“The Frigid Final Night with Several Surprises”
- Event: TOUR 19 This Way to Self-Destruction
- Date: Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
- Location: Studio Coast, Shinkiba
Intro: Heavy Metal, Yet Surprisingly Cute
Dir en Grey has managed to expand their fame and musical abilities while still maintaining much of what made them so appealing to their very first fans. While they may have toned down the elaborate makeup and giant costumes of their prime visual kei days, more subtle details pull the crowd in such has freaky contacts, blood-stained lips, and eerie eye makeup. Most of the visual theatrics are done by Kyo while the other members’ looks range from cool to comfortable. Die usually has a fan in front of him to continuously lift his long hair for dramatic effect. In comparison with other musical groups, it seems as if Kyo with his maniacal laughing and jerky movements is meant to keep your attention while the other members remain mostly fixed in place but they all contribute to the dark atmosphere one expects from a Dir en Grey show.
On the very last night of the This Way to Self-Destruction tour, Studio Coast was filled with fans eagerly awaiting entry. Some had even been to the concert the previous night at this very venue but were lured back by rumors of a second encore. Despite the cold night, you could find many girls in short skirts or shorts, perhaps in fishnets, seemingly unbothered by the chill. The crowd was a mix of men and women, young adults mostly with a few older people in attendance. Most everyone was either wearing tour shirts or some punk/gothic attire. There was a pretty steady line for tour goods of tights, shirts, and even plates while others stood in groups waiting for their ticket group numbers to be called for entry. There were even little toy cars in the member’s colors.
Upon entering, fans were protected from the cold night air and had to pass the large bar outside of the room where the concert would be held. People rushed in to fill the floor space and tried to hold their ground against those coming in after. One could grab a beer from one of several vending machines inside the concert hall should they not want to wait for an actual drink. Bee-kun made use of the vending machines and then joined Honey-chan by the railing near the stairs to the pit. The only seats were on an upper floor that was reserved for fan club members so the rest of the audience had to tough it out. Without a sloped floor, those of smaller stature had a hard time seeing. Despite all the less than ideal circumstances, there was a buzz of excitement. As the members one by one took to the stage, the audience erupted into screams and applause.
Performance: Half Theater, Half Concert
As the light dimmed, images of a human embryo and a body in a lake appeared on the giant screen behind Dir en Grey. Shinya was first to take to the stage and Kyo the last, the usual order of progression. With Die on the right side and Toshiya and Kaoru on his left, Kyo took to the front middle of the stage on a small raised platform. Everyone was pushing to get as close as they could to the front. The first song was World of Mercy, a calmer and more melodious song and Kyo sang as if he was putting a spell on the crowd. With a message of being fed up with a ‘peaceful’ world rampant with cruelty and bullying, it’s likely most everyone there could relate. The PV played on screen, showing masked children hurting each other and venus fly traps opening and closing. Kyo jerked his body as he sang while the rest of the band stayed pretty motionless. The audience raised their arms and moved slightly with the beat but for the most part, were rather still themselves for the first half.
Once it picked up in intensity in the second half, cramped as they were, everyone shook and jumped as Kyo let loose his powerful screams. As the song ends, Kyo appears to bite his wrist open and suck out his blood, his snarls and laughter echoing out. Blood appears on the screen behind him somewhat obscuring the previous images. Mouth tinged with red, Kyo falls to his knees.
Ningen wo Kaburu is next and Kyo gets up and yells at the crowd who screams back enthusiastically. As Kyo roars, the crowd flails madly in time with the song. Some of the lyrics appeared on scream and the crowd sang or yelled along. By the third song, Die, Toshiya, and Kaoru started walking around the stage as they played, sometimes switching sides and getting close to the edge to get the audience even more excited.
The first few echoing notes of Merciless Cult caused a knowing, excited yell from the crowd. Kyo motioned for the audience to sing as lyrics came up on the screen behind him during the more melodious parts. Later on, Zetsuentai had everyone jumping and headbanging. Kyo’s incredible range of low growls, piercing screams, and thunderous yelling kept the energy going as red lights flashed intensely. Kyo jerked his body around violently as images of a frightening masked man who looked like his neck might snap from convulsions played behind him. While short, it was definitely impactful.
Values of Madness shares the message of wanting to die with several other Dir en Grey songs but instead of a tortured and somber vibe, there is just anger. Anger is easier to deal with than sadness and much easier to get into in a public setting and the crowd was all too happy to sing and headbang along. It was a great release of yelling and jumping, fighting against every other person there for space, an experience that became personal for the audience instead of just witnessing Kyo perform.
