Live Report: Rides in ReVellion @ Anime USA 2016

Last October, the symphonic and electronic rockers of Rides in ReVellion made their debut U.S. appearance at Anime USA in Washington, DC. Although they are still a very new band, they've made a special effort to reach out and build a global fanbase. Despite how new on the scene they might be, the band made a great first impression on the fans and attendees with their charming personalities and a surprisingly robust live performance.

The night before the concert, the band got to meet their fans in a fun "RIR Let's Play" session at the convention. The band members faced off against their fans in a series of fun competitive games like arm wrestling and hot potato. Some of the most hilarious moments came from two of the zanier games. In "Suck It Up", a band member and a fan would compete with straws to suck up and move pieces of construction paper from the center of a table to their side. "Honey, I Love You" required a band member to attempt to make a fan laugh by standing very close to them and goofily (or in some cases seductively) stating the phrase "Honey...I love you!" It was a fun night that the fans in attendance thoroughly enjoyed. The following day the band hosted a fan panel, where they answered questions about themselves and their music. The members were very open and entertaining while answering the questions, and everyone in attendance had a good time.

That night, a decent-sized crowd gathered in the Thurgood Marshall Ballroom, inside of the Washington Marriott Park Hotel where the convention was taking place. Although the majority of the audience members were curious convention attendees looking to check out a new band, the front rail was lined with dedicated fans. This took me by surprise: it really speaks to the band's appeal and the effectiveness of their global-facing image to already have such dedicated fans on the other side of the world, ready and waiting for them to come and perform.

As the lights dimmed, a slow and gentle piano melody played. It was followed by an epic orchestral instrumental, which played as the members strode onto the stage one after the other. At the climax fo the instrumental, vocalist KuRo shouted out an introduction, and the band began playing "-CHAIN-", one of their first releases. The song functioned as a solid introduction to everything that Rides in ReVellion is about: elegant symphonic rock music soaked in juicy electronic bliss. KuRo took a strong lead as he sang the romantic melodies of the song, while guitarist TaJI and bassist Nagisa played their instruments with a variety of confident, flowing movements . Drummer Ame joyfully pounded out the catchy rhythms that drove the song forward. These behaviors by each of the band members persisted throughout the entire concert, and combined to create a powerful on-stage personality that kept the audience engaged throughout. Following "-CHAIN-", the band immediately transitioned into "Shien", a powerful song that excited everyone in the room and served as a strong way to kick off the show.

After mixing things up with the energetic "RAIN" and the slick "Close.", the band paused to address the crowd. "Hey Anime USA! What's up?!" shouted vocalist KuRo. "We are Rides in ReVellion from Japan! Everyone will love Rides in ReVellion tonight!" Since the concert was being hosted by an anime convention, the band made sure to include a song to fit the event. "Are you ready?! We'll play our favorite anime song from Japan!" As soon as the song began, delighted cheers rang up from the audience: they immediately recognized the melodic opening of "A Cruel Angel's Thesis", the theme of the anime Evangelion. Rides in ReVellion's rendition fit perfectly with the theme of the song: elegant and energetic. Ame and Nagisa stoked the energy of the crowd throughout the song. KuRo passionately sang as blue lights flashed around the room, lighting up the fans as they clapped and sang along to the lyrics of the famous song.

The lights changed to red and the band began to play "Akanezora". Although this song is closer to a ballad than most of the songs that had been played so far, the fans stayed excited and engaged, pumping their fists to the rapid tempo of the drums. The tempo of the concert became slower still with "Amnesia", a captivating ballad with a delicate electronic overlay and a sound that is especially characteristic of a Rides in ReVellion song. The powerful vibrato vocals and and delicate instruments of "Amnesia" clearly resonated with the audience: arms were swaying back and forth throughout the song, and some fans were so excited that they started jumping as the chorus was played, in spite of the song being a ballad. At this point the crowd was gradually (but noticeably) increasing in size as the band's music drew people in from the rest of the convention. As the lights turned green, the band returned to a heavier tone by treating the audience to "Sense", an unreleased song. Nagisa and TaJI looked visibly rejuvenated by the heavier tone, and began to stoke the crowd's enthusiasm to new heights. Several male fans even started waving their shirts in the air. The heavier vibe was able to draw in some of the new arrivals and curious spectators, who started to dance along in the back.

