Xaimi's Nerdy Blurbs: Watashi no L'Arc~en~Ciel World Tour 2012: MSG in NYC

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Watashi no L'Arc~en~Ciel World Tour 2012: MSG in NYC

Gotta catch 'em all <3

Twenty years. That is how long the breathless attendees in Madison Square Garden had waited. Twenty years seeing only faces in Youtube videos, listening to the melodies and sounds through speakers or via anime openings, singing along to songs that they thought they may never get to harmonize together in unison as one in the U.S. The wait ended March 25, 2012 when at long last, L’Arc~en~Ciel made their official U.S. debut as part of their 20th Anniversary World Tour 2012.

Introduction to the Unknown

As the saying goes, “if you want to know me, take a walk in my shoes.” So in order to truly understand how monumental an event this was for me personally, you have to know just how immersed I have become in this J-Rock (Japanese Rock) and –specifically- L’Arc~en~Ciel.

If you had asked me in 2000 who my favorite band was, I would have been unable to give you an answer. I enjoyed various genres of music and ranked some musicians higher than others, but I never had a concrete top pick. I was also a victim of American culture, thus I had no idea what J-Rock was- let alone J-Music and what it meant. Jump four years into the future. My mother and I are standing in what is now an out-of-business Hollywood Video store scanning the foreign films section. Although I knew little to nothing about J-Rock, I knew quite a bit about films from overseas and usually appreciated them more than movies here in the good ol’ U S of A. That day, we happened across a movie called “Moon Child”. A few days later, I awoke in the middle of the night to find my mother watching the movie and a surreal, yet beautiful, short-haired, blonde’s face enveloping the screen as he dreams of his past.

Who is this guy?

Thorough inspection of the DVD casing and ending credits taught me that his name was Hyde, so now I had a name. But, the movie and credits also gave away something else, this otherworldly creature of the light (a nod to those who get this reference ^_^) also had a beautiful voice. It was then, listening to Haido-kun and Gakuto-san sing “Orenji no Taiyou”, or The Orange Sun, that I fell in love with J-Rock.


Awakening Kiss

That discovery led to further research and awareness as I discovered that Hyde is the vocalist of L’Arc~en~Ciel. For those who are unfamiliar with them, Laruku, as us fans affectionately call them, was formed by their bassist Tetsuya (Tetsu) in 1991. In addition to the often pervy Tetsu and the demonic angel Hyde, we also have the suave lead guitarist Ken, and the quiet, yet passionate drummer Yukihiro (Yuki).

My formal introduction to the band was via “Spirit Dreams Inside”, the song that plays during the ending credits of Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within. Yuki’s drumming solo at the beginning of this song still catapults my feelings as if I am in an adventure and Tetsu’s bass line has such a soulful, sexy edge to it. So after replaying the movie’s credits non-stop, there was only one thing left to do to protect my DVD player’s longevity: BUY THE CD!!!! ^_^ That is when the hardship of being a J-Rock fan in this part of the world became readily apparent.

Lucky for my mom and I, we discovered Laruku the same year they released an album (SMILE) for the first time in North America. So, earlier fans had the burden of searching until the ends of the earth for the previous albums. Even still, finding SMILE was a trial, but well worth the hunt. Track 1, Kuchizuke/Seppun (Kiss) was my first base in this melodic relationship.


Living in a New World

L’Arc~en~Ciel soon became more than a band of handsome faces and soul-stirring music to me; In their musical travels, I found a home I had been longing for most of my young life. Their songs told tales of loneliness, coping in a world of frequent hatred, eternal love, and just being happy- feelings and concepts that I am sure many of us can identify with. Regardless, of how I felt, there was a song or album of theirs that fit my mood perfectly. More so than that, L’Arc had a direct influence on my appreciation for Japanese culture.

But, I was at a lost how to repay them.

Buying their music was a hassle since stores rarely carried them and with little to no internet access at home, ordering music online was impossible. How could I show these four guys appreciation for the impact they had on my life?

 I had to see them live and show them love and support from the United States.

One problem: Their only stop in the States was at Otakon in 2004…and I missed it. So I made a silent promise to myself: If I ever had a second chance to see them, I would not let it go by. No matter what, I would partake of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand with others and sing so the whole world would feel our support.


And then it happened. In Fall of 2011, word flew on a current with news of a L’Arc~en~Ciel World tour right in my back yard.



Butterflies

Everything blurred by at a dizzying pace as I spent the remaining months of 2011 scrounging for information about the upcoming tour, and the initial weeks of 2012 prepping for this monumental event. By prepping, I mean trying to convince myself that if ever I should make an allowance to splurge on myself, it should be for this. Would I have enough money to travel, by merch, find lodging? Would I even be able to get a ticket? A month and a half before the trip, a friend and coworker said something that stuck with me and gave me that push to go and buy the ticket. In my mind, his words were:

“If you do not go, you will regret it for a very long time. Better to be flat broke and truly happy to witness a life-changing event, than to have money and regret never taking that leap.”

