LIVE REPORT: Starwave Fest Vol. 13 @ Shinjuku ReNY

Starwave Records is home to an amazing range of visual kei bands who all got together to celebrate the company’s 6th anniversary at “Starwave Fest Vol. 13” on March 29th at Shinjuku ReNY. With a lineup of 9 bands (plus 2 guest bands), each band had a set of 4 songs that promised a night of intense performances.


The first band to take the stage was MAJOLICA. Unfortunately for those who had come to see them, this was the band’s final performance.

Without much ado they launched straight into their set. Beginning with a heavy number that had the venue flooded in red lights.

By the third song, they had captured the attention of the audience who were waving their hands in response.

By the time they were at their 4th and final song, the crowd had been fully sucked into the performance, jumping and waving towels.

When the final note played, vocalist Kyohei dropped to the floor like a puppet with his strings cut and the curtains closed on MAJOLICA’s run as a band.

2. Calmando Qual

With the curtains still obscuring the stage, the sound of rain floated around the venue and vocalist Hibiki began to sing. An ominous bass riff thrummed in the darkness before the rest of the music came in and the curtain rose, bringing the band into view.

Throughout their set, Calmando Qual kept the pace mellow but focussed on showcasing their blend of rich, dark sounds with melodic vocals. This was highlighted especially through bassist K and drummer MAYA whose rhythm reverberated steadily through the space.

The audience were mostly still and kept their attention fixed to the stage. They ended their set with a song that got more and more frantic then Hibiki exited the stage silently, leaving the rest of the band to continue playing while the curtain slowly fell before them.

3. Fixer

Red lights flashed across the stage as Fixer took the stage, posing for their fans. The members all saluted each other before vocalist Jey came on. He surveyed the room menacingly, asserting the band’s presence, then they began.

Their first song had the crowd headbanging immediately with their fast paced riffs and guttural screaming. The band moved around freely on stage and guitarists Yuhma and Aika stood back to back for a guitar duet.

By the second song the venue had been worked into a frenzy. Fans were diving into each other and Jey got closer to the audience and started pulling the fans towards him.

At the end of the song, Jey stood on the platform and dropped backwards onto the floor before the rest of the band started headbanging. At the end of their short but intense performance, the crowd saluted the band in turn as the curtain lowered.

4. Scarlet Valse

A slow piano melody signalled the beginning of Scarlet Valse’s performance. The curtain rose with the entire band already standing on stage dressed in white. Vocalist Kakeru began the first song, telling the audience “Let’s pray” which was followed by an elegant organ melody and heavy guitar riffs.

Their fans actively participated in the performance, waving their hands and singing along. In the middle of the song, Kakeru took a moment to introduce the rest of the members: guitarists You and Jun, bassist Takuya and drummer Hiroki who all had a brief solo.

The band and the audience moved in tandem and for the second song, everything jumped back and forth, directed by the members. Their skilful blend of intricate melodies and heavy metal riffs kept the crowd on their feet and giving their all until the last moment of the performance.

5. The Sound Bee HD

The band took the stage amidst the sound of dramatic chanting that echoed across the room. In the short time afforded to them, they showed off their unique music style that seamlessly blended techno flavor with heavy metal riffs in the first song.

From the start, they had the whole venue letting loose and headbanging. Their second number was more melodic with a rapid fire guitar solo from guitarist Yuu which was offset by an underlying hip-hop beat.

Vocalist Daisuke showed off his impressive vocal range in the third song which had a very symphonic metal sound.

They finished with another unforgivingly heavy number that had the crowd cheering and screaming with their hands in the air until the final note.

6. nüe

Next up was nüe, who changed the atmosphere with their stripped down but strong stage presence. Their first song was “mother”. The strong bassline blended perfectly with Taketoshi Tajima’s soft but emotional vocal delivery.

They picked up the pace in the next song, getting the crowd’s energy up again and giving guitarist Ine a chance to show off his skills. Their 3rd song was accompanied by deep red and pink lights. Together with the jazzy bass and drums, it gave off a very sultry vibe.

During the guitar solo, Taketoshi Tajima attempted a headstand but couldn’t make it and settled for a cartwheel instead. He admitted later that this was something he had being trying to do during performances for a while so their fans were used to it. For their final song, the stage went dark with the only illumination coming from dim blue lights. Together with the steady instrumentals and the soft vocals, it gave the impression of being gently submerged underwater. When it was over, they exited the stage in silence followed immediately by the fans' cheers and applause.

7. Tokami

Clad in black, the members of Tokami took the stage. Without hesitation they immediately began with a violent performance. Throughout their performance, the band kept the energy levels high and had everyone in the room moving constantly. Vocalist Agato switched easily between death growls, high pitched squeals and melodic deliveries.

During their second song, the crowd all crouched down on the ground clapping their hands. Agato counted down, “3, 2, 1.” and then they all jumped into the air and continued to jump to the beat. Their last song threw the venue into a frenzy. Red and white lights flashed blindingly and the crowd clashed in a mosh pit of flailing limbs and flying hair. They alternated between holding hands and headbanging in a circle, to running back and forth across the room, to diving over each other in gyaku dive. The members kept interacting with the fans and encouraging them to go even crazier. Not satisfied with that, Agato left guitarist K to handle the growls and screams then jumped right into the crowd. He prowled through the audience pulling fans into the mosh pit and getting more people to let loose until it dissolved into pure pandemonium.

8. Synk;yet

With the room still buzzing from the previous performance, powerhouse band Synk;yet took the stage. They began with a solid performance that highlighted the band’s melodic instrumentals as well as liki’s strong vocals. The audience participated by waving their hands and doing “blooming” furitsuke. The second song kicked up the pace getting the crowd to go crazy again. liki paced up and down the length of the stage. Their third song continued to build up the energy which climaxed in one of their most popular songs, “Messiah”. During the piano bridge, liki thanked the audience for their participation and each of the members got a moment in the spotlight with a solo.

After the final chorus, without leaving the stage, all of the other bands came on for a joint session. Kakeru (Scarlet Valse) assisted liki in singing and everyone attempted a joint performance. With the sheer number of bands on stage however, all order was thrown to the wind and it became a free for all. Groups of band-men started throwing others up into the air in time to the music and everyone decided to have fun messing around. All while the crowd was going wild.

9. Misaruka

When the stage was empty again, Misaruka ended the intense round of performances with a passionate mini-show of their own. The members all ran onto the stage and began getting the crowd hyped up, pumping their fists to the music. Their first song was upbeat and highlighted vetchie’s strong drumming.

Next up was “Juliet” which began with a slow intro and flooded the stage in soft blue and white light. The crowd responded with elegant furitsuke, waving their arms in time with the music. During rin’s guitar solo, they all dropped to their knees with their arms outstretched towards the band.

After the second song, they took a moment to thank the fans again before continuing with the last two songs of the night. Despite standing through all the performances before that, the fans still gave their all in response to Misaruka’s energy. They moshed and waved their hands and knelt during every solo, showing their appreciation. The band responded in kind and the night closed with a high note sung by rui that he held until the very end of the music.

Photographer: Takuya Orita
Thank you to Starwave Records for this opportunity!
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