D=OUT (ダウト) is a visual kei band with a long history. In fact, the performance we were honored to attend was for the occasion of their XV Anniversary(十五周年単独公演TOUR’22), on their tour called “Flashback” (「フラッシュバック」)
The show took place in the iconic live music hall “OSAKA MUSE”. By knowing only that it is already guaranteed that this concert will be memorable. This time, the venue had seats, but that day the room filled in so quickly that even some people had to resolve themselves to watch the show without a seat in the far back of the venue.
Something noteworthy was the heterogeneity of the fans, a reflection of the longevity of the band. We could see people of all ages and wearing eclectic fashion from colorful, stylish clothes to the regular, more solemn darker outfits (which are usually the norm at most vkei lives)
The event started with the short screening (at the left of this stage) of a short video covering the history of the band over the last 15 years, introducing the members and more details about the tour. Behind the stage curtains, D=OUT starts to performance “Flashback” (Eponymous tour title, a good choice for inaugurating the evening)
After only half a minute , it seemed like the fans couldn’t resist anymore and enthusiastically started doing “furi” (coordinated dance made by fans)
Once the stage curtains open, as Kouki is standing there, facing away from the fans, the show officially starts! Both Reika and him challenged the audience by yelling “Lets go, lets go, lets go”, hyping us for what was to come.
The audience started to move with more energy, but the band didn’t seem satisfied yet. They wanted everybody to participate , so they pointed to the back of the venue and said: “Jump! From the floor to the ceiling!” After a few breakdown harmonies, the song finished with a guttural voice. The stage lights start beaming in all directions like in a frenzy. creating a rainbow on the stage. Suddenly, the lights stop over Kouki, basking in an intense blue.
With one hand pointing to the sky and the other holding a megaphone, Kouki presents… their iconic anthem “Shangri La”.
The whole band moves along with the audience. This is a thing that can only happen in Japan, it’s the magical moment when all of them can coordinate the dance without any rehearsal!
Ibuki started to go wild, getting visibly more and more excited, as a seal of approval of how the fans did it.
Hikaru and Reika switched positions on stage during this song, both of them in the limelight, hyping the audience.
Based on the way how perfectly coordinated they were, we couldn’t help but feel that they were enjoying the moment fully.
For this anniversary tour, it seemed like they had chosen many of their most beloved songs to open the show. The next song was the anthem of the band in the eyes of many fans overseas: “Kanden 18-gō”.
A happy matsuri (traditional japanese festival) rhythm which had the audience clapping along to.
Kouki shouted “Come on Osaka!” as he was dancing along. Reika helped Kouki with the back vocals of the chorus to let him enjoy the moment. All the members then gathered in the center of the stage for the climax of the party.
They thanked everybody for coming to the event and for following them during these past 15 years.
They also commented about how important the venue they were playing at (Osaka MUSE) was to them: “As far as Kansai (Osaka Prefecture) goes, we think this is the perfect live hall to celebrate our 15 years anniversary ”
Ibuki, after the last frenetic songs, decided to take off his jacket so he could play more freely.
They asked us to use this concert as an opportunity to get rid of all the frustration that has been caused by the corona situation, a catharsis to keep our souls free of hard feelings.
As Reika was tuning his bass, the MC ended and Saturday Night Fever vibes took over Osaka MUSE, with stage lights bouncing off the disco ball at the center of the room’s ceiling.
It was easy to see that they have such a strong chemistry, after 15 years playing together. They danced as hard as the fans while playing their song “Sunrise”.
During the chorus, the stage lights were focused on the audience, making it all the more interactive. Hikaru was smiling from start to finishWithout any prior notice, red laser beams cut through the stage!
The true rock side of D=OUT had arrived, with “Bankoku Daitokyo” The ambience suddenly became intense and the spectators immediately started to headbang.
Naoto (Dr.) seems to be on fire; he was playing with his drumstick in one hand and playing the drums with the other one!
Kouki stood up and grabbed the microphone stand like it was a katana, holding it on his back while standing in a samurai pose.
Next on the list was “Aisuru hito” with the beginning of it sounded like music playing on a telephone waiting call, the light stage became green, as if spring had arrived. The bass resonated throughout the venueThe ballad segment of the concert came like a calming breeze, after so much moving around.Kouki kindly said “Thank you” and presented ““Aoi tori” this time, singing with his characteristic enka voice. This ballad brought to the venue a summer vibe, leaving behind the cooler seasons.
In this song, Reika was very present, and this time, he used a percussion on the bass with a fairly jazzy rhythm, supported by Naoto on drums.
The distance between the band and the fans seemed smaller than before, we felt that it was a genuine moment of mutual appreciation. We could enjoy the wide range of vocal skills so unique to Kouki.
The audience gave a huge applause to D=OUT at the end of the song.
The band carried on with their ballad repertory and played “Rebirth day to u”. However, this song was a bit more joyful. During the performance, the atmosphere felt like it has switched to a more autumnal vibe.
We could see the sweeter side of the band, their versatility as a band.With simple overhead lighting on them, the members of D=OUT seemed quite focused and barely even looked past the stag. Although it was a romantic song, the fans started to wave along to the rhythm
Ballads aside, we were surprised by the transition song playing (a gangster rap melody) while the members took the opportunity to drink water and catch their breath.
Kouki grabbed his shamisen (Japanese traditional instrument) and the fans became jittery, seemingly impatient to see what was about to start. He asked us how the concert was going, and he also explained how hard some songs are to play and the effort they put in.
