Due to technical issues, I haven’t been able to post this until now. Last week I went to Czech Republic to see Orochi live and this is my review… Enjoy your reading! ^^
Once upon a time, there was a dreadful dragon called Yamatano Orochi. Its eyes were red as boiling blood, it had eight heads and eight tails with the length of eight valleys. Every year, the small village had to sacrifice a beautiful virgin to the dragon.
When the samurai – Susanoo – heard about this, he decided to fight the beast. He cut off its eight heads and his spirit became immortal. His strength was given to four young Samurais who came to reign the Land of the rising sun.
The band Orochi bases its theme on this samurai myth. Hence it may not be surprising that their concept and music are greatly inspired by traditional Japanese culture.
Last Sunday, Mars 24th, I went to the Orochi concert at the Matrix club in Prague, Czech Republic.
Orochi is quite different from the most visual kei bands I know. They come off as really authentic Japanese. In combination with the usual rock instruments, they add traditional Japanese instruments which of course gives their music a clean ethnic touch. The band itself describes the music as a mixture of traditional Japanese music and modern rock.
Ushiwaka, the singer and composer of the band plays the Nohkan, Shinbone Ryuteki (Dragon Flute), Koto, Taiko and the Biwa (similar to Shamisen).
They thanked us hearty for voting on them. But they knew they would win. This is from a recent interview at JAME UK:
– How did you feel when you heard you won the “Râmen x JaME” contest? Did you expect you would be winning this contest?
Ushiwaka: Yes! We trusted our fans across 19 countries in Europe to vote for us. We were really happy to hear it.
Shin: Yes, we were extremely happy.
Unfortunately, there are soon only two band members left (the rest is support musicians) and this was actually Yuki-mura‘s last tour with the band. Today, the official two samurais are the singer Ushiwaka and the bass player Shin.
Ushiwaka introduces the members:
I believe Orochi’s music at first might be hard to get for a westerner, since it’s not as influenced by western rock as many other visual kei bands. Ushiwaka’s voice is very special and has a wide range of tones, from pitch high singing to really dark growls. Mostly he is singing with a quite dark, and dramatic voice – the way you expect a heroic samurai to sing.
I’m glad that I went to this concert. Orochi toured in Europe 2011 but I didn’t know about them back then. The band was formed 2004 already.
Since I discovered them I’ve been intrigued by their sound, but I think I needed this live experience to realize how special they are. Their music is truly a mixture of soft traditional Japanese music and really rough metal with lots of growling and screams. They appear much heavier live than on the album.
Ushiwaka made us growl, shout, scream and jump and showed us how to perform the furi. I believe we all did as good as we could. A lot of rock-bands’ furi-movements are the same. We waved to the left and the right, “scratched the air like cats” (that’s how I describe the movement anyway ^_-) and made this “circle bowing” that I like so much (you move your hand in a double spiral forward while bowing, and then spin it back again, repeatedly.)
At some point, Ushiwaka made us shout the refrain in Hannya -Invisible Demon while we sliced the air with invisible blades, horizontally and vertically, over and over.
Ushiwaka held some kind of ribbon with tassels. At one point he put it around Shins neck who made a facial expression like he was strangled. ^_- Shin was probably the one who smiled the most during the gig. Very charming. At one moment he BIT the fans at the front. You can see it in the second video if you look closely. ^^
Maybe my years of Visual Kei interest has fucked up my view of what’s manly or not. ^_- It’s not uncommon that people at work for instance points at Ruki, Gackt, HITT, hide or some else I have a picture of at my desk and think that they are GIRLS! For me it’s unbelievable. Of course you can see that they ate MEN! Gosh! But I’m aware of the fact that jrockers play a lot with the androgynous concept and if I concentrate, I can see the feminine aspects in many bands performances.
Ushiwaka thanks us for voting on them… and makes us growl and jump:
Ushiwaka though… Is very much a man – another aspect that differs this band from the rest. He has this manly aura and charisma. His voice is deep. He didn’t smile often, but when he did, it was an endearing smile with two rows of perfect teeth. A lot of jrockers have a bit funny teeth which is considered to be cute in Japan, but Ushiwakas teeth was really perfect. I also noted that his face was extremely symmetric. He had really pretty facial features and could easily become a model. He looks better IRL than on photos and film.
He wore some kind of ornament on his head with pearls, feathers and glitter and all band-members clothes was made of silk and gold (gold is Ushiwaka’s favorit-color ^_-). Ushiwaka wore an armless shirt which revealed his muscular arms (apparantly he shave, that’s my kind of man, ^_-).
What else differed this band from other I’ve seen is that there was no sexual tension at all, not between the band members or towards audience. Ushiwaka had no intention in teasing us. This was all about honoring Japanese culture.
– We respect nature and history. Everyone should respect nature and our ancestors. OROCHI wants to express how it is the cool thing to do. /Ushiwaka
Since one of Uschiwaka’s personal hobbies is swordsmanship (and since they – after all – are SAMURAIs) I wasn’t surprised when he suddenly brought up a Katana sword and swept it over our heads. Since I stood below him, I thought the blade was dangerously close to the fans, but I’m sure he knew what he was doing. He started to make beautiful swings and movements with the sword and the audience cheered. Maybe he was reenacting Susanoo’s fight with the dragon. Unfortunately I didn’t catch it all on film.
He also danced with a beautiful Japanese fan and let it breeze the sweaty audience. I could see a smirk in his face while doing so.
There was an encore and when they entered the stage the second time, Ushiwaka wore a beautiful white kimono with golden details.
I’m very pleased with the evening. The concert was great and the sound was great. The energy was high and the band interacted a lot with the audience. The only thing I have to complain about is that the stage was badly lightened at some points.
In the end of the concert, they took a picture of themselves and the audience behind. I look really stupid on this photo so I won’t tell you where I am! ^_-
After the concert there was a signing session. I had bought some fan-photos and chekis. I was so stressed before the concert that I didn’t realize that the album they sold probably was the new “Hyakkaryouran”. I thought it was “Soul of Prey” that I already have. Now I’m really angry at myself who didn’t buy it.
– “Kachofugetsu” is the concept of this album. It is a symbolic term embodying the beauty and wonders of Japanese nature. /Ushiwaka
Anyway, during the signing session I got the opportunity to speak a little Japanese with the band. I told Shin and Yuki-mura that I was from Sweden but that I had come to Prague just to see them. Yuki-mura and Shin looked surprised and said:
– Oooh, that’s very far away!
They promised to come back and I hope we will be able to bring them to Sweden next time, ’cause this sure is a very special band who everybody with an interest for Japanese culture should be intrigued of.
By the way, it’s soon Ushiwaka’s birthday (Mars 30th). Don’t forget to congratulate him on Facebook!!!
PART DRAGON, PART BAND, ALL HAIL JAPANESE ROCK!
|Vocal: Ushiwaka (宇獅和歌)
- Vo. RYU → OROCHI(Lord Ushiwaka) → OROCHI(Ryu)
- Ba. Shin → Drop → OROCHI(support) → OROCHI
- Gt. Yukimura → OROCHI