LIVE REPORT — BABYMETAL (ベビーメタル) has concluded their North American leg of their BABYKLOCK TOUR 2023 after performing several sold out concerts nation-wide with co-headliners DETHKLOK of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse fame. A second show on October 12, 2023 was specially added to their Los Angeles, CA stop at the YouTube Theater after selling out the first night, thus wrapping up the epic two-month long, 29-date tour.
For those not in the know, BABYMETAL is a Japanese “kawaii” metal band with female members Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal), Moa Kikuchi (Moametal) and Momoko Okazaki (Momometal) as the faces of the group. Conceptualized in 2010, the band, produced by Kobametal, is a fusion of Japanese idol and heavy metal music, culminating in a unique sound of pop and rock. The girls provide vocals and synchronized dance, while session musicians, known as the “Kami Band” (or “God Band,” summoned by the Fox God), play the heavy metal instrumentals in the background.
Their distinctive visuals and costumes, often clad in red and black, have been heavily inspired by punk and Japanese Gothic and Lolita styles. In previous eras, they’ve drawn influence from their lore, dawning a “kitsune” or fox mask and wa-lolita, kimono style dress. More recently, and particularly for this tour, their attire have an edgier and more geometric silhouette with a holographic sheen, toeing in line with their new galactic concept.
Unable to perform live for their 10th year anniversary due to the pandemic, this concert series marked the first time the group has been back in the US since their previous world tour in 2019. It is also the first tour performing with the new core lineup, with member Momometal replacing Yui Mizuno (Yuimetal’s) spot after her departure from the group in 2018.
Momoko Okazaki aka Momometal of BABYMETAL | Photo by Maya Kuraki, Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi
The dichotomy of cute, charismatic young women with sweet vocals, dancing against the backdrop of intense metal music differentiated them from other Japanese idol groups and metal acts at the time. The viral music video “Gimme chocolate!!” (ギミチョコ！！) released in 2014, is credited as the turning point for the group that eventually garnered interest overseas. Since their debut, the group has released four studio albums and twelve live albums. The newest 10-track concept album, THE OTHER ONE, was released in spring earlier this year.
On the last day of the U.S. tour, folks were lined up hours early prior to door opening, aiming to get to the barricade and as close to the front of the stage as possible. Unlike the previous night where co-headliner DETHKLOK had closed, BABYMETAL was set to perform last on this day.
Moa Kikuchi aka Moametal of BABYMETAL | Photo by Maya Kuraki, Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi
An air of heavy anticipation grew as the lights dimmed and a video introduction of the BABYMETAL lore and “METALVERSE” opened the performance. “Are you ready to headbang?” The red, pulsating strobe lights enveloped the venue, triggering the heavy beats of the drum and guitar riffs of “BABYMETAL DEATH.” The members strutted in long strides onto the center stage in tempo. As the bold rhythm intensified, fans raised their hands to form BABYMETAL’s signature “kitsune” or fox hand pose as screams and roars erupted in the crowd and began aggressively headbanging and fist bumping to the tune. Midway through the show, a mosh pit had formed in the back of the general admission area, as bodies circled and slammed against each other to the fervent beats. Near the front, audience members were lifted into the air and began crowd surfing before eventually being pulled back down.
Intimidating as a newcomer attending a metal show can be, BABYMETAL is different in that they’ve managed to draw fans from so many walks of life. Those who don’t typically listen to metal and those who don’t typically listen to pop have coalesced at this concert. The fanbase has generally been very welcoming and, at times, feels like family. Surprisingly, even parents have been spotted bringing their children to the show, albeit away from the pit and seated in the back of the venue. There’s really a little something for everyone.
SETLIST (October 12, 2023)
- BABYMETAL DEATH
- Gimme Chocolate!!
- PA PA YA!!
- Mirror Mirror
- METALI!! (preceded by KAMI Band solos)
- Road of Resistance
- Ijime, Dame, Zettai
Official Website: http://babymetal.com/
X (Formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com/BABYMETAL_JAPAN