Friday, August 21, 2015

DaizyStripper: My First Japanese Concert + Friday Five Unique Visual Kei Concert Points!

Hello friends!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the three concerts I went to here in Japan in the first half of 2015. Those concerts were all fantastic, but the acts were all international artists; Incubus, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and Taylor Swift. So today, I'd like to share my experience of seeing a Japanese band, DaizyStripper, live here in Japan, and how different and awesome it was!

DaizyStripper in "Uso to Kagerou"/嘘と陽炎, one of my favourite singles!
First, a short introduction to the band. DaizyStripper are a Visual Kei band who have been together since 2007. They have five members. From left to right in the above photo, they are: bassist Rei, guitarist Nao, lead singer Yugiri, guitarist Mayu, and drummer/pianist Kazami. What's "visual kei"? Well, if you're surprised or confused by the look of the band, that's why. Visual Kei bands place a lot of emphasis on their styling. Although most VK bands are entirely male, the members often wear makeup, have big/colourful hair, dramatic and well-coordinated outfits, and so on. There can be a lot of variation in the musical style of Visual Kei bands, but they all dedicate a lot of time and effort to their appearance. This kind of style might seem unusual to westerners, but just remember some of the eccentric artists from the 80's. As a girl who grew up as a huge fan of Freddie Mercury and his many wonderful (and sparkly) leotards, capes, and sometimes dresses, it's probably not so far-fetched that I love these kind of theatrics.

Don't worry Freddie, you're still my #1.
Now, onto the concert itself. I went with a great friend of mine, Virginia. Actually, the morning of the day of the concert (August 13th) we just came back to mainland Japan from a summer vacation trip to Okinawa, so we were a little tired (and, thanks to Okinawan awamori, a little hungover) by the time we got back to Utsunomiya. What's more, we both really had no idea what to expect at the concert - the venue, the fans, the band's performance, were all a mystery. But still, we were excited! As with other concerts in Japan, we were let in by the number on our ticket. The venue, Heaven's Rock Utsunomiya, was pretty small, and the crowd seemed to be about 150 people or more - a really good size which paid off for us later when we wanted to get closer to them!

DaizyStripper in Heaven's Rock, Utsunomiya. Photo by T's Project.
There was no opening act, so DaizyStripper came straight on (after a recording of "Come on Eileen" was played, possibly the last song I ever expected to hear in a basement club in Utsunomiya whilst waiting for the Japanese version of glam rock to come on stage - but I guess even boys in skirts like to sing "too-ra-loo-rye-ayeeeee" as much as the next person). Virginia and I quickly learned that the crowd had choreographed dance moves to almost every song which we were completely unaware of. Luckily they were easy to catch on to - it's mostly a mix of cute hand movements, jumping up and down, and violent headbanging. These moves are called furitsuke (振り付け), and are standard fare at Visual Kei concerts. You can learn furitsuke by watching live DVDs, but since I've yet to buy any DaizyStripper DVDs, I didn't know any of them yet. Still, I tried my best to follow along at the time!

Not headbanging isn't even an option, because then you get whipped in the face by ten other girl's hair. It hurts! Photo by T's Project.
The atmosphere of the concert was amazing. DaizyStripper performed with so much energy, and they all sounded just as good live as they do on CD (not to mention they looked just as pretty as in their music videos). The fans were really welcoming - one helped us when we were lining up to go inside, and once inside, when it came to furitsuke, sometimes crowd members had to join hands. Almost always, other fans reached out to take our hands without hesitation. That was really nice! The craziest part of the concert came when they started playing BLACK DROPPer. During this song, at certain points, fans rush the stage to get as close to the band as possible. It's totally insane, and super exciting. People at the very front of the crowd seem to get totally squashed, and people at the back will literally do a run up and just fling themselves at the back of the crowd. If you're kind of towards the back, occasionally you just feel a body thud into you. I can only imagine how it looks to the band, but I think it would be kinda like something from The Walking Dead, if all the zombies were female Japanese high school students. I was really surprised that the band members were happy to get close to the fans too - by the end of the song I had held hands with all the members (twice with Yugiri! It was so hard to let go (✧ω✧) ), and had my hair ruffled by Rei. My friend Virginia was lucky that her favourite, Nao-chan, stage-dived when she was close to him! And...well, this is probably gross to regular people, but some of the band members do something where they take a drink of water, and then spit/spray it back at the audience. I'm not trying to make excuses for my super weird behaviour, but...it was really hot in there...and I mean...if I happen to have fought my way to be close to Yugiri, and he happens to do that to me...twice...there wasn't really any way I could have avoided it, right?

