stylish wave ILLUSION '08 Live Reports Part 2

live report - 19.02.2008 23:00

Live reports by the winners of the stylish wave ILLUSION '08 contest.

On January 19 and 20 the stylish wave ILLUSION '08 event took place at Zepp Tokyo. Together with Zy / starchild, JaME had organized a contest in which one could win tickets for this event. There were 20 tickets available, but starchild decided to invite all of the participants. Unfortunately, a lot of the contest winners didn't show up at the event, even though starchild had reserved excellent seats for the JaME winners. We were disappointed by this, but we hope that the people who did attend the event had a great time and enjoyed the performances of Vidoll, Mix Speaker's, Inc., Wizard, Jinkaku Radio, ayabie, Kra, Lolita23, Sadie, lynch., Moi dix Mois, D'espairsRay and Plastic Tree!

Below you can read the second part of the live reports by the winners of the contest. The first part can be found here.

Live Reports

My personal highlights from the first night were ayabie and Jinkaku Radio. Even though the bands are very different, I enjoyed them the most. Jinkaku Radio's music touched me very deeply; Yuuki's voice really is heartbreakingly beautiful. ayabie, in contrast, were just plain fun! Joining all the fans with the furitsuke moves and jumping around madly made me very happy.

The band that surprised me the most was without a doubt Mix Speaker's, Inc.. Their performance was great and above all very funny! They were a refreshing change from the other bands.

The second day was a lot "darker" so it wasn't much of a surprise that the audience had also changed. They rarely used furitsuke but headbanged a lot. I'd say that lynch. rocked the most and the the crowd was really into it.

The last band was Plastic Tree, and I suppose most people came to see them. They were fantastic! The members seemed to have a lot of fun and of course Ryuutarou's MCs were funny as always. Their set list was also very convincing.

I enjoyed both days very much and am glad that I had this opportunity.

- Sabina, Switzerland

Firstly, before I even comment on the concerts, I want to thank JaME, starchild and Zy, as well as all of the bands that performed on both nights. I had a really good time at the event and met some really cool people, so thank you very much for inviting me. Right, now the concerts!

I will be honest, I didn't really know a lot about any of these bands, but I think that meant I had a good perspective, as I was a fresh new mind for the bands to mold. On the first night, I had one of the most awesome seats in the house (and the second night too, I had an equally as good seat). I was at the top right side of the upper section. I could see everything that was happening on the stage perfectly. It was easy to guess from the equipment that was set up that Vidoll would be the first band on, and although I didn't know too much about all the bands, Rame's bass was easily recognizable. I had heard a lot of good things about Vidoll but never really got into them, but when they came on stage I was very impressed and certainly excited. They seemed to have a lot of fans and switched between playing what seemed like happy music and heavy music. I was glad I had the chance to see them and they were good to watch. I just wish I could understand what the songs were about.

The next band to play was Mix Speaker's, Inc. They were quite a hard band to miss, in my opinion. I knew that seek (bass) and AYA (guitar) used to be in the famous cosplay kei band Psycho le Cemu, but other than that I was quite skeptical as to whether seeing this band would be good or not. I wasn't sure if I was meant take the costumes seriously or not, but I was quite intrigued to see what their performance would be like. They started the set with an intro song that involved the two singers singing a song and the other members coming through a door with the Mix Speaker's, Inc. logo on it. I was particularly amused by seek's stilts, as his "God Turtle" costume was huge. They played some songs, danced to others and had some MCs (which seemed to be amusing to those who understood). I was surprised at how good the music was, happy but rock. They had a strange style, but that just made me want to watch what they were going to do next! I really enjoyed seeing a band that was so different in how it performed, as I had never seen anything like it before.

After Mix Speaker's, Inc., it was Wizard's turn. I had actually seen live before at Shibuya O-East the month before and was looking forward to a similar performance. Wizard's music is quite heavy rock with a very full sound, and they certainly put on an energetic performance, with the guitarists and bass player running all over the stage to hype up the fans. The audience was very into it and was happy to see their performance. I think the show they gave at stylish wave ILLUSION '08 was better than the last time I saw them at Shiranbanshow, and they are definitely a band that I would recommend!

