Lolita23q Stage Neo Tokyo Empire at Akasaka Blitz

Live Report

by Kate Havas, Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted November 21, 2011

Scratchy, piping electronic music greeted fans of Lolita23q at Akasaka Blitz on September 23rd as everyone readied for the live, “Neo Tokyo Empire.” A screen onstage showed the bands’ logo, which changed to an image of vocalist Soshi as the members appeared onstage and launched into “FLASH BURN, “Red Room,” and “Fake Hart Droid” in quick succession. The immediate impression was that this live was going to be loud.

“Long time no see!” Soshi called to the waving crowd. “Are you excited?” He called out them for a few minutes, getting them worked up before the electronic introduction of “Fake Hart Droid.” Ryosuke peered out, looking closely at the crowd, and Soshi’s alternating vocoder-distorted voice provided a perfect blend of electronic and visual technique.

A glittering disco ball bathed the hall in light for “Supernova.” Of all the members, Ryosuke seemed the most intent on using the space Blitz offered, running back and forth maniacally throughout the songs while the other members seemed almost on different stages in their little pockets of space. They struck a dramatic pose as Soshi screamed “We’re Lolita23q!”

“I’z” started slowly, but drum and bass lent it a bit of edge that lead into heavy moshing a few beats later. The audience raised their hands as Soshi raised his voice, propping one leg on the bar of the platform in a precarious position. “I’z” ended in an explosion of lights and heavy drum beats that had the crowd thrashing. “Reimei” and “Mikansei Saphire” followed, the guitars sounding electronically enhanced as the flexible Ryosuke played hard bass with one foot propped up hip-height by BAN on the drum kit. The video screen dropped down again, a digital cube of colors flashing as Soshi returned to the vocoder enhancement. The images changed to a Matrix-inspired grid city alternating with live footage of the band that faded in and out, and Ryosuke pounded his foot against the stage as if fighting to put more energy into the song. The screen showed fireworks and Soshi sang out as BAN mouthed the words behind him. Soshi raised his arms, opening himself to the crowd, and the music became trance-like. The lights went dark and the members left.

The darkness was quickly replaced by flashing directions on the screen for the audience to call “Hai, hai!” for “BAN’s corner.” The drummer gave his best visual scream over the cheerful electronic music, and the screen instructed the audience to clap with BAN while stars exploded on the screen when they clapped the rhythm correctly, just like an arcade game. Masked staff members ran out to toss glow sticks and glowing bracelets at the crowd, and the live became a rave as everyone raised their lights and danced.

“Hisashiburitzu!” (lLong time no Blitz!) BAN punned, standing on his chair. “I’m kind of nervous about being here in front of you. I didn’t know what I should do, should I prepare an MC, should I just talk, what?” An audience member yelled out that his confusion was cute, and BAN grinned. “Thanks! Our leader wants to tell you something. He made the next song, and there’s furi, so I have to teach it to you. Okay?” He lead the audience through the bowing, hand rolls, and arm movements, nodding as they danced. “I want to talk for two hours, but we need to start the next song. Ready? Let’s call the members. Ryo-kun!”

Ryosuke didn’t appear, so BAN asked the audience for help. Everyone called for Ryosuke and he came out posturing and slapping his bass, then joining in with a big bass riff as the screen told the audience to raise their lights again. The guitarists ran in next, followed by Soshi, and they all shook their heads together in perfect sync like identically programmed robots.

Everyone threw themselves into the recently learned dance movements for “GIGA WORLD.” Mid-way through, the song broke down into a tecnho rap complete with callbacks to the audience, Ryosuke so close to them his toes were almost over the edge of the stage. Fans swung their towels and danced energetically for the techno-heavy “Kyuutai Kikagaku Yuugi,” and Soshi and Ryosuke did a do-si-do midstage, snaking around each other as Ryuto played heavily.

“A live is like a date, yeah?”Soshi started, prompting vocal agreement from the audience. “So I’m inviting- well, we’re inviting you on this date.

On that note, they began “ALICE in downward.” Ryosuke brought his bass to the party and a few members of the frenzied audience found ways to sit up on the live-house bars and get above the rest of the crowd. Ryosuke let out a long growl as Soshi opened his arms as if to embrace the entirety of the audience then stretched out close to the reaching fans. The audience became a tangled crush in front of the stage and the video screen dropped again, as Soshi screamed them into the hardcore “Nejidokei Libido.”

