A Dir En Grey Review In Three Chapters

or Something I Needed To Get Out Of My System

Version 1.0: As uploaded to the PackardGoose forum in Forumspeak. Forumspeak is the type of English you use on web forums, when you tend to use ellipses a lot (...) and leave out the first person personal pronoun.
Version 1.1: As first published on bonny.ploeg.ws with pictures inbetween. Forumspeak has been largely corrected, and some sections have gotten expanded.

Prologue: Sluggish Prelude Because I Just Can't Stop Talking About The Music I Love Once Somebody Got Me Started.

Music has always been a major part of my life, started playing musical instruments even before I can remember. When I was 10 I first started listening to classical music of my own accord, but the defining moment that unlocked the world of tones for me was when our music teacher made us listen to Saint-SaŽns's Danse Macabre. It illustrates the story it tells so well, and is so, so beautiful, especially the climax where the counterpoint starts out. At that time classical music became more important to me than whatever pop songs were in the charts back in the day. Nowadays I look back with slight embarrassment to the time when my favourite song was Come Take My Hand by 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor.
In my teens, my sister was a fan of metal music and introduced me to harsher stuff. Some of it I liked. But there's one that, due to its sense of humour and the fantastic singing voice got my attention: Primus! After seeing them live in 1998, I became such a big fan of them that it was all I talked about. Oh, my poor classmates... Primus'd given me interest in playing bass, but my father didn't allow me to buy one, not even out of my own money. For a year I terrorized him by playing rubber bands, but to no avail. The impasse ended when my sister dragged me to the sorely missed music store around the corner: they'd advertised a purple bass that she urged me to buy. I wasn't too interested: such a major purchase, against my father's will, and besides which my favourite colour is blue. But then the store owner showed another instrument, a 5-string Hamer at the same price, and also purple. And this one had sparkles! It was love at first sight.
Unfortunately my bank had just changed my PIN code and because of that, I entered the wrong number three times when paying, and left the shop empty-handed, though my sister did ask them if they could hold it back for me. The next day, without my knowing, she'd bought the bass and left it on my bed for me to find. Needless to say, I was very surprised.
For a few years I played hide-and-seek with my father: I didn't know my sister told him straight away that I'd bought a bass, so I stored him in my closet in those hours I wasn't playing.
There weren't very many of those idle hours when I was at home. For three to for hours a day I tried my hand at any Primus-riff that I could find at ram.org. It ended abruptly when, in my last year of secondary school, a girl ran into me during basketball at school, breaking my finger. It's misaligned and for years it would hurt so much that I couldn't pick up my bass anymore.
It hurt me a lot, more than the fact that that girl never apologised. But I found other outlets: I still had my keyboard, I picked up the guitar again, I play recorder and other kinds of flute, tubular bells, zither, harmonica... And I went off to follow my dream - become a composer. I studied musicology. I became a Zappa-fanatic. And so forth.

Howl's Moving Castle made me study Japanese, and once, in the second-hand store, I found a nice cardboard digipak of an album. A close study of the titles later I thought "Hey, this'll help me studying this language!" and so I bought the Withering To Death Deluxe Edition for 1,90 euros. The impulse purchase frightened me so that I didn't listen to it for a week. And then I played it: first hearing Merciless Cult, picking out the word "kudasai", thinking "Wow, what a polite band, they say please! Any Western metal band only use the word "please" if the word "die" is followed." Then came Garbage, of course.
They were really fun! So I raided the store a couple of times. I didn't find any other albums, but I did find 2 singles: Filth and Ryoujoku no ame. After much searching for their albums, getting nothing but "never heard of them, would you like me to order something? Their albums are 35 dollars each," I only struck lucky once at a CD fair when I bought Dozing Green for 5 euros, more than I paid for the other titles put together. Much later came the luckiest day in months, when I was called out of bed for a job interview and later found Uroboros for 2,50 at the second-hand store. There was only one item in my collection that somebody paid for full price: Dad was sweet enough to buy me Embryo for my birthday. It had set him back 20 euros. It hurt me to break the news to him that it wasn't a full-length album, but a single.

