GOTCHAROCKA Rock First Endemic
GOTHCHAROCKA’s first oneman was much anticipated, the tickets sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. Shibuya’s O-West filled and heated up as triumphant music reminiscent of a soap opera theme opened the show and a robotic voice welcomed the crowd. “First Endemic, start!”
The band took the stage confidently, JUN coming out with a wild, pinwheeling swing as he spun about, his guitar further orbiting around himself. The natural choice of opening number was the band’s self-titled first release, “Gotcha6ka,” JUI hoping back and forth on one leg as he sang and JUN relishing his rapping spoken-word section. The whole band, even support drummer TERO, sang along to the “Ode to Joy” inspired lyrical lull in the song before it finished on a quick note. TERO then directed the crowd to clap by clacking his drum sticks together, the rhythm leading into “2032.” The fans’ glowing wristbands created a rippling sea of psychedelic color as they pumped their fists, adding to the futuristic air of the song. SHINGO and TOYA backed up JUI’s smooth voice nicely and JUN was flirty with his guitar, the fans in front of him raising their arms in adoration. Then, SHINGO smiled sweetly as he plucked the strong bass notes opening “Onomatopoeia.” The fans whipped their towels in the air, bouncing and doubling over and back to the pop-rock number and TOYA and JUN jammed their guitar lines with flair. It was JUI who held back in the number, turning out of his falsetto instead of singing out but JUN made up for it with long, intense screams.
JUI waved and greeted the crowd. “Welcome to our first oneman! I want to make sure everyone leaves here happy!”
JUN set the tone of “Morphine,” milking his multiple, intricate guitar solos that ranged from pop to heavy rock. Fans headbanged to the steady drum beat and cymbal crashes as the song came to a close, SHINGO hitting his knees as he played the last notes. The lights dimmed and JUI let his jacket fall off one shoulder, putting on his sexy face for “Virginity.” He leaned up against the speaker, singing to the crowd with the casually confident posture of a guy trying to pick up girls at a bar while SHINGO spun and stomped behind him. “Goodbye, bitch!” JUI finished off the song by miming firing a gun at the crowd.
“Poisonous Berry” mixed elements of classic rock with the band’s signature sound, TOYA playing his wailing guitar line with passion. The second verse soared and JUN and TERO chimed in to provide smooth backup vocals. “Erica” took a dark and gothic turn, the bass line intense, emphasizing the moody atmosphere. JUI sat on the center platform in a brooding display and the number gradually sped up and up into a headbanging flurry. That led nicely into the “full speed ahead” pace of “7th Xanadu,” yellow lights bringing brightness to the stage as the group performed with confidence and energy.
Tolling bells like a horror movie intro and stark blue lighting changed the atmosphere for “Backstage.” The balladic opening had JUI singing with just the slightest brush of cymbal as accompaniment before all of the members joined in for a lovely presentation. JUI finally sang freely in his upper range, using the simpler song to demonstrate his vocal talents and the crowd applauded at the finish.
“Thank you! We’ve gone through a lot to get here. I want us to become one tonight. Come on!” At JUI’s shout, TERO looked like he was going to break a drumstick as he slammed hard into “JapanesQ.” The members paused and saluted the audience together, then bounced into a snappy performance. JUI grabbed JUN as he played, snuggling him like a kid with a favorite stuffed animal and SHINGO was all over the place, playing with manic energy. Even TOYA finally got a chance to take center stage and shine.
“Jump, jump!” the band encouraged, multicolored spotlights flashing over the stage like colorful confetti during “Terminal.” SHINGO took the directive—to jump onto JUN—who flicked him in the head as punishment, still never missing a beat. The atmosphere changed once more, JUI sitting cross-legged on the center platform as Japanese flute music drifted from the speakers signaling the start of “Samurai Dreeeem Breaker.” “We want you to enjoy 2013,” JUI asserted. JUN sang for the number as well, harmonizing nicely with JUI as the vocalist punched the air with each peak of the emphatic music. Fans joined along with the chorus of “woah, woahs,” the live house filling with voices.
