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Dir en Grey in Los Angeles

Dir en Grey in Los Angeles

Written by: Vori Salzman

My plane got in to LAX at 11:30 am on Thursday, and I got
picked up about 45 minutes later after a ridiculously long
wait for our plane to get a parking spot. Taren got me and
took me back to her sister's apartment, where I changed into
my rockin' shirt that apparently REALLY showed off my bewbies
(as evidenced by the myriad of photos that Taren and Li-chan
took ARGH) and some makeups. At that point I'd already been
awake for 15 hours, having got up at 3:30 a.m., and tired as hell.
But why not. I got a nap in the car as we booked it through
Koreatown (wtf? Koreatown??) and got a spot in the "parking
structure" right beside the Wiltern.

It was about 2:30. So we waited. And we stood on the sidewalk,
and we waited. It wasn't as hot as I'd expected, and there
were a great lot of people there already. Eventually we heard
a rumor that only the first 200-250 people would get into the
pit, and since I hadn't looked around, I decided to go up the
line and start counting.
The girl in the front of the line, of course, had been there
since 8 am the PREVIOUS morning.
The guys behind her had been there since ELEVEN. Well, guys, that's
great and all, but I just couldn't skip those classes or get an
earlier flight. -_-. I was surprised by the amount of 1.Asians and
2.Guys. I shouldn't have been, I guess, because it was 1. California
and 2. A rock band.
Of course, there were beautiful fucking people in line that made me
feel like i was dressed like a fuckin' middle-schooler. There was
everything from perfect Goth-Lolita, to perfect cosplay (I saw the
dancing Kyo with the blood in his mouth too, and he looked great. I
hung there for a minute to get a high-five, and he was either so
assholish or so into his dance that he didn't pay me any
attention for a little while, but I got one. Well guess what, Kyoguy,
I wasn't hitting on you. I was trying to congratulate your outfit.),
to people dressed punk, dressed up, dressed down, and I even saw one
guy in jalapeno-patterned pajama pants.

I didn't talk to many people there, but walking around and watching
everyone holding down the sidewalk, looking at the HOT FREAKING ASIANS
with their lip/ear/nose chains and angelic faces and perfect bodies,
listening to people laugh and stumble around, seeing the fatigue on
the faces--exactly balanced out by anticipation so keen they were
obviously near death--I realized again that I was part of something
huge. Something so beautiful, fueled by so much passion and grasping
love, that I could barely comprehend it. I mean, I flew in from
fucking South Carolina to stand in that line, and others may have come
from further--and that can be literal or metaphorical.

We saw the Opiate bandmembers walk past, carrying some takeout
food. They looked totally thirty years old--one guy wearing
painted-on pants with a belt buckle that said OPIATE,
and he was lookin like a Billy Idol. The guy with him had long
dreads and sunglasses. Blondy boy glanced over the crowd,
nodded a little like he liked what he was seeing, and said
something like "All right, nice." They went down the
hill-driveway into the back of the Wiltern.

Taren and Li-chan went up to the car to put away Li's camera, and they
told us when they came back that they could HEAR Dir en grey warming
up. They could hear Kyo singing from up high on the parking structure,
second level and such. "He sounds AWESOME," Taren gasped, but I didn't
go up. I was exhausted.


The traffic going by--trucks, buses, little cars--STARED at us. I
don't think I saw a single car go by where the driver wasn't
committing a serious Rubbernecking violation. But we got in. We all
got in eventually, didn't we? It got dark suddenly, and a little
chilly. Someone staggered by, looking drunk. Three hobos asked for
cash and I gave them the most dead look I could muster. The line
surged forward, and everyone cheered, and then it stopped... then
surged again, scream, and stop... The screams ripped out of the
Wiltern, rolled down the block, tore around the corner and flew down
the crowd of people for another few blocks before reaching the end of
the line (wherever THAT was).

The sun was down, having cut the skyscrapers in half with gold and
deep grey half an hour ago, and then the lights of Denny's came on,
ruining colors and bathing peoples' left sides with green and red
neon. Everyone milled around, getting tighter, holding one another,
personal boundaries gone as we all surged
mentally, before physically, toward those doors. Security made us take
everything out of our pockets and they stared at our asses, looking
for cameras, and then I was in.

I didn't get to mention it but we were approximately the 330th people
in line.

