorite bands live had fortified my will to get better in the speediest time possible.

Upon arrival, I immediately set out to Asia World Expo to claim my ticket. The box office had yet to open and there was already a really, really long line. Apparently, pre-sale for Lady Gaga’s May live was on the same day. I went to customer service instead but was told that even though I’m just going to claim my already paid-for ticket, I still need to line up. Staff at the end of the line then gave me my stub: No. 248. Great.

Two hours later and I’m still far off from the box office. Lady Gaga’s fans were also getting more irate as tickets were running out fast. I asked a guard if there’s some other way to claim my ticket and was more than ready to play the sick card. However, he promptly instructed me to wait in a corner for the Lady Gaga pre-sale to be over. While waiting, I bumped into other L’Arc fans: May and Ming from Singapore and Kei and Liz from the Philippines. As we were chatting, a girl wearing a big grey hoodie and carrying 2 cups of coffee passed by. When her back was turned to us, her hoodie has “L’ArCrew” in it! It was also around this time when we heard a collective groan from the long line ahead of us. Lady Gaga tickets had sold out. Monster move over. It’s now time for us Cielers to claim what’s rightfully ours.

After getting our tickets, Liz, Kei and I went downstairs to the concert venue with hopes of finding out to whom those coffee cups end up with. Three other girls were already there but the guard already had her eye on them so we just moved on. I bid good-bye to Liz and Kei with the invite to meet with them before the concert tomorrow.

I then checked in to my hotel which I purposely chose to keep up with the L’Arc spirit.

My doctors specifically said that I should stay put as much as possible so I just spent the remainder of the day holed up in my room. Then again with the view that I had, there’s no reason to complain. As I gaze into the Hong Kong’s stunning skyline, I couldn’t help but feel elated. But of course.  I made it to Hong Kong. I’m gonna see L’Arc~en~Ciel in a few hours. I survived a medical emergency. Life is indeed good.

MERCHANDISE MADNESS AND THE CONCERT COUNTDOWN:  L’ADVENTURE 2.1

I went to Asia World Expo by 11:30 am and was again greeted by a line of people that extended to the streets already. And I thought I was already early ORZ . It doesn’t help that Hong Kong was freezing! The fog was thick and the wind was crazy. Between worrying if the goods would be sold out before my turn and battling hypothermia, I amused myself by people watching. As expected, many arrived in full cosplay regalia. Variations of hyde roamed the venue. Most fans were in gothic Lolita. What really drew my attention though was the parade of goods from previous lives. There were all so tempting.

12NN arrived and finally some movement. Selling of the goods had started! Everyone’s excitement had become more tangible in the air. I reached the goods table past 1PM. My haul:

  • World’s Best Selection + Shirt Premium Package
  • Light stick
  • Eco bag
  • Tour grey tee
  • Tour Book

Yes, I exceeded my budget. I am so doomed.

It’s impractical to go back to the hotel so I just loitered around with Liz and Kei. The flurry of activity was very stimulating. There were a lot of banners and everyone was welcome to put their messages to the band. The line at the goods table continued to grow longer. We also spotted a very suave-looking Oishi Masahiro taking pictures of the crowd.

As night time came close, people began clustering into the entrance. I positioned myself upfront. They started letting people in at exactly 7:10 and I’m one of the very first to enter. I settled into my seat:  Block B, Row G, Seat No.10 and contentedly wait for my dream to become reality.

THE BRAIDS ARE BACK AND THE BIRDS ARE ANGRY: L’ADVENTURE 2.2

It’s already 8PM and people were still filing in. The live was not sold out but I swear there were only a handful of seats at the very back that are vacant.

8:20PM. The lights dimmed out and everyone screamed. Well everyone except me. My doctors only allowed me to go on the condition that I cannot jump and shout. They also said that I cannot stand for so long but I’ve been on my two feet for practically the whole day already so what the heck.

