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Jan 13

[live report] ViViD – When Good Looks Come in Handy

Some bands have the skills. Some bands have the attitude. Some bands have the drive. Other bands are just plain nice to look at.

I’m not saying a band like ViViD doesn’t have the talent or enthusiasm to make a great concert. I am saying, however, that in front of the steady vocals and melodic metal guitar solos, there’s a band that caused thousands of hormonal teenage girls and boys, in Tokyo’s Nippon Budoukan on January 7, to nearly hurl themselves at the stage with dangerously manicured grabby hands.

When I first saw ViViD in May of last year, I compared their stage presence to that of Elvis: white suits, smoldering glances, and herds of girls transforming into jelly at the wiggle of a hip. Things haven’t changed much in that department, though the venue showed them in a whole different light. Budoukan is something of a milestone for most bands,considering it hostedsome of the most prominent acts from Japan and abroad. Between songs, the band repeatedly mentioned how honored and bewildered they were to be performing there. There were even some beleaguered tears.

But words and stage-crying are cheap. Did their reverence for the spirits of bands that once stood in the very spot they were blubbering in reflect in their music?

On one hand, yes, ViViD did Budoukan justice. My biggest complaint about them last time was how easily the band seemed to tire. This time around, guitarists Ryouga and Reno kept the energy up, giving us a few tight but not overly complicated guitar solos. “Natsu Hana” even brought out the acoustic guitar souls in them, showing off a sweet and simple side to the band. On drums, Ko-ki did something far more experienced men and women have shied away from: a drum solo. Just like the guitars, it wasn’t too busy or distracting from the rest of the set; it was modest and got the crowd up and cheering after two somber songs.

Now the not-so-good bits. While Shin lasted a bit longer this time, he still seemed to lose his spark about halfway through the set. Clear and controlled at the beginning, his voice felt strained by the encore. It didn’t help that there were a few things working against him on top of that. Many of the tunes felt over-produced with excessive synthesizers, sometimes pushing Shin’s voice into the background. The acoustics in Budoukan are also a bit inconsistent with the vocals bouncing off the back wall and hitting my ears a couple milliseconds late. I’m not sure if that was just from where I was sitting, but it was distracting at times.

Still, I want to give ViViDthe benefit of the doubt. They’re a young band that only just got together in 2009, and Budoukan is not an easy prom queen to woo. But this is a band that forces even the most cynical snarker (me) to forget all her misgivings with a single, pearly grin. That sparkly, shiny, over-produced-but-who-carescharisma makes me want to forget their shortcomings, go back in time to when I was in high school, paste pictures of each member on the inside of my locker, and join the rest of the screaming masses of furitsukeing-fangirls.

ViViD Official website – http://www.pscompany.co.jp/vivid/