stylish wave GENERATION vol. 5 at Akasaka BLITZ
Seeking to break down the barriers between generations of visual kei, stylish wave GENERATION Vol. 5 brought together veteran bands such as PENICILLIN and Plastic Tree with younger bands who have steadily made their names known in the scene for an unforgettable event. The well-respected Akemi Oshima served as the night’s emcee with visual kei uncle Seiichi Hoshiko (…Sushiko?) adding the occasional comment for a fun experience for everyone present.
PENICILLIN with SHUSE
First to kick off the show with grand fanfare and fierce guitar chords were PENICILLIN, the curtains opening to reveal guitarist Chisato and guest bassist SHUSE jamming away alongside drummer O-JIRO to get the crowd fired up before HAKUEI made his grand appearance to start the night properly with “God of Grind.” The eye-patched vocalist swayed as he drawled out the lyrics, then called for more yells from the crowd as Chisato took center stage for his extensive guitar solo. Lights strobing in time with Chisato’s guitar intro for “Genso Catharsis” dazzled the crowd before HAKUEI’s powerful vocals blasted out of the speakers. HAKUEI generally kept to the center of the stage, propping himself against his microphone stand, but he joined a gathering at the front with Chisato and SHUSE as the guitarist fired off another rapid guitar solo.
“The history of the visual kei genre is a bit long, isn’t it? With all of us doing our best, please keep looking upon us favorably,” HAKUEI requested before the start of “Kazari ja nai no yo Namida wa,” which had people clapping along to the catchy drum intro O-JIRO tapped out. SHUSE encouraged the crowd to keep it up for as long as they could when he wasn’t plucking at his bass.
PENICILLIN then brought out their infamous “Romance” to the audience’s great delight, revealed at the instantly recognizable intro. Chisato and SHUSE dramatically faced off in front of HAKUEI before breaking off to rush to the front of the stage to raise the fans’ energy even more. SHUSE later returned to his microphone to contribute a set of growls to the newer arrangement of the classic song. The bassist also introduced “Inazuma” in a similar manner—the opening music a touch dark and eerie before HAKUEI took back the spotlight, hands extended out to gather more energy and love from the eager crowd. Not one to stand still, Chisato once again took center stage for another keening guitar solo, before being joined by SHUSE and HAKUEI to round off the set with a bang.
- God of Grind
- Genso Catharsis
- Kazari ja nai no yo Namida wa
After the performance, Chisato and SHUSE were invited out to chat with Akemi, with SHUSE playfully introducing himself as “PENICILLIN’s SHUSE,” to the marked approval of the crowd. After some discussion about SHUSE’s support work with Acid Black Cherry and various cherry-related jokes, Chisato brought up a story shared by LM.C’s guitarist Aiji of never having been treated to sushi by Hoshiko. He went on to teasingly explain that one of Hoshiko’s nicknames is ‘Sushiko’ because of his kindness—something the audience would keep in mind until the end of the event.
A discordant intro followed by the signature whisper of “DaizyStripper” brought out the next band, decked out in their Derringer outfits and all set to bring their A-game to the event. “Is everybody ready?” Yugiri called out as fists started pumping to the intro of “Uso to Kagerou.” The jazzy, energetic song had the entire hall dancing and swaying to the beat, except for guitarist Nao who opted to take a seat on one of the speakers as he played. Yugiri let his dreads fly during “MISSING” as he joined the crowd in vigorous headbanging. The shoeless Rei sauntered about the stage as he effortlessly plucked at his bass strings, as well as the fans’ heartstrings.
“Hoshiko came to me and said that he was so excited, his nipples were hard. Well, my nipples are hard, too!” the vocalist declared with a mischievous grin before DaizyStripper presented their cover of SID’s “Mousou Nikki.” Yugiri’s voice took on sultry tones as he crooned the lyrics of the well-known song and occasionally made crazy eyes at the crowd. Nao had a moment of reduced balance as he took a brief tumble, but continued to play while kneeling. There was a pause in play as Yugiri yelled out, “You’re gonna break down the walls of generations, right!?” which was met with an affirmative roar.
During the bass intro for “Mannequin,” Yugiri sprayed down the front rows with his water bottle to prepare them for the fast and heavy number as he cried out, “Everyone, dance!” Dance they did, as Kazami smashed away at his drums while the others contributed aggressive growls and yells in addition to the insanely catchy chorus melody. During “decade,” Nao decided that it would be a fantastic idea to have an impromptu shower using his water bottle—stepping onto the front rail as he did so, much to the fans’ delight and his bandmates’ confusion. Yugiri took it upon himself to help the guitarist dry off, using his own towel, but, not ending the strange antics there, Nao once again found his way to the floor to perform his guitar solo. Thankfully the sudden change in height did not affect the quality of the music and DaizyStripper’s set finished with a lasting buzz of energy.
- Uso to Kagerou
- Mousou Nikki
Yugiri was called out to represent DaizyStripper for their post-performance talk, during which Akemi commented on a particular song of their set. “So, today you performed ‘Mousou Nikki.’ How was your recording for the cover single?”
