View all of Mehra’s Dir En Grey photos here.
Anytime Dir En Grey plays North America is a monumental event. Most acts from overseas that try to crossover into international markets have about as successful music careers as Macho Man Randy Savage (yes, he made a record). But Dir en Grey, a progressive/metal band that got its start in Japan’s visual Kei movement of the 90’s, has managed to avoid the same ill-fated mistakes of other crossover acts like Japan’s Hikaru Utada, and Korean pop sensation BoA.
On Sunday, November 22nd, fans lined up outside the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles and waited two and a half hours for the show to begin. No opening acts, no time fillers–just Dir en Grey, and Dir en Grey fans. As the curtain opened and the band took the stage, the crowd cheered “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” – what’s known as the “GDS chant” to DEG fans.
The band opened the show with the deep bass of “Obscure,” and by the third song, the crowd had almost completely pushed the barricade to the stage. Fans were treated to a set of about 14 songs, with the first half being mostly songs from their first and third records (Gauze and Kisou), and the second half of the set being dominated by their newer and heavier material. “Bottom of Death Valley” and the five song encore that kicked off with “Akuro no Oka” and ended with the “IID Empire” were the highlights of the show.
With a vocal range and ability that could make even Mariah Carey look like an amateur, singer Kyo’s voice was on point throughout the entire performance; hitting every high note, screech, growl, and sound unknown to mankind perfectly. However, missing from his performance was the inclusion of his infamous stage antics of vomiting and self-mutilation. Nonetheless, the band put on a solid show, that had every person in the venue pumping their fists, singing along, or putting up metal horns. Even the 50-something-year-old woman standing next to me was rocking her hips and taking pictures on her mobile phone.
The audience was a healthy mix of culturally diverse fans who–for the most part–seemed to be long-term devotees, with the Hot Topic kinder-goth crowd almost completely absent. At the end of the encore, the band members took to the stage one by one to bow to and applaud the fans; throwing out bags of guitar picks, drum sticks, and bottled waters. Attendees who purchased the band’s new release Uroboros CD/DVD were also treated to a full band meet-and-greet after the show.
The intimate setting, common thread among fans, and mutual appreciation between band and fans provided for an incredibly personal and outstanding music experience which I have never witnessed by a band of such stature, and wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. Note to American bands: Dir en Grey is giving you a run for your money.
Thanks to Amy @ The End Records for making this review and accompanying photos possible.