VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 Day 2: Part 1

live report - 10.30.2016 06:06

Part 1 of the second day of VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016.

VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 was held from October 14th to 16th at Makuhari Messe Convention Center. Numerous rock bands including LUNA SEA and GLAY gathered under the leadership of X JAPAN. Over 100,000 fans attended the historic three-day event; the biggest visual kei rock festival ever in the genre’s almost 30-year history. On the second day, 21 bands including the legendary hide with Spread Beaver rocked a capacity crowd of 35,000 fans from 9:00am to 11:00pm.

Three stages were built at the convention center for the event: the main SUMMIT STAGE, as well as the VISUAL STAGE and JAPAN STAGE. TATSURO from MUCC and George from LADIESROOM appeared as MCs on the VISUAL STAGE and declared the festival open. George, who’s one of the Japanese rock scene’s toughest veterans, kindly advised fans to ensure they drank enough water to survive and enjoy such a long event.


The first band, VALS, got the event off to an energetic start. The visual kei rock band with two dancers introduced a new style of the genre to the crowd. The dancers Nao10 and KEIN moved in unison and sometimes stole the spotlight with rap interludes. Vocalist Rio fired up the crowd with his powerful vocals while the dancers jumped and span around him. During Tsukiakari, the vocalist himself wowed the audience by joining in with the pair’s steps.


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The second artist ASH DA HERO appeared on the JAPAN STAGE. This audacious rookie seemed to know what it takes to get to the top of rock scene. ASH thanked YOSHIKI, the leader of X JAPAN, for allowing an artist from a different musical genre to perform and went on to say “I came here to get you!” ASH’s powerful rumbling vocal made a strong impact on the crowd during the hard rock number Hankou seimei. ASH asked attendees to raise their middle fingers and sing along with him during the song, leaving his mark on this historic day with his rebellious charisma.


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The third band, Osakans FEST VAINQUEUR, took over the VISUAL STAGE. The band members were dressed in the outfits featuring colorful designs of Japanese kimono. The glittering fashion style for their new song Higanbana –oiran douchu- represented well the androgynous glamor of visual kei. Vocalist HAL expressed the concept of their new song WA by elegantly swaying with a folding fan in hand. His high-tone voice and the infectious sweetness of the song’s melody left the crowd spellbound.

The band also wowed those present with a melodic metal song Gendaiteki giwakutoshi “DOUBT!”. The band’s fans also surprised the crowd with their relentless headbanging. The band’s playfulness shone through in the last song NANIWA SAMBA, which features a samba rhythm and lyrics in Osaka dialect. “Get some Ame chan!” shouted HAL as he threw candies to the crowd during the song.


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The fourth band GRIEVA, self-proclaimed “successors of good old visual kei”, emerged on the JAPAN STAGE. The band’s dark and gothic looks completely changed the venue’s atmosphere. The vocalist kyouki provoked fans to shout out “Kill!” during the first song Jiko seisin satsugai suisin kai. kyouki swung his head around as if he was possessed while the rest of members blasted the crowd with heavy sounds. The singer’s shouts and growls cast darkness and lunacy upon those assembled during Shitou -from GRIEVA- while the three guitarists swung their heads around together. With a sense of foreboding and an aggressive yet nostalgic song melody, GRIEVA closed their set with Dead[en]D.


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The fifth act, all-female heavy metal band Aldious, stood on the VISUAL STAGE. The band made a bold choice to start their set with the melancholic ballad Kikka. Vocalist Re:NO’s haunting voice floated out from the stage as the crowd stood still in silence. Gothic metal song Sweet Temptation followed. Re:NO gracefully swayed amid the thunderous drum beat and tapping guitar sounds. Aldious completely owned the VISUAL STAGE with the melodic power metal song Dominator. The band expressed their strength via their howling guitars and high-velocity of drum beats. The women headbanged together during the song and their intensity left the crowd with a sense of amazement.

Matenrou Opera - JAPAN STAGE

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The crowd moved to the JAPAN STAGE for the sixth band Matenrou Opera. The group’s signature style of dynamic stage performance was already at its best from the opening song BURNING SOUL. Vocalist sono projected his voice with all his might and passion in the midst of a symphonic metal song. ayame’s keyboard solo enhanced the song’s majesty and led crowd to pump their fists. “Please don’t worry about your necks because this is a festival!” sono told fans before introducing a cover of X JAPAN’s Kurenai.