Diru has been a whole new experience for me. It's so wonderful to discover a band, then find that they still perform, that they still make records... Quite a big step from the long-dead composers I love. Yes, there's been Zappa and there's been Primus, but neither one of those has/have been active at my most intense time in fandom - and neither one of them was promoted as intensely as Diru.

And then came Toshiya. He puts so much energy, so much joy, so much detail, so much colour in his playing... I just had to start again. Bass is so much fun!

Anyway, I sent Toshiya a fan mail about all this, and mentioned that I lived in Eindhoven. Was hoping deep down that he'd reply, although I knew it wasn't likely. Whether it was a reply I don't know, but that day in February... The new concert dates were released: London, London, Paris, Paris... Eindhoven.

Hell always freezes over when you're not expecting it.

I felt exhillarated, but also embarrassed. Like Paris and London, Eindhoven is known as the City Of Light - about all they have in common. What has my city to offer? I love Eindhoven, but how can I spread that love? So I wrote a tour guide. And made a lot of photos to accompany it.

It's only happened once before to me that I got to go to a concert that was to be this life-changing event: that is chronicled in the ZPZ-review on this page. There, I tell about the job I took up to afford the VIP-ticket, the drama when the concert was postponed to a date 6 months later, the VIP meeting that was a bit of a letdown, the black hole that you fall into after the concert and the "what the hell, you only live once" moment that prompted me to go to the Brussels concert after that. This one makes an interesting comparison, now that I'm nine years older. But, apparently, none the wiser.

I dreamt about the concert twice. One time, Kyo had a very different tattoo on his back - Kannon had changed into an ape man, Ecce Mono style. I asked the guy I was with why he'd done that. The reply was: "Remember when I told you that he had that Kannon made for his girlfriend?"
Cute. And it had Agitated Screams Of Maggots. Great dream!
And another time was a great concert, but while waking up I was panicking a little, thinking that the concert'd just been and that I didn't remember anything.
There were more dreams (all of them too boring to mention) and so I adapted my outfit and baggage to it. For clothes: once I found this wicked T-shirt that said "I love the sound of Tokyo" in Japanese, which could easily be altered to apply to the band's singer. But that was way before the tour dates were announced and I didn't think I was ever going to see Diru, so that was no option. Another candidate was something with the Evoluon on it, but I couldn't find a shirt like that. A third option was the cute Ninja version of Steinlen's Chat Noir poster, but eventually I settled for my lucky Zappa shirt. Not that I actually believe it's lucky, but I've worn it to two Primus-concerts, at the first one I caught a pick and at the second one I got one of the sought setlists.
I brought, besides buns and nuts, a purple home-made elephant (I sell those, they're cute), my agenda, a book, a drawing pad and Didi the little panda. And Alonzo. That's what I called my bass.

Chapter 1: In The Queue

I joined the queue at around noon. I Was pleasantly surprised to see there were some 15 people ahead of me. Directly before me was an Asian girl (who didn't speak Japanese on the phone, before her was a German couple, before those some German girls and before those was a group of Japanese ladies. The Asian girl left for her hotel and asked us to save her place in the row.
A German girl arrived, and we started chatting. She's from ThŁringen and saw the band at both concerts in London. She's had some luck with the trains (her ICE train made an extra stop. Not much time later, more German ladies arrived. They all knew each other - all are travelling Diru fans. Amazing! Not much later there's an exchange of concert experiences: apparently Shinya had fallen ill at some point, but the second Paris concert was the best so far, even Shinya laughed.
My bass doesn't get away unnoticed, and the girls chuckle: "Ooh! She's a Toshiya fan!" Just to set that record straight - I can't choose!
The girls tell me Diru doesn't do signing sessions this tour: it looks like I've brought Alonzo in vain. Oddly, since I wasn't too sure I wanted to get it signed anyway, I'm not too saddened by this news.
At some point the conversation gets way ahead of my German and I dig up my Japanese study book.
To my right is one of the very few men in this company, a nice German guy who spotted Die and Kyo walking out to town. Kyo returned quickly but Die was still out. Something to try and spot!

