FEST VAINQUEUR Paradigm Shift Live in Tokyo

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted October 26, 2011

First Anniversary One-man Live in Tokyo

Perhaps the most appropriately named live-house next to Shibuya BOXX, Ikebukuro Black Hole housed the Tokyo leg of FEST VAINQUEUR’s anniversary celebrations. Packed to the hilt, the dark little live-house was utterly dominated by the band’s presence and power… until they stopped playing and started talking.

The opening number, “Hazan,” had a strong impact, the band kicking off with their latest single for an exciting beginning. The only problem downside was that the insufficiency of the small live-house system could hardly cope with the huge sound the band produced. “Let’s make some noise today, Tokyo!” cried vocalist Hal. “RAVE” came off with a feverish opening riff in stark contrast to the eerie verse. Hal kept the audience involved, prompting them with “You scream-.” And scream they did: “Jesus Christ!” The screaming continued long after the number ended and the stage blacked-out, member names resounding in the small space.

“Welcome to FEST VAINQUEUR’s one year anniversary live in Tokyo! Now let’s go!” Hal said. “SCARLET” had a hard feel until it calmed down (in the instrumental of all places), but the chorus melody was catchy and the bridge a gentle affair. Live, “APOCALYPSE” began almost like a spy movie theme, with its ‘tsk’ing cymbals but when the guitar took over, there was a wild edge to its tone and the chorus melody had a satisfying lilt.


When it came time for the band to introduce themselves, the sheer cool aura of the stage experienced a nuclear meltdown:

“I’m Hal, come from Osaka. I’m the vocalist who’s gotten all ‘tekka tekka’ (metallic.) The guy at stage right is Hiro, on bass.”

“Come from Osaka, FEST VAINQUEUR’s Hiro. Pleased to meet you. I won’t talk about food today,” Hiro felt it important to add. However, he soon began babbling on about orange juice, instead. Next, Hal introduced “Guitarist and leader Tomo at stage left.”

“Come from Osaka, FEST VAINQUEUR’s Tomo. It’s been exactly a year! I’m so glad to see so many here after just one year. We three members have received a lot of support from you, and from each other–the three of us. We’re a triangle.”

“Hey, wait!” cried drummer Kazi, “What’s this triangle? You mean like this?” Kazi hit a cymbal, indicating the percussion instrument. “There’s FOUR!”

“If you’re here, we can’t be a triangle,” Tomo said.

Kazi cried, “That’s right! We can be a QUIET!” In the dead silence, he realized his mistake and ducked down in embarrassment. Merciless, the Osaka-bred fans began a chant. “Go home! Go home! Go home!” and laughing, despite his humiliation, Kazi shook his head. “I think I’m ‘gonna cry. What I meant to say was QUARTET! We can be a quartet!” Despite the crowd’s cold welcome, he reassured them, “I don’t hate Tokyo, even if it’s like this.”

Hal had one last jibe. “Well then, please listen to Kazi’s goodbye song… Just kidding. Love ya Kazi! Anyway, this is a goodbye song from among our repertoire.” The number felt like a ballad at first but the music beneath the vocal line was strong and Hal sung with intensity. Then the bridge pulled back entirely for a moment where Hal sang alone to piano until the song built up into its finale. The next piece, entitled “In-store kyoku” (as in “in-store event song”) was gentler, although the instruments had their way with the instrumentals. A quiet “Thank you,” brought the number to an end but Kazi continued to lightly rattle the cymbals even as the other members disappeared, leading into a drum solo full of skillful yet entertaining rhythms that encouraged the crowd to clap along–even if he made the mistake of calling the Tokyo crowd “Osaka!” His taps once or twice of a cymbal sounding like a cow bell produced giggles that further destroyed the smooth illusion.

When a regular beat began, Hiro, Kazi, and Tomo reemerged to entertain the crowd with funky beats, including the Doraemon and Super Mario Brothers themes. Tomo grinned cheekily into the silence, the grin lingering as he picked three notes. dada-dada-dada… Soon, Hiro was trying to copy the guitarist’s choice picks from that theme, but a bass can’t always follow where a guitar may lead. After a success, the two turned to drummer Kazi who laughed and waved his hands ‘no.’ However, I moment later, he struck the same tune on differently pitched drums and the audience gasped in surprise. They even jammed to speedy star mode and the end-of-level flag song, until one final jam with a military flair brought Hal back to the stage.

