Dir En Grey

support Bury Your Dead
author ASH date 08/08/07 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

On a quite hot day in the Danish capital city Copenhagen, Store Vega would soon be transformed into a Mecca of Dir En Grey-loving fans, all dressed to kill in their more (or less) fancy cosplay outfits. For anyone who isn't used to see anyone else than Goths and Punks dressing dramatically alternative, this would be a see to believe. Some would say freak show, but ultimately this is pure essence of heavy J-Rock fandom and after a short interview conducted by the Dir En Grey crew, the queue suddenly began to erupt in a push forward motion, enraging the guards at the entrance. Seemingly, the Danish queue mentality was capable to live up to its title as sucking. Nevertheless, after an hour or so, the door opened and we were all literally flushed in, streamed through the checkpoint and into Store Vega's wooden interiors. Hopefully, my findings of the band's Swedish set list from their gig in Stockholm will prove me a little guidance in the band's maze of indecipherable song titles. Sadly, the balcony is closed, so one of the venue's corners had to become my shelter from the crushing wave of otaku kids. To my surprise, even the cut of venue was only filled up to more than half of its size, which would mean a pretty curious amount of audience for Dir En Grey to play for. Keep in mind that they are used to play at Japanese arenas and larger masses at e.g. Wacken Open Air, so this will probably be a stroll in the park for the band to make the attendees jump around; rocking to the musical explosion they are rumored to unleash.

But before they're unleashed, we first have to go through American-based Bury Your Dead. I've heard many rumors about them being the next big thing and giving memorable gig events when showing off their skills, but honestly, tonight sadly tended to prove otherwise. Beginning with some interesting mixture of electronic synthing from the band's keyboardist and some very catchy guitar strumming, an atmosphere of moshing around had been set as the lead vocalist began his almost operatic singing. Funny enough, their vocalist also seems to have learned ballet while being on amphetamines, based on his completely idiotic spin around, which eventually resulted in him falling down, and then getting up with drool everywhere. Oh yeah, yummy. These "fall down, get up agains" tend to become a habit of his, since he miraculously manages to perform this drops two more times throughout their whole act. As for the whole sound, they were a complete dayfly. They lived their minutes of fame in the beginning, only to surprise me with the most extreme lack of originality I have ever seen. In the end, it was almost impossible to tell if they just played the first track again, but this time with some minor adjustments. Even though the band really seems to try to give off a good show, no one seemed to find it interesting, ultimately leading this to a somewhat large proportion of the crowd's tail to flock into the bar in the other room. Not even the lead singers daring jump from on top of two-meter tall speaker systems impressed anyone for more than a few shocking seconds. So to quote British white boy rappers Dan le Sac versus Scroobius Pip: "Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music, thou shalt not make repetitive and generic music, thou shalt not make repetitive and generic music."

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Bye, bye, thanks for your guitar picks and drumsticks whom only some teenage maiden girls would make a shrine for, it is now time for tonight's big act. Well, where did Fair To Midland go anyways, since they've been on the tour so far?

After half an hour or so, Dir En Grey's crew began their finishing touch on the scene, and judging by the screams of the eagerly hopeful teenagers in schoolgirl uniforms, tonight's power bomb was soon to be unleashed at the audience. A few minutes pass and just as suddenly as Bury Your Dead, Dir En Grey jumps on the scene and some scary piano begins to flow through the speaker systems. Obviously "Conceived Sorrow" will be the opening song, which is a very clever move. Lead vocalist Kyo's voice is great, dark and relentlessly intimidating, perfectly matching the crippling and scary theme of the piano sounds in the background. Along with the catchy bass riff, the audience jumps and sways to this very ballad-ish, but interesting sound of pure J-Rock. From Japan to Denmark, we salute you. As the band receives their welcoming applause from the audience, they quickly begin playing "The Pledge", a nice guitar riff slash drum show-offness, where you really experience the good, though alternative combination of gritty guitar work and a drummer fencing off his drums like a master samurai. Nevertheless, it suddenly struck me that maybe this audience is a little too small, and too young for these guys, since quite a lot of these teens seem more into the band than into their music. We have to keep in mind here, that in the land of the rising sun, these guys rock entire arenas with their mix of poetry and hard, alternative rock and metal.

