The night closed with DJ Violet speeding away on a scooter in full Victorian dress. With blue ringlets spilling from under his helmet and a smile of pure delight, Violet shot down the deserted street into the heart of Shibuya. Just eight hours ago the Goths of Tokyo, and beyond, had poured into Deseo for an underground event like none other. Welcome to Tokyo Dark Castle.
Tokyo Dark Castle 101
Tokyo Dark Castle, for those who just dropped in, is Japan’s leading Gothic event. The creme de la creme of Japan’s darker side come here to perform everything from the hardest industrial overdrive to the sweetest neo-opera sounds. For six hours guests are treated to the total Goth package. The night is filled with the best-dressed Goths, Gothic-Lolitas, metallers, glam-lovers and more. Imagine a night where Marilyn Manson would sweep through unnoticed in the crowd.
The October 29 event was doubly special as it celebrated Halloween and the 25th Anniversary of Auto-Mod, who have been at the helm of Japan’s dark underground scene for a generation and whose lead singer, Genet, is responsible for bringing Tokyo Dark Castle to the people. The pure creativity of Auto-Mod cannot be underestimated in Japan’s narrow mass market. In an environment where institutions like Johnnies and the Morning Musume industrial complex have produced bands and music that hold to a very thin template of J-Pop, Auto-Mod is one of the standouts who have led Goth and underground rock sounds since the 1980s.
Let’s have a party
Deseo’s not a small place and previous forays have left me with enough space to scope things or bounce with abandon, but tonight the dark lords and ladies arrived en masse filling the entire space with glorious visions of phantsy wherever you looked. There were also many new faces in the crowd so it was full of surprises. Igor felt pretty normal in his loafers, but thankfully people overlook the underdressings of foreigners here and we could all have a good time. The shops had all kinds of displays, but it was hard to concentrate on the pretty things on the tables, when you’re surrounded by it! I did manage to pick up a new Auto-Mod CD though – thanks to my audacious dancing skills (or lack thereof) the Auto-Mod crew member remembered me and gave me a nice discount (you see, it pays to lose yourself from time to time). Everyone was so friendly (as always) and once you find one new person to speak to, you’ll discover three more and so on. This is one aspect of all the Goth events that I have found – people really are open. It’s something that I have never found at any regular night spot in Tokyo – the bridge is so much easier to cross.
But let’s get onto the sounds.
DJ’s Voilet & Chihiro & VJ Kihito
The DJ’s were cooking some great stuff tonight. Often overlooked when they do there job right (and Chihiro and Voilet are good) I would just like to give a quick w00t! to them for keeping the night on pace! As always, Kihitio kept the visuals rolling smoothly with all kinds of great footage mixed in.
Because the line outside Deseo was long (and I grabbed another chu-hi beforehand) I missed the first act, Calmando Qual. Technically, I think they are in the visual kei crowd, but as I have come to learn not all visual kei is popsy-cute Shazna wannabes – actually there are a couple of pretty hard mutherfuckers around in the visual scene. One thing about Calmando Qual is that they know how to get it on! Definitely a band worth catching and seem to be doing a lot of places that would not usually get Goth bands (like Fukuoka). So keep tabs on them.
Genet and his boys went fell knell for over an hour! Slamming out some great classics that us recent visitors may have missed this year and drilling them into our skulls. It was the full deal tonight with theatrics reminiscent from earlier years’ events intersticing the songs and guest appearances abounding. Tonight was one special show and if you missed it – shame on you! With dark dance and performances in the mosh area, and Selia’s haunting support vocals and the vampire visuals from Genet and co. it was a very special performance.
Oh, god. These guys were hot when I first saw them and they just get better with each performance. Solid new generation industrial-rock, this stuff is heart-beltingly good. Between Mikito’s all-too-cool demeanor grinding his axe and managing the mix, U-Tarou’s total vocal attack and Chihiro’s manic drumming, these guys are one tight unit. If you like rock, industrial, or just plain dark stuff, these guys should not be missed! Capping off tonight’s performance was an invasion by Destruct System’s Kohki who just took things up one more peg. Ripping stuff.
You want audio assault? These guys are it! Industrial sounds mainline straight to your brain with the vocals driving their voices into the mix. Every time they are on it’s a crazy, mad, sexed-up sound that takes your breath away. All three players have their stage craft working full tilt for an exhausting set of hot industrial sounds.
I’m spent baby!
After that madness it was time to relax. I should feel bad for not checking out the performance sets of the night, but the triple hit with the bands just took me out of action. Auto-mod got me going hard, Baal took me to overdrive, Despair hit me like a train on Chou line!
So, for a couple of hours we could enjoy the slow approach of dawn, catching up with friends and discovering what was going on from people coming out. It was chill time at the end of a great night. And as I wound down with friends – punters like me, musicians, DJs and more – I realized just how many friends I have found here at TDC and beyond. In all my 8+ years in Tokyo this was the first time I felt “at home.” Thank you.
It was a night of magic in many ways, but there’s still one more to go!!
Tokyo Dark Castle Xmas!
The final Tokyo Dark Castle for the year (and the last one at Deseo) is set to be explosive. With 12 bands prepping take you to nirvana and back on Xmas eve. And what great freaking bands!! Auto-Mod (the lords of underground), Destruct System (hell yeah!), Jubilee (legendary Osakans), Agent Murder (psychotically great), Phantasmagoria (darkly sweet sounds), BAAL (industro-complex attack), Vexation (Sisters Grimm), Seirenes (siren Selia & Violet), Gadget (great retro harsh rock), Euthanasie (hard elektro), Aural Vampire (sexy & dark elektro) and Cut the Crap (hard rocking mofos with “the bassist”)! Man, book with one of them bands and support the cause (and save one drink on the entrance fee!). December 24 :: 23:30~ @ Shibuya Deseo (3,000/3,500 yen).