A(Ace) Production Event in Celebration of Tales from the Abyss release
Preceding the main event was a recital by a suspiciously familiar pair who regaled the “crew” of the ship-set they stumbled upon with a performance of Disney classics on guitar and violin, they soon realized they would need some more variation to win their crowd over; a realization which led to performances of “Knife” by [Chi to]CELL[Houtai], “Todokanu Tegami” by DIAURA and “COLORS” by FEST VAINQUEUR. They then returned to the Disney theme “When You Wish Upon A Star” coupled with the Mickey Mouse anthem before wrapping it up with “He’s A Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean. Only then did they realize they had stumbled onto a “real life pirate ship” and quickly made a run for it!
Chi to Houtai
The curtains parted to reveal a host of figures decked head to toe in blood-splattered bandages, one poor soul strung out horrifically from dirty rags linking across the stage. However, Kon soon broke free, his escape making a strong impression for the opening scene of Chi to Houtai’s special guest appearance.
The smoky air was burnished with red and green hues, accenting the blood-stained white base of the band’s costumes and dirty red hair. Kon’s voice took on a strong twang and a full beat throughout “inspire” challenged the crowd to dive right in, a challenge accepted gleefully with the whipping of hair through the front rows. “Get over here!” Kon snarled, dragging the audience closer. For “eccentric Marxist,” he instructed, “Oritatami!(folding mat/action of folding at the waist in visial kei)” and the crowd took the order with relish as the band led the action, all bending at the same angle. The chorus was not so impressive but hot guitar and powerful drums took up the slack and the instrumentals repeated in a heated vamp, each member jumping up on the podium in turn to take his rightful place before the crowd.
Third and final, “Knife” sped up the pace, fists pumping to the energetic tune. Kon took a seat, turning to watch the band himself before climbing to his feet for his own vocal solo. The number finished with noisy jamming, drums crashing into the fray as MASATO twirled his sticks in the interim. Bassist YUKI pulled a dramatic exit, hauling the instrument over his shoulder as he stalked offstage.
It was a very oldschool performance with strong visual imagery and the band’s experience shone through, capturing the attention of an unfamiliar crowd.
- eccentric Marxist
A blast of music welcomed DIAURA, headbanging breaking out even as the curtain rose on “an Insanity.” Easily transitioning from a smooth dark tone to deep yelling, vocalist yo-ka was in complete and undisputed control. The catchy tune took standard melodic techniques and added a touch of original spice to the mix, creating a strong impact from start to finish. The crowd followed yo-ka’s directions like well-trained soldiers. “Shall we do a rare song?” yo-ka suggested. While bassist Shouya got the party started, the whole crowd leaping to the beat of “cult,” yo-ka enticed them into headbanging between lines in the verses, himself constantly full of violent movement that inspired the fans to greater heights.
“Yell our names,” yo-ka ordered into the pause. “Shibuya, are you all alive?” He went on to announce that the event would be their last performance in the current costumes and hair-styles. “But today is A(Ace)’s event, so all you A(Ace) fans—and FEST VAINQUEUR fans—let’s get crazy together!”
Hair flew everywhere to the wicked beat of “Reason for Treason,” Kei taking a hot guitar solo while bass and drums backed him up with funk. Shouya roared out the death voice amid the poppy groove of the bitter melody. A shout of “Let’s become one!” preceded “EVER” full of more catchy melody and hands raised in the air throughout the instrumentals. The zenith of the song came as yo-ka’s voice reached the peak, his vibrato ringing out before dicing into the chorus. “Let’s get wild for the last one!” The vocalist began gently crooning to the crowd or else endlessly shouting, the word “Last!” repeated again and again until he challenged, “Who is you master?” He left a brief pause to let the crowd pre-empt him. “I am!”
Charring the stage in orange light, figurative cinders whipped up into a red firestorm as thrashing hair fanned the flames. Nasty riffs and full-blown attitude took up most of “MASTER” though the crowd had their chance to sing sweetly to a soft piano backing before one final, charming chorus.
“This is dictatorship! Thank you!” finished yo-ka.
- an insanity
- Reason for Treason
Heavy opening music brought FEST VAINQUEUR to the stage, KAZI clapping overhead in encouragement to the crowd while HIRO flashed his brilliant grin around. Rolling his sticks up in prep for the opening number, KAZI paused only a moment before HAL powered in with the gripping introduction of “Unlimited.”
