Minase’s Grand Send-Off at Shibuya Koukaidou
It was a bittersweet night on September 23 as D=OUT gave their last one-man show at Shibuya Koukaidou with drummer Minase, who had been with the band as part of their unchanging lineup since their beginning almost 8 years ago. Serving as the tour final for their -kiz[U]na- TOUR ’14, the large hall filled with fans ready to see off Minase as well as to attend the rest of the band into a new chapter of their lives during a show full of tears of both sorrow and laughter.
When the lights died down, screams of anticipation erupted from the crowd as the opening music “FESTA” started to play. The back screen displayed an image of an opening door before the beat induced the crowd to begin clapping along. Cheers grew louder as the members entered from stage left, each riling up the crowd before taking their positions to rock out. Starting with the upbeat and positive “ONE” was a fitting reminder that, with determination and good will, connections between people will thrive. The crowd sang along to the spirited and catchy chorus, Kouki holding out his microphone to catch the last lines as everyone raised their hands. Next up, the danceable “Shangrila” got the crowd clapping along and mirroring the band’s movements, swaying from side-to-side. Kouki was particularly energetic as he dashed about the stage.
As the intro for “Satellite TV” rang out, the vocalist called for jumping before he sent the crowd in a right-left shuffling dance to the pace of Ibuki and Hikaru’s guitars. Minase aided in punctuating the jazzy beat with a few well-placed hits to the cowbell. Continuing, Ibuki strode up to the center podium to take his opening guitar solo for “Flashback” before Kouki requested more jumping from the crowd that quickly transitioned into a round of mad headbanging. For the heavier parts of the song, the vocalist interjected a few growls as the stage was bathed in blood-red lights to match the mood.
Kouki welcomed the crowd cheerfully before delivering the first of many requests. “We’re going to present all of our best music here so please keep the memories from this show in your hearts! It’s a fan’s life to keep doing their best and for today, especially, definitely give us your all, starting from headbanging!”
The digital intro of “Goku” made it clear that a more violent section of the show was about to begin. The venue was set on fire—in some ways literally with torches lighting up but mostly figuratively—as the crowd threw themselves into a mix of demanding choreography for the rowdy number. “Can you keep going?” Kouki queried before Reika started a series of harsh calls that were returned by the crowd for “tattoo.” It was fortunate that the bassist had long disposed of his sunglasses, as he readily joined in with the crowd to headbang, showing the Noraneko (name given to fans by the band) just how it was done.
Horns sounded out for the intro of “Doukoku ni te shigure” as intense azure lights dominated the stage. The bluesy tune provided a small respite as many raised their hands to wave along to the energetic beat. The sound of falling rain for “Rain man” set a tranquil atmosphere with Minase’s heavy, pounding drums rolling in like a steadily building thunderstorm alongside Reika’s deep bass notes. Kouki followed up with a release of a torrent of emotions, switching between passionately calls and smooth crooning.
The stage then plunged into darkness, Kouki’s voice emerging to pass an important message to listeners “There will be times of fun. Other times there will be difficult periods. It’s important to remember all the things, not just the fun times. No matter what happens, also remember that you are not alone.” As the last words faded, the venue was relit with a starry sky for “Sei ni shigamitsuku,” emanating a sense of peace and calm that was further emphasized with Kouki’s lilting vocal delivery which gained power as the vocalist shifted to a capella style by the end.
From a dim, lone spotlight, Kouki once more addressed the crowd. “Can you continue to immerse yourself in and remember D=OUT’s music?” Pleased with the applause that answered, the vocalist posed another question. “Speaking of, what do you think D=OUT is like? You think of a festival, right?” A session of calls and response regarding the fans’ impressions was the lead-up to the next special section of the live in which Minase was wheeled out on a platform, steadily playing a Japanese taiko drum until positioned at the front of the stage.
Additional platforms were brought out to match the traditional festival atmosphere set for a special version of “Barairo no jinsei.” After the customary “Life is rose-colored!” calls had passed, the band played host to a modern dance festival as the audience jumped about to the catchy tune. The cheerful mood was infectious, even Kouki joining in to bounce along on his personal platform while Minase beat out the rhythm with energetic flourishes. The massive dance party continued with “DANCE NUMBER” as stage hands hastily cleared the extra platforms and Minase returned to his drum kit while Kouki riled up the crowd with calls of “D=OUT FEVER, YEAH!” before the band fully hurtled into the guitar-heavy song. A lone spotlight then fell on Minase for a drum solo that was followed by expressive bass from Reika. After, a psychedelic background relit the stage for the catchy “Mousou Tengoku,” the words onscreen prompting the crowd to sing along in the chorus.
Fans were able to see Reika rock out as he plucked his bass strings from on top of the leftmost podium during “Zange no hanamichi.” Rapid guitar lines from Hikaru and Ibuki sent the audience into similar rounds of headbanging. Handheld fans were then quickly brought out for “MUSIC NIPPON,” the crowd mirroring Kouki’s movements for the chorus even without fans in their clutches. A clapping intro alongside Ibuki’s ringing guitar led into “Hikou shoujo,” Hikaru grinning at the crowd as he played out the light melodies. As the song wound down, there were a number of playful stops and restarts, Reika gradually sinking lower with every round until he was playing from the floor before a group dash to the drum kit rounded off the main set with a unified blast of instruments.
