D’espairsRay Live in NYC: Human-clad Monsters

Acey Slade and The Dark Party took their bow, in a manner of speaking, and with a word to prep us for the madness to come, left the stage. A slight hum returned to the crowd as everyone lingered in that strange twilight zone of neither relaxing and just chilling, nor spazzing out totally (aka shrieking their heads off every time a sound guy appeared on stage. This audience, unlike others I have experienced, actually seemed to be able to recognize the band members themselves…well, that is, aside from when Tsukasa came out to check his drum set and everyone was murmuring “is that Tsukasa? I don’t know…what do you think? Is it?” Just for the record, yes, it was.). The crew bopped on and off stage, taping down set-lists, testing mics, drums, etc. At this point the adorable girl standing directly behind me leaned over my shoulder and said, “I’m trying not to let the people behind me crush you, but when D’espairsRay comes out, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do anything. I might fall on you.” A pretty apt foresight of the show, really.

I’m not sure how long exactly we waited between acts, but it wasn’t terrible. Considering everything we, and especially the band, had done to arrive at this point in time, this place, in this city, time was absolutely irrelevant (another way of putting it would be that I didn’t check my watch). That is, it was until the lights flickered, dimmed out, and the shadowy AA-Pass-wearing ninja faded from the stage, and a group of figures–or rather, a cloud of pulsating charisma– emerged from the back. And damn, it was about to get funky in there. As soon as the members appeared, it was like the entire audience, which had merely hovered during the opening act, became instantly vacuum-packed. The entire crowd surged in toward the stage, and suddenly there was totally no space to move, barely enough to breathe. Everyone was magnetically pulled as close to that rough wooden stage as possible, drawn by the gravitational pull of D’espairsRay.

They sauntered out, suited up, Tsukasa settling at his kit at the back, Karyu moving off to the right, and Zero Monster assuming the bassist’s place about 15″ from where I was standing. The audience flipped out. Did HIZUMI say something then? I can’t remember. Whatever slurred Engrish welcome he may have given us was lost in a roar of general insanity from the audience.

And then the drums rolled, Karyu started shredding, and Zero’s fingers began flying. With HIZUMI howling hoarsely into his mic, DEATH POINT opened the show.  Although the song is fresh off the press, the crowd was extremely receptive, with everyone chanting along to des poin des poin des poin…by the end of the first song were our throats already totally dry and hoarse? Why yes, how did you know. The only let down to the opening masterpiece was that there were no mics kicked over, and no water sprayed. Karyu did not suddenly grow claws and start transforming into some kind of horrific Pokemon about to jump into the mosh-pit and devour an innocent fangirl. He had cool contact lenses, though.

DEATH POINT was followed by a flood of thrashing epicness. The energy of the band, the excellent set-list, the hectic drive of the crowd, HIZUMI’s MCs (I almost wish he had just spoken Japanese, then I may have understood him) all fused together into one nuke of an experience. In a way, it almost became difficult to separate where one aspect of the show ended and another began. Being that close was incredibly intense; it was like the venue condensed into one circular pulse of…well, insanity. Although fan-service and activity was generally mild, and the band’s behavior was relatively reserved (surprisingly, I thought), they had this incredible, perceivable, dark aura that showered down over us.

The first ¼ or so of the performance, the crowd was pretty mild. Some crazy headbanging was carrying on, but the moshing wasn’t horrible. About halfway in, though, as songs like Devil’s Parade, Garnet, Dope and Sixty + Nine started cycling through, it became quite rowdy. The second row seemed like a tough place to be, as it felt, physically, like the entire audience was trying to close the distance between the third row and the stage. I was crushed between everyone around me so tightly, I probably could have completely lifted my feet off the ground and been totally supported. Doing my best to keep the danger of a broken nose at bay, however, I didn’t give that a try. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a mosh-pit like that, and although the adrenaline rush was intense, it was wicked fun.

