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Sep 22

[live report] girugamesh TOUR 2009 SUMMER EVOLUTION

giru_live09_01No frills. Some say it’s the only way to truly rock out. But how many bands claim to be the bare-essentials of rock, only to end up cheapening the experience with over the top costumes, garish makeup and dorky stage antics?

On September 2, 2009, girugamesh took that no frills attitude to heart with their TOUR 2009 “SUMMER EVOLUTION” final at Akasaka BLITZ in Tokyo. Instead of plodding about the stage in their usual, black suits and corpse-white faces while hamming up the goth and gore, the band was stripped down and simple. Once they appeared on stage in their tour hoodies and simple black pants, the audience immediately perked up and rushed forward. Girugamesh suddenly wasn’t that inaccessible. Straight from the graveyard band that they were so used to; they were four guys on stage, rocking their souls out.

The change in concert atmosphere certainly mirrored the change in the band’s general sound. Opening with the sickeningly sweet and dance-worthy “evolution,” the audience turned into a mob of spinning, hand waving, head-banging nutters. The whole image was quite hypnotic and shocking even for a seasoned visual kei concert-goer. Girugamesh has made a dramatic shift in the last year to a creature that is completely digestible for those who want to dance, but at the same time hardcore enough for enraged brooders. There were certainly no unenthusiastic faces in the tightly compact crowd.

The band joined in the merriment too. As guitarist Nii and bassist Shuu frequently leaped across the stage like fleeing gazelles.  Drummer Яyo surrendered his bass pedal to stand up and dance around as he beat on his toms and snare. While vocalist Satoshi was dynamic in song, the true pull of his charisma was seen when the music fell silent and the audience got a chance to shout the band’s name. To be more accurate, the hordes of young women weren’t so much as shouting as they were emulating Satoshi’s growling screams until their voices became hoarse.

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While the stage antics were elaborate and trippingly risky, nothing felt choreographed. This left plenty of breathing room for the music. One of the most striking aspects of girugamesh’s live music is that no one member stands out above the rest. The music moves as a unit. When the bass in  “Dance Rock Night” got funky, the drums highlighted the down beat with simulated hand clapping. And when the guitar was entirely rhythmic in “BORDER,” the vocals were less melodic and more beat oriented. Though certainly apparent on the recordings, it took the realness of a live to bring out that unique aspect of their music.

In the end, as the band left the stage without that typically ego-maniacal rock star swagger, girugamesh proved to be artists that feel at home with a straightforward performance. Even after three encores, they maintained that uncompromising, bare-bones style without batting an eye at the over the top. For a relatively young band, this was a welcome breath of fresh air. And with a new album coming out in December, we can only expect the great things to continue from girugamesh.

girugamesh Official Homepage: http://www.girugamesh.jp
Photos courtesy of MAVERICK DC