Kiryu at Shibuya O-East
I’ve got a couple of favourite venues in Tokyo for photographing – Akasaka Blitz, Shinjuku Blaze and Shibuya’s O-East, so I was looking forward to the Kiryu gig on March 3rd. That was, until I got down to the stage and found a video camera, on a tripod, on tracks that ran the width of the stage and took up the whole run. Having recently fought off video cameras at the Versailles gig at the CC Lemon Hall, where space is comparatively abundant, this did not look good. And then 2 more camera guys turned up – and they had bigger and better gear than me. There’s nothing like a bit of lens envy to make you want to crawl back under your amateur rock sometimes, but it’s not always about who’s got the best camera, it’s about how you use it, ne?
As the lights came down the two other photographers scampered off to centre-stage and I followed, but kept an eye on the video camera, whose brusque operator wheeled it down the tracks at alarming speed and sent all three photographers back the way they came, tumbling over each other. And that’s pretty much how the show went the whole time. The other two photographers, being of the skinny Japanese persuasion, realized that with a well-timed duck and wiggle they could get behind the video camera. I had no such luck. After a couple of awkward fumbles with the cameraman, I gave up and disappeared up to the 2nd floor guest balcony to shoot some crowd and stage shots before moving to the other side of the stage,where I not only had to contend with the cable for the camera under my feet, but some over-zealous moshing from the audience which resulted in a couple of near concussions.
Kiryu came bounding on to stage dressed in some amazing kimono-inspired costumes, which they describe as “Tsuuzetsu Nostalgic” or tradition Japanese aesthetics in a modern context. My particular favourites were singer Mahiro’s baggy trousers beneath a purple kimono-top tied up with obis and rope, along with occasional flourishes from his fan. By the third song the band’s exuberance and costumes were creating some impressive sweating and it must have been pretty gruelling under all the lights. At one point later in the show Mahiro ducked down on stage to suck on a can of oxygen, and during the encore one audience member passed out and had to be carried out by security. A pretty intense show for everyone then.
Despite the difficulties of shooting, I did manage to get some great shots, and this final one is now probably one of my all-time favourite photos. Guitarist Mitsuki was rocking another amazing outfit, and was also doing a very good job of playing up to the camera for me for much of the show. I love the enthusiasm of the crowd in the shot, as well as Mitsuki’s amzaing costume and huge smile.
Check out the write-up and more photos at Rokkyuu Magazine.