The second day of any convention tends to be the busiest, with more events than one can humanly attend lined up one after another. One of these events, in the early Saturday afternoon of Pacific Media Expo, was a small concert called Hydraphonic.
Poel kicked off this event, playing his “People Let’s Stop War” branded guitar and singing for a sparse crowd. His first song had some technical difficulties, such as mic feedback, but the sound engineers worked their magic and fixed the problems before the second song began. Poel had a strong voice with a slight vibrato that added an interesting color to his voice. He urged the audience members to fill the dance floor after they finished their lunch. Poel’s drummer, Sir Psycho Sexy (aka Ilan, bassist of RUSIKA) added, “We’ll take the leftovers!” The joke got people up out of their seats and onto the dance floor for the third song, where the audience started to act like they were at a concert. All of Poel’s songs were fairly similar in their tempo and feel, but his fourth song showed off his guitar skill during small, intricate interludes.
At the start of the fifth song, Sir Psycho Sexy stopped and said, “This is not working,” and proceeded to maneuver the drums to his liking. While he did that, Poel advertised his free CDs to the crowd. Once the drums were set, the duo played a slower tempo song that picked up in the chorus and had a showy guitar solo. Poel said, “One last song,” and the crowd, which had grown in size and enthusiasm, moaned in disappointment. Poel extended his hand back and announced, “Super Psycho Sexy Man on drums!” to which an eruption of drum sounds filled the room. The sound stopped, and Poel said, “And I’m Poel.” The amused audience laughed. Poel encouraged everyone to stay for the other shows coming up that afternoon before finishing out his set.
Nobu Albatross and his acoustic guitar took the stage next. Nobu began, “Thank you for being here. If you like Jrock stuff, you might not want to stay ’cause I don’t play that kind of stuff.” Not the kind of introduction one would expect an artist to make, but Nobu continued on to explain that in his shows, the audience and he are one, there are no boundaries. Perhaps he felt that if he did not warn the audience there would have been a negative response to his music? But there was no fear of that, as he played covers of The Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction”, The Beatles’s “Helter Skelter”, Jimi Hendrix’s “VooDoo Child”, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”, in addition to one of his own original songs, “Nature’s Breath.”
Nobu Albatross had a raspy voice with a darker tone, and his guitar playing style included a lot of showy but well timed slides, percussive hits, and guitar twirls. Despite telling the audience that he is shy, he had a quiet charisma and good stage presence and interacted with the audience between songs. “I told you I’m not going to play Dir en grey or something. I respect them, but they’re not my style. I like Melt Banana.” He expressed his pleasure that people outside of Japan are interested in Japanese sub-cultures, such as Jrock and Visual Kei. He told everyone that he plays everywhere, and he thanked PMX for the opportunity to play Hydraphonic.
Vocalist Kiryu was up next to bring his hybrid sound of rock, metal, and Jpop to the PMX stage. He performed to electronic and rock accompaniment while he sang for the audience. Kiryu head banged as he sang the rap verses and engaged the crowd by reaching out to them and walking down the catwalk. His clothing style was interesting. He wore an animal print shirt and scarf belt with black leopard print pants, a fox tail around his waist, and red and black boots on his feet. He ordered everyone to “Go crazy! Rock out!” to his second song and the crowd, which had grown even larger, bounced to the beat and pumped their fists in the air when he cued. He was the first performer of the afternoon to really get the audience to participate. The second song ended with him performing a Steven Tyler-like scream.
“I’m Kiryu, Japanese rock musician. Sorry my English is not good. I’m here to promote my first album, Hydra.” He then announced a raffle going on, and the prize was dinner with him that evening. Kiryu introduced his third song, “Warrior” as a song about war, wondering why people hate each other and reminding everyone that they have to fight for love. The song had a very cool piano riff that the bass took over to connect the calm beginning to the harder rest of the song. By the fourth song it was evident that Kiryu had charmed the audience. All he had to do to get them to react was make one command or cheer and they would obey. His announcement of his last song for the day made the audience sad, but he got them to dance, cheer and shout nonetheless. He performed on the catwalk to be among the fans, and danced and bounced around in circles. “Thank you!” Kiryu exclaimed. “I love you guys! Trust me, I love you guys! Thank you!” He took his bows and left the stage with the audience cheering for more.
