Dir en grey, to those who are not familiar with the name, are a Japanese metal band that had originally been known as an indie 90″s v-kei band La:Sadie”s. After Kisaki”s departure from La:Sadie”s in 1997, the band broke up, regrouped, and renamed itself Dir en grey, after the 1993 Lareine song. Toshiya replaced Kisaki on bass; the rest of the lineup remained the same. The rest of the lineup is Kyo (vocal), Kaoru (guitar), Die (guitar) and Shinya (drums). Dir en grey had originally been a visual kei band as well.
However, thirteen years, seven full albums, and a countless amount of singles later, Dir en grey have transformed themselves into the band that is leading the Asian Invasion into the hearts and minds and radio lineups of mainstream Western audiences. Now… they look more like… THIS.
I have had the priviledge of seeing two of the three Gramercy shows last year: the Wednesday show, when they played one of my all-time favorites, “Akuro No Oka”; and the Friday show, that still equates with the most epic mosh pit stories my friends still tell. (Now, I usually mosh at shows, but not ever at Dir en grey. I might be crazy, but to go in the Dir en grey mosh pit is suicide.) This time around, I have had the pleasure of seeing them three times, for a total of five.
- Nokia theatre, from my really bad cellphone cam. While waiting in line, we told everyone we were there to see Justin Bieber and Kanye.
First off, was the show at Nokia Theatre in my fair hometown, New York City. New York, the craziest, most wonderful city to live in. However, not such a wonderful show. I”m not saying it was bad, it was rather good, but of all the Dir en grey shows I”ve gone to, this one is probably I enjoyed the least, although I had some wonderful friends with me. However, sometimes, I find myself at a show, and embarrassed to be there as another fan of the band, because of the other fans” behavior. I”m not saying, I hate all the other fans, but sometimes, the fangirls tend to go overboard.
HOWEVER. Important things. I enjoyed the Nokia theatre as a venue, because they were able to provide handicapped entrance for my friend, who”d broken her glasses a couple days before and is very nearsighted. It was very kind of them to accomodate this, despite the short notice. I was very impressed. Big thank you to them for this.
Dir en grey went on second, after Evaline. I was a bit disappointed to find that they played almost the same set as I saw they did in Toronto, with maybe a few changes in the order of the songs. One major complaint is that Dir en grey… couldn”t be heard. The fangirls were cheering so loudly, and Kyo”s mic was not loud at all, so all I heard half the time was the screams of “OH MY GOD DIR EN GREY!!” and the like. I was three people in, on Die”s side, relatively calm spot (except for when he came down from the stage so that the fans could touch him, which was very sweet of him). Probably, the best songs they”d played that night were “Vinushka”, and “Raiketsu Nariseba”, something I”d found a bit ironic. Also, another complaint is that I couldn”t even hear the opening of Sa Bir, because, again, the screams drowned it out. That is probably my only complaint about the performance.
This was also my first time seeing Apocalyptica. Everyone who”d come for Dir en grey left right after their set! I went to the back, but most people simply left the venue. Apocalyptica are amazing. It was definitely great seeing them. Adam Lambert of Three Days Grace had done a surprise unannounced appearance to sing the last song, which was “I”m Not Jesus” if I remember correctly.
I unfortunately had to skip the Boston Dir en grey show, because I had to work that day. I have heard reports that they”d played Saku, but this is currently unverified. So, the next show I went to was the August 27th show in Baltimore, Maryland. My friend Shadou drove.
Halfway out of New Jersey, we realised we could also afford to go to the Philadelphia show the next day if we slept in her car. So, of course…
- Halfway to Baltimore, we decided to go to the Philly show too…
We listened to Dir en grey and Apocalyptica the whole way there.
- Baltimore is very beautiful!
Finally, we arrived at the venue. The Ram”s Head live is part of a large courtyard of sorts, in which several different venues are housed. It was a very beautiful and convenient location, with a McDonalds, a Subway, and a 7-Eleven (also known as the savior of my existence) right nearby. The courtyard was filled with beautiful abstract sculptures of windmills and the like, trees, and paved with cobblestones. Because of venue policy, we had to wait inside, with air conditioning, away from the sun, which was totally fine by me. A jazz band were warming up outside in the courtyard, so those who wanted to go outside and have a smoke could enjoy the music if they were so inclined. I loved it.