By ¾ into the performance, the claustrophobia and heat started to take its toll on me. My arms ached from the furi, my ears were throbbing from being directly under the left speaker, my neck hurt, and I would have killed for a bottle of water. But instead of the velocity abating at all, it steadily increased. Now that D’espa had warmed up a bit, they started pulling out the really heavy stuff, the classics. HIZUMI was screaming – everyone was screaming. A crowd at a show like this is like a force of nature; a body of water. It has ebbs and flows that are dictated by the music and the energy of the band in the same way the tide is orchestrated by the gravitational pull of the moon. The instant you start to resist that flow, you get sucked under and you drown. The best thing you can do is just relax as much as possible and match that flow, go with it, and know that at the end of every Jrock live, there is water. I somehow remained psychologically sound enough to remember this.

Alright, I can’t put it off any longer. Here’s the tally: Touched HIZUMI once during the actual performance. He mostly stayed toward the middle of the stage, and only moved over, at least to our side, once or twice. Karyu mostly stayed off to the right, as well, although he did wander over two or three times to dangle his ratty blond locks into wriggling droves of grasping fingers. Touched him twice. Also got to touch both his and HIZUMI’s hands when they were…at risk of sounding strangely awkward, touching hands before leaving the stage. ZERO was so close the entire show, and spent half the time standing right at the very edge of the stage, looking down on us with this sultry smile, I got to touch him so many times, had it been off-stage, it would probably have been considered unseemly groping and I would have been lynched by a 250 pound Russian bodyguard. Just telling it like it is. Dedicated a handful of ZERO to @kimber_leigh.

Set-lists never catalog themselves properly into my brain. However, along with the aforementioned songs, they played, among others, Human-clad Monsters, 13-Thirteen-, Mirror, Falling (not positive about this, though). Not too surprisingly, LOVE IS DEAD was easily one of the most memorable songs of the night. The instant the disco track started up, the entire audience began moving. HIZUMI’s hoarse Shall we dance hissed over the audience, and some rambunctious movement broke into intense moshing and dancing. The energy was terrific,  from the audience as well as the band.

Just as I anticipated, Abyss closed the show. The minute I heard it on the album I figured it would. The sense of melancholy mixed with triumph that floods those chord-progressions and choruses were too perfectly suited to the emotional rise and fall of a show’s climax and close.

At the end of the show, Zero (designated fan-servicer) opened a couple of bottles of water and spat most of it on us. After getting two healthy facefuls of Zero’s spit, I felt satisfactorily baptised.

After we stood there for a few minutes, ears ringing, drenched in sweat, Zero’s spit, and the tingling energetic residue of a mind-blowingly rockin’ show, we realized, with some resignation mingled with relief, that the band wouldn’t be coming out for a second encore. The lights went on (kind of), and the crowd began shifting toward the back of the venue where the merch stand was. As we moved away from the stage, a whitie venue staffer came on the speakers and announced that we weren’t to go far, as the band would be coming out to sign posters. I stopped by the merch stand for a poster, hoodie, postcard set, and the Askew magazine special live-tour edition and a few packs of buttons. They also had about three designs of t-shirt, a folding fan, and live-limited guitar picks signed by Zero and Karyu. I think that was everything. The merch stand was hustlin’, but both people who gave me my stuff were friendly.

After we got the goods, everyone was instructed to organize into lines to get to the table where the signing would happen. If there are two words that fall on deaf ears in a Jrock live show venue, they are organize and line. Needless to say, everyone sort of organized into a great blob full of random people without posters (I don’t even want to know what they asked to have signed), half of whom seemed to weirdly disappear after a few minutes. The band came out, flanked by security and some venue staff, and took their place at the long table near the entrance. Despite the lack of order in the club, people filtered through quickly (a thoughtful staff member instructed, via loudspeakers, that no one was to tell them their life-story, and it seemed like people obeyed). In a way, it almost went way too fast. When it was my turn, faced by this row of quiet, suddenly very-Japanese-seeming guys who had just completely demolished us musically, those careful sentences I figured I should have said went right out of my head. Each member was patient, and seemed a little shy. They signed my poster, shook my hand, and thanked me for coming (in English). I managed to say something to each of them in Japanese without completely mangling their language, as far as I could tell, and then some Japanese woman rolled up my poster and it was over.

