Day 2 of the Visual Japan Summit was held on October 15th, 2016. Sadly, we were not about to make it to Day 1, but there were still a on of great performances to see over the last two days.
Before the show even started, you were greeted with the “We are X” pump up video, and a bunch of English music that was dated by at least 15 years. It really put you in the mood to be there despite the fact it was before 9AM. There were 4 screens around the venue playing ads, and videos, and would later be used to show the bands to the masses.
The floor was already crawling with the early risers who were dedicated enough to the early acts to set up shop as soon as the doors open. Since you knew which bands would be playing where, you could really plan where you wanted to be in advance. Even that early in the day there was a certain strategy to how people circulated the room.
At 8:55, the show started with George (of LADIESROOM) and Tatsurou (of MUCC) doing the MC. They greeted the audience, and warmed everyone up with a few jokes, and so, the day was off to a good start.
VALS started right on time, and with a very upbeat and energetic set. They are considered a “V-based Dance Band”, so if you like electronic influences tied into your VK, this might be a band you are already familiar with, or would like to check out. What was really different about them was the fact that they have dancing members, which seems like an act to be based more in pop than rock. However, one dancer picked up a mic towards the end. At first I was surprised, but as time went on it just made sense. This would not work for a lot of groups, and it’s rather unique, but they went with a concept that suits them well.
ASH DA HERO came up after VALS, and with a much heavier sound. Ash had a lot of charisma right off the bat, and filled the crowd with rock and grunge undertones throughout his set. There was an energy to it that I think anyone who had an angsty stage in life would appreciate. He came off passionate without being whiny or needlessly angry. There was a lot of interaction with the audience in both Japanese, and (near flawless) English. It was like he was cheering his crowd on, and they really seemed to appreciate it and reciprocate the feelings. Towards the end the frontman came out with a flag, sang his heart out, and blew kisses to the fans. He seemed so appreciative, and gave a damn good show.
FEST VAINQUEUR followed Ash, and once more completely flipped the mood. This was a little bit more on an “on brand” set when put in the visual category. They were all colours and hairspray, and the crowd ate them up. They give off that rockstar attitude while also selling Final Fantasy anime realness. They had a little rock, a little traditional, and a lot of attitude. The fans were passionate to say the least. They came ready with all the choreographed hand movements (furi), and headbanging one could ask for at 10AM. And more. If you’re a fan of DIAURA, this would be a great act for you to check out. They have a lot of similarities without being carbon copies of one another. This whole set was done in the presence of Hide’s guitar on stage.
GRIEVA went on right after, and they entered with some classic creepy music. The lights were all purple, and dim until the vocalist, Kyouki, came on stage bathed in a very bright white light. Solid in terms of dramatics, and the crowd were obviously waiting for this show. They started chanting along with the band straight away. There were a few times when the backing vocals seemed bit quieter than they should have been, and I suspect that was some sound issues. On the Japan Stage, where Grieva was performing, they were actually having minor issues through a few of the sets. It didn’t take too much away from the show though, as the band hardly seemed to notice, and they were doing their best to keep a very active show going on. Even through the MC portions of the set, anyone speaking was breathing so heavily. It showed off how much work they were putting into their performance. Very admirable. What was really charming though was that despite their hard exteriors, the band seemed very sweet toward to audience, and gracious through to the end.
ALDIOUS was one of the bands I’d only seen but never heard. Going from very hard looking and sounding musician to something so purposefully feminine and light was a good change of pace. I say this without taking away anything from their powerful performance though, as they put just as much energy into their set as their male counterparts. They’re described as a heavy metal group, but I wouldn’t exactly label them this way as there was a certain edge they were missing I would normally link to that genre. Opening with a very angelic ballad just doesn’t scream classic heavy metal. The whole Aldious set was very passionate, but the showstopper was definitely anytime Yoshi performed a solo. Huge stage presence, without being a complete attention grab..
