Sixh. & exist†trace Face the Darkness at Black Hole


by Laura Cooper, Leela McMullen, chi.yow, posted July 23, 2013

Sixh. and exist†trace teamed up once again on May 3 for another action-packed fashion live at Ikebukuro Black Hole, only this time, there was an extra element to the program. IBI’s inter-dimensional fantasy comic was displayed onscreen and with each turn of the page, the story was narrated for the crowd. Characters based on IBI and exist†trace’s miko found themselves in one dire situation after the next, and the crowd were on their tippy-toes with excitement.

As the evil villain swallowed up IBI’s power with a mirror, the first models hit the cat-walk, interrupting the story with their dark outfits and snappy headpieces. The first sported a suave, ruffled vest accented with a fedora decked out in metal pick and slim chains. The second model took the cake, though—IBI himself glided out in a dress and fishnets with a cute, girly wig on top.

The girls really brought the rock, another model sporting a studded jacket and posing in laid-back superstar style before exist†trace began to dominate, beginning with Naoto in a dark, gothic yet loose clothing. Meanwhile, Mally came out a lovely, gold-printed skirt. In contrast Omi had her mohawk up and was dashing in her masculine outfit. Jyo then entered in casual white getup that accented her feminine charms.

The models and lady rock stars continued rolling out butterfly prints, hot hats and flowing materials. Then came IBI in another dress, this time with a loose hood and there the first song began, the designer himself crying out “Angel!” passionately into the microphone. Naoto and Mally joined in for “Angel&Demon” allowing him to strut up front as the rhythm section vamped.

Next, miko appeared in a very cool trench coat, her hair strung back into a ponytail to give her a striking, powerful look. Omi and Jyo each sported very different looks, the guitarist in a twinkling black jacket and Jyo juxtaposing a white coat with a black outfit.

With spacey sounds about them, IBI disappeared as the members took their places and a beat began to develop. Jyo entered at last, the stage enveloped in high drama as exist†trace displayed the full effect of their complete gothic meets rock stylings.

Ambivalence” began exist†trace’s set, the band down headbanging over their instruments with Naoto grooving to the pounding bass line despite Jyo’s smooth, beautiful vocals. As the instrumental hit, miko rocked her body into the hard riff, tossing her ponytail about. A green haze then set in for “Daybreak 〜13 Gatsu no Shikisai〜” which featured a strong yet mysterious sound. Just one clap from Jyo and the crowd were eagerly putting their hands together, supporting the beat.

“Good evening, everyone at Black Hole. Are you enjoying the new world?” Jyo asked confidently. “We’re showing off our fashion and expressing ourselves through manga—there’s a lot of expression going on here but our (exist†trace’s) expression comes through music, so let’s enjoy this!” Fist pumping to a rock beat reconvened the set with “TRUE” and a gorgeously harmonized chorus brought Jyo and miko together once more. Meanwhile, Omi and miko put their guitars together with a bright, ringing ambience.

Orleans no Shojou” was as bright as the guitar duet, Jyo riling the crowd expertly to let their voices free before she and miko took off about the stage. The highlight was Jyo’s immense voice rising proudly in the high chorus and she earned the round of applause that came with the song’s end, returning a grinning “Thank you!” for the sounds of appreciation.

After a brief pause, Jyo’s shuddering breath sounded through the venue and she began to sing breathily before speaking the lines, “It’s time. You were here. On the street where the flowers do not bloom.” An upbeat rhythm matched the dark melody of “Hana no Sakanai Machi” as the twin vocals flaunted their strength over restrained guitar. Once more, the two voices blended beautifully, Jyo’s robust timbre and miko’s sweeter tones entwining to leave a lovely sound as the curtain drew to finish the performance.

There was much more to come yet as the story continued, IBI, miko and their companion Luciel arriving in the so-called 4th dimension. In this arc, Luciel turned against the two, swallowing them up in darkness. In the 5th dimension they were separated, miko swearing to save the light. Battling on alone, she fell into a world of darkness.

“What world awaits those who will go to save miko? The world consists of darkness and light. No matter how deep the darkness, there will always be hope.”

The screen receded and miko entered in the flesh, her hair piled up elegantly above her pretty, lacey coat and perfected pouty expression. Black silk and ruffles adorned the front of her dress. The darkness of her attire contrasted to IBI’s bright blue top and gray scarf, and the former beginning to sing as the latter posed. IBI then moved to join her, the two singing “Butterfly&Spider” together, side by side. As one, they backed away from the crowd, clearing the runway for the next model in her long coat and skirt covered by a lengthy flap.

Naoto came next, her expression wonderfully intense as she modeled a loose jacket style with purple motif on the shirt revealed beneath. IBI and miko continued the song, their voices dropping out for intervals and returning at others. Omi sported a deep gothic jacket with corset binding up the back. Her outfit was all long lines with sharp angles, very androgynous.

Jyo then showered her darker side, a hood pulled over her face as the singers ramped up a key change. Jyo slowly backed away with arms outstretched before wandering up front looking lost. Hood lowered, her hands slowly raised to her beautifully curled hair, a searching look in her eyes. When she left the stage, miko followed and the music came to a stop, leaving IBI all alone.

The vocalist turned his back on the audience before breaking into a strong number, “Ueta Kemono.” IBI let his wild voice loose at Black Hole, reminding the crowd that he’s got the vocal attitude to match his clothes. The crowd were absorbed into the beat, diving on accents and following IBI’s cues. He sang passionately through the positive chorus, bringing the song home.