14:00 Lucky T-shirt Activate!
A woman comes out of the building and asks, in Dutch, if there are any Dutchmen. I raise my hand.
And find out I'm the only one. I'm invited in and given the title Visitor Of The Month, which earns me a spot on the Effenaar Facebook with photo, and two free concert tickets to any Effenaar show I'd like, provided it's not sold out.
I choose Patatje Metal. They perform metal covers of Dutch schlager. It'll be their very last concert.
My bass doesn't escape attention here either. The employees tell me to hang out at the merch booth, because somebody might just come out to sign. This gets my confidence of getting Alonzo signed up.

15:00 I'm tired of paging through my Japanese study book and decide to try and spot band members. Suddenly, every Asian person looks suspicious.

16:15 Somehow, the concert seems farther away now than it did in February. Muscle aches in the legs and sleeping toes abound. I have some buns, but forgot to get a water bottle. From leaving home at 11:30 to the end of the concert I was not drinking anything.
Noticed a jumping spider on my leg. I'm an arachnophobe but let it get away alive. Not too much later, the little fellow found himself on the sweater of a German fan. Then comes the choice: do you tell her? I didn't need to eventually, he walked onto my bag. Lucky I didn't tell her, since she turned out to be a fellow arachnophobe. Put the little blighter on the ground near a tree, further away.

16:35 Spotted guitarist Die with the bright red hair. The Japanese gals jump up and try to get a photo.

16:50 Two guys cycle by wearing skull-design surgical masks. They look Asian, and briefly I picture the boys having a photo session at the Berenkuil.

17:15 A guy, 50s to 60s, bald with dark complexion, is very much under the influence of something I haven't yet identified. He was less stable on his legs than Bambi and was continuously pointing and snapping his fingers. He moved into the line, lost his balance and fell down. Some of the German girls dodged him, but one Japanese lady wasn't so lucky and got him on the arm. The man was apparently too far away for any form of conversation, and after standing around breaking up the queue and scaring all the ladies there. It took a while for the Effenaar security to step in, but one of them came up and escorted him away from us. New hero right there.

18:00 I'm beginning to realize that I need to put my bass in the wardrobe. I start packing. It's quite a puzzle and a bit of a squeeze, but I finally manage to get the buns, the books, the nuts, the panda and the purple elephant in my bass bag. Including my backpack.

Apparently there's a VIP queue. Was there an option to buy VIP tickets? Why was I not informed? I'd bought my ticket at Effenaar the day the concert was announced!

19:00 Doors open, we all shuffle in. It's a bit of waiting at the entrance, but most people run to the stage once inside. Not me, I had to put my bass at the wardrobe.
Security had to check it. Unfortunately it was very full, but he just felt it up and let me pass.

I'd pulled out a euro for wardrobe, but it turns out I neet 1,50. Drat. Wallet's in the bass bag. While retrieving it, the nut box falls out and paranuts, peanuts, hazel nuts and almonds all pour along the floor. Fortunately they do have a broom, and I get to scoop it all up. Fortunately bass is handed in, but I left the nuts at wardrobe (they were getting me bananas) and forgot to put the backpack back in.

Stream indoors, I found myself a good place in the middle, third row. Not much later I start to panic. What did I do with my wardrobe ticket? The German guy I was talking to earlier helps me with looking around, until I realize I'm actually wearing the backpack, and yes, it's in there. Tsk.

The next wait starts: it's very hot. The thirst comes up and I do my very best to chill out a bit, but I do get worried that, without a substantial meal or fluid, I might faint during the concert.
Some time later, the support act starts. Rise Of The North Star they're called, they all wear similar clothes, and some members wear surgical masks with skull design. Maybe some of them were cycling past earlier. It's... not my favourite band, no. The singer had an annoying habit of holding up his pants near the groinal area, drawing way too much attention to his thingamajig. Brr. Brr.

