On November 14th, a massive crowd eagerly flocked to the Opera House to witness one of the most visually appealing bands that has ever existed perform. Interestingly enough, only one band opened before Dir en Grey came on-stage.
Dagoba, a metal outfit from France, came onto the stage to great fanfare. Although they didn’t have use of the full stage due to Dir en Grey’s equipment, it was really interesting to see the drummer up so close for once and to fully appreciate the talent it takes to play drums. The band was beyond energetic throughout their entire set. Behind them was a projection screen with the cover of their new album (Post Mortem Nihil Est), which was actually pretty cool looking.
The floor was completely packed when Dagoba took to the stage and remained so throughout the night; it was great to see the opening band get such a large audience. The singer, Shawter, took crowd incorporation to a new level. He actually jumped off the stage a few times and sang directly in front of the crowd on their level. He also held the microphone out over people numerous times, whether he was on-stage or on the floor again. At one point, he walked along the length of the stage on the floor, ensuring that all sides of the audience got his attention instead of only favouring one side.
The audience had a great reaction to them: there was a virtually floor-wide moshpit by the third song. Dagoba was clearly very excited about being in Canada, and specifically how awesome it felt for them to be playing in as nice a venue as the Opera House. Watching them perform, it was easy to see that the band got along really well and went off each other’s energy, making for a very fun performance. Closer to the end of their set, Shawter asked for a shot of whiskey, and a few people complied; he merrily took them on-stage, and shared one with his bandmate.
One thing that I really liked about Dagoba’s set was that they only used one cheap pop (a term that here means when a performer says something guaranteed to get applause from the crowd, usually mentioning the main band), but it was more of an introduction to Dir en Grey than anything else. Their lighting was effective throughout the set as well: they used appropriate colours and, although the lights flashed quickly, they weren’t enough to cause one to have an epileptic fit.
At the end of their set, the drummer, Frank, threw his sticks into the crowd and then jumped into the crowd, giving high fives to everyone. Dagoba put on a great performance and clearly had a lot of fun doing so; the fantastic crowd reaction was proof of that.
Dir en Grey came onto the stage to riotous screams and cheers. I’m sure people four streets down could hear the racket. Kyo, the singer and in my opinion best frontman of a band, came on stage completely in a cowl and yukata. His face was entirely hidden throughout the first song. It was a very creepy and cool effect: he danced around with so much grace and, thanks to the long cowl, made him look very floaty. He partially took off the cowl in the next song, revealing some truly impressive skull face paint that was terrifying even from the balcony.
Their set wasn’t so much a concert as it was an experience; Kyo would just stand perfectly still and stare at the audience, and then slowly walk forward while bathed in red light. The way he moved was astonishing: if any other person had done it, they would have looked silly, but when Kyo did it, he looked unspeakably cool. His vocals were spot-on, going from screaming to high-pitched in a second. At one point, Kyo faced away from the audience and performed in front of a camera placed directly in front of his face while the image was projected onto the screen that Dagoba had earlier used. I can’t even describe how insanely awesome and creepy this was.
Kyo’s vocals mixed with his facial expressions and the lighting made for one hell of a scene. In fact, the visuals behind Dir en Grey’s entire set were awesome. Whenever I could tear my eyes away from the band themselves to look at the screen, I was always impressed and at least a little creeped out. Some images were of centipedes crawling out a doll’s face, or little girls just staring into the camera…although the most powerful two happened closer to the end of their set. On the screen during one of their heavier songs was a video of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the American celebrations, the after-effects in Japan, and a CG bomb slowly falling. It was a powerful piece.
After that, there was a video that I am almost positive was by the same artist that did their “Agitated Screams of Maggots” music video: this artist is very talented at having faces form and unform very quickly in vague matter. The video had paintings of the band rot and then melt into a fleshy mass that kept forming faces and it was really cool looking.
After Dir en Grey left the stage, the audience screamed for them non-stop for at least five minutes solid at the top of their lungs until they came back for their encore, which included The Final. When they were at their last song, a now makeup-less and shirtless Kyo screamed out “Last song” over and over, which is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone in the band actually speak during one of their sets.
Dir en Grey was amazing, as anyone who has seen them before already knows; they’re an incredible band with astonishing skill and showmanship, and they’re my favourite band to see live as they always perform flawlessly. It’s hard to accurately describe how awesome it is to see Dir en Grey perform; it really is an experience as opposed to just seeing a band play their music live, and when they come back, I’ll definitely be there again.