“SPYKiEZ American Debut!”
- Event: ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and SPYAIR Concert
- Date: Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
- Location: Anime Weekend Atlanta, Atlanta
Intro: Fun day Sunday
While many cons choose Sunday as the day for winding down, Anime Weekend Atlanta was not ready to stop the party. Both ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and SPYAIR were set to perform back-to-back in the late afternoon. It may have been the last day of the convention, but it was the start of ROOKiEZ and SPYAIR’s North American tour together.
ROOKiEZ has changed their lineup several times since their debut in 2006 and continue to use different support members for lives and recordings. The current ROOKiEZ lineup is Shinnosuke on vocals and guitar, U on drums, and Ryota on bass. Their sound changes a lot and they’re always finding inspiration from new musicians or songs. Vocalist Shinnosuke often combines rapping with more melodious singing to create a more dynamic sound. Having just released their second album, “The Sun Also Rises”, ROOKiEZ was looking forward to sharing it with the world.
SPYAIR has continued from 2005 to now with the same 4 members they started with being Ike on vocals, UZ on guitar, Momiken on bass, and Kenta on drums. Despite several obstacles on their road to success, they’ve managed to stay together and make it to their first American appearance. Their sound is influenced by KORN and Michael Jackson. Vocalist Ike surprises new fans who don’t expect that someone with such a cute face can scream as he can.
These two awesome bands have a close relationship with each other and, what better way to celebrate that than by an overseas tour together! After spending the weekend doing signings, meeting fans, and enjoying some American pastimes, ROOKiEZ and SPYAIR were ready to rock. With fans of both anime and rock present, everyone was excited for the show to start.
Performance: ROOKiEZ takes to the stage
AWA attendees filled up the main events room, eager for the double-feature concert to begin. The audience was mostly young adult guys but there was a good number of ladies as well. Being in such a large space, concert-goers gave themselves a bit more room than usual, probably to avoid excessive heat and, for many of them, to not exacerbate their hangovers. A few people wore the tour shirts they had bought to get signed by the band but most people wore comfortable clothing. As the ROOKiEZ members took to the stage along with their support guitarist Yousay, the crowd cheered loudly.
They opened with “In My World” which was used for Ao no Exorcist and everyone excitedly cheered. Even those who weren’t familiar with ROOKiEZ recognized the anime opening. It was an intense song to start with, but it certainly got people engaged. Now that people had this familiar point of reference, even the Sunday after a busy con couldn’t keep them feeling lethargic. Every time Shinnosuke called to the audience to clap their hands or jump, they did.
After their third song off their new album, they took a pause to introduce the members. Shinnosuke talked about how happy they were to be back in the states with such energetic fans. U got a few extra cheers from the women in the audience, probably due to his handsome face. They got back into it with their new song “Revival”, a song which they feel is probably the most representative of the feelings that went into “The Sun Also Rises”. Its fast-paced, energetic sound had everyone ready to jump around again. Before starting “Reclimb”, Shinnosuke instructed the crowd on how to sing the ‘whoa oh, whoa oh oh oh oh’ part so they could sing along. Many people already knew the song as the Yowamushi Pedal opening and were more than ready to lend their voices.
As their set drew to a close, Shinnosuke again took a moment to talk to the audience about what it meant for them to play in America and how excited they were to be starting off their tour in Atlanta. While keeping things light and silly for most of the show, things took a more serious tone as Shinnosuke spoke to the audience about how feelings of fear and stress sometimes become too much for people. He said that he hoped the audience could find new strength with their song “Complication” which would be their final song. Durarara! fans got excited about the familiarity and others cheered knowing the relatable theme of the song recounting feelings of helplessness and uncertainty, but still wanting to persevere. A few people sang along and many chimed in for the ‘whoa oh oh’s. As the last note rang out, ROOKiEZ thanked everyone for coming out and promised to come back one day. They exited the stage rather quickly and, as stagehands came on to switch out instruments, it became apparent there would be no encore.
A few minutes passed as things were set up and most of the crowd remained where they were, eagerly awaiting SPYAIR. The energy had started to die down until the MC came out. He talked about how important everyone was for setting the precedent for every American crowd SPYAIR would be playing for on the rest of their tour. He got everyone loudly cheering for Spyair, proud that they’d be so well remembered. As Kenta, UZ, and Momiken made their way to their places on stage, the crowd continued to cheer. Then, Ike joined them looking very cool and composed as fans screamed even harder. Their opening song “We’ll Never Die (edited)” was a powerful opener and, as if refreshed, the audience began jumping and head-banging. Playing to their anime-fan crowd, they performed a few songs of theirs used in Bleach, Haikyu!!, and Gintama. It was surely a good time for Gintama fans as Spyair played all 4 songs they’ve done for the anime.
To further endear themselves to the crowd, each of the members took a moment to show off their skills on the guitar, bass, and drums, except for Ike whose impressive range had already spoken for him. While having such powerful, intense vocals, his message to fans was of gratitude and friendliness. At one point he pulled out a paper containing an English script he had made to address their American fans, wanting to make sure his intended meaning reached them. Ike said everyone there was his friend and that they would all be looking forward to seeing them again one day. After concluding his speech, SPYAIR began their next song. Appropriately, “My Friend”.
SPYAIR brought the more hardcore-loving fans back in with “Rage of Dust”, head-banging and moving all over the stage. For their last song, they chose their new single “I Wanna Be…”, another song used for Gintama. Despite it being the end of their performance, none of the members seemed to be slowing down and attacked the song with as much energy as when they started. Once it was over, they gave a quick wave to the audience and walked off the stage. The crowd demanded more and called SPYAIR’s name over and over again. They did not disappoint. SPYAIR returned and the crowd erupted. They spoke about how happy they were to be able to perform in America and announced the name of their very last song, “Singing”. Some older fans already knew it, but Ike took a moment to instruct everyone how to sing “Singing whoa… oh… oh…” For the final song of the concert, everyone gave it their best.
Outro: Connecting with the fans
Both ROOKiEZ and SPYAIR made it very clear that the continued support of their fans is how they got where they are today. Especially knowing the difficult choice Shinnosuke had to make between going to college or pursuing music, his humble gratitude was very moving. UZ and Ike were definitely working hard on their English to better reach their fans, with the former mentioning he strongly wanted to practice his English to talk to more people.
It was cool to watch Ryota sing some of the vocals while Shinnosuke played guitar or got the crowd to jump or clap their hands. “Party Up” was particularly good at getting the audience involved with the fun beat and lyrics urging them to clap their hands. All were powerless to resist the combined charisma of ROOKiEZ.
Momiken and Kenta provided quite a contrast with Momiken’s serious, dramatic look and black makeup across his eyes and face and Kenta looking pretty normal and all smiles as he played his drums enthusiastically. “Samurai Heart (Some Like it Hot)” was a big hit with the crowd with everyone chanting “Hey Hey” along with Ike. And when we say everyone, we mean dang near everyone. Even Shinnosuke returned to the stage to sing with his friend! Ike and Shinnosuke took turns singing some of the lyrics before singing the rest in unison. They were clearly enjoying their moment together, going from dancing all over the stage to throwing their arms around each other and singing with big smiles.
ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D and SPYAIR clearly love what they do, from the music itself to engaging with fans. Meeting the expectations of those that come to see them is a high priority. They showed both an appreciation for their fans and for each other, making this a positive, high-energy rock-and-roll concert for anime fans and music fans alike.