Next up was Jinkaku Radio, a band I knew nothing about at all. They came on in black suits with arm bands and played a much slower and more static set than Wizard. For some reason, they reminded me of Placebo. I was very impressed by their high level of musical ability, though the Japanese crowd was also static. I wasn't quite sure why this was, at first I thought they didn't like them but in the MCs the crowd clapped and was noisy, so I was glad to see that. A lot of the songs sounded very similar to me and were quite as exciting as the other bands that played. I think they are quite a tough band for someone who does not understand the lyrics to appreciate, which unfortunately for them included me.

ayabie was another band I had seen in December at Shiranbanshow, and I was really looking forward to seeing them again, as at Shiranbanshow they were one of the more impressive bands to me. When they came out, they were wearing different costumes than last time and I think they look better now than they did before. They looked more casual and less visual, which to me is quite a good thing, as with this band's original and creative music I think they could get quite far overseas even without being visual. ayabie played a fun, exciting and energetic set which was just as impressive as the first time I saw them. The crowd below me seemed to be loving it too.

The headliners for the first night were Kra and they definitely seemed to be the crowd's favorite. They played some real rock music and a very entertaining set. I was most impressed by the bass player, Yuura, who I found was amazingly good at what he does. The drummer, Yasuno, is probably the next most entertaining of the band and also very talented, not to mention charismatic. The guitarist, Mai, was a good musician too, but a bit too full of himself for my liking, but the crowd seemed to love it.

After Kra finished their encore, the hosts of the show (thank you for giving a shout out to JaME!) came back onto the stage to do some quick interviews with the band members before closing the show. Of course, I didn't understand most of the interviews, so I cannot tell you anything about what happened in them, but I did write down the members who returned to the stage. All of Kra returned, along with (I think, I am not certain) Jui from Vidoll, seek and Yuki from Mix Speaker's, Inc., all of Jinkaku Radio, Hiro and Saki from Wizard and last but not least all of ayabie. Some of the band members all talked with each other and played a few jokes (including an on-going joke from Jinkaku Radio). It was good to see them all again and a good way to show the visual kei community spirit, I enjoyed it very much and was looking forward to the next night.

Looking at the line-up for the second night and vaguely knowing a little bit about all of the bands, it looked like the second night was going to be a heavier night than the first, music wise. First up was Lolita23q; they were really good to watch. They had a very full rock sound and the bass player was really good too. They were energetic and just generally rocked. If I had the chance, I would definitely try and see them again. The second band of the second night was Sadie, who really impressed me. They appeared a lot less visual than Lolita23q and put on just as energetic a performance. The lead singer reminded me very much of Kyo from Dir en grey (I bet he's heard that a lot, too). They seemed like quite a dark band, as their music was punk and heavy. I really enjoyed the set they played and was looking forward to something similar from lynch....

...and I got exactly what I expected. lynch. was very similar to Sadie in visuals, music and style. The only real difference was that lynch. was slightly heavier. Whether this was a good or bad thing depends on taste, I think, but I really liked both bands. Being put together seemed like a good idea, as they made a good pair. I think both of these bands could also make it quite far overseas, as I think both their style and music could appeal to a large audience in the west.

I must say, I was really hyped up for Moi dix Mois, as I knew I would be seeing the legendary guitarist Mana in action. They came on in stylish fashion and I was hoping for a really good show from them. They played a few songs, but I was kind of disappointed, as I expected a bit more from them and they put on a mediocre performance (in my opinion). Mana's glowing guitar was cool, but something seemed to be missing. Unfortunately, during their last song they played the same riff over and over and expected the crowd to bear the devil horns to them. The first few times it was to get the crowd going, but after about 8 times it got kinda boring. I was planning on giving them the horns once at the end for their effort, but after witnessing this song I couldn't do it. I wanted to give them the horns out of appreciation for the music, but this song wasn't doing it for me.