The stage was actually quite sparse but when the LED screen light up, oh WOW. I was immediately reminded of the CHASE PV. The screen dissolved into pixels then it showed butterflies flying around a futuristic city. Then they fluttered around the globe. Alternately, the names of the countries included in the tour were flashed. The butterflies reached outer space. Afterwards, the screen turned into four copper plate panels bearing the names of each member. It transitioned into 4 galactic beings seemingly sleeping in their alien pods. They were wearing a metallic suit with a helmet and they were all in a semi-fetal position. A butterfly landed on alien hyde’s hand. We knew it was hyde because of his braids. The tubes on his back actually complimented those darn braids. A hissing sound signaled the helmet being taken off and there we have it: a larger than life close up of hyde’s eyes opening up. The camera moved back to show his full face and by jove, he was breathtaking! hyde raised his right fist and in slow motion, he punched the screen. The glass shatters. The band appeared. The 20th L’Anniversary World Tour has commenced.

L’Arc~en~Ciel kicked off the evening with Ibara no Namida – a personal favorite of mine. The crowd was so livid. Everyone around me was absolutely losing it. As for me, I just settled with swaying my right hand as the other clutched my abdominal binder. I too was so ecstatic but was also wary that giving in might land me another trip to the hospital. Anyway, INN gave way to CHASE and GOOD LUCK MY WAY. The band had obviously found their bearing and was now in full form. hyde and tetsu roamed both sides of the stage while ken was just stationary on the right. As for yuki, he was high and mighty on his throne at the center. Some random visuals similar to that on CHASE PV were projected into the screen.

After GLMW, hyde made an acceptable attempt of speaking in Chinese. He looked so adorable saying the lines as if confirming with the audience first if he was saying it right. Then he would glance at his cheat sheet on the floor and say it again. The screen turned light orange with a huge butterfly in the middle and hyde segued into honey. He was barely into the second verse when a technical glitch happened. hyde had this goofy “wait, this can’t be happening” look. Screen turned black. Mere seconds later, the huge butterfly reappeared and the band started the song again.

Drink it Down followed and all throughout the screen showed a bevy of naked girls dancing. Good thing they were all in silhouette. It’s like one of those James Bond opening credits. Then it was time for more active audience participation. revelation was playing and we all had a superb time pumping our firsts to chants of “yeah!”.

The stage dimmed only to reveal tetsu, hyde and ken sitting on the platform marking yuki’s dominion. The melodious intro of Hitomi no Juunin was heard and the whole venue was swathed in sentimental calm. hyde was sitting down the whole time yet he never missed a note. Amazing, especially considering that HNJ has a ridiculously high chorus. XXX followed. While hyde was already doing his infamous penguin dance even during INN, he was now using it to full effect. hyde was shaking his booty like there was no tomorrow and the movement was emphasized by his long braids.

Then came hands down, my favorite part of the evening: the back to back perfection of forbidden lover and MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. For forbidden lover, the stage was bathed in warm red light. hyde was obviously tearing up during the chorus. As the song draws to the end he closed his eyes, held his arms wide as if in surrender while a soft breeze blows his hair. It was an ethereal moment. The entire performance was so moving it hurt. The stage went black as if to allow everyone to compose themselves. After a short while, the spotlight turned to ken and he began bluesy guitar solo that introduced MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. MHDAD is no doubt a great song but when heard live, it takes on a life of its own. It was a very emotionally driven performance made more inspiring as the audience became one in singing “yume wo egaku yo”. Goosebumps.

The mood made a 360 degree turn when ken began his MC. Like hyde, he also spoke in Chinese all the while holding a package. I couldn’t understand a thing back then but it turned out he brought a present for hyde (for his birthday perhaps?). When hyde opened the package, we all burst out laughing. It was a set of Angry Birds action figures! Ken turned his attention back to us as he shouted “So many angry” and “ANGRY!?” The whole exchange was like this:

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: SEVENTH?

Audience: HEAVEN!!!

