May 25

[live report] ViViD – Future Kings of Oshare Kei Rock?

Elvis lives.

Well, maybe in some alternate reality, glam rock incarnation as imagined by a Japanese video game company from the future.

Clad in white polyester and with more sparkle than the Vegas Strip, visual kei band ViViD commanded the same overwhelming (albeit cheesy) attention that the King of Rock once garnered in his heyday. At the outdoor Hibiya Yaon in Tokyo on May 15, the music might have been entirely oshare kei, but the spirit was all latter-days Elvis. Minus the drugs and bloat, of course.

It was the entrances that really set the mood. As they came on stage one by one, each member of ViViD took it as an opportunity to show off an individualistic cock in their walk. People in the entertainment business have particular names for each of the hand motions used to excite the audience: “shooting star” (bringing one’s hand down from the heavens), “hey, there you are” (pointing at particular people in the audience), and “look at me” (motioning towards oneself), just to name a few. ViViD utilized these to their fullest extent, but it was guitarist Ryouga who really took home the prize for best move with his near-splits in short shorts followed by a “hey, there you are.” The King would have been proud of the exhibitionism.

And once the music started, the band continued to perform choreographed hand motions, twirls, pointing, and a few squats. Great exercise for sure, but also a great way to get the audience moving. Even as the band introduced new songs, young gals and the splattering of guys shook the concrete stands with their synchronized, pre-planned jumping up and down, side to side, and all around. All the while, the stage lit up with every color of an unnaturally bright rainbow. The light reflected off the leaves of the trees surrounding the outdoor stage, and I couldn’t help but stare, mesmerized but the ethereal glow.

But even with all the glitz during the show, nothing could hold a cheesy candle to the mock infomercial. After all, what rock concert is complete without an infomercial? Right before the encore, the screen lit up with drummer Ko-ki’s face, introducing some of the merchandise the band was selling. In any other state of sanity, I would dramatically roll my eyes and use that moment as an excuse to pop off to the bathroom. But the whole show had put me in a smiley mood, so I stayed, laughing at every blooper and inappropriate carrot joke (you had to be there).

All this was certainly a great spectacle for someone entirely unfamiliar with their music. The lighting effects, the dancing, the costumes – and not to mention the perfectly sculpted faces and hair of the band members – kept me thoroughly entertained throughout the performance. The music, while certainly not terrible, didn’t reflect the pizzazz of the visuals. Shin has a smooth, pleasant tone to his voice, but as he seemed to tire about halfway through the show, it became apparent that he lacks the stamina, or at least the texture to hide his weariness. Likewise, the guitar solos started out interesting, but eventually sunk in the same-old shtick with each additional song. ViViD is by far not the worst visual kei band I have seen live, but as a young band, they have an immense amount of room to grow musically.

Maybe with time, the band will shift its energy away from the shininess of their visuals and focus more on music. But maybe they won’t, which isn’t a bad thing. People didn’t love Elvis because he was a brilliant musician and poet (“Hunka hunka burnin’ love”? Come on.). They loved him because he had charisma, good-looks, and an overall sense of what the audience wanted. In that respect, ViViD is not much different. If ViViD keeps up with their larger-than-life charm, maybe one day people will call them the Kings of Oshare Kei Rock.

Official ViViD website – http://www.vivid-sounds.com/
ViViD PSCompany website – http://www.pscompany.co.jp/vivid/