So of course we weren't in the actual Pit, right in front of the
stage, but..
we were Near the front of the second (non-pit) level, near the bar,
right in front of Toshiya. Taren and I were a few people back when
Opiate for the Masses started playing, and it
WOULD have been an excellent view, except that all of the tallest
people I've ever seen were standing in front of me and I'm 5'2".
There was a tall guy beside me with one white contact and a
black-and-white striped sweater, dark hair and a headband. To my left
was a tall Asian guy who was painfully attractive, ALSO with one white
contact, some rings, and makeup he didn't need to look good. Daim.
Of course, after a short time the crowd started to shift--and PUSH.

I screamed as people started shoving, crushing me, literally, until I
couldn't breathe. Everyone in front of me screamed
"OHHHHAHAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHH!!" as the people behind us shoved like the
ocean against a cliff. (it was awesome). I understood, then, how
STAMPEDES work--my feet weren't even
touching the ground, I couldn't see, I couldn't BREATHE, and it was
starting to really, really get HOT. The air simply wasn't circulating
below forehead-level (to me, anyway, but I guess the tall fuckers were
fine), even though they had misty-things pouring out cool, moist air.

Opiate for the Masses was tolerable, and they seemed to rock, but I
wasn't really feeling it. Nobody honestly was. I still could barely
move and could NOT SEE, except when the extremely-fucking-tall boy in
the white shirt, with blonde hair down to his elbows moved over a
little bit so I had a 2-inc-square window over someone's shoulder--IF
I jumped up and the girls in front of us, with gigantic poofy hair,
bent down a little. (Which they only did SOMETIMES. Thanks, girls.)

But Opiate left eventually, after yelling "ADD US ON MYSPACE! FUCK
YEAH!!!" and we clapped and said "woo," but that was as good as they
were going to get. They should be glad we didn't boo them off the
stage. Some tour-staff came onstage and started setting up. There were
cameras everywhere, as we had been informed by the gigantic sign
outside reading "THIS SHOW IS BEING RECORDED FOR THE TOUR DVD." "SO
FUCKING BEHAVE", is what they meant to say. In fact, a rumor had been
going around the line that the NY crowd had been taking photos,
crowdsurfing and moshing, and Diru got really pissed off and said that
they didn't want to come back again. So, all right, we'll behave.

The lights went off, and a sign or banner fell down to the back wall
of the stage, and it said DIRENGREY and everyone SCREAMED. The lights
flashed and flickered, and GDS started playing. Every hand in that
auditorium was balled into a tight fist and slamming the air, and
every voice was screaming "KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!" right along with
the beat. The community pulse was up, and energy was running through
the crowd like lightning.But it was nothing like the screaming that
happened when suddenly Shinya walked out onto the stage. He actually
looked like he'd been eating lately, with long dark hair with a thick
swatch of blonde by his face.
(At this point, if my descriptions lack a little, it's because I
couldn't see a goddamn thing, and could only glimpse about a third of
the stage at a time when people shifted aside.)

Then, with no warning and no transition, the rest of the band seemed
to materialize on the stage.

I was on the Kaoru side of the stage, which is pretty fucking much
where I wanted to be. I saw him, saw him walk, and the face that has
been burned into my mind for FIVE YEARS was in front of me, only about
twenty yards away, moving, breathing, and I screamed. I had to. He was
REAL, and that's the part that's hard to communicate. I wasn't looking
at three-month-old magazine scans. I wasn't looking at grainy
70-dpi .jpgs. I wasn't watching tiny online videos of lives, or even h
i-res PV's. This was THEM, and they are REAL.
Kaoru was wearing black and black, a collared shirt with sleeves
rolled up. His hair was absolutely beautiful, dark but not black, with
a sort of greenish cast the way it looks when you dye dark-brown over
blonde. In any case, it was floating-soft, smooth around his face, and
his _expression was very serene. He looked happy to be there with his
guitar with its woodgrain design.
Toshiya was wearing a white jacket and pants, and a black-and-white
striped shirt or sweater. From where I was standing, he looked pretty
good. I couldn't see Die at all, and Kyo came out in all black as
well, with a collared shirt and jacket over it. He walked out into the
middle of the stage and just stood there. He tilted his head, looking
at us with one eye, standing casually, turned his head and looked down
at us all, and the crowd was screaming LOUDER THAN OPIATE HAD BEEN
PLAYING.

They launched directly into "Clever Sleazoid", and everyone
was screaming every word to every song. The lights flashed,
not a big venue, not too technological, but by GOD we were
there and we were pouring our hearts out to them, our voices,
our hands stretching toward the stage. We flicked up the horns
at the tiny man on the stage. The air was cool, what bit of
it I could suck out of the ceiling, and the lights were blue,
green, spiked with red. I could barely see. I was standing in
the shadow of these tall people, and the guitars were ripping
through the air, the speakers vibrating everything inside my
chest. I no longer had a heartbeat. The music in the air was
pumping it for me, boring into my veins, my ribs shaking with
the bass and the drums, my lungs trembling when I exhaled and
vibrating almost intolerably when I breathed in the terribly
hot, stale air. I couldn't even get my arm up to rock. My feet
were barely touching the floor, and my body was pinned between
the people around me, held up by the force of the hundreds of
people who just wanted to get closer to our gods on the stage.

