Monday, August 15, 2016

Guns N' Roses - Not In Seattle's Lifetime - Gig Review at Century Link Field - Seattle, WA - August 12, 2016

w/Alice In Chains
The Pink Slips
Seattle, WA
August 12, 2016
Century Link Field

All Photo Credit:  Katarina Benzova

"Not In This Lifetime".  The name of the current Guns N' Roses stadium tour speaks to fans in different ways.  It could reflect on the ups and downs of the bands past, that seeing any incarnation of the "Appetite For Destruction" era of the band would never happen in this lifetime.  It could reflect on the fact that many fans never saw the band in there 80's or early 90's hey day.  It could also reflect on the fact that if you saw this show on Friday evening, you won't see another show as good as this one in this lifetime.

It's too easy to bring up the past when it comes to Guns N' Roses.  Many of the articles and reviews I've seen on this tour have done just that.  I prefer to go back to the past briefly only to set up the spectacle that occurred inside the Seattle Seahawks beloved home field, "The Clink" as we 'Hawk fans all know it by.

I was fortunate enough to purchase the "Live Like a Suicide" EP back in 1987 on both vinyl and cassette.  I was also fortunate enough to purchase "Appetite for Destruction" in the summer of 1987 - months before Guns N' Roses broke open into the music world.  And, yes, I was fortunate enough to see the band at The Paramount, opening for The Cult, in August of 1987, a few months before the "Welcome To The Jungle" video would premiere on MTV in October of the same year.  I still have the t-shirt from that show as a matter of fact.  So, I have an extended history with this band just like many, many fans all around the world.

So, when this tour was announced, I was stoked!  For some fans, it was the lifelong wish come true - something they hoped would happen but never knew would until now.  

It was in the upper 80's here in Seattle (warm or downright hot by Seattle standards) on Friday. While I was waiting to pick up my credentials, I heard many folks related to Duff McKagan come through the will call line picking up their passes.  Other media were also waiting - including two hipsters from a local paper that shall remain nameless (that published a rather ridiculous review of the show).  Occidental Avenue was filled with fans as well as vendors that you would normally see during a Mariners or 'Hawks game.  There was also one official merchandise truck on Occidental Avenue as well selling only Gn'R gear.

Once I received my passes, my associate and I headed in through the WaMu theater entrance (which is where fans with floor tickets were sent to enter).  There were basically no lines to get in which was great.  I think the fact that it was a Friday had something to do with it.  The Clink had an issue with an earlier concert where fans were stuck in line and ended up missing the opening act of a popular country line up.  They now opened the doors an hour before show time, which seemed to help.  Again, it was a Friday so people were still stuck at work and/or stuck in traffic - the earlier country show was on a Saturday in July.

When the first band, The Pink Slips, took the stage many of the fans were still making their way down to The Clink.  Fronted by Duff McKagan's daughter, GRAVE aka Grace McKagan, The Pink Slips played an energetic punk rock 30 minute set to get things started, complete with stage blood during the last song of the night.

After a brief changeover, Alice In Chains hit the stage to much applause from the hometown crowd.  Having just played a sold out headlining gig a few months prior, the Seattle fan base ate up the 60 minute set.  Jerry and Mike sporting Seahawk gear as they whipped through their set, The Clink was starting to fill up by the ending strains of the last tune in their set, "Rooster".  

Friday night at The Clink was a wide mix of memories and emotions for me.  I, like many fans, were wondering what would Guns N' Roses be like, some 30 plus years later with 3/5ths of the "Appetite for Destruction" lineup.  The past is the past in terms of the overly reported incidents in the 90's with the band.  This current beast known as Guns N' Roses is all business, folks.

Approximately 44,000 fans filled The Clink to lay witness to what we've always wanted to see - the Guns N' Roses that we all knew and, in some case, wished would of continued on over the years.