There was only one person who came to the Baltimore show early with an Apocalyptica shirt! The rest of the line were distinctly Dir en grey fangirls and fans. This was very unlike New York City, where everyone turns up at least three hours early and makes it very clear which band they are there to see. It is as if New Yorkers have to dress in a way that makes their allegiance clearly identifiable and come pre-equipped with a hurry-up-and-wait mentality. In Baltimore, for the most part, people didn”t make it too clear whom they were there to see. One notable exception was three very cute guys in plastic viking helmets, who were probably not there for Dir en grey. Aside from them, the line was so tiny and so Dir en grey-focused that the members of Apocalyptica were able to simply walk in and out of the venue by the front entrance, carrying their cellos, right in front of our noses.
Inside the venue, the stage had a small catwalk. You can bet that Kyo and the others used it very beautifully, but we had once again been on the very side. Rule number one of going to Dir en grey concerts is, be on the very side, because that is the safest place to be. The closer you are to Kyo, the closer you are to certain death and being trampled by either fangirls or a mosh pit, neither of which is a pretty way to die.
The show itself… was definitely better than the show at the Nokia Theatre, but I found myself a little bored because, again, the fangirls wouldn”t shut up and let the music be heard, and it felt as if a little bit of energy was lacking. The set list had once again been the same, although, we”d gotten an encore of the remade “Zan” (it had originally appeared on nbso online casino reviews the GAUZE album, but was remastered for the “Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami” single, along with “Shokubeni”). I had been tempted to just buy the poster and go home, not going to the Philadelphia show. However, Shadou talked me out of that.
And I am glad she did, because the Philadelphia, PA show was amazing.
However, before I talk about that, I must mention that Apocalyptica had met with waiting fans outside the tour bus after the show and gave out autographs and took photos with anyone that wanted them. I”d been lucky enough to get autographs of everyone in Apocalyptica except for Mikko, the drummer, who”d sprained his ankle… but still played. Although he looked to be in considerable pain, he put on a stellar performance at both shows, and no tour dates were canceled. We didn”t stay for very long afterwards because we needed to drive to Philadelphia and maybe get some sleep, but I heard reports that Kaoru, Die and Toshiya had come out to do the same.
We arrived in Philadelphia sometime around 9am, to find that there was already a small line at the Electric Factory.
- We”re HERE!
The Electric Factory is located in a somewhat industrial neighborhood, and it”s quite a walk to Dunkin Donuts and CVS if you need to visit the bathroom or get food. Also, we had to wait in the sun, in very hot weather. The Electric Factory did give out water to everyone on line. Again, Apocalyptica managed to just wander around without anyone noticing them, because the line was 99% Dir en grey fans. For the most part of the line, I napped, so I couldn”t tell you if anything interesting happened.
Another notable thing, is that the Philadelphia show sold out.
- The golden ticket – bought at noon!
We were on Die”s side for this show, and we had a great spot. I think, all bands performed the best that day. The Philadelphia show had an amazing energy, and the audience were wonderful.
No matter how loud the fangirls screamed, Kyo”s voice rose high above them that night, flowing over us like waves in the sea. The other two nights, his voice had been simply lost within the screams and cheers. That night, I”d seen the same Dir en grey that had put on the shows at the Gramercy a year ago. It was the general consensus of all those that I spoke to that this was the best set Dir en grey had played since then. It was the most wonderful thing, to be so close that I could see them all so clearly, not be pushed, and hear them. I don”t think there are words that could describe it.
Again, there had been an encore, and again, they had played “Zan”. This night”s versions of “Hageshisa to…” and “Shokubeni” had also been the best I”d heard from them that year.
Even though I ended the night broke and tired, it was worth it.
I am glad I”d seen Dir en grey and Apocalyptica, but I wish Dir en grey had played some different songs in different cities. This would have been an especially good idea since here on the East Coast there is a tendency to follow a band from New York or Boston as far down the coast as financially and physically possible. Also, it was agreed upon that Dir en grey should definitely release another album before they come back, instead of playing the same songs over and over again to the same audience. I am extremely happy and grateful though that they chose to play this year. After Kaoru had said that the band wouldn”t be back until 2011 at the Kinokuniya panel last year in New York, I really wasn”t expecting them back so soon, and even if they only had one new song, I was glad to hear them live.
There are several dates that remain on the tour, and they are:
September 5 – Albuquerque New Mexico
September 7 – Las Vegas, Nevada
September 8 – Los Angeles, California
September 9 – San Francisco, California
September 11 – Seattle, Washington
You can find more details on Dir en grey and Apocalyptica”s myspace pages! I highly recommend going, if it is at all possble.
- Last view – goodbye, Philadelphia!