From the first instant, the crowd was in his hand. We
would do anything for him. When he came onstage, he tapped his
hand against his heart and said something, perhaps "WELCOME!",
but I couldn't understand it. He told us to sing and we
screamed until our throats ripped. He told us 'one more time'
and we would have done it a thousand more. He told us to rock,
and we broke our own necks. If he had pointed to someone in
the mezzanine and told them, "Jump," they would have done it
in an instant. I can't describe how much
charisma Kyo has on the stage. I couldn't NOT look
at him. I tried not to--I looked at Kaoru, standing like a
careless angel, serene and smiling so slightly. I looked at
Shinya (when I could), flailing his arms so FUCKING FAST I
couldn't see them. I looked at Toshiya, bent over his bass,
grinning, making faces at the crowd. But Kyo OWNED us all.

We all turned our faces up to breathe, to see, and the stage
lights struck like a mask cast by the shapes of the bodies in
front. We turned our faces up as if Kyo was the source of the
air and we were drowning in the wrenching, deafening music.
Every hand was stretched toward him, grasping the lights and
the mist, hands trembling, waving, fists, horns, trying to
give him with our hands what we wanted to give with our bodies
and our blood.

He writhed on the stage, as if he had something painful in his
chest that he was trying to grasp and rip out of himself. He
spasmed and threw his head back as he sang, his small body
contorting with the force of his incredible voice.
Something seemed wrong with the sound levels at first, because
Kyo was drowned out by one of the guitars, and sounded a
little offkey. However they fiddled with it and it was fixed a
few songs in.
Some girl down in the pit had a Gremlin doll and was holding
it up the ENTIRE TIME at Kyo, which was ridiculous, but every
time I saw Kyo thrashing on the stage, or Kaoru lift his head
and lick his teeth, or Toshiya fling his hair out of his eyes,
I was entranced once more.
A small girl had come in with us, Stormy, who looked about 17
years old. She had gigantic eyes and weighed all of a hundred
pounds, sans bracelets and hair dye, and since she was alone
Taren said she could rock out with us. But even before they
started playing "dead tree" Stormy (who was even SHORTER than
me, crushed against my back, and couldn't reach the cooler air
above our heads) started to sag a little. I looked away from
the stage and her blonde head lolled onto my shoulder. Then
suddenly she collapsed--but didn't fall, because we were
packed so tightly. I grabbed her waist and lifted her chin,
looking into her eyes. They were open and rolling back in her
head. I was supporting deadweight.
"IS SHE OKAY?" Taren screamed at me from two people over.
"NO! SHE FAINTED!" I yelled back. Taren immediately reached
over, grabbed her around the chest, and started dragging her
backward, kicking people out of the way and shouting at them
to move.
"YOU STAY THERE!" she yelled at me, and I was more than
willing to comply. If she thought I was gonna give up that
spot, she was dreadfully wrong.
I had my hands on the shoulders of the guy in front of me, a
stone giant of a guy wearing an orange sweater. He wasn't
MOVING. He didn't dance, he didn't sing, he didn't air-fist,
he didn't scream or bounce. He was planted and I clung to
him for dear life. Once Taren left I was able to see a
little better, since everyone shifted a little, and by holding
on to Orange guy, I could get my arms up to rock and rest them
on his shoulders when they got tired. And oh, they got tired.

I screamed every word I knew. During what i think was probably
"Merciless Cult" or "Itoshisa ha fuhai ni tsuki", he pulled a
pin or razor blade off his shirt as the music played and held
it in his mouth while he lost his jacket and pulled his shirt
open. He wasn't singing--there was a small instrumental point,
and he used the object to cut his chest, over his heart. He
dragged it across his skin at least twice. I could see the
blood oozing even from where I was. He pulled his hand through
it, smearing it across his chest. Then he put the fingers of
his left hand into his mouth, paused, and then ripped his hand
out. He did the same on the other side, letting his head sag
as his chest and stomach heaved. The crowd was SHRIEKING,
cheering, wanting his blood and his pain. The look on his face
was the most intense thing I've ever witnessed. Kyo looked as
if the world's suffering was upon him and he would tear
himself apart before we left, by God.
He threw his head back and breathed deeply, standing on his
step, then coughed once, then spat a wad of blood onto his
face. He let it fall down his face, trickling down his jaw and
neck. He seemed to be trembling. I think the entire crowd was
as well. When he lowered his head, looking dazed, he drew his
hand across his face and smeared his own blood from eye to jaw.

