On February 18th and 19th, VAMPS hosted a two day rock festival, featuring a luxurious line-up of hard rock bands from two countries opposite each other across the Pacific －From America: Sixx:A.M., Gerard Way, Buckcherry, and NOTHING MORE; and representing Japan: sads and [Alexandros]. Both days of the event were hosted at Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, a sports venue but also a place where dreams came true for many artists in Japan as the first major milestone of their musical career. The gathering of such bands these two nights were perhaps also a dream come true for many fans who attended, as their thunderous cheers and energy sent heat waves throughout the crowds.
The live reports will be separated into Day 1 and Day 2. Each day featured 4 bands, alternating between an American band and a Japanese band, with the final set by VAMPS on both days.
DAY 1 – Wednesday February 18th
The line-up for the day was: [Alexandros], Gerard Way, NOTHING MORE, and VAMPS.
It was a slightly chilly day with a slight bit of rain, so it was a bit less crowded than usual in the open area in front of the famous venue. However, fans’ excitement was clearly unaffected by the gray weather as they excitedly filed into Budokan when doors opened at 5pm.
The stage faced the south, stretched wide across from the east to west doors, with about 60% of the venue opened as viewing area. The arena was entirely standing, and seats go from first to second floor. Beside the small section of seats closest to the stage on 2F, the venue appeared quite full. The stage itself had two large panels to each side with drawings of a large serpent. Lights form a large six-point star above the stage, dimly lit in a devilish red as fans slowly filled the venue, anticipating.
Just as the clock struck 6pm, the background music turned down, and suddenly it was pitch black. Excited “Ohh!!”s and claps from the anticipating crowd immediately roared throughout the venue, just as bright lights immediately flashed on and a rock tune blasted through the speakers and the name of the first band was shown on two large screens hung right above the side panels of the stage:
NOTHING MORE (30 mins)
The night started off with the exciting Japanese debut of the four-piece alternative metal band from Texas who recently signed under the same label as Mötley Crüe, and Sixx:A.M. to release their 4th and most recent self-titled album last June.
Jonny Hawkins (Vo.) ran out top naked and, armed with a set of drumsticks, started playing heavy beats on the snare and floor tom set center front stage in addition to drums by Paul O’Brien (Dr.) for the intro of “Christ Copyright“. The crowd was a bit surprised by their unconventional setup but appeared extremely intrigued by what they have to offer. When they started playing “Mr. MTV” next, the band’s energy flowed through the crowd and the venue warmed up to the catchy song from their latest album which was released recently in Japan.
The crowd was in for even more of a unique performance with the next song ― featuring a bass put on a spin-able stand center stage, started with a slapping solo by Daniel Oliver (Ba.), joined by Mark Vollelunga (Gt.) as a duo and finally with Jonny tapping with sticks for an exciting one-of-a-kind bass solo. Two emotional yet heavy songs followed the solo before Jonny took the chance to greet the crowd with “Konnichiwa!!” which was warmly received by the crowd with loud cheers. They taught the crowd to yell “Burn the witch” during the chorus of the last song, “Salem“, and ended their set with a drum performance by the entire band. The crowd cheered and clapped loudly as the band exited the stage after making quite a memorable debut performance in Japan for the night.
After 15 minutes of set change, the venue darkened and the familiar rock tune once again blasted through the speakers announcing the next band on the large screen:
[Alexandros] (25 mins)
Having home advantage, loud “Kyaaaa–!!” from female fans erupted throughout the venue welcoming the 4-piece rock band from Tokyo as they appeared on stage during their SE “Burger Queen“. “We’re [Alexandros]! Budokan, let’s make this the best night ever!” Yohei Kawakami (Vo.) greeted the crowd and the band started their first song, “Stimulator“. In contrast to the heavy and metal set from NOTHING MORE, [Alexandros]‘s set was light, upbeat, and had a party vibe. This was evident with the next two songs “Waitress, Waitress!” and “Kick & Spin“, which got the crowd jumping with smiles on their faces.
During the MC, Yohei spoke of his encounter with VAMPS.
“We happened to play at the same event and when I went to greet HYDE backstage then, but he had no comment about our set so I was a bit sad. But he invited us for this event so I’ll just mistake this as HYDE liking us just a little bit!” The crowd laughed and he continued, “The next song’s title is a bit related to them, so this is for those two in VAMPS” and performed their newest single, “Dracula La” set to release on March 10 with the coupling A-side song “Wataridori“, a post punk upbeat song with a pop melody that everyone danced to as the last song of their set.