After the song ended, the band kept playing while KuRo addressed the band for an MC that served as a formal (and flair-filled) introduction to the band. "Hey what's up! USA is GREAT!" he yelled, receiving a chorus of screams in response. "We're a Japanese visual kei band. The U.S.—how are we doing?!" He then moved across the stage and introduced each of the band members: "He's...crazy drummer AME! He's....very very sexy bassist, NAGISA! He's....very very very very great guitarist, TAJI!" As he made introductions, each band member showed off their skills: Ame with a drum solo, then Nagisa with an added bass riff, and finally TaJI with a jazzy guitar solo. KuRo finished the introductions with himself: "And I am KURO! Yell out my name! Come on! More! More! Are you ready?!"

At this point, the instrumental-backed MC session had reached a crescendo, and the band used the momentum to transfer into their most popular single. "Eternal ~Katsubou no Sora~" may seem like a relatively light song, but when Rides in ReVellion began to play it live the audience energetically jumped and clapped to the hook. With the exception of some volume distortion, the live performance of "Eternal ~Katsubou no Sora~" sounded exactly the same as the recorded version. Flashing blue lights accompanied the dubstep-drenched breakdown, which sent the band and crowd into a headbanging, fist-pumping frenzy. TaJI's expertly-executed guitar solo brought the audience back to earth before reintroducing the chorus. It really was a high point of the concert to see the band and audience full of energy and joy throughout this song.

The band smoothly transitioned out of "Eternal ~Katsubou no Sora~" and into "MIRAGE -toxical love story-", a much more chaotic song that illustrates their heavier side. The frenetic breakdowns sounded glorious live and almost instantly engaged the crowd. Each breakdown shook the audience, and as the bass resonated in their chests it was impossible for them to stand still. The wild and engaging performance during this song one of the best parts of the show. During the much heavier and energetic songs played that night, TaJI and Nagisa would frequently switch spots on the stage, and KuRo's piercing screams would reach a high enough pitch to be heard in the hotel lobby outside. The loud responses from the crowd during wilder songs like "MIRAGE -toxical love story-" made it clear that these types of songs were the most desired by the fans in the audience. Despite all of the different elements involved, Rides in ReVellion's more chaotic songs translate excellently into an organic live performance.

Having built up tremendous momentum, the band shifted gears and launched into the powerful and triumphant "Rosé". Blue lights flashed onstage, and heavy electronic music served as the backdrop for equally heavy instrumentals. KuRo had mentioned in our interview (read it here) earlier that day that one of his inspirations is Whitney Houston, and this influence is very evident throughout "Rosé". The soulful vibe of his vocals combined with the metal instrumentals in the background to present the illusion of a lighter song, resulting in an anthemic banger that took the audience to new heights of excitement.

As "Rosé" ended, KuRo stoked the audience a bit more with a brief call-and-response ("RIDES IN?!" "REVELLION!"), before announcing the last song, "Seirios". Anxious to hear the band's latest single, the fans in the crowd cheered as Rides in ReVellion transitioned dramatically into the song. As the crowd jumped and danced to the elegant song, the spotlight highlighted the individual band members for their solos one last time. Nagisa and TaJI stood back-to-back in a small guitar/bass battle during the climax of the song. The band closed out the song with intense screaming and instrumental thrashing. KuRo repeated his earlier call and response with the audience, then shouted: "Thank you so much! We'll definitely return so we can meet again. THANK YOU!" before throwing up a pair of devil horns. Clearly thrilled with how the concert went, the band members gracefully walked off stage to the sound of cheers from the audience.

Rides in ReVellion really came into their own that night. On a stage on the other side of the world from home, they enchanted their fans and made new ones out of the rest of the crowd that attended.  Despite being such a young band, their stage presence was well executed. It also was clear that the band members had the time of their lives. Ame in particular could be seen making a variety of playful and joyful expressions throughout the concert. With a bright smile and puffy cheeks, he put all of his emotions on display, and drummed with an air of excitement that enhanced the mood of the show. The audience seemed to be quite blown away by the performance; I don't think a lot of people (even the fans) expected such a full and engaging set from such a new band. Rides in ReVellion is a band that places a strong impression on engaging their global fans, and by making such a strong first impression here in the U.S., they've taken the next step on the long road to global recognition and acclaim.

Shien (紫煙)
A Cruel Angel's Thesis (Rides in ReVellion Version)
Akanezora (茜空)
Sense (unreleased track)
Eternal ~Katsubou no Sora~ (Eternal~渇望の空~)
MIRAGE-toxical love story-

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