And when "dead tree" started--lights becoming blue, the mist
thicker, Kyo standing up on his little step--I knew we were in
for something brilliant. And oh, were we. He lost his shirt
pretty quickly, then slid his hand down into the waistband of
his leather pants. He undulated, moving slowly like a serpent
in the blue light, singing low, and he pushed his pants
down--and down--and dowwwnnn--- below his hipbones, right up
to the point where I swear to god, if I weren't wearing
glasses my eyes would have bugged right out of my head. O_O
THE CROWD LOST ITS FUCKING MIND. I gripped the shoulder of
Orange guy so hard I think I broke his scapula, and
immediately felt bad about it, but he didn't even flinch. I
wondered briefly if he was dead or an android. But then Kyo
pushed his hand down his pants and did a little
crotch-rubbing, and blew everything out of my mind except the
fact that I was THERE and he was being a DIRTY
ROCK STAR. :D
He bounded off that step, spasming and jerking all over the
stage, the crowd shrieking, singing the chorus, air-fisting,
and without a breath or a pause they rolled right into "THE
FINAL", the lights went red, and the crowd was cranked up
another notch in their incredible energy.
I was headbanging and rocking out as hard as I could, trying
to ignore the fat guy behind me who was using the entire back
of my body as his personal humping wall. He also knew all the
words and was shouting them into my left ear, and completely
disregarded my presence with his assholish arm movements. He
was literally reaching around my head to airfist and put up
horns, smashing my head with his upper arm, and sticking
his elbow in my ear. I turned around and hit him a few times,
but he was in his own little world. For REAL. And he was UGLY
to boot. >.< When the chorus of THE FINAL came, as people had
organized, bunches of people broke their red glowsticks and
held them up. Immediately security was there, taking them
away. That kind of pissed me off. I understand that they were
recording, but what's horrifying about glowsticks? What's
next, no safety pins and no shoes??
But I sang, and I rocked out, and I was on my toes for most of
the show so I could see. I screamed until my throat burned.
security came around a couple of times, pouring
half-paper-cups of water that got passed back, and since I was
close to the front I was able to beg three sips of water.
Taren didn't come back, and Fat Guy was still all OVER my ass
with his junk and his belly, both disgusting and aggravating me.
I didn't cry, but I meant to. I teared up a couple of times,
but I just couldn't waste my time there with tears in
my eyes. I couldn't miss an instant. Near the end, Die was
headbanging while playing, literally four inches away from
his microphone. I was absolutely positive that he was
going to knock his fucking self out. I was ready to lay a $10
bet on it, too, but he didn't. I guess that's why he's a
PROFESSIONAL ROCK STAR (c).

Then, suddenly, right when I was dizzy and headrushing and
unaware of where my circulatory system was but COMPLETELY
knowledgable that Fat Guy was trying to elbow me out of the
way and was seriously bruising my arm, they finished. Toshiya
laid down his bass like it had done something naughty, and
they waved and walked off. The staff came out to rearrange
things--cameras, mics--and someone threw a glowstick onto the
stage. The lights turned off, then on, and people started
chanting "DIR EN GREY! DIR EN GREY!" and clapping and
stomping, but to no avail. The chanting and cheering never
really stopped, just moved around the room. We screamed the
Japanese "en-ko-re," and cheered, screamed more "DIR EN GREY!"
and whoever was working the lights started flickering them in
time with our chanting. They were gone so long that I was
seriously worried they weren't coming back.
But then they did.
Toshiya was wearing some jeans and light tan cowboy boots
(lol). Kyo was cleaned up and had on a white wifebeater, Kaoru
had a different black t-shirt, and Die was wearing some
ridiculous t-shirt with green bubble-letters that said DIE,
looking handmade. They played "MR NEWSMAN," which is a song I
don't know, but everyone was throwing out their fingers and
singing really, really loudly.
But after that? It was a magical, mysterious NEW SONG.
I could barely follow it, perhaps because the sound was still
wonky or because the crowd was too noisy, but I couldn't hear
Kyo's melody. In any case, nobody slowed down their fuckin
ROCKING OUT.
They played "C" after that, and I sang the parts I knew, just
like everyone else, and between all 2000 of us we had the
whole song nailed.
But the real finale was their last song, "Child Prey". As soon
as the first chord tore itself out of Kaoru's hands, as soon
as Kyo threw himself at the earth one more time, as soon as
Toshiya offered his face to the sky like a lustful prayer, the
crowd reached inside themselves and found more energy--like a
nuclear bomb going off. I have never, EVER seen that kind of
energy. I found myself borne up by it, raised up on a rush of
adrenaline and love and flock-mentality like a cork released
from a shipwreck, shooting toward the surface and sunlight.
And when I got there, I headbanged and screamed and tears
stood in my eyes. Everyone was singing "wooah-oo-oo-ooh" and
Kyo didn't even care about the lyrics, but only sang "KISS
ME--" and let us do the rest while he fixed us with his
amazingly powerful gaze and thrashing. He stabbed his finger
up into the air--ONE MORE TIME! and we did, and he
threw up the finger, and we sang, and then his hand, and we
sang, and we would have sang a HUNDRED TIMES if he only wanted
it.