“This is the second half, Tokyo!” cried the vocalist. “Can you do it?” The cool, positive melody of “butterfly” signaled the live’s hardest beats, followed by a rhythmic call and response executed. with claps rather than shouts which turned out to be a warm-up for the next number, to which the crowd clapped along, the rhythmic pattern a part of the music.

“I had some business to take care of, so this morning, I flew in on a plane,” Hal explained. “At the security check, they made me take off my belt and then even my shoes but it just kept going off! I couldn’t understand it! The machine had to be broken, right? But… then I found a shuriken in my pocket.” Why Hal was carrying a lethal weapon around in his pocket remained a mystery, but at least he was able to arrive safely in Tokyo.

He wasn’t the only one in danger of missing the one-man. Hiro had almost been left behind on the drive by a careless Kazi. “It’s a miracle we’re all here,” Hal only half joked.

In order to restore their reputation, FEST VAINQUEUR followed up with “TRAGIC THE MAIDEN,” the gorgeous a capella opening revealing a period melody backed up in force by guitar, drums, and bass. “Let’s become one, Tokyo!” Hal cried, launching into an array of shouts, the vocalist returning to the hard-core stage presence he had begun the show with. He issued a huge scream that opened “BLAZE,” with its wicked guitar line and great melody. Then came the last number, “Gouka rouen.” Towels whipped into the air and spun and waved throughout whenever the fans weren’t moshing across the floor. In the middle of all this, Hal made an announcement. “DaizyStripper’s Yu-Giri called to wish me luck for the oneman! Then he messaged after saying ‘Keep chasing your dream!’” When it came time to jump, Hiro instructed them to let their voices out with a “Yoisho! Yoisho!” Laughing, Hal agreed with the battle-cry and soon the crowd were screaming “Yoisho!” like festival-goers.

For the encore Hal sang with Tomo on acoustic guitar for “SEED.” “This song was written after the earthquake from our memories. Today, we’ll hand it out when you leave as a kind of charity, so please listen to it.”

Kazi popped up from behind his drum kit: “I was there listening the whole time!” he revealed. “Wasn’t it gorgeous?” He then took advantage of his moment in the spotlight to introduce the new DVD Blaze and Hazan which, if bought on the day would come with “a bonus of my love!” After flashing a completely unrelated Adidas t-shirt and a new “more stylish” FEST VAINQUEUR towel, he showed the crowd his bracelet, another item for sale. “And if you twist it like this, it becomes ‘unlimited,’” he joked, twisting it into an infinity symbol although the joke mostly confused the crowd’. The next song was not yet “Unlimited.” Instead, the crowd was treated to something new. The song had a warm feel, beginning with a sprinkle of piano but instrumentally full throughout. The now hoarse quality to Hal’s voice added atmosphere to the number, but he had no difficulty climbing up into the final key change and screaming a heartfelt “Thank you!” to finish.

After some words of gratitude for the year gone past since FEST VAINQUEUR began, Hal looked right into the crowd. “This is a place where we can make memories. Will you come along with us into the future? Last! ‘Unlimited!’” A great song all around, “Unlimited” brought the night to a thrilling close, Hal screaming out his gratitude, voice breaking with the intensity.

“We’re counting on you!” Hal yelled, mic-less, as the four stood at the center of the stage, arms around shoulders. After one unified clap, the crowd squished up close in order to be seen in a memorial photo taken from the stage.

The venue may have been small, but FEST VAINQUEUR have a huge presence and ROKKYUU looks forward to seeing them fill out some of Tokyo’s biggest venues in the future.

Set List

  1. Hazan
  3. RAVE
  6. NEW SONG 1
  7. Asterisk
  8. Instore Song
  9. butterfly
  10. NEW SONG 2
  12. BLAZE
  13. Gouka rouen


  1. SEED
  2. NEW SONG 3

VK Exclusive

There are 43 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Mio Nagasaki is a freelance photographer lending her time, skills, and love for the genre to ROKKYUU Magazine.

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  1. Tmcm
    Tmcm / YOU CAN DO!

    sounded awesome