Jun 18

[live report + interview] Speaking Music with -OZ- at A-kon 23

The way -OZ- walked onto the A-kon stage, one would never have guessed they were playing their first show in America.  Each member acknowledged the large chanting crowd and struck a cool pose with their trademark glowsticks (which were sold in the dealers’ room for fans to wield).  Natsuki beckoned the audience to scream louder as the lights dimmed.  His black lace blindfold conjured up images of S&M, and everyone knew that this was going to be one hot show.

At the first chords of “Reverse,” bright lights flashed over the stage.  It was like lighting and thunder striking at the same time.  Heavy riffs blended with a synthesized accompaniment while Natsuki growled ferociously.  -OZ-’s latest single, “Stigma,” had a similar electronic touch with screeching guitars.  Band and audience members alike went into a frenzy of headbanging.

The pace slowed down with “Rain Delay.”  The ballad began with slow triplets from Aki, paired with Zukki’s light tapping.  Nao strummed his bass during the first verse and Tama took over the accompaniment on the second.  Natsuki’s vocals were a bit strained in the chorus, but he was passionate and the crowd latched onto that when they were commanded to sing along.  His voice was a lot more solid in the catchy chorus of “Filmy,” a fast and ferocious piece.  He teased the fans by sliding his fur-trimmed coat off one shoulder as Nao delivered a short bass solo, and then he proclaimed, “I can’t speak English very well… but I can speak music!”

Aki and Tama traded off impressive solos throughout the night.  The entire band never seemed to tire even though it got hot enough to make Natsuki shed his coat, belt, and tank top before “Enmity.”  He then dove into the already-ecstatic crowd.  “Detox,” the last song, had everyone clapping along in the beginning.  The guitars alternated between a catchy melody that was reminiscent of 80s arena rock and heavier riffs that fit more with the death vocals of the verse.

For the encore, -OZ- traded their leather jackets and layered tank tops for T-shirts, carrying Japanese flags.  They played “Reverse” again, with more intensity.  Natsuki drew wild screams by provocatively pulling his shirt up just a tiny bit and shaking hands with some lucky fans. “Today is the best day in my life,” the frontman had said earlier.  Based on the screams and applause that continued long after the band had exited, many probably felt the same.

The next day, I briefly chatted with -OZ- before their fan Q&A session.  The band exhibited the same level of confidence that they walked on-stage with, even as their weekend was filled with new experiences.  Thank you to Babel Entertainment for making the interview possible.

pSKY: What has been your impression of your first American live?

Natsuki: It was much more exciting than we expected.

pSKY: Have you gotten a chance to explore Dallas?

Tama: 7-11!

Natsuki: I walked around at lunch.  I was surprised at how hot it was.

pSKY: What is the key to keeping up the amazing level of energy at your concerts?

Natsuki: We eat a lot.

Aki: Especially hot dogs.

pSKY: Natsuki, how do you maintain your voice through all the growling and screaming?

Natsuki: There’s not a particular method—it’s more a mental thing.  I want to deliver a message to the audience and that keeps me going.

pSKY: What is the message that -OZ- wants to deliver as a band?

Zukki: I want the audience to enjoy not only our music but our energy.

Nao: We made it to the U.S. because people were asking us to come.  We want more requests like that.

Tama: With the technology we have, it’s easy to deliver a message with people around the world.  We would like to keep in touch with everyone through the internet.

Aki: I was surprised at how many people were expecting us, and I’m really thankful.

Natsuki: We are working hard every day to create new songs and give great performances.  I wish for our fans to please wait for us.

pSKY: What is the songwriting process like for you guys?

Natsuki: There are various methods.  Different members create different songs.

pSKY: This past year has been tough for Japan.  How has music helped people cope with disaster and recover from it?

Natsuki: When the earthquake happened, almost everything stopped—the trains, the government.  We realized that it is important for us to continue making music.  By doing that, we will help unite people.

-OZ- official website: http://www.territory-oz.com/
Babel Entertainment: http://www.babelentertainment.com/

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  1. A-kon 23 Cosplay and Panels « Hibari-sensei's Classroom

    [...] Now that I got my PSA out of the way, the highlights of my A-kon 23 experience can be found over at Purple SKY.  Click on the links to read my  Ayabie live report and -OZ- live report and interview. [...]

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