On April 16, electronic duo Schwarz Stein held a socially distanced concert Type of another cell at Shibuya Rex. Thanks to the advent of Internet streaming, fans around the world could attend the live performance for a sum of ¥3,000 (about $28), which was cheaper than the live venue ticket.
For the uninitiated, Schwarz Stein is a duo composed of vocalist Kaya and keyboardist Hora (formerly of VELVET EDEN). The pair came into the Japanese goth music scene in 2001 as “Rudolf Steiner”. In 2002, they were signed by Mana of former Malice Mizer (currently Moi Dix Mois) under his label Midi: Nette. They disbanded in 2004 and regrouped in 2014, resuming activities. They are currently produced under Kaya’s own label Traumerei.
Their sound is hard to define. They carry the synthesizers which are signature to trance and future pop, the flair of gothic rock, and the vocal stylings of visual kei. Their official website defines their style as that of “aestheticism and decadence”.
One may ask what boons a virtual livestream may have over a real-life concert. For one thing, once the buyer has paid the fee of “admission”, they may stream the concert as many times as they like within the allotted period. In this case, the concert was available via Twitcasting from the date of the performance (April 16) for one week, until April 23, 2021.
For another, we can work around the tedious trials of live concerts, such as waiting in line, blown-out speakers, and vying for the coveted front-row experience. At a livestream, everyone is front-row and gets to view the artists clearly.
As the livestream begins, a solemn reminder plays over the intercom: “Please maintain social distancing. Ensure that you are wearing a mask, wash your hands, and do not scream”.
Despite restrictions, the concert is interactive and possibly more endearing. Even as a viewer abroad, you could send a message to the artist upon the purchase of your virtual ticket. Online, you have the ability to chat with fellow viewers in a chatbox. You can also send “sticker” emojis of applause, which took the form of fireworks and gently falling “snowflakes” in the form of the Schwarz Stein logo.
As always, Kaya commands the stage regally. He manifests from the darkness clad in black, with feathers and roses keeping his hair in place. He looks like an evil queen, a departure from the sugar-crusted princess-like costumes of his solo career. Thanks to the streaming quality, we can see his meticulous cut-crease makeup and each of his spider-like eyelashes.
Hora emerges with a keytar in hand, dressed in flowing black layers and a tapered corset waist. His makeup was a mishmash of Japanese white makeup and corpse paint, featuring the pentagram-like Schwarz Stein logo on his forehead.
As such, we are beckoned as ghosts into their solitary “Type of another cell”.
The lineup includes well-known works like Queen of Decadence, as well as “covers” of their releases under Rudolf Steiner such as Kuro Ageha. Their sound ranges from Orchestral to Gothic, meeting every genre in-between. Kaya shows off dramatic vocal stylings which can only be felt in the heat of the moment. And because it is Kaya, it rings clear as a bell.
Kaya and Hora both acknowledge the difficult situation of enjoying a concert in post-Corona times. However, they encourage the audience to enjoy in any way they can, including dancing and applause.
So what does a silent audience sound like? The answer became clear as we watched: one of the stickers that viewers could send was a flurry of fireworks. Like fireworks, the performance can be seen and enjoyed from miles away. Even if we cannot be present at this time, we felt connected in that time and space, willing prisoners in their dark castle.
“I hope our sound reaches you even if we can’t meet here now”, Kaya said in his demure tone during a talk with the audience.
At the time of reporting, Schwarz Stein does not do regular lives. However, you can both subscribe to them on Twitcast for notifications of new uploads and follow them on Twitter for announcements. The Twitcasting streams are available internationally.
If you would like to view this magnificent gothic experience, there is still time to purchase a virtual ticket via TwitCast until April 23, 2021.
Schwarz Stein Oneman LIVE -Type of another cell-
- Date: April 16, 2021
- Time: 18:30-20:00 (JST)
- Price: 3,000 yen (tax included)
- Sales period end: April 23, 23:59 (JST)
- Archive period: Available until April 23, 23:59 (JST)
- Tickets: TwitCasting
- Blazing Darkness
- INNER UNIVERSE -cybernated-
- Queen of Decadence
- funerary dream
- FROZEN PAST -raze-
- Ever After
- Queen Leech
- Sleeping Madness
- Succubus -2014-
- Perfect Garden
- Kuro Ageha
- INDWELL -outer planet-
Update 2021-04-22: We previously listed the Rudolf Steiner cover song “Funerary Dream”, it has been correct to “Kuro Ageha”.