At every JRock live event I have ever been to, the lines always started a day or two before the performance date, and so, to get prime spots, you needed to be prepared to camp out, as if you were in the middle of the godforsaken wilderness, complete with rations, tent, and sleeping bag.
So, when my brother and I arrived at the Whisky a Go Go at noon on October 2nd, I figured I would be the last person in line, or, to be optimistic, halfway. But at that point only two other people had arrived ahead of us. Still, as my brother and I waited in line, I talked to each fan in line individually, asking them how long they had liked Angelo, and whether they lived in the area or had traveled far to be able to see them. Most of the fans in line were "hardcore" fans that had been familiar with Pierrot for years, some as early as 1999 or 2000, and had simply continued on with Angelo, while others had discovered the band as late as a month or a couple of weeks ago. There were still others—like my brother—who were simply there for moral support.
Angelo sent out one of their employees to post posters and stickers all around the venue entrance. As others took pictures and video-taped the American line, he handed each of us multiple Angelo stickers, and thanked us for being such loyal fans. I asked him if we might have posters as well, and he said we were more than welcome to take the ones he was putting up once the concert was over.
At about five o’clock, the buses for the Angelo fanclub members started to arrive. Four buses altogether, it was fascinating to see the variation of ages. I saw only two males disembarking, but the female fans varied in age from sixteen to middle aged. We all agreed that it was wonderful to see music cross ages like that, and that at least two of the male fanclub members had been willing to ignore the female-dominated excursion and pay the ￥278,000 to ￥288,000 to come as well.
At six o’clock, the doors opened, and the Japanese fans went in first, and then the American fans followed. In the end, the venue was far from full, but it was quite comfortable, and maintained a sense of closeness. Every American fan was given an Angelo card as they entered, signed by each of the band members (minus TORUxxx).
As it came time for the concert to start, everyone turned to look upstairs as fans began to realize they’d be coming from that direction. One by one, the band came down the stairs, and the live had officially begun.
Angelo opened with one of their biggest fan favorites (and their first single), "REBORN." It was the perfect way to open the live, and the sound crew had arranged it so that Kirito’s vocals had an echoing effect, making the intense vocals that much more poignant. As the crows went wild at the end of the song, Angelo immediately went on into their new song "SISTER." I was slightly surprised to discover that the fanclub had already determined hand signs to a song that had not even been officially released yet. However, Kirito’s greatest trademark is his audience participation, and after thinking about it, I realized it made sense that Kirito would want to share new motions immediately with his most loyal fans.
Most of Kirito’s MCs were in Japanese, and focused towards his fanclub. He felt that Angelo had never left Japan, with so many loyal fans still there, and he would remember what each of them looked like. And if he met any of them on the street, he said, he’d punch them. Everyone laughed heartily, much used to Kirito’s sense of humor. He also said there were American fans in the audience as well for this originally fanclub only live, and that he was happy about it because music had no borders or race. For the American fans, to make them laugh as well, he said in English: "I am Barack Obama!"—showing his support for the presidential candidate and his interest in politics yet again. He also mentioned that the Whisky a Go Go was chosen for its musical history, having been the launching pad for many famous bands like The Doors.
After the first MC, they continued on into one of their most popular and powerful ballads, "Hakuchumu." Everyone sang along, including most of the American fans, and it was quite deeply touching. After the song was finished, there was a dead silence, almost one of respect. However, after Angelo finished their next song, "DANCE," the audience continued with their silence at the end, and the American fans began to feel somewhat confused and uncomfortable, asking among themselves if this were some sort of cultural thing, for in America, not to applaud at the end of a song is a terrible insult. When it happened again, American fans chose to applaud anyway, although nervously, and the fanclub members looked confused. After that last time, however, there were no more such difficulties.
Kirito and TORUxxx left the stage for a short break (and, in Kirito’s case, a costume change) while Kohta and Takeo had a fun, Rhythm Squad jam session, which seemed to loosen everyone up again. Then the others came back onstage, and it was time to party some more. Throughout the live, Kohta was making plenty of eye contact with the crowd, and both of the Murata brothers came very close to the edge of the stage, easily in reach of their fans. Kirito, of course, had no problems playing the crowd.
TORUxxx informed the audience that he’d been invited to join another band, but had decided not to leave Angelo, to many happy "awww"s from the crowd. Kirito asked if everyone was jet-lagged, and then made everyone laugh yet again when he introduced "He is a Monkey" as "That song he’s not supposed to sing," and that all of the fanclub members present were "monkeys" for following them so far, and spending so much money to do so. The audience participation during the song, of course, is to scratch your chin and the top of your head like a monkey.
Everyone encored them for a little over ten minutes, and it was clear to see that many of the Japanese fans were trying to fight their jet lag, but did not want the live to end without encoring their band.
Everyone seemed to miraculously recover, however, when Angelo came back out for their encore set: "Kesshou," "Neo Hades," "Chaotic Bell," and "Holocaust."
In the last MC, Kirito introduced the band. Each of them tried to say something in English, both for the American fans and in honor of the place where they were performing. Takeo made most of us laugh with his "Come say" confusing everyone, as the Japanese fans all went "ehhhh?" and the American fans thought "Come say what?" And Kohta making us all laugh even more as he repeated "Neck broken" in adorably broken English, and big brother Kirito threw a towel at him. Kirito topped it all with proving his identity confusion yet again by pronouncing, "I am Marty Friedman." Apparently retiring from his position as presidential candidate Barack Obama. He also said that they would be coming back, but the Japanese fans would have to bring themselves next time.
After the live had been completed, everyone threw their trademark items in picks, towels, and drumsticks. Then, when they ran out of those, Kohta went on to touch the hands of several fans, trying especially to reach the American fans that were closest to the stage. Following this, the band left, and the live was concluded.
Later, as a couple of friends and I talked with Kirito, he said he would be coming back for us. So, for all those fans who missed out this time, you’ll be able to try again then. Believe me, it’s worth it.
6. EASTER AGAIN
7. Danmatsu ni Mimi Sumashite
8. Bass and Drum Session
10. SEE YOU AGAIN
12. WINTER MOON
14. Destruction Impulse
15. ULTIMATE WORLD
18. HE IS A MONKEY
EN2. NEO HADES
EN3. CHAOTIC BELL
Written by Katrina K.