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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Dir en Grey Mesmerizes New York City Crowd

    For foreign performers virtually unknown to the majority of the American people, there’s no room for the uninspiring. Whether or not Japanese rock band Dir en grey knows this is debatable. Either way, they delivered a near-perfect concert in fist-pumping energy with music so intense that you’d think someone let them in on the secret.

    Still, quality is no secret for a band in the music business for almost 12 years. It’s a duty.

    The concert, held at Terminal 5 in Manhattan on Nov. 14, started on time at 8 p.m. sharp after the doors were opened at 7 p.m. to let in a horde of concert-goers. Needless to say, the turnout was unexpected. There were easily 1,000 or more people there.

    The opening band, The Human Abstract, was good — with melodies that invigorated the crowd — but the lead singer fell short on the vocals. Jolting bass-laden music and an impressive piano performance can only go so far. Frontman Nathan Elis seemed able enough, but his voice was lost beneath the music.

    After about 40 minutes, The Human Abstract’s set was over, and, soon after, the crowd started chanting, “Dir en grey! Dir en grey!” while concert staff readied the stage.

    Finally, at 9 p.m., the lights dimmed, and “Sa Bir” — the first track off the Dir en grey’s latest album “Uroboros,” which was released earlier this month — began to play. Its heavy bass literally shook the floor, and only amplified the level of anticipation in the room.

    One by one the band members came on, and the audience erupted. For Kyo, the lead singer, the screaming was the loudest.

    The opening notes of the band’s song “Obscure” began shortly after, and the circus commenced.

    Track after track Kyo belted out vocals that dug into you, even if you didn’t understand the words. (He sung in Japanese.) The other band members were just as eager, with Toshiya (bass), Kaoru (guitar) and Die (guitar) all commanding their own stage presence. Shinya (drums), though hidden behind his massive drum set, also had his place, noticed especially during the band’s complex drum melodies.

    A lot of the songs called for screaming, screeching, roaring, and other non-singing vocals from Kyo, who rose to the occasion.

    For about three minutes between “Agitated Screams of Maggots” and “Conceived Sorrow” he goes into an entirely wordless performance. He shrieks, gurgles and gasps (think of being drowned or strangled), whimpers, croons and growls – things I thought possible only in a studio.

    To round off his vocal prowess, Kyo abandons his microphone near the end of “Conceived Sorrow.” The audience becomes mute, allowing his voice to surge through the room. With arms flung out to the side, his words and emotions are clear, even without a mic.

    Choosing Terminal 5 as the New York City venue was a good move. The rectangular room feels big enough, with two balconies on the second floor surrounding the stage and an open floor right in front of the stage for up-close viewing and “moshing.” The light show also added to the dramatic effect Dir en grey normally tries to achieve, and complemented the mood of the songs. (Not to mention the images and videos projected on the backdrop.)

    There was more aggression in The Human Abstract’s set than in Dir en grey’s, but the crowd was more fired up during the latter’s. Fists pounded the air and many fans attempted – and succeeded – to be carried over the barrier just in front of the stage. Terminal 5 staff flung water on the crowd, dousing the heads of eager fans that swung their heads to the music. One audience member collapsed, but security carried her out.

    There was a little break during the 90-minute main set, but the crowd was tireless. Kyo seemed unaffected as well, bouncing around the stage in convulsive dancing, and sometimes climbing back onto the singer’s podium to sway his hips — and the rest of his body — as gracefully as a snake. The crowd egged him on.

    I expected the band to play more than just three songs off “Uroboros” (“Dozing Green,” “Toguro”, and “Gaika”) and I especially wanted to hear “Glass Skin,” but what they delivered was enough to suppress my disappointment.

    Dir en grey is already gifted musically, using their own originality to dish out infectious and meaningful songs, that achieving a good live performance – especially in a foreign country – only speaks to their success as a band.

    When a band has been around as long as Dir en grey has, it’s no surprise that they know how to take performing seriously. And they did.

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