I arrived at one of visual kei’s most famous live houses on a chilly February afternoon for Avanchick’s third one-man “tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji”, at Takadanobaba AREA on February 5. At 17:00, the doors opened to eager fans. The curtains closed, metalcore music leaked from the speakers and the 200 or so fans filed in and took up position between the camera crew who would be filming the show.
While the concert was supposed to start at 18:00, the crowd were left eagerly waiting for 50 minutes. Just as the piano and electronic backing background music began to get repetitive, the lights dimmed and the intro music began. The curtain parted to reveal Avanchick lined up on stage in long black cloaks, hoods pulled down over their faces as a red light lit them from behind. With dramatic chanting, the members took their places, discarded their cloaks and launched into the first song moumoku shoujo.
The band showed off their new look in black and purple, highlighted in red and gold. Vocalist NOAH, now adorned with an eyepatch, led the crowd in energetic fist pumping, and both guitarists ran forward to join him for the chorus, as fans jumped up and down in time to the drum beat. The group channelled the fans’ energy as guitarist Otake led them in clapping out a rhythm to begin unreleased song Idol. The crowd eagerly danced from side to side across the small live house and waved their hands in a predetermined routine during the chorus. After a short interlude where NOAH’s vocals were backed by Kagari’s slick bass, the whole band rushed forward to close out the song.
Fans poured their energy into LIAR, which was clearly made for the head banging and chanting it brought to a live performance, and Otake took to the front podium for his solo. There was another guitar solo in Pierrot, another unreleased song from the band, and when it ended the live house faded to black, as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played softly over the speakers. When the lights came up again however, it wasn’t a suitably dramatic song but an MC from NOAH.
“This place is pretty big huh?” he said. “How’s everyone holding up? Can you see from the back?” He went on to talk about the night’s theme—the show’s name translates as “the sorrow of others tastes like honey”. After NOAH introduced the next song, Kagari struck up a bass riff and the band launched into the energetic song titled Do you need me?. The bass remained prominent throughout but now it was guitarist Rey’s turn to take the podium for a solo. At the end, drummer Hyu-ga kicked up a beat and NOAH told the crowd to hold up their little fingers.
The next gauntlet of new songs (all featuring on the band’s upcoming fifth single) began with yubikiri, the Japanese expression for a “pinky promise”. Again fans moved side to side across the floor, but this song took a heavier turn and they formed a barrier at the front of the stage, with others throwing themselves at it. Each time this happened it ended with a whispered “usotsuki” (liar) from NOAH. This song was followed with the lengthy titled haikei tsukaisute no kimi e, which was my favorite of the three. It had a dramatic flair embellished by NOAH’s vibrato notes, as well as the heavier riffs the band is known for, and another guitar solo from Rey.
The Moonlight Sonata crept back over the speakers as it was time for another MC. NOAH asked what we thought of the new songs, and said it was time for a more serious comment. This tone was immediately destroyed by Otake, who exclaimed “there must be what, 170,000 cameras in here?” to which NOAH scolded him in fake irritation. He regained his composure and seemed genuinely thrilled to announce the presence of three foreign news sites and a small camera crew at tonight’s show. He then introduced the next song, the third new track of the night, shineba ii no ni. It was a kind of upbeat ballad, but the transition between this tame poppy tune and a sudden chugging guitar was oddly amusing to me as I watched the fans bang their heads back and forth.
Finally a familiar intro with those interesting electronic elements signalled FAKE, one of my personal favourite songs from the band so far. With its catchy and memorable chorus, fans jumped up and down to show their enthusiasm. As Otake took to the podium for his guitar solo, while the crowd stood arms raised in admiration, one lone fan was leaping crazily as if to command his attention.
The room went dark again and a red light lit a soft guitar riff from Otake. Before long he was joined by bass in an atmospheric introduction, and finally the intro proper of GAREKI played over the speakers and NOAH screamed as the dramatic song began. While the verse was driven largely by drums and bass, there was a dual guitar solo after the first dramatic chorus. As the song ended the stage was covered in smoke lit by blue lighting.
