As soon as the announcement was made that Kaya, previously of Schwarz Stein and now a major solo artist, was going to perform at Pacific Media Expo in Los Angeles, fans zipped to PMX’s website to pre-register and book their hotels and flights, train rides, and bus trips.
The buzz of not only Kaya’s first American appearance but his first concert outside of Japan was going around the overseas communities; many of the members were saddened at not being able to attend. But for the lucky crowd that stayed in line for several hours outside of the LAX Hilton’s International Ballroom B, Kaya gave them an amazing show that will last them until far beyond their next visual kei venture.
The second day of the convention started with JRR’s very own panel. Attendance was not as high as we had hoped but not surprising as there were already fans waiting in line for Kaya’s concert which wouldn’t start until nine hours later. Suicide Ali fans busy following the band’s activity throughout the day briefly joined our panel and spent the rest of the day doing a fan panel, a press conference, autographs, and photographs. It was easy to see that half of the population at the convention was there for the anime and manga, with Naruto cosplays and video rooms filled with people watching screenings, while the other half was there for the visual kei and Jrock, milling about wherever at whatever seemed interesting until it was time for the night’s concerts to begin, most of them wearing lolita.
7:30pm finally came and the press was let in to take their positions to take photos and notes. The fans in line were let in at approximately 8:00pm and many of them rushed in to get a good spot in the pit. The waiting game began as the first opening band, Heday, set up. Soon enough they started, opening the concert with a nice acoustic instrumental and ending with a song that not even the vocalist/guitarist knew what it was about! Next up was Nylon Pink who the crowd unexpectedly waited quite a while for. Word was the PMX staff couldn’t find the band, but fortunately they did show up and began their set. Nylon Pink’s performance was stolen by the hotties that were the sassy vocalist and the fun bassist. Their short set was followed by another waiting game for the main event as the crew worked on completely clearing the stage of every amp, wire, and crumb.
Some chanting began as the fans chanted Kaya’s name to coax him out which quickly ended as the filler anime music drowned them out, but their anticipation still filled the air. At last the lights dimmed and all that could be heard was cheering as the lights began blinking red for the first song.
Kaya entered wearing his black Chocolat dress, gliding lightly as if floating, and approached gazing the audience, his diva aura almost tangible as he held up his microphone toward them. He twirled about in a dance before he began with "Okaeri nasai", twirling more during the chorus along to "Mawari dashita" to which the audience sang along. During the short instrumental before the second verse, Kaya shouted in English “Say my name!” to which the fans happily responded with “Kaya!” He held up the microphone again to the crowd mouthing “Motto” and went into the second verse. Essentially taking over the stage with his elegance, he controlled the audience with his gestures and eyes.
All the fans cheered at the next familiar intro as two of Kaya’s dancers came to join him on stage and immediately began the choreography. The easy to follow hand movements of the chorus had everybody following along if they hadn’t already learned them from Kaya’s Salon de Chocolat DVD.
The dancers stepped off stage as Kaya approached the audience to formally greet them with his “Gokigenyou.” He proceeded to speak in Japanese, which many of the audience members surprisingly understood, with a few words and phrases in English: “Nice to meet you”, “I know” (in response to his fans calling him kawaii), and “Fantastic” at the audience’s loud calling of his name. He ended his MC by asking everyone to listen to the next song.
Kaya was solo on the stage again and he moved around the stage, singing about the ‘masquerade’. Everyone clapped along with him during the chorus before they cheered to his request of “Koe wo choudai~” [Give me your voices~]. He sat and posed on the floor before he stood back up to continue to the second verse. Snapping and more dancing followed the chorus into the end of the song.
Kaya stood back as he got into the mood of the song, the blue and white lighting setting the atmosphere. The crowd waved their hands in a gentle swaying motion and cheered after the first chorus. Kaya continued with the song, making movements along to the lyrics like looking behind at “ashiato”. His two dancers joined him onstage for the surprise extended instrumental ending in which they all dances together and ended with a pose.
Soon to follow the somber ballad was the very familiar introduction to Chocolat causing the audience to cheer loudly. The mood had made a 180 degree turn and everyone was bouncing and smiling. Kaya and his dancers performed the choreography that the fans all know and love and even follow along and imitate. Naturally the dance moves weren’t all the audience knew and they sang along to a majority of the song itself. The dancers briefly left the stage at the end only to return for the next song.
Kaya shouted to everyone “Let’s dance!” and suddenly the room felt like a club as everyone jumped and danced. The dancers had returned with Kaya, now sporting pink feather fans (Kaya magically obtained one as well), and Kaya encouraged cheering with shouts of “Come on! More!” Everyone jumped together during the chorus (Yurarete *jump* yurameite *jump*) and Kaya shouted “Jump!” and “Let me hear your voice!” for the remainder of the song until he walked off stage.
