Welcoming lovers of visual kei and X Japan was X…SUGINAMI! The “fake” X Japan (who jokingly asked fans to look carefully to tell the difference), X-SUGINAMI brought the classic visual kei feel and anticipation to the early morning crowd. Despite it being nine in the morning, fans woke up to some of their favorite songs blasting on stage. Pulling the crowd into the chant “We are X,” vocalist Dancho of NoGod hyped up the crowd dressed as Toshi with his crazy gravity-defying hair and providing the vocals for a proper tribute that was sure to make X proud.
Guitarists Miya of MUCC and Yuu of MERRY shed some mad riffs together as they opened with BLUE BLOOD. The familiar tune caught the crowd’s enthusiasm and everyone cheered. Knocking some beats into the song, drummer Daisuke (ROACH) picked up the pace of a slow morning. Bassist Akane (PLINK?) added some feminine flair to the group with her dedicated bass pulling the ensemble together.
Dancho’s deep voice brought a unique flare to VANISHING LOVE, and the last song X was a fitting end. The crowd jumped along with the song, crossing their arms into an x and passionately shouting “X!” X-SUGINAMI knew what they were doing when it came to raising the hype and (blue) blood in the fans waiting for X Japan. Definitely a fitting opening to a great show.
01. BLUE BLOOD
02. VANISHING LOVE
Vocalist LEONEIL brought the visual kei look to life with a glam style including feather sleeves. Opening with the more modern visual kei electronic L’Abime -dizzy disco-, his deep voice commanded the crowd’s attention. Purple lighting brought a sensual atmosphere, and LEONEIL added this to fan-favorite LOVE AGAIN by brandishing a whip. A little early in the morning for the racy performance, but that didn’t stop guitarist YUTO from adding to this dark mystique in コズミック・ナイト (Cosmic Night) with extraordinary guitar skills.
And in their last song, DEAD OR DANCE, the crowd got hyped back up with heavier guitar chords by YUTO, who picked up the pace and the anticipation for this great event. The deep colors of the red and blue stage helped set the mood for the day. When their elegant performance was over, they gracefully walked off stage, fans cheering in admiration.
01. L’Abime -dizzy disco-
02. LOVE AGAIN
03. コズミック・ナイト (Cosmic Night)
04. DEAD OR DANCE
A lengthy introduction video played and explained to the crowd that Speed of Lights are a group of astronauts that are on a mission to search space. As with all space missions, the concert began with a 10 second countdown, but the countdown was nearly aborted several times as the fans, or ‘crew’ as Speed of Lights call them, were not being loud enough. When the volume in the hall was sufficient, the band took to the stage in full astronaut outfits and helmets covering their faces. Visual Japan Summit was only the band’s second concert, or ‘mission’, but the band showed no nerves.
Commander/vocalist Cutt was discovered by X Japan’s hide back in 1991 and has had a long solo career, as well as working with bands shame and ORCA, so despite the young life of the band he’s no stranger to performing. His vocals were filtered through a vocoder, but it suits the bouncy sound of the songs and the astronaut gimmick.
Speed of Lights showed a variety to their music in WARP, as Payload Specialist/keyboard player SHOKO delivered a piano solo that would not have sounded out of place in a jazz club. The final song of the set, CARRY ON, saw the crowd jumping along and enjoying the music. If Speed of Lights set out to introduce themselves to a wider audience, then they can consider it mission accomplished.
01. SPEED OF LIGHTS
03. 宇宙無双 (Uchū Musō)
04. CARRY ON
More on the metal side of the spectrum, BEAST was maybe too much metal for the early morning crowd. A dark red stage and vocalist G.B.B. screaming into the introduction song METRO. Newcomers to the band got a taste of the metal and hip-hop fusion that really made this band stand out from the others. However, when he wasn’t screaming or rapping, BEAST’s vocalist still showed visual kei roots in classic and clear vocals familiar to the visual kei genre. Fans near the stage were also lucky enough to get a close-up of his tattooed torso when he fanned his shirt open during Chemical for that sensual mode.