So I bought my concert and bus tickets, then proceeded to wait with growing anticipation for the concerts arrival. This would be the best belated birthday gift I could get myself.

When I saw the Ticketmaster envelope in my hands, revealed the shiny gray tickets, and read the words “L’Arc~en~Ciel World Tour 2012… I cried. The tears just fell and the little streams pooled together where my smile began. All I could think was

“It’s really happening.”



“Step into Fascination, Trip of Infatuation”


As I left the apartment at 5am Sunday, March 25th, those were the best words to describe how I felt. The next 24 hours was going to be one hell of a time. I navigated my way from the house to Union Station in Washington D.C. (think Grand Central Station), boarded my 7:15am Megabus, and began my journey. This journey to L’Arc~en~Ciel was a number of firsts for me; it would be my first time in New York ever, my first double-decker bus ride, and of course my first ever L’Arc~en~Ciel concert.

I arrived a little after 11:45am and decided to take a stroll around the city. I needed to know my way around if I wanted to not only see the concert, but make my way back to D.C. that night at 1am. Hehe…but I beelined to the Red Lobster billboard of Laruku first xD. After getting to know the area a bit, I had planned on hitting up a comic store on 6th Avenue, but something told me I should stop by MSG so I know where to line up later that evening.

There was already a line for merch at 1pm!!  O.O

The comic shop could wait. As fate would have it, choosing to wait for merch led me to a group of wonderful individuals that mean just as much to me now as the concert did itself. Within that potential crowd of 19,000 Laruku fans and extended family, I found eight lifelong friends from different corners of the globe.

"Forever Alone, together we stand!"
Two of these friends- Larcboy04 and Satty- already posted their own reviews on our boys NYC concert and I encourage you to check them out as their recounts are a beautiful reminder of the grandeur we experienced that day.  

That merch line began to feel like a small family reunion as we shared our stories of Laruku introduction, favorite songs, even our travels to reach MSG for this occasion. The Big Apple and large crowd felt less intimidating and more welcoming with each passing minute. A few of us broke away from the line just to capture a view of the wait that now brushed closely against 32nd Street. Laruku supporters really had turned out en masse. When 4pm arrived, the flood gates to the merch counters opened and our little family gathered up our goodies like children on Halloween. As fellow blogger Satty points out, one of our friends was even nice enough to split up and pick up our glowsticks for us since they were selling out fast!! ^_^ Hontou arigatou gozaimasu for that kind gesture!!!

I had planned on going all out with the merch- I even went so far as to not buy “Butterfly” on iTunes because I wanted a physical copy in my hands. So, I made sure to pick up their new album as well as two t-shirts, the gorgeous yellow towel hoodie (adore yellow with a borderline obsession), and a wristband.

Bidding the merch warzone adieu, my friends and I decided to snag a bite to eat before the concert around 5:30ish. This was my chance to taste some of the cheapest pizza on the East Coast ^_^! Several of the others decided to get Mickey D’s and as Larcboy04 can testify to, $5.30 for three dollar menu items does not taste $3.10 better than it my in D.C. >.<

One of two bags of L'Merch
Around 6:20pm we headed back to MSG to get in line. The intensity in the lobby was thick with anticipation and anxious chatter. My new friends and I were huddled up taking pictures and discussing which songs we hoped to hear the most. There was another feeling in the air as the 7pm doors grew closer- a tinge of sadness and longing. With every second that we grew closer to seeing L’Arc live, our goodbyes also advanced. Satty and Larcboy04 expressed their view on this moment, and their interpretations- not surprisingly- almost sing in unison.

Even as we said goodbye and parted ways, we were bound by so much. Limitless moments in our lives had untied us at that distinct point in time and it was that which would make us inseparable no matter how physically far apart we are in the future.

So when we left for our own lines into the arena, we focused not on our goodbyes, but that we would soon meet again, and on the history we were about to partake of.



Jojoushi

MSG is huge. Once I stepped into my section it dawned on me why Laruku chose this as their breakout point: If they could sell out this place, it was safe to say they had truly made it here. I was internally freaking out. At 8pm I was going to see my musical idols onstage, live, for the first time ever. –insert nosebleed here-
L'Arc fans filling in the sold out arena

The wait seemed even more arduous as the 8pm mark passed and the curtain had not risen. Should I chance going to the restroom? Making a break for it I ran to the bathroom and did my best to hurry. No sooner had I finished washing my hands that I heard a roar of cheers and squeals, signaling the beginning of what was to be an unbelievable night.

