J-ROCK A GO!GO! Volume 4 with LIPHLICH and Sel’m

Live Report

by Chika Yoshizawa, Diana Tome, Mio Nagasaki, posted January 5, 2014

The September 12 edition, Volume 4, of J-ROCK a GO! GO! brought LIPHLICH and Sel’m together for a heated talk and live battle at the usual cozy venue, Shinjuku LOFT. LIPHLICH and Sel’m alternatively showed powerful staging in their live performances and their true faces in the talk section led by emcee CUTT who first announced the good news that the show will be broadcast in Thailand and then set to explaining the bands’ original drinks and food items for the event.

The food from LIPHLICH was “Nikaidou chef no, Ross no Kawaita Curry (dried curry of Ross, cooked by chef Nikaidou)” with a meaning nobody could fathom but supposedly translating to dried curry. Sel’m’s food was “Bakitsu san chi no Ika Ring (Bakitsu family calamari)—also a very strange name. On the other hand, the original drinks were more soberly titles as “Cocktail of LIPHLICH” and “Cassis From Hell.”

First up,  CUTT introduced LIPHLICH and their new album, “Full Course ha Sakasa Kara.”  He asked about the unusual title and the track list, then encouraged the members to share a little more private information such as their various addictions. From there, it was straight to the stage and LIPHLICH took the venue in their grip.

LIPHLICH

With their unique bohemian sound and daring staging in full view, LIPHLICH had their engines at full throttle for their mix of darkness, rock, and jazz. The classical tones of “O Fortuna” accompanied Kuga Shingo (vocals), Shindo Wataru (bass), Arai Takayuki (guitar) and Maruyama Eiki (drums) onstage.

“Let’s have fun, LOFT!” Kuga cried, firing up the crowd. Immediately, pumping fists rose with responsive shouts of “Oi!” Dyed red, the stage acquired a dark and dangerous atmosphere that fitted the opening tune “My Name Was” like a glove. Hair flew to the beat, Wataru setting an impressive example—his hair now free from the initial restraints and slapping the air vigorously while he plucked at the strings. Kuga then called Takayuki to the spotlight for a magical solo and—guitar pointed at the crowd—the guitarist worked a spell on the strings, twirling back to his spot with a satisfied grin.

“Welcome! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome!” the circus-like voice over carried on in the background as “Houchou no delicatessen” from the new album dragged the hall into LIPHLICH’s eccentric world; guitar, bass, drum, and vocals coming together in a delicious recipe that literally had Kuga licking his fingers as it reached the climax. Echoing vocals multiplied for the intro of “Maslow mansion” and the crowd responded by swaying right and left to the tune while singing along. Guitar raced through the heavily growing drums, both Takayuki and Eiki showing off their talent through the intricate instrumental work while Kuga kept the theatrics high, his antics adding a surrealistic feel to the song. The music eased and Takayuki took the lead, the distorted guitar sound laying open the path for the deep drums. Eyes half closed, Wataru breathed in the intoxicating tune, fingers dancing over the strings of his bass.

The sound of the rain engulfed the venue for “Inbi,” becoming gradually more intense as Takayuki took the spotlight for a powerful guitar solo. The song proceeded in a perilous tone, the stage burning red. Kuga whispered into the mic and then it was then Wataru’s turn to step up, almost caressing the bass as he produced torrid sounds. His head tilted back slightly, letting his hair fly freely with his every move. Kuga approached the bassist with a grin, swaying in time with the tune in a seductive, stalking dance. He leaned in for a kiss which the crowd received almost as warmly as Wataru. “Sankyuuu,” said Kuga, bowing lightly before passing over to Eiki who blasted open “Federico 9.” The song cleverly conveying LIPHLICH’s surrealistic world with casual fanservice continuing as Kuga embraced the guitarist from behind. The vocalist seemed particularly drawn toward Wataru, never missing a chance to tease the bassist who remained stoically unfazed by approach. Meanwhile, the crowd jumped and clapped to the tune.

“It’s almost over!” Kuga’s announcement was met with the crowd’s collective exclamation of “Eh?” Takayuki joined them in an exaggerated fashion to which the vocalist replied with an annoyed, “Be quiet!!! You’re too loud!!!”

The fun choreography of LIPHLICH’s hard-hitter “MANIC PIXIE” got the hopping froms ide to side to the fast paced music, or else sent their hair flying. The vocalist’s silky words lingered in the air, a mixture of jazz and dark rock that so uniquely characterized the band. Saved for last, “Recall” then changed the tone considerably, the ballad expressing yet another side of the band and proving the measure of their versatility. Kuga’s vocal technique was impeccable, rising and falling with ease as he unfolded the tale under the burnished glow of slowly brightening orange lights to conclude the set.