Both guitarist NAGANO and bassist AKILLA could be seen headbanging their long hair to SIS and LR-7. Heavier songs got G.B.B. into a frenzy, and around the time Lynch was playing, he fell to the floor screaming into his mic, frantically rolling around as if attacked by his demons. With guttural screams into the mic, G.B.B. enticed the crowd to scream along after him. Ending with a loud police siren, the rambunctious gang left the stage.
The stage was a haze of green light as Anli Pollicino made their entrance. Their first song, Time, was a slow start to the show, but it soon became louder and lively, much to the delight of the crowd assembled in front of the Visual stage. Second song Labyrinth saw some tight guitar work from guitarists Takumi and Yo-1, and there was also an excellent solo from Takumi to excite the crowd.
Vocalist Shindy dropped his mic during Slave Machine, but it was only a momentary blip as he quickly recovered and carried on as it if hadn’t happened. The catchy melody from Shindy was neatly backed up by darker, growled vocals from the bass player.
The final song of Anli Pollicino’s short set was Shirayuri Vanessa, a big favorite of the fans in attendance. Anli Pollicino worked hard to get the crowd on their side, not an easy task this early in the day, and it was successful.
03. Slave Machine
04. 白百合ヴァネッサ (Shirayuri Vanessa)
With an electronic opening with drums, CLØWD finally walked on the Japan Stage to the bright cheer of many fans. Tugging at the fans’ longing for some of their favorite songs, they first stalled with piano and dramatic drums, then diving into the poppy beat of Noroshi. Vocalist Kou brought bright, heavy, and hip-hop vocals to the crowd, and a unique touch that fans love. Toning things down with Tomorrowland, Kou rapped along to the hip beat of Tatsuru‘s drums.
Ryouhei‘s bass in RUDENESS RESORT got the crowd moving their bodies and waving their hands side to side. Ending with #Natsu no Binetsu, high energy from the stage transferred to the crowd–everyone was jumping to the beat. Iori and Touma really picked up the pace as they picked their guitars. Leaving on that high note and high energy set the mode of the event, and both fans and the crowd were left feeling excited for what the rest of the day held.
01. 狼煙 (Noroshi)
03. RUDENESS RESORT
04. #夏の微熱 (#Natsu no Binetsu)
Attracting a large crowd, fans anxiously awaited the appearance of this band. Raising their anticipation first, a video showcasing an expo in Paris played and gave fans an idea how far and wide Psycho le Cému is loved. Keeping with a mixture of RPG and theater, the introduction of the band members consisted of a character select. Oiran AYA, Hotokesama Lida, parallel traveler DAISHI, punk monster seek, and thief prince Yura-sama were all selected and faced a dragon…and won! But against the God character Yoshiki…they didn’t stand a chance.
In order to come back to life, they clapped and danced to BLADE DANCE and Gekiai Merry-go-round, while DAISHI commanded the audience with his clear and crisp vocals. The crowd was also more than ecstatic to join in. Bringing back a classic visual kei feel with a cheerful show, the crowd also lent their ‘power’ with cheers and clapping in sync with the music.
Asking the crowd for power, fans responded and jumped to Ai no Uta and Akiramenai DAYS as various random characters danced on stage. Yura-sama and AYA led the crowd in dancing and clapping, while seek and Lida raised the power by strumming guitar and bass madly. Closing the stage with REMEMBRANCE, everyone could feel the energy and Yura-sama’s drums through both the air and the ground. Fist-pumping into the air, the crowd had a good time and were able to really let lose.
01. BLADE DANCE -SHORT Ver.-
02. 激愛メリーゴーランド (Gekiai Merry-go-round)
03. 愛の唄 (Ai no Uta)
04. あきらめないDAYS (Akiramenai DAYS)
Unlike most of the bands that played before them, HERO’s set didn’t start with a lavish intro or with one of their most popular songs, instead it began with singer Jin politely introducing the band to the many new faces in the crowd. Throughout the set, Jin worked hard to get not only the long standing HERO fans to enjoy the set, but also the audience that didn’t know who they were and were seeing them for the first time. The first song to you… was a good choice, as the crowd that had assembled in front of the Visual stage jumped along with the bouncy opener.
The introductions continued, as Jin advised the crowd to check out the band on YouTube. “Search on YouTube for HERO, that’s H-E-R-O. But, we’re not [SMAP member and actor] Kimura Takuya’s TV drama Hero, we’re the visual kei HERO!” The crowd were reminded that they are indeed the visual kei HERO by a performance of Country Road, a song taken from their most recent album, with guitarist SARSHI’s solo being a definite highlight.