As Kaxxina put it right after the show, “That was violent in so many ways.”

27 responses to “D’espairsRay Live in NYC: Human-clad Monsters

  1. Definitely worth the wait… and extending my waking hours. You have great talent in creating imagery with words. “A crowd at a show like this is like a force of nature; a body of water. It has ebbs and flows that are dictated by the music and the energy of the band in the same way the tide is orchestrated by the gravitational pull of the moon.” is poetry, man. Poetry.

    That aside, I want to see Dope live too! and Sixty + Nine! And if I had been there, I would definitely grope them. Just kidding!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you very much. I appreciate the positive feedback, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the report! It’s always a challenge to portray the experience of the live, so I’m satisfied if I can do it justice even a little.

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. HOLY SHIT!!! Between you and @BadyMaru it’s almost like I was there molesting ZERO MONSTER myself!!!! YOU’RE WINNING with +69 Righteous Points!!! (and you and Maru-chan have both managed to achieve HERO status!)

    That aside, your writing (as usual) is amazing to say the least…You once again made me feel like I was actually there experiencing it all beside you…which means more than I can express…so DOMO ARIGATO for that!!!

    • Hah! Well, we were both thinking of you, so that gave us license to grope enough for two people. Hopefully the tour had a good turn-out, and I would def like to see them make plans to come back again…and to not have to cancel half their shows.
      Thank you. I’m extremely flattered, and very glad, you were able to feel that way while reading the report. If I can make you feel like you were there, I’m not sure what else I could do that would make my work here more satisfying. I appreciate your saying so – and really, the pleasure was mine. Here’s to many, many more live reports on SG…and some of your own in the near future!

      Take it easy, and, as always, thanks for reading.

  4. To say that I am envious would be the understatement of the century because holy crap, you not only got to SEE D’espairsRay live but 1.) Touched HIZUMI 2.) Touched Karyu 3.) ACTUALLY MET THEM! (゚Д゚*)

    It just sounds like such an amazing experience.

    The funny thing is you expect D’espairsRay’s to be this hectically insane band with movement everywhere and general chaos on the stage but from watching the Spiral Staircase DVD, I’ve come to learn that the band generally doesn’t move much at all with all the members staying in their little section of the stage. But as the show builds, the band manages to get more riled up and crazy things start happening both with D’espa and the crowd and that moment must be the most amazing thing to experience for yourself, live.

    “…And know that at the end of every Jrock live, there is water.” Amen to that; amen. Yea, being close the front is always potentially dangerous but it’s funny how at larger shows, [eg. I went an open air show where Oasis was performing and I was front and center] you are less likely to get crushed against the barrier. 0_0; And I can totally relate to the description of how you felt 3/4 of the way into the show since I pretty much experienced the same thing at the Miyavi show in New York: it was so packed there wasn’t even space for me to lift my arms! But I’m glad you were able to stick it out seeing as it allowed you the opportunity to touch HIZUMI and Karyu!!!! :D :D

    I can’t believe there was actually a signing!!! Was it announced before or only when you were at the venue? I laughed when I read, “No one was to tell them their life-story…” since it really is a ridiculous notion. XD As Kimber_leigh said, I totally felt like I was there in that I could imagine how the signing went and how it went all too fast. In fact, I could actually put myself in the picture and imagine that I’d be so hyped from the show that I’d practically be shaking with a mixture of excitement and nervousness from finally meeting the band. This image is especially had an impact for me and I can very well picture it: “When it was my turn, faced by this row of quiet, suddenly very-Japanese-seeming guys…”

    It sounds like there was some excellent merchandise on sale! 0_0 I actually wanted to buy the Askew magazine and I’ve been trying to organise purchasing one and having it shipped to me but I haven’t had the guts to ask my mom for her credit card as of yet…oh, the joys of being a 17 year old.

    P.S Sorry for the really long comment. ^^;

    • Oh yes, I almost forgot the most important thing of all: Thanks for the write-up! Your writing is honestly excellent! :D

      • The pleasure was all mine. And thank you very much! I appreciate the feedback, and it inspires me to strive to further improve what is here, as well as all that is to come. Thanks for continuing to stick around and read!