A massive stadium sized stage set up on the north end of The Clink (in front of the Hawks Nest) - complete with both side stage and middle stage screens, the band started basically on time: a little after 8:50pm PST.  After the animations on the screen, the familiar cue of the Looney Tunes theme and The Equalizer blared over the PA, the ever so familiar notes of Seattle's own Duff McKagan's bass rang out signaling that the first song of the night would be, "It's So Easy".

The place went orgasmically nuts!

With Frank Ferrer on drums, Richard Fortus on rhythm guitar, Seattle's own Melissa Reese on keyboards and backing vocals (sporting Beast Mode under eye stickers and Seahawks gear), Dizzy Reed on keyboards/piano/percussion, Duff McKagan on bass/vocals (sporting Seahawk gear as well), Slash on lead guitar, and (W.) Axl Rose on vocals; the electricity in the air was undeniable.  We were going to be in for one Hell of a memorable evening!

The set list covered each album generously (see the entire list at the end of this review).  From "Appetite for Destruction" to the "Use Your Illusions I and II" releases to "Chinese Democracy" and even one cover tune from The Misfits (who return with Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle in September for two reunion shows) that was on "The Spaghetti Incident", there was something for every Gn'R fan.  Yes, nothing from "Gn"R Lies" was played but they've been alternating "Don't Cry" with "Patience" so Seattle got "Don't Cry".  Phoenix on Monday night will most likely get "Patience".

As each tune was played, the band sounded like such a professional act, it made complete sense that in 2016, with some of the band in their 50's now, this is the Guns N' Roses we would get:  one of the all time great rock n roll bands playing a two and a half hour set of tunes - with care, precision, energy, and attitude.

Not 1988 we don't give a shit attitude.  Not 1992 we're the biggest band in the world attitude.  2016 - we came here to give you your money's worth kind of attitude.  If you're a fan of the band, you did not leave The Clink disappointed Friday night.  How could you?  25 songs, pyro, fireworks, state of the art video, some awesome compositional use of the video screens (such as when Slash would play certain solos, the camera folks would get him in the right light with the video screen behind him - you couldn't help but be impressed), the list goes on and on of why the show was so magical.

Axl seems like a different person nowadays.  His voice was sounding better than it has in the last 15 years.  He sported his flannel shirts around his waist like the old days.  The cowboy hat and other headwear were in full effect.  Some folks would knock the wardrobe - not me.  This is the Axl I remember - whether intentional or not - his Midwest roots turned rocker still come through.  

How many bands rock bands were wearing cowboy boots with their ripped jeans or leather pants back in 1986?  How many were wearing them after Gn'R blew up huge?  Yeah, that's right.  But I digress.

Slash was Slash.  I remember when he came on to the scene in the 80's right when all the other bands had guitar shredders.  Hearing his blues influenced playing stuck out like a sore thumb - a much-needed sore thumb - and you saw the effect on other guitarists that followed.  

Playing a variety of Les Pauls throughout the set, he also busted out the BC Rich "Bich" for a tune or two as well as a double neck Gibson.  His playing was inspired as always and if you didn't know how much Slash meant to the Gn'R sound, you now knew why the band hasn't been the same without him all these years.

Duff McKagan played the bass like a rhythm guitar (something he's been doing since the early days), singing lead on The Misfits, "Attitude" cover as well.  Being clean for many years now, it was great to see him in a great place - professionally and personally.

There's been talk about the absence of Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler (who has made a few appearances on this tour for "Out Ta Get Me" and "My Michelle").  With all due respect to both guys, Frank on drums was just fucking rock solid.  With a band and tour of this size, man, you need an engine that is holding the fort down and Frank did just that.  

Let's not forget Richard - he played the rhythm parts with little effort.  His lead work showed that he has much more capability than his role is in the band.  In other words, he did what the songs required but could let loose if warranted.  The back and forth guitar work with Slash on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" cover was where I really noticed Richard's work.  

