One of the most consistently appearing Japanese acts in Los Angeles, VAMPS rolled into the City of Angels on November 7, 2016. Since 2009, I count this as the seventh time Hyde and K.A.Z. visited my hometown. Even with all those appearances, this appearance at the EL Rey Theatre marked the first time I saw the group.
Of course you know the group comprising of Hyde (L’Arc-en-Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust) formed in 2008 after the two began working together in 2003 on Hyde’s solo output. The group seems committed to bringing hard rock from a Japanese perspective to the world. VAMPS tour worldwide regularly, and last appeared in Los Angeles in 2005.
Having seen the group’s live performances through several media outlets, I was excited to see the group for the first time. Realy, 8 years into the collaboration the group lived up to my expectations. VAMPS play ahead of a great rhythm section that holds down the groove with the precision of a sports car. With the foundation on solid bedrock, Hyde and K.A.Z. are able to let their spontaneity and creativity fly high. K.A.Z.’s guitar work floats over the mix with a ‘verbed out lyrical quality when he solos, and a mean metal town when burning in the groove. Hyde as a front man is a world class performer. Ranging freely on the El Rey stage, Hyde captures your attention with his intensity and crowd interaction. Aiding his show stealing demeanor, Hyde’s versatile voice starts with an emotional flair, builds with a strong crescendo, and finishes with a menacing growl- his reputation is well-deserved.
Starting with their latest single “Inside of Me”, the five piece ripped through a 17 song set-list punctuated with the group’s singles and a few surprises. Hyde began the show with a black hoodie pulled over his head which he later dramatically lowered to reveal his blonded hair, and eventually unzipped. For a live cover, the group ran through a performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. VAMPS drew the audience into the performance with crowd-participatory claps as chants on songs like “Bloodsuckers”, “Revolution”, and the night-ending “Sex Blood Rock n’ Roll”.
I don’t know what exactly took me so long to finally see VAMPS, but I’m glad I made the effort to get out on this Monday night. Afterall, Hyde and K.A.Z. crossed an ocean to get here, and I only needed to get over the Sepulveda Pass and across Beverley Hills. With such a strong stage presence and a gifted musical performance, VAMPS are added to a list of “Must See” live acts for this reviewer. See you in the pit.
VAMPS at the El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles November 7, 2016
01. INSIDE OF ME
06. GET AWAY
07. SIN IN JUSTICE
08. VAMPIRE DEPRESSION
09. DIAMONDS (Cover of Rihanna)
11. RISE OR DIE
12. WORLD’S END
14. MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION
16. DEVIL SIDE
17. SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL