Ayabie is like the Zooey Deschanel of visual kei. They have the same sunny disposition and vintage Bohemian fashion sense. They also exhibit the kind of awkwardness that is endearing rather than uncomfortable to watch, because hiding underneath it is self-assuredness. At the end of the day they are still pros, as they proved to be at A-kon 23.
Yumehito came across as the type of guy who isn’t very good at dancing but won’t let that keep him from having fun. During the opening song “Merry Go Round,” he swung his free arm left and right like he was half-punching the air, half-getting ready to do the cabbage patch. He also interrupted his singing to shout at the crowd, which they dug. Intetsu was equally enthusiastic, twirling around with his bass and headbanging to even the pop numbers. Takehito was the cool guitarist, focused on the the fast-paced melodies, but he cracked a shy smile every now and then. Yumehito joined him on guitar for “Reflector,” which blended hard rock riffs with electronica. While he was in his comfort zone playing guitar, he was more entertaining as a vocalist.
Kenzo was relatively sedate until “RICE,” during which he pounded away furiously to complement Intetsu’s thundering riffs. He was still breathless when the band took turns addressing the crowd in Japanese and English. “Follow me,” Yumehito instructed. “I’m dancing. You’re dancing.” He brought out a fan to direct the crowd’s arm waving. The next song, “Kakusei Sprechor,” had even more complicated choreography that mimicked para-para dancing (with some finger motions that resembled the gesture for “tsk tsk”). It suited the Eurobeat-style back track. During Takehito’s solo, Intetsu directed his headbanging towards his guitarist while Yumehito appeared to be bowing from the waist. The audience giggled and screamed over how cute he looked.
Even when technical difficulties interrupted their set, Yumehito kept the audience entertained. He made everyone do vocal exercises, which displayed how high his falsetto was—something that isn’t evident in the songs. Then he conducted an impromptu interview with Intetsu. “Nan kilo desuka,” he asked. “What weight?”
“I am fifty-one [kilograms]…maybe,” the bassist reluctantly replied before repeating the question back.
Yumehito’s answer was “one hundred.” The audience laughed, as he joked, “I am fat.”
The band resumed playing with “SICs,” a speed metal-inspired track with rapid-fire drums and bass. Despite remaining a bit tentative to find their flow again, Ayabie was back to their full energetic selves for the last song. The night ended on a cheerful note with a high flying leap from Intetsu. Even with the unexpected moments of awkwardness, Ayabie remained fun to watch and it was their willingness to be silly and imperfect that won over the hearts of their American audience.