Melissa handled the keyboard duties along with Dizzy.  Her background vocals were definitely noticeable as an enhancement to the overall sound, not as filler for Axl's vocals.  She was clearly having the time of her life playing The Clink in front of her hometown.  

The show was just incredible here in Seattle, WA.  I'm guessing every show on the tour has been similarly inspired.  With only 4 US dates left before Axl assists AC/DC on their US makeup dates, the band returns to Latin America this fall.  Australia looms ahead in early 2017 and I'm willing to bet that this tour hits Europe as well further into 2017.

The band came back together at the right time.  They're doing everything right.  This is the band and the legacy you, as a fan, always wished Gn'R would be.  

If you weren't there on Friday night with the rest of us, you fucking blew it.  That's all there is to it.  It was that good, folks.  

GnFnR is back!


A big, sincere, thank you to Kim E. for the credentials.  Also, thank you for putting up with my incessant emails leading up to the show.  I'll be much less bothersome for the next show I cover for you I promise - no, really, I promise!

Thank you to Clare for sorting out the guest list issue quickly and efficiently.  My initial worries of concern turned to wide grins of enthusiasm once things got figured out.  

Thank you to my associate DJ for covering the show with me.

Thank you to Guns N' Roses for putting on a show I'll never forget.

Set List:

It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome To The Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Live and Let Die
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
This I Love
Civil War
Band Intros - Slash solo - Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam ("Wish You Were Here/Layla")
November Rain
Knockin' On Heaven's Door


Catcher In The Rye
Don't Cry
The Seeker
Paradise City

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bleachbear - "Cowboy Movie Star" CD Review!


"Cowboy Movie Star"



Anyone that's been reading Eclectic Arts knows I've been covering a ton of live shows this year.  I actually have a list that will be posted online soon just to show the scope and range of the shows covered thus far.


Music reviews are something I don't do nearly as much anymore.  I could do capsule reviews like I used to do but those become tedious and honestly they don't do much for the reader.  So, when I do a music release review, there is something of note with that particular artist.  In other words - pay attention folks!

The second release from Bleachbear, "Cowboy Movie Star", has been in the works for quite some time.  Tigerlily, Bird, and Emiko are making a statement with this album.  Their brand of dream pop music is quite evident on this release but with some changes from their debut, "Lost Parade".  Every artist matures as their careers move forward, some more than others.  If you are a young person (teen band), I would say the changes are even more profound.  These changes are reflected on the changes between the two Bleachbear releases.


The band has been growing as musicians and as people.  They've been playing shows all around the Seattle area between the two releases and it shows.  "Cowboy Movie Star" is a more straightforward, focused band effort than their debut.  The overall style is gritty, definitely more mature, but it isn't such a drastic change that you don't recognize the band.  It's a natural growth that makes perfect sense.


A very live production on the record, it is reminiscent of a garage rock style - no coincidence considering Kurt Bloch (of The Fastbacks fame) produced the record.  While this style gives the listener a great idea of what the band sounds like live, I do feel some of the tunes could use more production polish to fit the style of music.  I would love to see a remix in the future of tunes from both releases with said production polish.


The trio has crafted a better follow up to their debut than most artists.  The sophomore slump is nowhere evident here.  From the opening strains of, "The Love Detectives" and, "Boy", to the last notes of the title track, "Cowboy Movie Star", the album flows from strength to strength.  There are two songs that are a little on the below average scale to these ears but that's because the other tunes are so strong. 


The harmonies and instrumentation are strong showing that the band is becoming more and more confident in their abilities.  The song, "26", reflects an interesting mix of styles for the band.  I truly feel this song could be the springboard to a third album reflecting the same style.


"Waltzing In The Dark" slows things to mid tempo.  A beautiful title with a nostalgic vibe, this tune flows right into "Flash Mob" which reminds me a little bit of a tune that could of fit on their debut, "Lost Parade".


The one two punch of single, "Sunken Submarine" and video single, "Somnium" are next.  I don't care what anyone says, amateur or professional opinion, these two songs should be pushed by management to break the band in the international market.  You read that here first. 


