HYSTERiC CIRCUS -ASIA CIRCUIT vol. 1- Rocks Taipei

Live Report

by chi.yow, posted May 26, 2014

On March 30, many Taiwanese visual kei fans gathered at THE WALL livehouse in Taipei for the first installment ViSULOG’s HYSTERiC CIRCUS -ASIA CIRCUIT vol.1-. The first overseas show for the ViSULOG series brought over three bands of different sounds to Taiwan. All three bands were well-received and met with great enthusiasm, especially when bandmen would chance small stage dives during their performances. With a successful show that filled the venue floor, Taiwan can be sure to expect even more visual kei acts to head their way as the genre continues to grow.

DIV

The first band to kick off the event was the youngest of the lineup, DIV. Entering the stage as their video game-like intro played, each member was greeted by cheers from eager fans. “Let’s have fun!” vocalist CHISA called out before the band opened the show with their cover of SID’s “Mousou Nikki.” Reacting with delighted exclamations, the crowd immediately began to clap along without any prompting. CHISA particularly impressed by finishing the song in semi-acapella style, displaying his ability to confidently hold long notes without wavering. DIV then cranked up the energy with “JUSTICE,” fans fiercely pumping their fists as they returned the calls made by CHISA and Chobi. CHISA effortlessly switched between melodic singing and death growling styles, all while directing fans through the rounds of choreography. Throwing off his hood, Chobi aided in headbanging prompts as he plucked his bass. With a playful twirl of his mic—and a teasing false start that brought many surprised exclamations—CHISA requested that everyone make the show the best it could be before belting out more calls to rile up the crowd for “ANSWER.” Shogo showed off his skill as a guitarist with speedy sequences and solos, all carried out with a bright smile and a skip to his step.

Da jia hao (Chinese for ‘hello everyone’)! We are DIV! This is our first show in Taiwan. Thank you so much for coming,” CHISA greeted warmly, promising to bring their best performance to make the entire show enjoyable no matter who each fan came to see. The talk then turned to the merchandise. “Thank you for buying up all of our goods. Does everyone have a towel? It doesn’t matter whose—anyone’s towel is fine, not just DIV’s! With these, let’s have fun until the end!” CHISA then announced that DIV would be releasing a new single in May. However, there was a slight problem: “Can you buy it in Taiwan [when it is released]?” After a negative from the audience, the vocalist joked that everyone should take a trip to Japan just to purchase a copy. “If you can’t, though, hopefully we will be able to make regular releases in Taiwan, soon!”

“For now, please listen to ‘BUTTERFLY DREAMER.’” The crowd pumped their fists in time with satoshi’s drum beats as the song built in energy with towels being brought out to wave and twirl at CHISA’s prompting until the vocalist released a chain of hoarse calls at the climax. The crowd was then given another break as another digital SE played with lights playing across the stage as the members posed with their backs turned to the audience before transitioning smoothly into the explosive intro of “ASTERIOUS.” Shogo fiercely tore into his guitar strings as he joined everyone in bowing down to the heavy, digitized composition. satoshi’s drums dominated the number, keeping the rapidly changing tempo under control as the tension built up between the varying intervals.

“Is it summer in Taiwan yet?” CHISA posed the question in order to hint at the next song, “Natsu no yukue,” as well as requesting that all bring out their towels once again. The vocalist used his to signal for the various accompanying choreography, whipping and twirling it about until crashing drums and throbbing bass notes lead up to a round of headbanging. Shogo and Chobi playfully held a cross-stage guitar battle before CHISA sent the crowd dancing from side to side until satoshi finished the song with mighty crashes.

Unfortunately, it was discovered that the drum kit required some technical attention so each member took a turn at the mic. “Are you having fun?” Chisa questioned, asking for louder cheers for confirmation and grinning as the audience provided them. Chobi followed up with a series of calls that were answered in a similar manner, tagging on his own Chinese greeting and introducing the infamous “Omotenashi” phrase referring to the spirit of Japanese hospitality and service. The bassist then commented on drummer satoshi stepping out from behind his kit. “Well, this is rather rare, isn’t it? Sorry, we’re having a little trouble, but this live is just that hot, yeah? So hot~” After satoshi posed sexily to further appeal to the crowd, guitarist Shogo shared his impressions of the live and Taiwan thus far, summing them up with a simple, “It’s been fu-fu-fun!” Chisa requested that the fans wait and look forward to when DIV could hold a oneman live in Taiwan before satoshi asked the crowd what the Taiwanese for ‘drummer’ is. However, Chobi intentionally misheard the word, scoffing, “Pantsu (underwear)? That’s a bit erotic, isn’t it?”

The members then turned their discussion to Taiwanese cuisine, praising xiao long pao (soup dumplings) as well as asking for the name for a sweet potato-based dish that had been sampled. Unfortunately, none of the audience could provide the answer, although a few brave individuals asked if the famous “stinky tofu” had been tried by anyone. “I don’t want to eat any!” Chisa admitted, further confessing that he had never even eaten the Japanese equivalent, natto (fermented soybeans).

