The corner of Wilshire & Western was filled with people waiting anxiously for the doors to open. August 1st was the final show of the VAMPS LIVE 2009 U.S.A. Tour. The local 9-5 folk passing by or driving home from work stared at the "different" crowd standing outside of the Wiltern, often with curious and confused looks. Little did they know that downtown L.A. was about to be taken over by the heavy, head-banging sound of Japanese rock. More specifically the new brainchild of Jrock’s front-runners Hyde (L’Arc~en~Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust).
The most noticeable group amongst the crowd was the L.A. Jrock fans decked out in their Visual Kei/goth/Lolita styles. At most Jrock shows in this area, this group would take up the majority of the crowd, but this show was something different. Although the Jrocker types stood out the most, this was a very diverse crowd. There were children as young as 7 years old to middle age music fans. Gothic Lolita girls and the average guys in T-shirts and jeans stood side by side in the line. Whatever their background or scene may be, they all came here for the same purpose: to be a part of the VAMPS first U.S. tour.
Long before the band even graced the stage, the anxious fans were screaming at the top of their lungs once inside. With every new movement the technicians on the stage made, the crowd got louder. As the lights went out, the Wiltern Theater erupted with screams that were so loud, it would not have been surprising if the windows shattered. These only got louder as the members of VAMPS, Hyde & K.A.Z, and their musicians – bass player Ju-ken, drummer Arimatsu and keyboard player Jin – took the stage. Without further adieu, K.A.Z ripped into the intro of their first single "Love Addict" and the crowd roared with excitement. Hyde’s microphone stand was decked out with red roses and the band was dressed mostly in black and white with splashes of crimson that suited their heavy, sultry rock and roll sound.
Each musician displayed great showmanship – K.A.Z flung his flying V guitar around with every riff he played, Ju-ken provoked the crowd as he pointed and yelled, Arimatsu throwing a drum stick in the air. Hyde owned the stage with his presence and incredible aura. As he opened his arms widely, fans screamed all the more. The band had great chemistry as they rocked through their set of 20+ numbers with plenty of head banging and without much interruption in between the songs. Hyde occasionally communicated with the crowd in English, and stimulated the crowd by saying "I’m finally back in LA! This is our last show in the U.S. so that means this show has to be the best!"
The band played through their heavier darker songs such as "Vampire Depression" and their hit power ballad "Evanescent" where fans were hypnotized by Hyde’s signature vibrato. Hyde connected with the fans and expressed his appreciation by saying "We’ve met so many great fans throughout this tour!" There were some playful moments where Hyde said he is barely getting over his jet lag, but he must unfortunately fly back to Japan soon.
The last section of the set was comprised of some covers such as "Trouble" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." The set was concluded with "Sex Blood, Rock n’ Roll" and the members left the stage. After a countless number of "VAMPS! VAMPS!" chants and endless screaming, the band took the stage again to perform two more songs to finish off an impressive month long run of shows in the U.S.
Despite the tour spanning three weeks with ten shows from the east coast to the west, VAMPS seemed to welcome fans as much as fans welcomed them. Before the last show played, fans have already expressed looking forward to another tour.
Live Report by: Akiko M.
Edited and Contributed: Ali W.