ariad: (dir en grey // my obscene sister)
[personal profile] ariad


On Wednesday night, after ten years of listening to DIR EN GREY, I finally saw them live as part of their TOUR15 NEVER FREE FROM THE AWAKENING! They've actually performed in San Francisco about eight times in the past ten years, but due to various reasons (school in the early years, then lack of interest until the release of their latest album ARCHE last year), I managed to miss every time. But no longer! They were /phenomenal/.

I dressed simply for the show: a long tee from H&M for warmth with my The Wicked + the Divine t-shirt over it, sweatpants with pockets from Hot Topic for comfort during the long wait and so that I could keep my phone and wallet on my body during the show, platform boots from H&M for height, and a light jacket from Forever21 for more warmth outside but which I could tie around my waist inside. The thick cuffs on the sweatpants also served to protect my lower legs, which are still scabbed from friction against the mouths of my boots from walking around Europe and attending Florence + the Machine. I wore contacts despite the fact that my vision is very poor in them because I was concerned about getting hit in the face in the moshpit, which in the past has caused my glasses lenses to cut me.

Doors were to open at 7 PM, so I arrived at the venue at 2:30 PM, which is the longest I can remember lining up for a one-man performance. I was about twentieth in the general admission line. The VIP line was full of people who, judging from the tour goods they were wearing, had apparently followed DIR EN GREY down from Seattle. (I confirmed later on Instagram that one of them had indeed done so.) A few seemed to have followed DIR from Japan. They were friendlier than most groupies tend to be, though, and gave their extra VIP spots to some people in general admission. I befriended the two people behind me, a couple named Matt and Michelle, who make and sell lolita accessories. The weather was good; warm during the day and chilly at night. It did get hot enough that I maneuvered myself out of and back into my long-sleeved tee as the day went by. Die was in and out of the tour bus a couple of times, probably to smoke. The second time he came out, someone behind us in line spotted him and started yelling, "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!" Die looked at her, smiled, and gave a little wave. We also saw Kaoru and Toshiya go from the bus into the venue. Mie joined us at around 6:30 PM, after she got off work.

Once we got inside, the show started 20 minutes late. Matt, Michelle, and I made a beeline for the stage, while Mie took my bag to sit in the back and avoid the moshpit. It turned out I needn't have worried about getting hit in the face because everyone around me, being mostly female and mostly Asian and mostly not wearing three-inch platforms, was shorter than me. I'll wear my glasses next time.

I was about three or four rows back, but once the moshing started during the second song, it became more like two and a half. Shinya was the first to emerge, and Matt grabbed my shoulder and shook me because I'd said Shinya was my favorite, but I was too busy crying and squinting to respond. Toshiya landed directly in front of me, with Kaoru to my left and Kyo to my right, all of them barely five feet away when standing at the stage's edge. There was a barrier between the audience and the stage for this show, or else I could have touched them. I love Slim's because it's small, but the lighting was terrible, and we didn't get any of DIR's cool projector effects.

They played most of my favorites, including "Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami", "Merciless Cult", "Vinushka", and "Uroko". Matt grabbed my shoulder and shook me when "Vinushka" started because I said it was my favorite, but I was too busy losing my shit to respond. They closed the first set with "The Final", to which the whole crowd sang along. After a brief break, the encore opened with "Child Prey", which was a lot of fun, and concluded with another of my favorites, "Un deux". The full set list is here.

Shinya, poor Shinya, was usually obscured by smoke, poorly lit, and/or blocked by Kyo. He sounded incredible, though. Part of it is that the drums were the only part I could hear clearly, but also Shinya's drumming style is my favorite. He looked exactly like he does in every TOUR15 NEVER FREE FROM THE AWAKENING selfie on his Instagram, which is to say ghostly and vaguely bridal.

Toshiya seemed to love attention and was constantly encouraging us to cheer louder, whether by lifting his bass over his head, putting his hand to his ear, or doing the "come on" gesture with his fingers, all while looking very serious in his dark makeup and long straight hair. I think he made eye contact with me at one point, but it was hard to tell, as I could not see very well.

Die was having so much fun. In contrast to everyone else maintaining DIR's dark aesthetic, he was smiling and laughing the whole time. He crossed over to our side to play first shoulder-to-shoulder with Toshiya, then while leaning back against him. He looked like signature Die: red hair, black eyeshadow, black tank top, etc. Despite knowing little to nothing about Die, I've had a low-key crush on him for a long time because idk he's good-looking and I like his hand tattoo, but after the show, I really have such a crush on him. Oh, dear.

Kaoru's pick was taped to his thumb due to his finger arthritis(?), but that didn't seem to hamper his playing at all. Granted, the guitars and vocals were distorted and hard to hear from where I was standing, but he was still playing so fast and precisely. His hair was wacky, like someone had grabbed it up and sprayed it with little purpose or direction. His black eye make up ran in claw marks down his cheeks.

Kyo is a demon. There's no way to adequately capture in words what he's like on stage, bending his arms and torso like a snake during quiet moments, throwing wide his arms to receive the audience's praise, and then swooping into a crouch to spit and growl into the mic. He takes full-body performance beyond what I've seen from any other vocalist, and his body language is totally different from what it was ten years ago. During the first several songs, he wore a white cloak that billowed in the wind and light that came from beneath his pedestal, until he threw it off, baring his shaved head and his gloriously tattooed torso, now clad in only a weird leather harness above his pants and kilt. As the first set ended, he stood completely still while the other members left the stage and stared straight ahead, his hellish features lit from below. I wish I could remember for what song he held a note until the audience roared yet was still unable to drown him out. Kyo's voice!

After the show, I descended on the merch booth and bought a rubber tour wristband for $5 and a tour t-shirt depicting an intestine sundae with an eyeball on top for $25. The t-shirt is very comfortable.
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fred fred

September 2016

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