At every BAND-MAID concert, the maids welcome their fans as “masters and princesses” to a service where the entrée is a huge helping of hard rock. Yet, at the halfway stop on the WORLD DOMINATION TOUR, it was the fans who welcome the maids to the Cambridge Room at House of Blues in Dallas. As VIP fans lined up first for the meet and greet with prepared messages and wearing the band’s merch. Likewise, everyone has their favorite maid—Saiki the vocalist, Miku Kobato on rhythm guitar and vocals, Kanami lead guitarist, MISA with the bass, or Akane on drums.
Tonight’s performance, like all five shows across the country, are completely sold out. With Dallas having sold within four days from public sale. While the setlist is the same for all US shows, there is always something unique that happens. Such as at the New York show where MISA toasts her beer to a fan before chugging it down. Or, where she pours out a bottle directly to a fan from the stage! Every show has little moments of improvisation and spontaneous humor.
Yet, how is it that this band is here in America? While BAND-MAID is modestly successful in Japan, they are not exactly a household name. They have sold two full albums, three mini-albums, and five released singles that have done well. But, none of their songs have broken into the top ten of the rankings. They have toured all over Japan for the past five years and have yet to perform at the legendary Budokan. In the same week of the Dallas show, their arrival was overshadowed by international sensation BABYMETAL who are also on a world tour. Moreover, in the hall at House of Blues there is no big LED screen flashing their name. Further, the waitress tending bar in the restaurant had no idea who was performing that night. During soundcheck, an amp went up in smoke and had to be replaced. Subsequently, tours for even a big record company band are expensive, risky, brutal—and despite all that, they are here.
So what brings this band halfway around the world? Perhaps, it’s the dedication from the fans. Not only did fans drive across Texas, but also from Oklahoma and Arizona, for hundreds of miles. And some fans came from Florida and Georgia, pardon the geography lesson, but that’s a thousand miles to Dallas from the East coast. Above all, J Dizzle and Josh, from YouTube series Carpool Reactions, traveled over 16 hours by car from South Carolina. And these are just a few examples, other fans are traveling with the band to all five shows. Another fan from Japan, who goes to every show there, flew into the US to join in this experience.
And what keeps bringing these fans back? Besides the music, it could be the little flairs of fan interaction, learning Japanese words, and jokes at band members’ expense. And then there is Miku’s “Omajinai” time, the halftime show where a magic spell is cast to enhance the songs for the night. Interplay with audiences varies at each performance, but eventually, they get led into screaming “moe moe” and “kyun kyun”. While she scolds the troublemakers and pumps up the crowd. Then the spell is cast to her satisfaction and the band jumps back into the music. Consequently, it may be that the magic is actually bewitching the fans.
As for these fans, there are surprisingly a lot of musicians in attendance. For example, a guitarist who used to be in a traveling band is a fan. Another guitar player can pick out the styles and chord progressions in their songs. One young lady, who has toured as a DJ, even performing in Japan, was won over by the singer’s talent. At the Gramercy Theater show, Tony Visconti, a former producer of David Bowie, was there.
Though this show was a particularly special night for Kanami as it was her birthday. Dedicated fans brought a Happy Birthday sign autographed by those at the concert. During a break in the setlist, the other maids allowed her to make a birthday wish. Most importantly, it’s an open secret as fans know, that Kanami is a fangirl of Saiki and adores the lead singer. The shy guitarist has offered to take her out for dinner and been refused. Even going shoe shopping was a big ask. Sometimes, Saiki is referred to as the “tsundere” maid, because she shuns the adoration. Now on tonight’s stage, a nervous Kanami asks, “Saiki, I want to get a hug.” The statuesque singer stands cool and resolute. There is a moment of hesitation. Pressure comes from the audience as they chant “hug, hug, hug”, while Kanami stares hopefully at the bewildered singer. Well, Saiki cannot resist anymore and throws her arms out wide to embrace her guitarist and friend. A moment that gets cheers and melts the hearts of tough grown men.
Welcome, masters and princesses, to a night with BAND-MAID.
- REAL EXISTENCE
- Don’t you tell ME
- Choose me
- Don’t be long
- Rock in me
- endless Story
- Take me higher!!
- Moratorium (モラトリアム)
- Carry on living