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Nov 19 2017

Bunnies, Pirates, and a Beheading! VAMPS Halloween Party 2017: Day 2

Halloween Party 2017: Day 2
Makuhari Messe, October 28, 2017

Live Report by Michelle Minikhiem
Photo credit: Hideaki Imamoto, Toshikazu Oguruma, Kazuko Tanaka

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Hosted by VAMPS annually for over ten years, Halloween Party is sort of an all day thing – you put on a costume (kinda a requirement, a cute note at the bottom of the website says that if you don’t wear a costume to the event, the spirits there might get cranky with you), you eat at some of the dozen-or-so street festival-style food carts (the curly cheese fries were pretty damn good), you buy merch of your favorite artists, you take photos at the special photo set-up area that has a big spooky fake seven-tier cake and some creepy living room scenery, and you wait for the show to begin.

Unlike other festivals in this style, attendees are not given a timetable of what artist goes on when, but given that everything is self-contained (food, drink, toilets) in essentially one huge convention room where the stage and large monitors of what’s happening can be seen from almost any place you’re at, it’s not a stressful element and makes for a pleasant atmosphere of anticipation.

On day two, the first artist to go onstage and fulfill that sense of anticipation was BREAKERZ. Fronted by DAIGO, the band were all dressed like the cast of characters from the ultra-cutesy anime “Kemono Friends”, with animal-print tops and stockings and short skirts, wigs, and bunny ears. The band is playful and a very good band to get warmed up with, which was certainly illustrated by their opening number where the band all danced and lipsynced to the animated series’ opening theme.

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DAIGO was at his usual mischief, lifting up his skirt to flash his underwear at the audience and getting into his guitarist AKIHIDE’s personal space to smooch him several times on his cheek. He took time to thank HYDE for inviting the band to the event, saying how glad he was that they could be there, before lauching into what might be called BREAKERZ showcase song, “GOD”, a song DAIGO says he wrote especially for HYDE. It was an intense number, to say the least, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

The next act, FLOW, is a fun poprock band that’s done loads of anime theme songs. For anyone looking for a solid poprock, anime song group to start listening to, FLOW is worth checking out. The five members were all dressed like the popular anime character Naruto, and though they claimed to all be different Narutos, that may have been tongue in cheek. They started their set by lining up and popping out from behind each other on beat to the music in an entertaining little homage to the source material.

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They too thanked HYDE for having invited them to perform, and even got the whole audience to do the wave several times, which was a lot of fun. They worked the crowd well, even when trying to get everyone to sing along garnered mixed results. The band were really good sports about it, and kept good energy up to the point where several of them were doing that trademark Naruto-sprint along the catwalk until the very end of their set.

After FLOW departed the stage, NicoNico MC Yamachan came onstage to begin presenting Halloween Collection. Many of the artists participating in HALLOWEEN JUNKY ORCHESTRA came out to discuss the finer details of their costumes.

Kanon Wakeshima talked about how her gas mask accessory for her cute Cat-Who-Has-Died-100-Times costume was meant to be a proper one that could actually be used. AkiAKi (SID) quipped that he was ‘the bass guy’ from Motley Crue before clarifying that he was dressed as the famous Nikki Sixx. After Tatsurou (MUCC) brushed off the question about his classic jailhouse uniform by saying he was just wearing pajamas a lot lately and Hitsugi (NIGHTMARE) shrugged and said HYDE asked him to wear his big teddy bear costume, attention turned to the star of the show – Shinya (DIR EN GREY/SERAPH), who had constructed an impressively sized costume of HYDE’s original character, Chupacabra.

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All the guests onstage joked about how they didn’t know who could be in there, that maybe it was Yukihiro (L’Arc~en~Ciel), even, before Shinya lifted up the huge head of his costume to peer out at everyone. When asked about the costume, Shinya explained that he chose to make Chupacabra for the impact it would make, and that despite the costume being very heavy, he would try to play the drums in it later on.

The artists walked the catwalk to give the crowd a good look at their costumes, and as they left Yamachan attempted to guide Shinya to the stage exit, as the drummer could barely see where he was going. It was at that point that the huge wings at the back of his costume fell clean off onto the catwalk while Shinya continued cluelessly forward, with Tatsuro and Hitsugi chasing after him with the wings in an attempt to assist him. It was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

Kishidan was the next group to perform. The band came out dressed in red suits, their hair either styled or disguised with immaculately designed wigs, all signs of any rebellious fashion tossed out the window. Show (vocal) comically explained their costuming in the following way: “Each member was supposed to wear their usual street clothes, but we all ended up having the same style. It shows how tight we are as a group that has been around for 20 years.”