The album concludes with the 50's inspired "I Don't Know", "Circus", and the title track.  There are ten songs in all on this sophomore effort.  A fold out digipak presentation to boot! 


Bleachbear is producing clean, infectious pop music that could easily take off.  "Cowboy Movie Star" swings from dream pop to carefully constructed introspective tunes that harken back to a bye gone era.


I am still of the mindset that with the right push, management, etc, Bleachbear could be playing their music to thousands of fans.  The question is - what is the priority?  Being teenagers with bright futures, this period of being in a band could become nothing but memories in their adult lives.  Or, it could be the start of something grand that builds beyond their wildest expectations.


It's quite the dilemma for sure.  What the future holds for the band, only they know.  For the time being, buy a copy of, "Cowboy Movie Star", and ponder the dilemma with me. 



Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts Magazine

Photo credit:  Seattle Next Door - Taken on 7/24/16 in Ballard, WA

Official Music Video for:  "Somnium"

Bleachbear performing, "26", LIVE on 7/24/16 in Seattle, WA


Video Interview - from 4/23/15


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vienna Teng Returns To Seattle - Gig Review July 11, 2016

Vienna Teng

Seattle, WA
6:30pm (early show)

July 11, 2016

I was looking forward to this show more than usual.  Why you ask?  I honestly didn't think I'd get the chance to see Vienna Teng perform live in Seattle again.  The amazing singer-songwriter has been forging her way into a new non-music career for the last few years with only a smattering of music news here and there.  Her last tour that stopped in Seattle was in 2013.  When I saw that she was playing a handful of shows in July, I did a double take and then once I realized this wasn't a joke, I was stoked!


I did a short video interview in a darkly lit green room prior to Vienna's early set at the Columbia City Theater (see below).  This interview in some ways brings things full circle for Eclectic Arts.  Vienna was the first phone interview I ever did.  The first artist I interviewed twice prior.  And now this would be a total of three interviews with Vienna.  Eclectic Arts has changed somewhat in those years from 2011 to 2016. 


So, this review is more a capsule of the evening - not a blow by blow account.  Between this review and the video interview, I think the bases are covered in Vienna's current world.


Performing solo, Vienna pulled requests from a bucket to create her set list as she went along.  I'm sure a set of songs were already rehearsed so some of the requests were coincidental and some truly were tunes she hadn't played in a long time.  Starting off with "Antebellum", the sold out crowd was treated to a wide variety of tunes, new and old, from Vienna's catalog.


I watched the show from upstairs in the guest area/mixing board which was unique.  Oddly enough, one of the other guests knew my uncle!  Small world! 


The Columbia City Theater is intimate, an old landmark building from Seattle's past, it was a perfect place to hear Vienna's music.  Both the early and late shows were sold out. 

From "Landsailor" to "City Hall" and every other song performed, I couldn't help but feel a little sad that this amazing performer won't be going full time back into music.  Music will always be a part of her path, but how that intersects (or doesn't) with her current endeavors remains to be seen.  In the end, I'm glad I got a chance to see her perform again here in Seattle as I'm sure all the other fans were too.


Here's hoping we hear new music and/or more shows somewhere down the road. 





Official Website

Video Interview with Vienna Prior To The Show:

Ne Obliviscaris - Devour Me - Gig Review - Seattle, WA July 18, 2016

Ne Obliviscaris

Black Crown Initiate


@ The Crocodile

Seattle, WA

July 18, 2016


One of the best aspects of doing the magazine is that I get exposed to bands that are new to me.  I first heard Ne Obliviscaris as the opener for Cradle of Filth on their US tour back in February of this year.  They play self-proclaimed extreme melodic metal.  A six piece from Australia, featuring duel vocalists, guitars, bass and drums, they play musician's metal.  On Monday evening at The Crocodile in Seattle, WA, it was clear there was a mix of fans - many who are probably musicians like myself and people that hang out in the Bell Town area of Seattle. 