While the band’s support guitarist proved his talent time and again, a lack of chances to practice together were detrimental to the performance, causing brief lapses in the guitar melody and giving HAL pause before his entrances, yet the performance was nothing if not passionate. The band over-rode their troubles with energy and enthusiasm and the crowd happily forgave all. KAZI’s sticks twirled constantly between strikes and he crunched into the instrumental, stringing the crowd along with his strength before HAL sang out his ringing solo.
At the peak of excitement, HAL screamed out, “We’re FEST VAINQUEUR! Come at us with all your strength!” Racing guitar in a bright, ringing tone had the crowd bouncing in short order and they responded equally as sharply to HAL’s signal to headbang. “gendaiteki-giwakutoshi’DOUBT!!’” flowed much more smoothly than the difficult opening number. “It’s oritatami time!” HAL warned, and the crowd dove into the instrumental, head first. “Now let’s beat that two fold!” he cried, initiating a repeat. All of his smiles burnt up in the angry, powerful finale. “We’re HAL VAINQUEUR” he announced with all seriousness, riding the wave.
Following the number, HAL introduced, “Super guitarist, YO-!” who would also be lending the band his skills for their appearances in the Stylish Wave Summer tour. His explanation that they had only practiced together once before the show explained a few things, but it seemed that didn’t stop YO- from getting chummy with the band. “We got all excited about turtles in the dressing room!” HAL exclaimed, showing a portion of that very excitement. “KAZI likes turtles, too!”
KAZI was even more enthusiastic. “I LOVE them! I had, like, 12 when I was in elementary school!”
After introducing himself to the crowd, YO- turned to HAL and invited him to become Ameba (friends on the Japanese blog site, Ameblo). When the vocalist laughed and wondered why he was bring that up onstage, YO- explained in pristine logic that FEST VAINQUEUR fans would be able to find his own blog easily if he and HAL were friends.
Getting back to the music, HAL started in a low tone for “Butterfly” but soon jumped up the octave. The rash performance and musical havoc were a solid precursor to the chaotic “Gouka rouen” in which towels flew off the handle. Dancing back, HIRO enticed YO- across the stage to groove with him, the guitarist pulling the song off splendidly. Repeating the same section of music with different themes, HAL then cried, “Today is A(Ace)’s event, so let’s dedicate this one to them! We are?” “A(Ace)!” the crowd returned, shaping their fingers into a triangular “A” symbol. It was a touching tribute to the stars of the event, FEST VAINQUEUR’s wild finish stoking the fire for the final band of the evening.
- Gouka rouen
Clouds rolled across the skies, settling on a sunset above a wide open, orange sea as a musical voice told the story of the unfolding journey. “A stands for…” She went on the list all of the special qualities beginning with the letter A, summing up with, “A(Ace).”
By the final word, the band were cloaked in darkness on the stage, ready to break out the first number. During an intro of violin, vocalist Nimo surveyed the crowd, diving into headbanging together then dancing to the groovy music. At last, he set his voice free, revealing the famous tune of “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.” Throughout the number, A(Ace) submersed the crowd fully in their angry, symphonic sound, Rookie Fiddler’s violin trilling over hot guitar while the crowd were propelled forward at the waist by the tough beat.
“Night Of The Knights” brought operatic harmony and counter-melody from Rookie’s lips and the violinist’s knees bent low as he swayed vigorously to the crunching beat despite his own lilting music and Nimo’s warm vocal tones. “MASQUARADE” began with Rookie unabashedly showing off his skill in a solo that never gave away the piece yet it grew heavy in an instant, and Nimo held up a towel as the crowd scrambled for theirs. The towels cut the air, sultry Spanish rhythms flared up by the crashing drums. Another freestyle violin solo atmospherically opened “Goddess” with a similar tune to the previous number yet slower and sexier. With a heavier grind than previous incarnations, the number featured rich guitar enhanced with subtle twitches of violin.
An instant transition to gentle piano heralded “Koukyoushi FREEDOM ITanchou,” a ballad burning with restrained passion. Rookie’s fingers effortlessly ran the ivory to perfection and Nimo’s vocals were almost a shock when the vocalist joined in after the long musical interlude, yet the combination blended to become as beautiful as ever until Rookie took his ire out on the instrument, slamming the keys angrily in a prelude to the jarring entrance of strong guitar and drums. Chouji, A(Ace)’s acting support guitarist, stepped up with a feisty solo full of angst and emotion, Nimo embodying the music with arms spread wide and face tilted to the rafters. Diving, he took the mic stand with him as he bent low to power out the remainder of the emotional chorus.
