G#: girugamesh’s Sharp Return at Shibuya AX

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, chi.yow, posted December 2, 2013

girugamesh made a smashing comeback to the music scene at the renowned Shibuya AX on October 13. When the band took a lengthy hiatus to reevaluate the direction of their music, many fretted for their future but this pause of activity proved to be beneficial as girugamesh reestablished their bonds with each other, and with a fan base who had faithfully awaited their return.

The hall was packed to the brim with fans that excitedly waited for the band to make their entrance. The tension noticeably spiked as the lights went down and “WELCOME TO “G#’” flashed across the curtain before the members’ back-lit silhouettes appeared, setting off a chorus of cheers and claps. The wait came to an end as the curtain fell and Satoshi welcomed the crowd with a powerful growl before starting into “Drain,” the leading track for their upcoming MONSTER album.

Drain” was a promising start to the night, featuring their new sound in a guitar-heavy song that included a mixture of dub-step elements. The vocalist ran over to the right side of the stage to motion for the crowd to start jumping while Яyo occasionally stood to better see the crowd over his drum set. Nii rid himself of his hat by flinging it into the crowd in order to start a headbanging session. Then, “Are you ready, Shibuya?” Satoshi asked before the rip-roaring old favorite “Omaeni sasageru minikui koe” had the crowd thrashing and dancing about. Nii traveled all around the stage, at some point inexplicably laying down as he played. Following up, “Angry juice” had the entire venue shaking as jumped along to the catchy, bass-heavy tune in which ShuU skillfully strummed and slapped while staying stationary in contrast to the ever-energetic and dancing Nii.

“Good evening, this is girugamesh. Welcome to today’s one-man live, G#! Today is girugamesh’s first one-man since our hiatus. Today, we are really grateful to be standing on this stage for our return and to have so many people here waiting for us. This is amazing. Thank you so much,” Satoshi addressed the crowd. He talked of girugamesh’s return to activity as well as telling of the immense frustration the band suffered while on their break. He also made a nod to the fans who had suffered similarly. “So let’s get that built-up frustration out of our systems together today. Please treat us well!” The speech led up to “INCOMPLETE,” the flagship number of the release signaling the end of their activity pause. A laser light show shone around the space as Satoshi sang passionately and rapped out the lyrics while Яyo bashed away at his drums. The band then riled up the crowd through a series of yells from Satoshi and some dramatic posing from ShuU who plucked the strings of his bass before flying into “CRAZY-FLAG.” The hall was soon filled with guttural growls and cries of “Burning the flag!” with Satoshi leading the crowd in a violent release of pent-up energies. The fast pace continued as the funky intro to the high energy “MISSION CODE blared through the speakers. It was greeted with an overwhelming cheer before everyone continued to jump and clap to the beat. “Everyone, are you having fun?” Satoshi asked, receiving an affirmative roar as lights flashed around each of the other members while they played out their respective solos.

ShuU then introduced “Vision with a quick bass line before Satoshi gestured for the crowd to continue yelling and pumping their fists. The vocalist leaned forward at times as he sang, pouring out his emotions. “Hey everyone, let’s keep going!” Satoshi yelled before rapping out the first lines of “bit crash.” Яyo once again proudly displayed his skills as a drummer, standing once again to receive more cheers from the crowd before smashing into a furious and quick solo. The various spotlights turned everyone’s attention to the widely smiling drummer even as Nii’s fingers flew across the strings, Satoshi hurriedly singing along. Immediately following, the electronic intro of “ULTIMATE 4” sounded out before Nii and ShuU tore into the headbang-inducing song. “Is everyone going crazy?” was one of the questions posed during the course of the piece, the answer being a firm “Yes!’” As Satoshi came forward for another rapping session, ShuU and Nii joined Яyo on his drummer’s platform for their own little jam fest.

The lights faded out before the stage became awash with blue for “takt;” a slower and more emotionally laden song that gave the crowd a break from the jumping while allowing them to bask in the calmer atmosphere created as Satoshi’s alternately soft and rough voice rolled over them. The stage once again disappeared momentarily, to be slowly relit as Яyo tapped out the beginning of “Resolution.” The guitar and bass slowly filtered in before the pace picked up. “Are our songs echoing through your hearts?” Satoshi growlingly asked, arms spread wide to receive the crowd’s intensity.

