Tag Archive: Candy Spooky Theater

Vengeance for Blood @ Ikebukuro CyberWhile the Gothic Lolitas had worked to suppress my urge to bounce and w00t in front of the stage, they could not stop me from having a good time!

Hauling ass to Club Cyber
Located a short walk from Ikebukuro station, Cyber stands out on the side street it is on; being the brightest lit spot there sitting adjacent the local TUC shop. The entrance was quite nice with enough visual kei band posters adorning the walls to make your average European Goth-mag editor salivate.

Inside Cyber, the stage space is well laid out. The center had a raised platform letting the players get right over the audience so you could get a good gander at band members. The crowd space was too small though. The place should rip out the DJ box on the crowd floor and stick it upstairs or somewhere.

Crowd :: Gothic Lolitas everywhere
Upon opening the blast-doors, I was hit by the reality of wall-to-wall Gothic Lolitas. We are not talking about your Tokyo Dark Castle-roaming GLs, but rather the younger, Harajuku-types who always seem distant from the rest of the crowd at events. These are the quiet ones sitting in the corner appraising the crowd, deciding who they are going to kill in some dark alley with those exceptionally long and pointy daggers squirreled away beneath one of those lacey bodices (oh, you didn’t know about that did you?).

Another thing you notice about these Gothic Lolita crowds is that they don’t make a lot of noise. They like hand-waving at the front, but are not likely to applaud unless they really love the band. I was the only member in the audience to let loose with a couple of w00ts for the bands during sets, but I knew it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have just quietly sipped my Blood cocktail in the corner (that was yummy).

I found myself tripping over daypacks dumped all over the place. I guess the girls must have got dressed up in a public toilet and brought their day-clothes along to the event. OH, COME ON! Japan is the “safety country.” You could walk about in GL style anywhere. Hell, I could walk about dressed as GL anywhere!

This is why I was here and I was glad I came! The bands were an interesting mix of styles from dark synth-pop to glam to rock. Sure, they have heavy links with the [shudder] visual kei scene (this explains the Goth-Loli chans), but these bands play pretty damned well. Two of them have done Tokyo Dark Castle. Another has been globe-trotting quite successfully. There’s grittiness here!

Brand 0
Sexy hot-rocking stuff.

Storming though the entrance and trying to avoid tripping over Gothic Lolitas and their associated baggage, I already knew Brand 0 band were good. Even the phalanx of black froo could not stop my inexorable progression to the front of the stage. I was drawn like a fly the flame. Four axes, real drummer and vocals were onstage grinding out this hot mix of glam and hard rock  Esix freaking people! The music was not revolutionary, but it was done damned well and with a hell of a lot of energy. The costumes were great, but Brand 0 doesn’t need these props to pump the crowd  Ejust loud and powerful music with good stage presence from all. Band members had a symmetry about their moves in parts of the set working together to rip some emotion out of you. I w00ted a few times even though I knew the GLs wouldn’t approve of such ruffianism. Would I go to a gig just to see them again? Yes, definitely. Oh, yeah, I scored the guitar pick from the re-haired guy – 2cool.

Candy Spooky Theater
Dark synth-pop.

Candy Spooky Theater has been around for a long time and I think the band did a couple of sets at the early editions of Tokyo Dark Castle. A three-person dark synth-pop unit whose style might be described as a combination of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands. The first half of the set was heavily synthed with lots of DAT sequences and was largely an indulgence. The singer even had a little doll and told a story using a synth-warped mic. The second half of the set was livelier, with a bit of anarchy on stage. Would I go to an event just to see them? Possibly not, but I would not avoid an event where they played.

Dark, complex, emotional sounds with great visuals

Ah, this is why I came here. An interesting band as they seem to have quite a range of styles in their repetoire: classic Goth rock, moody melancholy, some Cure-esque layers and a bit epic J-rock akin to Gackt and the like. A difficult band to classify, because of this mix of sounds, but they have very listenable, creative music. Crisp and complex, their style will grow on you. Their costumes and magnificent and probably cost more than the average English teaching drone’s salary. Right from the start of the set you know these guys (yes, they are guys) have invested heavily on creating the look and feel of their music. The ax-work is precise with both lead and bass laying down the sounds with perfection. Fu~ki, the lead singer knows how to work the audience into the music. It was not the kind of act that you would jump to or mosh with, it was the act you’d just move closer to the stage to enjoy the songs and performance. I have to toast them for doing what they intend doing, which is creating a unique, quality band. It may not be the kind of thing you would see at Tokyo Dark Castle (because of their Japan epic rock influence) but they have kudos. Would I go to a gig just to see them again? Yes, definitely.

Calmando Qual
Hard rocking stuff.

A one-song set (!) alas as the lead singer was sick on the night  Eprobably a result of a long tour since last year. Fu~ki of Blood did a fill-in for the vocals and blasted a terrific rendition of the fuck you song! Un-fucking-believable  Eloved it.

All-in-all a pretty good event. The crowd was a little tame, but the bands were generally might fine. Blood put together a well-matched group of bands together and delivered a great night. Brand 0 and Blood will be doing a special two-man show at Ikebukuro Cyber again on March 18. Details for that shall be up soonish!

