Los Angeles – House of Blues – November 19th & 22nd
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The House of Blues Sunset was packed. This was night one of the LA shows for the much-respected visual kei band, Dir en grey. Anticipation and energy filled the dimly lit floor of the venue as the fans waited for their visual-kei heroes to step on stage.

As the advertisements for future shows at the House of Blues were projected on the dropped curtains, the audience cheered when Dir en grey’s Sunday show appeared – and judging from the fact that there were cheers for Utada’s show, there are general Japanese music fans along with die hard Dir en Grey rockers packed in the venue.{modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA10.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}

A little after 9pm, the lights dropped, curtains opened and the fans pushed to the front. Kaoru, Die, Toshiya, and finally Kyo stepped on stage. Instruments were picked up and as Kyo raised his hands in the air, the band erupted into their first song, “Sa Bir”. Although the band’s appearance has toned down a few notches over the years their {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA1.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}performance had no sign of waning down. Through their evolution, the five have proven again and again their ability to captivate audiences.

Kyo is a vocalist that can do every little thing imaginable with his voice. “Vinushka” showcased his ability to switch between his demon-like death voice to the screamo style high pitched wailing. {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA4.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}The band as a whole is very entertaining to watch as each of them have their own way projecting their stage presence. Toshiya bounded around the stage with the bass in a lighter swifter motion, which was contrary to the harder, faster head banging showcased by the guitarists Die and Kaoru. Shinya was like a machine catching every cymbal hit and Kyo moved frantically to every song as if he were possessed. The band played through numbers such as “Grief,” “Ryoujoku No Ame,” and continued into their 5-song encore, which was a real treat for the fans.

In between songs, Kyo would provoke the audience by shouting “L.A.! L.A.!” but this band is all about less talk, more rock. The fans were charmed, or rather galvanized by the 19-song concert and surely were sore the next day from all that {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA5.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}head banging. Many of these fans likely returned two days later for Dir En Grey’s second show at the House of Blues.


Fans milled around House of Blues Sunset Strip anticipating what surprises that Dir en grey would bring them on the second of their two shows in Los Angeles for the All Visible Things tour. Dir en grey promised two separate set lists as well as songs they had yet to play on this tour, and after Friday night’s “ryoujoku no ame,” “schwein no isu,” “Amber,” and “saku” performances, the fans felt ready for anything {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA7.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}the band may throw their way. As the lights dimmed and the sounds of “G.D.S.” filled the room, everyone screamed in anticipation.

The band entered one by one and immediately began to instigate the already screaming and wild crowd before opening with “Obscure.” The audience moved en masse as close to the stage as they could get, seemingly fiercer than previous Dir en grey pits have been in the past, even just two days earlier. By the time they started “Merciless Cult” people had taken to crowd surfing in addition to {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA9.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}screaming, cheering, and general fist pumping. Many of the less-experienced (and in some respects, smarter) members of the crowd escaped the front rows of the pit for the sanctuary of the sidelines while others pushed forward with the hope they would end up at the barrier that keeps them safely distanced from the stage and band, but right up front to view every moment without another person’s arms or hands in the way.

Dir en grey seemed to enjoy the response to their music. Kyo yelled to the {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA6.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}audience frequently, stared them down, and demanded their voices call back to his every move. Die coolly glanced towards the section of fans in front of him. Toshiya bounced around in his typical fashion, usually smiling for the fans in the process, and even the normally stoic Kaoru appeared more animated than in the past. Shinya kept everything together from behind his massive drum kit, which was smaller than last year’s but still rather large and intricate. The smaller stage and {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA3.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}the crowd of the House of Blues seemed to add energy to Dir en grey’s performance fire, though admittedly from a vantage point in the pit where everything descended into chaos it was difficult to tell what was excitement-based and what was pure adrenaline.

Their show seemed tighter than previously seen on our soil, and their worldly experiences have influenced them for the better. Kyo in particular has improved significantly, much more in tune with the band and with his own actions. Gone are the days of on-stage self-mutilation, replaced with a fearsome and intimidating aura that captivates the audience as Kyo sings, screams, growls, and chants. His a{modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA8.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}cappella filled the room and finally the crowd watched in awed silence as he exhibited the power of his voice.

In line before the show, concert goers who have been to multiple shows and followed the band during their North American appearances felt that Dir en grey have put on consistently better and better shows during this tour and have improved greatly since their {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/LA2.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}first visit to the states in March of 2006. Dir en grey’s popularity definitely seems on the rise. Add to the improved performances were a wider repertoire; songs from all of their albums save for Missa and Macabre have been featured during this tour. The stage seems set for many incredible things for future shows. Dir en grey has a solid, highly energetic show that was worth every cent of the admission price.

The set list was:

Merciless Cult
Red Soil
Stuck Man
The Deeper Vileness
Doukoku to sarinu
Lie Buried With A Vengeance
Hydra -666-
Inconvenient Ideal
Dozing Green
reiketsu nariseba

Akuro no Oka
Bottom of the Death Valley
The IIID Empire

After the end of the show, fans who purchased an UROBOROS CD or AVERAGE BLASPHEMY DVD got the opportunity to attend a meet and greet with all five members of the band. Many more fans than usual took advantage of this, as the chance to meet all of them at once is a rare occasion.

Friday Live Report by: Akiko M.
Sunday Live Report: Corinne O.
Edited & Contributed: Ali W.
Photography by: Doug C.

Photos appear courtesy of The End Records and Dir en grey

Dir en grey OHP
Dir en grey MySpace