LIVE REPORT: Visual Japan Summit Day 2 @ Makuhari Messe Part 1

Day two of the massive Visual Japan Summit organized by X Japan and sponsored by Rakuten, promised to be an unforgettable one. Being able to win over a crowd that diverse was one of the biggest challenges of the day. However, the bands stepped up to the challenge and made the day an incredible experience.


The first up was newcomers VALS on the VISUAL stage. Produced by vocalist Mao from SID, tatsuo and Charisma Kantaro, the “V-kei dance band” kicked off the festivities. Their first song “deuce” was a burst of techno and dubstep beats layered over upbeat rock riffs.

Despite their tough position of being first in a long lineup, their dancers on either side of the stage swaying in time to the music made them easy to remember. Their second song was “Silhouette”, which had a darker sound than the previous number and brought to mind classic 90’s era visual kei. It was accompanied by blue lights and the sound of the bass was deep and clear.

After a quick MC where they welcomed the crowd, the band ended with “Tsukihi”. This time the beat was punchy and bright orange lights flooded the stage. The fans gathered to see them pumped their fists in the air in time to the music, staying lively until the end.

  1. deuce
  2. Silhouette (シルエット)
  3. Tsukihi (月陽)


Before the curtain even opened, attention switched to the JAPAN stage when ASH DA HERO began vocalizing as his band tuned. The curtain opened and the first song, “You Gotta Power” had the crowd sitting up and taking notice. ASH’s gritty vocals and the straightforward, powerful guitar riffs instantly brought to mind classic 80’s rock and roll. All the songs had a heavy, feel-good rock sound and ASH had just the right amount of charisma to pull it off. He was constantly in motion, twirling the mic stand, strutting around the stage, headbanging and interacting with his band members who were equally fired up. He picked up a tambourine for the second song, “WAKE UP ROCK AND ROLL BAND” and played it with enthusiasm until it broke in half. Flinging it away casually, he continued with his performance, ordering the crowd to crouch low on the ground. The crowd obeyed and he counted down 3, 2, 1 and everyone launched themselves into the air and kept jumping.

The third song, “HERO IS BACK 2” started with a scream followed by heavy riffs. The performance was hard and fast, pulling the audience along. The song had a beat that occasionally blended into a ska inspired sound and ended with a wailing guitar solo.

He continued with “Hankou Seimei” and finally “HELLO FUTURE”. ASH and the band kept the crowd engaged till the last note and finished their solid performance on a high.

  1. You Gotta Power
  4. Hankou Seimei (反抗声明)


It was back to the VISUAL stage with FEST VAINQUEUR. The curtain opened and vocalist HAL was standing in the middle of the stage holding one of hide’s signature model guitars high in the air. Their fans had come out to support them and their first “Valencia to Virginia” was bright and catchy.

They paused for an early MC as HAL welcomed the crowd. He did a call and response, getting their energy up before they continued with their second song, “Higanbana ~Oiran Dochu~”. HAL held a folding fan over his head, waving it in time to the music, which had a traditional Japanese melody. Members of the crowd came prepared, pulling out similar fans and following suit.

“Gendaiteki Giwaku Toshi 'DOUBT!'” was meant to get the crowd going wild. Guitarists GAKU and I’LL played rapid riffs as white lights flashed across the stage, prompting the crowd to headbang with abandon. The band played the riffs repeatedly as HAL kept encouraging the crowd to go crazier and crazier.

The fans grabbed their towels for the last song, “NANIWA SAMBA” and twirled them in the air as they jumped to the music. Unfortunately, with such a long day ahead, FEST VAINQUEUR was forced to cut their performance short because they had run out of time.

  1. Valencia to Virginia (ヴァレンシアとヴァージニア)
  2. Higanbana ~Oiran Dochu~ (ヒガンバナ~花魁道中~)
  3. Gendaiteki Giwaku Toshi 'DOUBT!' (現代的疑惑都市'DOUBT!)


