Lolita23Q at Shibuya Glad, Christmas 2010

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted February 19, 2011

What do you get if you cross Sid Vicious, a shinsengumi warrior, a half-hearted ninja, a comedian dressed as a baron and Cloud from FFVII? Apparently you get Shoujo Lolita 23q.

The miniature amphitheater space of Shibuya Glad was packed to the limit with those lucky fans who made the cut for the special Christmas concert, each receiving a gift of a light-up ring at the door. Many sported Santa hats and some clutched stuffed animals in their glow-bangled hands to wave about during the live. Clapping along to the entrance music, the fans screamed as drummer BAN entered in a tuxedo. ryosuke yelled to the crowd as he charged on, but his voice was drowned out by another wave of screams, the pattern continuing as guitarists Yu-ki and ryuto took to the stage followed by vocalist Soshi. Up-close and personal in the tiny venue, his white-gloves reached into the crowd to grab up offered hands.

Gathering around the drum kit–featuring only one of the anime themed twin kick-basses in order to fit the petite venue–the band turned their backs on the crowd, Soshi crying “Shibuya, welcome! Let’s go nuts for this oneman!” Kicking it off behind the mic stand with “Mikansei sapphire,” Soshi’s gloved hands drew attention, often spread wide to fit the open tune. Meanwhile, ryosuke got right down to business, digging into the music from the get-go. All five members led a clapped interval, Soshi executing a neat little spin as ryuto’s guitar solo took off. “Let’s rock together!” Soshi cried. “Jump, jump, jump, jump!” The sick bassline of “ishoku Othello” had not only the crowd jumping brightly, but Soshi too. ryosuke then took over the vocals, adding in harsh growls to spice up the atmosphere. As the crowd dove over each other, he and Yu-ki sidled up to the front row, making no fuss as hands groped to touch anything in reach. The final stretch saw the whole band headbanging along with the crowd, both Soshi and ryosuke really going for it. An odd balance between cute and heavy, “Kyokusai shiki Castle” featured the spectacle of Yu-ki, ryosuke, and Soshi hopping single file across the stage while ryuto stoically played out a vibrant solo. More choreography continued throughout while the crowd moshed back and forth under Soshi’s direction whenever ryuto revised that bouncy tune. “Happy Merry Christmas! We’re Lolita 23q! I missed you, Tokyo!” Soshi cried, punching the air on BAN’s celebratory drum roll.

Evidently nervous, Soshi tried to skip ahead half a set, boldly announcing, “This song is dedicated to you here who are important to us.” However, when the instruments didn’t follow, he soon realized his mistake, grinning bashfully as ryuto teased him for being too nervous. Resetting the atmosphere, he explained that the tuxedos were the costume most requested by the fans. However, “One doesn’t fit.” Thus Soshi smoothly shifted the embarrassment to Yu-ki who had jokingly lied about his height, stating “180cm” and gotten exactly what he asked for. “Have you listened to the new songs?” Soshi then asked, receiving an impressive reply. “Good, because that’s what we’re doing!”

Moments after Ban set the pace for “Ginga no tsubasa, Galactic Wing,” ryosuke was already down low over his bass, head thrashing an example for the crowd. The versatile piece flowed from heavy riffs to lighter tunes, from rysoke supplying a heavy growl to Soshi’s rap and at last to a cheerful chorus full of waving arms. With only his raw voice, the bassist yelled the crowd into a frenzy. He was so worked up that he started hopping a whole phrase too early, grinning stupidly until the crowd joined him, jumping harder to placate him. The funky beat of “kyuutai kikagaku yuugi” kept the crowd moving, the nonsensical English lyrics heavily tinted with a robotic effect driving them on and on. Throughout the chorus, Soshi led a series of actions that the fans followed to perfection. In the midst of the song, BAN climbed up on his stool, hands to his ears to escalate the crowd’s screams, ryosuke matching them micless with a “Let me hear it!” he then slipped into club-mode in the next verse, dancing about with his bass an extension of himself. “One-two-three!” he cried, leading into the final chorus.

 Screaming through a blackout, the crowd dissolved into giggles at the shadowy sight of ryosuke fixing Soshi’s bowtie. After a little light chatter, Soshi finally got the chance to re-create the atmosphere he had so skillfully yet mistakenly garnered earlier. “I want to sing this for those here today. Please listen to ‘koko ni aru kanan”.” Upbeat but melodic, the number enticed both ryosuke and BAN to sing along passionately. “All right, toss those heads!” Soshi commanded, the contrary “Lunatic Temptation” taking off right away, hitting a wicked verse and transitioning into a ballad-esque chorus. Some fans joined ryosuke in his headbanging mission, others dutifully slammed fists through the air–the rest simply grinning brightly as they enjoyed the intense atmosphere of the stage.