Seventh Heaven was followed by other L’Arc staples Driver’s High, STAY AWAY and READY STEADY GO. STAY AWAY was introduced by tetsu’s bass solo. He did his thing in front of three enormous speakers that weren’t there a moment ago. As the song started, the screen showed an army of androids doing the robot dance in synchronized form. It was quite amusing actually. READY STEADY GO then made everyone all fired up. We were so into the moment I guess that not everyone noticed that hyde and ken already left the stage. tetsu got engaged with an intense bass versus drums battle with yuki but the focus was more on tetsu. He swaggered a bit then left his bass on top of his giant speakers and exited the stage with flourish. yuki had the stage to himself and boy did he milk it for all it’s worth. He performed a jaw dropping drum solo that left everyone on the edge. Thump, thump thump he went until the spotlight faded out and the stage reverted to what it was 2 hours ago: empty.

The sounds of airplanes taking off were then heard. I’m not really sure if this was part of the show or just an effect of the venue being near the airport after all. Everyone was looking around as if expecting the boys to appear on another part of the venue. When it became apparent that hyde’s not gonna come floating down from the ceiling with butterfly wings, some began chanting “ENCORE!” 5 minutes later and still an empty stage. All the while I’m thinking that that can’t be it. They haven’t even played the new songs yet! No one was budging out of their seats anyway. Suddenly, the whole right section of the venue erupted into a human wave. Everyone then followed suit. It went on and on and every time a cycle was complete, we would dissolve into fits of laughter. The wave eventually died down only to be replaced with more chants of “ENCORE!”.

After about 15 minutes or so, the stage glowed in white and the orchestra version of Anata was heard. The band members were not yet visible so we the audience sang the song instead. It was again another goosebump inducing moment. The band then showed themselves and hyde claimed his song. He however allowed us to sing whole chorus. winter fall, The Fourth Avenue Café and Link came next. It was during these performances wherein we’ve seen some pyrotechnic action on the stage. At one point, fire even engulfed the stage. As the notes of Link faded, hyde began his MC. Majority was still in Chinese but he did say this in English: “It’s the start of the world tour. Thank you Hong Kong!” Then the band launched into a heart wrenching performance of Niji. Feathers came shooting out of the stage. And soon after, tetsu was hurling bananas into the audience. Before throwing out the last banana, he even bit into it. Next thing we knew he was firing at us with his banana shaped water gun. He walked into the right side of the stage and he was gone. So were hyde, ken and yuki.

The concert was apparently over. No Bye Bye Bye, Mirai Sekai, wild flower and Shade of Season. Everyone was already leaving so I likewise exited the venue. When I met up with Liz and Kei, I couldn’t help but tell them that I was a bit disappointed. I was really looking forward hearing the new songs live. However, when I already had time to reflect, I realized it was more of a feeling of something missing rather than disappointment over songs that were not played. And it was definitely not L’Arc~en~Ciel’s fault. It was due to the simple fact that it was just really difficult to wholly immense oneself into the whole live experience when you also have an incision to be careful about. Well, this could only mean one thing right? I need to see them live once more! Someday, somehow. Until then, who’s up for a game of Angry Birds?

this is not an anniversary post

Three years ago today, I wrote my very first post about music on SOLILOQUY. But no, today is not SOLILOQUY’s 3rd anniversary. 2009 doesn’t really count given that I only wrote 2 measly articles that year. What I want to celebrate today instead is something far much important: the first instance this musically-challenged noob decided to crossover from passive listener to active advocate of jrock.

If, by any chance, you strayed over into my About page, you would have noticed that it contains nothing but a quote from George Starostin, a respected linguist who also found recognition as a music critic, and I’m reprinting it here:

Of course, this is presumptuous. Who am I to make my opinions matter? Basically a nobody — not a musician, not a musicologist, not even a superb connoisseur of the pop culture, and not even a native English speaker. There are so many people in the world who are better “qualified” for this line of work than me, it’s not even funny. And who am I to give someone something? How have I been authorized? How have I even been able to suppose that someone might want to con­sider taking this bullshit from me?

The answers are simple: you cannot really know until you try

So try, I did. And SOLILOQUY was born.

Well, that quote was actually part of a very insightful essay on internet based amateur criticism entitled “Why Writing About Music Beats Dancing About Architecture”. I was moved the first time I read it but the essay took a whole new level of significance when I found myself reading it over and over again during the times I’m contemplating whether to continue with SOLILOQUY or not. I’ve had my fun. The numbers might not have been groundbreaking, but at least I knew that there are those willing to take some “bullshit” from me. Now what?

