Black Ant and White Sugar vol. 4 in Shibuya O-EAST

live report - 17.09.2008 22:00

Report of the mesmerizing live, featuring Sugar, 9GOATS BLACK OUT, DaizyStripper, Amaterasu, Sel'm, RENTRER EN SOI and Matenrou Opera.

Shibuya O-EAST is able to accommodate a large number of people, and although tickets to the event of August 31st were not sold out, the venue was full of people. The audience consisted mostly of girls but also quite a few men, some dressed extravagantly, but the majority not too wildly. The merchandise stand was attacked straight away largely by fans of 9GOATS BLACK OUT, building a long queue. One of the reasons was that this concert would be their last opportunity to get the band's new single Sleeping Beauty before it came out in stores.


Matenrou Opera

Starting the show, the hall went dark and melodic music with a classical flair started playing. The curtains opened slowly, exposing an empty stage filled with red light, which immediately created a mystic atmosphere. Slowly, one by one, dressed in dark, very edgy clothes and wearing heavy make-up, the members of the night's opening act Matenrou Opera entered the stage. The last one to appear was the vocalist sono, holding a big, powerful torch, lighting up spots on stage and blinding the audience.

The first song EVE started with a synth introduction, followed by heavy guitar and bass riffs. sono's vocals switched impressively between growling and clear and melodic singing, and most of the audience responded warmly and moved synchronically. As ayame danced behind the synthesizer, you and anzi came forward closer to the public, and yuu sang along and swung his arms around wildly.

During the second song the audience was urged to shake their fists and headbang, which they did readily. The idyllic title honey drop might sound deceiving, as the song, starting with a dark operatic intro, led to hard guitar and bass riffs. The members moved around the stage and the song switched between melodic, even ballad-like and heavy, powerful parts. sono put his arm around anzi, who then played a beautiful solo. The members were on their knees headbanging and the audience jumped energetically, and although the song was prolonged by the band significantly, no one showed any signs of fatigue and the headbanging and jumping continued. As the song finished, the band members came to the front to bow and leave the stage to the audience's loud screams.

The music of Matenrou Opera was interesting - heavy, but at the same time made fresh by the synthesizer and the clean vocals of sono, making it catchy and very pleasant to listen to. Such a strong response from the audience at this big venue that sometimes proves cruel for young bands is very rare, and proves that Matenrou Opera with their skills and originality have earned a lot of respect and their great potential is recognized.

Setlist

SE
EVE
-MC-
honey drop
End SE


RENTRER EN SOI

The second band to perform was RENTRER EN SOI, announced by the flag hanging above the drum set, and again the opening music filled the hall with an atmosphere of mystery, although different from what was seen before. To screams of the audience, the five men took the stage with a hint of pathos. They were dressed in quite simple, mostly dark clothes but looking rather styled up, with Shun wearing glittery trousers and Mika adorned with a whole bunch of red roses on his shoulder. Only the frontman Satsuki stood out, wearing a pure white costume. The set started with the melodic but hard STIGMATA, and the high vocals pierced the air getting right under one's skin, as the audience shook their fists violently.

Right from the very start the quality of the experienced band's music was impressive - the perfect instrumental tunes were just as good as on a recording, but at the same time had an amazing energy, which can only be felt at lives, moving the audience deeply.

After Satsuki greeted the public, the second song JUST MAD PAIN began with hard instrumental music, switching to more melodic and quiet with softer vocals, and impressive sharp high notes, a trademark of this skilled singer. The members were interesting to watch as they took "cool poses", but the most expressive of them all seemed to be the charismatic drummer Mika, managing to move more behind the drum set than all of the members not so restrained by their instrument. The next song played was the new version of SECRET SCARS from a recent maxi-single, which started softly, quietly and somewhat romantically, giving the audience a break from their violent movements, and Satsuki came towards the audience, almost as if talking to them privately in a gentle voice.