Post-concert, slightly drenched, SUPER HAPPY.
All in all, the concert was one of the absolute best things of my summer vacation. If you get a chance to attend a Visual Kei concert in Japan, I really recommend it as a unique experience, and of course I recommend DaizyStripper the most! That being said, there were some things I found that were really different between western rock concerts and Japanese rock concerts, so I've summarised them for this week's Friday Five!

Five unique points of Visual Kei concerts:

- Of course, furitsuke. There is nothing really like this for western bands. It's super fun to join in on furitsuke, but I've seen some foreign fans comment that it's annoying. When you see the crowd doing cutesy hand movements, I guess it's easy to think "is this really in the spirit of rock"? But even though it's different, I really enjoyed it. It makes a nice atmosphere amongst the fans, I think.

- Slow songs. Like most rock bands, DaizyStripper still has some slow songs (Sweet Dream is one of my absolute favourite songs by them!). As an example, even when Incubus plays Drive, fans will still dance slowly or move in time to the music. But when DaizyStripper played something slow, fans stood almost completely still. This is apparently typical at Visual Kei concerts, to show appreciation for the song. I still feel a little conflicted about it, to be honest. When I'm feeling energetic or hyped up at a concert, it's natural for me to keep moving, even during a slow song. Should I adjust to the normal behaviour of the crowd, or be the annoying foreign fan who can't stand still? I don't know!

- Name-calling. There are many ways of "appealing" to your favourite band member, but the most different one was the name-calling. One version, called sakigoe (咲き声) was the most different. After each song, girls were calling out to their favourite members in extremely high-pitched, childish voices. I most often heard "Nao-chaaaaannnn!". Some fans went the other way, and called names in low death-metal kind of growls. I don't really mind this, and I joined in, although I just called in my normal voice. I read somewhere that you should only call to one member...but I love all the members! I can't just choose one person to call to!

- Crowd structure. When we first entered the venue, Virginia and I wondered why people weren't really standing very close to each other, and why they weren't trying to get closer to the front. At other concerts, it's normal to end up completely pressed against a stranger, and to try to fight your way closer to the front as you mosh. Instead, at VK concerts, fans stand roughly in horizontal lines with more space between each other. Once the furitsuke starts, it's obvious why. You often have to join hands and jump or dance from side to side in rhythm, or do arm movements which could hit other people if you're too close. Although we headbanged a lot, the crowd movement was pretty different from traditional moshing.

- Finally, I'm sure there are very few western bands who get as touchy-feely with each other as DaizyStripper do. There was one hilarious moment where during a super rocking guitar solo, Mayu hit Nao in the head with the neck of his guitar. Virginia is convinced he only did this so he could hug him to make him feel better. As for the rest of the concert...I'll just leave this here:

☆*:.。.o(≧▽≦)o.。.:*☆
Um...and this (from a different DS concert, but still).
Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to the next time I can see DaizyStripper live. Hopefully I can go to one of their in-store events in the future, too! A few days after the concert, I met Virginia again in Harajuku, and we happened across a store with lots of DaizyStripper CDs, so we bought enough to keep us happy for a while...

We bought so many CDs...
...like the slightly obsessive fangirls we are.
To finish this post, I want to say two thank yous: first of all, thank you so much to my wonderful friend Virginia, who came to the concert with me. It wouldn't have been the same without her (in fact, I'm sure I would have been too shy to go alone)! We also had an awesome time in Okinawa, which I'll write about in another post.

Virginia and I in Harajuku! 
Lastly, I'm really grateful to DaizyStripper for coming to a small place like Utsunomiya, and for performing such a wonderful show. いつもありがとうございます, DaizyStripper! DaizyStripper usually play their single "Stay Gold" at the end of their concerts, so what better way to end this post? Enjoy!




- Annabelle.

3 comments:

  1. You are so lucky *.* (My favourite is Nao :3)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so fun!!! Haha Nao seems really popular, I think he's really cute too. It's so hard for me to choose a favourite. At the moment I really like Yugiri, but Rei is also really nice, then there's Kazami...haha!

      Delete
  2. You are so lucky *.* (My favourite is Nao :3)

    ReplyDelete

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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:
 
 
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