Looking back on 2013 [日本語あり(日本人スタッフ限定)]

With 2013 well behind us, some ROKKYUU staff wanted to share some of our best memories of the year. If you’re looking for reports of good shows to browse, this little trip down memory lane will point you in the right direction. If you just want a recap of the highlights of 2013, read on to see which shows impressed our staff the most.

Editor-in-Chief, Leela McMullen

2013 had some amazing shows to look back on with NoGoD’s shows at both LIQUID ROOM and BLITZ and DaizyStripper’s outstanding 6 days at O-West ranking very highly. girugamesh had their moment, too, making a spectacular 20 minute comeback at WWW followed by an AX extravaganza. On a personal level, I have some great memories of Tokyo Kinema Club at Uguisudani from both heidi. and A(Ace), too.

However, the show that made the biggest impact for me was the hide tribute in September at Kashiwa Palooza. With all of the memorial events and releases of 2013, I spent the whole year working with various hide-related projects so when I think of 2013, hide really comes to mind from Tribute SPIRITS to MUSEUM to movie to café and of course my own opportunity to sing “FLAME” alongside DIE at The Club Sensation. Yet, the first memory that pops up when I consider hide in 2013 is hide Still Alive at Kashiwa Palooza.

From the gorgeous acoustic covers of TACUTT to the session which combined great talent with some lighthearted teasing, the show was a unique time in which hide’s music could be thoroughly enjoyed in a new setting and format. The atmosphere of the venue itself had a big hand to play in this along with the attitudes of the crowd who were really just there to have fun with everyone both on and offstage. Check out the report for finer details.

Fashion Editor/Writer, Kate Havas

2013 was a busy year on all fronts at ROKKYUU! The Harajuku Fashion walks provided a year-round view of the creative side of Tokyo  and ROKKYUU even got its first custom look, designed by Enri Ko! Filling out the run of articles on personal takes on fashion, our in-depth interview with stylist Milly Yoshihara gave a behind the scenes look at the appearance-driven VK world that was an extremely interesting read even for those in the scene.
Though the end of 2013 brought news of disbandments, some old faces made fresh starts and I was able to catch the first shows of WING WORKS and THE BEETHOVEN, both of whom lived up to the hype that had surrounded their debuts. The year also marked the return of DuelJewel’s Hayato, the only show of the year emotional enough to make me cry (though Hayato and drummer Val certainly made up for that with laughter later in the year at GACKT’s Camui Gakuen!)
On a personal note, we also welcomed some great new staff members and got a lot of good feedback from you, our readers. I look forward to rocking with everyone in 2014!

Japanese Editor/Writer, Chika Yoshizawa

In 2013, I had many opportunities to see a lot of lives, and tried to write reports for various bands—not only in English but also in Japanese. As a mini report, I was left with a strong impression of heid.’s Yukata Matsuri. I think I could express the atmosphere of fusion between Japanese traditional summer festivals and the band’s music.

However, I also recommend the report for Mix Speaker’s, Inc. at Shibuya Koukaido, Mix EXPO 2012-2013 Final “promise-Hoshifuru Yuenchi-“ to you as a full report. Although the band is in the hell attraction at the moment, it was the last live with the concept of the heaven attraction. When I was watching the live, I was so moved by their performances and words from members. I clearly remember it even now. Check it out from the link.

2013年はたくさんのライブを観る機会があり、英語のみならず日本語でもいろいろなライブのレポートを書かせていただきました。その中で、個人的に強い印象を残したものはheidi.の浴衣祭り。ミニレポートで書かせていただき、英語と日本語の両方をご覧いただけます。日本の伝統の浴衣祭とバンドの音楽が融合した雰囲気をうまく伝えられたのではないかと思います。

そして、英語のみのフルレポートとしてはMix Speaker’s, Inc. の渋谷公会堂でのライブ「Mix EXPO 2012-2013 ファイナル “promise-星降る遊園地-」をお勧めいたします。今、バンドは地獄のアトラクションですが、この日は天国のアトラクションとして最後のライブでした。ライブを拝見している際、バンドのパフォーマンスのみならずMCにもとても感動したことを今でも覚えています。英語のみですがリンクからぜひチェックしてください。

Senior Photo Editor/Writer, Laura Cooper

As both a photographer and writer for ROKKYUU, 2013 was a busy year with pretty much a show every week.  It was also a bumper year outside of the VK scene with Summer Sonic, Fujirock, Ozzfest and Loud Park  bringing over bands like Tool, Devin Townsend, Black Sabbath, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins to play to huge crowds.

Looking over the past year at ROKKYUU, a few shows have stuck in my mind both in terms of photography, writing, and just attending. I’ve covered Ninjaman Japan quite often, which is always a pleasure as I not only appreciate the metal roots at the heart of their playing, but I love a band who clearly look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage. Speaking of which, I also covered Gakido a few times (including their final show at BLAZE)—another band it was always fun to see live, and whose enjoyment of being on stage was infectious.

