[MU:] at Takadanobaba Phase

Live Report

by Laura Cooper, Mio Nagasaki, posted March 15, 2013

A young band with an ancient soul, [MU:] rallied their followers for the latest energetic chapter
with a heavy, eclectic, and evolving musical canon.

The theatrics of [MU:]’s second one-man show on February 2 2013 began with flashing lights
and ever-burning braziers atop the amps as the guitar overdrive of the band’s opening music
ground across the PA. Drummer Ushi bounded onto the stage first, face hidden beneath his
crimson hood, jumping up and down and bowing to the audience. Jet and Daishi stalked
onstage next, heralding Aika’s entrance by waving black and silver flags emblazoned with the
[MU:] coat of arms.

[Rama:yana]” kicked things off with its opening tribal strains quickly displaced by guttural backing chants and a seismic attack from the drums. Immediately swept up in the action, the crowd quite literally threw themselves into the song, singer Aika reaching out over the throng as they moshed beneath him. “Genesis” was up next, opening slow before bursting into a chugging blast of guitar and drums. Jet and Daishi took turns to swap sides of the stage as strobes and blue lights accompanied an electro overtone during the song’s mid-section. Then Daishi growled accompaniment to Aika’s vocals, before taking to the front of the stage for his guitar solo. “Thank you!” Aika whooped as the song rolled to a finish, the crowd screaming his name. “We are [MU:]. Welcome to Takadanobaba!”

An electro-siren and drums opened “Alma.” Fusing a south-Asian flavor in the guitar riff with a slower tempo, Aika’s voice was allowed to take point while Daishi’s guitar slithered along through the number, providing a nice counter-point to the vocals. “Spirit-world” took things back up a gear and, developing from a slow, distorted guitar crunch, the song became almost progressive in places. During “[inno:vator],” Aika seemed to be almost proselytizing—turning the crowd to [MU:]—and as they cheered back, the singer ripped into some impressive
growling.

The lights dimmed and an atmospheric choral backing track floated about the room as Daishi pulled up his hood, bowed to the audience and began to recount another chapter in the gospel of [MU:]:

“Long, long ago, when this world was miraculously created,” he began, “everything was in perfect balance. People and the stars were one.” He went on to tell of how the ancient [MU:] civilization degenerated and vanished, and that a god of that world had now come to the modern day in the guise of a child to deliver the revelations of [MU:] through the next song— “GOD CHILD,” an energetic, guitar-led number. Jet and the crowd jumped up and down as Ushi kicked in with some military-style drumming. The darker tones of the drums provided an interesting contrast to the more upbeat electronics laser-gunning through the song. Aika let his voice reign more freely in the number, exploring a surprisingly operatic vocal style mixed up with some vocoder in the chorus. The spooky choir crept over the PA again as this time it was Ushi who stood and performed a lyrical and poetic section which seemed at its core to relate a slightly melancholy tale of moving on beyond lost love.

Shiawase no Daishou” is a song which demonstrates [MU:]’s ability to fuse otherwise conflicting musical genres into a harmonious whole. With its Spanish guitar flair and female backing chorus, the song both heavy and warm in tone. Daishi switched between acoustic and electric guitar while Jet, pick in mouth, strummed a subdued bass line that slunk along as the song progressed. During its heavier moments, the two guitarists pounded about the stage and the crowd clapped appreciatively along.

Jet’s introduction to “Pleiades” spoke of disorientation in the dark until eventually a grain of light was spotted, an inviting spark in the darkness ahead. It led to a song which fused an airy chorus with a slowly tempo for a brief sonic lull in the otherwise exuberant set. Then, finally, Aika took his turn to continue the story, telling of how we lack fear when we are young and that the inevitable tragedies we meet can take away our hopes and courage. However, with the cyclical nature of things, we all have the right to continue dream.

As “Hill of Dreams” kicked in, Aika joined in with the crowd bouncing back and forth across the venue. A bass-driven opening and flamenco-themed castanet clicks and flourishes made for another buoyant number. With his theatrical arm gestures and crowd directions, Aika was an eye-catching front-man and he showed off the more poppy aspects of his vocal range during the number while supported by Ushi on backing vocal duty. The stage darkened as Daishi took centre-stage for a smooth solo sounding warmly reminiscent of Santana. The show kept rolling as the whole venue raised their arms and continued to bounce along to the more pop/ funk-infused melody of “Yggdrassil.”

