the gods and death stars: Fukuzatsu na Touritsu

Live Report

by Maya Kawaguchi, posted April 7, 2014

On Christmas night, the gods and death stars held their last one-man of 2013 at Shimokitazawa Shelter. As the clock hit half-past seven, the lights dropped and the members appeared one by one, welcomed by applause from the crowd.

Quietly tuning their instruments, the members surrounded the drum kit for “the introduction.” In contrast to their black attire, the lights flashed relentlessly, complementing the sound drawn forth. Gradually, vocalist and guitarist of the band, aie, and bassist kazu took their downstage positions for “elephant.” While aie paced his strumming, his unique vocals brought the strong yet very distinct vision of the piece to life. “almost rotten” then presented a hint of romantic taste with kazu and Jun’s jazzy rhythm contrasting aie’s distinct vocals. With heavy guitar strums, “half human” was begun and aie’s lengthy notes resounded in the venue. As the lights brightened with the main melody, his tones seemed to infuse a touch of positivity into the melancholy atmosphere. The lyrics were the focus of the piece but the vocals continued to be emphasized in the following single which was released that very day: “yozora no temae.”

“Good evening, we are the gods and death stars. Thanks for coming on such a special day as today.” In his usual, down to earth style, aie gave a brief welcome. Then, gathering about the drums again with instruments warming up to the song, the trio revved the engine for “brother mustang.” Swinging his head to the beat, Jun struck the drums to the steady tune, kazu swaying to the rhythm as his fingers sped along to keep up with aie’s strumming. The vocalist’s hoarse voice blended well with the music before the lights turned from pink to red to begin the amorous and sad “love hole.” A tap of the drums and “pool” followed with guitar blending in as aie wrung out his voice in delivery. The intensity of the emotions stressed through aie’s tone were a solid example of how expressive he had become since the three-member band had first begun activities. The front man played a crisp and constant tune on guitar with drums following suit in “monster tree.” Slowly at first, aie delivered the lyrics as the music gradually grew faster and, at the end, kazu’s jazzy bass wrapped up the song.

“If you haven’t seen the flyer already, we have a one-man tour coming up in February as well as an album—including two new songs and ten live recorded songs which we are actually recording today. The band is in its fourth year. To celebrate, this new album will be a nationwide distribution. So that means we might do some in-store events… such as taking polaroids? Okay, that I’ll leave it for when we disband,” joked aie. Even so, the crowd giggled at the unlikely polaroid comment. “The album should turn out to be a good one. Now, we’re going to resume the live with one of our new songs.”

Muzai no mushi” was another release from that day which mixed together some good, cutting guitar and a melodious bass line that kazu fingered smoothly. Though the vocal line still seemed to be under development, the melody itself had an appealing sound that enticed the crowd to sway to the music. Next up was “gasoline” with an edgy guitar line that resounded alarmingly. In contrast to aie’s vocals and guitar, the rhythm team was down to earth and they remained so in moving into the next song, “canine.” From start, the song had an uplifting atmosphere as aie sang powerfully and the guitar flowed comfortably. It ended softly with Jun quietly tapping a march. “happy J” was slow and somewhat somber, the song gradually waking to a heavier style as aie vigorously ground his voice out. The number finished back on a gentle front with calm guitar.

During his emcee, aie jokingly talked about changing their names when they make it big and threw some fun suggestions at the audience. Since the members were into sumo wrestling, they suggested naming themselves Takanohana (Jun Otaka), Masenoumi (aie aka Dai Mase), and Kazubono (kazu).

The music resumed with the thrumming drums of “Heartland” followed by the catchy “addle apple” then moved on to “the zombie.” In this, kazu’s bass and Jun’s drum gave out a deep, heavy, and constant beat as aie’s vocals took the spotlight. The song was powerful yet had a certain sorrow that linked in to the next piece, “emmny.” The tone changed with guitar quietly strumming the chords and aie’s vocals taking on a melancholy croon. The song was swift and grew heavier toward the climax, ending abruptly.

After some appreciative applause, aie took the mic to speak again but kept it short. “In 2014, I’m gonna be 36 and my goal for the year is doing my best,” he announced before slowly and somberly playing the chords of “Roka.” The music intensified and the lights brightened as aie’s technique turned to hard strumming and he cried out in song. The ending crash of drums led into the somewhat wistful “tonight is the night” in which aie’s vocals were the focus. Then, displaying their unfaltering vibrancy, the trio performed “The rat which flies,” sharing the stronger side of their music.

“The next song is another new song that will be released in February,” aie said in introduction of “Mother milk.” Though aie’s tone seemed a little tense, his words were clear and emphasized. The audience listened quietly to the lyrics and the music and when they applauded its finish, aie thanked them with a final emcee. “We are releasing out new single and our high-quality interview booklet today. I think you can get an in-depth knowledge of our songs from the booklet. Please stop by the goods booth. Thanks for coming today.”

Fukuzatsu na Touritsu” was played quietly with a striking guitar interlude and some solid rhythm developing throughout the song. The members’ wore heartwarming smiles and when they glanced at each other, those became satisfied grins. The show then ended as it had started—aie and kazu crowding the drums. “dawn of the god“ ended the night with a clashing of sounds that left a lasting impression.

With their first nationwide release in February of 2014 and many events on their schedule, the gods and death stars are moving with purpose. When experienced musicians perform the music they love best, the only crime is a lack of ears to listen so keep an eye on their activities and check them out when you get a chance!

Set List

  1. the introduction
  2. elephant
  3. almost rotten [hotondo fuhai]
  4. half human [hanbunhito]
  5. Yozora no temae
  6. brother mustang
  7. love hole
  8. pool
  9. monster tree
  10. Muzai no mushi (new song)
  11. Gasoline [gashi gasu gaso]
  12. canine
  13. happy J
  14. Heartland
  15. addle apple
  16. the zombie
  17. emmny
  18. Roka
  19. tonight is the night
  20. The rat which flies [tobu nezumi]
  21. Mother milk [bonyuu]
  22. Fukuzatsu na Touritsu
  23. dawn of the god

Maya Kawaguchi is a Japanese native who grew up in California. She was introduced to VK in college and soon became fascinated by the genre and nagoya-oriented bands in particular. Since then, she has been surprised by the number of foreigners who are interested in VK and hopes to introduce this world to as many potential fans as possible.

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