When first announced, the event seemed so random. Why would The Killing Red Addiction, whose band members are Dynamite Tommy, TATSU, TAIJI and KENZI, play their debut in Los Angeles? With six other bands on the bill it was difficult to tell from the line gathered outside the Whisky a Go-Go if anyone truly knew the significance of being able to see these visual kei forefathers perform in a small venue. The show itself had previously been rescheduled from a date in May. Whatever wait fans endured, however, they knew it would be completely worth it.
The concert started later than expected, but that did not dampen the spirits of the crowd as the first band, Gravity Core, started the night off with a sound reminiscent of early Luna Sea combined with recent Dir en grey. They wasted no time trying to rile up the crowd with solid heavy rock and screams that showed vocalist Takuro’s diversity. Takuro and guitarist Shotaro were well in sync vocally, and the entire band gelled together well. Not only did Gravity Core know their music and were comfortable on stage, but they seemed to feel the music at the same time and put a great deal of energy into their show. The music itself ranged from that heavy screaming sound to more pop/rock, which Takuro announced was dedicated to their Class of ’09 friends. Transitions within songs were seamless, even if they seemed like they should not work. Gravity Core also moved fluidly between genres and from song to song, which made the first set of the evening move well and kept the audience interested.
Next up were Right of Light, a quintet of fifteen year olds. They did well despite some early technical difficulties, such as when vocalist Lynnzee accidentally pulled the cord from her microphone. Their sound is a happy rock that works well with the current radio-friendly music scene. Right of Light was a little tense during their first two original songs, but lit up and had fun with a cover of Pat Benetar’s "Heartbreaker." Lynnzee and bassist Kevin Pugh were the most charismatic of the group while guitarists Kevin Karp and Christophe were very serious. Their youth was apparent in their original songs and it will be interesting to hear them as they grow and gain more life experience.
Lf – laissez faire – took the third slot with very fast paced hard rock. It was unfortunate that vocalist Ryo was difficult to understand because of the mix, but the band worked well together and their rhythm section was solid. Keyboardist Shiina R. added ambient noise to their slower song and Ryo’s singing voice suited him better than his screaming voice. They played a mix of songs that were in your face, pretty, catchy and funky, and as they had more fun the audience got into the show more. Guitarist To-Ru said, "I love you all!" before Lf -laissez faire-‘s last number.
The room filled up significantly as the time neared ten o’clock and the fourth band, Missing Gloree, started getting the audience excited before they did their quick sound check. Right from the start Missing Gloree rocked out to their catchy tune, and each of the members’ personalities came through their performance. Vocalist/guitarist Teppei was the first singer of the evening to enunciate his words so the lyrics were clear while bassist Junya harmonized. Guitarist Yuki rocked out in his own world while drummer Satoshi quietly commanded the band. Missing Gloree worked the crowd and drew them into the music while shifting genres from catchy rock to hard rock to ballad and back to hard rock. Their performance was solid and well-timed within the lineup. It was good to see a strong and versatile band that was also energetic and fun to watch while taking their music seriously.
The precursors to The Killing Red Addiction were Lemon Drop Kick, the most punk sounding band of the evening thus far. Their performance was all about energy as they powered from one song right into another. Miyako, their vocalist, defined paradox as she bounced cutely about the stage while dressed in a T-Rex shirt and torn jeans. The band communicated well and had a very solid, together sound. Their music recalls sounds of the movie NANA but Miyako’s voice is more Judy and Mary than Mika Nakashima. Once Lemon Drop Kick’s set finished, the crowd crept closer to the stage and buzzed with anticipation as the roadies scrambled to set up for the headliners. This setup included bringing out a bright blue tarp, which made one wonder just what was going to happen.
The members of The Killing Red Addiction each made an individual entrance, starting with Taiji. The bassist descended the stairs and faced the audience, hidden in a black sleeveless hoodie and black scarf over his nose and mouth. He picked up his black bass, the one decorated with a prismatic phoenix, and ripped into a solo of "The Star Spangled Banner" complete with wild arpeggios and crazy finger-tapping.
In addition to their covers and original songs, the MCs entertained the audience because of the band’s banter. Dynamite Tommy spoke into the microphone and an audience member asked, "What?" to which Dynamite Tommy replied, "Please pay attention to my words. My English is not good enough," and continued speaking. As he spoke, Tatsu hit a random, loud chord on his guitar. Dynamite Tommy turned fiercely towards Tatsu and ordered, "Hey! Pay attention!"
The best part of The Killing Red Addiction, though, was that the four of them operated as one unit. Their collective performing experience shined through as there was very little dead time and often the set flowed from one song into another. Tatsu played an impressive solo. Kenzi was a wild man on drums, despite the blood loss, and he liked to throw his drumsticks at the end of songs. Taiji seemed to be in good health, as he jumped around and was caught smiling as he played. Dynamite Tommy made sure we all "paid attention" with his engaging and endearing personality. It was completely worth the wait, and even members of the warm-up bands watched and cheered during The Killing Red Addiction’s show.
The audience dispersed quickly after The Killing Red Addiction finished, as it was nearly midnight on a Monday night. Those who remained knew there was one last awesome performance to see from electronic rocker Tadahisa Yoshida. Tada, as his fans call him, thanked the remaining audience for sticking around and played his set of five songs that made some dance on the shattered glass in front of the stage. He wondered about The Killing Red Addiction’s set, as he was unable to watch it, and asked how Kenzi cut his head. Upon hearing the answer, Tada replied, "Oh. I can’t do that," and continued his set. His third song slowed down the tempo and made many relax, and he dedicated "Death by Stereo" to his friend in Cinema Bizarre, for whom he opened back in April. With the end of Tadahisa Yoshida’s set, the concert drew to a close, but the audience remained, many hoping they would have a chance to meet The Killing Red Addiction.
Outside the Whisky a Go-Go, the city slept as Japanese rock fans hung around the corner of Sunset and Clark. The concert brought together fans of current and past bands, and all the bands who performed, save for one, cite multiple Jrock bands as influences. For one night, the audience experienced visual kei legends covering well-known punk music, experiencing a possible motive for premiering The Killing Red Addiction in America. In the end, it was not about Japanese rock stars, it was not about who rocked the hardest, and it was certainly not about the visuals. It was all about the music.
Live report by: Corinne
Edited by: Kia and Ali
Check out the interview for more information on The Killing Red Addiction!