Sunday, November 9, 2008

So much to say... and Dir en Grey!!!

Welcome back from my unannounced, unanticipated, unappreciated hiatus!

Let me first say that probably because I've done so many reviews my actual # of hits is surprisingly high even after not posting, and I appreciate all those who stopped by and am sad that I didn't offer anything more recent to keep you around. I could add some lame, albeit true, excuses about just being busy with life in general; however, I think I'll just post some stuff about what's going on lately with an emphasis of my most recent exciting trip which was to see Dir en Grey in concert Atlanta style!

First of all, I've had a year now of doing my radio show which was quite exciting and also the week of Halloween we hit the 50 show mark! Likewise I also got a new co-host. We call him The Cay and he's been a friend of mine online then off for about a year now, and he makes this show just click so I'm very grateful that he's on board. Exciting as all that is though there may be questionable times ahead because the station's being sold and it's future, while set for internet radio, is still uncertain in how to make and pay for a presence online. Fees for online music is different than paying for college radio, but I'll let our Station Manager and Assistant-Station Manager handle that issue :)

Let's see... I also had my birthday which was cool but doesn't deserve too much mention. My aunt, who is very awesome by the way, picked up a book for me on Hikkimori which if you've watched the anime 'Welcome to the NHK' is what the main character is. My brother bought me the latest Bleach DS game, which he summarily beat in a couple hours, which is actually a good thing because now I can just fight like I want with all the characters. Just a few more than last time and the missions are harder, but I'm enjoying the game. I also have purchased, on the recommendation of my co-workers, some of the Batman comics specifically 'The Killing Joke', one of Joker's stories, and then on my own I purchased 'The Long Halloween' which was quite cool, and a new manga called 'Batman: Death Mask' which highlights Bruce's training in Japan and how that past may have caught up with him in a strange and Japanese way. Good strange though so all is well there.

Speaking of manga I've actually picked up several new ones including all of Dazzle, at least to the present amount published here, and also Air Gear, up to present date as well. Likewise, I picked up the 4th Battle Royale Omnibus which is even crazier than ever, if you can believe it, and I picked up the first 2 Black Lagoon manga volumes which I've enjoyed even having seen the show. Actually, I've seen all the shows and/or movies for the manga I have now, including the new Melancholy of Haruhi Shizumia(sp?) that I just picked up. Maybe I'm not good at branching out or I just like seeing what might have been missed, although in some of these cases the manga came second so I just must have really liked the show. Either way that's my biggest financial contribution to anime/manga aside from the occastional magazine.

Dir en Grey - Live @ Atlanta!

My real excitement recently was my trip yesterday to Atlanta to see Dir en Grey. Ever since I read on the JAMPcon forums about their visit to Atlanta a couple years ago and listened to their tracks enough to get into them as a band I knew they were a concert I didn't want to miss. So when I saw they were coming back I told a couple of my friends, including The Cay, and we made plans and grabbed our tickets for the event.

Well, having ordered them online so early, due to a previous snafu with ticket purchases on my part, I had an incredibly long time to wait and honestly almost forget the concert was upcoming. Perhaps times were good I'm not sure, but either way it'd slipped to the back of my mine. That said when this past Monday hit I was all ready for Dir en Grey, and after some basic organization my friends and I figured out our plans and headed down.

So Saturday The Cay, myself, and Liz (long time friend of the show), got in my car and we drove down to Atlanta to meet up with our other friend Mallory (also friend of the show). We met at Cumberland Mall, right by AWA's current locale, and then hopped in Mallory's car and worked our way around to the event. Had a bit of trouble getting parked but I paid the $10 and we'd passed the line so we knew where to go. This is where things get interesting though, because Center Stage, the venue for the concert, is attached to perhaps 2 other clubs and with no overtly Dir en Grey merchandise we began to suspect the line we'd passed was for a concert in a different part of the building. So we went to the Center Stage Theatre entrance and there were maybe 8 other people in there at that time. The Cay went and asked a Will Call booth lady if this was where Dir en Grey were performing so we went back and waited in our tiny line for about 20 minutes reassured we had done the right thing. Wrong. After all that time in line someone came up to us talking about how some of these people had waited for 24 hours for a Meet & Greet with the band. Not only did he not even state which band, since clearly at this point we could hear one next door rocking out perhaps in a sound check, but to come up to us after waiting all that long was just too much. So, finally clarifying that we were not where we were supposed to be we went back to that long line we'd seen earlier and indeed after all that time indoors waiting the line had grown two times as long! Turns out this actually worked out even after all that because we'd been in the warmth waiting, and when we got back to the line they started moving people in immediately and we hardly had to wait. Still though there was clearly some lack of courtesy or common sense on the venue's part, but not enough to ruin the whole night by any means.

