Awoi, LIQUID ROOM Overlords
Awoi did an admirable job of filling out their biggest venue yet for their tour final on January 12 at Ebisu LIQUID ROOM. The band set a dark atmosphere from the start with tolling church bells and blinding red lights. “Are you ready?” vocalist Otogi growled. “Give us everything you’ve got!”
The crowd was ready, letting their hair fly as they headbanged for “Zetsubou no Taiyou.” Otogi’s voice went from a low death rattle to sharp peaks and the fans answered his calls with shouts of their own. Heavy drum hits lead into “Melancholy” as guitarist Sho kicked and posed while bassist Saki came to the front of the stage to peer at the jumping fans and Shin added his own growls to the chaos. “Russian Roulette Syndrome” had a militant beat that tripped into a smoother jazz-tinged melody. Ryo twirled his drum sticks in the finishing beats, showing his superb sense of timing.
“Siva” was a horror movie in song as Otogi used a host of different voices to give the impression that the stage was being taken over by demons. The crackling and rumbling vocals overlaid a steady, methodical rhythm and Indian chimes gave the song the coldly ethnic atmosphere the title would suggest. “Kanashii Uta” contrasted the previous song with straightforward rock guitar that built up a sense of anticipation. The whole number held shades of 90s grunge rock and Ryo seemed to be enjoying it the most, slashing at his drums with powerful hits. The fans then clapped overhead for the quick beats of “heaven” while Otogi stumbled around as if drunk, occasionally slamming his head with the microphone or lying down to sing.
“Ame to Kemuri” had a more toned-down atmosphere in which the vocalist actually sang as opposed to showing off his vast range of barks and shrieks. The song opened and ended with warning sirens and dry-ice smoke flooded the stage, obscuring all but the shadows of the members. “Wasurena Gusa” was slightly more upbeat and poppy with tight drumming accented by light guitar. Saki played with his back to the crowd, creating a dark silhouette as the sound wound down.
“Are you getting crazy?” Otogi asked, unbuttoning his shirt. “Whatever we do up here, give us 100%! Hold nothing back. Let out everything inside you. Let’s go!”
“Blind” had a nice balance of heaviness and melody and the fans pumped their fists for the catchy number. Otogi tossed his shirt aside for “calling,” the intensely spoken lyrics punctuated by glam-rock squeals. Shin played quick lines as the fans called to the members who all let their spirits show in “Butterfly.” Otogi took a running leap onto the monitor speakers as Shin hit the ground to play intenseｌｙ on his knees. Sho twirled and kicked out and even Saki looked slightly more animated than usual for the crazed number. The crowd got a treat in “Suzumushi” as the vocalist agilely made his way around the livehouse via the banisters blocking off the guest areas while Sin, Sho, and Saki held the front of the stage, playing with wild abandon. Otogi returned to his place and they capped off the set with the full throttle energy of “Requiem;” a few fans using the song to create mini-mosh pits in the crowd. “Thank you, Liquid Room!” Otogi called, giving his first smile of the night.
The band was lured back for an encore by the cheering crowd. Unfortunately, the mood was dampened by a piercing shriek coming from—not the vocalist, but—the equipment. “I thought we’d go right into the next song but I guess that’s not going to happen!” Otogi commented as staff tried to get the problem under control. He and Sho used the moment to promote the DVD they were filming of the show. “We thought if we told you that you were being filmed, you might think about the cameras too much and try to look good for the cameras but we just want to show it like it is,” Sho said, demonstrating some outlandish faces and gestures. All the same, “rainy baby” and “Koufukuron” showed a more friendly, approachable side to Awoi and the band didn’t try to hide their smiles in these upbeat numbers.
“Once again, thank you. This is our tour final…” The high-pitched whine began again and the vocalist tried to ignore it. “We’ve been doing an event tour, too. Maybe some people who don’t know us found out about us there. We’re different from other VK bands. We’re dirty and smelly. Other bands smell good, really. Like Yuki from Lycaon—he smells so good I want to shake his hand. We, on the other hand, just smell like booze, cigarettes, and sweat.”
“There are a lot of styles in VK,” Sho started, “and so many things we want to do…”
“I can’t hear you over the ‘kiiiiiiii’ noise,” Otogi complained and began to jokingly sing along to it. Saki gave a few bass notes and miraculously the sound stopped—if only for a second. With the problem apparently identified as the bass, staff ran over to work their magic and Otogi continued.
“We did a lot. We went to far and cold places. We even were hanging around the lobbies of shows we weren’t playing at. We’re working hard as a band and worked on improving ourselves.” He tried to get the other members to agree though they ignored him. “I’ve been working hard, too. To talk a lot.”
“Yeah, now you won’t shut up,” Sho joked.
Finally, the staff tweaked a setting and the omnipresent whine disappeared. It also revealed the true cause of the problem: Otogi’s feedback speaker. The band launched on him with playful kicks and the vocalist got down on his knees to bow before Saki in apology. The falsely-accused bassist loomed over him as the guitarists reminded Otogi that this would all be on the DVD.
“Well, now I’m depressed,” Otogi said, though his expression looked anything but. “Sorry for being born.” With all the equipment fixed and Otogi sufficiently depressed to make Awoi’s “Underground Black Rock” convincing, the band was ready to go again. “Get crazy to the end! Let’s get dirty!”
Catchy guitar and strong beats had the fans jumping for “Yubikiri” and Sho and Sin headbanged along with the crowd. “screaming idol” had everyone moving back and forth across the floor in a whirling mosh as strobe lights and electrifying drumming inflamed the crowd. Otogi came out into the house again to hang out on the beams surrounding the floor, shouting at the crowd. He opened the final song “Kotodama” with a few a capella bars before a bass-heavy breakdown had everyone tossing their hair and posing. The song faded out and Otogi began to speak again.
“Maybe someone has made fun of you for liking us but even if we’re not a good band—even if we’re not special—you tell us you like us and come to our shows. You’re here, so no matter what happens, I can sing. We treasure you and love you. Wherever we perform, seeing your faces, that has value. We will move forward. You touch our hearts.” The song then resumed, building up to an emotional finish. “We’re Awoi! Thank you!”
The band left, save Saki and Sho who protested that they didn’t want to go home. “We’ll be waiting for you! See you on tour!” they called, and Sho ended the night with a headily screamed, “Thank you!!!”
Though the band has been around for a long time, their final at LIQUID ROOM showed that Awoi are ever evolving and refining their sound while gathering more fans along the way. While the encore was plagued with sound troubles, the band turned those issues into fun jokes that lead to good memories rather than regret, and that is something not many artists can achieve. Best of all, with A DVD of the performance on the way, this is a show that everyone can experience for themselves.
- Zetsubou no Taiyou
- Russian Roulette Syndrome
- Kanashii Uta
- Ame to Kemuri
- Dies irae
- rainy baby
- screaming idol
There are 62 photos in this visual kei exclusive.