This was the first headlining tour for Ne Obliviscaris.  Joining them on this tour were Black Crown Initiate and Starkill.  A great package of bands that feature musicians that can play their instruments, the evening was set up not to disappoint.


Starkill took the stage first to start the evening off right.  A four piece that played a brand of metal that was at times reminiscent of European styled extreme metal, the band played with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.  There was definitely an older metal flavor to their music which I appreciated.  The band went over well with the crowd with their 30 minute set. 

Next up was Black Crown Initiate.  A five piece of really unique, brutal, metal, they are a hard band to describe.  Strong musicianship mixed with a pummeling style all their own, the pit broke wide open while they played.  They definitely had fans in attendance and the crowd grew when they took the stage.  An intense set of tunes, they got the crowd going.  They could headline their own show next time they come to town for sure.

After a brief change over, Ne Obliviscaris got themselves into position on the Crocodile stage.  The atmosphere in the room changed as the band launched into their brand of metal.  The first thing that struck me about the band (much like the first time I saw them) is that there is no weak link in the band.  They have some incredible musicians in the band!  The mix of clean and growled vocals works very well to my ears.  I'm sure the more mainstream listener would prefer to leave out the growls but to me it brings me back to the European bands from the early to mid 90's that had the contrasting vocal styles. 

I've heard people complain that NeO's songs are too long.  I would argue that many of their tunes are built upon creating a mood, a foundational piece that brings the listener on a rollercoaster journey of discovery.  Those kind of songs need time to build, breathe, and change.  I never felt the band was overplaying on any of their tunes.  "Forget Not" was a particular stand out for me as I've always dug the tune.

My only minor criticism would be for Cygnus (bass) and Benjamin (guitars) - the lefties - to show a bit more emotion when they play.  Their expressionless faces were like they were studying for an exam or something.  I understand they’re playing difficult material but every now and then, smile, frown, stick your tongue out, anything, really.  Again, this is a very minor thing I noticed during the set. 

The band killed it in Seattle!  They are definitely on the rise.  With the continued touring of the US and abroad, their fanbase is only going to grow.  Here's to the future - Seattle will not forget Ne Obliviscaris.




Facebook: Ne Obliviscaris

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Metal Resistance Arrives In Seattle - Babymetal Gig Review! July 12, 2016 Showbox SoDo Seattle, WA

 Showbox SoDo
Seattle, WA
July 12, 2016

The suspension of disbelief is common when one watches films.  To let your imagination run wild while suppressing the logical aspect of your mind that says what you are watching is an impossibility such as when E.T. flies in the sky with Elliott on his bike, this would be a prime example of the suspension of disbelief.

Why do I bring this concept up in a concert review?  When it comes to Japan's biggest musical export in years, Babymetal, some concert goers need to get into that headspace where you are just there for the spectacle of it all, to let loose and just enjoy the experience.

Babymetal have divided the metal community since their inception.  Why you may ask?  A J-pop trio of teenage girls that are an offshoot from their first group (Sakura Gakuin), backed by a four piece live metal band (Kami Band).  Singing in their native Japanese, dancing through tight choreography as headbanging music bleeds from the speakers, they are a dichotomy of musical genres.

Metalheads are a fickle bunch.  Always have been.  They are also one of the most dedicated fanbases in all of music.  I went to my first show in 1979 (KISS).  My second show was in 1982 (AC/DC).  My third show was also in 1982 (Scorpions with special guests Iron Maiden).  I've lost count of how many shows I've been to since.  Metal back then was about going against the grain, against the mainstream culture, and forging your own path.

Pop music was considered the complete antithesis of heavy metal.  Manufactured, at times lip-synched, with no "real" talent to speak of, many a metalhead loathed the acts they saw on MTV back in the day or heard on their local radio station.

