J-Rock A Go! Go! Vol.2 DEATHGAZE vs GOTCHAROCKA

Live Report

by Laura Cooper, Mio Nagasaki, posted September 26, 2013

Shinjuku Loft’s periodically internet-televised music event continued its theme of presenting musically disparate bands on May 15th with performances from DEATHGAZE and GOTCHAROCKA—two bands seemingly at opposite ends of the VK spectrum in terms of sound, visuals and on-stage persona. Kicking things off were a milder kind of opening act in Thomas.

Thomas

Warming things up were Thomas; providing a dashingly gothic look in smart black suits accented with red mourning bands. Entering to a guitar-driven introduction and a stage slick with red lights, guitarist Toshi, the band’s current support bassist, and drummer Lotto entered to excited chants from the audience.  Masataka’s entrance cued in the almost gabba-like electro opening of “Pistol,” punctuated with scratching throughout but ultimately delivering a heavy rock number. Masataka worked himself into a fitting frenzy of screaming as the song progressed and the front rows followed suit with some head-banging.

The vocalist riled up the crowd for “CRAZY DISCO,” chanting back and forth with the venue as the crowd punched the air. The song proved to be in a punkier vein, bass underscoring the song with catchy little runs. A quieter mid-section allowed Toshi’s guitar play to take centre stage although this provided only brief respite from a song which saw the crowd hurling themselves enthusiastically over the barrier.

Toshi spun round and round in circles as the breakdown of “Sendousha-AGITATOR-” got everyone moshing.  Taking things back into the electronic dimensions of “Pitsol,” “Sendousha-AGITATOR-” was a little more drum and bass in its back-beat. Masataka clambered onto the speakers to the right of the stage, singing from his new vantage point while Toshi played right up at the front of the stage, surveying the crowd.

Thomas’ short set ended with a techno break featuring the instrumental section of the band.  Toshi growled along and Lotto played at a frenetic pace.  The crowd spun side-to-side for the number—a peculiar mix of pop-rock and drum ‘n bass—which ended all too soon, albeit with quite a finishing punch from Lotto who hammered away at his drums as though he might be beating them to death.

Set List

  1. Pistol
  2. CRAZY DISCO
  3. Sendousha-AGITATOR-

It was then time for CUTT to take the floor for the emcee section.  Among other things, he introduced the night’s band-created food and drinks, including a “kashimeite” curry and a drink called “Drunk Pistol” from Thomas.  Deathgaze had the, unsurprisingly, cat-themed meal “neko-koroshian” and a curiously monikered drink, “Kao-abura.” Gotcharocka’s contributions provided a non-alcoholic “GR Soda” and an amusingly contrasting (and self-explanatory) “Gotcha-dog.”

CUTT’s first guests of the evening, DEATHGAZE, sauntered onto the stage wearing their trademark dripping black make-up and prickly personas.  To a somewhat intimidated CUTT, they bantered about the band’s penchant for flying-Vs; European tours; and Ai’s passion for all things feline. Then it was time to get dark and growly.

DEATHGAZE

DEATHGAZE’s entry was greeted by fans holding their towels above their heads and a cacophonous opening theme to which the band entered before ripping straight into “CREATURE,” providing such a thunderous opening from Naoki’s drum kit that you would be forgiven for feeling like your stomach had fallen out of your body somewhere. Rasping the lyrics, vocalist Ai screamed, “I can’t hear you!” as guitarist Takaki head-banged along with the chanting crowd.

With “DEAD BLAZE,” a bass-heavy assault from Kosuke featured Ai growling furiously over the maelstrom.  The crowd waved their hands and head-banged along to the chorus, chanting one of Takaki’s action-packed solos.  As the song ended, Ai chucked his pick to the crowd, leaned over the audience and relinquished his guitar to a roadie.  “Long time no see, Tokyo!” he greeted the fans before regaling them with his antagonistic cat noises.  “Everyone ready? Let’s go!”

The thumping rhythm of “paranoid parade” saw Ai, knee up on the monitor, throwing his long blond hair around with the crowd below him. The whole venue was jumping up and down for this song but it was the static presence of one fan in the front row who garnered a rather intense skull-fondling which proved most amusing.  DEATHGAZE played their up-coming single, “ALLURE” next. Opening hard and heavy, the tune then took a brighter, more upbeat tone when Ai began to sing the verse. The crowd chanted along and moshed as the song progressed, Ai juxtaposing guttural growls and his distinctive clean vocal sound. It on an unexpectedly balladic quality for a brief pause before Ai screamed things back in for a chugging riff embellished with guitar squeals, Kosuke and Takaki plumbing the vocal depths with their backing growls.

Always a particular live treat, “Rihitozoire” caused chaos in the pit.  Its unflagging drag was driven heavily along by Naoki’s drumming as Ai jumped from one side of the stage to get Kosuke and Takaki to growl for him.

“I can’t hear you!” Ai yelled again at the crowd, who screamed back.  “Let’s go! Let’s go!” he yelled and then the final of the set and heaviest number of the night broke in with its immediately identifiable piano intro and guitar riff: “genocide and mass murder.” Ai stared out over the frenzied crowd below him, raising their arms during the song’s chorus of “Genocide!” and then flinging themselves forward for the chorus’s barked growls.