The participation continued as the band lead the crowd in a raucous chant of “We are! GR!” that rolled into the explosive “Hydrag.” Crazy-quick drumming gave the song a wild edge and hair flew everywhere as the band and crowd headbanged together. A sense of fun infused the stage as TOYA and SHINGO played chase, cheerfully running at and around each other with childish glee. “Thank you!”JUI called as the number finished.
GOTCHAROCKA returned for an encore in t-shirts and sporting some more unusual and kinky accessories: fuzzy handcuffs. JUI led JUN in by handcuffs attached to a collar, then TOYA and JUI handcuffed themselves together before abruptly realizing that wouldn’t help either of their performances.
“Thanks for the encore!”JUI started. “Even though we’ve only been together half a year, we’ve managed to get this many fans. I’m really happy. I’m bad at speaking, so I’m going to turn it over to the members.
SHINGO took the honors. “I’m happy there are so many people here! I was a bit nervous. How are the shirts?” He turned and modeled the bear-theme tour t-shirts. “The design is cute!”
“I had a 39 degree fever when I thought of the design,” JUN explained. “This is thanks to that.”
TOYA also thanked the crowd and held up another of the tour goods: kiss print tights. The fans whooped as he made an attempt to get them on over his costume. “You should take off your pants,” JUI suggested. The guitarist almost did before thinking better of it and trying a different sales tactic. “JUN wears these every day! This is visual kei!” “They’re pretty flashy,” JUI agreed. “But aren’t you going to thank the crowd?” In response TOYA went to the platform and did a full, Japanese kneeling bow, showing his deep appreciation for the fans.
JUN was next. “Of course I’m grateful but I won’t say ‘thank you’ here because I will see everyone again very soon!” He was so emphatic that he said it twice, the second time putting on a “sexy” voice that had the rest of the band laughing.
At the crowd’s insistence, JUI turned the stage over to TERO. “Hi, guys. I’m just here as support but I’m happy they could do this show. It’s been hard to wait for! We’ve all been friends for a long time,” “No, we haven’t,” TOYA interrupted. “Shut up,” TERO continued smoothly. “I’ve been looking forward to today, so thanks! Glad it sold out!”
SHINGO joined with the crowd in calling loudly for the drummer before JUI silenced them all by taking the microphone again. “This next song, it’s the most pure love song…” He couldn’t even finish the phrase without bursting out laughing, along with JUN. “I just didn’t think we could do such a pure love song!” he explained, composing himself. “So please listen.”
Though one might have expected a ballad, “My blog” was a kicky number with classic Western rock influence. Despite their proclamation that the song was about pure love, it had a sexy edge, with JUI crawling on his knees and singing with heavy breathiness. A lyrical guitar line tripped into a giddily stomping beat and SHINGO raised his instrument above his head, grandstanding.
JUN and TOYA stood close, face to face and counting together so they could start “Kiravistars” in unison. A slow sing-in led into a more upbeat groove by JUN’s trilling guitar as a bright explosion of gold streamers showered the crowd. The band had energy to spare in the performance, teasing and kicking at each other with JUN threatening to push TOYA into the photographer’s pit. Afterward, they took a brief break, but the cheering fans soon lured them back out.
“Let’s kick it for the last song!”JUI yelled and the band launched into a full-throttle reprise of “Gotcha6ka.” The fans were even more enthusiastic for the second round, screaming along with the chorus as JUI put a foot on the bar and leaned out, encouraging them to come closer. The music suddenly stopped and JUI sang the slow bridge a capella, projecting love and emotion in his voice. Then, the band joined back in and they drove the song to a hard finish, everyone singing exuberantly and finishing the show on a high-octane note.
While many people no doubt first checked out GOTCHAROCKA because of the band’s pedigree, the enthusiasm “First Endemic” received proves that their style stands on its own and the members have made a strong start in their new musical direction. The band is currently on their first oneman tour, and they can no doubt expect an equally warm reception from fans all over Japan.
There are 34 photos in this visual kei exclusive.