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They had full choreography for each and every song, and they executed it all with flair. One of the choicest tongue-in-cheek moments was when Show and Hikaru (vocal) suddenly started doing pattycake with each other during an intense hand choreography sequence. It had the whole crowd in stitches.

Show gave a rousing speech about not knowing the future, but having been around for 20 years he still wanted to keep striving for the next thing. The audience began to sing along to “One Night Carnival”, during which they superimposed shots of the audience with the feed from the camera on Show as he made a series of exaggerated, emotionally strained faces, as if he were about to pass out or burst into tears from how moved he was. After their last song, the band split up to squeeze into tiny push-carts wheeled around by staff throughout the venue as they tossed candy into the crowd. It was completely unnecessary and over the top and therefore hilarious.

Immediately following Kishidan was a magic show. A bewildered Hitsugi was pushed out onstage with the performers as an unwilling participant in the main trick they had planned.

This trick featured a full guillotine, which the woman magician demonstrated the sharpness of by inserting a huge daikon radish — which she declared to be Hitsugi’s neck — to slice cleanly in half. He was urged into the apparatus, had a cloth put over his head, and then to all onlookers apparently had his head cut clean off. The woman then declared that he was in heaven now before unceremoniously departing the stage. To say that the audience was shocked at the abrupt ending of this shocking illusion would be an understatement.

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Following that stunning display was the idol group Momoiro Clover Z.  During their self-introduction, I was surprised and pleased to hear that all the members are in their early, even mid-twenties. It’s a refreshing thing to see in the idol world. This year the group were all dressed as characters from the upcoming animated Kaiketsu Zorori film, “ZZ no Himitsu”. A trailer for the film was shown to the crowd before the girls took the stage for a really fun, energetic set of songs. Their sound ranges from dubstep, jpop, to what can only be described as harpsichord pop rock. All with great dancing and highly enthusiastic cheers from their passionate fans.

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There was a cute moment where Kanako, the leader of the group, made a small mistake in introducing the next song. The other girls kindly and playfully corrected her, telling her “No, no~ that’s the song after the next one.” It was rather adorable, and it was nice to see a small error being taken as just that.

Their song “BLAST!” featured some pretty good rapping from Shiroi. Their whole set was highly entertaining, and the girls were all smiles as they descended into the crowd for two whole songs to hand out candy to all their devoted fans. They seemed to really enjoy getting some time to interact with the people in the crowd. They made some new fans that night, without a doubt  After thanking HYDE for inviting them again this year, they gracefully left the stage.

VAMPS took the stage next, heralded by a pirate shanty that echoed through the hall as the members sauntered lazily onto the stage. They were all made up like different characters from Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. The quality of the makeup on Ju-ken (bass) in particular was incredible — he had a full head prosthetic on to make him appear to be the spitting image of Davey Jones, complete with a dozen or so tentacles. How he managed to play his bass in that is a wonder. K.A.Z (guitar) opted for the much more lightweight Bootstrap Bill, and Jin (keyboards) was in drag as a pirate bride that he had no business looking that convincing in.  ARIMATSU (drums) made a cuddly-looking Barbosa. He wasn’t quite as convincing as the others. HYDE, it should be said, might be the best Jack Sparrow cosplayer in Japan.

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The band took their pirate theme seriously, doing a cool acoustic rendition of “Halloween Party” with a pirate flavor and an upright bass. During “LOVE ADDICT” K.A.Z did a particularly cool move where instead of running his fingers up the frets he simply held his guitar out and let gravity do the work for him. HYDE only complained a little bit about how his false facial hair was going up into his nose and tickling him.

A whole group of roving pirates began wandering the stage waving flags as “B.Y.O.B” started up. One by one they all made as if they wanted to murder HYDE with various swords and exaggerated punches, but HYDE ducked out of the way of all of them while they gave chase around the catwalk. It was at the beginning of “THE JOLLY ROGER” where HYDE hoisted himself onto the same one-foot zipline he’d used at this year’s BEAST PARTY. He kicked off all his would-be pirate attackers as he cruised over to a pirate ship that had been uncovered, waiting for him to land on it at the center of the hall.