“Black Butterfly” brought dramatic hard-rock to the set, Toshi digging into the bass line with relish while Nimo channeled his inner rocker, executing a rock star jump off the platform and cool little convulsive flicks of shoulders and head perfectly timed to the musical accents. However, he abandoned the attitude to welcome a familiar face to the stage. “Muchos Gracias!” The former A(Ace) guitarist met with Chouji at center stage for a guitar duel, the two facing off and getting down together. Though Muchos’ appearance was short but sweet, “Kanaria” spurred the crowd on, Rookie vocalizing some operetta into the intro in another fresh entrance to an old song. “Let’s see your heads going up the back there!” Nimo suggested, the crowd losing a head of height as they ducked to toss their locks about. In the silhouetted lighting, Rookie’s sawing motions made a stark image.
“Welcome to A(Ace)’s event, ‘Amaoto no Utage!’” cried Nimo. Untimely laughter prompted a rapid change of topic, however. “Okay, I can see that everyone wants to bring this up but no-one is brave enough to mention it,” he sighed, gesturing to his hair. “It’s short, right? I know. Stick with me. It’ll grow back,” he promised. “I don’t think it will be back for tomorrow’s oneman, though,” he added regretfully. Unintentionally short hairstyles aside, Nimo spared a moment for the performers of the day. He thanked “Chi to Houtai” for their inspiring performance as old-hats of the VK scene, teased DIAURA’s fans, teased only HAL of FEST VAINQUEUR and then progressed onto the weather. “We called (this event) ‘Amaoto (Sound of the Rain) no Utage (Party)’ but it’s sunny! We can thank FEST VAINQUEUR for that, I think. But tomorrow will be rain!” he promised with just a touch too much smugness. “We’re going to Europe soon. We’ll eat lots of tasty food and tweet about it at weird times,” he foretold.
“Viva La Casta!” took the band and their fans to the groovy old slums of New Orleans, Nimo dancing wholeheartedly and warning the back of the hall he could see them moshing (or not!) when the fun chorus came about. Violin pulled a mocking-bird effect, mimicking Nimo’s vocal melody and Rookie’s grin was blinding as he swayed widely to the music. All too soon, the number ended, bringing on the final song, the vivacious “NUDE.” Cracking like a musical whip, the song sent heads flying even before Nimo yelled out the order to headbang. It careened to a wild finish, the band jamming on as countless finger triangles rose into the air to form the symbolic “A” gesture. Parading forward with his own fingers raised, Rookie reflected frenzied energy back at the crowd in farewell.
Encore: BLUE PLANET JAPAN
When A(Ace) returned for their encore with Mucho Gracias in tow, the crowd waited in silent anticipation as Rookie announced there would be no more A(Ace songs). He began talking about the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan a little over a year before, pausing only to reprimand Nimo and Toshi for playing with Mucho’s hair during such a solemn speech. Despite the topic, the mood was light as Rookie’s purpose was not to dampen spirits, but rather to prepare the way for something special.
“Seeing as FEST VAINQUEUR are here today, making up two of the three founding bands of BLIE PLANET JAPAN, we would like to perform our charity song for you,” he announced. However, FEST VAINQUEUR were not the only special guests for the encore. From DIAURA, yo-ka and Kei joined the group, explaining that they come from Tohoku and had wanted to do something at the time but were simply glad that they could be involved even in retrospect. Once the selected members of the day’s performances were gathered, there was one final surprise to be had.
“Special guest and Blue Planet Japan member, Yugiri!” announced Rookie.
No sooner did Yugiri appear than a DaizyStripper towel shot up into the air in the crowd, Nimo laughing as he scolded, “Did you swing that for A(Ace)?”
After announcing that the proceedings from the charity song “Hitotsu Dake ~We Are the One~” had been donated to schools in Tohoku and that the project would continue hopefully with performances in the Tohoku area, the touching performance began. For the first time, it was played with a majority of live instruments as opposed to the massive orchestral backing enhanced with the talents of a vast number of musicians. Kazi from FEST VAINQUEUR took the drums while Kei of DIAURA played alongside Mucho Gracias. The lyrics were split evenly between the vocalists, letting each of them take the lines most suited to their unique and varied voices. The four vocalists hooked arms about each others’ shoulders during the long instrumental, swaying gleefully.
It was a beautiful ending to a great evening, bringing together a variety of bands and fans and a genuine love of live music. First run at producing their own event a glowing success, A(Ace) more than proved themselves for the exciting oneman to come the following day and European tour bound to begin only days later.
- A Cruel Angel’s Thesis
- Night Of The Knights
- Koukyoushi FREEDOM ITanchou
- Black Butterfly
- Viva La Casta
Encore (Blue Planet Japan)
- Hitotsu dake ～We Are The One～