    • I’ll just come out and say it: yes, it was pretty epic.

      I believe they did a signing at all of their shows. Since NYC was the US stint’s final, we all kind of new what to expect, but they didn’t officially announce the signing until the end of the show. It pays to stalk the topic prior to attendance.
      I don’t think anyone told the band much at all, really. At least not those who preceded me in line. D’espa was shy, and all the fans were shy, and as a result…shyness reigned supreme? Despite their reserved exteriors, I got the sense, at least, of real sincerity in the way they greeted us and listened to anything we did have to say. I admit to being slightly surprised, though, because they did seem, in some way, really just like a band , and, although I don’t know why, I really liked seeing that in them. Perhaps because it further encouraged the experience of them being there, being real. It was quite cool.

      The merchandise definitely far surpassed the offerings at the MIYAVI live, and perhaps even that of the a.b.s show (not that I would know, having been too cash-strapped to get much of anything). Although, I was amused by the fact that the ‘photograph set’ was printed at Walmart. Probably a sight to see – D’espairsRay standing at the photo-printer in some random, back-woods Walmart in Montana scraping together their merch.

      It was all in all an incredible experience. I genuinely hope that you get an opportunity to see them live, and if at all possible, meet them. I know you’re a huge fan, and I was totally bummed when I heard you were going to miss them. Fortunately the internationalization of Jrock seems to be expanding…so in the near future, perhaps?

      The long comments are always welcome! Thank you for detailing your thoughts and responses.

  5. Well, look at that! I’ve come out of hibernation just to comment on your post. The entire experience sounds insane. The way you wrote made the concert seem like a delightfully primitive affair; a way for people to come together and lose all their inhibitions for the sake of some seriously sick music. I can’t wait until I get to go to my first live.

    By the way, I love that they opened with Death Point.

    • The actual experience of seeing a live is really beyond words. They can be quite physically taxing- just the sheer qualities of heat, dehydration, screaming, headbanging, and being crushed, combined with the emotional roller-coaster often sent flying by the experience of seeing this band before your very eyes…it’s quite intense. I remember feeling pretty messed up after some of my first shows (back before Jrock and all), and now I know that there’s a steep learning curve, but even so, the education can be extremely satisfying, wicked fun, and truly insane. I hope you can make it to a show soon!

      I feel honored that you came out of hibernation and graced my post with your comment. Good to see you again, and look forward to when you can get back to blogging. Take it easy.

  6. As I was reading through your article, I felt pretty sad! I can’t believe it was just over a week ago. I was standing in the second-ish row between Hizumi and Karyu and even though I couldn’t hear Hizumi too well, it was just incredible. Hahaha, I thought that even if Hizumi had said, “okay, we’re gonna split early tonight, sorry guys” everyone would have still been like “RAAAAAAAA!! YEAAAAHHH” ahaha. I’ve heard from a couple folks that his English has improved a lot since Taste of Chaos, but the only things I could really catch were “do you wanna party??? let’s partyyy!!!!!” xD This was actually my first concert ever. It was pretty intense and I have never been that sweaty in my entire life (and I just came back from three weeks without air conditioning in India) but I had such a blast! I agree that the members did seem a little bit shy at the signing. It’s probably nervewracking to deliver to foreign fans who don’t share your language/culture, etc. x3 it’s pretty clear that our behavior at lives is pretty different from what they’re used to, too..

    Your article was really nice and you described the entire vibe of the event really well. I really enjoyed reading it! Let’s hope together that they put together another nice tour for us next year. :D

    • Honestly, I somehow feel like the after-show-melancholy has been minimal, possibly because nothing about that experience could have been any more ideal. Perhaps it was the autograph session that rounded things off so well? Who can say.
      Wow, so you had a pretty epic first concert. Good for you. I had been to non-Jrock shows (I thought I would be able to live my entire life without having to actually admit that in public, but there you have it) before seeing my first live, but they were more like opportunities than moments of divine materialization. Because each energetic context varies so widely, I find that, for lack of less grotesquely cheesy words, really each one continues to feel like the first one.