Pineal returns to AREA this weekend with another night of of grand darkness (Sat. June 4 2005)! Igor has pulled out his report of the original Pagan event from the archives so you can get a first-hand account of Pagan Portrait. Pagan Portrait 2 is on a Saturday, which is when it should be! And on top of the core bands from Pagan 1, Pineal has managed to get 101A – very cool heavy retro sound with strong femme lead. Anyway, on with the report on the original event…

It was a chill night on November 5, when Igor and his partner in darkness took off for Takadanobaba AREA, to bear witness to Pineal Presents Pagan Portrait. The event started at an early 6:30 p.m. on a Friday, meaning Igor missed the opening act and only caught the last parts of the second, but there were three other bands lying in wait as the tardy night crawlers sluiced in from their day jobs. Walking down to the basement I was surprised to be among the oldest of the crowd. Goth seems to be a young person’s game in Japan with society reabsorbing the dark youth somewhere around their mid-20s. Locating the actual stage area was a bit of a challenge, with all doors painted in the same matte black and all looking like emergency exits to hell. Opening the door emitting the greatest noise, Igor and co. stepped inside to discover J-Goth….

What can I say, all the players had pretty polished performances and blew me away. The four bands seen each brought their own style to the party for a multifaceted journey through Japanese Goth music. From the dark Buddhist chants of Candy Spook Theater, to the death screams of Scorpions Death Rock, to the seductive shock-rock of Mushi and finally the dark theatrics of Pineal, the horned one himself, it was a very entertaining night.

First though, lets talk a bit about why I chose this event. It comes down to Pineal’s flyer and Web site, both stylish pieces of art in themselves. Obviously, this guy takes his stuff damned seriously – I couldn’t go wrong. Well, I posted a note on his site (in my terribly Japanese) talking about how great the site was, and Pineal/TAQV posts back in English saying We play on NOV 5th. Come our Live show, if you like….. Alright! So I swooped down to the local Lawson and picked up a couple of tickets from the convenience store’s Loppi station (convenient ticket pickup is a big plus) and got prepped for the show.

Now the location of the show is suitable for avant guarde events, located in the basement of the building sporting dark decor throughout. The arena is decked with black ceiling to floor curtains, a black and while vinyl tile floor and a rush-hour capacity of around 150 people. Finding the bar was a bit harder than expected located just behind arena entrance. Being our first time there we also had problems finding the event-area’s entrance. Our first choice was the biggest door in the foyer, where my partner in crime found herself backstage. No groupies before performances…. We adjusted our senses and sought the door that led to the loudest noise and viola, there we were. We turned up too late for the first act (sorry to Radiostrip) and missed most of the second, but there were three more to go.

So we after discovering the event space we slid up to the bar, collected our drinks and went into the arena just in time to watch the end of Candy Spook Theater. Now these guys have taken Buddhist chanting and turned it into punk-metal fusion. The lead, in his white mad scientist outfit, was punking it out quite well, interspersed with the obligatory screams (we cannot forget the screams). Towards the end of the set the keyboardist, dressed in a china-doll costume and a white mime mask, stepped up to do her prayer moves, which looked dangerously like a Gothic rendition of La Macarena (trust me, it was kind of cool to see). There were actually quite a few people in the audience, with neon cylumes in hand, mimicking her moves – evidently this band has quite a loyal fang-base.

Then it was time for a break before the death metallers of Scorpions Death Rock came out. Scorpion Death Rock are three guys dressed in black leather with a penchant for LOUD. I swear, these guys had hiked Spinal Tap’s amps (you know… the ones that go up to 11), and jacked them up to max. Good hard sound delivered with a flourish, Scorpion Death Rock knew how to play loud. The only thing I might suggest is bringing your earplugs – don’t worry, you will still be able to hear them very clearly. They had a CD (Chemical Invaders) for sale at the end of the concert that I didn’t buy because I was running out of cash after picking up Pineal’s and Mushi’s CDs, but I felt like a heel when my partner later told me the CDs were only 300 yen. I’ll pick a CD up next time, I promise.

Third beer in and Mushi comes out for his set, sporting a cane a la Alice Cooper and a demeanor akin to Marilyn Manson. This was a refined performance by a seasoned veteran. The whole performance showed Mushi was a man who loves his art. The guitarists weren’t just playing, they were grinding their axes. Even when Mushi went a step too far backwards, bumping the taller guitarist, the guy didn’t miss a thing.

The last set was Pineal, armed with his orchestral baton and horned headpiece, leading the audience on a final performance. His deep, at times, guttural voice, along with the dark undertones of the music and well-choreographed moves showed this guy invested a lot in the total experience. It paid off, imbibing the performance with a sense of being at some pagan celebration, except the druids had discovered electric guitars and had better costumes – ;-) . There was a tall female guitarist in Pineal’s crew who was doing a fine job throughout, and then she started doing some backing vocals that totally knocked my socks off!

All-in-all, this was a very satisfying experience. After having the television bombard me with J-Pop, which varies from tolerable generic to ungodly cute, it was very refreshing to go out and see what is being brewed outside the mainstream in Japan. There is a lot of good stuff going on in and around the major cities that will go under the mass-media radar, alas. Step outside the box and discover something special.