Finally, he warned us: “The enka part of this live is about to start!”They started to play and the music got louder as they asked to cheer along with the famous Japanese concert call “oi-oi-oi-oi!!!” for “Kabuki desuko”
The kabuki show started! The sound of the shamisen was progressively getting frenetic and the audience started to bow to Kouki while Reika hyped the fans to move even more, and everyone started to jump along to the music!The stage lights turned to a vivid nipponese red while all eyes were on Kouki and his shamisen. Moments later, all the members stood around him and the members of the audience opened their arms, a visual representation of them receiving the energy that overflowed from the stage.
Kouki put down the samisen.
Naoto started to hit the drums harder to close the kabuki theater and bring us to an underground punk live house with “Japanese Dogeza”. The audience was hysterical. Kouki jumped along with them too.
(Note: The song was so powerful and catchy that even the reporter himself had to resist falling victim to the temptation of moving along to the beat in order to continue taking notes… Laughs).
In that exact moment, it was evident that time had made out D=OUT to be one of the most musically versatile bands in the scene. They can transport you from the Edo era to the present moment with just a few chords.
Kouki and Reika encouraged the fans to keep going by cheering “ODORE! ODORE! ODORE!” (“Dance!” in Japanese).
The song wasn’t even over yet. Kouki ended up on his knees so he could headbang fervently while Ibuki was punching the air… Authentic punk spirit!
Kouki “stabbed” his heart with the microphone and fell down theatrically.
A high pitched guitar riff rang as the lights turned red for “Music Nippon”, instantly raising the room temperature.
The fans opened their arms again, showing their desire to receive once again the energy of the band on stage.After such a boost of energy, Kouki also decided to take off his military jacket and flapped it around, making it clear that he still had energy to continue.￼
A raw voice, he started the ”Kigan”. A few seconds before the chorus begins, Kouki and the audience exchanged a friendly “Fuck you!” gesture, in true punk style.
During the instrumental part of the song, Kouki instructed the audience to jump and made each part of the room compete against each other, focusing more on the left side, but without forgetting those in the background.
He ended the song with a fake cough, preparing his vocal cords to make a final guttural as the song closed.They announced that this is going to be the last song of the concert, although we all already knew that there would be an encore.
Their popular “Issefūbi fakuto” sounds, the formalities disappeared and the whole group had a good time dancing freely and frantically joking with each other.
Here the bass takes control and challenges the audience, who fills in the gaps by clapping periodically!
When the members of D=OUT left the stage, it was time to ask for the encore. For the first time since the pandemic arrived, the organization put on a recording emulating the public asking for the encore.
This is an important detail since, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is forbidden to speak inside the venue, so fans in Japan have agreed to clap their hands instead of the usual “encore call”, but it does admittedly felt like the energy cooled off during that time.
The recording was turned off as the lights turned pure blue, and Kouki came out alone, accompanied by a piano melody. He sang the song “Heisei chō bavuru” a cappella.
Most of the audience remained seated, as if attending a play in a theater.
If for imaginative purpose we’ve compared earlier songs on the setlist to seasons, this was clearly winter, completing the quartet. A cold sensation of melancholy could be felt.
As the last piano notes echoed, the rest of the members came to the stage. All members of D=OUT were wearing the 15th anniversary tour’s merchandise. Again, the energy shifted completely and they brought back the warmth into the room.
The audience stood up when hearing the melody of “Odoro”, reminiscent of a Japanese cabaret’s rhythm.
The return of the iconic Matsuri kei !
Kouki stood in the center of the stage, commanding all the attention. He opened a fan from which pieces of paper fell gracefully, emulating the fall of the sakura
Ibuki took advantage of the fact that Kouki was not paying attention to him to steal the limelight and seduce the public with his gaze and guitar riffs.
Continuing with more traditional rhythms, the performance takes a kabuki-inspired turn with “Menbā kōru”.
As if he was playing charades, Kouki gestured and pretended he had a syringe and that he was injecting the energy of the public into his body, as if to give him a final boost to the final sprint. However, he collapsed on the ground, exhausted.
The kabuki act ended with a theatrical laugh.Kouki counted to three in English to introduce “Sateraito TV”
During this song, the audience danced from one side of the room to the other, a furi (coordinated dance between fans) that is very common during visual kei band performances.
Kouki praise the audience for doing it so seamlessly.
It was then time for the members to say a few more words…
Hikaru thanked Kansai and explained that this venue had brought him a lot of nostalgia. He said that these past 15 years had been spent in the best way and that he wanted to continue for another 10 years! The members and the audience laughed, to which he replied that he thinks it’s possible.
Reika said that the members along with the fans were like a family
They started speaking in the Kansai dialect (Osaka region) and kept joking with each other.
Ibuki says that they have many styles: Kabuki, enka, blues…
Coincidence or not, the “Shisshin” that they played afterwards, showed exactly what Ibuki had mentioned earlier, showcasing a great variety of rhythms a the same song. Kouki asked the public to become part of the melody of D=OUT with “Clap your hands!” (in English)
Finally, the true end came, sadly.
The song chosen to close this matsuri was “Hanasaki byūti” As the bassist jammed energetically at the beginning, Ibuki joined in with the guitar and they played a musical “zigzag”. The public responded by making hearts with their hands.
They all exhaled at the same time. In the end, only Kouki’s voice remained, along with the special member of D=OUT, the public who was applauding zealously.
After fondly bidding everyone farewell, the curtain closed and we all were left there, absolutely starstruck, already waiting for the 16th anniversary next year.
Next week, we will have the chance to sit down for an interview with the members of D=OUT.
Do you have any questions for them? Leave them in the comment section below!
- (Proofreading: Fatima A.)
D=OUT website/D=OUT twitter /D=OUT youtube
Kouki instagram/Kouki twitter
Reika instagram/Reika twitter
Ibuki instagram / Ibuki twitter
Hikaru instagram / Hikaru twitter
Naoto instagram / Naoto twitter