Looking around me, I found I'm one of the few people who was actually standing between two males. Both are noticeably smaller than me, along with pretty much anyone in the first three rows. The one to my right is taking photos and it's hard not to get in his way.

Waiting, looking around... A short guy with glasses behind me is solving nonograms on his phone. I instantly take a liking to him. A pretty blonde girl in a flowery dress behind me says to her friend that she has a massive crush on Shinya. I instantly take a liking to her.
The final soundcheck is underway. One question I've been having for 12 years is solved: when I saw Terry Bozzio live in 2003, I wondered what that glassy, seethrough drum sounded like. I could just see it as the ultimate climax instrument that he'd smash to bits at the end of an intense encore, so that the shards of drum would rain down onto the audience like sugar. But it's actually a drum that makes a type of "pok" sound. Hmmm, nice! You learn something new every day!

Chapter 2: GET TO THE POINT!!

After some more waiting, Shinya walked on stage. He looked almost wraith-like in his white shirt, with his delicate frame and a hypnotized look in his eyes.
Die flamed up with his wonderful hood. He seems to be loving every second!
Kaoru walks on. I'm happy to see him with his sparkly purple guitar. Imagine that next to my sparkly purple bass!
Toshiya flashes on. I am pretty much directly in front of him, so close! Then again, I was close to everyone, it's a small stage.
And there came Kyo... boxless but still with all the power in the world!

They opened with Sosyaku. The sound at the first few lines is not 100% : Kyo can't be heard on the first verse. It's corrected quickly, and after that the instruments can all be heard well.
I hadn't heard Sosyaku very often yet, but man... Kyo's falsetto sounded so sweet and pure and got so immediately followed by a harsh grunt... And he was dancing right from the start as well!
Still, for the time being, my main focus was on Toshiya. Throughout the show he was playing fingerstyle rather than using a pick. I wonder what made him swap. There's something about watching Tochi bounce back and forth that's very cheerful. He flirts a lot with the girls on the first row. He never spots me though.

And then, the song I'm hooked on: Chain Repulsion! I start singing along almost automatically, even though all I want to hear is Kyo... The vocals on this piece are manical!
Sustain The Untruth, too, is totally amazing with great dancing!
At this point I notice how incredibly sweaty Kyo is. He looks like he just got out of the shower.

Un Deux is pure awesome and gets a lot of singing from the audience. The band added the infamous drone footage of the Dom tower in Utrecht, Netherlands at the back, which was a nice touch.
Drone footage of Domtoren
Uroko live took me by surprise at the a capella in the middle. That was so beautiful!

The quiet part started. Tousei was particularly breathtaking, from the beautiful guitars at the start to the pining bass in the climax to the last few breath beats of Shinya...
Kyo sings to the heart, bares his pain... The scream before the climax shatters all other emotions as Kyo collapses to the floor, my eyes scan the stage for the tiger, worried that something happened... Tousei is such an amazing song on its own, so delicate and clever... Kyo's performance on it was so heart wrenching that from this moment on, he's all I can focus on.
Rinkaku and Kukoku no kyouon form the rest of the quiet section, both beautiful and breathtaking. Kyo gets me to feel as if he's looking at me, singing just for me. Even if there is a moshpit bumping into my back causing me to lose my balance.

The fast parts came again - unfortunately I didn't know most of these songs (except Revelation of Mankind) but I bounced and tossed hand and had a great time! The songs were: Phenomenon, Fukai, Behind A Vacant Image, Cause OF Fickleness, The Inferno, and Revelation of Mankind. Phenomenon gets me by how incredibly sexy it is: Kyo's intense stare is chilling. As he starts rolling his hips, the tiger on his belly almost seems to be alive and crawling across his sixpack.
Oh, the tattoos... It's so strange to finally see the people live you've been gawking at for so long, Particularly Kyo since I made a lot of animations of him... "it's really him" is the thought that races through your mind as your eyes slide towards those huge eyes and the pointy canines, past the Damned tattoo on the neck, the face, the star, the dragon, the tiger... that tiger...
Cause of Fickleness has some adorable vocal parts. Got to sing along with the chorus, and I think I sang "Wear me out" once too often. Oh well!
At some point during Revelation I manage to tear my eyes off of Kyo and look in the direction of Toshiya again. But he's gone to the other side of the stage, Kaoru is standing in his place. His hand's got some type of support on it. His guitar seems to be lighter in colour than mine, but it's hard to tell unless they're next to each other.