Next up was D'espairsRay, another band I have heard a lot of good things about, so I was hoping that this performance would at least live up to the hype. When they came on stage, the audience literally went crazy. They were immensely popular, and luckily their music really rocked too. I really enjoyed their set as it blew me and the other bands away. I watched them, thinking "these guys really make the previous bands look like amateurs," as they were so professional. They were the best band of the night, and only Plastic Tree remained.

I had tried listening to Plastic Tree's music before, but just found that I couldn't, so I wasn't expecting very much from their performance, and sure enough their first song bored me. The song after, though, brought my attention back and I was hoping that the set would continue more like the second song, but unfortunately it was made up of boring songs with the occasional good song in between. Again, like Jinkaku Radio, I think Plastic Tree is another band that is hard to appreciate unless you understand Japanese, that's my main basis for finding them quite boring, as some parts of the songs had just very slow music and lengthy vocal sections. They did an encore, as expected, and finished with a good song though (probably the best one they had done), so I was at least happy with that fact.

Again, just as with the first night, the second night had some more quick interviews with the hosts of the show and a chance to shout our thanks to the band members. Same as the first night, I didn't really understand all of the interviews, so I will just list the members who returned to the stage for you: Lolita23's bass player Ryosuke and drummer Ban, all of Sadie except the lead singer Mao, all of lynch., guitarists Mana and K as well as singer Seth from Moi dix Mois, only one of D'espairsRay (I think it was the singer, Hizumi, but I wasn't sure) and then all of Plastic Tree.

Before I finish my live report, I want to make some comments that maybe you will find interesting, comparing Japanese concerts and British/Western concerts. Anyone who has been to a visual kei concert in Japan will surely (and hopefully) agree with me. Firstly, 99% of the audience are women, which may sound like a good thing, but it means there are no real mosh pits (though there is a girly version with no fighting, punching or pushing, just jumping in the same spot in a circle into some other people. This still strangely looks quite fun, but would look weird for a foreign male to join in). This brings me to my next point: the audience stands in orderly rows and there is no pushing to get to the front, by the looks of it. Anyone who has been to any of the Japanese concert halls will also know about the bars that are placed roughly every five or so rows (depending on the venue), so luckily there is no pushing, because there could be some bad accidents on them. These bars however, do serve as good things for the small, cute Japanese girls to pretty much throw themselves over while head banging, or to lean over while doing the synchronized dance routines.

It really is strange (and surprising) to see everyone in the audience doing the same thing, when in England everything is utter chaos. I was kind of expecting the audience to go wild and do whatever they wanted, as all of the bands are so individual and appear to be fighting for individuality, and yet all of the fans are so similar and do the same thing all together. Everyone still seems to completely enjoy it, but in a similar way. Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed it too! And once again, I want to thank JaME and everyone else for letting me experience two awesome nights of Japanese music!

- Ben, UK

To get to Zepp Tokyo you have to take the Yurikamome transit line from Tokyo proper and head on over to Odaiba, a beautiful artificial island full of shopping and entertainment. The ride itself is calming and relaxing, heading out into the blue waters. There is no human operator; it's fully automated. And at night, on the way back, you can see a brightly-lit Ferris wheel and Tokyo Tower in the distance.

It was incredibly smoky in the venue for no apparent reason: lights were really dark and dim. Hide's music was being played softly over the P.A.s, which was very welcome as I'm sure almost everyone there was familiar to some extent with most of his music. Just before 5 o'clock, Noriko Shoji came out to open the event. I'm sure many of you are marginally familiar with her; she was a popular news announcer and was a vocal fan of X Japan and LUNA SEA, bands which were a proponent to starting the visual kei movement, most notably appearing extensively throughout miyavi's 2004 live DVD. She seemed to be well-loved by everyone; I recognized her immediately as she came out and couldn't suppress a grin, nor could the crowd suppress their cheers. She was co-presenting with an older gentleman who seemed familiar, but I couldn't place him. He was quite genial though.