The stage darkened, and sounds resembling thunder could be heard while flashing "lightning" blinded the crowd, as the vocalist came out to greet them. UNENDING SANCTUARY started loudly and with an almost heavy-metal sound, offering a catchy chorus melody and elaborate bass lines. The audience shouted along, jumping, and the guitarists switched places and came forward towards the fans headbanging. Satsuki got so carried away, that he wrecked his microphone stand, and as in the middle of a dramatic moment a roadie ran up to fix it, trying to hide and escape the vocalist's violent headbanging, he had to restrain himself but couldn't hold back his laughter, bringing some ease into the atmosphere of anger present in the bands' songs.

Concluding the set was the heavy AMONGST FOOLISH ENEMIES, during which Satsuki moved to the sides of the stage, growling with an amazing power unexpected from a man of his size, and the audience continued headbanging. "Thank you Shibuya!" screamed the vocalist, and the members went off the stage one by one, leaving a strong and lasting impression with their powerful music and performance.

Although the experienced RENTRER EN SOI may be seen as almost veterans of the visual kei scene, they continue performing with a freshness and energy that few younger bands possess, and never fail to impress the audience with their powerful lives.

Setlist

STIGMATA
JUST MAD PAIN
-SE-
SECRET SCARS
-SE-
UNENDING SANCTUARY
AMONGST FOOLISH ENEMIES


Sel'm

The following band was Sel'm. The opening song, disturbance, played to the crowd clapping their hands rhythmically and screaming the band members' names as they appeared on stage one by one, greeting the audience briefly. Contrasting with earlier bands, Sel'm were wearing simple but stylish dark outfits, looking rather smart, and MANJ" came out wearing a mask.

They made a loud start with the first song barefaced eye, to which the audience shook their fists and screamed. As the members played the heavy tunes, Tora sang in a clear and powerful voice, interchanging it with near whispering and growling in the bridge, then returning to tender and soft melodic singing, showing the whole range of his great vocal abilities. Road of judgement followed, with a more upbeat rhythm, led by the fierce-looking leader MANJ"'s energetic drumming. As Tsubaki spun around, dancing madly but playing his guitar flawlessly, the members screamed into their microphones and the audience headbanged like there was no tomorrow. The catchy and positive chorus and an almost ballad-like interlude, which Tora sang on his knees, stood out in contrast to the overall aggressive mood of the other parts of the composition.

The start of the following song made the surprised audience explode, as what followed was Lament, an old song from the band's very first maxi-single. As the more slow-paced, heavy riffs announced the start of the song, all the members headbanged, pausing and concentrating on the music in the quieter parts of the song. The behavior of the audience differed from what it had been for other bands - for one, more males moved towards the front row, and you could see no choreography or dancing, but energetic fist shaking, headbanging or jumping, and, encouraged by the bandmembers, rhythmic screaming, all of which gave their show more of a Western live atmosphere.

Shingigan started with MANJ"'s high rhythm drumming, which led into another one of Sel'm's typical heavy, intense verses with saturated guitar sounds, and more of Tora's impressive screaming and growling could be heard. As Tsubaki and Tora bounced around dancing wildly and MANJ" rocked the drum set, Takuma remained relatively calm and gracious, coming forwards and gesturing to the fans and headbanging once in a while.

Concluding the set was N∞℃, which was fast-paced and energetic but became calmer and quieter during the verses. Tora sang softly and sensually, licking his fingers erotically and dancing slowly. Concluding the song was an upbeat ending, during which the fans and the band seemed to become one moving living being, united by the music, making for a perfect ending of a great show. To loud screams of the audience, MANJ" boxed with his drum set, almost wrecking it, and one by one the members greeted the audience and left the stage.

Sel'm have been one of the unfortunate young bands O-EAST was cruel to just three years ago, when they didn't receive much of a response. But in this short time they were able to grow and progress so much, that they are now able to instantly move the entire audience of the big hall with their great musical skills, their powerful performance, and most of all the amazing and unique live energy that can almost be felt physically.

