Babymetal - House Of Blues, Boston, MA - 5 May 2016


Event: Babymetal - US Tour
Written by: ScreamingSteelUS
Published: 05.06.2016


You guys are probably sick of hearing about Babymetal, right? Believe me, I completely understand. Poking the hornet's nest is getting a bit old for me as well. Still, you should just admit it - you're all harboring some morbid curiosity about what goes on at a Babymetal show. What kind of people go to such a thing? What sort of sick, twisted things do they get up to? Courageously, I took it upon myself to attend a Babymetal show, for no other reason than to report back to the real world and definitely not because I'm a huge fan now. Here follows my account.

Part I: There and There Again

I showed up to this concert closer to death than Chuck Schuldiner's proctologist; my allergies had chosen this particular week to wreak havoc on my health, I had spent several hours earlier in the day trudging through the cold rain, and the previous two days had vanished into one of my final papers.* Naturally, I was thrilled to stumble into the longest line I've ever had the misfortune of waiting in that didn't prefigure an amusement park ride. I'm not from England, and queuing is not my thing, especially when the queue gets buffeted by wind and rain under a sky greyer than the distinction between Devin Townsend and an Olympian god. This line spilled all the way down Lansdowne Street, wrapped around Brookline Avenue, and valiantly jutted halfway down Newbury Street, so that by the time I reached the end of the line my only view of the House of Blues was across some train tracks and the Mass. Turnpike from an overpass behind the building. According to the schedule, doors were to open at 7, with the show beginning at 8:30. I showed up to the House of Blues just after 8, I got inside the wretched place around 8:45, and Babymetal came on at 9. I'm quite grateful that the performance held off until the ticket-holders had successfully achieved ingress, but that line sure sucked. Still not nearly the longest wait I've had for a show, but that's another story.

Part II: I am in a bluesing-house, and I look about me.

Throughout this period of stasis, I had the chance to observe the prospective audience. Babymetal has achieved an impressive amount of crossover success in the West, with the novelty of idol metal garnering significant exposure to non-metal audiences. Lady Gaga, of all people, took Babymetal on tour with her, and the band recently made its US television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; the Wembley performance basically broke the UK. Babymetal has a high amount of mainstream visibility and a profitable weeaboo market to tap into, and therefore I went in expecting a decent percentage of the crowd to be new to this "metal" thing. Even with that in mind, the audience differed from the usual metal crew to a surprising degree. I'd wager with confidence that most of the people at the show came from the "Japan" side of the fan base rather than the "metal" side.

Most damningly, I overheard numerous conversations that indicated to me how few of the patrons had actually attended a metal show before, or even a show of any kind. Judging by the widespread signs of approbation that greeted "Raining Blood" when it came over the PA and the surge of indifference that immediately followed with "Dead Skin Mask," many among us had only the most cursory experience even with Slayer. I was also the only one singing along to "Swedish Pagans," which was abhorrent both to myself as a diehard Sabaton fan and to those around me as people with ears. Finally, the crowd had no idea how to move, how to stand, or how to be at a metal show. I've been to so many metal concerts that I have no idea what people do at non-metal concerts, and on the occasions when I find myself at a non-metal concert or a metal concert with such a huge amount of mainstream crossover, I always wonder what I should be doing and how I can find the groove of the crowd. I understand that the same is true for people who show up to metal shows with no context for them, but it makes for some obnoxious crowds. When I deal with a crowd that doesn't understand the physical dynamics of metal concerts, I somehow wind up with a lot more bruises in more unexpected places than when I see Cattle Decapitation or Death Angel, and a lot more people around me wind up confused and put off by the action.

An unusually high number of people sported hair of an unusual color (yes, you know I mean blue). There were shockingly few metal t-shirts to be found, and the vast majority of those were Babymetal; I did see one fellow representing Lamb Of God, another Moonsorrow, and the errant Carcass fan here and there (oh, wait, that was me). Anime definitely took precedence over metal in terms of branded fashion, with shows like Attack On Titan, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Death Note, Dragonball Z, One Punch Man, and others finding representation on t-shirts, hats, and at least one cape. Many fans (male and female alike) did their damnedest to dress the part, ostentatious red-and-black tutus and all, sometimes even with folk-metal-inspired face paint. Some jackass had a South Korean flag, the purpose of which I can only wonder at. I'll be lying awake at night wondering why that was there for a long time to come.

