GOTCHAROCKA’s First Event, AWESOME PRISON

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, Yuliya Libkina, posted December 6, 2012

Barely half a year after their formation, GOTCHAROCKA hosted their first live event on November 16 2012. Entitled AWESOME PRISON, the lineup was well-worth boasting with up-and-comers Blitz to open followed by BugLug, ν[NEU], THE KIDDIE and DaizyStripper, warming up for the well-known faces of GOTCHAROCKA last to take the stage.

Despite their short tenure as a band, GOTCHAROCKA sports several high-profile personalities with JUI from Vidoll on vocals and JUN from Phantasmagoria and SPIV STATES on guitar. Meanwhile, bassist SHINGO has given up his permanent role as Moran support bassist to take his rightful place in GOTCHAROCKA and TOYA of Charlotte makes a return to the scene on rhythm guitar. Even the group’s support drummer, Tero from Vidoll, had fans present. Needless to say, Blaze was packed and the crowd was rife with excitement for the headlining band.

JUN powered onstage to an electro-rock theme, both his entrance and the music hinting at the fun set to come. “Hey, let’s rock! Can you jump?” he cried as the other members took their places in a calmer fashion. “Gotcha6ka” took the honors as opening number, beginning with a hard-rock theme that sent hair flying. The monotone vocal line was muted by vocoder, giving the number a surreal quality that helps in taking it seriously when the spelled-out chorus of “G-O-T-C-H-A-6-K-A” hits. However, that unemotional tune soon becomes addictive before the song ends. Though JUI’s vocals took on more of a background sound in the number, JUN’s guitar solo made an impact as he hopped from foot to foot and SHINGO made his mark, leaping up on the podium for a slap-bass solo, wiggling all the while. The melody took a stronger role after JUN’s vocal interlude when he joined JUI on harmony.

The crowd was in for a treat as two numbers from the upcoming mini album Virginity followed straight on from the band’s name-song. “2032” sported a heavier-than-usual jazzy atmosphere with strong bass and guitar and an odd, rapid rhythm to the chorus. JUI put on a darker voice toward the tail-end of number, pushing the heavy aspect of the song before another excited, hopping guitar solo from JUN dominated the outtro. Next, the title song of the mini album, “Virginity” showed that GOTCHAROCKA are anything but virtuous. Epic metal for the opening, JUN and TOYA put out a wicked guitar line while JUI poured on the sex. An upbeat swing sound kept the vocalist’s hips swaying and no matter how the music diversified, it maintained an air of lust as JUI and JUN stalked the stage like a pair of mischievous, prowling tomcats. TOYA put the finishing touch on the number with barked growls that heightened the intensity.

“Hey, welcome to AWESOME PRISON,” JUI greeted at last. “We’re GOTCHAROCKA. We wanted to put on a live even though we’ve just started and all these bands came to help us out,” he said, inciting a round of applause. “Having you all here is really great! Thank you! Please listen to this next song, ‘4 minutes for you.’” The ballad-style opening never quite faded during the course of the song despite a rippling guitar line enlivening the tune. Drums and vocals surrendered to that liveliness in the verse though the chorus maintained the lulling melody. Even in a softer atmosphere, JUI and JUN made a charismatic team, their unique styles of expression working in tandem to keep the crowd thoroughly entertained.

A clapping start kicked off “JapanesQ” which exhibited GOTCHAROCKA’s aggressive side, the guitarists providing deathvoice to smash through the music. All of a sudden, the band came to a halt and stood at attention, saluting a hazy radio voiceover. The destructive atmosphere encouraged a different kind of action, though, as JUN took a solo with JUI hanging all over him in a blatant display of, fanservice. The following number turned into a rally of shouts, musicians vamping as JUI got the crowd shouting with him, “We are, we are: GR! GR!” “Hydrag” was just as reckless as its predecessor, beginning with a high-speed heavy sound that kept up beyond the intro. Yet JUI and JUN introduced a gorgeous counter-point duet with some fun inserts reminiscent of hide’s solo style. The earlier call and response returned, slave to the rhythm of the tune and GOTCHAROCKA proved—for the second time that evening—their skill to take a silly name and convince people it’s actually an ingenious musical tool. The closing riff blazed, the crowd diving as one into a dirty guitar line in a mirror image of the band.