      Yes, let’s keep drawing in the Jrock artists in general, and rocking them so hard they have to keep coming back, and encouraging their brethren to do likewise. This one is still waiting for The GazettE to hit us up, and for giru to come play their sucky new songs for us once more.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. OH THANK GOD…. It wasn’t just my arm that felt like a useless appendage at the end of that show. I just kept thinking, “If ZERO looks at you… and you have your damn arm down, how’s that gonna low? You can’t let them down like that!” and back up my arm would go. Of course when I was reaching over to touch the fellas, my arm worked fine (go fig!).

    For all you all, Gacktpause was a trooper at that show! Somehow, before the first song even began they had grown a siamese twin on their back (Just so you know the girl seemed very nice), and I think everyone in there because a single writhing mass with arms sticking out and flailing around. (In other words, it was super hot, entirely too tight and one of the best times ever. I sure am glad you were there GP!)

    Did I really say that? Wow!! It all blurs into warm fuzzies! :) One more thing to point out…. if you’re reaching for someone’s hand on stage, you’re not supposed to keep hold of it (oops…. :) )

    One thing GP didn’t mention is that *somehow* ZERO still managed to do his trademark spins on that teeny tiny stage. Thank you, ZERO, for being soooo awesome! Does anyone know why we never see teeth when he smiles? Or if you find a pic send it my way!

    And massive thanks goes out to the girl who took her hat off in front of use after “Love Is Dead” was over…. I could see the rest of the stage then… (not that I looked much… ZERO was right THERE).

    Thanks for such a great sumup GP! We gotta do it again, but maybe without all the sweating and deafness… ;) Take care!

    • No, it wasn’t just you. My arm was killing me the entire second half of the show, and I had a wicked miserable crick in my neck all day Friday and Saturday from too much headbanging. How badass is that? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

      It was great to meet up with you, and yes, we should def do it again next time….I don’t mind the sweating, deafness, and physical danger, honestly, as long as it’s an epic show. Thanks for stopping by to pitch in your input!

  8. =X I’ve haunted your blog for a while now, but I only just made a wordpress account (and my own blog >_>). But this kind of pulled me out of hibernation. Even two weeks after the show, I still get giddy thinking about it.

    I was in the center of row 1.5 and by the end of DEATH POINT, the crowd had pushed me right up against the stage in front of Hizumi. It was quite an experience and I have pictures of the bruises on my knees to prove it! XD That D’espairsRay live at Webster Hall was sick in so many ways, minus the sound issues. I don’t know if it was the same problems that Acey Slade had with the mic, but I felt like I couldn’t hear Hizumi half the time (granted my hearing was shot mid-way through the show from the screaming). =X

    Reading your report and others about this live brightened up my rather dreary day! Thanks a lot! =D

    • Well, thanks for finally stepping forward and leaving a comment! And welcome to the blogsphere.

      Wow, so you had a great spot! It seems like those first three or so rows were def the most brutal place to be – and you were dead-center, so that’s tough. That is to say, you were right up against the stage at a D’espairsRay show, therefore the bruised knees were totally worth it. I didn’t come away with any visible battlescars, but I’ll tell you, my arms, ribs, and neck hurt like mad for a couple of days following. Too much furi, reaching, headbanging, and elbows being jutted into my person. All in all, I thought the physical danger could have been a lot worse, but I’m relieved it wasn’t.
      I didn’t get too much of the sound problems (possible because I was directly below a speaker?), but I did notice the vocals weren’t quite loud enough. And yeah, it wasn’t exactly inspiring when Acey first had to put a piece of Duct Tape on his mic, and then it just went dead. Leave it to music venues to not be on the ball with sound quality and equipment.

      Glad it could have been a bit of a pick-me-up! Thanks for reading + commenting. Take it easy-

      • Front-row center is the only place to be. =P I was in immense pain when I woke up the next morning, though I don’t think it was comparable to the injuries I received when I went to Dir en grey lives in the States and especially in Japan.

        Hopefully they’ll choose another venue if they come to NYC again. As much as I like these smaller intimate venues, but the Studio @ Webster Hall was kind of a shitshow. >_>”

        Kind of random, but idk if I might have met you while waiting? I was talking to Jesus every now and then when he came over to visit my friends and I.