Setlist

barefaced eye
Road of judgement
Lament
Shingigan
N∞℃


Amaterasu (Daishi solo project)

The next performance started with a completely different intro song, an electronic tune with an oriental flair. Three support members, dressed simply in black, went out onto the stage, put their hands together and bowed simultaneously, which gave an immediate preview of a theatrical performance. The audience exploded with screams when Daishi, dressed in a white costume resembling ancient Japanese armour, went on stage and stood with his back to the audience, arms outstretched.

The first song, Guren, started heavily, and the musicians were rather reserved in their movements, then suddenly went wild running to the front and headbanging. Daishi both played guitar and sang in a powerful voice that sounded very ethnic, and together with electronic bits in the instrumental music and heavy sound effects on his and the support members' voices, this contrast of traditional and modern created a very unique and interesting sound.

After Daishi greeted the audience briefly, Aya started. It was not so heavy, but positive and upbeat, again with epic traditional influences, and as roadies removed the microphone, Daishi concentrated on playing guitar throughout the whole song, in which the amazingly skillful guitar line replaced the singing perfectly.

Daishi then greeted the audience and thanked Sugar for inviting him to participate in this show, and ended his witty MC with the announcement of the next song Takamagahara from the latest release. It started with a woman singing and continued in the same style as previous songs, with an emphasis on guitar lines and Asian melodies, with heavy effects on the vocals of Daishi and the support members who sang along, but the song seemed more emotional, strong and moving.

Another MC followed in which Daishi with a radiant smile on his face amused the audience with his emotional speech and funny poses. He announced good news of an upcoming oneman in Tokyo, which will take place on October 25 in Holiday Shinjuku, and to loud cheers of fans he announced the formation of his new band, "full of handsome young men", as he put it, in the near future.

A heavier Kagerofu followed, during which Daishi took off his guitar and concentrated on singing and dancing ecstatically, as the attention shifted to a guitar solo produced by a support member - it was impossible to miss that the beautiful songs are after all composed by a guitarist. This breathtaking show was ended by Marogare, in which Daishi and the two support members danced in a choreographed way, moving from side to side simultaneously. The frontman then thanked the crowd and asked them to do a final jump, which was performed enthusiastically, with Daishi himself landing on his ass, making everyone laugh.

Before going off the stage, the radiant Daishi complemented the three bands that were to follow and asked everyone to stay and watch until the very end. The members joined their hands and bowed, and to the happy screams of the audience they left the stage.

Setlist

Guren
Aya
-MC-
Takamagahara ~ake no kokuin~
-MC-
Kagerofu
Marogare


DaizyStripper

DaizyStripper were "something different" in this event, like a bright burst of light in a dark live full of bands with mostly heavy music and aggressive or melancholic images. To a kind of suspenseful music, the five handsome young men came out dressed in colourful, glittery outfits (what one might call oshare kei), wearing heavy but bright make up and big, mostly blond hairstyles. One might have expected a calm or even negative reaction from the audience because of the event's line up, but there were many fans of the band and the crowd's response to their appearance was warm and welcoming.

Their set began surprisingly with a calm, melodic introduction of an acoustic guitar and a piano (played on the recording by the drummer and composer), which gave start to the beautiful Juliet's knife. Yu-giri's voice sounded high pitched and fragile, not yet fully matured and therefore sounding somewhat unstable and imperfect, but in a touching way, which gave the band's music even more charm. As touching as their music was, so were the lyrics, speaking of tender love, and as the song ended the moved audience clapped enthusiastically. ~White Butterfly~ also started with a deceiving calmness, piano and soft singing, but changed radically into a rather heavy power rock-pop song. The energetic members moved a lot, coming to the front and animating the audience, and many fans banged their fists furiously to the upbeat melodies. The members headbanged and the guitarists switched places; especially impressive was the plasticity of Mayu, whose long legs seemed able to bend in all directions. A change came for Brilliant Days., a quiet and pop-like ballad, with harmonious, almost symphonic melodies.