Without much further ado, Vidoll's walk-on music started, which is the complete opposite of Vidoll. If you've ever watched a Vidoll live DVD, you'll know what I mean: they use some brutal, crushingly-heavy Western metal as their intro. It's a funny juxtaposition that happens a lot. I'd wanted to see Vidoll for quite a long time, so it was fantastic seeing them in person. They have abundant energy, and Jui is pitch-perfect and only reinforces my claim that he is one of, if not the, current best vocalist in visual kei. All members had a great amount of swagger: Giru provided some pretty wild backup shouts and Teru is one of the best drummers in the scene, with great tight fills and good knowledge of cymbal color. At Age 13 was the solid opener, and Lost Voice transitioned even better on the stage than when I listened to it on CD. Ningyou was third, and by this time I couldn't help but follow along to the crowd's swaying to one of Vidoll's best tunes.

Soon they went into their next song, Tree. When the first notes quietly started up my heart jumped. Tree has quickly proved itself to be a catchy, dance inducing number with a chorus that refuses to leave one's head. As soon as that finished they ripped into Waisetsu ningyou, which whipped everyone into a frenzy, and Jui's grasp on his shirt was slipping. At any rate, it was a great set, and all members were in top shape.

It was only ten minutes between Vidoll and the next band: quite impressive. All the drum sets were on risers and were simply wheeled on and off. Jinkaku Radio stole the show. Their music is that old Radiohead/Oasis feeling sort of light Brit-pop, and it's absolutely stunning: they employ fantastic dynamics and the singer can do many things with his voice, ranging from 80's metal-like pitch-perfect high-note wailing to soft crooning to strong, powerful melodies. Their simple black suits and their subtle movement, always contained to one spot, belies how moving the music is. The vocalist played guitar as well (a Gretsch or Rickenbacker, if I recall correctly), which is a total rarity among visual kei and I don't think anyone else does it. It's incredibly refreshing to have a vocalist who is also an instrumentalist, and one with quite a personality at that.

The drummer was busy yet sensitive and the guitarist had a moppy Beatles-circa-1963 haircut and Buddy Holly glasses and, now that I mention it, looked a whole lot like what you might get if you crossed Buddy Holly and John Lennon. He was a stellar guitarist and lovingly rocked a beautiful Fender Strat (which is a model that seems to be "guitar non grata" among visul kei artists), eliciting some great solos out of the thing and its original single-coil circuitry. They have a real knack for creating great moods and moments. Even their webpage is beautiful in design; it may mark one of the only times a website's embedded background music has so thoroughly charmed me.

- Elec, USA

Set list first night

at age 13
Lost voice
Waisetsu ningyou

Mix Speaker's, Inc.
~Opening narration~
Monster Start Instrumental

DoDo & PaPa ~MC
My wish[horror]X'mas
Seek ~SMC
Fanfare ~ED SE

Trap lunch
Okama no yoko

Jinkaku Radio
Houkaishita machi shihaisarenai basho
Saisei no ssa

Izayoi no kaze

Extra Kingdom
Yell(New song)
Show Time

Set list second night

Red Room
Mikansei Sapphire

under the chaos
Psycho Culture
a holy terror

I'm sick, b'cuz luv u.
liberation chord
new song (Untitled song)
a grateful shit
unknown lost a beauty

Moi dix Mois
SE~ sacred lake
exclude(loudspeaker version)
Immortal Madness
dues ex machine
END SE (rumbling of the earth)

[Fuyuusita risou]

Plastic Tree
Kuuchuu buranko
Makkana ito
hate red, dip it

JaME wants to thank starchild for making this event possible. We hope all of the contest winners enjoyed "stylish wave ILLUSION '08" and we want to thank you for writing these live reports.
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