After IBI’s moment in the spotlight, it was time for exist†trace to return in their latest ensembles. This time, they entered one by one with full fanfare and Jyo concluded the parade of members with “Are you ready, Black Hole? Ok, come on! Jump!” Fast-paced with a mild dance beat, “Diamond” had Jyo and miko singing in alternation before joining their voices. Jyo belted out the show-stopping notes while miko harmonized either with equal strength or a softer influence to compliment her partner. The instrumental was just as impressive with a hot riff to exemplify the band’s full range of talents. “Black Hole, clap for me!” cried Jyo, kicking off “Kuchibiru.” Omi took point with a feisty solo which led into the song’s opening instrumental, styled after the guitar solo. Now it was Jyo’s turn to soften her voice in compliment to miko’s airy tone though the chorus had them both going strong. The number had a cool, retro style, Jyo dancing and clapping as she continued to show her stuff whether singing or not.

“Did you guys come in full dress?” Jyo asked, surveying the crowd’s great Sixh. digs. “The party ain’t over yet!” she claimed. So it was that “GINGER” came in with a coy, playful atmosphere, Jyo and miko executing a show of give and take, facing each other as they sang. A slow, sexy section exhibited the Vegas show-girls in the two of them, displaying yet another side of the dynamic duo. Circling as the music faded, Jyo then yelled, “Hey, Black Hole! You hearing this? Let’s dance together! Jump!” Her high-energy shouts made it easy for the crowd the leap into “Antique Doll” and Jyo remained in high spirits throughout the number, the main vocalist taking the opportunity to dance whenever miko had the reins. Halfway through, Jyo windmilled into a crouch facing Mally who then went hell for leather on the drums for a short but rockin’ solo. “Let’s get heavy!” was the shout that brought on “RAZE” and exist†trace came through with that promise, drums and guitars blasting off. At the sound of Jyo’s ferocious scream, heads flew left and right, a tangle of hair covering the stylish denizens of Black Hole.

“This fun time has passed so fast! There’s just one left! We’re going to finish this up not just with you and us, but also with today’s organizer, too! With six people… Sixh! IBI!” The designer’s manly voice contrasted to Jyo’s and miko’s more lyrical tones, and Sixh.’s “Fate and Pain” wound up the set. The crowd punched the air with relish, the unique atmosphere of the event humming with excitement. The final chorus saw the three powerful voices battling it out for precedence but that wasn’t enough as IBI shouted “Give up your voices and your light!” in invitation to the crowd.

In the aftermath, IBI alone remained, thanking the crowd for gathering. “I hope to put on many more wonderful shows like this,” he said encouragingly. “Thank you!” If the crowd’s enthusiasm for an encore was any indication, the coming shows will be more than welcome and IBI and exist†trace returned to reward their ardor. “Thank you for the encore,” he began. “We planned it for a long time and finally this day has come. I was really unsure about that first song,” he confessed.

Without further ado, he called miko out and the triple threat guitarist/vocalist/model explained, “Last year, he came to our event and this time, we’re at his. How was it? …I think the comic really expresses us and our message that everyone has both darkness and light in them and we put our set list together with that in mind.”

When Jyo entered, the two explained that her outfit is actually worn by a villain in the comic and then promised that she would soon appear in it as well. “When I was planning the character, I suddenly realized it was Jyo!” IBI exclaimed delightedly.
“When I was modeling this, I walked with this character in mind,” said Jyo, giving a hint as to the nature of her comic-book double.

As if the excitement of the show and dashing runway exhibition weren’t enough, Sixh. had some goodies to give away and IBI scoured the crowd for his best-dressed favorites. With a kamehameha, he picked out a girl near the front and then searched for a guy for his second prize. This time he had to specify, “It’s you who just dodged my kamehameha!”

In a fitting conclusion to the fun event, IBI joined exist†trace in a rendition of the band’s “Signal,” joining Jyo in tweeting out a vibrant whistle pattern to the music. It was a high-voltage closer, bolstered by the powerful sound of the three vocalists and polished with the solid performances of Omi, Naoto, and Mally.

As Jyo and IBI thanked the crowd, miko bounced happily in emulation of the feelings of the gathered fans and fashionistas. Not only was the show high quality, but it was also extremely versatile and full of perks for the crowd to enjoy. Sixh. and exist†trace make an unbeatable team and whether their paths continue to merge or eventually divide, both have something very special to offer to the visual scene.

Set List

Angel&Demon (IBI, Mally, and Naoto)

First Set – exist†trace


  1. Ambivalence
  2. Daybreak 〜13 Gatsu no Shikisai〜
  3. TRUE
  4. Orleans no shojou
  5. Hana no Sakanai Machi花の咲かない街


Butterfuly&Spider (IBI and miko)
Ueta Kemono(IBI)

Second Set – exist†trace

  1. Diamond
  2. Kuchibiru (Temporary title)
  4. Antique Doll (Temporary Title)
  5. RAZE
  6. Fate and Pain (from Sixh., with IBI)


  1. Signal (from Exist Trace, with IBI)

VK Exclusive

There are 26 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Laura Cooper started photographing rock and jazz bands at university. While completing a degree in English Literature, she was literary co-editor of the York University arts magazine and held poetry soirees with comedy jazz bands. Laura wrote for the now defunct UK Goth magazine Meltdown, as well as edited for an occult/spiritual website while she lived in York and London. She disappeared into the mountainous depths of Japan in 2006 and is now based in Tokyo, capturing rock bands in action.

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!!/LeelaInTokyo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

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