Keigaku no Yoku right after was like being on a roller coaster. The slow parts had everyone barely moving, fingers barely strumming, slow and precise drumbeats as Kyo’s melodic voice played out sometimes loud and sometimes just above a whisper. Once the chorus hit, everyone came alive. Die’s head whipped around, Toshiya screamed back up vocals, and Kaoru let his fingers fly. Shinya pounded swiftly and Kyo leaned over with his head almost touching his knee and screamed rapidly. As if nothing happened, they all return to their original positions and gentle playing/singing when it came around to the slow melody again. Going right back into the frantic screaming, strumming, and drumming, they again unleashed an auditory torrent on the audience. Kyo dropped to his knees and leaned far back as he unleashed the final note of the song.
Once Dir en Grey left the stage for the first time that night, the crowd wasted no time demanding an encore. In the same order as before, they came back slightly dressed down from the previous suits and nicer shirts. Kyo now had on strange clown-like makeup that gave him an unsettling appearance. They chose Fukai 2018 Ver. for the first song and immediately got everyone rocking. For what should have been the last song, they played Utafumi and this was where the other members really came alive. Toshiya and Die lifted their bass and guitars in the air while playing and moved around the stage a lot. Shinya drummed away for his special moment towards the end.
While Kyo immediately left the stage, the others stayed to throw out drumsticks, towels, water bottles, and pics into the crowd. People were desperate to catch an item from their favorite member and some minor squabbles broke out but thankfully, nothing too serious. After stepping off the stage, a video showing a dry, deserted landscape started up and it was revealed to be a promo for a new tour, The Insulated World Final Tour. Fans were ecstatic that this would not quite be the end but they were in for another surprise.
Outro: The Final (Final)
As the rumors predicted, there was to be a second encore. Loud applause accompanied the members to the stage but Kyo’s appearance shocked the crowd. Not for blood or dramatic makeup, but for a liberal use of denim. Donning a light blue denim jacket and jeans, it was quite a departure from his sharp suit he had worn during the show and even the more comfortable outfit he had chosen for the first finale.
The atmosphere was much more relaxed this time around. The lights remained on and they started playing Sustain the Untruth. Kyo made use of much of the stage as he moved from the middle, left, and right casually. At one point, Kaoru and Kyo were standing back to back and Kaoru pushed back on Kyo so hard he almost fell over, prompting a big smile and laugh from Kyo. This was much like seeing a unicorn in a wasteland as Kyo is normally such a serious, macabre performer and doesn’t usually play off the other members. In a dramatic and destructive move, Kyo drops the mic when the song ends as if to say ‘this is really it, guys’. Instead of disappearing first as he had every time before this, Kyo stayed after to provide the audience with his chosen items. He took some time to fill his mouth with water before spitting over the tired, hot crowd who were all too eager for it. Kyo even laughed at a couple of particularly exuberant fans trying desperately to be in the spray. He threw his empty water bottle and a towel and took in the adoration and cheers of the crowd before he and the other members exited the stage.
Kyo certainly has a penchant for theatrics and flair, and the relaxed, friendly behavior he exhibited was in sharp contrast to his stage presence earlier. During Aka, Kyo’s voice soared above the crowd, pained cries of a person with no hope left. Matching the heavy lyrics of the song, Kyo used his mic cord to fashion a noose which he held up several times as if contemplating the finality of it. Guitar riffs threatened to cover up the nearly mumbled verses as if Kyo was in his own world rather than performing for a huge audience. In this way, he continued to draw people in as if they were watching an intimate moment rather than attending a concert. By the end, Kyo had placed his mic cord noose around his neck and fell to his knees, his arm stretched above him holding the cord taught.
They were certainly able to do a lot with minimal props, and the mic cord was quite a versatile piece. The red cord was not only a noose but played the part of Kyo’s innards during World of Mercy. Kyo grabbed and wrapped up the cord in a loose ball and held it near his stomach. He then began slowly and shakily pulling it out in front of him, the cord unwrapping and tugging on itself as if it were intestines being unraveled. Kyo’s accompanying screams of pain with the light glistening off the red bundle made for quite an appropriately disturbing sight. With the combined body heat and excitement over the last two hours, the audience barely felt the cold as they left the venue.