Happy Sunday, Darlings!
As I said last week, I am going to start reserving Sundays for an "off" post, be it a pleasant memory or catching up on things I didn't get to blog about in the past year. It may be an event report, something important I learned regarding J-fashion, or maybe a different alternative fashion entry entirely.
This week, I want to write about something very close to my heart: Dir en grey.
Though I love all sorts of alternative music, Dir en grey has been my favourite band for years, and I see them continuing to be that for a long time.
Though Dir en grey has toured internationally a lot, compared to other Japanese bands, I haven't gotten to see them as much as I would like. Being from Hawaii, it was always extra expensive for me to travel to see them- it would require a trip to either the mainland US, Europe, or Japan, all of which were too out of budget for me for various reasons.
However, I finally got to see them live for the first time in Nagoya, when I studied abroad in 2011. I remember there were not a lot of foreigners there, except one French girl I befriended in line. We ended up getting separated before we went into the venue, and I never saw her again, but she was wonderful company!
Two years later, I got to see them on their Ghoul tour, in Seattle 2013. That concert was difficult, because the show was put off one night after Dir en grey's tour bus broke down. I had to get an apartment in the city and wait until the next night, but it was well worth it!
Then finally, this past November, I got to see them again at the Showbox in Seattle. And this time around, I managed to snag Meet and Greet Tickets!
I have to admit, I was more excited about this tour rather than Ghoul. As beautiful as their previous album Dum Spiro Spero was, it didn't touch me in a way their newest album, Arche did. I knew these songs by heart, and was ready to sing along.
My husband and I lined up for the Meet and Greet at about 6 pm. There was a separate line for general admission and the Meet and Greet. By the time we arrived, we managed to get in about the middle of the Meet and Greet line.
Though it was cold, I decided to wear my favourite Qutie Frash cardigan. I wanted to look halfway decent for the Meet and Greet of course, but knew I would still need to wear something comfortable that could take a beating in the crowd. I would have worn a wig, but I knew that wasn't going to last long, so I did my hair up in an up-do last minute before heading out.
|Qutie Frash, gouK, Demonia, and Kreepsville 666.|
While we were waiting outside, the staff announced that doors were opening an hour behind schedule. I asked around if there were any openers for the band, and nobody knew. We speculated that maybe there were no openers tonight, so doors were opening an hour later.
General admission was allowed to head inside to the Showbox Bar. I'm not sure how it was working exactly, but it seemed like if you bought a drink at the bar then you would be in the first wave of general admission people to get in after the Meet and Greet guests. The bar was quickly filled to capacity, with a long line of people left waiting outside and wrapping around the block.
We froze our butts off in the cold, talking to the people in front of us casually. Finally when it was closer to doors, the staff came down our line with a bucket of VIP passes. They checked names, tickets, and ID, then handed us the laminated VIP passes on a lanyard.
Finally, it was time to go in. A white-haired man with a British sounding accent, who I later learned was an overseas manager or something, was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. He was yelling at some staff about line order or something, maybe someone was trying to jump in line; I don't remember what he was so upset about.
VIP guests were ushered into the main concert hall about ten feet back from the stage. The manager had us all line up in two lines, and told us how this thing was going to go down.
He said when he was ready, they would call out the band. He said we would get five questions only, so he would call on five of us at random. He said to think of a good question, "Not a stupid one, like what did you eat for breakfast or something." It was really difficult to hear him, because there were a lot of Japanese fans in the VIP group. They kept talking to each other in Japanese, complaining that they couldn't see or understand the manager. It was really annoying, and took every fiber of me not to turn around and snap at them in Japanese. But I didn't want to disrupt the Meet and Greet anymore, and didn't want to be rude, either.
The band came out, along with their Japanese interpreter, a taller white guy with brunette hair in a suit. He was much more soft-spoken; I could hardly hear his translations (but I'm sure he was doing a good job). He told the band what was going on; same thing the manager told us, like we'd be asking them five individual questions and stuff.
Now, lots of people have said that the band looks unhappy at Meet and Greets. While I cannot speak for them, it didn't seem that way. Seattle was the first stop on their tour, and if anything, they looked tired. Most of them were wearing sunglasses. Shinya complained of jetlag earlier that morning, saying he was walking around the city because he couldn't sleep. They just seemed tired, but expectedly professional.
The five questions were something like...
To Toshiya, when will you be continuing your fashion design business?
A: Sometime in the next year.
To Die, what is the one item you cannot live without?
A: My iPhone.
To Shinya, what is your favourite drink at Starbucks?
A: Hot cocoa.
To Die, if you were stranded on a desert island to escape the zombie apocalypse, what one thing would you take with you?
A: My iPhone.
Then of course, my husband was nudging me and shaking me, telling me to ask a question!! So although I could barely speak, I asked,
To Kyo, what song off the new album means the most to you?
A: 全て (All of them).
After the Q&A portion, we were allowed to come up one at a time to take a photo with the band. The British-sounding manager was nice enough to take the photo for us on our personal phones.
Some fans brought gifts for Die or Toshiya. The American fans seemed to be mostly well-behaved, but Japanese fans were trying to get away with a lot. Some held Toshiya or Die's hand. One Japanese girl tried to touch or hug Kyo, and he lurched and almost smacked her hand away! It was very uncomfortable. I am not trying to demonize the Japanese fans, but that's just what happened.
People kept cutting in front of me, but I didn't mind, because my whole body was shaking!! I was quivering and could barely move; my legs were like jelly.
The manager turned to me, and I asked if my husband could come with me. He was very nice and said "Yes, of course!" then took my phone.
I brought small goodie bags for each of the band members, with a Seattle chocolate bar and a personalized note on a Seattle postcard.