MATENROU OPERA came on with a very short delay. They started playing and the whole quality of the hall changed. There were huge vibrations, and the mic issues were seemingly fixed. If you enjoy the epic mix of metal and opera ala Final Fantasy, this is a band you should start paying attention to right now. Stop reading this and go check them out right away. I had heard their music before, and enjoyed it, but this set was honestly an experience. Sono, the vocalist, has a very unique vibrato to him that may not be for everyone, but there is no denying what a talent he is. The whole band plays fast, and loud while making everything appear absolutely effortless. Of course, I may be biased since I’m pretty well won over by any act with a keytar! By the time they stopped playing for a short MC, the whole band was drenched in sweat. This whole theatrical experience was so high-energy and engaging, by the time the last song was announced, I, and apparently most people, were disappointed it would soon end. Just a short 4 song set of Matenrou Opera was no where near enough. This is a band that should be experienced live.
Keep in mind, this is all before 11:30 in the morning. There is a huge shift in the room where people are trying to get into position for the next act. Megaphones and hyper-organization start. Tatsurou and George come on to the main, Summit Stage for their second MC of the day. Agan, very light-hearted and fun. They take a selfie, and usher on the next act.
A9 (previously known as alicenine.) were the first of the day to perform on the biggest stage, Summit Stage. Everyone had their light-sticks turned on, electronic music started playing, the screen with all the visuals was on and greeting us with a explosion of graphics. Everyone came out to a pure white light, and Hiroto started the set off with a great solo. There is a certain maturity to the band now, no doubt with them because of the years spent performing together. During the first song, there did seem to be a issue with Shou’s ear piece, but only notable because he kept playing with it the whole time. He got himself sorted by the second song, and was free to traverse the stage freely with the rest of the members. Hiroto and Tora really did the most leg-work and were crossing the stage every chance they got. A9 really delivered in terms of energy. Following their second song, there was a short MC in which Shou and Hiroto mentioned how happy they were to be there. The interaction between the two was rather sweet, and they continuously referred to X Japan as their senpai. RAINBOWS was the third song payed, and seemed to really pump the crowd up. For this, the crowd held their ‘A’ hands up anytime the band started chanting, and went along right with them. It should be noted that though everyone in this band is a fantastic performer, and Hiroto really steals attention, the whole set was really driven by the rhythm section consisting of Nao and Saga. Though they were not as overt with their showmanship, they were silent, mature, and completely powerful in their own rights. By the end of the set, even the crowd seemed exhausted. In the best possible way of course. The band thanked everyone several times, and were played off by Aerosmith’s”Jaded”.
DEFSPIRAL played after A9, and really managed to hook the crowd in during their soundcheck just before they were about to start. Just playing a little nugget before their set, the crowd was already rushing over to sing along. It was a good contrast to jump to someone like defspiral after because changing the pace and feeling of the show occasionally helped keep the audience energized and on their toes during the day. It was only noon by the time this set started. The vocalist, Taka, has great stage presence, and took command straight away. He was great to watch, along with the rest of the band. The members didn’t interact much with one another at all, and the set had a rather serious and masculine tone to it. This isn’t by any means a bad thing though, as it clearly works for them, and their fans are completely devoted. The bassist in particular had some great moments of interaction with the crowd. If you like melodic vocals and a harder edge to your music, you should definitely check these guys out.
THE THIRTEEN is the new unit devised by ex Sadie members Mao and Mizuki. So, it is worth stating that if you liked Sadie, you might also like this group, though know that the whole act has a different feel. Don’t go in to listening to them expecting the same kind of band. They have changed up their other mates, rotating through a few supporting band members. This does seem a bit troublesome though, as at times you’re not exactly sure who played at which live. For this particular live, there was a serious pop punk feeling to it, and it made me think back to my highschool days. The punk fashions sported by Mao and Mizuki were too clean to be a dirty, straight-up street punk look, but it was giving you some serious spiky aethstetic. Complete with headbanging, chanting, and a lot of bouncing about, this set was a good bit of entertainment. Not my favourite set, but worth a listen for sure.
PLASTIC TREE started up right away on the biggest stage, and had some wonderful visuals on the screen. Right from the first, “Ohhhhh yeah,” of sound check they had your attention. There is something very strange about watching this act, but in a charming way. The whole band came on stage and started with a bow.
