Zonbi (or Zombie) is still a relatively new band that’s made a bigger name for itself recently — big enough to kick off the final day of Visual Japan Summit. After George and Tatsurou welcomed attendees to day three, the curtain at the Visual stage opened to reveal… pitch blackness. But when the band got started with Hakaba de Lovesong, showing off Kanata’s crisp vocals and ability to rile the crowd into a frenzy, it was easy to get sucked in.
Kusari-hime introduced fun, “Thriller”-style furitsuke and brought with it a nice kind of mass appeal that made it easy for the early risers to get into the music. Bassist and songwriter Aoi Midori was a presence of his own on stage left, demonstrating how to thrash around during Abnormal Therapy. He also lent his voice in enthusiastic backup shouts.
Aoi Midori also took center stage on the microphone for one iteration of a repeating verse in the last song, Shineba Ii No Ni. The song brought with it intense headbanging and back-and-forth moshing which, surprisingly, the audience performed with ease in spite of the hour or the fact that this was just the beginning of the show.
Incredibly strong performers for an opening act, Zonbi held their own through and through, and when the curtains drew, the members stood posed with arms outstretched to top off their performance with a memorable final scene.
M0. 墓場 de ラヴソング (Hakaba de Lovesong)
02. 腐り姫 (Kusari-hime)
03. アブノーマル・セラピー (Abnormal Therapy)
04. 死ねばいいのに。(Shineba Ii No Ni.)
When the MICRO HEAD 4N’s took the Japan Stage, the party got started. SCANDALOUS got the audience jumping, clapping, and having a blast. Vocalist Nimo called for fans’ death voices in the song that followed, VOLCANATION.
In the MC that followed the third song, Deeper Than Black, bassist ZERO asked the audience how many people had heard of THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S. “Even if it’s a lie, raise your hands! Close your eyes and do it! No one’s looking at you!” More hands and laughter rose in the audience. “Wow!!!” the band exclaimed after seeing so many hands. On that note, they closed out their set on an upbeat note with MONSTER’S ROAR and SEVENTH COLOR.
03. Deeper Than Black~闇色の翼~ (Yami-iro no Tsubasa)
04. MONSTER’S ROAR
05. SEVENTH COLOR
NoGoD captured the audience’s attention before their set even began by performing a bit of X JAPAN’s Forever Love during their sound check. By show time, a massive crowd had gathered around the Visual Stage. Dancho looked like a cartoonish skeleton child, his book-shaped microphone (as in, it looks like he’s singing directly into a book) completing his fantastical air. The other members’ costumes were no less eyecatching. Kamikaze kicked off their set with a blast of energy.
The energy in their set only kept escalating. Audience participation was high for STAND UP!, and the guitars had their spotlight for Zetsubou, Bye Bye. It all came to a climax in Kakusei, the audience headbanging wildly. The band left the stage with the classic X JAPAN line, “We are…!” and we’re sure at least a few people were calling “NoGoD!”
01. 神風 (Kamikaze)
02. STAND UP!
03. 絶望、バイバイ。 (Zetsubou, Bye Bye.)
04. カクセイ (Kakusei)
Gossip’s set dove into heavy sounds and growling right out of the date. Clad in military-esque but dark, gothic costumes, we were drawn into a live house-like act for the first time on day 3. The visual presentation and musical sound that Gossip brought to the table could have been influenced by The GazettE and made for a very good show indeed.
During R-18 the crowd was curiously encouraged into a match of rock-paper-scissors with the vocalist. And when the stellar synchronization between guitarists Satsuki and Akane and bassist Zero wasn’t stealing the show, vocalist Saku was taking it away with his death-voice vocals and pleasantly shrill choruses.
After Saku rallied the arena to cheer section by section, Psycho-pas$ brought Gossip’s set to a close with a furious intensity. Despite appearances, when it came time to part Saku was all smiles, mirroring the many faces in the crowd.
02. お仕置きの時間 (Oshioki no Jikan)
03. とあるアイドルオタクの異常な愛情 (Toaru Idol Otaku no Ijou na Aijou)
D=OUT brought some beauty to the festival, their good looks drawing in an impressive crowd at the Visual Stage. The band recently left PS COMPANY, but they didn’t lose any of their steam. Kanden 18-gou kicked off their set with a classic visual kei rock sound and the furitsuke to go along with it. Hikou Shoujo followed, catchy, upbeat, and with some synthesizer sounds thrown in the middle.
MUSIC NIPPON, a fan favorite, was greeted with a gale of applause and cheers. Vocalist Kouki alternated between high-pitched vocals and even some screaming, fans responding with full-bodied oritatami and headbanging. D=OUT’s set closed with Hanasaku Beauty, a Japanese-inspired sound that also inspired a lot of smiles.
01. 感電18号 (Kanden 18-gou)
02. 飛行少女 (Hikou Shoujo)
03. MUSIC NIPPON
04. 花咲ビューティー (Hanasaku Beauty)
Despite the strict time limit on their set, Versailles was one of the few bands that chose not to rush through their introduction. The dramatic, backlist opening was just what the audience needed to be pulled in to this visual kei giant’s uniquely elegant atmosphere. The band began to play Aristocrat’s Symphony. Vocalist KAMIJO addressed the audience, “Bonjour! Let’s go!”
