One of the most striking colors the eyes can see is black. Perhaps this was girugamesh’s intention when they lurked onto the stage during Like an Edison’s Special Live at Shibuya O-East in Tokyo on June 18. Like eerie shadows cast on a bright, shiny visual- and oshare-kei rainbow, girugamesh loomed over the audience with a silent aggression that made them the peak of the night’s excitement.
Even before the band took the stage, you could cut the audience’s tension with a knife. While the previous bands Mar Bell, boogieman, and Serial⇔NUMBER commanded a crowd that filled up about three quarters of the live house, it soon became apparent that the majority of attendees were there for girugamesh. Any empty floor space was filled within minutes before the set as an unnatural silence fell upon the room. The otherwise sane crowd transformed into a voiceless swarm of carefully styled hair with the occasional bright red girugamesh towel ready to be mercilessly whipped over the heads of those surrounding it.
girugamesh’s guitarist, bassist, and drummer took the stage neither waving to their fans nor completely ignoring them, picking up their instruments without any particular fanfare. Almost immediately, the audience absorbed their silent charisma and began screaming like banshees to make up for it. The moment the first sound escaped the drums with their bizarrely tribal “Intro,” the audience clamored for the stage, filling what little room was left with limbs, hair, and the dying shreds of personal space.
Vocalist Satoshi stalked in completing the matching set of four black, pristinely tailored suits, heads of shaggy, black hair, and ghostly white faces. And with Nii holding his guitar closer to his chest than the traditional visual-kei, low rider stance, girugamesh looked like a gothic undead version of the Beatles.
And the audience’s reaction was no different than if a zombie John Lennon graced the stage. Screams and hair pulling ensued as Satoshi clasped his hands around the microphone and revved up his voice for “Vermillion.” As if commanded by some subliminal message in the lyrics right before the first chorus, the audience took a break from the shoving to headbang in almost perfect unison. This became a pattern in the audience’s behavior with nearly every one of the seven songs they played. Before long, the whirlwind of hair and writhing bodies became disturbingly hypnotic.
That’s not to say the audience’s reaction wasn’t warranted. Darkly energetic with aggressive undertones, girugamesh’s music could inspire even the most lovey-dovey optimist to break some glass or punch a kitten. While most of the instrumentation is the standard fare of metal-inspired visual-kei, Satoshi’s voice is powerfully sinister with the ability to permeate over the audience like the cry of the Grim Reaper beckoning the damned. Hearing the band live only enhanced this effect, making girugamesh a step above many of the other bands that night. His slightly flat falsetto voice in “Rocker’s” may have distracted from the raw strength he carries, but overall he reached the deep, dark place in the audience’s hearts and gave it a hard-hitting kick.
But all of girugamesh’s charisma shouldn’t be credited solely to Satoshi, especially after the interesting dynamic between Nii and bassist Shuu. During the bridge in “Crazy-Flag,” in which Shuu pounded rhythmically on his bass, he and Nii rushed towards the middle of the stage and began swinging the heads of their instruments in a mock guitar-bass fight. Their feet moved nimbly about like trained sword fighters sparring for their lives. The battle continued in “Shounen A” with no clear winner.
After “shining” faded out with the hissing whine of a castaway electric guitar, the ominous shadow that was girugamesh disappeared from the stage. For a short set, the band managed to leave an impression on the audience that set the bar quite high for the final three bands. girugamesh not only dominated the show, they made it love the color black.
Reported by Sarah Dworken
Edited by Maria