Starostin captured that dilemma spot-on:

Then, at one point, the rut set in, and a crisis was imminent. First came the understanding that the process is endless; timeless musical masterpieces may be few, but “good” music stretches out to infinity, in width as well as in depth, and my idealistic “encyclopaedic” dreams of covering eve­ry­thing worth covering were shattered and smashed…

Second came the understanding that I had run out of things to say — there’s only so many different words in the English language, and far from all of them are easily applicable to a music review, and this brings on the horrible idea that, perhaps, if you catch your­self applying the exact same words to a dozen different albums by different artists in different times, this might mean that the music sounds exactly the same? And if it does not, what good it is to try and capture its essence with such inadequate means?

At a moment like this, the only thing that keeps you going is understanding that, if you just drop it, this means you have wasted an awful amount of time and potential with all your previous writing. There is also the idea of “obligation”: people who like to read you expect you to entertain them further, and maybe they have a certain flimsy right to. But going on just for the sake of going on isn’t a lot of fun, either.

Ouch on that last line.

Given that I’ve only been doing this for about a year or so, to speak about being burnt out is premature and to some extent egotistic.  But when there are tons of drama happening in real life, sustaining an existence in the blogosphere becomes yet another task competing for attention. At the end of the day, you just have to ask: “Is this a commitment really worth pursuing?”

April 3rd of this year, I found my answer. So here I am, looking forward to writing more about the music that I love. Once more, with feelings.

pensive HYDE

note: to read Starostin essay in its entirety, go this page. I highly recommend it. Be cautioned though that the page takes time to load and the essay is at the very bottom.

The Departure of DELUHI

With the slew of announcements regarding this or that jrock band’s dissolution bombarding our newsfeeds last year, it’s not hard to imagine that perhaps someone somewhere was relentlessly listing the names of jrock bands on a mysterious notebook while shouting “SAKUJO” with all the dramatic flair he could muster.

Well, whoever he is, he has struck again.

Teru Mikami

Having followed their progress and reviewed majority of their releases last year, I note with sadness DELUHI’s latest announcement that they are going to disband.

The whole thing felt surreal on 2 accounts:

  • when the band announced their hiatus way back in October, the reason was supposed to be to “further expand the band’s potential”. Leda even promised that when they return, “all of the members will have equal strength”.
  • secondly, the announcement was made on April Fool’s Day. No one should trust the internet on April Fool’s Day.

It has already been 10 days since and the shocking statement is still up on their OHP.

DELUHI is unequivocally departing. And it sucks. Big time.

My first encounter with the band is via their song REVOLVER BLAST. To this day, it has remained one of my favorite songs and when played with Wake Up!, another DELUHI favorite, I am given my much needed dose of energy.  And energy is one description that I will always attach to DELUHI.

DELUHI

Being a relatively young band, the passion and youthful exuberance are still very much palpable in their songs and performances. Even with just 2 mini-albums under their belt, DELUHI had already exhibited so much promise and versatility. Give or take a few more years, and DELUHI could have been spectacular.

DELUHI reminds me of the how girugamesh used to be, you know, before Ryo and the crew decided to become a lil’ bit radio-friendly.  In fact, I honestly believe that their last mini-album Yggdalive could fit very well into girugamesh’s discography. It fills the gap between the brilliant self-titled girugamesh and the experimental MUSIC.

Much like girugamesh before them, DELUHI had all the potential to blaze a blistering path before them. This made it even harder to fathom why that fire fanned out this early. So far, what we know is that bassist Aggy wanted out. All the band members decided then decided to disband as  “there would be no meaning in the DELUHI they continued with”. Fair enough. All that’s left now is to wish them good luck. Who knows, perhaps someday they’ll get together again after they’ve found their way back from that unseen destination. Just as they said in their portentous last single Departure, they will ask themselves in 5 years time “Do you still have the same dream?” Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to hear from them again.