Bright, chiming notes rang as Soshi announced, “Please listen. “A Shiner,”” and struck a sober pose. Ryosuke, bowtie long gone, held a hand over his heart, singing along as even Yu-ki mouthed the lyrics to himself. Then Soshi cheerfully thanked the crowd. “It’s BAN’s turn now. Give him a warm welcome!” Amidst a BGM of dance-music, the other members ran off and Ban took over for a drum solo. Head jiggling and piercings catching the lights, he grinned blindingly with every strike. Tapping the sticks high above his head, he got the crowd clapping along. “Are you enjoying today’s drum solo?” he cried, listening out for the enthusiastic reply over the sound of his own rhythm. The solo ended with a stick rolled stylishly into the air to cue applause but BAN time wasn’t over. The drummer chatted with the crowd, telling stories about thinking about what stories to tell. Eventually, the others returned to rescue him with “White Blade.” Quickly heating things up again, ryosuke growled fiercely, Soshi leaning back to sing out the high chorus. By the time the band struck final, dramatic poses, the crowd were more than ready to tackle the relentlessly bouncy beat of “Flash Burn,” jumping fiercely. Soshi ran about the stage-front grabbing hands and leading an energetically waving chorus. Each member won the crowd’s attention with various solos interspersed throughout the piece.

 “Alice in downward” had ryosuke leaning out over the smitten crowd, headbanging along with Soshi as the versatile number cycled a range of moods for the crowd to respond to with a different type of physicality. Strangers and friends alike were squished up impossibly trying to reach the stage where ryosuke sat on the barrier, relying on the fans to hold him up as he leaned back dangerously, hands busy wringing sound from his bass. “This is the last spurt! Let’s go for it, okay?” Soshi cried. Instantly, heads began a slow half revolution left and right to the wicked rhythm of “Nejidokei libido.” Soshi’s scream inspired chaos, heads thrashing double time before the motion was abandoned in the pursuit of supporting him in the hand rolling actions he executed into a round of growling. Really getting into it, ryuto moved right up with an intense expression as he kept one eye on the crowd. ryosuke couldn’t take it, however, and after grinning at the chaotic spectacle for a moment, he joined it, hair whipping about until he yelled “Oi!” launching into a solo.

“Tokyo! This is the last stage! Can you do it?” Soshi yelled. The final number eclipsed even its popular predecessor as the crowd threw everything they had into necks snapping violently about. Under a red wash, the musicians induced a deep riff, Soshi muttering ominously and rising to a yell. Hair all sweaty and out of place after trying to out-do the crowd, he cried, “Tokyo! Let’s run amok!” and let out a series of screams, ryosuke once more hanging over the crowd. A carnival interlude had the fans clapping cutely in stark contrast to their prior activities. Shirt open, tuxedo a mess, ryosuke joined with Soshi for a chorus of “Woah,” the crowd pitching in at Soshi’s request. “Thank you so much for today! Thank you for this passionate live!” the vocalist cried before the final chord. Yu-ki took off smartly but ryosuke leaned over the crowd once more who patted his bare chest with wide grins and even ryuto reached out to grab a few hands while BAN executed a courtly bow. Last off, after Soshi, ryosuke called one final farewell.

Hardly about to leave the fans hanging, ryosuke responded to the encore call, strutting out accompanied by “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and decked out like a punk rocker complete with eye patch, tartan pants and spiked collar. “Fuck you!” he screamed thrice, silently dragging more from the crowd before breaking character with a chuckle. “Thanks for the encore. We’re in cosplay and I’m Sid Vicious the English punk rocker. Today is for those who have supported us since Soshi joined half a year ago, so tell me, are you having fun?” The answer was a big fat, YES! “I think today has really brought us together with all of you.” When someone yelled that they couldn’t see his feet, ryosuke gasped and spontaneously decided to put on a fashion show. As the music replayed, he strutted about, baring his chest and biting his shirt hem between his teeth, ecstatic female screams nearly drowning out the Sex Pistols. When the crowd then boldly cried “We want to touch!” he replied equally as boldly, “Later I’ll get right in so you can touch all you want. Wherever you want. There’s no such thing as out of bounds today.”

Before the fans started to faint of over-excitement, ryuto entered garbed in a yukata with a ninja headdress. He cut down ryosuke with a plastic sword, the bassist falling with a thud. Coldly, ryuto handed him the sword. “You embarrassed yourself with a stupid outfit, so take this and kill yourself.” Despite shrieks of protest, ryosuke did exactly that. “Honestly, I was terrified of this moment,” ryuto confessed. “I’m not sure if I’m a ninja or something else entirely.” He then spun ryosuke off on a tangent about how the punk clothes are just what he wore when he was in highschool and used to read SHOXX and think ‘I wanna be in a band, too!’

