The eyes and ears of Jrock fandom have been upon them for months now. They took the smart, modern direction with their YouTube and MySpace, giving potential fans worldwide a chance to behold their Revenant Choir. After building success at home in Japan, they’re ready to jump forward with their plans to take on the world, a part of the program from the very start. And it’s already paying off—the newly announced show from Tainted Reality at Los Angeles popular live house the Knitting Factory is open for sale, and it’s already set to SELL OUT in a matter of weeks.
The fruits of KAMIJO and HIZAKI’s aesthetic vision are easy to taste at the Versailles MySpace, but you may be wondering still whether or not this band is killer in person.
Here’s why you shouldn’t wait and miss your chance to catch their American debut at A-Kon and in L.A. or their upcoming Aesthetic Revolution in Europe Tour (more details at their MySpace): a picture of the members of Versailles as seen live in Tokyo at the close of last year upon their sixth month anniversary. This combined report reflects on the impact of shows with ANTI FEMINISM at famous Jrock career-launcher Meguro Rokumeikan on December 21, and with fellow Sherow Artist Society musicians at Omotesando Fab on December 24.
A spellbinding choral intro sets the stage for Versailles. The new visual band embraces the theme of roses, entering the scene with a throwback look and style that will bring visual kei back to its true roots of the ultimate music-image melding.
Their stage appearance recalls days long since passed in visual kei, long before the common sight in today’s magazines.
Band after band seems to deliver a repeat performance of the last group’s trendy look, seemingly plucked out of Marui One’s epic emporium. Versailles is the perfect antidote to visual monotony.
It’s a magic combination of old and new. The best sense of old—classic—and the best sense of new—fresh and inspiring. The beautiful posed shots of the band out for Jrock fans everywhere to admire transform into dynamic reality, and the costumes are on display in all their detailed glory. The experience is like watching high art photography come to life.
They rock it out from the start, with the pit headbanging, the rows behind already engaged in steady furitsuke, the coordinated hand gestures that fans offer up in spades in Japan under guidance from their beloved artists. As they play to packed crowds, it’s clear that Versailles’ hold on their dedicated audience is rock solid. But what’s clearer still is that this band has it all—stunning visuals, brilliant musical talent, and a balance of members that leaves no one outside of the spotlight.
Known for his work as vocalist of LAREINE, KAMIJO is an aristocrat of the friendliest order. His powerful voice and captivating stage presence could paint the picture of an enigmatic, untouchable prince. But his MCs show an artist who is approachable, the sort of ruler you’d want to find on the king’s throne when you came to ask for help to save the farm.
He’s emotional, intense, dramatic on center stage, and then he’s smiling, laughing, chatting with the audience, encouraging his band members to speak. That shift between fierce command and engaging audience play will be endearing to any fan who loves feeling that the artists are aware of them.
But Versailles’ highly well-known lead doesn’t obscure the talent making the amps scream and pound with gothic, infinitely technical storytelling metal rock. The band is a complete unit, with not a single member in the shadows—literally, as moments of heightened drama often bring them all, even drummer YUKI, forward for the audience’s full view.
HIZAKI is the definition of grace, resplendent in dress and elegant in character. No words escape his lips; his voice is his guitar, the brilliant masterwork of the long-experienced lead of HIZAKI grace project and his many other musical efforts.
TERU is the shocker for anyone accustomed to the typical band lineup, where the rhythm guitarist takes a technical and personality backstep to the lead. There’s no delegation here; TERU joins HIZAKI on lead duets throughout.
Versailles is a dramatic standout for its partnered lead guitarists, each running their fingers over the fretboard with a speed and dexterity that is awesome to behold. And where HIZAKI maintains the calm, frozen intensity of sculpted art on his features, TERU breaks out in the looser moments to show off an infectious smile and crowd-driven energy.
JASMINE YOU immediately leaps out with a massive winged and feathered headdress and angular, striking look that grabs the eye and won’t let go. He’s the bassist, but also bills himself as the "magician," and there is a quality of mystery about him as though he is not the illusionist, but the illusion itself. His beauty fits the whole picture, and yet veers just enough in its own direction to keep the audience intrigued and fixated. While TERU and HIZAKI wail, JASMINE matches their skill on his own instrument, refusing to be drowned out, his line as crystal clear as theirs.
There is always something special about a drummer lost in his own drumming world, and that’s where YUKI goes on his solos. Some of the most definitive elements of Japanese rock are in its rhythm patterns, and YUKI offers a crash course in every beat that is signature to the best of visual rock sound. The pounding beat he delivers keep Versailles’ stories on the march to their grand conclusions.
First mini-album Lyrical Sympathy heard and seen on stage live is simply not an album that can be split apart and examined for all its component pieces. It’s a complete chapter in a saga, and while there are plenty of moments, from effortlessly synchronized group spins to KAMIJO encouraging an audience sing-along, it’s better experienced than textually examined one step at a time.
KAMIJO shares in celebration of band milestones with the fans who brought them there, and compares Christmas to the Japanese festival of stars and wishes, Tanabata. The show closest to Christmas offers the unforgettable view of the band in Santa hats, including HIZAKI hatless but decked out in the traditional red and white outfit. And the preceeding live, a VS. with the punk rock group ANTIFEMINISM, culminates in an epic two-band encore where all five Versailles members wave roses and chant as KENZI of ANTI sings them on.
They close out their shows in a haze, leaving behind memories of deeply moving encores that will last in dazed fans’ imaginative landscapes to carry them until the next chance to enter the world of Versailles live.
Can you make it to Dallas or Los Angeles? Are they coming to a European city near you? There’s no simpler way to say it: Go.
Go experience Versailles’ world of Roses for yourself. And if you’re thinking of going to L.A., tickets are selling faster than the Knitting Factory knows what to do with, so don’t hesitate.
In an amazing year where opportunities abound for Jrock fans struggling to make decisions, Versailles is one band you do NOT want to miss. Plan on it.
Written by Misha
Edited by Krystal
With thanks to Sherow Artist Society