If you’ve never checked this band out, do it. They’re alt-rock VK influenced sound is super unique, and the vocalist Ryutaro really gives off an awkward charisma. With all the social graces of Death Note’s L, and the hair of Noel Fielding. It’s hard to compare them to anyone else as they really are something different. They’ve been around for over 20 years and have a feel all their own. The performance itself completely traps you. Even though the overall energy in the hall during the set was mellow, you were never bored. There was not much that could distract you from the performance that was being put on. The bass in particular, played by Tadashi was super powerful. The band had a lot of great little moments playing with each other on stage, moving about, and jumping around. They never really lost their chill though, and just gave off a really cool vibe. This act also made great use of the visual screen behind them. All the images suited the sound they have, and didn’t distract from the show in any way. If you care to give them a listen, I would suggest starting with one of the songs they performed, “Mime”. It’s a good representation of their energy and overall sound.
HEIDI. Picked up after that and came out with a lot of instant charisma. After such a relaxing Plastic Tree set, they were something to get the crowd pumped up again, and in a completely positive way. They have a lightness to them that just puts you in a good mood. Heidi. is another band that has been around for a long time, and they’ve completely come into their own over the years. When you hear them, there is no doubt who it is, which is a breathe of fresh air when there are so many bands that feel the same these days. They can get the crowd jumping with less than a wink, and kept control of their audience the whole time. The group has a great chemistry too, and were able to convey a lot of feeling with simple gestures, and glances across the stage. Listen t hei. Just makes you feel good.
DEZERT entered the stage to the creepiest choir chanting music, and it really put you in the mood for something dark and strange. Their music is a good mix of high energy beats, while also giving you that metal scream. The whole band seemed pretty relaxed at first, but the guitarist, Miyako, really stood out because he started the show just shredding. The band never seemed to stop playing either, which I think the crowd really enjoyed. Even through the MC portions of the set, everyone still played their instruments. They had good energy about them, and never seemed too shocking or aggressive despite the volume and quality of their sound.
MC time again with George and Tatsurou, though this time they were accompanied by Plastic Tree’s Ryutaro. They made comments about how amazing the shows had been up to this point, and how people might be getting a little tired. They promised the show would continue to amaze. They did a round of making the audience chant, “We are X” and it was a good injection of hype into the crowd. Ryutaro made everyone laugh with his tiny chant.
HIDE WITH SPREAD BEAVER was the next act up. There was a certain excitement in the air by the time this act started. The intro was long, but with reason. It showed old clips of the group, and introduced all the members as they came on the stage. As anything that is a tribute to Hide, there was a certain joyful melancholy in the air, but nothing too overwhelmingly sad. There is a real passion that shows through the musicians and fans alike when it comes to his work.
Once the band was on stage, the volume of the crowd was the loudest it had been throughout the whole day. The whole venue really showed up by this time, and they were more than ready for this act. ROCKET DIVE was a perfect opener, and got everyone on their feet that hadn’t been previously. There aren’t a lot of words to describe this set. Hide was a legend, and he left a hole in the scene that could never possibly be filled. THat said though, to watch old recordings of him along with SPread Beaver as they currently are is a seriously mesmerizing experience. It’s completely surreal, and they even had some clips of his old MCs. It’s haunting n the most upbeat of ways. Yoshiki made an appearance to play piano for the 5th song, GOOD BYE. Talk about emotional. He played with a very aged recording of Hide, and people in the audience could not handle it. Sniffles and applause followed before Yoshiki said a few kind words about Hide, and made sure to mention each member of Spread Beaver by name. It was with great respect that he delivered his speech. It kind of mellowed the whole hall out but the second people heard the first note of Pink Spider they forgot their tears. Everyone was hyped again, and jumping around. Yoshiki played a matching yellow guitar to Hide’s which sat centre stage the whole time. It was a great change of pace. The rest of the set was all joyous. At one point Pata of X came out and joined them on guitar as well. Die had his keytar on. There was just so many things to take in that it was almost an overstimulation, but only in the best of ways. The end of the st came far too soon at the 9th song, and everyone bowed together, including a perfectly colourful Hide.