Grieva set the mood for their performance immediately, opening with deep purple lights and sweeping, ominous music. The band entered the stage looking dramatic in all black and they began with “Jiko seishin satsugai suishinkai”.

As expected, the song was intensely heavy and dark. The crowd let loose headbanging and aggressively pumping their fists. Vocalist Kyouki screamed out “Kill! Kill! Kill!” and the crowd chanted along with him. Their next song “Liar...” was more melodic but just as heavy as the first, keeping the crowd fired up.

The band paused for a quick MC and then moved on to their next song, “Shitou -from GRIEVA-”. Opening with slow, heavy riffs, the tension built up in the crowd then the audience threw themselves forward headbanging. Grieva continued their intense set with their final song “Dead[en]D”. The crowd matched their pace and continued to scream, chant and pump their fists in the air.

  1. Jiko seishin satsugai suishinkai (自己精神殺害推進會)
  2. Liar...
  3. Shitou -from GRIEVA- (死闘-from GRIEVA-)
  4. Dead[en]D


The only women in the entire three-day lineup, Aldious took the VISUAL stage ready to rock. Their elegant hostess-style dresses and makeup provided a perfect contrast to their fast-paced, no-holds-barred heavy sound.

They started with “Kikka” and followed with “Sweet Temptation”. Guitarists Yoshi and Toki maintained perfect concentration as they headbanged in a perfect circle, hair flying every which way, getting the crowd to go wilder.

Their last two songs was “THE END” and “Dominator”. Their fans were energetic, pumping their fists in the air and headbanging. “Dominator” set an aggressive pace with its intense riffs and fast paced drums. It was balanced nicely with vocalist Re:No’s soft, melodic voice. With her platinum hair and white dress, she looked ethereal standing in the spotlight. Their energy and power proved that girls in visual kei could thrash just as hard as the guys.

  1. Kikka (菊花)
  2. Sweet Temptation
  3. THE END
  4. Dominator


Sweeping lights illuminated the stage as vocalist Sono’s unmistakable vibrato kicked off Matenrou Opera’s performance. The band began with “BURNING SOUL”. The crowd gathered to watch them was the largest of the day so far and the band had effortlessly pulled the audience into their performance.

They paused after the first song then resumed with their cover of X Japan’s “Kurenai”. This was a song that they had already covered in a tribute album but it was definitely worth hearing live.

Sono’s voice was well matched for the high pitch of the original song and the crowd gathered there waved penlights and cheered in appreciation. The addition of Ayame’s keyboard playing gave it a unique twist while still remaining true to the spirit of the original.

Their last two songs, “Psychic Paradise” and “PHOENIX” were played in succession and were solid performances. Although it was only a short set, they were a strong testament to the band’s considerable technical skills and performing power during shows.

  2. Kurenai (紅)
  3. Psychic Paradise


The first band to take the grand SUMMIT stage was A9. The crowd quickly shuffled from one end of the venue to the next, gathering in anticipation. Before the band could come out, Tatsuro from MUCC and George from LADIESROOM came out as emcees to get the crowd hyped up.

“You guys wanna see some pretty boys?”

The crowd responded with a loud, “Yes!”

“I guess we’re no good right?”

Laughter filled the room at that but the crowd’s request was soon answered as the A9 logo flashed over the stage. All the members save for Show took the stage. They were all dressed in white and glowed under the blue lights. Hiroto began a gentle opening melody and when he was done, Show came out. Their first song “Senkou” had the crowd pumping their fists and responding enthusiastically. The members all made good use of the stage, moving around to get the crowd even more excited.

They kept the dynamic energy going with “SHINING” and paused for a quick chat with the crowd after. Show mentioned how Hiroto had played with X Suginami and they were all so grateful to be part of this along with so many bands they admire.