Why do I mention all of these observations? I don't intend to berate anyone who doesn't love metal as much as I do or who hasn't been to as many kickass metal concerts as I have, nor do I want to simply point out how "weird" and "insane" the audience may have been. Hell, if I had a Gurren Lagann shirt… I'd still have worn a band t-shirt, because I like to be different, but maybe I would have repped Team Dai-Gurren at Baroness or Weedeater. All the above factors contributed to a very unusual and somewhat unexpected concert experience for me, so I think it's interesting to discuss the nature of my surroundings in reviewing the concert, but also I think that this show points to just how wide of an audience Babymetal reaches. Plenty of elderly couples and small children were in attendance, which is something I could otherwise only say for bands like Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath, so I assume that metal reached some brand new ears that night. I like to think that at least a few people went home afterwards and decided to check out this nice scene that we've got here.

Part III: The part of the show where the show actually happens

The physical layout of the House of Blues allows you to easily conduct yourself to a good spot up front, no matter how late you show up, so long as you know how to work the crowd; still, though I have seen some fantastic concerts at the House of Blues (see my previous concert report), I don't know if I would call the place a great venue in itself. While I don't have many criticisms of this concert, 90% of them resulted from the venue. According to one individual on the event's Facebook page, a malfunctioning soundboard had caused the egregious delay in opening the venue. Nobody official bothered to offer explanation, but I'd certainly believe the newsflash from Guy A up there, because the sound didn't sound all that sound. The instruments were all fine, if, frankly, a tad subdued, but the vocals occasionally kicked up too high or sank into the background. Something definitely troubled Su-Metal's mic, and before you start cracking wise, no, it wasn't Su-Metal. It's a shame the sound was subpar, because I could tell that all three singers were a lot livelier and more engaging than on the albums, but most fortunately the worst lapses in quality were few and far between, and overall the finicky system did not detract too much from the concert experience. The lighting wasn't terribly great either, but by the time visibility became an issue, I was still riding high on the concept of being indoors and having a band finally in front of me. Apparently having an out-of-state driver's license is cause for serious concern at the House of Blues, because nearly every time I have presented my ID there I have gotten quizzed about state capitals. …to prove that I'm from the state that I'm from, or perhaps just to confirm that I took geography in the fourth grade? When you apply for a job at the House of Blues, do they make you take a quiz on state capitals? Heck, I can do all the capitals of Europe, too. Just ask me. I've been to shows at 35 venues in five states, two countries, and one federal district, and nowhere else have I been given an IQ test prior to entry. …but I digress.

The band kicked things off with "Babymetal Death," which functions as both the opening track on the debut album and an introduction to Babymetal itself. The song is really more of a hype piece than anything else, and during this introductory groundswell of enthusiasm, the crowd swelled with enthusiasm. As the Kami Band, the phenomenal instrumentalists responsible for the "-metal" in Babymetal, continued to build tension, Su-metal, Yuimetal, and Moametal trooped onstage in dramatic fashion. Soon, "Babymetal Death" stomped to a close and the band ripped into its first single, "Doki Doki Morning." Once upon a time, "Doki Doki Morning" had convinced me that Babymetal was an abomination and a slanderous stain on the face of music, but now, it signaled to me that I was about to have a lot of fun; all my doubts slipped away in an instant. Either way, I suppose it's strange to say that anybody could "rip" into "Doki Doki Morning" rather than "skip jauntily whilst throwing flowers and sunshine everywhere" into "Doki Doki Morning," but Babymetal is one of those bands you really have to see to believe.

The band performed brilliantly, singers and musicians alike. I'll bet you never thought that Babymetal needed a six-string bass, but Boh probably knows better than all of us, and you can be damn sure that he used all six strings to magnificent effect. Drummer Hideki Aoyama and guitarists Takayoshi Ohmura and Leda joined Boh both in sporting the kult-kabuki getup of Kami Band tradition and in being absurdly talented. Roughly midway through the set, the three girls took a break to allow the Kami Band the chance to steal the spotlight with an instrumental showcase, and steal the spotlight it did. The miniature jam session that ensued marked one of the high points of the night; I hadn't gone to that show expecting much in the way of familiar concert traditions, so having a few minutes to appreciate absolute instrumental proficiency delivered in a furious flurry of ferrous ferocity warmed my heart. Su-Metal, Yuimetal and Moametal deserve a great deal of credit as well; it had not occurred to me beforehand, but in addition to singing, they each had to memorize and perform a whole show's worth of dance choreography, which complicates the responsibilities of stage life several times over. Dance routines are not something that I have any intention of getting used to seeing at metal shows, but the realization that these girls have such an integral physical component to master aside from the vocals inspired in me slightly more respect for the pop musicians who contend with the same.

