Monday, 18 May 2015

LIVE REPORT: BABYMETAL at Danforth Music Hall, Toronto - May 12, 2015

at the DANFORTH MUSIC HALL – MAY 12, 2015

BABYMETAL : Left, Moametal (Moa Kikuchi) 
Center, Su-Metal (Suzuka Nakamoto) Right, Yuimetal (Yui Mizuno).
By James C. Stewart


So ostensibly this was to be a review of BABYMETAL at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. But that’s too easy. Want some adjectives…?

How about Spectacular…? Ground-breaking…?  Total…Mind…Fuck?

Too harsh?

Then let’s go with Unprecedented.

Since the release of their debut/self-titled album in February of last year, the reviews have been pouring in. Everyone, with the exception of a few lonely metal elitists (and there are fewer and fewer of those) seems to agree (even Rolling Stone). BABYMETAL is the most innovative act of the 21st century…at least to date.

Highlights from the Toronto show include “BABYMETAL Bucks” tossed by adoring fans during the performance of “Onedari Daisakusen”—

BABYMETAL BUCKS (photo: Josh Campbell)
This money was handed out in the queue prior to the mayhem. Like, thousands of them. A couple of days previous BABYMETAL had played Mexico City and the audience threw some 12,000 Mexican versions of same into the air. Apparently the Canadian goal was to beat this...I'm not sure if we did. But yeah, you can see them fly in the video.

Another point of interest would be the presence of the tiny, super kawaii BABYMETAL fan D’Arcy:

D’Arcy on the Danforth (photo: Jessa Sobczuk)
This kid had everyone’s attention. Dressed in BABYMETAL cosplay, she was near impossible to miss. Many photographers, from BABYMETAL’s official chronicler Dana “Distortion” Yavin to random fans in the line-up, took pictures of her. I’ve even seen pictures of her in Japanese fan videos at this point. Here’s a video of D’Arcy and her dad enjoying “Headbangya!!”—note the intense ear protection on the tyke. I passed D’Arcy and dad on my way out of the venue after the show. D’Arcy was perched on her father’s shoulders giving high-fives to passing BABYMETAL fans, the look on the kid’s face was priceless, suggesting she was the rockstar, and these were her people.

Su-Metal performs “Akatsuki” at the Danforth Music Hall 
(photo: Jessa Sobczuk)
The setlist for the show was everything a hardcore fan could want—every major number was covered, the show lasting roughly 90 glorious minutes. This was most refreshing following the 30-odd minutes of festival performance BABYMETAL gave Heavy Montréal last August. This being said, a tight security presence at the Danforth Music Hall prevented the line-up from turning into the free-for-all party that was the over-heated insanity at Heavy Montréal.

So why is everyone losing their minds over BABYMETAL? At the outset they were dismissed as an anomaly, a fad, a fly-by-night, here-today-gone-later-today viral sensation…but that wasn’t to be the case.

BABYMETAL continue to grow in popularity around the entire planet. From my perspective, it’s really no surprise. I don’t really understand those who don’t like BABYMETAL. The band is pure joy. It would seem impossible to at least not smile at this act. During the Danforth show I occasionally caught myself laughing uncontrollably like some sort of maniac.

But BABYMETAL has that effect on me.

BABYMETAL VIP Lanyard (photo: James C. Stewart)
Some of the reviews I’ve read from the Danforth show (and other shows) stressed the unusual amount of women at a “metal-show”. This was certainly true. And perhaps this is where we’ve hit upon one of the many aspects of “fresh” and “original” and “unprecedented” that BABYMETAL epitomizes.

Let’s have a look at the BABYMETAL song “Megitsune”—

And now a glance at the lyrics (in English):

Megitsune (Female Fox)

Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Dressed-up Miss Fox
  (Check it! Cheer up! Check it! Cheer up!)
waves her twin ponytails in the air.
  (Fluttering! Cheer up! Fluttering! Cheer up!)
She pops and vanishes.
  (Whirling! Cheer up! Whirling! Cheer up!)
Let her show her various aspects!
  (Kon kon kon ko, kon kon ko kon!)
Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Ancient maidens,
you dance in the transient dream.
Getting over thousands of years,
you live today.
Ah, it's right. Always women are actresses.
We're not foxes, not deceiving,
but maiden-like female foxes.
Ah, girls are becoming more like an ideal woman.
Smiling at face, crying at heart,
saying "It's right", we never show our tears.
A fox, a fox, I'm a female fox.
Women are actresses.
Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Go! - Go! - Go! - Go! Go! Go! Go!
Ancient maidens,
you sing in the transient dream.
Getting over thousands of years,
you live inside us.
Ah, it's right. Always women are actresses.
We're not foxes, not deceiving.
... shouldn't be underestimated.
Ah, girls are becoming more like an ideal woman.
Continuously, to keep blazing,
we shoot up the fireworks.
Ah, blooming and falling is the fate for a woman.
Smiling at face, crying at heart,
we're pure-hearted maiden-like female foxes.

(And a thank you to Du Enki for the translation.)

And such is BABYMETAL…one moment singing about being late for school, or the number 4, or chocolate…the next sending a cryptic (if not poignant) message concerning the female role in society around the globe. Recently BABYMETAL performed their “Red” and “Black” Mass Concerts in Japan—the “Black Mass” Concert being only men, the “Red Mass” Concert being only women. This is BABYMETAL checking off yet another first—an all female-only metal concert…with an all female-only Wall of Death. A true first in rock history.

BABYMETAL somehow touches people. Be it joy or awe…or something deeper. We’ve looked at “Megitsune”, one of BABYMETAL’s monster tracks. Released in June of 2013, by the end of that month it had rocketed to Number 2 on the Oricon Daily Singles Chart, and would eventually peak at the number 14 slot on the Billboard World Digital Songs Chart. And ponder this…as “Megitsune” reached out across the world, a young girl and her piano in Germany reached back…

Maybe this sums up but one aspect of this incredible act’s ever-growing popularity…their ability to make people feel something…to make people feel anything.

Fans flash BABYMETAL’s famous ‘Kitsune-sign’ (photo: Josh Campbell)
BABYMETAL : Danforth Music Hall : May 12, 2015 : SETLIST

1.  Babymetal Death
2.  Iine!
3.  Uki Uki ★ Midnight
4.  Kami Band Performance
5.  Akumu no Rondo
6.  Onedari Dai Sakusen
7.  Catch Me If You Can
(with Kami Band solo)
8.  Akatsuki
9.  4no Uta
10.  Megitsune
11.  Doki Doki☆Morning
12.  Give Me Choco!!
13.  Ijime, Dame, Zettai
14.  Headbanger!!
15.  Road of Resistance

Be sure to catch BABYMETAL on the rest of their World Tour 2015!