Next up was “RAINBOWS” but before they could start, they made sure to teach the crowd the pose and jump so the whole room could take part. The performance was upbeat and a perfect choice to get the whole crowd dancing. “Shunkashuutou” was a cute performance and all the members had huge smiles on their faces, waving along with the crowd. Groups of fans gathered in circles dancing together.

They closed off with “the beautiful name”. The instruments sounded rich and rang out clearly through the room. The lyrics to the song were displayed on the three large screens overhead and the crowd sang along with the band until the end.

M1. Senkou (閃光)
M4. Shunkashuutou (春夏秋冬)
M5. the beautiful name


The crowd was ready to rock when defspiral showed up on the VISUAL stage. “VOYAGE” was their first song, mixing traditional Japanese melodies with heavy guitar riffs. Vocalist Taka’s rich voice carried easily across the venue and he gestured dramatically with his hands as he sang.

They moved immediately to “SILVER ARROW” which required a bit more energy from the crowd. The band got the audience ready to go with a rousing call and response then continued with “MASQUERADE”. The crowd were jumping and dancing to the beat and bright purple and green lights flashed across the stage.

Instead of keeping the energy upbeat, the band chose to end their set with “ESTRELLA”, a melodic ballad and one of their latest releases. The performance was dramatic and did a great job of displaying the band’s impressive skills.



Next up was THE THIRTEEN. Before the curtain had even opened vocalist Mao released a shout from behind the curtain. They were ready to go. They began with “LIAR LIAR”, one of their newest songs. The new band had built up a fair amount of enthusiasm leading up to their debut this year and so despite the relatively short time they had been active, the crowd gathered to watch was extremely hyped up and energetic. They all pumped their fists to the beat and chanted along with the band. They were singing an aggressive version of the children's "Yubikiri" rhyme which was unnerving to hear.

They continued with “CHAINSAW” which, true to its name was accompanied by heavy thrashing riffs from guitarist Mizuki. They immediately followed with “13’s BLOOD”. The band had undoubtedly picked a set that was going to keep the crowd going crazy the entire time.

Their final song “KILLER MAY” had a very upbeat sound and guitarist Mizuki was dancing along with the crowd as he played. The support band joined Mao in singing along to the chorus. The band and their fans continued to go hard and fast, finishing their set in a burst unbridled enthusiasm,

  3. 13's BLOOD


The band entered the SUMMIT stage and kicked off their set with “Irogoto”. Tadashi’s strong bass intro reverberated through the venue. The dark screen behind the band slowly filled with a dark red color that contrasted sharply with the blue and green lights on stage. The performance was hard and mellow at the same time.

They followed with “Melancholic” which had the crowd pumping their fists and the band grouped together jamming on the stage. Ryutaro had a quick chat with the crowd in between then they continued with “Fukuro” which started simple and progressed into heavy riffs. The screen overhead showed an acid-colored video of owls flying outside a wall filled with windows. At the chorus, the glass shattered and the owls swarmed in. It was yet another good contrast for the band’s stripped down performing style.

Ryutaro told the crowd, “Let’s dance!” as the intro for “Mime” filled the venue. Multicolored lights flashed on the stage and the members all fanned out across the wide stage. Ryutaro kept twirling in circles while Tadashi and Akira were jumping to the beat, clearly having fun.

They said their goodbyes before playing their final song, “Kuchuu Buranko”. Ken-ken’s drumming shone through in this performance as he pounded out the distinct beats of the song. Circus imagery flashed on the screen in negative color. Ryutaro stood at the center of the stage moving jerkily like a marionette. The members poured their focus into playing, ending their set on a resounding note.

  1. Irogoto (イロゴト)
  2. Melancholic (メランコリック)
  3. Fukuro(梟)
  4. Mime (マイム)
  5. Kuchuu Buranko (空中ブランコ)

Continue to Part 2 here!
Photos © VISUAL JAPAN SUMMIT 2016 Powered by Rakuten.
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