An MC followed, in which information about the release of a new single (TRUTH will come out on the 15th of October) and the PV for it, and about their upcoming oneman lives, a rare occasion for a band so young.

The vocalist and the other members with their expressive gestures urged the warmed up audience to make some noise and they screamed repeatedly. Satisfied they moved onto the last song, Dandelion. The song was fresh, catchy and energetic, and as the audience disappeared under the towels they swung above their heads simultaneously, the members moved around, danced like mad and performed at their best, playing with the crowd.

As the set ended, the band took their time to greet the audience and the vocalist screamed "Let's meet at the onemans!" and judging by the loud and enthusiastic reaction of the audience, the show of this young charismatic band, who have a great potential and seem very promising, their oneman shows should indeed have a successful turn out.

Setlist

Juliet's knife
~White Butterfly~
Brilliant Days.
-MC-
Dandelion


9GOATS BLACK OUT

The atmosphere changed completely as the next band, the long awaited 9GOATS BLACK OUT, was due to perform. Powerful and moving classical music played as the curtains slowly opened, displaying the bare, dark stage. Quietly, one by one, the official members utA and hati, as well as the support programmer akaya and drummer aki (notably ex-GULLET), dressed in simple black costumes and with dark but restrained make up, took their places. Not a single sound could be heard from the audience. Finally the vocalist ryo appeared on stage, stretched his arms out, and announced the beginning of the show.

The starting song was the flowing Sink, which the band performed flawlessly, ryo's powerful vocals and his expressive pantomime enchanting the crowd. The song finished but no one stirred, afraid to disturb the fragile atmosphere, and the heavier 690min began with its catchy guitar riffs, and the crowd moved at last. As ryo growled into the microphone, whispering backing vocals were performed by the programmer akaya, although at many points during their show the guitarist utA was the one singing along in a rather pleasant and clean voice.

Greeting the hall, ryo screamed, and the audience screamed in reply, releasing the tension that had been building up in the silence. The following song was Yasou -nocturne- which had a certain classical music flair to it, and finally the other members started to "liberate themselves", moving more on the stage, still very reserved compared to other bands.

Next was the title song of their new single, Sleeping Beauty, which debuted on stage just days before this live. This masterpiece was touching, and at the same time powerful and moving. Most mesmerizing was ryo's voice, at times low, strong and intense, then suddenly switching to high and tender, soft singing. His abilities were matched by the skillfulness of the other experienced band members, and holding their breath the audience watched in awe.

An MC followed, in which the quiet and reserved ryo gave word to the support programmer akaya who was standing behind a desk with his equipment. He announced information about their upcoming lives, to which the audience roared with excitement and applauded. ryo ended the MC with a calm, short but meaningful conclusion, in a manner completely different to other vocalists. The show continued with an unreleased composition in the Rain, during which utA and hati moved around the stage more.

It was a rather dark, melancholic song with a somewhat sinister atmosphere, which runs through all of the bands' works, but it had a slightly contrasting, more major chorus. The vocals somehow resembled the sound of rain, giving it a special sound which caught the attention of the listeners and hooked anyone who heard it for the first time. The song slowly faded away into silence with only ryo's breath heard through the amplifiers, and the curtains closed slowly, hiding away the five dark figures who stood motionless on the stage.

The amazing impact created by the powerful music and the original but simple performance of this rather new but very mature band took the audience's breath away and seemed to have taken the show to a completely different level.

Setlist

Sink
690min
Yasou -nocturne-
Sleeping Beauty
in the Rain


Sugar

The main act of the night was the rather young band Sugar, who most of the audience stayed to watch. To the opening music with distorted sounds, atsuto and Shingo went out onto the stage. Then SIZNA came dancing wildly like a hurricane, stirring up the audience who cried his name loudly. At last the tall vocalist Loki took his place behind the microphone stand, which was shaped like a female mannequin, and as the opening song started, he danced slowly, wrapping his black feather boa around it.

