Orochi Free Birthday Oneman at Ruido K3

Live Report

by Kate Havas, Mio Nagasaki, posted May 23, 2012

ROKKYUU have been following the progress of indie band Orochi since they made some changes to their lineyp. Orochi blend their rock with some of the most traditional Japanese sound ever heard in VK, and that traditional sound greeted fans as they gathered at Ruido K3 for Lord USHI-WAKA ‘s free birthday oneman show on March 22.

The members entered as the crowd threw out cherry blossom petals, and the mic stands and stage were also decorated with the seasonal bloom. The band opened with “Phoenix(Fushi-cho)”. The small stage was crowded with five musicians in elaborate costumes and Lord USHI-WAKA ‘s robes flared as he moved. Fluttery koto notes with a hint of eurobeat techno made for a nice combination in “Kono Hana Sakuya Hime,” the fans jumping and making hearts at Yukimura as he played the quick guitar line. Lord USHI-WAKA then took a moment to introduce the support members and Samurai Yuikimura, the guitarist posing cutely and smiling as he was called out.

They segued easily into “Tenchi Ranbu.”. Lord USHI-WAKA worked his vocal range in the song, dropping to a deep register before moving into a falsetto, the fans headanging and jumping in response to every change in his inflection.

For the heavier “Oni-Ura” the mood turned violent, fans punching the air repeatedly as Yukimura provided death voice to accompany the song. The screaming segued into a hypnotic melody that had the crowd rocking back and forth, the guitar rhythm occasionally punctuated by sharp barks. Lord USHI-WAKA began to play his trademark dragon flute, the ethereal sound blending with the modern rock notes. As the song finished the fans were silent.

“I can’t hear you, do you remember everyone’s names?” the vocalist joked as he re-introduced the support members, support bassist Shin jokingly hiding behind a fan with a Japanese emoticon on it to avoid showing his face.

Rakuyou” is Orochi’s latest song, the tune upbeat though the band looked tired. The cheerful bells gave the song a festival atmosphere and the fans raised their arms in praise for Yukimura’s skillful guitar. The song contrasted sharply with “Hannya” as Lord USHI-WAKA pulled out prayer beads and swung them over the crowd as he led the motions reminiscent of an exorcism. The vocalist leaned up against Yukimura as his voice reached a falsetto shriek, the instruments rumbling behind him. Backtracked growling vocals and accentuating cymbal taps lent spirit to the otherworldly feel of the song.

“The people here, the people who can’t be here, all the people I love; we’re sending this song to them,” Lord USHI-WAKA announced as they began “Shunjitsu.” Candy-colored pink lights matched the sweet sound of the Dragon Flute. The tune was reminiscent of a lullaby, and fans swayed with the gentle melody.

“It’s ‘Yayoi‘” Lord USHI-WAKA announced, using the word for March from the ancient Japanese calendar and naming off a few other classical Japanese months. “The end of March is when the sakura bloom. This is about those blossoms, ’Yayoi.’

Notes of Japanese harp blended with the instruments as the band played with as much enthusiasm as the small stage would allow. The song was light on bass, leaving Shin free to make hearts at the crowd with the beats, which the fans copied. Rei posed moodily against the side of the stage as the drummer grinned at the crowd and finished the song with a big drum roll.

“We’ve been playing for a while and now there’s only one song left!” The fans protested, but the vocalist continued with live announcements, including one for Yukimura’s birthday. Shin clapped more enthusiastically than even the audience, apparently a fan of his bandmate. “I’ll do my best,  so please come,” the guitarist nicely asked the crowd.

Hitokoro Izuru” had a hard visual sound with nice chime accents on the downbeats, keeping with Orochi’s theme of blending traditional and modern sounds. For the final song of the set, the band were high in energy, playing around with Yukimura jokingly hiding behind a curtain while the rest of the band made lots of eye contact with the audience. One final jumped together and they left.

After a few silent moments, the audience began an encore call and Lord USHI-WAKA returned and, to the fan’s surprise, picked up a guitar. “Samurai had their aiba (beloved horse),” he said, “and a bandman’s guitar is his aiba.” He began to try to figure out the guitar and only succeeded in letting out an ear-splitting screech that made the fans jump. “It’s his settings,” USHI-WAKA explained, trying and failing to make the instrument work. “I’m just going to stop now. I don’t want to hurt your ears. Is Yukimura still not coming?” He looked over to the curtain, where the manager appeared with another guitar for the frontman to try. Before he could play, however, the real guitarist was ready to return. The fans called for him and he came out holding a cake, and the crowd let off pop-crackers and a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Yukimura then picked up his own guitar, showing off its red and stripe pattern, and Lord USHI-WAKA belatedly realized it had been Rei’s “horse” he’d been trying to play. The rest of the band then returned, the drummer having changed into a t-shirt and glasses, looking like a time-traveler among the rest of the still-costumed group.

The encore began heavy with “Zakuro” rattling bells throughout that complemented the strong bass line. The fans bent forward and thrashed as Lord USHI-WAKA leaned over the crowd, encouraging them to come closer. Shin forgot a bit of samurai graciousness in favor of showing his rock personality, flipping the crowd off between notes. The room cooled down with the Japanese traditonal shamisen notes of “Tenku Shiro.” Lord USHI-WAKA stayed comfortably in the middle of his range for the song, and the band swayed with the pleasant tune. The band used the slower pace to play off each other, the vocalist grabbing first at Rei, then Yukimura.

“It’s almost time to part…let’s take a picture and make it look like there are a thousand people here!” USHI-WAKA gathered the fans together and they took a commemorative photo. The members then expressed their thanks one by one, and the band began the final number, “Sakura.” The crowd waved Japanese folding fans with the airy melody, Lord USHI-WAKA twirling his flute as they performed the lyrical song. The music had a quiet energy and a very seasonally appropriate feeling that culminated as the song finished and Yukimura threw handfuls of fake cherry blossom petals. “Thank you!” they called, waving at the crowd before exiting.

Afterwards, fans got the rare chance to take part in an in-hall after party, where they could chat with the band and enjoy food and drinks. For those who missed it, May 19 will be another birthday event, this time for Yukimura, so fans will definitely want to check it out.

 Set List

  1. Fushi-cho
  2. Hyakkariryoran
  3. Kono Hana Sakuya Hime
  4. Oni-ura
  5. Rakuyou
  6. Hannya
  7. Shunjitsu
  8. Kiyo-hime
  9. Yayoi
  10. Hitokoro Izuru

Encore

  1. Zakuro
  2. Tenku Shiro
  3. Sakura

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!

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

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