Photography: Ku & K
Not for republication.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 –
There aren’t many live houses in Aomori Prefecture that regularly bring in visual kei bands. The reason is simple: out in such a remote area of Japan, far from the packed live house crowds of Tokyo or Osaka, Aomori just doesn’t have as many fans of the niche genre. Quarter, however, probably sees the most traffic for touring visual kei acts in the prefecture. Though it rarely sells out attendance is never particularly low, and in a city which sees so few visual acts, the bands are always received with ample enthusiasm.
This was also the case for Royz, despite the live occurring on a Wednesday night. The moment doors opened to bring fans in from the cold, there was a rush to the barricade and excited chatter abound. A considerable queue formed almost immediately around the merchandise table, even though goods had been available for sale in advance outside of the venue as well. Custom glow sticks and towels were snatched up – necessities for certain furi of which plenty of attendees were well aware of in advance.
After a mere five-minute sound check the ambient background music in the venue grew louder and captured fans’ attention. Cheers erupted and the lights dimmed, signaling that the show was about to start, and before long Royz took the stage. The audience stayed rowdy, especially as vocalist Subaru offered out his microphone to pull in voices.
From the very first song, “SIGN”, the energetic band had everyone in the crowd riled up. They picked a heavy opening number which included some wild furi, such as directing the crowd back and forth across the venue in a chaotic, jumbled march. Much of the rest of the show was foreshadowed by the boundless energy displayed by the band during this track, as band members reached into the crowd or bounced around right with them.
A theme that seemed to run through the band’s music for the evening was low, pounding bass and drums synched so well that they could have passed for one instrument. The rhythm section, Koudai (bass) and Tomoya (drums), was truly impressive throughout. Despite the small size of the venue which made it difficult to see Tomoya during most of the show, he was bouncing right along with his band mates to every song, frequently sporting a huge smile. And, though it’s common for bassists’ amps to be more subdued at lives and drowned out by guitar, Koudai’s licks oftentimes rung out clearly and were spot-on – quite a feat considering the fact that he was almost in constant motion, head banging or prancing across the stage.
The guitar section was equally intriguing. Kazuki (rhythm) played enough high-tuned solos to make one forget that he wasn’t lead, whereas lead Kuina had fewer such front-and-center moments but was a constant force to steal the spotlight. The differences in their playing styles were also a highlight for this show. Kazuki often incorporated tapping in his solos with such ease you would think he could play in his sleep — in songs such as “AREA”. He tended to play higher, more melodious lines that sounded like more modern versions of shrill ‘80s metal riffs. Kuina was fast, loud, and heavy, with grinding chords and so much activity on stage that it was frankly difficult to watch what his hands were doing.
Before long the stage began to look too small and cramped for the highly-energetic musicians.
Other notable tracks played were the relatively new “JOKER” which has quickly gained popularity for its fun furi, and “NOAH”, the impressive new single through which Royz has reached a new level in their quest to churn out catchy, enjoyable songs.
Between the songs played with unbound enthusiasm, Royz delighted the audience with moments of flirty fan service, comedic MCs, and engaging furi until the end. When they were called back for more after 18 songs the attendees were treated to the most entertaining MC yet in which Kuina, Koudai, and Tomoya bared their stomachs – and attempted to have Subaru and Kazuki do the same. Before going back to the music the band took their time to chat and enjoy the atmosphere. They even took a couple of photographs with the crowd.
By the time the concert wrapped completely two hours had passed and there was no doubt that everyone in attendance was more than satisfied with the experience. Even for visual kei fans who may not be largely interested in catchy, upbeat music, Royz’s performance is something else. If you’re on the fence about them, or if you ever have the opportunity to catch them live, I highly recommend giving them a shot simply for entertainment value.
2. プロミネンス (Prominence)
3. トカレフ (Tokarefu)
4. クロアゲハ (Kuro Ageha)
6. 星に願いを (Hoshi ni Negai wo)
7. No Fate
12. ACROSS WORLD
13. cherry tree
14. Autocracy~ワルツとナイフ~ (Autocracy~Warutsu to Naifu)
16. Reve story
18. New AGE