KAMELEO was a bit late to the stage due to the fact Spread Beaver had played a little overtime. This was in no way held against them though, and people were happy to watch their set. It was avery electronic entrance, and the whole group came out with cartoon chameleon masks. It was very comedic, and light. They had some furi with hand fans, which had me seriously wondering where the crowd was keeping all their props. Lightsticks, fans, roses, and various other props were being used through the three-day show, and it was mindblowing. Kameleo was a show all their own though, and it’s hard to really get across how unique they are. There was an anime girl, a pizza guy, and cheerleaders on stage. It was a visual assault, and hard to follow, but I think the crowd responded positively to it, and really seemed to enjoy the show being put on for them. By the last song, the band dropped their instruments, and finished the show with a choreographed number. They thanked the crowd after the set, and seemed to be giddy from the performance.
SID was the next main stage show, and yet another one of the groups that has been around for longer than a decade. What was really great about Visual Japan Summit was the real mix of new acts, old acts, and everything in between. If upbeat rock music is your thing, then you probably already listen to SID. They aren’t overly hard on the ears, and they have a happier tone than some of the other acts. They’ve been around since 2003, and have a great amount of music to go through. This show was a pleasant one. Mao (vocals) and Aki (bass) have really good stage chemistry, and went out of their way to interact often. Mao has such a calm presence on stage, and great control over his voice. He’s very easy to listen to, and this performance was no exception. Aki is his complete opposite on stage with a more overt charisma, but that kind energy made the dynamics really fun with the whole band. There was a good mix of jazzier songs, ballads, and just really easy listening. Plus there were green lasers. So overall the whole show was really nice.
HYDE x YOSHIKI did have the audience waiting for quite a bit, but it was well worth it. Both men are complete professionals, and have real talent. Again, the chemistry on stage was great. Despite only playing two songs, it was a good show. Say Anything was performed passionately, especially, and it was great to hear Hyde really just sing something with nothing but Yoshiki on piano. They both took a selfie with the audience. Other than that there isn’t much to say. It was all very low-tech, and relaxing. Gorgeous.
R-SHITEI (previously Catheline) followed the HxY set. They have a very energetic and youthful feel. If you like acts like D=OUT, it is possible you might also like these guys. They all came out in their matching outfits and the vocalist gave us the one-finger salute. Tons of attitude, and they started off with a megaphone. High in energy, this set was a good wake up from the mellow set previously. This group jumps and spins, and headbangs with the best of them, and really seemed to love performing. They were quirky without being off puttingly odd. Towards the end, they kept thanking the audience.
GLAY was among the last performance of the night before the finale. That said, they really made their whole set feel like it was the peak of the night. Had the entire night ended after the performance, nobody would have gone home disappointed. Glay really showed off their rockstar swagger with this amazing performance. There were pyrotechnics, lasers, and fully committed performances from each of the members. As soon as they started, the VIP section was on their feet, ready to get a move on. There were some more mature audience members losing their minds, so excited to see this particular set. For me, the star of the show was Hisashi. There is a reason why the audience was so pumped, and a lot of it was him. As I said before, the whole group was spectacular, however there was something to the constant solos and mere presence of the two-toned man. If you like heavy music with light melodic vocals, I’m sure you’re already a fan of Glay as that is part of what they do so well. Teru has a gorgeous voice and fronts them wonderfully. By the time the fifth song rolled around, Spread Beaver’s Die came out to finish off the Glay set with the rest of the band At one point he tried to walk off, but the band begged him to stay. Die has such a charm about him. He kept asking if it was really ok, then finished. It was like watching a bunch of friends jam, while also putting on a huge spectacle. I honestly feel so much more strongly about this band now, having seen them live. It’s not just the perfectly timed tech, but the fact they were perfect professionals who knew how to have a great time on stage with everyone.