At the end, he picked up the bucket of water on the stage, one
of two, and threw it into the pit, baptizing the audience.
They shrieked with delight, reaching up their hands. He threw
in the bucket after, and some girl caught it. The second
bucket he upended over his own head, drenching himself--then
he just put the thing over his head and walked toward the back
of the stage as a Buckethead. We all laughed and cheered, he
ripped the bucket off, kicked it, and then waved. He said
something into the mic, which I think was "BYEBYE!"(maybe?) and the
crowd gave him one more SHRIEK of approval. Then he was gone.
Kaoru, Toshiya and Die spent a little time kissing handfuls of
picks and throwing them into the crowd, but I didn't have a
chance as picks are not very aerodynamic. Sorry, but I was
watching Kaoru the entire time, and his little dignified smile
as he touched each pick to his lips and then sidearmed it into
the pit of stretching, violent hands was just brilliant. I
wanted one... AHHH I wanted one, but no way. And Shinya
chucked his drumstick way into the back of the auditorium.

Of course, then everyone wanted souvenirs. Most of the people
filed out and went to the merchandise booth, but I looked
around on the floor for something to take, as were hundreds of
other people. I found a little charm of some anime person, but
I think I lost it later, and I got a leather band or collar
that I put on my arm. I tried to get souvenirs, but there
were literally hundreds of people mobbing the booth. I went
upstairs and got two posters and a DVD of their music videos
for a grand total of $62. I wanted a shirt more than anything,
but even after standing in "line" for almost an hour and a
half, I got halfway up and people were saying "They only have
XXL left". Fuckers... I wanted to get one online later, but
they only have the Skeleton W&W design, not the Zombie one or
the Legs one. Shit...

As I was standing there, I saw a group of three girls with
little fabric/vinyl stickers, green ones, that said WILTERN on
them. They were all rather average/normal looking white girls, and they
were all shaking so badly I thought they were dying. They
struggled to peel the backs off the stickers, and one girl
stood there shaking, then suddenly broke into helpless sobs.
And I knew what they had. Oh yes, I knew.
"Those are BACKSTAGE PASSES, aren't they?" I asked the nearest
girl.
"We were just SiTTING OVER THERE...!" she said, trembling,
"And they just walked up and handed them to us!!"
"Well holy shit," I thought.
The crying girl suddenly sobbed out, "I can't do this----we're
going to meet them face to face, I can't believe, I mean--my
God..."
"Just be cool!" Her friends said, but they were in VERY bad
shape themselves. "Just breathe, like this--breathe IN...
we're going to say Hi, we're going to be cool..."
In a minute a Staff member came up and said cheerily, "Are you
going to the party? Just come this way, please..." And they
followed her, blitzed out of their minds.
I grabbed one of the girls' hands. "Hey," I said, serious as
hell, and she looked right into my eyes. "...Awesome.
Awesome."
"Yeah..." she said, breathless. But I touched the girl that
would soon touch them, and her hand was cold and dry, trembling.

I went out into the night to meet Taren and Li-chan. There was
an after-party going on at the Denny's, but we were
exhausted--me even more so, since it had been 23 hours since
I'd gotten up, been on two planes, and wore myself the fuck
out at the best concert in the history of the universe. So I
went back to her sister's apartment and crashed on the couch.
I didn't even take a shower until the next morning (and I
washed stinky concert-smell out of places that have never even
sweated before). But... you know how it was. O_O

I didn't cry until today, when my plane was touching down in
Charlotte. Then the entire weekend caught up with me and the
tears came, joyful and suicidal. I feel like the day after the
best, most glorious, ONLY Christmas ever invented. It's hard
for me to process this--and I didn't even type everything...


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