He took a moment to reminisce of past memories. “We had a tour in all 47 prefectures in Japan four years ago and the final was here, AX. It was a dream to go around to the 47 prefectures as well as performing at AX. Although AX is going to close on May 31, 2014, I am so happy to perform here again before the end. This scenery cannot be seen again so please remember it forever.” After a brief pause, he then turned to the present. “I have two announcements today. I wanted to announce this by myself instead of announcing it onscreen. First, we will release our 1st best album next spring. Please look forward to it since it is our 10th anniversary next year… and I think everyone is longing for the 2nd announcement. Wait, shall I keep you in suspense?” The vocalist teased. “We are going to do a national tour next April! We are going all over the country with our best album, so look forward to it! Let’s get excited!”

Taking the excitement built up from the great news, girugamesh continued the show with the aggressive “Shadan,” ShuU and Nii running about the stage as they played. The next song gave the crowd another taste of what else to look forward to in girugamesh’s latest album with “antlion pit” which was rather reminiscent of their early, heavy style as Satoshi growled—backed by Nii and ShuU—before ending the song with a wail. Sirens then announced the start of “DIRTY STORY” and Яyo once again stood up from his stool as he played on, to further pump the crowd. “Are you ready?” Satoshi called out. The crowd cheered before yells of “I wanna be a sincere man” were exchanged between vocalist and fans. Яyo concluded the song with an extended, rolling drum line and lights flashed as he pounded the drums.

“Okay, everyone, let’s keep going. Are you having fun? I don’t want a single person holding back, now!” Fortunately, the crowd still had the energy Satoshi was looking for as “smash!!” took no prisoners with its aggressive rhythm and yells. Although they weren’t finished just yet, Nii and ShuU briefly exchanged a high-five when they passed each other as the song came to a crashing finale. Nii then took time to wander about the stage, strumming a few chords as he made his way over to the center of the stage to play out a number of different riffs and notes. He looked over the crowd as if challenging them to show how much energy they retained before the intro to “Zecchou BANG!!” came through the speakers. The audience eagerly joined into the cheers throughout the song and danced away despite the more somber, straightforward version the band now presented. “Hey, Shibuya AX, keep bringing it until the end!” Satoshi cried. For the finish, “Never ending story” once more transformed the entire floor into a swirling mass of minor chaos as Satoshi called out for everyone to dance and jump.

After only the few moments needed to change into their concert T-shirts, girugamesh re-emerged in response to the overwhelming calls for an encore. “Thank you very much for the encore call,” Satoshi began. “girugamesh will have our 10th anniversary in 2014. Also, Nii, ShuU, and I will be 30 years old. Come to think of it, I have walked with girugamesh for one third of my life. When I look back, I feel like it’s been a long time but it could have been a short while.” Satoshi seemed a bit surprised as he stated this. “Although we had a hard time and a term of inactivity, we came back here because we have never given up, even if there were a lot of walls and conflicts. If we can absolutely believe in ourselves and never give up, then we can get rid of them. We will deliver you this song with that kind of feeling: ‘Another way.’” Deliver they did, Satoshi’s steady and unwavering voice repeating that one should never give up in their journey through life and to focus on the most important things to get through the rough times.

“On October 13, at AX, this is our restart. Thank you for coming, today. We will be waiting for you at the tour next year. Please support us from now on.” That said, the band brought the show to a roaring finish with the ever live-popular “evolution” that had the crowd continually cheering and joining in with the chants of “Ready go! Let me go!” and “Listen to my revolution!” It was a truly fitting end to the revival show considering the plans girugamesh have in mind. Before exiting the stage, Satoshi came forward for one last word. “May I cry out something I really want to say before leaving? I will do it without the mic.” Setting down the microphone, he then passionately cried out “We are back!” to which the crowd responded with another round of cheers and applause.

Once the vocalist had disappeared from view, the audience was given a preview of what to expect for girugamesh’s renewed activities as the dates for the next shows and upcoming tour were displayed on the big screen. The venue resounded with joy as each date and location was revealed, followed by the full video for “Drain” with its story linked to the one begun in the video for “INCOMPLETE.” The evolving journey provided the final piece of proof that girugamesh is back rock everyone’s worlds.

Set list

  1. Drain
  2. Omaeni sasageru minikui koe
  3. Angry juice
  4. INCOMPLETE
  5. CRAZY-FLAG
  6. MISSION CODE
  7. Vision
  8. bit crash
  9. ULTIMATE 4
  10. takt
  11. Resolution
  12. Shadan
  13. antlion pit
  14. DIRTY STORY
  15. smash!!
  16. Zecchou BANG!!
  17. Never ending story

Encore

  1. Another way
  2. evolution

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

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