SIAM SHADE is not, at first glance, a band many current visual kei fans would associate with the scene. Formed in 1989 by high school students (with humble aspirations: to get popular with girls), the band then known as POWER took a different road than contemporaries like LUNA SEA. They wore casual clothes that were closer to street-style than glam stage garb, wore light makeup if any at all, and played hard rock with melodic vocals. These are all common aspects of a fan-dubbed sub-genre that became popular in the early ’90s: Soft-V (ソフヴィ).
Fans ate up the band’s style; but perhaps lending to a slow start, activity pause, and member changes, it took some time for success to be cultivated. And cultivate it they did: in 1993, the members committed 1 million yen to produce a four-track demo tape to be distributed for free. Timed simultaneously with this release, the band had changed its name from POWER to the long-standing SIAM SHADE. Shortly after, wayward guitarist DAITA was brought back to the lineup, and for a period they loosely emulated their more visual peers, in looks alone.
What brought SIAM SHADE success was their wide appeal, drawing in both fans of the arguably new Western-influenced rock scene with their compositions, and fans of pop and softer music with their non-threatening looks and smooth vocals. 1997 brought the song 1/3 Junjou no Kanjou to the ending credits of famous anime Rurouni Kenshin, which hurled the band headlong into mainstream popularity, and is to this day perhaps what they’re still most well-known for.
In 2002, SIAM SHADE played its “last live” at Budokan, and officially reformed to the delight of fans just back in 2013. It was no surprise that they were a major draw for music fans at LUNATIC FEST.
Amidst the soft-v styling the band sported upon entering, shockingly pink-haired Jun-ji stood out, and so did his drum kit with its bass drum emblazoned with the recent Rhythm & Drum Magazine cover photo taken with SHINYA. It wasn’t long before SIAM SHADE launched into full-swing with D.Z.I.‘s high-energy backing shouts and double bass drumming so rapid it was hard to tell where one beat stopped and another began!
Hideki’s vocals rang clear and brilliantly through songs like Still We Go and rough where needed in heavier numbers. Dreams was laid down with a bass-drum foundation and a layer of power chords, courtesy of the talented DAITA and KAZUMA. It was one of the set’s stand-out tracks for its harmonic vocals and shredded guitar solo section which, live, was a shining example of just how well a softer rock band can fit in with their less-conventional peers.
BLACK and GET A LIFE turned the set up to eleven with lower guitar lines, heaving bass, and Hideki’s grungy rasping vocals. These crowd pleasers had the audience going wild with energy that was impossible to dissipate even after the set closed out with the next song, Don’t Tell Lies.
Following this stellar appearance, SIAM SHADE is gearing up to celebrate their 20th anniversary in October at Saitama Super Arena. If you saw them at LUNATIC FEST. and are hungry for more, or if you’re looking for some lighter (but still rocking!) visual kei, this is your chance to check them out!
Tags: SIAM SHADE