“Kurenai da!” sono’s bone-chilling high-tone voice electrified the crowd. The song’s famous guitar intro was followed by yu’s precise yet beastly drum beat. He and bassist yo orchestrated this classical visual rock song. The band’s ardent playing thrilled the crowd until the last song PHOENIX. Veins on sono’s throat stood out while he let rip his soaring vocals.


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Later, the two MCs appeared on the SUMMIT STAGE to introduce A9. “Do you want to see some handsome guys!?” asked TATSURO to loud cheering. The band members, all clad in white, started with Senkou. The sweet look and voice of Shou melted ladies’ hearts during a catchy rock song. With their twelve years’ experience, the band knew how to liven up the big venue. Their two guitarists freely moved around the stage during the pop-rock song SHINING.

“We are A9. We actually invented the ‘A-Jump’ out of our respect for the ‘X-Jump’ for the next song RAINBOWS. Please jump and make the ‘A’ sign during the chorus,” Shou instructed the crowd. Even those who were seeing the band for the first time jumped up with their fingertips touched over their heads. Later, the grand scale unified the big venue during their last song the beautiful name. The crowd sang along with the band as the lyrics appeared on the stage screens. A9 brought a sense of oneness to the festival.

defspiral - VISUAL STAGE

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The next band defspiral consisted of former members of TRANSTIC NERVE and the Underneath. Bassist RYO, vocalist TAKA, guitarist MASATO, and drummer MASAKI, whose talents were once recognized by hide, took their respective positions on the VISUAL STAGE. 18 years after the fateful encounter with the immortal legend, the band was booked on the same day as hide with Spread Beaver. TAKA’s deep masculine vocal started VOYAGE. “Let’s dance” said TAKA before MASQUERADE. During the song, the edgy guitar riffs and groovy bass line had the audience swaying with the vocalist. To close their set on this special day of reunion, defspiral gave a heartfelt performance of ESTRELLA, whose title means star in Spanish.


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The artists to perform ninth were The THIRTEEN, a unit composed of vocalist Mao and guitarist Mizuki from the rock band Sadie, which is now on hiatus. As they stepped out on the JAPAN STAGE, Mao held a vinyl copy of X JAPAN’s album Vanishing Vision high above his head. “X JAPAN inspired me to pursue my goal to be a musician. I am happy to be able to perform at this event.” The THIRTEEN started off by playing their first single LIAR.LIAR..

The duo rocked out with Mao’s frenzied growls and Mizuki’s heavy guitar sound. Their enthusiastic performance was met with singing along from the crowd. The ruthless aggression onstage moved the audience to headbanging and shouting out during CHAINSAW and 13's BLOOD. Later, Mao asked the crowd to make a wish of his come true. “Please shout ‘THIRTEEN!’ after I say ‘We are!’” Much to his delight, the crowd went along with this modified version of X JAPAN’s famous call-and-response, and Mao’s wish was fulfilled at VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016.

Plastic Tree - SUMMIT STAGE

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Plastic Tree, who will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their major debut in 2017, was the second band to perform on the SUMMIT STAGE. Vocalist Arimura Ryutaro, guitarist Nakayama Akira, bassist Hasegawa Tadashi, and drummer Sato Kenken took their respective positions. Starting their set with Irogoto, the vibrations of the bass strings were soon joined by the ensemble of drums and guitar sounds. Arimura’s sung a song of intimacy with his soft, transparent voice while he relentlessly stroked his guitar. The speed and intensity of the band’s sound increased during Melancholic.

This aggressive playing continued into Arimura’s poetic monologue in the ensuing Fukurou. “Makuhari! Jump and dance!” Arimura, Nakayama and Hasegawa enjoyed letting go of themselves in Mime. “It’s been an honor for us to be here”, said the vocalist before the last song Kuuchu Blanco. Singing in his sweet voice while he gracefully moved his arms, Arimura’s actions expressed hope and fragility. This, his bandmates’ playing, and images of a circus projected on the stage screens created a fantastic ambience and was met with a great ovation.

Read VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 Day 2: Part 2 at

Read VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 Day 2: Part 3 at
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