Once the okay was given to continue the show, Chisa requested simply “For the last song, everyone in Taiwan, please listen.” DIV concluded their set with the jazzy and passionate “you,” a song filled with emotions of dedication and promise befitting a hopeful return to Taiwan in the future. Chisa continued to impress with his clear and diverse range of vocal techniques while Chobi coolly kept the groove until the end. “Taiwan, we love you! ‘Wo ai ni!’” With that declaration, the members left the stage, satoshi gratefully accepting a fan-signed banner from delighted audience members before his departure.

Despite—or perhaps thanks to—the extended delay mid-set, DIV were able to charm the Taiwanese audience both with their music and with their entertaining spirits. All in all, it was a great start to the event.

Set List

  1. Mousou Nikki
  2. JUSTICE
  3. ANSWER
  4. BUTTERFLY DREAMER
  5. ASTERIOUS
  6. Natsu no yukue
  7. you

BORN

Next up, BORN took to the stage with a remixed version of their theme music, “THE ANTHEM.” The audience clapped along to the beat—at least until drummer TOMO and guitarist K took miniature stage dives into the front row before taking their positions once vocalist Ryoga made his appearance. BORN started their set with “ProudiA,” a calm ballad that belied the energetic tunes to follow as cool bass notes resounded through the venue. Ray threw himself into his extensive guitar solo, Ryoga taking over after to lead everyone through a calm interlude before finishing on a poignant pose. However, the melancholy atmosphere did not linger for long as the vocalist called out for everyone to bring their best for “MOTHER.” Heavy guitars crashed in shortly after to lead into headbanging madness, the crowd following cues from Ryoga and K to clap and jump to the various rhythms. TOMO and K took turns to rap into their nearby microphones to further rile up the crowd, the energy quickly building before Ryoga wrapped it up with a shattering shriek.

“Oh yeah!” Ryoga called out, receiving waves of cheers. “We are BORN! You guys can understand Japanese?” he checked. Receiving an affirmative, Ryoga continued to request that every individual keep bringing their explosive energy until the end. “We are crows!” was the signal for the start of “Karasu,” Ryoga thrashing about onstage as the lights flashed overhead and the crowd moshed. K and Ray came forth with support bassist Mi0 to bask in the attention of the delighted audience, skillfully firing out notes as they did so. “RED DESIRE” continued to bring out the wild side of the crowd, who took to Ryoga’s demands of “Let’s dance!” with great enthusiasm. Many members of the audience answered the vocalist’s growls with their own in between the rounds of fist-pumping and clapping along to the catchy beat played out by TOMO. They finished the song by raising their hands in sync with Ryoga’s cues.

“Let’s hear some comments from each member individually!” Ryoga proposed before quickly turning the spotlight to TOMO with a simple, “On drums, TOMO!” The drummer started by thanking the crowd in Chinese before proudly continuing his acquired knowledge of the local language by reciting numbers 1 through 8. Despite finishing up with 9 in Japanese, the moment earned him a round of proud applause. “Thank you for letting us come to Taiwan. Please keep having fun today!”

Guitarist Ray then greeted the crowd, once again checking if everyone could understand Japanese before proceeding. “Thank you for coming to see us for our first Taiwan live; I’m really happy.” As with many before, the discussion then turned toward food. “By the way, have you eaten xiao long pao? Were they delicious? I actually had oniku (a soy sauce braised meat dish) the other day. Because it was so delicious, I am able to do my best today, so please keep continuing to support us!”

Guitarist K roughly called out to the crowd, expressing his own gratitude for those present using both English and Chinese—to the amusement of his bandmates. Ryoga checked that the crowd was still in good condition before proceeding with “-&-.” The deceptively calm intro gave the crowd moments to collect themselves before the floor once again erupted in controlled chaos as K and Ray increased the pace alongside TOMO’s smashing drums. Following up with the signature live song “RADICAL HYSTERIA,” audience and band alike thrashed about crazily with hair flying everywhere. Ryoga stood atop the platform, adding emphasis to the chorus by stroking himself and thrusting his hips as fans called out. Immediately after came “MAD whistle” with K and Ray switching sides of the stage to command different sections of the crowd in the various violent choreographic motions. It was during this song that vocalist Ryoga thought it would be the opportune time to attempt a stage dive. While the audience welcomed his presence with delight, they were not entirely prepared and Ryoga took a small tumble before venue staff helped him back onstage to continue drawing upon the crowd’s energy.

“Let’s dancing time.” The not-entirely-accurate English statement introduced “Criminal Berry” to the crowd, Ryoga demonstrating the specific choreography required in the number. Many fans danced about as per the band’s requests—although they weren’t the only ones. As Ray and K fired off their double guitar solo, Ryoga and Mi0 playfully ran about behind the guitarists’ backs. “Chemical Romance” brought BORN’s set to a close with explosive force as Ryoga directed the crowd to jump from side to side between rounds of rapidly rapped lyrics, alternating with death growls and screams. After a collective jump to more formally mark the end of the set, Ryoga called out playfully, “You better come to Japan!” before everyone departed, leaving the crowd to gather themselves for the next band’s performance.

