UNWAS lull Shinjuku MARZ, December 21

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted March 3, 2012

Under a dark blue glow, moody music welcomed UNWAS to the stage for their performance in the heart of Kabukicho, at Shinjuku MARZ.

The December 21 set began with ambient plucked guitar and gently rattling snare, only the barest hint of a spotlight breaking the darkness over guitarist/vocalist MA-ROCK. The ballad entry to“LINK” was disrupted by a shrill whine of feedback. Blue and red lights flashed in sync with hardening drums and bass rising on a steady crescendo though the vocals remained calm. Blinding white light accompanied a barrage of blended sounds for the powerful instrumental.

Cymbal taps, a spark of guitar, and then crashing hard-hats opened “SLUNG” with a hard riff. AOI’s strong guitar line stole the thunder from MA-ROCK’s simple vocal melody, blue and green light blending into an undersea scene. Serenity and turmoil warred throughout the number though the staging remained primarily simple as AOI grooved like a smooth operator and MA-ROCK slowly tossed his head to the crashing drums.

TOWA NI KISS WO” presented a gorgeous opening guitar line and pretty melody with some falsetto thrown in, lights burning bright as the mood escalated in the second chorus. Following the potent instrumental, the song wound down for a time before rising to a head in the final poignant chorus. Then guitar took the lead for “CREASE,” as MA-ROCK sang in gravelly tones. “CREASE” featured a fluid and fascinating guitar line with a little more pace, while bassist LUNA grooved to the rhythm. The guitars jammed to the drums leaving MA-ROCK in the spotlight and the rest of the band rocked out right through to the end of the number, wicked guitar winding it up.

“Today is our last live for December and for the year,” announced MA-ROCK. “Next is a new song… No it’s not,” he amended. “It’s a song called ‘STAR RIGHT.’” The number began with a bit of groove to it  as AOI danced into the music on the balls of his toes. The chorus, however, has a cruisy beginninguntil the beat brought some more funk into it, guitar alternating between slow strums and quick chords. The final chorus was aggressive, playing right on into “SHOW IN AGAIN.” Deep and angry in tone, the guitar had a sense of grunge to it that pulled the band into a physical expression, bending and rocking. MA-ROCK, down on his knees, ripped out chords to back-up AOI’s solo at the stage-front. The lyrics escalated into a growled, animalistic scream before returning to calm vocals for the finish.

“Thank you so much for this year. I thought I should talk a lot but I’ve got nothing to talk about… Since today is our last for the year, I want to drink a lot! I always drink a lot… Anyway, there’s two songs to go for today. The next song is ‘Touch Me.’”

Touch Me” was something like a late ‘70s love ballad with heavier bass and darker vocals. The song made a strong but subtle impact, eventually slowing to a stop with crooning falsetto and chiming guitar. “Thank you. This was UNWAS,” said MA-ROCK, launching the final number, “GALAXY.” Without warning, the guitar line continuously shifted into a minor key, making for an interesting piece and an unpredictable melody. The atmosphere was sweet with only a hint of sour, altered to a slightly darker tone via harsher vocals that were thrown in as the number progressed. A white-wash of light and sound concluded the experience. MA-ROCK crouched and played out as each of the members left one by one. Finally, the vocalist bowed and left, his guitar still ringing on the ground.

Set List

  1. LINK
  2. SLUNG
  3. TOWA NI KISS WO
  4. CREASE
  5. STAR RIGHT
  6. SHOW IN AGAIN
  7. TOUCH ME
  8. GALLAXY

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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