On July 24th, ELLEGARDEN blessed The Knitting Factory in Hollywood with their presence, making up for the missing concerts at the tail of their 2006 Japan Nite Tour.
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“Just make it loud / In your room / Just make it loud / No one cares / And just let it slide” – ELLEGARDEN, “Salamander”
ELLEGARDEN arrived at the Knitting Factory for the first time on July 24th, 2007. The Japan Nite Tour is a yearly US tour that brings small Japanese bands, such as Stance Punks, TsuShiMaMire, and Peelander-Z, to selected cities across the United States. ELLE, as they’re often nicknamed, started with the Japan Nite Tour on the stage of the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, then flew up north for the rest of nine-city tour by the way of NYC’s own Knitting Factory. Unfortunately, ELLEGARDEN had to pull out after their Portland show, and were unable to perform at the final two California lives. Breeding rock with punk, the concerts were often turbulent, the mosh pits wild. On this July night though, ELLE would be standing with only an opening band. How would they fare?
Fans arrived an hour in advance to claim their tickets, and queue in line. The doors were marked to open at 7:00 PM for a 7:30 PM show; however, the doors didn’t crack until after 8 PM. The event didn’t start until 8:30 PM.
A Chicago based band, The Get Go, opened for ELLEGARDEN. Two of their members, Kyle Lewis and Scott Murphey, are ex-Allister members. Japanese fans probably recognize this name, as they opened for ELLEGARDEN for a duration of two and a half months during their 2006 Japanese tour. The Get Go gave an amazing performance. Considering that 99% of attendees at Japanese concerts in America are there for the Japanese artists, American bands sometimes have received a rather cold reception in the past. A mix of punk, pop, and emo, The Get Go played their third-ever live with a high dose of energy. Tattooed vocalist Chris Messer didn’t falter in front of the audience, taking it as a challenge to warm up the crowd. Drummer Dan Hammond, on his violet drum set, kept the rhythm with side-burn-wearing guitarist Nick Gigler. The Get Go interacted with the audience, even pulling a tall blond male fan out of the audience to “dance” with Chris during a slow song. Jokes volleyed between Chris and Scott about Chris’s girlfriend finding out. Pirate jokes were made, they responded to the audience teasing them, and even put in a good word for the band proceeding them. Applause to The Get Go for holding their own, and rocking out a good set.
After the traditional set up, ELLEGARDEN seized the stage as their excited fans screamed their love for them. Following a perfected motion of settling into their instruments, ELLEGARDEN exploded into “Fire Cracker.” As ELLEGARDEN will be celebrating their first domestic release of Eleven Fire Crackers in the beginning of August, most of the songs were played off of the forthcoming album, such “Space Sonic” and lead hit “Salamander.” They even slipped an older B-side in there (“The Autumn Song”) and a fan favorite, “Red Hot.” The majority of the songs chosen for the set list were in English. There were exceptions, like their rocking hit “Missing.” Since the lead singer, Takeshi Hosomi, is nearly fluent in English, he spoke for the band. Between the breaks in between songs, he constantly thanked the audience for coming out, and remarked how blown away the band was that every fan knew their songs. He even went so far to state that the July 24th ELLEGARDEN live in Los Angeles replaced his favorite memory of playing in America: the SXSW live they played last year.
After their designated set, the audience called them back, chanting, “ONE MORE SONG!” over and over. ELLEGARDEN returned and teased, “I know you asked for one more song, but can we play two?” The band played “Marie,” but admitted they had run out of predetermined material for the second. The fans provided the request, “Make A Wish,” and their wish was granted. These lucky fans were rewarded with not only an encore, but also a double encore. During the second encore (ELLEGARDEN re-entered so sheepishly—it was almost as though they weren’t used to the attention), the crowd, yet again, unanimously chose the piece—this time, “Kaze no Hi.” Drenched in sweat, ELLEGARDEN was finally allowed to leave, although their fans could have gone all night long.
For those who enjoy concerts where they can leech energy off their fellow comrades, this was the concert for them. ELLEGARDEN newcomers might have felt a little lost as the volume on the microphone was so low that, at parts, it seemed sung parts of songs sounded more like long guitar solos. The only fans that followed along were the ones who could detect a song by a handful of words, or those who could pick up on the audience singing. Volume issues or not, joy was written all over the faces of each member of ELLEGARDEN. After each set of songs, guitarist Shinichi Ubakata offered his guitar to eager fans that reached for it, as though it were a sacred object. Similar sentiments were enacted with the bassist, Yuichi Takada, on the opposite side of the stage. Hirotaka Takahashi, the wide-eyed blond drummer, played on the same purple set of drums that The Get Go’s drummer also played on earlier in the evening.
After a successful live, fans poured out into Hollywood. Outside the Knitting Factory, members of the local Japanese rock bands, Artbeat and Keshiki, were handing out fliers for their August 1st concert, mingling with Lemon Drop Kick band members who were also handing out fliers. The lead singer of Artbeat, Jack, is a fan of ELLEGARDEN as well. Fans mingled until late in the night, staying long after ELLE left.
The live was massively successful. In consideration of ELLEGARDEN’s love of the United States, and their solid underground fanbase, fingers are being crossed that ELLE will return to rock the US in the near future. Come see them, and “Bring Your Board!”