Sunday, 15 June 2014

Live Report: GEEKS and Ra:IN at AKON 25

On June 6, A-KON, North America’s longest running convention, played host to two amazing bands, GEEKS and Ra:IN, and brought them together in a cataclysmic clash of musical wonder.

I hadn't heard of GEEKS, but I had definitely heard of Ra:IN and am myself a huge fan of Pata's work. It was something I had to see and hear for myself. Fueled by the urgency to attend, I made my preparations with less than a month before the convention.

Having arrived late back on-site from a rest-stop at a friend’s hotel room, I thought I had missed GEEKS’s part of the show. Not terribly heartbroken, I walked into the ballroom, expecting set-up for Ra:IN to be taking place, but to my surprise GEEKS was just beginning, and I was glad to have not missed it.

They were extremely energetic and loud and kept the crowd going crazy through every minute. The crowd roared and jumped around wildly and signed hearts which the band gleefully returned. They left the stage asking their fans to promise to come and see them in Japan someday, and they were sent off with a chaotic sounding of fanatic cheering. Even though I had to save what energy I had left for Ra:IN, I found myself cheering and signing a heart to GEEKS as they left the stage.

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There was a short intermission to give the roadies time to set everything up, and the intro for Ra:IN began. First out on the stage was support drummer Ryuichi Nishida, followed by Daijiro “D.I.E.” Nozawa on keyboard and Michiaki Suzuki on bass. Lastly, Pata came onto the stage and the band started to play. The response was immediate, like some sort of switch had been flicked on. Horns were up in the air, keeping time with the music, and hair and wigs were flying. The energy in the ballroom was a lot stronger than it had been for the previous band and everyone, even the viewers who had no idea what was happening, got caught up in the action. Not too long after the first song was ending, they had already began the next, D.I.E. picking up his mobile keyboard so he could move around the stage and Michiaki and Pata battling bass and guitar.

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Exhausted from the drive and long day, my movements were little more than a little bit of head nodding. That is until Michiaki took it upon himself to point me out and motion me to start putting a little more energy into it. The rest of the concert became a blur of cheers and headbanging. The lights came up, after what seemed like hours later, and immediately the room was filled with chants for an encore, which the band gave with even more energy than before.

At the end of the night were the autographs session, and having gotten an agreement with the Babel Entertainment management crew and the band due to my morning departure, I got to take my photo-op that night. That was an adventure in and of itself. I was already flustered because coming through for autographs I managed to drop everything at least once, getting a round of laughs from D.I.E. and Ryuichi. I clammed up and couldn't move, causing Pata and D.I.E. to come forward and pull me to the middle of the group. They were all extremely nice asking if I was doing okay and giving me the most sincere smiles, even though we all knew we were wiped out and not ready for this in the least. Pata looked over the photos taken with me and asked if each shot was okay, and Michiaki even called me back over to take a few more photos, just to make sure we got good shots. We shook hands and said our thanks to each other and the night was perfect.


(Photo credit: Kei Jire, taken by Babel Ent. staff)