So having finally gotten inside we saw everyone headed to the pit, and instead of joining them (good idea) we headed to the swag table to buy some Dir en Grey gear (great idea). I picked up one of the tour shirts they had which has the album cover on the front and the band on the back, with the dates and locales listed on the bottom. Cost a pretty penny but it was worth it (wearing it now actually). I also picked up a Special Edition CD, which starting at the Atlanta show, our show, I could've gotten signed by 2 of the band members (didn't know how many at the time), but we had too much of a drive to wait sadly. After that we settled in our seats and waited for the opening act "The Human Abstract". Since I don't have much to say about them I'll put in this paragraph, but basically I thought they did alright, and except for some feedback issues did a fair job as the introduction band. The best part was probably the lead singer at the end riling the audience up, since before that (and I always am, it's my nature) we were all quite mellow in the crowd. So thanks to them for opening and for helping with the mood.

That said nothing kicked off the mood like Dir en Grey coming out on stage, and well of course we were all in high anticipation so I was definitely feeling it when the crowd broke their anticipation with actualization upon the band's entrance. That said there were two things I immediately noticed. One, the drum set was amazing with 360 degree drums and at least 3 bass drums! Second, Kyo is incredibly short. This is not helped by the fact that the bassist is rather tall, but even for Japanese, on average shorter than Americans, he was quite tiny. However, all 100% of him packed some energy like a firecracker just waiting to burst at any minute. Since most of the song's involve an almost unusual juxtaposition of screaming and amazing melodies I just had to wonder how someone could sing so well live, and there was admittedly a rather heavy use of echo for some of the longer parts, but even so this guy can sing and scream his guts out song after song and keep delivering!

Having a little more ignorance that most with Dir en Grey, especially since I host a J-Pop/J-Rock show, I focused on the tracks I knew and thus was quite pleased to hear their latest singles 'Dozing Green' and 'Glass Skin' back-to-back. I was sure one of these would be an encore track, but I guess I forgot many of the fans that night have probably listened to all of their records many times and thus like old favorites maybe even more than new. This in a way worked for my friend Mallory, although there was still some hope that they would be dressed in a Visual-Kei fashion as they did in their early years, but no each band member was more street dressed than anything, with Kyo in a green Adidas track suit.

Dress aside, I mentioned the energy and while I'm sure in comparison to what I'd imagine (and having seen some lives) the Japanese audience would act like at Dir en Grey concerts, I probably have seen crazier more energetic audiences throughout the show. Then again I was focused mainly on my sections which was the outer rim of the actual seats, and quite clearly I saw in front of the stage and myself a mosh pit in almost full form, at least more full than I'd seen at any previous concert I have attended. So clearly the pulse just seemed to have moved away towards the stage itself, as it should, and those bouncers were so prepared it was like a factory with the audience leading the crowd surfer to the stage, the bouncers helping them down, and then the crowd surfer following the path as directed by the bouncers so that in another 20 minutes the surfer could return again to his/her place of habitat. Crazy how it worked but whatever makes them happy.

Anyways, to gain anymore from the concert at this point you probably would have needed to be there, since the power of words only takes us so far; however, I will say that all of my friends, after getting our hearing back, were chatting up about how awesome an experience it was and, for The Cay since this was his 1st concert, how this was a great opportunity for a beginning into the concert world. Now this wasn't my first j-rock concert, having seen The Captains, Peelander-Z, and The Emeralds in Chattanooga, this was the most modern sounding of the 3 acts, and definitely my first J-Metal show while perhaps the hardest metal show I've been to yet. If they come back I hope to see them again, and all I can say is if you've listened to and like they're music, then you'll want to check them out if you get such a fortunate chance.

That said I think I'll be calling it a night and I'll hopefully flesh out some more of what I've watched and seen recently for this blog, since I looked back and noticed I missed a lot of stuff, but all that should be upcoming assuming my life schedule doesn't harness me too much.


Pand0ra Wilde said...

I have J-rock and J-pop friends who would be sitting here reading your Dir en Grey review muttering, "I hate him so much--oh my God what an awesome concert--wish I was there--oh I SO hate him--what a great concert" and on and on and on. But I don't know anything about them, so all I could say is that you said it was wonderful, so that's what I'll pass on to my offline fan friends.

For anime--I've been watching Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and loving it so much that I and my boyfriend are both pissed that we can't get season 1 off the racks locally, so we're going to wait til Dec. 16 or 18 (can't remember) when the Season 1 box set hits the streets, and get it then instead of buying all the DVDs one at a time.

Manga--Rosario + Vampire rocks--well worth picking up. The anime's not in the US yet far as I can find out but we'll be getting that too once it does come over. My bf and I are panting, waiting for Vol. 4, which is due in December sometime.

Good to see you back!

Zippy said...

Yeah, Black Lagoon's a pretty awesome show so hopefully the wait won't seem too incredibly long for you :)

Some of my friends have told me about Rosario but still haven't checked it out but with more time for the holiday's I guess I should.

Also, yeah the concert was pretty cool, and I have some friends who essentially were saying that to me since, for various reasons, they themselves couldn't go. Obviously Dir en Grey's probably not for everyone, since they are truly hard rock, but if you're into that worth checking out.