D’espairsRay Live in NYC Part 1: Opening Act – Acey Slade and The Dark Party…or
How White People Can Be Cool Too.
Living in one of those places from which you truly “cannot get there from here”, any sojourn out of the shire and into the big, wide, real world inevitably turns into quite an adventure. When I initially purchased tickets to see D’espairsRay live in NYC, I had little to no idea how I was going to make it happen, but reassured myself by saying ‘It’s going to be easier than getting to London for a.b.s.’. Although it took a lot of planning, a 5 hour car trip, a 3 hour train ride, walking until I wanted my feet amputated and a hearty dose of Hydrocodone, it proved to me two things: 1: it was, in fact, much easier than sailing off overseas into some Jrockian sunset; and 2: you never realize how worth it it all is until you get there.
I arrived at the venue around 4PM Thursday afternoon to find a moderate, although not unruly, queue already assembled outside Webster Hall. The movie-theater neighboring the venue had posted signs in the windows asking, in a courteous tone, that all Webster Hall patrons resist the urge to block the theater doors, as it posed a fire (and economic) hazard. They were expecting us. Or, then again, maybe they put them up when they saw people camping out on Wednesday night. I wandered the length of the line taking a few pictures and chatting with some fans until around 4:30, when I met up with Kaxxina and Jesus.
The bleak, rainy evening and a large poster for an entirely unnecessary and superfluous new Julia Roberts movie made for sub-tedious queuing, and I must say, the side street on which Webster Hall is located was vastly less entertaining than the life-or-death intersection at which we waited for MIYAVI in Boston. That being said, it was cool getting to meet some people outside of the blogsphere, and it was an unusual experience discussing Death Point and Love Is Dead actually using the spoken word. I’m glad I was able to connect with those guys, and it certainly made standing in line bearable having some people to chill with.
The venue started letting us in around 8:00, as promised. The Studio at Webster Hall feels somewhat like a slightly industrial living room. The stage is diminutive, literally screaming first come first serve at you as you walk in the door. We got an awesome spot, second row on the extreme left, right in front of the bassist’s place.
After some 40 or so minutes of standing there sensing the floor filling up behind us, listening to (speaking of superfluous and unnecessary) Tool background noise, the energy in the club shifted, and several people emerged on stage. A very bassist-y type assumed his expected spot right in front of us, and a guitarist with one of those bleached blond sub-mullet/mohawk hairstyles took his place. These two rockerish types were followed shortly by the rockerishly named Acey Slade (and a drummer. I swear drummers practice an ancient form of Ninjutsu. You don’t even see them coming, they just are suddenly there).
First of all, I was surprised to approve of Slade’s getup. Snakeskin-print torn pants and matching jacket are a foolproof fashion choice, and his makeup and hair were passably cool – Visual Kei, even. I had no idea that whities could look cool.
His act kicked off moderately well- I was struck by a slur of high-pitched English lyrics my Japanese-programmed mind processed as some foreign language and that Alice Cooper-ish creepiness that rings of riding crops, leather, and drollness. The jacket came off, the microphone went dead, and the blonds standing in the front row seemed afraid Acey Slade was carrying some horrible disease, and gave each other worried looks every time his personage was extended over the front row. Although the vocals strike me as somewhat of an acquired taste, I was impressed by the instrumentation and song composition. The music had a good, thrashable feel to it and the band had quite a decent stage presence. Their performance had tons of energy which improved as the setlist wore on, going from a faintly lukewarm opening to a rockin’ mid-point and steady climax.
Acey Slade himself had an awesome stage presence. His classicist jumping, prancing, and fan service was all well done, decently moderated, and carried out with panache. However, aside from the gaggle of fangirls standing directly to my left who were shrieking and headbanging without discernment, the rest of the crowd only responded passably to the music. Slade was a good sport about it, though, making comments about how “it obviously has nothing to do with me. The venue sold out before I was even announced…”, and did a good job at setting up for D’espairsRay, calling out several times, “Are you ready for D’espairsRay!?”
As far as I’m concerned, live music is live music, and being able to see a band perform live is a privilege, whether you signed up for it consciously or not. If there’s a band on stage in front of you, whether it’s your favorite band or one you have never heard before, it’s pretty awesome either way. Acey Slade and The Dark Party had some great energy, and I respect them for being able to warm up a crowd obviously not interested in any secondary, English-spouting bands. I enjoyed their show, and were it convenient to do so, I have to say I probably wouldn’t be unwilling to see them perform again.
Check out Acey Slade and The Dark Party at their official MySpace page . I congratulate him on being the first non-Japanese artist to appear on SG.
Photos: Grand Street by gacktpause, Acey Slade taken from randomcandle.co.uk and flickr