Now the mirror ball positioned above the crowd began to spin as the intro to Phantom began. The drums and guitar kept a good pace throughout, allowing the fans to maintain their energy until the end, when all the members left the stage, leaving only Hyu-ga for a drum solo. After showing off his ability in a forceful performance, Hyu-ga rallied the fans to call his name as he led them with a catchy beat. He was joined first by Kagari, then Rey and Otake, each leaping onto the front podium in turn as their fans called to them. Finally NOAH emerged holding a black cane adorned with a blue ribbon, and everyone clapped as Hyu-ga kicked out the opening beats of BREAK. Energy ran high for this catchy song, with not only a slick bass solo but a double guitar solo, in which Otake stepped up to the front and then handed off to Rey for its conclusion. This was one of the most fun performances of the night.
This was followed by the catchy seiten no hekireki with its prominent bass line and duelling guitar solo in which the two guitarists leaned against each other, one leg perched on the front platform. The duelling guitar work was perhaps even more noticeable in JK, where it was the strongest part of the composition. Then came the call for the last song, tsumi to batsu. What began as an energetic performance with some fun guitar work in the lead up to the chorus started to build into something far more dramatic, as NOAH’s drawn out vibrato tone was joined by choral chanting, and suddenly everything went crazy. Just like the recorded version, a pounding drum beat and organ-backed breakdown looped countless times as the band leaned into the crowd and excited fans ran forward to touch their idols. Kagari set down his bass and sat down at the front of the stage, bracing into the rush of bodies and stroking the heads of the front row. Eventually NOAH had the whole audience sit on the ground and head bang along with them. When the song finally ended, the band left the stage, and as soon as the last strain of feedback was cut off the encore call began.
Before long, Otake returned with a “Hey Tokyo!” and joked about how great his English is for the foreign press. He was soon joined by Kagari and Hyu-ga, and commented on how Hyu-ga must be cooler than the others in their new look since his belly is showing. Next came Rey, the “MC specialist”, who after some fake confusion over the words for “flower” and “nose” having the same pronunciation in Japanese, noted that somehow of the three flowers he wore in his hair only one was left. Finally NOAH returned for a more serious comment and said that he is always moved when band and fans can unite at a concert.
Finally the crowd, who had been sitting since tsumi to batsu, were called to their feet again as the encore began with Avanchick’s upcoming single—and tonight’s namesake—tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji. With a heavy intro but super catchy chorus, as well as a wicked dual guitar solo, this has become another of my favorites. It was followed up by my favorite song the band has released thus far, hitorigoto. Heavy throughout but with a distinctly ‘90s visual kei vibe in the distorted guitar melody and spoken parts, it was every bit as good live as recorded.
The true last song of the night was the band’s debut single, Eternal. As the speedy guitar riff started up, fans gave their all in head banging, fist pumping and jumping up and down. They had their own hand movements for the catchy chorus. Highlights included a surprisingly melodic guitar duel and vocal bridge backed by piano and bass. The upbeat song ended the night with spirits running high as the band tossed goodies out into the crowd. They gathered the fans to the stage as a photographer, perched precariously on Hyu-ga’s drum kit, took a group shot of band and fans to commemorate the group’s third one-man. Finally Avanchick left the stage for the last time, NOAH telling fans to prepare their mobile phones to record a special announcement and tag it on social media.
The curtain drew across the stage once more and a series of trailers was projected upon it. With a short preview of the accompanying music video, it was revealed that the band’s fifth single tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji will be released on March 30 in three types, gathering the other new songs performed tonight as B-sides. In addition, Avanchick will have their fourth one-man and second anniversary live on July 8 at Shibuya’s TSUTAYA O-WEST, where there will be another important announcement. As the excited fans exited into the cold night air, I bid farewell to the band.
Let’s keep our eyes on Avanchick this year and see what else they have in store.
- moumoku shoujo (盲目少女)
- Idol (アイドル)
- Pierrot (ピエロ)
- Do you need me?
- yubikiri (ゆびきり)
- haikei tsukaisute no kimi e (拝啓使い捨ての君へ)
- shineba ii no ni (死ねばいいのに)
- Drum Solo
- seiten no hekireki (青天の霹靂)
- tsumi to batsu (罪と罰)
- tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji (他人の不幸は蜜の味)
- hitorigoto (ひとりごと)