Perhaps the weirdest gig I went in 2013—and one that tops all others for originality—was the Hana Shounen Baddies anniversary show at O-East. I’d shot their zany anniversary show in 2012 so expectations were pretty high for what they’d pull off this time. Needless to say, walking into an O-East dominated by a boxing ring was the first sign that something was way off, but when the guests were asked to walk onto the stage and take their seats behind the curtains, one suddenly had a sudden dose of stage fright.  The cheers of the fans as the curtains parted turned to disbelief as they were met, not with the sight of their band, but a bunch of normal-looking people shuffling awkwardly in their chairs and trying not to catch anyone’s eye. In short, the show was superbly original, full of humor, fun, and a fair bit of anarchy. (Most of the latter was stored in drummer Hiroshi’s mightily impressive rainbow mohawk.)

Finally, a nod to WingWorks, who I worked with for their first oneman show in August.  RYO:SUKE’s concept takes in diverse influences from Lady Gaga to Marilyn Manson to Leonardo Di Vinci and also the more occult leanings of the visuals that Wing Works combines.  I’ll be interested to see how the band gets on over the forthcoming year and hopefully I’ll have the chance to shoot them again.

There’s plenty more fun stuff coming up in 2014 and I’m sure I’ll be busy helping to keep everyone reading ROKKYUU up to date on what’s going on.

Writer, Chi-Yow

2013 holds a number of memories for me, many of them from coming to Japan in April and starting what I thought would just be a temporary period of interning at 69 for the three months that I was in Tokyo. I was able to attend a number of lives like the exist-trace and Sixh. fashion with live show at Ikebukuro Black Hole in May and J-ROCK A GO!GO! with cocklobin and 12012 at Shinjuku LOFT as well as hide-related events like hide MUSEUM 2013 and also handled some fashion photography for the h.NAOTO brand during my stay. I was even fortunate enough to come back for another round that included some major shows like girugamesh’s G# at Shibuya AX and D=OUT’s Grand Finale show at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall.

I’ve never been one to pick one definite favorite of anything, as I try to appreciate things from different points of view, and every one of the shows and events I had the privilege of covering means something to me. It may be a bit biased, or a lot biased, but I would have to say that Mix Speaker’s, Inc.’s Halloween live “Halloween Party!! ~Pumpkins of Pandemonium~” was one (one, not the only) of my favorite shows to cover in 2013. Part of the reason is that Halloween has always been my favorite holiday—particularly, the idea of creating another character of yourself for one night (to scare away evil spirits!) being appealing to me. If you know of Mix Speaker’s, Inc., you know that they create characters of themselves all year, but this particular show was especially fun because they invited other bands’ members to join in the festivities. It was a spectacular show that showcased a number of talents, transforming all of Shibuya O-EAST into a massive masquerade. I not only enjoyed writing about this show, but was able to appreciate it vastly from a photographer’s perspective even though I was not the one shooting it.

Check out my more detailed report with fun photos by Laura!

Photographer, Eric Agnew

2013 was my busiest year yet, both with ROKKYUU and for concerts in general, falling just 1 show short of 69 for the year (which I would’ve had if one hadn’t been cancelled- oh well). On a personal level, the year was filled with a few one-offs (Ozzfest, Gackt, 2CELLOS, Kishidan Banpaku), a number of friends’ bands and cover events (a couple I even performed in!), and my usual most-frequented bands/artists being BUCK-TICK, (12!) Ken Lloyd projects (Oblivion Dust/FAKE?/Atom on Sphere), a few more INORAN appearances (inc. Muddy Apes and a guest spot at the FAKE? “Decade Live”), and a bakers’ dozen J shows. Throw in the 7 LUNA SEA shows and a (far too brief) hide session appearance at Banpaku, and that makes J my most-seen artist at 21 times last year which is not at all surprising considering how frequently the man tours!

ROKKYUU kicked off with 6 days of LUNA SEA at Budokan, with a quick Awoi shoot thrown in the middle at the extremely cramped Shibuya DESEO. NINJAMAN JAPAN and Gakido provided much amusement (particularly the mascots at Gakido), while INORAN rocked the house at Zepp Diver City.

D did their pirate thing at Shibuya Koukaidou, while amber gris left me wondering how a guy can have such nice legs. XD girugamesh did a short, free show at Shibuya WWW to promote their new single, which I ended up being filmed in a mock-news intro for. heidi. donned kimonos at Harajuku Astro Hall, and D’erlanger had me playing “dodge the video cameras” at Shinagawa Stellar Ball.

Daizy Stripper and a 3-band lineup of defspiral, heidi., & THE BEETHOVEN both played Shibuya O-WEST, which left my pants entirely covered in thick dust from the grating along the stage, although I’ll choose to remember it for the latter show’s hide covers. Then it was back to LIQUID ROOM, climbing over the platforms to shoot Black Gene for the Next Scene. Got to see a few bands I’d heard but never seen before at stylish wave GENERATION vol.5, as well as some familiar faces-felt kinda bad for Jupiter, though due technical difficulties that ate up their time, leaving them only enough for one song! Finally, one last defspiral shoot at Shinjuku BLAZE before the usual slew of end-of-the-year concerts which are inevitably too big to allow photography. 😀

Contributing Writer, Maya Kawaguchi

I witnessed many encouraging lives and heard the announcements of many farewells and difficulties in 2013. The live that best represented 2013 on personal level for me was the final live of 9GOATS BLACK OUT that was held in February 9, 2013.