Lemon Drop Kick were the last scheduled performers for Hydraphonic, and as they took the stage everyone noticed that the three guys were dressed in standard rock garb, but vocalist and front woman Miyako had on plaid pants, fur boots with pompoms, a black suit jacket, a black rose in her hair and giant heart earrings. She started the set with the usual opening, “Yo, yo we are Lemon Drop Kick!” and the crowd cheered. Miyako wasted no time before interacting with her bandmates, moving around to the heavy drum and poppy vocals of “Forbidden Lover.” During “Nobody Knows” the crowd clapped along to guitarist Eric’s solo. The band then broke into their new song, “Smile,” where Eric directed overhead claps as bassist Hiroshi drove the pulse with drummer Justin. Miyako’s voice was powerful as she sang during the chorus, “Smile for me, I am broken inside.”
Miyako told the crowd to find Lemon Drop Kick on both Facebook and MySpace before they launched into “1140.” Hiroshi rocked out as Eric calmly rocked his riffs and led overhead claps. He faked out the audience when he moved forward and looked like he would do a solo, but it ended up being a vocal break instead. Lemon Drop Kick finished out their set when Eric finally headbanged, as though he purposely waited until the last song to give it his all. “Thank you so much!” Miyako smiled to the audience. “We are Lemon Drop Kick!” Lots of cheers from an appreciative and still growing crowd followed the final Hydraphonic band off the stage.
The crowd magically grew even larger between the end of Hydraphonic and the return of our five favorite alien musicians. Uchu Sentai NOIZ set up their instruments and equipment on stage. Kotaro jammed after tuning, to which the crowd began clapping along. Kotaro took a moment, then turned off his feed and jammed silently. Meanwhile, Masato and Yamato set up the computer near the drums before they all cleared the stage and the room darkened. The band’s entrance song began and the crowd immediately fist pumped and cheered. Two Japanese girls at the front of Masato’s side of the stage knew every pose for every member, and did them in sync with the entering band. Once the band started playing, all the girls in front of Masato joined hands and jumped in unison. Angel Taka started his speech from the night before. “We have come from outer space to bring peace to planet Earth. Tonight,” he paused, smiled, and chuckled, “TODAY, the five great warriors have landed in L.A.” He then handed the microphone to the other members.
“I’m Kotaro. Do you love me? Do you like NOIZ? Do you eat sushi? Me too! Have a nice day!”
“Yeah! I’m Yamato! Here we go again! We love you! Thank you!”
Kyo looked around for a moment, surveying the crowd. Then, quietly, he said, “Ore ga Kyo!”
Masato ended with, “How are you? Okay? Okay? OKAY? I’m fine! Do you love me? Okay, me too!”
Angel Taka apologized that their concert that day had to be shorter than the previous evening, but that did not seem to disappoint the crowd too much. NOIZ showed the same amount of energy as the previous night. Masato danced like crazy during every song as Kotaro concentrated through the third and fourth songs. Angel Taka cheered “Wooo! I’m so excited! We brought you a present from Japan!” All five members threw memorabilia from the anime One Piece into the audience. “We got to meet everybody! Thank you! See you again! Let’s get ready to rumble!”
The band got crazier during the final songs of their set where Angel Taka danced to the groovy guitar as Masato sang for the dancing crowd, who were reaching out for Kotaro. They waved towels overhead as Kyo danced with his foot up on a block. “Jump!” Masato commanded for the last song in their set. Both Masato and Angel Taka reached off stage to a young boy in the front row and ruffled his hair. Masato pushed Kotaro down the catwalk and then visited Kotaro’s side of the stage. As it all ended, Angel Taka leaned backwards into the crowd. It may have been a shorter set, but as the band did their final poses and left the stage with no time for an encore, the crowd cheered and clapped, happy to get to see the five warriors one last time before they returned to keep peace in outer space.
Live Report by: Corinne O.
Edited by: Kia