Friday, September 19, 2008

The Autumn Matsuri 2008 - Music Matsuri

The Matsuri -Autumn- 2008
On the 30th of August 2008, I went for the Music Matsuri @ Vivocity. It was even more awesome than the Matsuri-The Butterfly Effect- waaay back in March. Let's recap anyway.

Back in March, I was first exposed to local J-rock bands such as Hellven & ethe'Real. The former of which entered Anugerah Band & the latter who is currently in Channel U's Superband competition and going strong. GO 异世界!!! MORE INFO HERE!!!

The wet weather was a doubled-edged sword for the event. On one hand, it kept people from leaving the shopping mall to go to the sheltered Amphitheatre where the stage is. But then it also prevented those who seeked shelter at said Amphitheatre from leaving. So those not inclined to knowing new things are exposed to these bands while it rained, thus giving them (The Bands & The Audience) greater exposure.
From the Sheltered Amphitheatre
Looking At The Audience Within
Needless to say, the Amphitheatre was full up. But thanks to the Singaporeans' aversion to sitting at the front when facing the unknown, I managed to get a good seat.

There were 3 bands and a solo singer in total. First up...
Cloud Sef
...Pretty Boy Guitarist.
That was the first thing I noticed of Cloud Sef. There is hope for Singapore after all...We DO have pretty boys in our midst. Anyway, their vocalist actually introduced said guitarist like this:
"And this is our guitarist Melvin, WHO IS A GUY." Lolz.

Cloud Sef - Shunkashuutou (Alice Nine Cover)

Online Videos by
Then they started off with an Alice Nine cover, Shunkashuutou. Their vocalist was GOOOOOOD. But it didn't really make a good first impression when he kept referring to lyrics for the first song. At least, he sorta apologised later when he frankly admitted that they weren't quite prepared. Which is questionable since he didn't need any lyric help with the subsequent songs

That unwanted first impression was later cleared up by their AWESOME rendition of Haruka Kanata (by Asian Kung Fu Generation). Personally, I think Haruka Kanata is one of the harder songs to cover. There are parts where you have to singshout but not too much of "singing" and "shouting". Not to mention the high energy level must be shown in the singshouting. Although there is one part at 2.41 when the vocalist suddenly ROARED and...Well...I went "WTF" coz it was utterly random. But the little "drag" he did at 2.06 was nice. That is, if nice can be used to describe J-rock.

Cloud Sef - Lost My Music (Aya Hirano Cover)

For this they invited a female vocalist on stage. She started off a little low, then went into "Kawaii Voice" mode. Which was a tad bit much for me at times. But at least she hadn't shrieked or something like that. Note that the female vocalist is attired in matching outfits with the keyboardist. Who looks like he's cosplaying Raito from Death Note. If he's doing Raito...Then she's Misa?! O_O"

Cloud Sef - GO!! (FLOW cover)

Like Haruka Kanata, this is kinda hard to pull off too, since it also requires the singer(s) to be a giant leaping ball of PURE ENERGY active throughout the whole song. Cloud Sef seem a little "sianz" initially (after FOUR STRAIGHT SONGS IN A ROW, WHO WOULDN'T BE?) but quickly picked up the pace and sure enough, they packed some "oomph" into it. You can see the whole band is singing along and enjoying themselves there. =)

From what I heard, Cloud Sef is only a few months old. But they are quite good despite their age. The vocalist chose a rather interesting mike though. It's like the ancient ones from the 1960s.

The very name of Cloud Sef also intrigued me when I heard it coz it reminded me of Final Fantasy's Cloud Strife & Sephiroth which led to a half-thought that there was a Yaoi fan within Cloud Sef's line-up (Y'know, like Cloud X Sephiroth). But that was banished when I realised all but one of the band members was male. Though there is still a slight possibility about a Yaoi fan there....

Either way, Cloud Sef is good. I'm definately gonna watch out for them again.

When the MC introduced them, I kept hearing McFlurry at first.
Which was rather disturbing imagery since we're talking about a J-ROCK band here. But anyway that was ,thankfully , cleared up once the first song started. They covered mostly Dir en Grey songs with a little Gazette on the side.

Yep. Definately J-rock.
MERFURY - Yurameki (Dir en Grey Cover)

Frankly I haven't the faintest idea what song this is. Thanks to some kind Youtube souls who identified the song for me. Anyway, from here you can tell the vocalist had this richly deep voice (I prefer his voice to the original Dir en Grey vocalist's). It's pretty good, even though my cam doesn't exactly show that.

MERFURY - Yokan (Dir en Grey cover)

The next song, Yokan, was pretty good too. There were some Yokan MV cosplayers present, so the vocalist happily pointed them out and asked them to get down from the audience seats and dance! Lolz. Too bad they didn't do so.

MERFURY - Raison D'etre (Dir en Grey Cover)

He tried to invite the Yokan cosplayers to dance again XD. Anyway, he missed out on phrases here and there. Is it just me? Or does the way he keeps holding his chest hints at illness?

MERFURY - The Final (Dir en Grey cover)

I don't know what's with the low-slung guitar-playing stance the guitarists exhibited here. Perhaps it looked cooler with flashing lights and at special camera angles, but it doesn't quite work out here.
I pity & applaud the vocalist for roaring so often to keep to the feel of the song. He manages to sing rather richly while breaking into a roar for every other song. Here, he roared at 1.25 & at 3.05. It's good for the song, bad for his throat.

The vocalist kept with the audience interaction, advertising the band members'ages and marital status at one point

and inviting the Dir en Grey Yokan MV cosplayers to come down to dance when MERFURY covered Yokan.