“Really, since SID are one of the most respected senior bands loved by many people around Japan… How do I say this? We all listened to the original many times, and as we thought, it’s amazing. We also received an e-mail from Mao telling us to ‘Have fun making the cover.’ He is really kind,” Yugiri reflected. He especially noted that the support they received from various people helped to ease some of their nerves at covering such a well-known song.
Unfortunately, Jupiter suffered technical difficulties so disruptive that, by the time they were resolved, led to this announcement from ZIN: “Because we ran out of time, we will only play one song. However, I will put my all into this one song, so let’s do it!” As promised, the band put on a brave face and poured all of their energy into performing “Symmetry Breaking” for the audience who had looked forward to their set. What began with a violin intro quickly escalated into a high-energy and aggressive song that displayed just how powerful ZIN’s vocals can be as he growled and held many extended notes perfectly. Masashi also impressed the crowd as his fingers flew speedily across his strings for a bass solo, and guitarists Teru and Hizaki crossed the stage to deliver their intertwining solos back-to-back as Yuki pounded out the beat on his drums. It may only have been one song, but it served to show what Jupiter are all about.
“stylish wave GENERATION, have fun until the end!” ZIN called out as the band bowed out after their regretfully short set.
- Symmetry Breaking
For the post-performance talk, ZIN came out to once again apologize for the long wait and short set list, singing the apology out in his signature manner. He went on to explain that the problem had been with the computer that was supposed to be playing their backing music, and that just when they decided that they would play without it after all, the issue was fixed. “It is regrettable that we could only play one song today, but Jupiter’s music is very beautiful as well as intense and, lastly, it gives you energy. Please, come to our oneman live and we promise to return the favor one-hundred fold!” ZIN confidently promised.
With a stage setting that had additions of a DJ stand and a trampoline in place of the regular vocalist’s box, LM.C let rip with “LET ME’ CRAZY!!” and sent the crowd into a headbanging frenzy until Maya started singing. Aiji could be seen mouthing along to the lyrics as he struck at his guitar for the electronic-backed, upbeat song. “‘Space Wannabiez’, come on!” Maya called out before leaping into the air via trampoline—one of the first instances of many for the band’s energy-filled set. Aiji dashed over to the left side of the stage to receive the energy of fans there, before making his way back to stage right for his guitar solo.
“Raise the tension higher!” Maya beckoned as he broke out a tambourine to get people clapping along to “DOUBLE DRAGON.” The vocalist was so caught up with rocking out that he knocked over his microphone stand but casually flipped it back up with his foot before continuing with the show. “Come on BLITZ, let’s dance!” The hall did dance to the infectious and bouncy “SUPER DUPER GALAXY.” DENKI-MAN was seen wielding laser knuckles and creating a unique display which shone the lasers all about above the crowd’s heads as they jumped along while answering Maya’s requests to “Clap your hands!” and “Make some noise!” “Ah Hah!” had even the fans who came for other bands joining with Maya to sing out the simple lines of ‘Ah Hah! Ah Hah!’ DENKI-MAN had a small duet/duel with the crowd, adding more to the whackiness. It was also during this song that Maya proved that he had no need of the trampoline in order to launch himself into the air as he hopped about with boundless stamina.
For “METALLY,” DENKI-MAN broke out personal spotlights to add to the stage light show. Maya made use of an extra microphone to swing about coolly as he sang, gesturing for the crowd to keep headbanging before joining Aiji in the center of the stage and proceeding to round off their set with the popular “OH MY JULIET.” This was met with high approval from the audience who let out loud cheers. Maya lay back on the well-used trampoline, looking relaxed while seeking out more energy from the crowd—especially to join in once again for more chants.
- LET ME’ CRAZY!!
- Space Wannabiez
- DOUBLE DRAGON
- SUPER DUPER GALAXY
- Ah Hah!
- OH MY JULIET.
After commenting that she’d been feeling a bit jealous when looking at her twitter recently, Akemi asked for LM.C’s memories of their recent fanclub trip down to Okinawa—“Oki-chan” as Aiji preferred to call it. “It was fun. Especially the live at the end. But there were other various good memories.”
Aiji spoke about going around to look for dolphins and how he was mistaken for a father—which prompted Maya to then teasingly call Aiji a ‘visual kei father’ in reference to his age. “The best visual kei father, since he’s super understanding, super good at product sales (like getting people to buy things), and he has good stage sense.”
The crowd screamed in delight as the intro for the ever-popular live favorite “Saku yoi” started, hand-held fans quickly whipped out in order to carry out the complex choreography that accompanies the fast-paced song. Vocalist Mahiro brandished his own decorative fan in order to lead everyone as he sang, even yelling out “Come on and do the actions!” to encourage all to try their best. The chorus also sent participants hop-dancing from left to right, following the band members’ examples.
Junji opened “Ruru” with a quick and rolling drum intro before guitarist Mitsuki took over. Hair went flying everywhere as the audience started to furiously headbang under direction of guitarist Takemasa. “Although it’s only Saturday, keep on bringing it!” Mahiro screamed out to the crowd before a piano backing track introduced “Akai mi Hajiketa.” The atmosphere of BLITZ turned eerie as Mahiro sang out in a hollow and halting style, at times almost sounding possessed as he painted a dark landscape with the haunting tune that kept listeners disoriented with its constant change of pace set by Junji.