Set List

  1. ProudiA
  2. MOTHER
  3. Karasu
  4. RED DESIRE
  5. -&-
  6. RADICAL HYSTERIA
  7. MAD whistle
  8. Criminal Berry
  9. Chemical Romance

DaizyStripper

The curtains opened to reveal the band already onstage and ready to rock out with “TRUTH.” Vocalist Yugiri let out a powerful call that was returned eagerly by the crowd before they pumped their fists to the heavy rhythm pounded out by drummer Kazami. Tension continued to run high as bassist Rei opened “MISSING” with skillful bass notes alongside Kazami’s rapid beats before Yugiri’s took over, passionately singing out the lyrics. Guitarist Nao was clearly in the zone as he quickly fired off a series of guitar solos when he wasn’t gesturing for the crowd to pump their fists or jump to the beat.

Greeting the audience in various languages—including a cheeky French Bonjour—Yugiri then switched to a mostly English dialogue, asking if everyone was having fun. Some audience members were rather fervent in giving their affirmative answers yet this did not seem to satisfy the vocalist. “Yes? No? Oh, this live finish.” As Yugiri started to make his way off the stage, Rei stopped him and gestured for the question to be posed once more before deciding. Fortunately, the last round was deemed satisfactory as Yugiri then switched back to Japanese. “Some of you don’t have any shame. Hang in there and have as much fun as you can until the very end! We’re going to keep bringing our best every time we are here!” With that said, the band then presented their own version of “Mousou Nikki” for the crowd’s pleasure. The jazzy number had everyone dancing along to the beat as well as waving their hands in carefully synchronized movements under the helpful direction of Rei.

The piano and violin intro of “Harumeku Bokura” helped to reground everyone after a charged night. The ballad displayed the band’s more emotional side with Yugiri’s voice ranging from a soothing croon to passionate calls, the lyrics weaving a tale of melancholy reflection. As Kazami closed the song with lightly ringing cymbals, Yugiri uttered a simple, “Thank you,” before the show continued with the playful “Sunday Driver.” The vocalist calling for clapping as Nao strummed his guitar to start things off. The song was particularly active with fun choreography, especially during the chorus. However, at one point, Yugiri had to remind the crowd with a bashful “One more time!” but he grinned happily as the second round was carried out more smoothly.

Next was one of the band’s recent hits, “STARGAZER.” When he wasn’t plucking at his bass, Rei once more gave suggestions of movements for the crowd to follow—from pumping their fists to Kazami’s drum beats to fiercely shaking their heads with Nao’s guitar. Yugiri held his forefinger and thumb in front of his right eye as if looking out on the crowd through a telescope to view the true stars of the night. The intensity only increased as Nao tore into his guitar strings for the relatively violent “LIVE or DIE,” band members shouting into their microphones between Yugiri’s calls. Kazami’s rapid drum beats quickly heated up the venue as everyone threw themselves about, enough that Yugiri took to spraying the crowd with his water bottle when he wasn’t singing. Evidently, the fans weren’t the only ones who needed a cooling down. In the following “decade,” Nao chose to give himself a shower with his water bottle—to the amusement of all. Fortunately, Yugiri was mostly able to keep the laughter out of his voice as he toweled off his soaking bandmate. The energy of the upbeat song was infectious as Yugiri later attempted a stage dive and was passed around the front rows for a whole verse. Upon returning to the stage, Yugiri sent the crowd dancing from side to side for the last lines.

The show wasn’t quite over, but DaizyStripper had the crowd on a high perfect for what was to come next…

Set List

  1. TRUTH
  2. MISSING
  3. Mousou Nikki
  4. Harumeku Bokura
  5. Sunday Driver
  6. STARGAZER
  7. LIVE or DIE
  8. decade

D.B.D

Although all three acts had already played, the audience insisted on an encore performance which was happily granted. The members of DaizyStripper returned to the stage first, followed by the vocalists of DIV and BORN. The special session reintroduced themselves as D.B.D and the crowd erupted with cheers as the notes for L’arc~en~Ciel’s “READY STEADY GO” began to play, the three vocalists complementing each other well as they sang the chorus and switched through the verses. Mid-song, the remaining band members came running out to distribute colorful, signed balls for the audience as souvenirs. Some made it a competition to see how far they could toss the balls for those at the back of the venue to catch. “Until next time!” was the simple message the vocalists left as they departed the stage for the last time.

Set List

  1. READY STEADY GO

After the bands had left the stage, event organizer Takaya Yamamoto stepped out to give the closing words, thanking everyone for attending the first overseas HYSTERiC CIRCUS event, and encouraging fans to request more bands to visit Taiwan. To help commemorative the event, a special present of signed goods would be given to one lucky fan. The condition: win the mass rock-scrissors-paper tournament that followed surprisingly smoothly given the hundreds of people packed in.

With the success of this live event, Taiwanese visual kei fans will have much to continue to look forward to. One never knows when a favorite band will swing by as visual kei continues to reach out to their overseas fans.

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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