BabyMetal - September 24th - Southside Ballroom - Dallas, TX
Ok, so spare me your purist romanticisms about what is & isn't Metal. And besides having the word Metal in their title & backup band that plays heavy & fast riffs, BabyMetal isn't even trying to come for you Eddie Trunk loving idiots, clutching to your older brother's 8-Track copy of Paranoid.
When I read about BabyMetal, it's always the same narrative & it's so boring, even when they are "defending" the band. Or have this "Can you believe how unique this is?" thing that makes them feel edgy in saying so. Save it, BabyMetal doesn't need you to come to their defense, they are doing just fine all by themselves. And that's what you never hear anyone mention - Is it really this lost on those that report on such things that those that patronize BabyMetal concerts from the so-called traditional world are driven by a meek curiosity that is rooted in the fact they are cute females. If these were all dudes, this would be called a boy band and their would be no debate and simply dismissed. Once again, the power of a group of strong females is so threatening to a genre largely dominated by white (& mostly unfuckable) males.
The actual BabyMetal crowd, that buy their albums & come to the shows and sing all the words? It's not the Slayer crowd, it's not even the Metal crowd.
It's the Anime (the rebellious & kinky parts) meets the EDM crowd. Young, intelligent people that wanna party and get weird and the fact that the band has an agression to it, just makes it more appealing. It's bombastic with a crazy idealology, their cute & entertaining as hell. What's not to like?
The concept is fun & totally out there: Made up of three young women who dress in kawaii, or cute, schoolgirl outfits. But they don’t play instruments — they sing, dance and make movements in front of a set of older musicians who are often shrouded in darkness behind them.
The sound, raw & infectious, contrasted by the soft voices of:
Suzuka “Su-metal” Nakamoto, 21
Moa “Moametal” Kikuchi, 20
& touring member Kano Fujihira,20
One of three girls along with Riho Sayashi & Momoko Okazaki currently rotating in Yui Metal's place (who took a hiatus last year due to health issues) who are known as the "Avengers" - Fun right?
And they sing about things like wanting chocolate & have over 100 million views on YouTube. The band toured with Lady Gaga in 2014, and its second album, Metal Resistance debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard charts in the United States in 2016.
Babymetal’s entire aesthetic does what it’s supposed to, which is surprise. Few would think to put the delicate sound of teen girls singing with brash and thrashing guitars and drums together, but one talent agency, Amuse, did in 2010. Babymetal doesn’t shy away from the fact that they came together not because of Su-metal or Maometal’s love for the genre, but for their desire to get into the heavily orchestrated Japanese pop world. In Japan, there are several talent agencies that will audition young women and men to be a part of a concept group (the most famous of these types of groups is BTS from South Korea).
So what Babymetal is manufactured, the shows are intense & super fun. I saw them last year & while the production was much more conceptualized, this time it was a bit sparse & to it's credit, charming. Just a bare stage with the three of them doing their thing with the band tucked away in the back.
One thing that brings everyone together are the lyrics. Even if the people singing don’t know the Japanese words, they still sing along.
Elevator Girl (English ver.)
Shanti Shanti Shanti
PA PA YA!!
Road of Resistance
Go to their shows, they are fun, you will have a good time and that's all that matters.
Band-Maid - September 28th - The Cambridge Room - Dallas, TX
This will take some unpacking - Besides also being young females from Japan presenting a heavy & agressive sound contrasted with a Kawaii or cute style, that's where the comparisons to the above BabyMetal end.
Band-Maid combines a rock sound with a maid image modeled on Japanese maid cafés & they write all their own material and play their own instruments and have much more of a band vibe.
Now I was completely unaware of this as less than a week before the show, I was completely unfamiliar with them. Live Nation extended an invite to come shoot the show & I had just seen BabyMetal a few days before and was expecting a bit more of the same. Or if not, during my SXSW days, the highlight every year was Japan Night where you could see something completely different and alot of times never again. I was fine with either, & intrigued and was looking forward to the show.
However, I was pulling double duty with a film screening earlier in the evening & based on experience I had them pegged as going on around 915pm.
I hauled ass to get there and after parking and getting to Will Call & through security I was expecting to waltz in, get a good spot up front to shoot and enjoy the show. Instead, I learned that the opener had bailed for whatever reason (if there in fact was ever one) and instead the band decided to go on at 8pm and I was now over an hour late. That was just the beginning of the derailment of what I was expecting as laid back evening. Once I entered anticipating a sparse crowd, to discover a downright fire hazzard. Seriously this room's capacity is 250 & it felt more like 500 were in here. You couldn't move, you couldn't see (their is no photo pit & I was waaaay past the first three song limit).
Hoping to at least see a song or two and feeling like I'd blown it, instead they proceeded to play almost an entire additional hour and I saw about a dozen songs, more than I was expecting had I seen the entire show. These badasses said "Fuck the opener" and played for two hours straight!
And they kicked ass! It was guitarist Kanami Tōno's Birthday and the crowd was so white-hot for every word. How did I not anything about any of this? I learned later just how lucky I was to even be there as tickets apparently sold out in minutes and in doing research for this article, I learned people had traveled from all over as besides a couple of one-offs in California, they'd never toured the States before and Dallas was one of only 3 cities they were playing. So what started as an innocent curiosity became finding myself at one of the hottest & most anticipated shows of the year anywhere. And it delivered.
Don't You Tell Me
Don't be long
Rock in me
Take me higher!!
Carry On Living
If they make it back to the States as part of their World Domination Tour, don't miss it!