“WHITE BLADE” began with guttural barks that were oddly incongruous with the calming snow scene on the video screen. Though the video showed a winter scene, the band was sweating with effort and BAN’s sharp tsks-s complimented the hot guitar. The song was passionate, and as the video changed to show the members on stage with virtual snow blowing over them. “Ginga no Tsubasa-GALACTIC WING-,” which followed, was a rally-style song that had Soshi rapping and the other members playing the full length of the stage. A shot of spread wings appeared on the video screen as Soshi raised his voice, and he held out the microphone for the audience to sing back the lyrics. There was a last burst of energy that had Ryosuke jumping, and the lights came up. “Thank you!” Soshi called. Ryosuke made devil horns and BAN blew a kiss as he came down from his drum kit, and they left the stage,

After a call for encore, the band returned wearing t-shirts, and Soshi thanked the audience and announced a series of special lives. He then turned the mic over to Ryosuke, who welcomed the audience to the “’excellent’ Neo Tokyo Empire” and said he was very moved. Ryuto said that they’d had a lot happen prior to the show, like the typhoon that stopped transportation in Tokyo for a day, but they managed. “We love you!” the fans called. “I love you!” Ryuto answered.

“Yu-ki has a message!” Soshi announced. The quiet guitarist pointed to the screen, which was suddenly filled by a wall of (unrelated) tiny text. Soshi was shocked. “Can’t you condense that?” he asked, and Yu-ki pointed again. The screen now read a simple “Thanks.”

“Give us your thoughts!” Soshi called to BAN, and the drummer cocked his head and answered “Huh? My throat’s not dry,” though he could barely get the bad pun of “kansou” (thoughts or impressions/dryness) out of his mouth without laughing. “That’s a horrible joke!” Soshi scolded him. “I’m just happy to be here with all the members,” BAN smiled.

“Tomorrow is BAN’s birthday,” Soshi informed the audience, and lead them in a round of “Happy Birthday.” BAN got not one, but two cakes: one decorated with his face and the other piled with strawberries. He managed a bite of the strawberry delicacy before they started the first song of the encore, “HIKARI.”

“HIKARI” was the heaviest song yet. The flashing light cast shadows on the wall and video screen and the song turned aerobic as the members ran in place. For “Laser Light Themepark,” they held out glowing stars attached to handy rubber ropes, a different color for each member, and the audience members held their glowing rings as well. There was a sharp cymbal intro and the video screen showed a Ferris wheel as Soshi whipped his necklace around his head in time with the upbeat song. “Thank you!” he called as they posed dramatically for the intro to “Suiren No Heya,” Ryosuke hamming it up with his facial expressions. The members marched on the stage as the song hit an electronic bridge, Ryuto gave a killer solo, and then ran down from the stage to slam into the fans. Soshi jumped down into the photographer’s pit and the fans dove forward to try to get to him as well. “Last!” Soshi yelled, climbing back up.

“B.I.O.S” started with a big explosion of lights and a cheerier sound. Soshi broke it down for a hard rap before doubling over to scream, and then the strobe flashed as they finished. Soshi put a hand to his lips to quiet everyone, screamed out a thank-you without mic, and finally they joined hands and jumped together as Ryuto leaned forward to high-five a few of the closest fans. Then they took a picture of the crowd and waved, Ryosuke grabbing Yu-ki’s arms to force him to be polite and say goodbye. BAN tossed out drumsticks and Soshi pegged his glow-ring, causing a furor in the crowd as the band left the stage. The live house darkened again, and the fans were treated to the brand new stylish sci-fi tinged music video of “HIKARI” before exiting Lolita23q’s new empire.

The technical aspects of the show were not top notch. Although the live overlay merging the band with digital backgrounds was a brave move, the camera-work left much to be desired. However, the band lived up to Blitz’s reputation and the fans seemed oblivious to anything else, With some refinement, lolita23q could become ground-breakers in the visual kei scene where most background imagery (if used at all) tends to consist of boring fields and bursts of flame with nothing imaginative to justify the usage. Musically, of course, the band has long made its mark, and their latest song, “HIKARI” was well show-cased at Blitz, the song entertaining and the video perhaps the most exciting and high quality music video ever seen in visual kei.

Set List

  1. FLASH BURN
  2. Red Room
  3. Fake Hart Droid
  4. Supernova
  5. I’z
  6. Reimei
  7. Mikansei Saphire
  8. Tenkyuu Symphonia
  9. BAN TIME
  10. GIGA WORLD
  11. Kyuutai Kikagaku Yuugi
  12. ALICE in downward
  13. Nejidokei Libido
  14. WHITE BLADE
  15. Ginga no Tsubasa-GALACTIC WING-

Encore

  1. -HIKARI-
  2. Laser Light Themepark
  3. Suiren No Heya
  4. B.I.O.S

VK Exclusive

There are 22 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Kate Havas first became interested in Japanese fashion and culture in college when manga, anime, and visual kei were just beginning to make their way to America. An art and English major with a love of clothes, Kate signed onto ROKKYUU in order cover fashion and report on Tokyo trends, but was quickly also recruited to the music side of things and has been having an adventure expanding her knowledge of all things VK since. Follow her on twitter at keito_kate!

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

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

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