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HYDE sang the next few songs while standing upon the pirate ship. It was pushed throughout the hall between the blocks of fans reaching up toward him as HYDE waving a flag above them. At one point K.A.Z climbed up onto the ship with him, not missing a beat in any of his impressive guitar solos as they rolled around Makuhari Messe like that before the pack of pirates finally dragged HYDE off the boat. They shoved him into an inflatable kiddie pool, knocked his hat off, and dumped two buckets full of water onto him to uproarious laughter from the audience.

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HYDE unsheathed his long cutlass and used it to set off small cannons mounted along the catwalk, firing candy into the audience during VAMPS last song of the night, “SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL”. All the other band members roamed the catwalk as the song drew to a close. It was an extremely fun set, and how heavily the band leaned into their pirate theme made for a lot of laughs.

That left only the special guest, MIYAVI. The talented slap-guitarist elected to begin his short set with an impressive katana demonstration set to traditional music. It was a nice way to wind down from VAMPS set and enter into the entirely different genre of music that MIYAVI represents. He launched straight into the heavy song “What’s My Name?” afterward, with HYDE appearing onstage with him to perform the vocals.

MIYAVI’s slap-guitar skills are unparalleled. You can actually feel the guitar in your chest when you see him live, it’s that intense. The two performed chest to chest and back to back for the incredible solo in the middle of the song, dissolving into a crazy screaming match at the song’s end. HYDE was having trouble keeping up with the electric energy MIYAVI was oozing, but the two were clearly having the time of their lives performing together.

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HYDE took some time to properly introduce the next song, which he wrote with MIYAVI for his upcoming album. HYDE seemed to think it was a tribute album (likely confusing it with MUCC’s upcoming tribute album, which HYDE also collaborated on by doing the cover illustration). MIYAVI teased him as he corrected him, saying that he had specifically selected those artists who he considered to be the hottest tickets in Japan to collaborate with. HYDE did a fair bit of chest puffing and preening after receiving such a compliment, much to the amusement of the crowd.

“All My Life” is a dancey song that you can clearly hear both MIYAVI and HYDE’s influences in. It’s uplifting lyrics are in both English and Japanese, and definitely should be checked out by any VAMPS fans. The two finished the song with one more impressive guitar solo from MIYAVI as HYDE belted out a powerful series of vocal runs.

It was then that day two of Halloween Party slowly drew to a close as all participating artists joined MIYAVI and HYDE onstage. There was some banter between them all, highlights including HYDE rubbing Hitsugi’s nipple with his mic through his bear costume, Tatsuro telling DAIGO that if he wanted to see the illustration HYDE did for the album he’d have to go out and buy it himself, and Show expressing with delight that since he usually performed with sunglasses on he had no idea until now how many cute girls were actually in the audience.

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All the artists sang “HALLOWEEN PARTY” together afterward, walking amongst the fans and tossing candy to them enthusiastically. This is the playful atmosphere attendees to Halloween Party come for, and what many came back for on day three of the event, which somehow was even more surprising. How VAMPS and company keep exceeding prior Halloween Party shows year after year is something you absolutely should not miss.

SET LIST
BREAKERZ
01. BAMBINO
02. GOD
03. SMILE 100%
04. SUMMER PARTY

FLOW
01. Sign
02. Steppin’ out
03. Aiaiai ni utarete baibaibai
04. COLORS
05. GO!!!

Kishidan
01. One Night Carnival ~Halloween Party 2017 Version~
02. Kenka Jyoutou
03. Rivals
04. One Night Carnival
05. Namida BOY Namida GIRL

MOMOIRO CLOVER Z
01. Neo STARGATE
02. DECORATION
03. Saraba, itoshiki kanashimi-tachi yo
04. BLAST!
05. Hashire!
06. Itsuka kimi ga
07. Koyoi live no shita de

VAMPS
01. HALLOWEEN PARTY ~Pirate Version~
02. LOVE ADDICT
03. ANGEL TRIP
04. UNDERWORLD
05. B.Y.O.B
06. THE JOLLY ROGER
07. REVOLUTION II
08. SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL

MIYAVI X HYDE (Special Guest)
01. WHAT’S MY NAME? 2017
02. All My Life

HALLOWEEN JUNKY ORCHESTRA
01. HALLOWEEN PARTY

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