LM.C was the second last show of the night, and arguable they might have even had the toughest slot. Playing between Glay and X Japan could be a little pressure inducing. That said, if they felt any feelings about their timeslot, they certainly didn’t show it. They were a whole bundle of energy, and put on a really fun show. They came out to their own rendition of Ode to Joy that was as strange and colourful as they were. Watching LM.C through PV’s versus watching them on stage is a hugely contrasting experience. Going into this concert, I expected Maya to be the louder of the two main personalities in the band, but that was the furthest from the truth. The whole time he seemed vaguely restrained. He was performing just fine, but compared to Aiji, everyone looked laid back Aiji was bouncing all around the stage, and just played so well with the band and audience. He was headbanging, and interacting with someone ever chance he got. During the MC portion of their set Maya made comments about how happy they were to be performing, kind words about the following act, and how he was feeling up there on stage. It was sweet and he seemed to be enjoying himself. By the end of the set, there were two huge band flags brought out on stage and paraded around. They were pink and black striped with white hearts. Very on brand. They ended with Maya spitting water everywhere. As the band walked out, Aiji stayed behind to bow to the audience in thanks.
X JAPAN was of course the finale on all three nights. To read more about their performance, we’ll be summing up their sets at the end of the Day 3 live report. Please look forward to that!
Looking back on the shows, I definitely had some favourites, but there was not a terrible show in the bunch. Everything was well done. From the tech to the performances themselves there as a smooth organization to everything. Thanks to all the organizers, staff, and performers for such a spectacular experience. This is not a concert I will soon forget, and it was just such a blast.
VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT DAY 3
Coming to Makuhari Messe for Day 3 of Visual Japan Summit, the crowds were already forming outside for the VIP members to be let in as well as for the merchandise booths. Early in the morning, everyone gathered their money in hand to buy the last of the merch for the end of the three day festival. Once inside, people began to stake their claim on the areas for the bands they wished to see at their allotted time schedule.
At 9:25, The Micro Head 4N’s went on on time on the JAPAN stage and put on a high energy set filled with upbeat songs full of double bass from Tsukasa and heavy guitar solos. The band had good energy about them full of excitement that carried over into their latest single SCANDALOUS which also had a commercial spot on the large screens between each live show. A more upbeat song, SCANDALOUS is definitely a party song, compared to the band’s more heavier material. After their live set, the band proceeded to say “Good morning!” in English, followed by thanking everyone for coming to their set so early in the morning. Grateful to X Japan, the sentiment continued throughout the day as the sets went on.
At 9:50 NOGOD took the VISUAL stage and by that time a lot of people had gathered to watch this band. The band appeared to have no coherent theme to their outfits except the vocalist, Dancho. who came out very energetically in a pierrot costume in black and white with striking black sclera lenses. To finish off the look, his microphone was embedded within a book. The crowd was very into the band’s fast-paced music with magnificent guitar solos and kept on cheering their favorite band on from where the were with elaborate furi.
At 10:15 GOSSIP took to the JAPAN stage in striking red military-esque costumes. Immediately the band drew comparison to early GazettE in terms of fast paced music, outfits, synched movements, including headbanging, and well coordinated furi. At one point, the band played Rock, Paper, Scissors with the crowd, which was a fun moment for fans who had gathered to support the band. The vocalist with black stripes running down his neck had a heavy stage presence and the band seemed to be very in-tune to one another as they played through their set. The dynamic of this band was good, and if you like early GazettE, maybe you should give GOSSIP a shot.
At 10:40 D=OUT took the VISUAL stage. The crowd filled in for the band quickly after GOSSIP’s set, and the band did not disappoint. The band came through full force with audience interaction and Kouki’s sublime headbanging, even at one point venturing down front to be closer to the fans who came dutifully to see them. Their set was full of powerful, unique vocals paired with Ibuki’s intense guitar solos. The audience was very receptive to the band who gave so much and seemed so grateful to be at Visual Japan Summit.