All members were dressed in elegant stylish dark clothes, only SIZNA standing out with half of his costume being white. Loki greeted the audience and the rather slow-paced Kogoe yureru honoo began, with the members coming forward towards the audience who banged their fists to the beat. SIZNA's behavior attracted more attention, as he managed to play complicated solos while spinning around and dancing like a madman, and it was even stranger to see this bundle of energy suddenly freeze. The sound of the second song Afterglow was more saturated, intense and somewhat disturbed. Loki revealed his blindingly white teeth in a wide smile, urging the audience to scream. He thanked the audience for coming and said that they were very happy to see so many people stay until the end even though many of them came to see other bands. After the MC came the more fresh and slightly pop-like malicious, an unreleased song the band has so far only played live.

The next song JAM started with atsuto drumming, and as the fans danced Shingo came to the front, joining the rhythm with his outstanding bass lines. The song had a strong jazzy touch to it, which made it very pleasant and certainly unique. Loki got on his knees, singing to Shingo, then got up and gestured to SIZNA, and the two members danced with each other playfully.

After the relaxed song finished, the more powerful, heavy Jifu began. As Shingo and the audience headbanged and SIZNA performed his usual crazy dances and pulled faces. Loki went around the stage in circles, sung while crawling on the floor, jumped and fell onto a full split, then stood up as if nothing happened and continued singing, then again rolled on the floor.

Both the music and the performance of the band was full of drive, and towards the end the pace of the song increased and the fans jumped madly, encouraged by the band. Another older song, Berry, started with the audience clapping and Loki doing the furitsuke (set dance movements) together with them. While singing and smiling widely, he put his arm around the untamable guitarist, then the attention shifted to Shingo and SIZNA as they came to the middle of the stage playing the catchy tune back to back. A series of bass and drum solos followed with a concluding skillful and energetic solo from atsuto, and the song continued as Loki swung his hips erotically, singing in a deep, sensual voice. After the song finished, the vocalist blew kisses to the crowd, and the members left the stage, the last being obviously the attention-lover SIZNA.

The audience screamed for an encore and continued screaming for several minutes until SIZNA reappeared, running onto the stage acting crazily. In a put on high-pitched voice he urged the audience to clap, adopted funny poses and made the crowd laugh. The more he spoke, saying almost the same things as Loki had earlier in the MC, the louder the laughter became. The guitarist asked the audience to scream atsuto's name, and as they did so the bashful drummer came onto the stage. The same procedure followed with Shingo, and as the members present on stage joked, SIZNA finally encouraged the audience to scream for Loki, who came out straight onto SIZNA, forcing him to back off. He kicked his backside and the roaring laughter of the audience became uncontrollable and almost hysterical.

Loki thanked the audience again, and announced that they were going to play a song they had never performed live before. Extra musicians, a pianist and a saxophone player, who have participated in a Sugar live in the past, came onto the stage for the encore. In Kanashimi ni nemuru hi damari the mixing of soft rock sounds with the piercing sax melodies created a unique and amazing piece, more positive and moving than any other songs the band played that night. Both the members and the audience enjoyed the music with smiles on their faces.

The second song of the encore was antilion, which started with piano and another brass instrument that replaced the sax, and the fans clapped to the slow, jazzy tune as each of the members delivered flawless solos.

The live ended on this positive note, with the band and the fans visibly content and satisfied. The band members took turns thanking the crowd (by then every word SIZNA said was followed by an outburst of laughter) and announced information about their first oneman tour, due to start in November, and a new mini album (which is to come out on the 5th of November), asking their fans to keep supporting them and come to their lives. Loki concluded the event with another "Thank you", and tired but happy the band left the stage, putting an end to a wonderful evening of very different, but very talented and interesting bands.

Setlist

Kogoe yureru honoo
Afterglow
-MC-
malicious
JAM
Jifu
Berry
-Encore-
Kanashimi ni nemuru hi damari
antilion


Overall this event has been a very successful and powerful one, showing a range of bands, different in musical and performance style, in age and experience, but all giving their best, performing on a high level and leaving a positive impact on the numerous people present in the large hall that day.
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