“Thanks, everyone!” Aika began, before announcing the band’s next live show in May, at which they will celebrate their first birthday. Aika went on to talk about Jet’s comical appearances in [MU:]’s YouTube videos, particularly the bass player’s rocking out with a vacuum cleaner rather than his trusty 5-string. Daishi talked about the song-writing process for “GOD CHILD” before Jet introduced the next song in the set. It was the first time he and Daishi had written a song together, he had said, the two of them composing at their computers in real time. Jet revealed that he had come up with the first word for the title and Daishi the second.

Aika yelled “ENCOUNTER INFINITY!” and the song’s heavy introduction boomed across the venue, Ushi effortlessly powering the song along with Jet and Daishi holding down the main riff. The song’s more euphoric elements melded with an anthemic, metal edge while complementing a more classic VK approach to the vocals from Aika. The end found a quieter piano backing which plunged back into a metal furor driven by Daishi and Jet. Roaring into the next song, Aika conducted the crowd back and forth across the floor from his podium. “CARNAVAL” was a miscellany of style. With Jet`s fingers running up and down his fret board, deep backing growls and a fairground-like organ, the song ran the gamut from groovy rock to momentary waltz then back to an almost hair-metal solo from Daishi. It finished suddenly with the band members’ faces stuck in grotesque scowls, grimaces, glowers and pouts a la the traditional masks of the song’s festive title.

Esperanto” ended the set, Jet and Daishi swapping sides of the stage and looking out over the crowd. Daishi cuddled up to Aika for his solo, before the band finished, all arms in the air as Aika jumped from the podium to finish.

The band was barely off the stage before the audience began clapping for an encore. A few minutes later, Ushi wiggled back on followed by Jet and Daishi. The crowd called out for the drummer who had yet to speak. “Cheers,” he said, taking the microphone. “I haven’t thought of anything to say, yet… Thanks!” he said, and blew a kiss to the crowd.

“That was cute,” commented Jet as Aika came back on.

“Thanks for the encore!” said the singer before moving on to teach everyone the choreography for “GOD CHILD.” The band played through the song, Aika leading the crowd and simultaneously outdoing his previous vocal-gymnastics by creating—with the synthesis of his voice and the techno sounds—something that could only be described as a kind of “space opera.”

“This is a kind of ‘cornerstone’ song,” Daishi introduced of “Genesis.” “We want to look like a heavy metal band for this one—not a VK band,” he added, instructing the audience to punch the air and throw horns. The instructions were certainly fitting as the track was all the more metal for its second outing of the evening.

Then, it was Jet’s turn to teach the moves to “ENCOUNTER INFINITY.” The crowd’s apparent confusion with the gestures left the band at a bit of a loss as for what to do though Ushi was laughing his head off as he observed the ensuing hilarity from the safety of his drum riser. Fortunately, the fans were supportive enough to give things another go and by the end of the song, Aika’s gleeful grin confirmed that the crowd had indeed nailed it. Another encore followed and [MU:] ended the night with another rendition of “Esperanto,” which somehow seemed all the more heavy for the band’s evident exhaustion.

[MU:]’s second one-man offered an interesting chance to see how the band have progressed since their previous solo show last September. They are refreshingly different from some of their contemporaries, bringing with them a tangible confidence that allows them to do things others might not attempt so early in their evolution. ROKKYUU are looking forward to seeing how the [MU:] mythos develops in 2013 and beyond.

Set list

  1. [Rama:yana]
  2. Genesis
  3. ALMA
  4. Spirit World
  5. [inno:vator]
  6. GOD CHILD
  7. Shiawase no Daishou
  8. Pleiades
  9. Hill of Dreams
  10. Yggdrassil
  11. ENCOUNTER INFINITY
  12. CARNAVAL
  13. Esperanto

Encore 1

  1. Genesis
  2. GOD CHILD
  3. ENCOUNTER INFINITY

Encore 2

  1. Esperanto

VK Exclusive

There are 18 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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