Babymetal have taken aspects of well-known metal bands for inspiration.  X Japan, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Behemoth, and Darkthrone just to name a few.

So, the thought of putting these two adversarial genres together would be pure blasphemy, not to mention the addition of teenage girls in cute outfits you might see at Sakura Con, this concept would surely enrage the diehard metal fan.

Not me.

The show on Tuesday brought out such a wide diverse crowd that one would have to be completely ignorant to not acknowledge that this concert was beyond a mere gig at the Showox SoDo.  It was an international event!

If you're purely a metal fan, you're probably one of the skeptics.  A small part of me understands the naysayers when it comes to Babymetal.  I love metal but I like many other genres of music, too.  I went through a long K Pop period (not to be confused with J Pop) as well.  I saw X Japan in 2010 here in Seattle.  At the end of the day, what I like is no better nor worse than what you like, musically.  Music is a personal journey.  What resonates with you is all that matters if you ask me.       

If you're an anime and manga fan, you were probably interested as soon as you first heard of Babymetal in 2010.  While I'm not a huge fan of either, I am familiar with some of the more mainstream aspects of both.  Also, being Japanese American, I do share some common knowledge of my ancestor’s beliefs and culture.

And if you have a fascination with Japanese culture, then you sponge up anything new that comes from the land of the rising sun.

The majority of the fans waiting outside of the Showbox SoDo were hardcore fans.  There were some fence sitters and still others that were tagging along with their friends or significant others that brought them to the show, but overall it might as well of been a Babymetal convention waiting in downtown Seattle.

Being a long time metal and overall music fan, I was coming into the show a fan of the band.  I am certainly not on the level of the diehard fans that traveled from cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Portland, and Tokyo to follow the band down this last string of west coast dates.  You know the ones - they speak (some) Japanese, they have their membership to "The One" fan club, they know every detail and fact about Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal that it'll make your head spin.  The fan that dresses up as a member of the Kami Band or the fan that has to pick from their collection of tour shirts to display the right shirt for the evening so all the other diehard fans notice.  These fans were in Seattle in mass quantities!  And I'll tell you - I loved it! 

There's nothing like going to a sold out concert where the communal aspect is evident, where the entire crowd is just counting down the minutes before their favorite band takes the stage.  Where you talk to the fan next to you only to realize they drove 5 hours to get to the show while the fan next to them just flew into Sea-Tac (Seattle Tacoma) airport last night to be at the show to the VIP folks that paid the extra money to get a laminate, an exclusive merchandise item, and early access to the merch table and floor access nearest the stage. 

The energy in the air as I made my way through the sodo (south of downtown Seattle for you non-local readers) area of Seattle on Tuesday afternoon was undeniable.  I found parking on the street (free parking!) and made my way to the Showbox SoDo.

Since I was on the guest list for this show, I knew the drill to get my ticket.  I have to get it from the box office once will call opens.  Since the doors weren't until 8pm, I had a feeling I would be waiting until 8pm to get my ticket. 

Having arrived around 5:30pm, I managed to find a venue worker who told me exactly what I thought - I would have to get my ticket at will call and meanwhile I would have to wait in the general admission line.

The line at this time for the show was split two ways.  There was a VIP line that was split into two directions facing each other to the main doors of the club in the middle.  Behind the south end of one of those VIP lines is where the general admission line started.  For the general admission line, I was around the 30th person in line I'm guessing.  Not too bad.  Eventually the line snaked down 1st Avenue and around the block and down Holgate.

The VIP line had flags lined up on the railings with some of these fans having been there since the night before (!) I was told.  There are photos on social media depicting the fans that were there first, then the fans that came later on Tuesday morning, and then the general admission line that grew and grew. 

Two and a half hours to wait until the doors open then one hour until show time.  The weather was cool, even by Seattle standards for mid-July, but that made it perfect for waiting outside.