Sympathia followed, featuring one of HIZAKI‘s notorious technical and melodic guitar solos. KAMIJO waved a rose as he performed, eventually tossing it into the audience. After the song finished, he gave a heartfelt MC in which he expressed his gratitude for having the opportunity to play at Visual Japan Summit. He vowed that Versailles would continue to reach out into the world, starting with their upcoming show at Nippon Budokan.
Versailles closed their set out with The Revenant Choir, a speedy, symphonic metal tune that highlighted each members’ finesse. KAMIJO used this last song to introduce each member, and at the same time, say goodbye to the audience that came to witness Versailles’ world.
01. Aristocrat’s Symphony
03. The Revenant Choir
The introductory MC from George and Tatsurou was kept brief for the next act, as MUCC was only a few sets away and Tatsurou announced that he had to go put on his makeup. With little adieu, glamorous guitar, heavy bass, and electronic sounds brought the band onto stage, with the main screen fully utilized for visualizations. The entrance of Kirito, the renowned ex-Pierrot vocalist, brought a gush of cheering, and guitarist Karyu led off into the first song, Umbilical cord.
Things heated up with RIPOUTBREAK, regardless of which band they had come to see that day.
Both Karyu and Giru carried high energy throughout the set, whether they were strumming their guitars or lending their voices as backup. The visuals playing on video–ranging from dripping candles and bible passages, to scrolling computer code–meshed perfectly with the music for an immersive live experience. Given their performance, it would be hard to imagine an Angelo show as anything less than great.
01. Umbilical cord
04. Script error
The most peculiar opening of the day took place for Royz’s set: sans SE, the band entered in normal lighting with no particular staging, gathered in the middle of the stage for a huddle, and shouted together before dispersing to their respective spaces. It was hard to tell if this was an artistic choice or the result of technical limitations, but such an entrance felt the most down-to-earth of any we saw at the event.
After vocalist Subaru’s brief introduction, the audience was swept up into Emotions Energetic as ever, guitarist Kuina and bassist Koudai bounced along to the beat and whipped up the crowd’s excitement with a great guitar solo and a lot of action.
Playing just two acts after Versailles, the inclusion of LILIA — a song with an elegant, tanbi-kei sound — was right on the mark. The intense drumming by Tomoya never faltered, easily bumping this song up to, arguably, the highlight of the set.
Royz-branded penlights were broken out for ANTITHESIS (though attendees were encouraged to just wave their hands if they didn’t have one), and THE BEGINNING actually became the end of the set list. After they finished, Subaru enthusiastically addressed the audience once more: “Let’s rock again sometime! Visual kei is the best!!”
04. THE BEGINNING
Day 1 of Visual Japan Summit featured a lot of visual kei predecessors like LADIES’ ROOM, Kamaitachi, and more. Day 3 attendees were also lucky enough to get a blast from the past with the rocking 80’s sound of THE SLUT BANKS. The heavy bass of TOY kicked off their set, TUSK‘s unique voice throwing the audience back in time. In fact, 2016 marks the band’s 20th anniversary.
ROCK BABY was definitely a stand out tune in the set. TUSK ran and jumped across the stage to the catchy tune. the audience was treated to a classic guitar solo by Sandaime ACE DRIVER. The pace picked up with Pandemic Dance before they finally closed out with NoisyLove. TUSK shouted one last “Rock’n roll!” to the audience before exiting the stage.
02. デビルモンキースパナ (Devil Monkey Spanner)
03. 東京迷子 (Tokyo Maigo)
04. 雨に打たれたとでも思へ (Ame ni Utareta to demo Omo e)
05. ROCK BABY
06. Pandemic Dance
Kiyoharu got liftoff in the early days of visual kei as the frontman of the legendary band Kuroyume, and is still without a doubt a living, breathing legend of a person. The crowd swelled to see his solo appearance at the festival, which opened with a very simple stage setting: a chair with a small, round table full of drinks before it, and a single, conceptual light behind it which looked like a streetlamp.
The musician himself entered with a comfortable-looking poncho and carrying an e-cigarette and a guitar. Without speaking a word, he took a seat with the guitar across his lap and jammed for a few seconds, then gave a brief introduction. Then he (and his backup guitarists) went straight into an acoustic version of the popular SADS song Boukyaku no Sora with the crowd going wild the moment the tune could be heard.
Over the course of the set, Kiyoharu set his guitar and poncho aside and ended up on his feet, occasionally hanging onto the light post. His movements were very calm and controlled — swaying, reaching out, gazing up, every subtle bit of his performance did that much more to captivate his audience.
Red lighting washed the stage with a spotlight on Kiyoharu during the emotional performance of Kuroyume’s Alone, the highlight of the set. No song better demonstrated Kiyoharu’s ability to dictate an audience’s emotions as his voice grew passionate or saddening to suit the music. The intriguing, expert performance was not only a welcome rest from the intensity of the other acts, but a moving experience for attendees as well.
01. 忘却の空 (Boukyaku no Sora)
02. 空白ノ世界 (Kuuhaku no Sekai)
03. アロン (Alone)
Reports by Ku and Shannon
Photos: © VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 Powered by Rakuten.