The next music rolled to emit Yu-ki outfitted as a member of the historic shinsengumi. He borrowed ryuto’s sword, cutting down ryosuke for a second time. Completely unfazed, the bassist considered Yu-ki’s outfit. “It’s definitely shinsengumi, but that scar on your cheek looks like the anime character Rurouni Kenshin and he was their enemy.” Yu-ki just grinned and nodded at the Kenshin reference, not seeming bothered by the inaccuracy. “Get this,” ryosuke replied to calls for Sohi. “I know you all want to see Soshi but he’s all excited back there and begged to be left till last so we’re going with BAN.” The crowd were hardly disappointed as the drummer appeared in green silk and white ruffles, carrying a glass of wine. Apparently, having considered his glasses, current hair colour and his facial shape, BAN could come up with none other than the comedian Higuchi. Impersonating a popular gag, he yelled “Higuchi-katta!” slashing an arm up as ryosuke (directly in the line of attack) once more went down.

Suddenly, battle music from Final Fantasy VII began to play, the crowd snapping upright as they realised that Soshi’s cosplay could be none other than…

Cloud, armor pads, sword and all strutted out, strode over and cut down ryosuke yet again. “He’s totally in character!” ryosuke observed. “Cloud-san. This is Lolita 23q. What do you think?” “No interest,” Cloud dead-panned. “What about this odd group on stage?” “No interest.” “Did you see our vocalist Soshi? What did you think?” ryuto cut in: “No interest.” With a laugh, Soshi broke character, greeting the crowd and announcing that his sword cost 10,000 yen and that it was very heavy. “This shoulder pad falls off so I’m taking it off now, but let me keep the sunnies for just one song, okay?” His boyish excitement was evident.

Finally remembering why they were there, the band got back on track for the encore. “Today we’re doing a special performance for you guys from our up-coming cover album insert. Please listen. Storm.” Despite the classic Luna Sea sound that contrasted with the set so far, there was a hint of Lolita 23q in the piece as they grooved away throughout, ryosuke and Soshi dancing together after overcoming the nerves of performing the number for the first time. Then things really took off. “Hey Tokyo! Let’s blow this encore!” Soshi yelled, all surging forward and slapping hands with the crowd. “Sui-suiren-ren no heya” blasted off with ryosuke’s death voice, the crowd’s hands reaching for the stage and then copying Soshi’s actions. The members swung round to point at Yu-ki for his solo before headbanging broke out throughout, the number evolving and changing in typical Lolita 23q fashion. It wound down with Yu-ki’s final solo slowing to a halt.

“Thank you for the encore! Thanks to me, you had to wait a long time but I had to set my hair for you!” Soshi joked. When he brought up the others’ costumes, Yu-ki explained about how ryosuke had admitted to reverting to his old school self. “So this is the kind of kid you were…” he hummed at Soshi. (This meaning a video game geek of course.) BAN once more impersonated the comedian to the raucous laughter of both crowd and band but Soshi’s gamer joke attempt was not so successful. “With the sword and costume, my hit points go up!” he enthused, earning only a few sympathetic giggles. He then aimed for a different type of reaction, firing the crowd up for the last stretch. “Red Room” reworked the atmosphere in moments, the crowd yelling in time as they pumped fists well rested and raring to go. When Soshi held the mic out for them, they sung out loudly, a mission impossible riff bringing hands up to flick the air with BAN’s beats. The catchy, upbeat melody of “Carnival of Julia” with BAN relentlessly in motion in the background had the crowd leaping, diving and moshing across the room, a sick riff and rap bringing out the Sid Vicious in everyone, ryosuke’s arms spread wide as he stared intensely out at the crowd. A solo from ryuto brought the number to a halt, but it revived a moment later as Sid and Cloud turned towards each other, thrashing heads to compete with even the most excitable members of the crowd.

Lastly, the fans activated their glow rings for “Jenocence,” Soshi leading them in one last dance. The poppy atmosphere of the chorus brought house lights up on the ragged but ecstatic crowd. They sang along with Soshi when he yelled “Together!” the four mobile members gathering at centre stage to strike a final pose. “Thank you! It was super fun!” Soshi cried earnestly, flopping into a long, long bow. “Hey!” ryosuke screamed, drawing more and more from the crowd before he, too, stepped back and bowed. Announcing their March tour and pre-Spring single release for the coming year, the band garnered even more screams. “I hope we can do this again next year,” suggested ryuto, receiving a cheer in response. Soshi’s assurance that they would be cosplaying again in future met with plenty of laughter, the vocalist obviously taking a shining to his first cosplay experience.

“Please join hands with the person beside you.” After much messing about on the band’s behalf, everyone was finally set for one simultaneous jump with a yell of “Happy New Year!” to end the unique event.

Set List

  1. Mikansei Sapphire
  2. Ishoku Othello
  3. Kyokusai shiki Castle
  4. Kyokou shinzou Droid
  5. Ginga no tsubasa, Galatic Wing
  6. Kyuutai kikagaku yuugi
  7. Koko ni aru kanan (cannon?)
  8. Lunatic Temptation
  9. A Shiner
  10. BAN Time
  11. White Blade
  12. Flash Burn
  13. Alice in downward
  14. Nejidokei libido
  15. Lost Minerva

Encore

  1. Storm (Cover)
  2. Sui-suiren-ren no heya
  3. Red Room
  4. Carnival of Julia
  5. Jenocence

VK Exclusive

There are 26 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

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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