They announced their second one-man live in Budokan coming up in July and left while fans clapped and cheered. Another 15 minutes went by and next band’s name appeared on the screen:
Gerard Way (40 mins)
As his name flashed across the screen, a loud cheer roared through the venue and many from the crowd who had been sitting got up from their seats as they anticipated for the arrival of the New Jersey vocalist, who was the frontman and co-founder of the famous alternative rock band My Chemical Romance (MCR hereafter) which was thought by many to be leaders of the emo/screamo boom following their success in the mid 2000s. A blond haired Gerard appeared wearing a black suit and black shirt with a red tie while the support members wore white shirt and black ties. The backing band consisted of a guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.
Starting with the slightly eerie sounding “The Bureau“, most of the set consisted of songs from his solo album “Hesitant Alien” released last September. He got everyone clapping along un unity for the second song “Action Cat” and slightly trippy and lighthearted upbeat songs such as “Zero Zero” and “Millions” which followed. He thanked VAMPS for inviting him to Japan and reminisced, “It’s good to be back. It’s been 7-8 years since I was last here with MCR. I love this country, this venue, and I love all of you.”
After the heavier “Juarez“, he mentioned to bring aware to mental illness with the next song because he suffered from it at an early age. He also mentioned his brother Mikey before playing the melancholic and emotional “Brother“. Then it switched to more upbeat songs “Get the Gang Together“, “How It’s Going to Be“, and “Maya the Psychic” as the crowd happily clapped along. Up until now, he clearly showed that this is who he is now, this is his music, and that it’s very different than MCR. “Your turn!” He yelled for the crowd to sing along for “No Shows”. His set finished with him playing the tambourine as he sang a cover of “Snakedriver” from The Jesus and Mary Chain as the crowd clapped along to the beat. After finishing his set, he thanked the crowd before taking a picture and exiting the stage.
At about 8:24pm, with crowds knowing full well who to expect for the final act of the night — who else but the host of tonight’s rock ‘n’ roll event? Once the house lights went down and switched to a dim blue light, rock tune blasted through the speakers and the entire venue jumped up almost simultaneously as thunderous cheers and screams reverberated throughout the venue.
VAMPS (40+5 mins)
VAMPS‘s black flag flashed across the screens, the stage lights flooded the venue in blood red and K.A.Z (Gt.), wearing a black mid sleeve top, and the support members appeared on stage as the crowd went wild with claps and cheers. A simple riff started with the words “BANG ON STOMP EVERYBODY” flashing on the screens. Everyone started chanting the phrase while HYDE (Vo./Gt.), clad fully in black drape styled clothing, ran onto the stage waving VAMPS’s signature black flag as the band officially opened their set with the upbeat rock and roll number, “REVOLUTION II“. The venue was united into one with everyone chanting, and jumping with their arms in the air during the chorus. HYDE drove the crowd and led the party with his powerful rock yet playful voice while dancing on his platform.
VAMPS‘s overwhelming performance was just getting started. The second song, “LIPS” changed to a more intense mood, led by K.A.Z‘s heavy and rhythmic guitar riffs. The crowd was suddenly thrown in a state of madness as purple and yellow lights flashed across the venue. HYDE showed off his high tones during the song before running to stage left to dance and while singing the chorus. Meanwhile, K.A.Z and Ju-ken (support Ba.) ran to far stage left to play in front of the side panels. The crowd clapped loudly before the breakdown, then slowly headbanged in unison. After a very dynamic guitar solo, HYDE sang the last chorus while swaying left and right standing on his platform.
The crowd’s loud cheer at the end quickly became a rhythmic clap-along when the speakers blasted the techno beats from the intro of “TROUBLE” (Shampoo cover). HYDE, now strapped with a guitar, drove the crowd crazy with his vocals which switched from a sexy tone to a rough scream. As if the first two songs were merely a warm-up, he provoked the crowd further, “Is this all you got? Give me everything!” “I can’t hear you!!” (three times) The venue heated up and turned into a large party ground during the high energy upbeat chorus, jumping with both arms high in the air and large smiles on faces can be seen all throughout the venue. HYDE yelled “JUMP!!” a few times during the final chorus as sirens and K.A.Z‘s guitars echoed for the outro of the song.
After a quick pause, K.A.Z‘s guitar began with a heavy riff and a tone befitting that of the title, “EVIL“. The lights now dyed the entire stage in diabolic red. HYDE‘s vocals were rough yet haunting, as he sang with a devilish, menacing look. Heavily distorted growls and screams rang through the breakdown, driving the fans into a headbang craze. He ended with one last growl, echoing through the venue, clashing with loud cheers and claps from the fans.