Ai presented the audience with his middle finger before dousing the audience in water—the song seeming to bring out the anarchic, the chaotic and the furious in the singer—and the song crashed to a close. Ai flung his mic away as the band unceremoniously stalked off-stage. The silence in the aftermath of their leaving was loud enough to highlight the fury of the DEATHGAZE whirlwind that had swept through Loft for a brief 40 minutes.

Set List

  1. CREATURE
  2. DEAD BLAZE
  3. paranoid parade
  4. ALLURE
  5. Rihitozoire
  6. genocide and mass murder

GOTCHAROCKA were next to chat with CUTT and proved to be quite the antithesis to their black-clad show-mates. With a bright and perky presence and plenty of gags, the band discussed everything from blood types and (more) cats, to the hide tribute album and their upcoming show at Shibuya O-East in August.

GOTCHAROCKA

Glowing bracelets equipped, the audience peppered the darkness with neon as flashing lights and backing music welcomed the band to the stage.  They wasted no time, grinding into “Virginity” with a more classic crunch of down-tuned guitar, before suddenly launching into a bouncy pop chorus, the crowd clapping along from side to side.  Shingo played a groovy bass line, guitarist Toshi backed up on vocals and vocalist Jui jumped up onto the podium to sing over the crowd.

Terminal” had the crowd leaping up and down for it’s bass-driven start before providing a bouncy, techno-y mid-section which really drove home the quite opposing, yet complementary, musical styles the fans were offered during the show. Toshi ordered everyone to jump for the chorus, with Jui leaning out over the audience to encourage them on. The singer then goaded the crowd on for “Poisonous berry,” Jun providing the opening guitar motif, and as the song reached a peak, Toshi and Shingo could be seen rocking out. Meanwhile, Jui was off at stage left, waving at the crowd, and Jun jumped up onto the podium for a solo which had the fans holding their arms out wide in appreciation.

“This is the first time for GOTCHAROCKA at J-Rock A Go! Go!” Jui addressed the crowd. “Please enjoy yourselves!”

With the crowd’s arms raised for “Gotcha6ka,” Jui sang in a warped voice before the tune kicked in and they significantly upped the pace. The band all came forward to mosh at the front of the stage, and Jun and Toshi swapped sides, leading the punky verse. The crowd, anticipating what was coming, bounced up and down before the catchy, high-energy chorus caused a tumult as everyone threw themselves forward.  Shingo provided a flourish of slap-bass up on the podium before Jui took over again in his vocoder voice and brought things to a close with everyone in the place banging their heads.

Shingo spun round and round as he opened “JapanesQ” with a bass line that had everyone clapping along and chanting. In fact, the entire song seemed to be a nice opportunity for the rhythm section to show off. Support drummer Tero provided some solid and tight rock drumming, accented with some nice, heavy flourishes and some stick-spinning antics between beats. Meanwhile, as Jun launched into a solo, Jui grabbed hold of him and hugged him from above for the duration.

The crowd chanted and punched the air for “Hydrag,” a new song featuring some nice, metal drumming and inciting a torrent of hair-thrashing from the audience.  With punchy time changes and a growling bass line from Shingo, the song really got the fans going, the whole place with heads down and moshing together. Jun hopped up onto the podium for a solo while Toshi and Shingo danced around each other, and Jui hunched down on the podium before demanding that everyone hold hands and mosh together for the close.

For the final song of the show, pipes and oriental-style backing music kicked into to an upbeat “Samurai Dreeeeeam Breaker.”  Jui “woo-hoo!”-ed, and the guitars led a more melodic number which still retained punk strains to it. Toshi and Shingo played facing each other and Jun provided a suitably euphoric solo as the crowd waved their hands from side to side. “Thanks, Tokyo!” Jun shouted as the song ended, and everyone raised their arms for the finish.

Set List

  1. Virginity
  2. Terminal
  3. Poisonous berry
  4. Gotcha6ka
  5. JapanesQ
  6. Hydrag
  7. Samurai Dreeeeeam Breaker

After a short break for everyone to catch their breath, order some band-themed beverages and find a suitable place to park themselves on the venue floor, CUTT brought Thomas, DEATHGAZE and GOTCHAROCKA out for a small lottery drawing including all sorts of fun prizes from each band and a final chat session between the main bands of the evening during which CUTT posed questions such as “What is your favorite attraction at Disneyland?” The inevitable cat-talk was broached for a third time, too, bringing the two very different bands together with a common interest.

The show can be viewed online with new installments occurring periodically. Stay tuned for more exciting pairings with J-Rock a Go! Go! over the coming months!

VK Exclusive

There are 56 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Laura Cooper started photographing rock and jazz bands at university. While completing a degree in English Literature, she was literary co-editor of the York University arts magazine and held poetry soirees with comedy jazz bands. Laura wrote for the now defunct UK Goth magazine Meltdown, as well as edited for an occult/spiritual website while she lived in York and London. She disappeared into the mountainous depths of Japan in 2006 and is now based in Tokyo, capturing rock bands in action.

Mio Nagasaki is a freelance photographer lending her time, skills, and love for the genre to ROKKYUU Magazine.

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