At 11:05 Versailles took the JAPAN stage. A large crowd filled in around the stage as the lights came up to silhouette the band in their trademark dramatic style. Fans were very excited to see this band reunite earlier in the year, and this live was no exception. The band pulled out all the stop with their set and stage performance, from the outfits to Kamijo’s color changing, glowing roses that he kept on throwing out into the crowd. The band fed the audience with fan service of spinning and heavy interaction between Kamijo and Hizaki whose vocal and superb guitar work complement each other very well. The band’s sound in terms of guitar is similar to X Japan without being a copy. Versailles has always been unique in their own way, but there is no denying that their roots run deep within Visual Kei. The double harmony with the guitars were especially nice. At the end of their set, there was a small MC, and in perfect Kamijo fashion, like a flash of serenity, “Merci Beaucoup” was said to the crowd in thanks and we were left with an astounding memory.
At 11:30 Angelo took the SUMMIT stage with a long blue and purple introduction video. The band had an ethereal feel especially Kirito in his white hoodie. It’s amazing how Kirito can stand there and command a crowd so powerfully. During the second song, Kirito took his hoodie off and tossed the mic stand, slamming it onto the stage until it broke. During the set there were many intriguing visuals of eye, religious figures, textures, and computers. There was not a lot of band interaction, although the band was very lively including Kirito and Karyu. Even though band members did not interact much, there was a lot of audience interaction from the band which the crowd seemed to appreciate.
At 12:06 Royz took the VISUAL stage one minute late. If you are just getting into Visual Kei, Royz is the band for you. The band began with a heavier song, but most of the set was a throwback in sound to early 2000’s Visual Kei styling. The vocalist was all smiles, while the guitarist kept on having troubles with his jacket. Through it all, the band persevered in their set to deliver a crowd pleasing performance.
At 12:30 The Slut Banks took the JAPAN stage. Fans of older Visual Kei will recognize the vocalist of this band as TUSK from Zi:Kill. Zi:Kill was one of the more influential Visual Kei bands in the 90’s and also had associations with X Japan, participating in Extasy Summit as well as TUSK being in the film Seth et Holth with hide. It is nice to see a familiar face back on the scene and still continuing music. If you are a fan of punk, you will surely love The Slut Banks. Their music channels older Visual Kei as well as standard punk riffs paired with the frantic nature of punk. TUSK is much less visual these days, but wears blackened out eyes for his face paint, mimicking that of a skeleton which is the band’s main design. However, when you listen to his voice, the vocals have remnants of those early Visual Kei days which was such a welcomed sound of nostalgia. I would enjoy seeing The Slut Banks in a smaller venue, where I feel their intimate, intense nature would ultimately thrive.
At 13:00 Kiyoharu took the SUMMIT stage to deliver a haunting acoustic set. Paired with only his guitar and a further accompanying acoustic guitarist, most songs were from his solo career with a few Kuroyume songs thrown in for good measure. The stage was set up simply with a chair, a side table fitted with drinks and a photo frame, and a floor lamp which suited the atmosphere and Kiyoharu’s simple outfit of a pancho and crimson hat, no shoes were involved in this performance giving it a very intimate feeling of being within a home. The last time I saw Kiyoharu, he was smoking cigarettes and putting them out on the ceiling of Okayama Crazy Mama Kingdom. This time however, it appears he has traded in the cigarettes for a vape which he used in full effect to allow smoke to waft through the air and create their own intimate patterns in a haze of sight and music.
At 13:38 DIAURA took the VISUAL stage three minutes late. One of the more popular newer bands of the night, the band came out with a military theme which has been popular in recent years. There was headbanging from the start and the crowd eagerly reciprocated the efforts put forth by the band. The band took turns chanting back and forth with the audience, truly a crowd pleaser.
At 14:05 Russian band, Mumiy Troll took the JAPAN stage. This band was by far the oddest addition to Visual Japan Summit. Taking their name from Moomin, which is very popular in Japan, this Russian group was invited by Yoshiki to play at Visual Japan Summit. The band had everything from metallic shirts, ninja outfits, to spacey flying cat visuals. Truly a treasure of the 80’s, I won’t be forgetting their performance any time soon with it’s charming stage presence and energetic music.
