March 26, 2012


Japanese Rockers L'Arc-en-Ciel's Live Spectacle Invades NYC

[Ed: If you like L'Arc-en-Ciel, then watch Fuse's video interview with the band! Before they take the stage at MSG, frontman Hyde and bassist Tetsuya chat about their love of metal music, their fashion style and more. Watch here!]

One word: Wow.

Actually, not even a word. But an expression. One that I wore on my face throughout Japanese rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel's two-hour-long show Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This was a giant rock spectacle: Pyrotechnics galore. More glow sticks in one venue than all of Miami's Ultra Music Dance Fest. Legions of devout fans dressed, like the band, in the craziest of outfits (like 12-inch high platform shoes and a plaid suit). A frontman who looked and moved suspiciously like a Japanese Axl Rose. The most immersive visual show I've ever seen, ever. And between the four band members, not a word of English in their vocabulary.

One question echoed inside my stupefied mind: How the hell had I never heard of this band?

Part My Chemical Romance, part Muse, part Guns N' Roses, part KISS and all Anime comic book, L'Arc-en-Ciel—French for "The Rainbow"—are all about out-of-this-world rock and the spectacle that it affords them. Formed in 1991, the band has sold more than 40 million records and are bona fide rock gods in their native land. At their second gig in the U.S. in 20 years, and first show headlining MSG, the J-Rock quartet spoke to their fans in epic rock jams (many from their new LP Butterfly) with demonic bass lines, searing riffs and frontman Hyde's high-pitched wail. It was a momentous occasion for Japanese music as a whole—this was the first time a Japanese band had ever headlined rock's most hallowed cathedral, MSG.

Their visuals were simply awe-striking. Really, this is unrivaled in western rock music. And since the show was filmed for an upcoming live DVD, the band went all out, even by their standards. Before taking the stage each member—Hyde, bassist Tetsuya, guitarist Ken and drummer Yukihiro—were introduced on massive LED screens like the characters from the Ultimate Fighter video game. Later, it showed deep space images, blazing fires and other brain-boggling images that, if the crowd had been druggies and not mostly buttoned-up Japanese expats, would have truly induced some intense trips. This, of course, was accompanied by the lion's share of the crowd—many who traveled from across the nation—waving glow sticks like tomahawks throughout the show. Apparently this is a L'Arc-en-Ciel live tradition. 

Sadly, you can't see L'Arc-en-Ciel in the U.S.—the MSG show was their only stateside stop on their 20th anniversary tour. But they have shows coming up in London and Paris in April before concluding back in Japan with four arena gigs in May. Watch video from their MSG gig last night (including the epic intro and another of guitarist Ken reading an adorable letter in English, explaining his love for NYC's Museum of Natural History), then start searching for plane tickets online. 

I mean, it's high time for a European or Japanese vacation, amirite? (I am).