"Excuse me," the passersby would begin, "what is this line for?" It was a source of amusement throughout the day on July 19 as eager fans waited on the shaded sidewalk of Pike and 1st in Seattle. Jokingly, those in line commented that they ought to keep track of how many confused people questioned their presence outside of the Showbox. It was no surprise that the uninformed were so curious, though. Considering the fact that it was Pike Place Market on a cloudless Sunday, it is hardly a place where one would expect people to be seated idly as opposed to shopping.
While there is perhaps no comparison to the multi-day wait of fans in New York, Northwestern fans were equally eager to grab a good spot in line. The front of the line began early in the morning, likely before 9AM and despite the prospect of the long wait for everyone who settled in after that, there seemed to be no words of complaint about the hours ahead.
Thanks to the location of the Showbox at the Market, there were ample amounts of shade from both buildings and the trees lining the sidewalks, saving early concertgoers from the impending heat of the day. With Pike Place nearby, along with Subway and Starbucks—are you surprised?—there was no shortage of refreshments and places to explore if you had others willing to save your spot in line. Entertainment came in the form of VAMPS playing over iPod speakers and what seemed like hundreds of Duck Boats passing by. Those in line enjoyed interacting with the tourists on the Ducks, offering waves and high fives. At one point, one of the boat drivers was curious enough to question what exactly everyone was waiting for.
2PM rolled around as the excitement in line began to climb, fans no longer seated on the pavement and venue staff moving down the line to be sure that everyone would have their ticket ready to show in order to get access to the meet-and-greet. After the signing, venue staff checked up on the line frequently to be sure it was not blocking the path of the sidewalk. One staff member eventually had to question what kind of music it would be for the night, joking that it must be something ’emo’, since people were crying as they left the meet-and-greet. Despite having used his phone to search for VAMPS and apparently finding a site that referred to the band as such, he was eventually convinced that no one was here to see an emo-punk rock band.
Finally, after over 12 hours of waiting for several fans, it was 7PM and the line was undeniably restless. Remarkably, the hour did not seem to drag but there was questioning as to when exactly they planned to let everyone in, especially as start-time came closer. In the end, the doors did not open until sometime after 8 o’clock but once everyone was moving, it hardly seemed to matter at all.
As was to be expected, there was an immediate rush to get to the front, everyone wanting the best view of what was to come. The venue was dark, scarcely lit by more than the large chandelier hanging over the entrance to the room. The ceiling was domed, textured oddly so that it looked somewhat stone-like, and looked the part of something straight from an eerie mansion. To say the least, it was the perfect atmosphere and look for the band that was about to take the stage.
Before the concert had even begun, the front was pushed in tight. No one wanted to get shuffled around and lose their chance to be up front. Pressed so tightly together, the temperature rose quickly and there could be no doubt that it would only get hotter up front once things kicked off.
And kick off they did. SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL had the crowd moving instantly, many wasting absolutely no time in trying to push their way to the front. For the most part, it was a fruitless effort but the inability to be in the first row hardly dampened anyone’s spirits at all, judging by the energy that ran through the crowd from the very moment that VAMPS took the stage. There was no need to warm the crowd up, no reason to think that anyone was going to stop moving for a second so long as they were still playing. The first set of songs, including IT’S SAD and REDRUM, were as charged and lively as the rest of the night was promising to be.
"Hello, Seattle," Hyde greeted, initiating his first MC for the night. He went on to explain that they had come all the way over from the East Coast, the trip being a good six hours from there to Seattle, and stated that he was jet lagged from the journey. "Are you ready?" he asked the audience in preparation for the next song. And then, "oops, mistake. ARE YOU FUCKIN’ READY?" The response, of course, was uproar from the fans. In his second MC of the night, Hyde spoke of how full of trees Seattle is, telling us in both English and Japanese that he found it beautiful. He even broke briefly into song to emphasize this, earning cheers of approval from the crowd. The MC ended with Hyde asking after things one might consider unique to Seattle: orcas, which he valiantly repeated several times for us, salmon and, of course, Ichiro. "Very cool," he concluded.
After the first MC came SECRET IN MY HEART, starting off a well mixed block of songs with both VAMPS tracks—EVANESCENT, HUNTING and VAMPIRE DEPRESSION—and songs from Hyde’s solo career—JESUS CHRIST, COUNTDOWN, DOLLY and HIDEAWAY. The response to song such as HUNTING and HIDEAWAY was just what one could hope for, where there was an obvious rise in people singing along with Hyde.
After VAMPIRE DEPRESSION, the fans were rewarded by the sight of an upright bass joining Ju-ken on the left end of the stage. His solo was met with the crowd’s approval, as his presence tended to be in general. The appreciation for VAMPS as a whole was clear—in any case, it is intensely difficult to not notice Ju-ken at any given moment with the vivacity that he carried throughout the entirety of the concert. K.A.Z, too, earned great reactions from the audience, causing the bulk of the crowd up front to surge to the left when he would cross the stage to give attention to the fans on the opposite end of his usual place.
Following Ju-ken’s solo was SWEET DREAMS, the one song that allowed the crowd to slow down for just a little bit in order to appreciate the performance in a different manner. Following SWEET DREAMS was the VAMPS cover of LIFE ON MARS?, but the reaction to that could not possibly match up to the way the audience responded the instant TROUBLE began. It could come as no surprise that fans sang with every word, pressing towards the front with more intensity than they had with any other song. There was no allowance for a breather, either, as the next song up was their cover of LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, which no one could ignore any more than they could ignore HIDEAWAY or TROUBLE before.
With LUCY IN THE SKY as the ‘final’ song, the band exited the stage much in the manner they had come: with uproarious cheers from the crowd and no small amount of movement. No one was leaving yet, however, and the expected rounds of "encore" cries started up fairly quickly. The call soon became rewarded when VAMPS returned to the stage and gave their addicts a fresh dose.
Once again, VAMPS proved that they knew exactly how to drive their followers into movement en masse. Opening their encore with LOVE ADDICT did the trick with absolute ease, people picking up a clapping beat with little need for prompting. Afterward, they moved into COSMOS before closing off the show with MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION. During the encore, as he had early on in the concert, K.A.Z gave the familiar swing of his guitar up close to the edge of the stage, earning approval from the audience. When the encore came to an end, the audience exploded in cheers and as Hyde gave the VAMPS "V", the gesture was returned by the multitude of hands in the air. As the band exited the stage, Arimatsu came to the front to toss drumsticks for the eager audience. Ju-ken followed suit, though his offering was a generous amount of water for the heated fans before he exited the stage as well.
The overall response from concertgoers all the way through the end was intensely lively, despite how long many had waited for the show and the somewhat late start. As a band that has never toured the United States and who headlined without any help from an opening act, they could not have asked for better results than they received from the very start.
Live Report by: Kia
Edited by: Ali W.