As "Disabled Complexes" commences, we are blown away by some breezy funk guitars combined with a little overdone growling. But as Kyo begins his completely uncontrolled screaming, things turn from funk to furious in a swift musical movement, laying the foundation for the next song "Ryoujoku no Ame". Now this is a track any mosher would love fighting his or her way through. The powerful combo of guitars, bass and drums and Kyo holding a scream inhumanely long, this march-like shellshock makes the feel of a little audience transform into something A LOT larger. The intensity is drastically turned up a notch after the band completes "The Fatal Believer" with a touching vocal finish and makes room for a personal favorite of mine; "Agitated Screams of Maggots". With a typical J-Rock way of spastically headbanging as you scream like a drunkard fighting ghosts, this track really shows the power of every musical element in their band. For me being a first timer to see them live, this track just gets that much better than on their fourteenth maxi single, titled after the respective track. Simply, at this moment there are no screams of maggots, only screams of monsters. Playing through "Grief", Kyo shows another poetic perspective of himself, namely his theatrical skills, which he also uses on the track "Audience Killer Loop" as a medium between his feelings and movements (and manic laughs). Very thoughtful and emotional, and definitely not something you see everyday. Well, the girls are hyped, since he performed this topless with an abdomen to get jealous of. After that sight, the next act "Itoshisa wa fuhai nitsuki" showed off some heavier drumming after a nice and tranquil intro. Though it sounds great, it is just something seen before, nothing new at all. My slight negativity quickly turned into positivity as "The Final" began searing through my earlobes. This is what I've waited for, some of their high-quality works. A sudden break from the drums, and the recognizable Dark Ages piano sets the scene. Being one of their more melodic tracks, almost exclusively with no screaming and growling, this in particular blew the audience away. Simply, it's as great as recorded, but so much better live. Following "Deadtree", another jewel in their set list was "Merciless Cult", even though it IS just another scream and sing ballad. Hell, even the mothers in the back were rocking around. But the most exciting part soon came with Kyo finishing off with some very moving chanting, similar to a Buddhist monk performing a sung ritual. Minutes pass in trance, before giving space to "Repetition of Hatred". Very scary use of vocal echo effects, indeed. As "The Deeper Vileness" began with some more uncontrollable screaming, and drums synchronizing with your already throbbing heartbeat, it begins to become somewhat repetitive and even though the dramatically good lighting from the light crew fixates your eyes to the scene, something just had to keep up the energy. And so it did, thanks to a perfectly performed shout-along. Good job on that one, now time for a break, a drink and a chat with the bartenders.

After making the teens nervous by leaving them in silence for quite some time, Dir En Grey enters the stage yet again to perform their encore, starting out with the powerful "Mr. Newsman", followed by "saku", a scream bomb that unleashed hell on Vega, that really shows the band's control of uncontrollable. This meaning a nice musical composition of wild playing and screaming, though also clean singing and simple instrumental works. Nevertheless, it's now possible to feel that the show's almost over after the very powerful "The IIId Empire", before Dir En Grey ends the show with "Clever Sleazoid" as their grand finale. Also a nice track, though this really isn't something new, but the power of the band sends us all home with a feel of satisfaction. My only real problem though is that something was missing. Direly… Where were songs like "Umbrella", "Child Pray" or "Hydra"? They could easily have filled out repetitive gaps of the show, but no hard feelings. These insane guys are a show worth seeing for anyone looking for an extraordinary experience, as they just have a sound and energy to take you to new mentality. Along with some exciting and at times ridiculous scene show. I just hope to witness them in front of a larger audience the next time, as this would be their right element to play in. All in all, the show was definitely worthy of a good grade. Sayonara.

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