Cheers faded as the lights went down, save for a single ray of spot light center stage. Clear notes from a piano weaved a sad melody for the intro of VAMPS‘s most recent single released last October, “VAMPIRE’S LOVE” (Japanese version). An image of a girl in a casket showered with red rose petals appeared on screen as HYDE sang with a sad yet loving tone, his voice rang through the room along with K.A.Z‘s guitar which was just as emotional. The transition to the chorus became even more emotional as the instrumentals entered, and lights became more intense. Looking around, it wasn’t hard to find many fans holding their hands close to their hearts, or tears reflecting in their eyes, full absorbed in the beautiful love ballad.
With HYDE on guitars once again, “ZERO” created a sparkling magical world with two large mirror balls. Next, VAMPS heat things up again with K.A.Z leading on the up-tempo rock number “AHEAD“; fans clapped along during the chorus with colorful lights flashing through the audience.
“ARE YOU ALL BLOODSUCKERSSSSSS?!!!” HYDE provoked the crowd to prepare for one of the fan favorites, “BLOODSUCKERS“. Red and white lights flashed as a techno riff plays on top of heavy drums, guitar and bass riffs. Things were getting really hot in there, with all the members running around left and right to drive the crowd. “Yeah Budokan!” HYDE yelled, and the crowd responded with waves and waves of headbanging and jumping madness. During the middle of the song, the melody paused for a section with guitars feeding back as HYDE drove the crowd to the edge of madness, yelling “Let’s go Tokyo!!” “ARE YOU ALL _________?!!!!!” To which the fans screamed “BLOODSUCKERS!!!!” With a last menacing growl from HYDE “ARE YOU ALL BLOODSUCKERS?!” the instruments descended into a furious and an equally menacing breakdown.
Just the upbeat intro with the heavy yet playful guitars by K.A.Z drove the crowd crazy as red and purple lights filled the stage for the last song on their main set: “DEVIL SIDE“. HYDE‘s devilish sexy vocals roared while he jammed and rocked with the crowd and audience on his guitar. Fans went wild during the chorus as the members ran far left and right, and interacting with each other in between. In response to K.A.Z‘s devilish solo, the heat in the venue kicked up another notch. Everyone yelled along as the words “DEVIL SIDE” flashed across the screens. The crowd gave a thunderous roar of cheers and claps once the song was finished. “Budokan!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!” HYDE said in English before exiting the stage last.
After a few minutes of encore call, VAMPS appeared on stage once again. HYDE gave an MC for the first time that night:
I’m so glad we did this! Thanks to everyone [the bands] for coming, and all the fans who came as well. It’s cold today, so…thanks! It’s the [kind of] weather for staying in but I can feel your passion here!! I want to do this kind of event again!
After the MC, he invited the vocalist and guitarist from NOTHING MORE to join them for the encore, and they came out with drums. Then, he drove the crowd with “Budokan! BUDOKAN!!!! ARE YOU FUCKING READY?!” Lights flashed, HYDE yelled “Come on!!” and started the song that can be thought to be the band’s anthem: “SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL“. The crowd sang whenever the title of the song came up, with arms and fists waving high in the air and fans jumping everywhere. With the mic pointed at the crowd, they also sang the first repetition of the second chorus as lyrics flashed across the screens. The members ran all over the stage, even to the far left and right to high-five the fans at the edge of 1F by the stage. The whole venue was in a frenzy until the very end of the song, ending with the drummer’s sticks flung high into the air.
All the members waved and left with large grins on their faces, clearly having enjoyed the show. In response to the loudly cheering crowd, HYDE stayed last to blow kisses and said “See you again!” before leaving the stage to wrap up an exciting first day for VAMPARK FEST. The heat from the venue also seemed to have evaporated the rain outside, clearing the skies for the second day of the fest.
(Wed) 2015.02.18 @ Nippon Budokan – Setlist
- Christ Copyright
- Mr. MTV
- Bass Solo
- This Is The Time
- The Matthew Effect
- Burger Queen
- Waitress, Waitress!
- Kick & Spin
- Dracula La
- ワタリドリ (Wataridori)
- THE BUREAU
- ACTION CAT
- ZERO ZERO
- GET THE GANG TOGETHER
- HOW’S IT GOING TO BE
- MAYA THE PSYCHIC
- NO SHOWS
- SNAKEDRIVER (The Jesus & Mary Chain cover)
- REVOLUTION II
- VAMPIRE’S LOVE
- DEVIL SIDE
EN1. SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL
Live Report by: JIN