The dancers remained and a swing techno song began to play as they clapped, cueing the audience to clap along, and they began to dance, eventually leading into their own solos. They joined together in choreographed harmony again before they walked off stage. Another musical interlude played before Kaya returned to the stage in a new costume consisting of a white wa-loli looking dress with purple flowers and black waist corset. The music continued and Kaya went up to the audience to touch their hands as he shouted “Give me your voice!” before the next song began.
Kaya shouted “Dance with me!” before he began the song. Another set of easy to follow hand movements followed dilligently by the audience as the singer danced about in his fitting kimono-like attire. A lot of twirling to the music and emotion in his voice dominated this piece of the set.
Kaya then took another moment to talk to everybody in the crowd, beginning with “Hi~” He bid everyone good evening and spun around to show off his new outfit to which everyone responded with "kawaii!"; he naturally answered “I know.” He then commented on the various outfits that everyone had worn, many including Pikachus and Narutos. With that he peeked down at the set list conveniently taped to the floor. “Tsugi wa butterfly.”
During the twinkling intro, the dancers returned to the stage wearing yukata to match Kaya who had begun to dance in a doll-like manner before the music actually started and he came to life. The dancers danced the entire song and Kaya sang and moved beautifully as usual. They ended the song with more choreography and Kaya reverted back to his doll self.
As the ominous violin intro of the song began, Kaya uttered yet another “Say my name~” before singing in a haunting tone, accompanying it with a banshee-like shriek and singing again until he began moving with his dancers, which was familiar to many thanks to the video that came with his Carmilla single. Toward the end the dancers left the stage and red lights were replaced with blue as Kaya finished, crouched to the floor.
He sang out “arigatou gozaimasu” before quickly stepping off the stage and coming back saying “Thank you” to all the cheers. Having felt comfortable speaking Japanese to the audience before, he asked if everyone was scared during the previous song and received a negative answer to which he responded “Sasuga Los Angeles” [as I expected, Los Angeles]. He then got everyone to shout and get riled up, shouting “More! More!” to be prepared for the next song.
To keep the high energy up, especially for this high tempo song, Kaya instructed everyone to pump their fists in the air and shout “Oi! Oi! Oi!” A big change from the scary previous song, Kaya was smiling and energetic as he touched the fans’ hands and danced about the stage, with the crowd taking their cues to jump during the verses before the chorus from Kaya’s shouts of “Jump!” The dancers returned during the instrumental break where the singer shouted “Koe wo choudai!” [give me your voices] and everyone gave him their all in shouts of “Oi!” They waved their arms side to side following Kaya and the dancers for the last part of the song.
With everyone pumped up from the previous song, Kaya shouted “Hey!” as the audience cheered for the intro of yet another familiar favorite. Another shout of “Say my name!” from Kaya before the crowd jumped and clapped their hands along to the first verses. Everyone including Kaya and his dancers waved their hands during the chorus, and more of that with more cheerful jumping and clapping ensued until the end of the song where Kaya bowed and sat down.
The instrumental of Chocolat ~Sweet version~ began playing in the background as Kaya said “arigatou gozaimasu” and introduced his two dancers that had joined him for this concert: OCHI, who gave his usual heart sign to everybody, and YUI, the one who choreographs all of Kaya’s dances. With an “arigatou gozaimashita”, Kaya finished with one last “I love you” as they all left the stage.
After Chocolat ~Sweet version~ faded out, the fans immediately started chanting for an encore, even though their voices were slightly overpowered by the anime music. They all managed to get in sync but the fervor alternatively wavered and grew as time passed, but the lack of house lights indicated that everyone should be expecting something. The fans switched over to chanting Kaya’s name and soon enough the intro to the encore began and everyone cheered loudly.
Red and white lights flooded the stage, flashing dramatically as Kaya returned to the stage shouting “mou sukoshi asobimashou ka” [let’s play a bit more], his presence radiated intensity and the audience returned that intensity as they shouted “hurts!” after Kaya’s “With all my” and hurled themselves toward him, everyone’s arms in the air. He shouted plenty of “motto”s and “Say my name!” and “oi!!” and screamed as the whole concert hit its peak.
The audience cheered their loudest as the operatic music faded into ROSE JAIL. Kaya bowed gracefully one last time, said “thank you” and “I love you” and left the stage. The house lights came back up and anime music filled the room as a precursor to the dance that was to take place right after. But everyone was still feeling that after concert buzz as they filed out of the ballroom.
Written by Krystal
Special Thanks to Next Media Communications, PMX and CURE Magazine.