Intense mosh pits arose during "GJ!", "Amore," "Gimme Chocolate!!", and others, far more than I had anticipated. When invited to sing along to tunes like "Karate" and "Road Of Resistance," we in the audience did not completely embarrass ourselves (due to the merciful absence of words in favor of simple "whooaa-ooaa-ooaa" choruses). With every new number Babymetal tore through, the atmosphere evolved into a slightly sillier and yet slightly more fulfilling stage. I'm happy to report that I managed to check off nearly every one of my favorites; only "No Rain, No Rainbow" (which I wasn't expecting) and "Head Bangya!!" (which I was) remained unrepresented.

Set List:
1. Babymetal Death
2. Doki Doki Morning
3. Yava
4. Awadama Fever
5. GJ!
6. Amore
7. Catch Me If You Can
8. Meta Taro
9. Ijime, Dame, Zettai
10. Karate
11. Megitsune
12. Gimme Chocolate!!
13. The One

Encore:
14. Road Of Resistance

I could have stuck around for a longer show, but hey, I guess even kids have to obey labor laws. Besides, Babymetal did actually play more than half of its catalogue. Despite my ceaseless complaints about the venue, the crowd, the weather, my health, and everything else under the sun (complaining is a vital part of my personality), I honestly had a great time at this show. A year ago, I thought of Babymetal as a fetid morass of cesspool runoff, but you know what? It was fun, it was cute, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Given the chance, I'd go see Babymetal again in a heartbeat and drag my friends along so we could blast the Madoka soundtrack on the way there.

*If you want to discuss the unfair historiographical reputation of Blackadder Goes Forth, don't hesitate to bring up the show's representation of Field Marshal Haig.



 



Written on 05.06.2016 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 194 users
05.06.2016 - 18:52
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Fun read =D

I'm glad Babymetal is getting bigger, so that means they'll probably come to Brazil eventually
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Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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05.06.2016 - 19:43
Susan
Smeghead
This was a hugely compelling and well-written article. Thanks

I've never heard their music but nonetheless I judge. I read this out of morbid curiosity and found it quite a fun and engrossing read. You may have even softened my judgement of them by a few small degrees.

Favorite line (of many): "the sound didn't sound all that sound"
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"A life all mine
Is what I choose
At the end of my days"
--The Gathering "A Life All Mine" from Souvenirs
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05.06.2016 - 20:00
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
I feel like I simply have to see this band now. Not out of particular interest in the music, but just to see what kind of otherwordly savagery ensues at one of their events. It's like a Trump rally: I don't particularly like what the event is organized around, but I simply have to know the inner machinations of the enigma
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Check out Apothecary's Favorite Bands Playlist, brotendo. One track per band.
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06.06.2016 - 00:31
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Thanks, folks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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06.06.2016 - 22:29
Guib
Thrash Talker
Well I saw Babymetal at the Heavy Montreal, eh... 2 years ago I believe. It wasn't all that bad. it was strange and unfamiliar.

Fun read Screaming, hope your allergies will be better
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- Headbanging with mostly clogged arteries to that stuff -
http://www.metalstorm.net/users/list.php?list_id=1233
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08.06.2016 - 01:48
chella1788
I was singing Swedish Pagans at the top of my lungs at the very same show. I wish we had met.
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08.06.2016 - 18:26
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Guib on 06.06.2016 at 22:29

Fun read Screaming, hope your allergies will be better

Thanks. They cleared up pretty soon after; perhaps the show cured me.
Written by chella1788 on 08.06.2016 at 01:48

I was singing Swedish Pagans at the top of my lungs at the very same show. I wish we had met.

Yeah, that would have been cool. I've still never met anyone from Metal Storm in real life.
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"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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