As encore calls were made, mirror balls descended to ready the stage for a special DJ-style medley of various D=OUT songs. With Hikaru at the turntable station and Minase in command of an electronic snare drum, the special session transformed the venue into an enormous dance club. The real-time mixing of Kouki’s vocals and the instruments made for a unique showcase of additional facets to the members’ talents. As the end of the medley drew near, Minase shared a brief waltz with Hikaru before turning back towards his drum kit—where he found that Reika had taken over during his departure, the bassist tapping out some quick beats before relinquishing control.
“Thank you for the encore! Everyone, are you having fun?” Following with his ever-playful attitude, the vocalist took off with a humorous story, inspiring more tales from the other members in turn. “No matter how many years pass, please remember this day at Shibuya Koukaido,” Kouki requested. Then it was time for another one of D=OUT’s jazz-influenced numbers, “spotlight,” that had a few in the crowd swaying to the cool beat. Appropriately titled, each member was given their own time to appeal to the audience during the first half of the song. Kouki then asked everyone to call out for the trilling chorus of “Kanden 18 Gou.” The high-spirited tune renewed the festival atmosphere, inciting Hikaru to merrily hop about the stage accompanied by the synthetic, neo-traditional backtrack. Continuing with the crowd-interactive numbers, “Entenka” saw the return of the towels as Kouki while “Kimon” provided many with the opportunity to let out any pent-up frustrations during the various thrashing choreography balanced with intervals of relative calm.
With Kouki shouting positivity, the band then took turns to share their gratitude. “Seven years has been a long time—a really long time. We’ve done a lot this year, in particular. Thank you for everything,” began Reika, promising to send Minase a more personal message on LINE. He then passed the spotlight on to Hikaru. “It’s a wonder what we’ve done so far, even at our previous company… Exchanging greetings every morning… Those everyday things that happen… It’s been seven years, which really is a long time. Today may be the last live together, but I will always remember the things you have done with us,” he assured the drummer. Ibuki complained that what he wanted to say had already been stolen. “It’s really hard going last but I will try my best since Minase has tried the hardest in keeping the band going; it will be something I will always remember. Since many of the things I want to share are also a little embarrassing to say, I will also send you a LINE message later.”
Kouki took the microphone once more but had to take time to hold back a welling of emotion before continuing with sniffles escaping throughout his speech. “It’s our last time as the five of us together on this stage but I still think there’s nothing we can’t do. I really just have one request for everyone: no matter what, however many things happen between now and the future remember everything and especially that Minase was with us.”
Finally, it was Minase’s turn. “Even though today’s live is my last and it will be over soon, I really don’t want to think that it is the end. Time is short and although my time with D=OUT is nearly at an end, having had so much fun in addition to remembering all the time I spent with them, I know it’s not really an end. I am not done yet. It’s not the end.” Rounding off with an entreaty for the crowd to keep supporting the band through their endeavors, Minase returned to his seat to encouraging cheers from the crowd.
As a suitable finish for the encore, a montage of nostalgic footage was displayed on the back screen during “Yuushuu no bi,” allowing attendees as well as the band to reflect on their seven-and-a-half year journey together. At different intervals of the song that sent an optimistic and encouraging message for the future, each member turned toward Minase while they played or sang. The crowd wasn’t finished saying their goodbyes to Minase, however, and another was called for, interspersed with calls for the departing drummer. The band returned to perform one final song, the classic “Hana Saka beauty” in which the crowd sang along, aiding an emotionally-challenged Kouki.
Before the end of the show, a banner signed by the audience was brought onstage for Minase. Although the final speech brought even more tears from both fans and band members, the orchestrated grand exit Minase took was typical D=OUT—starting serious, but ending on a humorous note. After making his way through the crowd and backstage, with the procession projected on the large onstage screen, the drummer hopped onto a rather goofy motorbike before riding away into the darkness, leaving the audience in giggles before his bandmates also made their exits.
The departure of a longtime bandmate has always been a sad affair. However, with their natural charm and energy, D=OUT were able to send off Minase in grand style in a celebration of the seven-and-a-half year history and they were able to end it in smiles instead of sorrow. As the band takes the next step forward, a few member-produced projects have been put into planning like Hikaru’s DJ night and Kouki’s ambitious solo performance tour during the last quarter of 2014. The band’s next oneman shows were also announced for 2015, proving that—despite being one man down—D=OUT will continue forward with great spirit and enthusiasm.
- SE FESTA
- Satellite TV
- Doukoku ni te shigure
- Rain man
- Sei ni shigamitsuku
- Barairo no jinsei
- DANCE NUMBER
- Mousou Tengoku
- Zange no hanamichi
- MUSIC NIPPON
- Hikou shoujo
- D=OUT Medley (DJ style)
- Kanden 18 Gou
- Yuushuu no bi
- Hana Saka Beauty