Around two hours later, a venue worker moved all the first general admission line folks behind the VIP line on the north end of the club, divided only to keep space open to the main doors of the club.  There was confusion as to whether we were going into the lounge entrance (21+) or going in after the VIP's went in first.  Eventually we found out we were going into the lounge entrance.  They escorted those under 21 to suitable places in line in the other general admission line further down 1st Avenue.  This all seemed fine as I've gone through the lounge entrance before.  However, about 8 people in front of me they closed the lounge doors completely.  Questions and panic started to set in with our line as people, some of whom traveled from Japan, didn't understand what was going on.  Heck neither did I!

Before anything escalated, a strategy by venue staff was announced.  We would be going in right after the VIP lines and then the second general admission line would go in after us.  A completely fair solution!  I have to hand it to the Showbox SoDo staff - during all this confusion, they were polite as they got many demanding questions, confused questions, and many upset glares if people were going to lose their spots in line.  They handed out 21+ wristbands as soon as you arrived to speed up the process as well.  Kudos folks!

A little after 8pm, the doors opened, the VIPs went in first, I got my guest list ticket from will call (thank the Fox God it was there - thanks Aaron!!!), and in I went.  The VIP's were lined up at the merch tables while I made a line straight for the stage.  I was one person away from the barricade on the right hand side (Moametal's side).  Cool I thought to myself - now I just have to wait an hour until the event begins!

I briefly saw that there were three t-shirts, a hoodie, a hat, a wristband, and I believe vinyl of "Metal Resistance" available at the merch table.  I would take my chances and see what was still left after the show.

As 9pm approached, the club was packed but apparently there was still a line outside.  I had friends that were stuck in that line and they were wondering if the band had started yet since they were still outside.  They hadn't.  I'm guessing this may be why the band started late - to let the fans outside get into the club. 

Where I was waiting people were looking at their phones.  9:15pm came and went.  9:30pm came and went.  Then the lights went out and the roar from the crowd set the tone perfectly.

The "Episode IV" narrative was blasted over the PA as the crowd pushed forward to get as close to the stage as possible.  The Kami Band came out first, gesturing to the crowd, before taking their places on the back part of the stage.

Launching into the opening strains of, "BABYMETAL DEATH", Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal came out from the left side of the stage to take their places during the opening track.  As they went into their trademarked choreography, the enthusiastic crowd mirrored their hand and vocal gestures which are customary at every Babymetal show.

The pit started up behind me, in varying degrees during the course of the show, shoving some people into my back.  Crowd surfing was allowed so the venue staff was busy all night long helping people over the barricade.  They also handed out cold water bottles to fans in the front - a nice touch Showbox Sodo.  It was appreciated!

Being one person away from the stage, it was just amazing watching the girls sing and dance during the first few tunes.  Speaking of which, instead of putting it at the end of the set, the second song of the night was, "Gimme Chocolate!!" - arguably the most known song of the band - by the casual fan, that is.  The signature choreography from the video was replicated with such precision on stage, along with that heavy ass guitar riff; the crowd was just eating it up!

The set contained a mix of songs from their debut album, "Babymetal" and the second album, "Metal Resistance".  "Awadama Fever" and "Catch Me If You Can" were next with the Kami Band playing intros/solos before the tune.  Let me tell you - any metal fan would of enjoyed the Kami Band.  Some of Japan's top metal musicians, the band was tight, heavy, and enjoyable as heck to watch and listen to.  Guitarists Mikio and Takyoshi were shredding with the best of them.  Drummer Hideki pummeled the drums with plenty of double bass.  Six string bassist BOH sported the letters USA on the back of his corpse painted style head by the way.

"Amore" and "Sis. Anger" came next from the new album.  Sumetal sounded strong throughout the night.  Yes, she was singing.  Yuimetal and Moametal were also singing or "screaming" as they're credited.  As a whole there was a backing track at times (for keyboards, growl vocals, background harmonies, and other effects) but this is commonplace these days.  Either the soundman at the board triggers the backing sounds or the drummer does from a laptop or something similar.  The fact that they were singing alone sets the girls apart from the usual guide vocal pop artists.

