Scenes From Last Night's Dir En Grey Show at Trees.
It was a Sunday night, but you'd have been hard pressed to tell: Last night's Dir En Grey show at Trees certainly didn't feel like an end-of-weekend afterthought for the fans that showed up en masse to watch the whole spectacle of this Japanese rock outfit's live offerings go down.
This audience, make no mistake, was a passionate lot — some of them had been waiting outside the venue since the morning just to score the best standing positions in the Deep Ellum venue. They camped out on Elm Street's sidewalk, hiding from the sun under umbrellas that helped keep their finest imitation Shinjuku-style outfits from fading.
Why the dedication? Well, Dir En Grey's a big deal in certain circles. They band got its start in the early '00s as part of the “Visual Kei” movement — a Japanese genre not unlike glam rock that encompasses several styles of music, lots of makeup, over-the-top androgyny and tons of on-stage antics. Dir En Grey made its name in the second wave of Visual Kei bands, but has since moved away from the idioms of that genre in the past few years, moving on to what the band now prefers to refer to as progressive metal. The band's performances have been scaled back somewhat int he wake of these changes, too.
But, at last night's show, the uninitiated would have a hard time telling that. Lead singer Kyo performed in a kimono and some skull makeup as the rest of his band was awash in projected visuals. In all, the band has a very quiet, but intense stage presence — the band's very tight and complex metal material does the bulk of the heavy showcase lifting these days. But Kyo remains a force all the same: His vocals hit falsettos and guttural screams and everything in between. It's something else, really — partly operatic, partly feral and something that truly does have to be witnessed to be believed. It's no wonder that the band's last American tour was canceled so that he could have surgery on his throat.
Last night was the band's first stop through the region in the wake of that successful surgery — but it was a night of firsts overall, too. In addition to serving as the kickoff date for Dir En Grey's current North American tour, the show also served as the first stateside tour stop ever for the opening act, Dagoba, from Marseille, France. And Dagoba's member were incredibly excited about that fact, continually referring to Texas as “The Lone Star State” and its audience as its members' “amigos.” You get the impression that Dagoba's players learned just enough English to hype the hell out of a crowd — and no more.
But Dir En Grey didn't even need to say anything to rile up its fans. Its songs' lyrics aren't even remotely in English, nor does the band ever really attempt much in the way of banter. It hardly mattered to the crowd, though.
No, the fans in attendance at this show were just happy to have Dir En Grey back stateside for the first time in a while.
Tough to argue with them, honestly.