THE BEETHOVEN’s Sold-Out O-West Debut

Live Report

by Kate Havas, Mio Nagasaki, posted June 21, 2013

A stellar pedigree helped THE BEETHOVEN sell out their debut live at Shibuya O-West on May 31. Both the first and second floors were packed, the heat in the live house already stifling even before the show had begun. When it did open, however, it was on a surprisingly relaxed note: Beethoven’s own “Moonlight Sonata.” The classical piece was scrambled into a crazy, electronic, frenzied waltz as the members took to the stage behind a gauzy curtain. As this curtain fell, the crowd cheered at their first look at the band and their stage, set with luxurious red velvet curtains and a sparkling crystal chandelier.

THE BEETHOVEN opened in high gear with the funky “The Greatest Party,” YURA’s drumming tight as Makoto danced around in metal-accented space shoes. Fukusuke hit the synthesizer pad to add club flair to the song and the backing video was a psychedelic whirl of the band’s logo image. A bossa nova beat danced them into ”Tsumi” and Makoto began to pant, stumbling around as if the show was already too much for him before he fell forward with a long scream. Jets of dry ice blasted up from the stage as the band went into full throttle rock, Naoki slapping a hard bass beat.

“Nice to meet you, we’re THE BEETHOVEN!” Makoto greeted. The answering yells and applause were so loud and long that Naoki began to play an angry bass line just to get them to quiet down and listen again. “We announced this band back on January 31, so we’ve been waiting—we’ve actually been waiting almost a year! It’s our first time in front of you all. It feels great! You were probably wondering what we’re like. We’ve only done two songs so far but today you’ll see our heart. Let’s enjoy ourselves to the end!”

Perhaps wary after their musical scolding, the crowd stayed quiet and Makoto laughed. “You don’t have to be careful around us, come on! Let’s go!”

Neatly blending multiple genres, “Zenbu Machigai nanda, kotae nado doko ni mo nai” had a dark, sexy sound with clear western rock influence and hints of techno as Makoto sang under a vocoder. Fukusuke directed the crowd in fist pumping between hard guitar lines and Makoto barked and screamed, touching his face with dramatic gestures. In contrast, Naoki had a still, oddly elegant stage presence but it was YURA who impressed the most with a rattling, impactful drum solo delivered while half his drum kit was being reassembled by the staff.  The drummer continued to shine in “Sora ni  Ochiru” as strong drums and twanging country bass made for a unique arrangement.

Boku no Uso” was a bit of a cool down, Fukusuke playing a light, groovy rhythm before the song became steady rock. The band again showed a willingness to take influence from other genres, with Makoto purring to a reggae beat and Naoki swaggering as the crowd saluted in time with the music. Strains of Celtic music then came from the speakers, setting the mood for “Rain Dance” as Naoki switched to an upright bass. The instrument gave a rich sound to the smooth jazz song and with Fukusuke’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, it made an atmosphere that would have been at home in the New Orleans French Quarter.

Song finished, the band paused for water—all except for Fukusuke who used the moment to get everyone in the crowd calling for him while the other members were distracted.

“Are you still worried about what we sound like?” Makoto teased. “What do you think?” The answer was a cheer although not one loud enough for the vocalist. “Okay, we’ll try harder! Please wait until after to judge us.” He then introduced the rest of the band, explaining that they were each allowed to say one thing.

Naoki gave the crowd an encouraging yell and threw a pick.

Fukusuke was next. “This is the first time in my life to wear such tall boots,” he said, showing off his footwear.

Then came the infamously verbose drummer.

“Remember, you’re only allowed one thing,” Makoto cautioned.

“What do you mean only one thing? Wait, was that my one thing? Crap! I guess I’m nervous,” YURA  babbled. Makoto kindly let him continue. “Well, yesterday, I sent everyone a cheerful mail saying that we will do our best today!” The replies he received nicely exhibited the personalities of the members: from Makoto, a happy emoticon; from Fukusuke, a ‘yep, got it;” and from Naoki, a blank reply. “When I got the mail from Naoki and saw he just sent my original message back to me, I really laughed!”

“For a lot of reasons, we’ll always remember today,” Makoto said. “Can you stick with us?” “Wonderful World” had an electronic wail that sounded like a digitized cat layered over fun guitar lines which turned into a strong headbanging beat. “Geki Pare” continued the fun sampling, with a catchy beat like arcade game music that slammed suddenly into a rowdy death voice-filled rock number which whipped the audience into a frenzy with its bipolar style.

“Thank you for today! This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Makoto told the crowd. “We have a long way to go. Please look forward to what we’re going to become!”

The vocalist sang in a high, girlish tone for “Fragment to Resplendent,” accompanied only by light guitar notes which set an eerie tone in the live house. When the other instruments joined in, the piece moved into swinging rock and Naoki swayed with his bass as Fukusuke’s guitar kept the steady rhythm of the song. Makoto sang the final, emotional notes before the band exited to classical piano.

They returned in band t-shirts, holding goods and polaroid cameras. “Naoki didn’t have time to take his “cheki” shots before the live so we’re doing them now,” Makoto explained as the bassist sat down on the stage and began posing while Fukusuke and Makoto snapped. “Maybe if you see us taking them, you’ll buy them after the show!”

The encore consisted of two reprises. “Zenbu Machigai nanda, kotae nado doko ni mo nai” ramped up the spacey electronic vibe for the second round and with a sci-fi blare of warning sirens, Naoki showed his affection by grabbing Makoto’s head in a bear hug. “Geki Pare” was similar in sound to the first playing but Makoto put all of his energy into dancing, bopping, and bouncing off the speakers and he encouraging the crowd to call back as they hit a final peak.

“Thank you!” The band posed together for a final picture and exited, Makoto shooting a last, cheerful peace sign at the crowd. With a successful, sold-out first show, THE BEETHOVEN showed they are prepared to live up to the hype with a unique and entertaining blend of personalities creating equally unique and entertaining music.

Set List

  1. The Greatest Party
  2. Tsumi
  3. Zenbu Machigai nanda, kotae nado doko ni mo nai
  4. Sora ni Ochiru
  5. Boku no Uso
  6. Rain Dance
  7. Shiawase Kochira Te no Naru Kata
  8. Wonderful World
  9. Geki Pare
  10. Fragment to Resplendent

Encoure

  1. Zenbu Machigai nanda, kotae nado doko ni mo nai
  2. Geki Pare

VK Exclusive

There are 30 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!

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

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