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
You know World Order. They’re the ones wearing suits and ties while performing that strange choreography. Maybe you saw them in some “weird Japan” slanted story. Most likely you thought World Order knew maybe two or three moves (including a mean robot), and then they did something that blew you away.
World Order’s beginnings date back to 2009 when mixed martial artist Genki Sudo Continue reading
I remember the first time I saw or heard of Suiyoubi no Campanella. It was way past midnight, and the Suiyoubi no Campanella PV appeared on my YouTube recommendations. I felt bewitched by the electronic style that bridges EDM, hip hop, and trance. Mind you, I’m not an authority or even a particular fan of any of those genres. However, Suiyoubi no Campanella seemed so blatantly artistic with its music and promotional videos that I was drawn to the group immediately (lesson: don’t underestimate the lure of interesting promotional videos). But, the group also seemed so offbeat that I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to see the group perform. Imagine my surprise when Suiyoubi no Campanella was announced as a musical performer for 2016’s J-Pop Summit in San Francisco!
Suiyoubi no Campanella, who now use the English moniker “Wednesday Campanella” consists of Continue reading
Five years is a long time. Maybe that should read “5ive Years”, because Kyary Pamyu Pamyu brought her “5ive Years Monster World Tour 2016” to San Francisco on July 22. Like the tour name implies, Kyary celebrated her five year career with inimitable style, fashion, and music on a worldwide scale.
One her third trip to the States, Kyary brought a stage setting more elaborate than anything she had brought before. Fluorescent prop pieces decorated the stage, transforming the Regency Ballroom into a psychedelic forest right out of the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures. Oversized flower petals opened into a DJ setup upstage, while flowers and stone arrangements adorned the wings.
Although I arrived a bit later than comfortable, I found myself just in time for the main show. The lights dimmed suddenly and Continue reading
My summer concert series kicked off last weekend with a pair of concerts from the highly regarded SCANDAL. The band once touted themselves as the “most powerful Japanese girlie rock” band. You may know that I saw SCANDAL previously in 2011 at the AM2 convention in Anaheim (you can read great coverage by Greg at Selective Hearing here). That was an awkward time for me since I didn’t know ANYONE from any sort of idol scene at the time … who am I kidding, I don’t really know many people now, four years later!
From my experience in 2011, I regretted the choice of venue at AM2. A proper rock club would have suited SCANDAL much more than a room and a stage configured for a fashion show rather than a concert. A few weird moments during the Q&A sessions and the strange venue did little to contain my excitement at the time. I really loved the group in 2011 and would have licked the sweat off Tomomi’s P-Bass if she let me.
Forwarding to present day 2015, SCANDAL played a pair of shows both House of Blues (HoB) clubs in the Southern California area. I am decently acquainted with both clubs from attending shows at both the Downtown Disney and Hollywood HoBs and playing at the Hollywood HoB a couple of times. Both venues decorate themselves with a reverence to swampland blues that is partly inspiring in its detail and partly insulting for its Disneyland sanitation of otherwise unsanitary conditions. None of that really matters since I only wanted to see SCANDAL. With my history of adoration for the band, attending both concerts was a must for me. The concerts also afforded me the opportunity to see the group at a proper club, with a proper stage, lights, and sound.
I’m writing this preface on October 23, 2014 nearly 3 weeks after the Morning Musume ’14 concert at Best Buy Theater. As typical of my personal fandom, I haven’t had nearly enough time to sit and write for an extended period of time after the summer fades. As the days grow short, I feel an overwhelming need to push this article out into the web-sphere with increasing urgency. You, the reader, will undoubtedly see a few mistakes in my recollection of the details. Remember, this is my personal recollection; I’m not documenting anything more than my personal experiences. If my memories don’t jibe with your memories, if my memories distort or misrepresent the facts, or if I’ve forgotten faces and names, please know my writings are not meant to be malicious, misleading, or misanthropic. Also, you will find very few photographs in this article, as we were asked not to take cell phone photographs during the performance. The few photographs from Morning Musume ’14’s performance are credited, so please visit their website for more great coverage. I dedicate this writing to all of the people I met at the Morning Musume ’14 New York concert and its related festivities. You’re all the best!
Way back in 2009, Morning Musume came to Los Angeles (where I live) to perform at Anime Expo. By 2009, I had been a fan of the group for a couple of years. It would have been the right time to see the group for these and many other reasons. I bought my tickets to the event and prepared myself to attend the concert. Unfortunately, tragedy struck just days ahead of the event, and I necessarily attended the funeral for one of my dear relatives instead of the Morning Musume Anime Expo concert. I’m not bitter about this, but I’ve been left with a gigantic hole in my fandom ever since then.
As one can imagine, I was incredibly elated when the announcement of Morning Musume ’14 playing at New York’s Best Buy Theater hit. This concert held a few notes of importance. Firstly, it was the opportunity to see my favorite Ikuta Erina in person. Secondly, this represented my last chance to see Michishige Sayumi, an idol whose importance to me grew over the long years and who is the last holdover from the Platinum Era/MM Anime Expo concert. I instantly knew I would be attending. I experienced some difficulties purchasing tickets to this event- the onsale date coincided with a family vacation that took me to a “no signal” part of the country. With the help of some friends, I managed to secure a ticket to Morning Musume ’14 NYC! I purchased my airline ticket, made arrangements with some friends in Brooklyn to couch surf at their place, and before I knew it I was in New York City on October 4.
The porthole of an airplane denotes travel…
In a year filled with overseas and abroad idol activities, J-Pop Summit emerges as a major event. This year’s festival offered some top tier talent from the Japanese Idol world: Tokyo Girls’ Style, Itano Tomomi, Yanakiku, and Una. Even though Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Tanaka Reina’s LoVendoR topped the bill last year, I passed on attending the festival (which I regret). As soon as J-Pop Summit announced Tokyo Girls’ Style as a musical guest I knew my attendance was mandatory. Having followed the group since their debut single “Kirari“, I consider the group of girls to be among the most talented idol acts around. (My reviews of the last five singles- Jujika, Partition Love, Chiisana Kiseki, Get the Star, and Unmei are linked at the end of of this article). San Francisco is only 7 hours from Los Angeles by car, and I am currently on vacation. Why not make a grand adventure?
I didn’t really know what to expect . I bought tickets for something called “LA Idol Fest“, but there wasn’t much of a web site and little information about the scheduled acts. Tokyo Meru? Chii Sakurabi? PASTEL CALLA? Never heard of them. I knew the coming weekend was Anime Expo, so I thought I would gamble and start the weekend off a little early. I took care to avoid listening to the groups before the event, which is a bit like avoiding the trailer of an anticipated movie. On July 2, I went to the Nirvana Bar in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo and sat back expecting the worst.