I passed them out one by one to the respective members. I shook their hand, and gave them each a greeting in Japanese. UNTIL I GOT TO KYO AT THE END.
He was the last person for me to approach, and the very end of the line. He stared right at me, and I almost had a heart attack. I handed him his goodie bag, and gave him a greeting too, but I completely forgot to shake his hand. He is my favourite vocalist in the whole world after all, who completely changed my life; so what was I to do?
The manager took our photo, and I was so tensed up, I look like a giant block.
But I don't care how bad I look in this photo- I am with my favourite band in the world!
After, we exited to stage right, where the interpreter was waiting. He gave each person a signed poster, which the band must have signed before the Meet and Greet.
A lot of people had cut in front of me, so there were just a few people after me. I had enough time to hit the merch booth, where I got two shirts, a hoodie, and a bracelet. By the time I bought those items, the band was going back stage, and everybody made a mad dash for the rail right in front of the stage.
I secured a spot in the second row (I wasn't close enough to the stage to make first), but still front and center! And in my Demonia boots, I was close to 6 feet tall anyway, so seeing over the people in front of me was no issue. I just felt bad for whoever would have been behind me!
I held my spot there, without budging for another hour or so. The general admission fans filtered in, and slowly, but surely, the room was filled to capacity. I turned around and was awestruck by how many fans were there, just to see Dir en grey. There weren't nearly as many people there for the Ghoul tour, and that was with two other openers! I was so proud for them!
The show started on the dot, almost exactly one hour after the Meet and Greet had ended. They opened with Behind a Vacant Image, and took off soaring from there.
If they were "cold", "distant", and "unhappy" in the meet and greet, they made up for that and were entirely engaging throughout the live. Whenever Kyo locked eyes with you, even if it was over you, or fixed on a vacant spot above the crowd five rows back; even the back wall of the venue far behind you; it felt like his eyes were boring straight into yours, singing directly into your soul.
Wow, that was pretty heavy and cliche. But I swear, that's what it felt like.
I didn't move from my spot the entire time, no matter how people tried to push against me or in front of me. I sweat so much. My hair style fell out and I eventually just wore it down.
They completely surprised me with the encore, when they busted out "Child Prey". The entire room sang along to the song, and the band seemed to be enjoying playing it.
For their last song, they played one of my favourites off the new album, "Un deux". That was the only song which Kyo took his hearing protection out for, and seemed to strive with every fiber of his being to croon each note perfectly. It was amazing to watch him perform, as always.
Oh, and I caught Toshiya's guitar pick!
The end of the show always comes with the harsh realization that you have to awake from the dream. It was surreal walking to the bathroom to straighten my clothes, which became entirely disarranged; fix my hair, which surprisingly wasn't horrible.
I exited the restroom and spotted some of my friends sitting at one of the VIP tables, by the bar. That was when I tried to go up to the bar and get a glass of water. One of the staff was incredibly rude to me and told me I couldn't go up to get anything from the bar, because I didn't get a wristband when I came in. I told him I came in early for the meet and greet, and I could show him my ID, but he refused to look at it. I asked my friend to get me some water, and the staff yelled at him and told him not to. I asked what I was supposed to do if I wanted water, because I had been standing for almost five hours and felt like I was going to pass out! He told me to go out to coat check, and they would be selling water there.
I waited in the coat check line, which was super long because the show had ended. When I finally got up to the counter, I was going to buy an overpriced bottle of water, and pay with card- but the girl was super rude and told me she would only take cash. I told her I just needed water because I felt like I was going to pass out, and she pretty much told me "tough shit". Like okay, I get it, but why would a venue make it practically impossible to get something as simple as water?
I was stumbling out, when one of the security guards stopped me, and gave me his bottle of water. I was so touched I almost cried, and I thanked him profusely.
Afterwards, some friends invited me to a local bar, and we went out, had some drinks, sang some karaoke and had a great time. It was a wonderful night.
The only thing that got me down temporarily, were fan comments the next day. Of course I was excited and had the night of my life, so I shared pictures on my personal Instagram, which has practically no followers. But as I was sleeping, it blew up with quite a few nasty comments.
For example, I said that this concert was "The best out of the three Dir en grey concerts I've been to", which it was. But one nasty fan mocked me, saying it was pathetic I'd only been to three, and she was laughing at me. I didn't really get it.
My photo with the band was also uploaded to Tumblr without my permission. The same person who blew up my Instagram reblogged the photo on Tumblr with the caption, "F*ck you, stupid c*nt." I've never met or interacted with this person in my life.
I know, boo-hoo, someone on the Internet was mean to me. And honestly, I take that risk whenever I share any of my photos or what I do. But I was not expecting other Dir en grey fans to be so vicious and jealous of each other. I've lived my life as a fan pretty much in a bubble, not interacting with anyone else, and sharing my photos made me wish I had kept it that way.
But on the other hand, who cares what people say? I can tell that person how much I love the band. I can tell them I've only been to three concerts because it's normally too expensive for me to travel from Hawaii. But someone like that doesn't care, they just want to make themselves feel better by belittling others. Did they buy my airline, hotel or Meet and Greet tickets? No! So what should I care? Just like I have no room to judge the Japanese fans who flew all the way out to Seattle, and got super excited to see the band.
I had an amazing time, and no one can change that. I can hardly wait until the next time I can see them, either here on the mainland or in Japan!
I am sure a lot of you readers can relate, as Lolita and different J-fashion communities are often filled with negative Nancies as well. All I can say is to take what they say with a grain of salt, but don't get too salty, yourself! Be realistic with things, as you always should be, and none of that can hurt you.
Have a great, relaxing Sunday, Darlings! And don't let anyone ruin what you love.