Who was it that said, “Once the music stops, the rest is silence?” Certainly not where GOTCHAROCKA are concerned. Ear-splitting cat-calls ensued and JUI dragged the moment out, hands to ears as he basked in the cacophony. Eventually, JUN played in, soothing strumming calming the atmosphere until the crowd was gently waving along with JUI. Seemingly a real ballad this time, JUI applied his full vibrato, taking a deep bow to a round of applause. Yet, anticipation hung in the air for a moment before Tero jumped in, drums taking off under full lights to the inspired, cheerful pop tune of “Kiravistars.” The band kept up a playful performance to match the cute tune but inevitable riffs broke up the insipid sweetness, resulting in a hyper crowd bouncing along to the grind. The fun number brought the set to a close with a finalistic cadence and an ocean of hands rose into the air, momentarily followed by a wash of voices to mark GOTCHAROCKA’s first event a resounding success.

They weren’t done yet, though. After the band’s return and the eventual restoration of calm, JUI began singing… “Happy Birthday.” In celebration of JUN’s birthday, the band had provided a pink, guitar-shaped cake. JUN’s glow-in-the-dark, pink GOTCHAROCKA bracelet shone vibrantly in the twilight as he blew out the candles. Ever courteous, the guitarist even hand-fed a bite of cake to a fan in the front row.

Following the happy celebration, JUI broached another celebratory topic—or tried to. The vocalist had some issues with the words “Hatsu shusai (first event)” which came out “Hachuu sushai” as he tried to force the phrase. Bravely, he went on to say, “You can’t hear my godly emcee at our usual little events but today is special so let’s hear from everyone.”
TOYA had the first say. “Here in Shinjuku, today; today in Shinjuku, here… I’m very happy. Since you called us out, we’ll put our all into this finale.”
Next up, SHINGO took the mic. After playing around with different voices, he eventually settled into his naturally deep tone, thanking the crowd in a similar fashion.
“Can I cry?” asked JUN. “Tomorrow is my birthday but it’s so wonderful to do this today with so many bands here and with all of you. This time last year, I was lost and didn’t have any idea where I would be this year but getting GOTCHAROCKA together and playing here with them and you today, I’m so grateful. Next year, we’ll definitely do something even more amazing with all of you. A year on in November. Damn… I might really cry.”
Saving JUN from his emotional turn, JUI took over though he was no less sentimental. “I also couldn’t see this future,” he said. “One year ago, I couldn’t imagine being here, today. You know the story. Music isn’t selling anymore. In the past, at the Meiji revolution, the samurai put up their swords. They had no other way of life and neither do we. Music is our all and that’s why we’re here with all of you so on this amazing day with these amazing bands to support us, we’ll play an amazing new single for you. Unsheathe your swords!”

Not only was JUI’s boast of a godlike emcee fulfilled, his promise of an amazing song was too. “Samurai dreeeeeam breaker” began with a stunning blend of traditional Japanese sounds. The instrumental backing was simple but the flowing musical line reminded of simpler days and Samurai at peace with their way of life, their swords and their souls. Though traditional themes appear in various songs by various bands, “Samurai dreeeeeam breaker” revitalized the sound, blending it expertly with a pop-rock tune together with generic techniques to make something unique and refreshing; a career-making finale to a wonderful event.

As GOTCHAROCKA left the stage, bringing their event to a reluctant end, birthday-boy JUN remained behind for one last wave of cat-calls and a yell of his own: “Samurai deshita (This was samurai)!” Having fought through their separate doubts and come together with a fresh new sound, GOTCHAROCKA are a band to keep both eyes on in 2013 and beyond.

Set list

  1. Gotcha6ka
  2. 2032
  3. Virginity
  4. 4 minutes for you
  5. JapanesQ
  6. Hydrag
  7. Kiravistars

Encore

  1. Samurai dreeeeeam breaker

VK Exclusive

There are 29 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

@YuliyaPhoTop (Twitter) Yuliya is originally a fashion and portrait photographer with a BA from the London College of Fashion. Being a Japanophile with a passion for the Japanese rock scene and especially for old school visual kei, she moved to Japan where she found a chance to combine photography and music with ROKKYUU's help. Now she is based in Tokyo, where she keeps on rocking and shooting, enjoying every bit of it.

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