Towels twirled about during the catchy “Utsusemi” that had Takemasa dancing up front as all three string players switched positions to interact with different sections of the crowd, Hiyori all smiles. Mahiro was joined by fans for a kind of duet in one of the last verses, to the great approval of Mitsuki. Then, “Kyousei” had Mahiro once again making a variety of expressive faces as he sang out in a slightly halting manner. Mitsuki also made faces, particularly during his guitar solo, while beckoning the crowd to keep the energy high. Mahiro ended the song with a long, drawn-out growl before he departed the stage, leaving his bandmates to finish their set with a mini jam session.
- Saku yoi
- Akai mi Hajiketa
Takemasa came out wearing the event T-shirt—a strange contrast with the rest of his outfit as he opted to keep the other articles of his costume on. However, the audience reassured the guitarist that the shirt really suited him. “Everyone is so nice!” Takemasa happily commented. On the topic of characters and mascots, one of Kiryu’s more unique upcoming releases was discussed—vocalist Mahiro’s contribution to a collaborative album with the Nameko mushroom characters, as well as the ever-popular Funassy mascot. “We’re not going to lose to Funashy!” Takemasa declared proudly.
In contrast to the previous bands, the final band of the night, Plastic Tree, sported a more casual look. In fact, vocalist Ryutaro charmingly looked as if he had just rolled out of bed and decided that make-up was the only necessary addition for the night’s performance. Another contrast that the veteran band presented was how they chose to open their set. Instead of a high-energy song to get the audience pumped up, Plastic Tree started with the soothing “Nemureru Mori.” Feeling no need to be flashy and energetic, guitarist Akira was a calm and stoic figure as he played and Ryutaro’s sweet vocals floated about the hall. Although the lights were dim, the crowd buzzed with excitement as they saw Ryutaro don a guitar for “Melancholic” before Tadashi yelled out, “Let’s go!” and lights started rapidly flashing in time with the guitar intro. Ryutaro showed the great range his voice can take on as he varied between gentle and melodic singing to raspy and powerful wails.
“Good evening. To those who are seeing us for the first time, it’s nice to meet you. We are Plastic Tree. We hope you had fun with the previous bands. We don’t really have much time for today’s event, so we hope you will enjoy our set as well,” Ryutaro politely greeted the audience before continuing to impress the crowd with “Melt” in his signature halting manner of singing that seemed disembodied at times because of the dim lighting. The same could be said of Akira’s guitar chords, though the stage was more brightly lit in order to highlight his guitar solo, during which Ryutaro spun about in place, resembling a puppet dangling by loose strings.
Ryutaro had a brief lapse in memory as he once again greeted the crowd. “Eh, where are we again? Oh yeah, BLITZ.” Akira was then given the chance to speak, and he got straight to the point by posing a question to the bangya. “You guys don’t want to go to the toilet alone, do you? Do your best!” “Avantgarde” had the crowd dancing and clapping as Tadashi’s bass punctuated the rapid pace KenKen tapped out on his drums. Akira’s fingers skillfully flew over the strings during his solo as Ryutaro danced away in the background before coming back to the microphone. While the event was not taking place outside and thus there was no rain to take cover from, the vocalist brought out an umbrella to add to the imagery of “Ame ni utaeba,” leaving his face partially obscured for the first portion of the song and gradually lifting it higher as his soft voice and the peaceful melodies wove through the crowd. The ending was both anti-climactic and overwhelming all at once as Plastic Tree seemed to abandon the crowd to their own devices after inundating them with a slow crescendo of carefully constructed sound.
- Nemureru Mori
- Ame ni utaeba
Hoshiko joined Akemi on stage for the last emcee, giving their comments about the visual kei scene and the day’s event before inviting Kenken and Tadashi out for their two cents. In his nervousness to be up the front of the stage, Kenken was suddenly distracted by a pick left on the floor—kindly handing it out to one of the audience members which evolved into Hoshiko hunting around the stage for more leftover plectrums and distributing them out to the eager crowd.
The remaining bands were then called out to dole out signed balls, as is traditional at Stylish Wave event lives, along with a 15 second period of calling out to a favorite band member. Kiryu’s Takemasa opted to be slightly shameless in promoting himself by shuffling in front of everyone until he was playfully nudged by SHUSE. Before departing the stage, Chisato decided to take it upon himself to assist Aiji in his ‘quest’ to be treated to sushi by Hoshiko by persuading the audience to start a chant of “Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!” which was accepted in good grace by the kindly visual kei uncle. “I have, in fact, arranged for sushi to be add at the small after party! Thank you, everyone, for coming today! Until next time!”
The band members cheerfully departed the stage, ready to take the energy and love radiated from the fans with them in their continued mission to break the barriers between generations of the visual kei industry… and to eat some free sushi. It was a special event that truly did bring together bands of all ages and styles and yet effortlessly united the crowd until the very end.