At 14:45 MUCC took to the SUMMIT stage to prove why they’ve been around for twenty years. Opening heavy, the band was as usual, very active with fascinating visuals. At one point, Tatsurou stopped the show to have everyone kneel down to jump up and apologized to older fans in the crowd, commenting that they were getting that age too and he knew it was difficult. After everyone knelt down, the music started back up and when Tatsurou cued for a jump, the whole concert hall erupted in a jump wave that easily showed just how fun a MUCC live can be in such a short time span.
At 15:30 vistlip took the VISUAL stage with an electronic entrance. There music was heavy with light vocals and the crowd reciprocating by headbanging and jumping to their favorite band, showing support for them the way any fan would.
At 16:13 GOLDEN BOMBER took the SUMMIT stage three minutes late and for good reason. The band came out dressed as X Japan from their earliest visual days. For those who don’t know, Golden Bomber is a parody band. However, it is obvious that they love the material that they poke fun of and understand the ability to laugh at yourself. After running around on stage, eating guitars made of Japanese snack food, and destroying drum kits and a few gong gags, the band was joined on stage by none other than Yoshiki himself. The only thing that could have made the moment better is if Yoshiki had come out in Kenji’s stage makeup.
At 16:55 cali=gari took the JAPAN stage and gave the audience a taste of pure performance art. True to their visual kei roots, this is what you expect when you think of old school visual kei. Huge hair, dark music, and all around noisy, weird, and great without being overbearing.
At 17:47 LUNA SEA took the SUMMIT stage seven minutes late which is allowable by a band of their caliber. The band started off with fan favorite Rosier and the show only got bigger from there with pyrotechnics that were synced to the music and confetti cannons towards the end of the set that was comprised of mostly singles such as Stormy and an intense version of I For You. The only complaint to be had was that Sugizo did not bring out his violin because none of the songs played called for it. A long bow was had at the end of the set to express supreme gratitude to the audience which the audience gave right back in cheers for the elegant band who always knows how to properly interact with each other and the audience alike.
At 18:55 Kiryu took the VISUAL stage five minutes late bringing back the feeling of nostalgia with their color-coded hair and traditional styled outfits. Comparable to Kagrra, the band has carved out a name for themselves with a bit more of a heavier sound than Angura Kei is known for, the band even pulled a surprise for fans by playing Pink Spider. Folding fans are the staple of the band and looking out over the crowd, it was a sea of them in gold. The juxtaposition between Luna Sea, Kiryu, and X Japan is striking because you can see the change in visual kei right before your eyes. Bands always have had gimmicks, newer bands tend to be about a lot of the gimmicks to where the visual kei scene has now become saturated with bands who have good gimmicks, but little emotion behind their songs. Some bands have good gimmicks, but bad music; Some bands have good music but bad gimmicks and the beauty of visual kei is finding bands who are able to find that delicate balance in between.
At 20:15 X JAPAN took the SUMMIT stage forty minutes late due to technical difficulties. The crowd began to get impatient, and started clapping for the band to come out. Just as was on day 2 of Visual Japan Summit, the band had the same opening, and quite possibly the same set. However, there was just as much excitement the last day as there were the others. Yoshiki stood when he could from behind his towering drum set to give proper audience interaction. Toshi’s vocals were also something to behold as they have improved from previous years. Kurenai was extremely powerful as always, starting with hide playing at The Last Live, and ending in crowd participation, and confetti cannons. The lights dimmed, and black and white videos showed on the screen, highlighting X Japan’s years as a band, obviously including hide and Taiji as the played Forever Love and pieces of Without You. Most of this set was spent playing pieces of songs back and forth between Toshi and Yoshiki and having drawn out monologues between the two men before finally bringing Heath, Pata, and Sugizo back on stage to launch into the ever energetic We are X! with the whole crowd participating in jumping up and crossing their arms in an X formation. As if that wasn’t a fantastic end to the show, the band projected both hide and Taiji up on the screens in memory, firing a mix of silver, white, and pink confetti into the crowd. Fans thinking it was over with that were sorrily mistaken as the band came out once more to play Endless Rain. If anything was to be said about Visual Japan Summit, it is that the Crime of Visual Shock is alive and well.
Live Report by: Sho & Kei
Edited by: AliW
Photo credit: Visual Japan Summit