Knew he would open his eyes after this :)
Hyde, Ken, Tetsu, and Yuki’s names glided across the middle screen, seemingly etched in stone. Alien-looking representations of our loves detached from cables on screen and our devilish Hyde opened his eyes and looked at us. Those eyes pulling us in and as his punch shatter the glass wall separating us from them, the room went dark. Ibara no Namida began to play.

I could go through all the songs in great detail, ranting over each moment. Instead, I shall mention my favorite highlight of that night and leave juicy details for my fellow fans to indulge.

Singing L’Arc~en~Ciel’s songs with roughly 19,000 other people was already enough to floor me; I was living an instance I had only witnessed in youtube videos!! The night could have been just that and I would have been more than satisfied. But after tantalizing us with six songs, the stage darkened- a lone spotlight illuminating a part of the stage. Hyde appeared, brandishing a hat and cherry blossoms flitted on the screens behind him. It was complete silence. Even the audience’s breathing went unheard. Without an intro, a musical build up, Haido-kun began to sing.

Kisetsu wa iro wo kaete

Just as I am doing now as I relive that blink in time, I began to cry. “Jojoushi” (Poem) is my favorite Laruku song. “No matter how the seasons change, my love will never fade, like a flower, thinking of you.” No matter how many years faded, my love for their music had not faded. No matter what I went through or am going through, my feelings never wither because I have the strength to keep going. When Hyde sang this song live, he stopped time. All my worries, struggles, and pains in life disappeared as I cherished those six minutes singing, smiling, and crying with him.

Anata to Sekai



Singing “Anata”, one of Laruku’s most famous songs, at a concert with others was a dream for me. I had watched videos online of sold out Japanese arenas waving their glowsticks side-to-side, raising their voices as one. I just never thought that was something I would get to do. Even as I practiced the songs weeks before the concert so that I would not mess up, I did not think it would happen. So when the first song to play during their encore was “Anata”, I could not believe it. The band was nice enough to have the romaji lyrics displayed on-screen so that we could sing with them and we needed no other cue than that. Larcboy04 said we repeated that chorus at least thirty times. I lost count. I do not think I counted. I merely remember not wanting that song to end so I could harmonize with my musical family for eternity.


The concert performance was also a chance to see the musicians’ personalities shine through and almost have an informal moment with them. The usually quiet Yukihiro-kun is a storming force on the drums. His gripping, powerful solo before the encore increased my respect and appreciation for him and his skills considerably. Listening to Hyde, Tetsu, and Ken individually talk to the MSG audience gave a since of camaraderie and closeness even though our bonds were solely through music and our homes were leagues a way from each other.
"DO YOU WANT TO EAT MY FUCKING BANANA?!" ^w^



A Heart’s Dream Inside



As “Niji” came to a close and the mesmerized crowd was corralled out of the arena, the performance’s spell clung to us all and we welcomed it. It was roughly 11:20pm and I had a little less than two hours before I had to trek to my bus stop for the ride back to Maryland. I instantly tried to reach my new musical blood brothers and sisters that I met earlier that day. How I managed to have any battery life on my phone was thanks to a few spare outlets in the building and running out of space to take any more photos of the concert xD. I reunited with Larcboy04, Satty, and two of our other lovely friends outside the arena, almost exactly where we had stood eight hours before.

All of us looked high as hell and if being euphoric from that concert counts, than we were. We reminisced about what our favorite parts were and our shock that P’Unk~en~Ciel did not make an appearance. We questioned abating our hunger with more food or just walking around to let the concert sink in. Before we all went our separate ways, we hurried exchanged contact info, vowing not to forget each other and to stay in touch… and we have.

When it was my turn to disembark and head home, having to leave my friends, the city, this experience was heartbreaking. I walked down 33rd Street slowly and even captured pictures of the equipment load out. Two lovely ladies stopped to stare too and asked

“Who played at the Garden tonight?”

My explanation was brief yet passionate and they could tell I was still reeling from it all. They seemed sincerely happy that this Japanese band had huge success their first official time here. As they bade me goodnight, safe travels, and further happiness, we began to go our separate ways. Abruptly, one of them stopped, dove into her purse, and placed a small paper heart in my hands. Small black font graced the heart and as I read it, the whole trip culminated into a rainbow in my mind. I stopped fretting that I was leaving my friends and that I could not stay longer. Having to work the next day did not weigh on my mind. Never knowing when I could experience such a joy because of this band again dissipated. I was truly happy and content with everything I had seen and done and when I recalled Hyde saying “It took us 20 years to get here, will we meet again?”, I knew my answer: to you, my friends, and the world, yes we will.

See you soon dears.

Until later guys ^_^.

Need more fuel for your L'Arc World Tour Addiction? Peek at my friends' MSG recounts at the links below: ^_^
Larcboy04's L'Arc Review

Did you enjoy the pictures? Check out the link below for my other snapshots of L'Arc and MSG!

L'Arc~en~Ciel to NYC Photo Gallery