The five years of their work gathered in the 37 songs they have made with artistic displays and heartwarming special effects was visually amazing as their songs flowed to the high ceiling of Akasaka BLITZ. 9GOATS BLACK OUT is one of the bands that I have worked with for a while and seeing this final live made me think that nothing lasts forever and to value the things that are always around you.

On a different note, one of the fun shows I definitely want to point out for 2013 is, “ DIE, TAKA, Sato Kotaro Makafushigi Special “ at Yokohama Club Sensation. To sum it up, it was a live that was filled with laughter and good music that just made you smile all the way to the end. DIE’s easygoing nature, TAKA’s cool performance, and Sato Kotaro’s hilarious performance made for good chemistry to bring out a good live. And last but not least, our editor in chief Leela McMullen was a guest for that day and sang a few songs with the members. She always amazes me with her vocals and I anticipate much for her future activities as a vocalist and the head of ROKKYUU for 2014.

[Note: No arms were twisted in the writing of this passage – Leela (^_^;) ]

Contributing Writer, Kellie Lacey

2013’s live calendar began in style with LUNA SEA’s six show residency at the legendary Budokan venue. There was still snow clinging to the grounds around the venue but that didn’t chill the spirits of either myself or any of the thousands of fans who saw the revitalized LUNA SEA on stage. The shows were a call to the past but also a reminder that LUNA SEA still have some great days to come.  As a long time fan of the band, being able to see them live and being able to look forward to the album that was released later in 2013 was the best way to start the year.

Other personal highlights include seeing Dir en grey tearing up the stage alongside legends of the Western rock and metal world at Ozzfest in Makuhari. 2013 was a fantastic year for unexpected collaborations, and I enjoyed seeing Exist Trace share a stage with a fashion show at Shinjuku Blaze and also the unique experience of GACKT performing with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at Tokyo Opera City Hall.

Read the Rokkyuu report from the final LUNA SEA Budokan show.

Translator, Amy Johnson

One band among many, 2013 was a big year particularly for D. Celebrating their tenth year as a band and the return to a major label, what better way to bid “Bon Voyage!” to their pirate-themed concept than a dazzling show, complete with their own ship? 2013 was a year of firsts for me in so many ways, but on April 12, it was my utmost pleasure to see this band for the first time on such an important night. As a result, 2013 for me definitely conjures memories of D.

As for the show; adorned in the luscious scarlet, black and gold of the Bon Voyage! concept, D took Shibuya Koukaidou by storm with a set list of fan favorites and their typical dorky charm, best exhibited by vocalist Asagi’s blunder of recording the crowd sideways (on video) as they endeavored to perfect a new dance. D benefited greatly from the larger capacity of the hall and the enormous stage where they could really show what they were made of. From the sea of flags raised for “Night Ship ‘D’” to the final echoes of the beautiful “EDEN,” D did not disappoint. As the fans roared in euphoria at the announcements of where the band was heading next and the members chinked glasses of wine on stage, I think it was clear that there would be smooth sailing from there on out.

Read more about this show in the report.

We hope that your 2013 was as memorable as ours and that you will enjoy 2014 alongside us! If you have any favorite reports or articles from 2013, please post the link in the comments below so other readers can enjoy them, too!

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

Chika has been interested in visual kei music since VK bands first began holding free lives the Hokoten area in Harajuku. She was too young to go watch them back then in the early 90s, but the scenes on TV caught her eye. Since then, she has loved the passion of VK music and, of course, music in general. She majored in English literature in Japan and learned to speak English in the UK. After graduating from university, she has worked for both American and Japanese companies in IT and as a translator and continues various translations today.

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!

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.

Amy happened across Dir en grey on a used computer and became enamored by the aesthetics and androgyny of visual kei. Amy studied Japanese at university, including a year studying abroad in Tokyo. Interests include anime and manga, reading, learning languages, playing guitar, and holding on to the futile dream of one day meeting Johnny Depp. Amy hopes to bring the overseas fans closer to the bands they love by translating material related to them.

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

Kellie Lacey was born into a family that loves, plays, and staged live music and is proudly carrying on the tradition. While studying psychology in the heart of England and attending the lives of every obscure metal band that came her way, Kellie was given a DIR EN GREY CD and has not looked back since. A short vacation to Tokyo in 2009 and tickets to see a couple of lives while there convinced Kellie to abandon the steady government job she had and move to Japan for some excitement and an rapidly emptying bank account.

Maya Kawaguchi is a Japanese native who grew up in California. She was introduced to VK in college and soon became fascinated by the genre and nagoya-oriented bands in particular. Since then, she has been surprised by the number of foreigners who are interested in VK and hopes to introduce this world to as many potential fans as possible.

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