I'd also add in that with all the singing and dancing, especially in those outfits, under hot lights, the girls were visibly sweaty during their performance.  They rocked out, in their own way, just like you'd see at any metal gig.

"Meta Taro", "Megitsune", and "KARATE" were given the live treatment next.  "KARATE" being the first official video from the new album, the tune sounded great live!  Again, the choreography from the music video was displayed on stage.  You know what I'd love to see?  I'd love to see Babymetal fans doing parts of the choreography en masse at the shows from the videos.  Imagine an entire floor leaning back from the opening parts of "Gimme Chocolate!!" or the air fists from the beginning of "KARATE" - food for thought folks.  I know my uncoordinated self couldn't do a whole song worth of choreography but parts I could - well, maybe.  But I digress.

The main set ended with the one two punch of "Road of Resistance" and "THE ONE (English Version)".  The girls exited the stage along with the Kami Band.  After much cheering and chanting, the Kami Band returned.

Launching into "Ijime, Dame, Zettai", the heavy tune rocked the Showbox SoDo as the encore for the night with Babymetal giving it everything they had.  After their customary "See You!" from the stage, Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal left the stage with the Kami Band shortly thereafter.

The lights came up and many a fan in the front just stood there, exhausted in the best possible way from the show, letting it all sink in.  I was sweaty just like everyone else at the show.  My clothes sticking to me in all the wrong places, par for the course for a great show!

As a magazine reporter, I could of arrived later in the evening, stood in the back or way off to the side of the venue, but that's no way to take in this kind of show.  You need to be IN it if you know what I mean.  Granted I'm a fan as well but I'm an old fan with a questionable back.  My days of being in the pit or squished up in the front at these shows on a regular basis is becoming a thing of the past for sure.  But for certain shows, again, I feel I need to be in amongst the fans, experiencing what they're experiencing in the front as a collective force of energy. 

All in all we got twelve songs in Seattle, WA.  Everyone always wants more songs but I don't think anyone left the venue disappointed.  The hardcore fans were happy.  The fence sitters were no longer on the fence - convinced that they belong as a part of THE ONE as The Fox God dictates the force that is Babymetal throughout the universe!

This show was one for the books, folks.  The band only has a few US shows left before they play some spectacular gigs in Japan to close Episode IV.  What Episode V has in store, only the Fox God knows.  But here's hoping the Fox God brings Babymetal back to the US, and more importantly, back to Seattle, WA!  

Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

All Photo Usage Courtesy Of and Approved by: Babymetal, Amuse Inc, and Justin Borucki

Miscellaneous Notes:

*I've been speculating where would Babymetal play should they return to Seattle?  They need a venue that has a general admission floor which eliminates venues like The Moore (which is the most logical next step up).  I suppose The Paramount would be the next stop as they can make the floor general admission.  More than twice the capacity of the Showbox SoDo, this would be an interesting venue choice.  I'll see them anywhere they play.  Here's hoping they come back, period.

*I said more than once but kudos to the Showbox SoDo staff.  I'm sure they get criticized all the time but in my opinion they were on point Tuesday night.   

*The merchandise was standard concert prices which was nice to see.  They could of charged double and the rabid fans would of paid it.  $30 US for a t-shirt.  $50 for the hoodie.  I did manage to get a shirt after the show so the limit of 2 per design seems to be helping spread the merchandise around.

*Social media follows this band around like nothing I've ever seen.  It was like a freaking journal of posts before, during, and after the show from all over the world.

*Thank you to Aaron for getting me on the guest list.  The man put up with my incessant messages about this show since February.  Again, thank you Aaron!

*Thank you to all the fans I met at the show from around the country and world.  Such a nice, informed group of people.  With all that's been going on in the world, it was so nice to see how a large group of diverse strangers could come together for a common purpose - to enjoy Babymetal!