Set List

  1. My Name Was
  2. Houchou no delicatessen
  3. Maslow mansion
  4. “Midarabi
  5. Frederic 9
  6. MANIC PIXIE
  7. Recall

Sel’m appeared next for another talk section and CUTT introduced their new single “Dears.” The members talked about the inspirations for the single and for their music before CUTT got more personal to learn about both their troubles and their favorite things.

Sel’m

Sel’m were up next. The crowd received them with pumping fists, warmed up and ready for the band’s heavy set. Ryuga (vocals), Takuma (bass), John (guitar), Tsubaki (guitar) and MANJ (drums) came in with guns blazing for the downright insolent “fuck,” the vocalist armed with powerful growls that churned up the crowd with violent headbanging. Meanwhile, John punched the air violently to the fast paced drums. Sel’m’s energy was palpable as they proceeded to “seven.” Head tilted down, Takuma plucked an intoxicating sound from the bass, steeping the venue in the hot tune. Ryuga kept theatrics high as he sang, the crimson light shining on his face lending him a gloomy aura that closely matched the dark music. Suddenly, the rhythm transitioned and a somewhat out-of-place but catchy chorus brought an element of pop before the band went back to doing what they do best with fast riffs and growl-filled verses.

The mirror ball came to life for “MADIA” while distorted instrumentals and a catchy electronic beat got the crowd jumping in unison—John and Tsubaki showing their skill in a battle against each other otherwise described as a fiery duet. Then, darkness embraced the stage and somewhere in the background could be heard the sound of water dripping a creepy overture to “last hill.” The song started slowly in ballad style with smooth bass and warm guitars building up progressively. Ryuga’s voice acquired a deep and solemn tone to express a bitter-sweet plea that gradually gained strength and determination. It was a valuable addition to the set which showed a more elegant torment in the band’s overall sound.

The tempo then gained considerable speed for “I’m rider” and the bone-shaking growls returned. Hair flew frantically to the beat while MANJ delivered powerful blows to the cymbals, always revving up the crowd. The five were unstoppable and the fans no less so, greeting each song with zeal and putting all of their energy in the fray. The fast-paced numbers continued thusly with “f.f.f.” and “Pressure;” pumping fists, yells, and thrashing heads coming together in a boiling conglomeration. Expression hidden behind his hair, Takuma whirled his head in circles while Tsubaki spit water at the crowd. Taking the forefront John climbed up on one of the speakers, reached forward, and then dove into the crowd.

Dears!” Ryuga yelled. Despite its all-over-the-place nature with electro muffling the guitars and bass, the song kept spirits high and bodies moving. Sel’m were unstoppable and showed that they can put on a hell of a show, boldly making full use of the small stage. “Last! Lend us your voices! Let’s end this with heads thrashing!” The vocalist grinned at the crowd’s effusive response once they recognized “Illegal World.” Purple and white light flashed and Sel’m dove body and soul into the last song. Deep growls filled the air and the fans crushed up to the front in time to grab Ryuga who took his shot at crowd surfing.

Sel’m gave their all in a powerful set that was at odds with LIPHLICH’s strange world yet complimented it in force of passion. Their determination and depth made it clear that these two bands do have something in common after all.

Set list

  1. fuck
  2. seven
  3. MADIA
  4. last hill
  5. I’m raider
  6. f.f.f.
  7. Pressure
  8. Dears
  9. Illegal World+

Finally, both bands came to join CUTT for the cross talk section of the show and the special lottery—one lucky Sel’m fan winning three of the band’s prizes! The members then gave each other some endearing feedback answered questionnaires devised by the other band and by the fans which CUTT posed to them after a toast made with their original cocktails.

Both bands certainly showed the depth of their charms, bringing out their secret weapons and dragging the crowd into their different worlds; Sel’m with their loud and fast-paced rock and LIPHLICH with their hot, bohemian tunes and dramatic performance. Be sure to catch the show online and don’t miss these bands if you’re in Japan. Stay tuned for more J-ROCK A GO! GO! as the event continues to pit a variety of bands together in the basement heart of Shinjuku.

VK Exclusive

There are 45 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Chika has been interested in visual kei music since VK bands first began holding free lives the Hokoten area in Harajuku. She was too young to go watch them back then in the early 90s, but the scenes on TV caught her eye. Since then, she has loved the passion of VK music and, of course, music in general. She majored in English literature in Japan and learned to speak English in the UK. After graduating from university, she has worked for both American and Japanese companies in IT and as a translator and continues various translations today.

Diana Tome saw her life change when she came across X-Japan's Blue Blood. A big supporter of old school visual rock, she believes visual kei is a lifestyle and philosophy that goes beyond the clothing and the music. With a background in headhunting and psychotherapy, Diana completed her M.A. in Psychology from I.S.P.A. in Lisbon, Portugal. She now lives and works in Japan committed to keeping the VK/V-rock flame alive.

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

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