        Imma link your blog, is that alright? I’ll leave another comment in the proper page of course.

      • Yes, I suppose there’s some truth to that. Although, honestly, I really didn’t mind being off to the left. Zero was quite entertaining to stand in front of. The Studio was wicked rough…although, I really enjoy shows in small venues like that, and in some cases I feel it’s worth the risk of the intense heat, claustrophobia, and token sound issues. It’s just insanely curious that venues don’t have more control over their sound equipment, etc. That’s their whole deal, after all.
        Dir En Grey lives…I can only imagine. Have you been to many shows in Japan?
        If you were chilling with Jesus then it’s possible that you met me, at least in passing. I was wearing white combat boots and a Union Jack. Ring any bells?

        Yeah, totally. I would link to you as well, except that the URL to your blog doesn’t seem to go through.

      • That’s only my opinion as a Hizumi-mania. But Zero is quite entertaining; he’s kind of a closet creeper at lives it seems, haha.

        I went to two Dir en grey shows in Japan in their Kisou/six ugly days and that was more than enough. Both times I was in the first five rows, and it was being clamped into a vice within a vice. I came out with bruises around my ribcage because Japanese fans get incredibly enthusiastic in ways we can’t comprehend. Not to mention when Japanese fans scream, it is one of the most unearthly, high frequency sounds you’ll ever hear. @A@ It was crazy–good, but really crazy and not worth risking my hearing on.

        I vaguely remember seeing you! But I don’t think we really talked or anything. I was wearing all black and these very tall wedge booties, and I had bright fuschia lipstick on–kind of nondescript. But I was one of the people taking photos of the crowd when the Despa bus pulled up, if that helps at all.

        Oh, my blog is xreddishx.wordpress.com. I didn’t like having “music” added onto the web address, so I made another blog. Give me a bit, and I’ll have a legit post up.

      • Hm…Closet creeper. Interesting way of putting it. I did find it interesting to see that he seemed to be the only one particularly into this fan-service thing. He is also the only one addicted to Twitter, though, so perhaps there’s an informative connection somewhere in there.

        I remember you as well, but no, I don’t believe we met officially. I find it kind of fascinating this phenomenon of all these people attending this show, waiting in line for multiple hours together, passing each other during those hours, all while having no idea who anyone is. And then, of course, after all is said and done there are these “oh, that was you?” moments. Kind of amusing.

        Thanks for sharing the correct link. I have added you to my RSS feed, and will def keep an eye on your posts. Also linked you in my links page.

  9. I finally get a chance to read your post. I only got back from work the day of Dirus nyc concert. I am still surprised that youre younger than 21. Your way of writing is beautiful.

    I was really grossed out with the size of the venue when I got inside, but during the concert I was happy that it was small. I got to touch ZERO countless times all while hitting Kaxxina in the process. :P
    Did you stay to see them get on their bus? I vaguely remember seeing you and Kaxxina after the signing.
    Are you planning on seeing X Japan?

    • Hey there,
      Sorry to have rushed out without getting a chance to properly say goodbye. Such seems to be the case with much after-show delirium. We didn’t wait around long enough to watch the guys leave; I was about to collapse from dehydration, so Kaxxina and I left after we got our posters signed and headed over to the M2M for hasty pre-midnight water and then parted ways. However, I’ve been meaning to thank you again for taking that extra ticket off my hands, and also for letting us chill with you in line! It was cool getting to meet you guys beyond the blogsphere. And what a show, right?
      Aha, I’m sure Kaxxina will understand any whopping was in the name of a good cause (right, Kaxxina?). It was wicked cramped, I highly doubt anyone could possibly have avoided hitting anyone unless they were about 7′ tall (the guy who elbowed me in the face was almost there, but not quite, thus the elbow-face contact).

      So far I don’t have any plans to see X Japan. It’s a bit difficult for me to get to NYC, and it indirectly conflicts with other plans. Are you going?

      Thank you for the compliment. I hope I was able to portray the experience even within a faint estimation of its incredible epicness.

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