The final song was Soprano, and it was met with an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. The regular call and response that usually accompanies the song was changed to reflect the special occasion, and the fans in attendance loudly shouted “Visual Summit is awesome!” on Jin’s cue. With one last cry of “Follow us on Twitter!”, HERO left the stage having thoroughly introduced themselves to everyone in the hall.
01. to you…
03. カントリーロード (Country Road)
04. ソプラノ (Soprano)
Daizystripper opened their set with a show of respect, as hide’s iconic yellow and pink guitar was placed before Kazami’s drumkit. The crowd appreciated the gesture, and politely applauded as the first song, STARGAZER began. With only Kazami on piano as backing, Yugiri’s voice rang out around the hall in a clear and impressive way. The rest of the band joined in shortly after, but the simplicity of the songs start was a highlight of Daizystripper’s set.
In contrast to the sombre start, STAY GOLD saw the Daizystripper fans in attendance explode into action and the area in front of the JAPAN stage became a sea of swinging towels. Mayu’s guitar solo was on target, as he playfully interacted with Yugiri.
Mayu and rhythm guitarist Nao’s guitar harmonies and duelling solos powered the final song of the set, SUMMER VACATION. Before leaving the stage Yugiri advertised Daizystripper’s forthcoming show at Tokyo Dome City and said “Thank you for your music, hide.”
02. STAY GOLD
03. SUMMER VACATION
The first of the lineup to truly bring back the feel of the 80’s and 90’s, Kamaitachi did not disappoint fans looking for that classic punk rock feel. Aside from a one-day 30th anniversary live, there had not been a reunion of the group since 1991 until this event. Fans rejoiced at the chance to catch this rare gathering. After opening with a neon stage, a haunting woman’s voice, 80’s techno, and an air horn, Kenzi (red pigtails and all) eventually welcomed the crowd with Ka MARCH and the punk rock beats of the drums picking up the energy of the crowd even further. Vocalist Sceana brought energetic punk vocals to the stage that brought a unique flavor and a classic feel to the event.
With the help of guitarist Kazzy and bassist MOGWAI, things got a little heavier with Jiyū no Megami, before calming down to the more romantic and gengtle I LOVE YOU. After bringing down the mood to a calmer state, the band couldn’t just leave it like that. With a strong pace and beat, KILL YOURSELF brought the crowd back to life and got them shouting and headbanging.
01. かMARCH (Ka MARCH)
02. NO THANK YOU
03. みにくいあひるのこ (Minikui Ahiru no Ko)
04. 妖怪ROCK！ (Yōkai ROCK!)
05. 自由の女神 (Jiyū no Megami)
06. TOY DOLL(S)
07. I LOVE YOU
08. KILL YOURSELF
Following the hard rock feel of Kamaitachi, UNiTE brought a completely different vibe and sound to the stage. Vocalist Yui welcomed fans and the crowd to the show, and the band not only pulled in a crowd, they dressed rather professionally with a formal black and white look–quite the contrast from the rockers before them. It truly helped the crowd see the vast variation of visual kei–sound-wise, fashion-wise–and showed quite an evolution of the genre. Immediately jumping into the sound of small world order, Yui got the crowd clapping and jumping energetically. Mio, with his bob-cut, rocked the stage on his guitar in the faster pace of ice.
Sana got a little crazier on the drums, Yui’s vocals became a bit darker, and the crowd started to head-bang to Love_Duck_Core_Nothing. The song brought out a new flavor to the band that newcomers were just learning and really built up the energy in the atmosphere. Despite being a large crowd, most were in sync with their cheers and hands in the air. Moving on to their single Jupiter that was released earlier this year, Haku‘s bass brought some low notes to keep the crowd in sync as they jumped and waved their hands. LiN‘s guitar solos brought everything together for a grand show that didn’t disappoint fans and likely garnered the group some new followers. All in all, UNiTE delivered their usual upbeat sound and uplifted the mood, leaving everyone refreshed and ready for the next half of bands.
01. small world order
04. ジュピタ (Jupiter)