The band left stage, audience roared and shouted for more, band came back and bursted into Red Soil! I love Red Soil!
I start up my camera to record Kyo's vocal outburst towards the end, but he didn't do any of the weird stuff. But if my ears didn't deceive me, he did say Eindhoven. Must be a nightmare to pronounce for any Japanese person! In the shout out on FaceBook Kaoru gives it a go and turns it into Ai-nu-do-ho-hen. (those of you at home wanting to give it a go: it's EIND - ho - vuh, the ei-sound has no equivalent in English, German, French or Japanese: like the e in get turning into the ee in geek.)
More energy in Saku! And there was much singing along! Had some Kyo spit on me 'n all.
Lasutu Song! was Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami! And there was much singing! In the first call & response with The other side of death, somehow the audience and Kyo were both singing The Side and a couple of people in the rest of the crowd bounced "of death" back. In the next round, he reversed it and had the crowd sing The Side. Looking back at the video somebody else made of it, I hear he's using a different rhythm on the "of death".

And then it was over! Kyo slapped the hands of the girls in front. Toshiya threw picks he never used into the crowd. The waterbottles were refreshing and very very welcome! Shinya, dear Shinya seemed as much a ghost as when he came on, hope he's allright as the gals told me he was ill during the tour.

Chapter 3: Envoy

After the show I drank a lot of water in the washroom, got my bass back and waited patiently until the hall closed, but nobody came to sign. I did buy Arche though, for a very reasonable 20 euros. Huzzah! After the hall closed I went outside and noticed people were waiting near the tour bus. I went to wait along, unwrapped the top end of my bass and held my fibre pen ready so I could stick it through the fence, maybe get it signed after all.

I did see them leave at midnight. Kaoru was the first to come out, wearing a mask. He walked the long way around, past the fence, paused and looked at me a bit. Must be a sparkly purple thing. I'm still kicking myself over not even saying konbanwa.
Waited some more. Die came out, gave a big wave and a bigger smile.
Waited more. Toshiya and Shinya came out, said hi and hurried to the bus. They walked the other way around the bus, so they probably didn't notice me.

Oh well. The show was fantastic and I was totally stoked! I put lights on my bicycles, wore my bass and my backpack on my back (must've looked silly but it was dark, who cares?), cycled the long way round so I could look once more at the tour bus and whisper oyasumi nasai.


And as I took the longer route, I happened to bump into some of the German girls who were waiting in queue and at the stage door with me. Their car had been broken into, one girl's backpack had been stolen with her passport and keys to her home. It broke my heart. Gave them the number to the police, but they couldn't call it with their German phone, so another passer-by did that. So sad to see a wonderful day end like that.

But then you get home, watch your videos and see your photos and your picture on the Effenaar facebook...


For three weeks I've been hovering on this airy feeling that I got to see them live, wow! So much talent on stage! I've since found that there's much less of the Effenaar show than the other shows on Youtube (besides my snippets, there's one vid of Hageshisa which clearly shows the problems I was having with holding my arm up. I scan all photos of Effenaar I can find - one of them becomes dear to me. I'm on it! The composition is balanced with light at one third and Die's red at the other, Kyo's adorable expression into the great wide open is beautiful... and that's me recognizable at the bottom left! This photo really reminds me of that feeling of isolation, that feeling that Kyo was singing to me privately... this photo conveys the essence of that night. So to whoever made it: thank you, vielen Dank, domo arigato!
Video I shot
Much better video somebody else shot of Hageshisa