Live Report: exist trace at Sakura Con 2011

When five powerful women took the stage on Friday, April 22 at Sakura Con 2011, they were making dreams come true across the venue.

exist trace entered to the roars of fans who perhaps never expected to see their favorite band live, marking the milestone of their first show on U.S. soil. Attendees came from near and far to experience the event, from local die-hards to travelers from Portland, Wyoming, Boston — even Japan and beyond. With European tours behind them exist†trace had found new territory to conquer.

Well before the show, passersby could see how anticipated this concert was as mobs began to form around Sakura Con’s main theater long before the scheduled line-up time. Fans of the band as well as curious con-goers joined in a chorus of racket when the doors were finally opened to allow patrons into the theater.

Though the event ran behind schedule, staff kept everyone updated as things progressed. In the meantime, Rammstein tracks blasted over the stage with Sakura Con logos showing on all three of the screens positioned to give everyone in the venue a good view of the show. The moment the music died and the lights went out, fans went wild, even before images of the band appeared larger-than-life on the screens around the stage. “-overture-” cued and one by one the members entered to wild cheers and applause to kick off the show.

With little adieu Jyou’s bellow of “JUDEA” sent the crowd into a frenzy over one of their most well-known and dated tracks, a treat for long-time fans. The set list did not disappoint — songs were selected from a variety of releases that were sure to excite fans of any era of the girls’ music. They even surprised the crowd with a rocking performance of the upcoming release “TRUE,” not due out until June.

Tracks like “Ambivalence” and “liquid” had the crowd head-banging and fist-pumping all throughout the show, but the multi-faceted set list went deeper than thrashers. Right in the middle was a beautiful rendition “Cradle” that captivated the awed audience entirely.

exist trace came to Sakura Con to show America the “power of Visual Kei” and surely this concert accomplished it. Jyou ran the stage with such energy and enthusiasm, hardly ever standing still. Her MCs between songs were intentionally spoken in simple Japanese to include as much of the audience as possible.

In the back, Mally drummed with fervor, never spotted without a smile on her face. Lead guitarist Omi played her solos from the front of the stage and frequently switched places with Miko to give fans on either side of the theater time to rock out with both guitarists. On bass, Naoto was a sight to see head-banging and tearing up her rhythm sections. When in front of her microphone, Miko provided harmonious backup, and when not, bounded around the stage radiating excitement.

“Owari no Nai Sekai” was the final song and arguably the best possible end note for such a powerful show. Encouraging the crowd to wave along in unison during the chorus, Jyou exuded excitement that caught on in the audience like wildfire. There was no break in the cheering as the band said their goodbyes and left the stage; there was no downtime before the audience began calling for an encore.

What seemed like mere seconds later exist trace was back on stage, but this time Jyou carried an American flag and Mally, a Japanese flag — both bearing the word “kizuna.” Jyou described this word as meaning “heart-to-heart,” the feeling that people are tied together. Her words melted into a heartfelt MC touching on the Tohoku Earthquake that even those with limited Japanese ability could comprehend. “… I feel that across the sea, the hearts of everyone in Japan and America are linked,” she explained. After the cheers had subsided and the crowd was warmed by the message, the band kicked into their sole encore song, “RESONANCE.” For one last song the fans went wild.

Though the 11 song set list was perhaps shorter than most would expect from a single-band concert, it was more than enough for fans who had been waiting for the chance to see exist trace perform. In addition to strengthening their existing fan base with such a powerful performance, the band surely gained more than a few new followers.

exist trace’s major debut “TRUE” is scheduled for release June 16, 2011.

4. Ambivalence
5. Requiem
6. Cradle
7. Orleans no Shojo
9. liquid
10. Owari no Nai Sekai


Live Report by Anna M