NO MUSIC NO REASON

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. High school was a breeze because of top40 hits. Then as I got older, my taste became, shall I say it, more refined. I survived all-nighters in college with my eyes on the computer and Rage Against the Machine blaring on my ear. In my college thesis, I almost included Radiohead, Nirvana and Silverchair on the acknowledgement page as they helped me get thru tons of research and re-writes.

And then I discovered jrock and as they say, my life has never been the same.

It all began with a mixtape.

My younger brother brought home a compilation of anime theme songs given to him by a classmate. I’m  a big fan of anime so he lent it to me. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with the theme songs before as I’m guilty of skipping the opening credits. But lo and behold, amidst the confetti of jpop fluff I discovered gems. That mixtape introduced me to the music of Siam Shade, Asian Kung-fu Generation, and of course, to the 1 of only 2 bands I would ever admit of being a fangirl,  L’Arc~en~Ciel (in case you’re wondering, D’espairsRay is the other one but we’ll get to that later).

L'Arc~en~Ciel
Have Laruku, will follow

I owe it to that mixtape for introducing me to jrock. But what really immersed me hook, line, down to the damning sinker is the online forum Ongaku Society. Becoming a novice fan of jrock when one is tens of thousands kilometers away from Japan is tough, especially when my friends give me a blank stare every time I gush about a new song I discovered. Just imagine then my joy upon finding out that there is a site dedicated to Filipino fans of Japanese music. In the presence of peers, my fascination for jrock became a full-blown commitment.

Sadly, Ongaku Society is no more. The site was down for the longest time only to resurface without its most vital component: the forums. My memories though of the time spent lurking on the site remain intact to this day. For the longest time, Ongaku Society has become my one and only resource for jrock. It sated my appetite for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel and introduced me to the likes of Alice Nine, the GazettE and most importantly, D’espairsRay. I remember that visits to the Alice Nine and the GazettE threads were always a source of pure amusement to me. The said threads were always updated with the latest pictures and adorned with comments like “<insert band member’s name here> – sama!!!” I also owe it to those threads for expanding my vocabulary to include “ikemen” and “smexy”. Good times indeed.

I never stood a chance. Jrock-related stuff is actually part of my budget now. I made my first purchase in 2007: HYDE’s first and last album as a solo artist: Roetngen and Faith. I bought it off Amazon US as the American version of both albums were much cheaper. Then I learned about the wonders of Oricon and so I opted to buy my stuff on YesAsia and later on, CDJapan.

my first jrock loot
topmost was the actual box that encased my first jrock cds

There’s only one thing left really, and I’m fervently anticipating the day I get to complete the full jrock experience: to watch at least one of my favorite bands live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it quite ironic that despite the Philippines and Japan being on the same continent, performances by Japanese acts are close to nil in my country. And for some reason, every time these bands embark on the a “world” tour, Asian countries are left out. Nevertheless, I’ll have my chance soon and I’ll be sure to faithfully document it here on SOLILOQUY.

So that’s just about it, my history as a jrock fan. If you have wandered into this site and have read up to this point, chances are we share the same affliction. The question now is, how did yours started?

(note: post title is courtesy of girugamesh from the album NOW)

once more, with feelings

A thousand reasons I could give why it took this long but that would be digressing. And so without further ado, I gleefully announce that…

SOLILOQUY is back.

To all of those who contributed in giving the site some stat action despite the inactivity, thank you. Whether you really are awaiting for new posts or just stumbled upon SOLILOQUY in your quest for “Hizumi naked”, hats off still to you, dear visitors Smile

On a more serious note, this is actually the 2nd time SOLILOQUY will be revived. During the first revival, I vowed to post more often. Given the fact that the bulk of the site’s content were written around the third quarter of 2010, it’s safe to say that the objective was fulfilled. But the pressure to post as much as I can took its toll hence, the necessary break. This time around, I commit to putting more weight on quality rather than on quantity.

I do have now a lot of ideas that I’m raring to put into writing. Should they actually make it into print, please do share your thoughts with me too. And while you’re at it, how about dropping me a welcome note as well, eh?

Finally, here’s a little something to all of you Hizumi lovers out there.

HIZUMI almost naked
COME AND GET IT!