MERFURY - filth in the beauty (Gazette ガゼットCover)

That...high-pitched howl that started off the song was...Startling. I certainly didn't expect him to be able to reach that pitch & I'm pretty sure the actual song wasn't supposed to sound like that. I hope not, at least. ~_~
But the vocalist did release a disclaimer/warning before the song. Something along the lines of being new to covering Gazette's music & to forgive him if any mistake was made.

MERFURY - Bottom of The Death Valley (Dir en Grey Cover)

I think it's a Gazette cover, but anyway, he exhibits his velvety-rich voice here again. I really like how he went soft at first before the music started. But there are signs that he ain't in the best of health. Like when he couldn't exactly hit the high notes in the choras.
As for the song itself...Well...If you hear it in mangled English, it'll be;
"My Sister, wah say rude Sister"...-_-"""...Yeah. Lame. But really alike though.

MERFURY - Cassis (Gazette)

The vocalist managed to put across his message about wanting to cover this over-covered song because he wants to perfect it without sounding pretentious. But unfortunately during this last song, he suddenly stopped his continued movements and leaned against the music stand. But the rest of the song went off with few bumps here and there. However, he very well near collapsed after the song and had to be helped off the stage.

Kudos to him for perservering to the very end of the song. Poor thing though. I wonder if he's fine now.

Ana Natasha
She is a local singer signed onto the Path Records label. Well, although she was clad in Visual Kei attire, she didn't sing any J-rock songs. Which was kinda a pity. I heard her debut album'll be out either late this year or next year. But I guess she CAN SING (Unlike those ACBC(Act Cute Buay Cute) C-Pop songstresses out there). Her purple hair really matches her outfit btw.

Ana Natasha - Take A Bow (Rihanna Cover)

Initially, I was rather apprehensive about her singing ability since her eyes kept darting everywhere but at the audience (hinting inexperience). So I sorta listened for a while before I started recording. But most of the song is still there anyway. So you judge for yourself.

Ana Natasha - Part of Your World (Little Mermaid)

This is a spunky rendition of "Part of Your World". Something that really suits the modern girl instead of the wistful Oh-Pity-Me original singing style.

Hellven first captivated me back in March @ the Summer Matsuri. They had a pretty elfboy vocalist (Locke) then. He had a voice which could be deepish & high-pitched all at once. Now after Anugerah Band, they're back with a new vocalist (Toshi), who had this awesome rockstar voice!

Hellven mostly did original instrumental music which is something like a mesh of Clssical & J-rock music in a Gothic manner. That's the best I can describe it anyway.
They did 7 songs this time (excluding the awesome soundcheck. Yeah, The Awesome Soundcheck).


Whether or not their piece was completely impromptu, I don't know. But if it is part of an actual song, do enlighten me on this.
I really liked the short Huang Fei Hong theme Romey (Guitarist) did around 3.24. And their new vocalist Toshi had the perfect rock star voice. He sounds like the vocalist of X Japan actually, with the high-pitched shriek and all. When most guys shriek, it's either gay or downright awful. But Toshi does it with flair. It kinda make one feel like he's in a rock concert or something.

Hellven - New Beginning (Original)

Hellven opened with this energetic instrumental piece. "Energetic" as in, ATTITUDE-LADEN ROCK, not hyperactive bubblegum POP.

Hellven - Memento Mori (Kamelot cover)

Listen to the mournful starting. It's really good.

Hellven - Stay Away (L'Arc en Ciel cover)

Tis a tad too fast-paced for my taste (This cover, I mean), but it's ok anyway.

Hellven - Fallen Angel (Original)

Oh the Angst! Oh the AGONY! And the MELODRAMA in this piece. I kinda like it though. XD

Hellven - Carnival of Dreams (Original)

It's a change from their angsty dramatic pieces. This one brings to mine an old gypsy carnival with the usual freakshow and everything.

Hellven - Endless Rain (X-Japan Cover)

A famous melancholic song from the legendary J-rock pioneers, X Japan. Hellven covered it well, but I somehow have an inkling that the vocalist is not really portraying the right depth of emotion. Like he should have been more emotional? Or something?

Hellven - Sweet Child of Mine (Guns 'N' Roses cover)

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough space on my cam to record the whole song. It was frankly, one of the BESTEST covers of "Sweet Child of Mine" I've heard so far. The part I did recorded though, showed Romey the Lead Guitarist clowning around for his friends watching from the audience stands. Lolz.

Hellven - Heaven Vs Hell (Original)

The Hellven boys really got some stamina. This song is a whopping 8 minutes long. Fortunately for them though, it was their last song of the night.

Perhaps it was becaused I arrived late. I saw a number of lolitas but lesser VK cosplayers. The most prominent were these trio of Yokan MV cosplayers.
Maybe it was the recent stress and so on that made me lose my nerve that day. I couldn't quite bring myself to approach them for a picture. Partly coz I didn't want to lose my pretty good seat near the front. But mostly because the VK cosplayers, various J-rock dressers & lolitas kept congregating in groups. It didn't help that they had this intimidating aura around which made me, an outsider, wanna shrink into myself. Yeah. Sounds biased, I know. Not all would be unapproachable, some might even be friendly (I've the fortune of meeting these kinds before ^^). I just didn't want to risk taking an ego-battering when they abruptly reject my request.
Just because they'll oblige little kids & professional-looking photographers for pictures doesn't mean they'll oblige an awkward teen with a clumsy-looking digicam. Well, that was how I felt that day.

J-rock dressers & lolitas dress up because they want to. It's not like cosplay when photos are practically an intergrated aspect of the whole thing. Anyway, besides the missed photography opportunities, the event was great. I'll definately go for the next Matsuri (Winter Matsuri in Dec).