(Love this song)
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a band I've been wanting to see since I was in Highschool live at "The House of Blues" off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood California.
When I first moved out to Los Angeles 6 years ago maybe a week after my first gig I saw on the marques of the Wiltern Theatre off Wilshire "DIR EN GREY" . . . I didn't have a steady job and not enough money to spare to see them. They have a reputation for being great live and had been added to my bucket list. The joy about living in a city like Los Angeles is eventually they come back.
Cut to this past Friday, I was out at a free show at the House of Blues to see my roommate play with Ben Dukes (a country music singer) who put on a great show. My roommate is his violinist. But something caught my eye at that show..."Dir En Grey" November 24th . . . *.* What!!!!!
One of the biggest metal bands in the world, whose frontman has been compared to frontmen like James Hetfield for pure charisma was playing two days from now, at a price I could afford and I didn't have any other plans, I debated for a second then ran up during the Ben Dukes show to buy tickets.
Fast forward Sunday 24th night. As I approach the House of Blues I noticed the line was out the door, a sure sign it would be a packed house. It was a a little under 2 hours before they were scheduled to go on. I parked at a lot up by the liquor store, walked into a 5 star restaurant and pushed my way though to use the restroom and splash some water in my face, adrenaline was just starting to work through the system. Black hoodie, green seasonal sweater, and kaki pants. I was not the strangest dressed person there, but at a J-Rock metal show, that's to be expected. I stood in line behind rows and rows of goth-dressed people of all races and colors, though a mostly Japanese crowd it seemed.
I hit up the resturant upstairs when I first got there. I wanted to save my energy, I didn't want to burn myself out by the time Dir En Grey played, I got there 2 hours in advance, I didn't expect it to be a packed house so early. But I was there 2 hours early so I sat in the bar upstairs listened to a blond acoustic solo act cover Top 40's songs simply and predictibly. I ordered a plate of fries and had a glass of water...the ground beneath me was shaking, it was a strange juxtaposition to listen to this sweet girl singing top 40 hits like Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" and feel the strong vibrations and aftershocks of the metal below.
I decided to walk down and watch the opening band, who knows, maybe I'll like them. The were a band I'd never heard of, loud and fast, the crowd still wasn't moving much but that's to be expected, they were nodding cheered loudly after every song but not rampant energy. They were called "Dagoba" yes
Kinda like this, spelled different though.
They were pretty good but a band one could consider typical of the metal genre, loud and with predictably messy hooks, they were however very polite unlike a lot of bands I've seen who just are rude to the audience they did manage to hype everyone up...as if this audience needed help. I had finished my Pabst Blue Ribbon (11$ by the way, an atrocious price) and as the band finished there driving pounding metronome of sound, I took a breather.
I relaxed outside, got my muscles working, and I'd assumed there was an intermediate band. There wasn't.
My mind wasn't ready because the girl at the ticket counter told me they'd go on at 9:40 and it was almost 8:40 at the time the first band finished, I thought I had another band inbetween. They went on about 9:20 and for the first few minutes my mind was set that they were someone else. A rookie mistake but also misinformation. I couldn't tell because the lead singer Kyo was wearing a black shroud and face paint.
It covered him completely in the beginning and and waved ghostlike in the movement of the "House of Blues." His voice sounded like opera and movements were erratic and wild like budo dance.
It slowly dawned on me that the band I thought was an opener was actually "Dir En Grey" . . . . . what!?! And I didn't have good placement on the floor...what!?! Luckily no matter how packed it is if you've got floor tickets and are as skinny and slippery as me you can weasel your way to a better spot.
(Apparently from the same show I was at, but not on my camera)
Once I realized they were I began to position myself for better placement, the first 4 songs I saw from the stairs leading into the floor. Eventually, a very large man on the stairs content with his position noticed my antsy-ness to jam out and get my adrenaline glands firmly squeezed in the raw tribal dance that is any metal show but especially one with such a cult and legion like following, made a path for me.
There were basically 4 stages of the show, like a weird evolution.
1.) The Shrouded Kyo
2.) Then he lost his shroud and did several songs with his back to the crowd a Go-pro attached to his mic and his performance projected onto a screen, it was very surreal, his ghoulish head peaking out from a screen at an odd angle while the guitarists took center stage. (Not a good picture but you kinda get the idea.)
3.) Then there were a series of powerfully weird images projected onto the screens akin to either "Tool" or "NIN"if you've ever seen the kind of stuff projected on their screens you have kind of an idea what I'm talking about. The guitars aired from normal metal to serenely melodic, and Kyo's voice ranged somewhere between a Japanese angel singing and a banshee out for blood and a lot of times all in the same song.
Mosh-pits surged and swelled almost at random, even on quiet songs, and the pits adhered to the rules of the pit. 1.) Don't punch, only push and move around. 2.) If someone falls, help them up. 3.) Create a wall as needed.
The crowd at this point was just starting to find it's identity as a focused mob and don't get me wrong. It was a mob. They weren't sure which parts to clap for, pause for, scream for or dance for. But they were trying...
Then almost at random right at the adrenaline was to it's boiling point, the walked off. The lights went down....
The house lights did not go up.
We waited. We chanted 'One last song, one last song' then 'Dir En Grey' 'Dir En Grey....'
We continued to wait. We were all hoarse. Everyone in the room was. We were all sweaty and tired but we wanted more, this couldn't be the end could it...
They waited almost 30 minutes. Some people had left. NEVER LEAVE A ROCK SHOW UNLESS THE HOUSELIGHTS TURNED ON, EVER. I've never seen a great band who didn't do an encore. Amateurs don't do encores. These were professionals...but in my concert going experience, I'd never waited that long for one. They came out and sang 3 songs. It seemed like an eternity (but in a good way) each song enveloping the crowd in it's own way, but now, they were ready forged to party harder from the kiln that is waiting...waiting...waiting, always knowing in the rock and roll world the ENCORE! is the best fucking part. They played 3 songs each progressively louder . . .
Then they played the fan favorite the final song, and like a bat out of hell Kyo screamed "LOS ANGELES, LOS ANGELES, LAST SONG LAST SONG LAST SONG LAST SONG LAST SONG LAST SONG" for so long I thought the final song they were going to play was titled "LAST SONG"
. . .
And it played on an on for like 6 minutes to which even though it was in Japanese it seemed everyone knew the words and were singed in unison. (Video below, with red background) Even the hulking gorilla's of men to the tiny caffeine fueled super-fans were tired. Each member of the band came out and did an individual thing to the audience.
Kyo came out and started the audience clapping, he was smiled and laughing, the ghoul shrouded skeleton demon had transformed into a man, he was visibly tired but grinning like a maniac.
The drummer came out and threw drum sticks at the audience, the guitarists through mounds and mounds of guitar picks, it was like Mardi Gras. Everyone was sweating, so they began to through out water bottles and throw buckets of water on the audience to cool them off. Imagine with that kind of light in a room full of maybe 1'000 people, it can get kinda sweaty. This went on for like 20 strait minutes. They didn't play any more songs....but they were more appreciative of their audience than any band I'd ever seen.
And as I was leaving, exhausted and broken, covered in sweat and maybe blood I passed Sunset Blvd. Jesus on the way to my car and he waved at me and smiled...a perfect surreal concert experience at the "House of Blues" on Sunset Blvd. The likes of which I won't forget anytime soon.
Below is about 1/4 the pictures and 1/8 the video I took from the actual show. (Click photos to enlarge.)