On stage with OLDCODEX - Anisong World Matsuri @ AX 2016
Hello everyone! My name is Taylor, and AX 2016 was my first Anime Expo. I went specifically for the purpose of seeing OLDCODEX, because they’re my favorite band and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their first performance here in America! Little did I know it would become even more of a once-in-a-lifetime experience than I had thought, because I got to share the stage with them during their 2:00 PM show! People have been asking me for my story on what happened, and I definitely wanted to share with everyone! That’s what this post is about. This is my story and my experience from the concert, and my (sorta jumbled) thoughts and feelings about being pulled up to sing with them. I’ll say from the start that I might not have remembered everything perfectly, but I’ll stick to what I do remember. I’ll try to keep things straightforward, but I can’t promise that throughout the whole thing. c; It’ll be long regardless. If I think of more details after the initial posting, I’ll add those in later. Here we go!
(All pictures of me on stage were from akapahua on Twitter! Thank you a million times over for capturing it!)
First of all, I got tickets to both shows, and I purchased VIP pit tickets for both. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be so close to them TWICE, so I did it. Let me tell you: it was WORTH IT. 100% would make the same decision again. I went to the shows with two other friends. Suwabe Junichi had a guest panel that morning, so we went to that and then lined up for the concert at about 11:00 AM - two hours before doors, and three hours before the show was scheduled to start. We were within the first 20 people, so we knew we’d get close. When they finally let us in, we were able to get front row! We were slightly stage left (so slightly to the right when facing the stage) because we thought that maybe Yorke. would only have one canvas due the small stage (and that’s the side he’s usually on [see: OLDCODEX live DVDs]), but he ended up having two! That made us really happy.
FLOW went first, but I don’t know their stuff. Like I said, I went specifically to see OLDCODEX. However, FLOW put on a really good show! They were high energy and sounded really good despite me not recognizing anything but GO!! from Naruto.
Okay, deep breath. When FLOW finished, it still hadn’t quite hit me yet that it was happening in front of my eyes. The staff was very efficient about changing out instruments and setting up quickly, so lots of props to them for that! It didn’t really hit me until they started wheeling out Yorke.’s canvases and I could see the spray-painted while letters of OLDCODEX against a colorful background. I kept thinking, “This is real! This is happening!” and I couldn’t stop jumping up and down because I was So. Excited. To see them. I had to take a moment to think, “They’re here. They really came to see us!” and I almost started crying then, but didn’t.
When the guest DJ finally announced the start of their set, I lost it. I started screaming as loud as I possibly could, and it didn’t take long for me to lose my voice completely. They started off the set by playing Prayer as their kind of introduction song. The music started and played probably about halfway through before the band started coming out. Shinji, Taizo, and their drummer for the show (I’m so sorry, I don’t remember his name… Ryo couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, so they had a back-up drummer) came out first and got set, and they got a lot of applause too! It made me so happy! Then near the end of the song, Yorke came jumping out on stage looking really happy! He had so much energy! Not long after, Ta_2 came out, and he immediately walked to the very front of the stage and put his hands together in his way of thanking all of us for coming out to see them. Once they were all set, they kicked off the show!
Their first performance song was Dried Up Youthful Fame, and by the time the first chorus hit, I already couldn’t talk. I was completely awe-struck watching Yorke. up there painting, Ta_2 singing his heart out, and the rest of the band doing their thing. They didn’t move around much at first, and I think they were a little nervous. They didn’t sound nervous, just looked like it slightly at first. But that didn’t last long. Soon they were back to the same band we know and love, and it was incredible to watch! By the time the second song, カタルリズム, was done, I couldn’t even tell they had been nervous at all. Then they surprised me by playing Landscape! If I’m being honest with you, I’m so glad they decided to play quite a few songs that weren’t anime-related. I think of this performance as their way of feeling things out and seeing what/how much people do or don’t know. But when Ta_2 looked out to the crowd and saw people singing along with him and shouting “It’s my landscape!” at the end of the choruses… His face completely lit up with a giant smile. I mean, the happiness was contagious it was so palpable. I think that was the moment when it became real for him, too.
After Landscape came the first MC bit. Ta_2 took the lead and thanked everyone for coming, telling us that it was their first time in America. Throughout the show, Ta_2 only spoke in Japanese, which didn’t surprise me. I’m learning Japanese right now, but there were times that he was speaking fast enough that I couldn’t keep up and translate in my head, so I apologize for that. The basic premise was that it was their first show in America, they were happy to be here, and they wanted us to enjoy the show. While he was talking, we caught the attention of Yorke., who smiled and waved at us and flashed us both peace signs. First life goal achieved. c; Ta_2 then turned it over to Yorke., who started to talk to us in English, but eventually switched to Japanese. I think he was nervous, too. c: I believe this is also the part where Ta_2 introduced the individual members of the band, and then he started talking about the various shows that OLDCODEX has contributed songs to (Kuroko no Basuke, Free!, GODEATER were the three he specifically mentioned).
They started Aching Horns after that, and I could not keep myself together. I was teary-eyed throughout the entire thing. It was one of the most incredible parts, though! Because the song is softer at some points, I could hear the audience singing along so well! So many people knew the song and sang throughout the entire thing, and that’s the part that got to me the most. It was so amazing to be surrounded, in person, by others who genuinely love OLDCODEX, and know that they have so much support here in America! Anyone I’ve ever talked to about OLDCODEX live so far away from me, so having everyone together under one roof was special.
If I’m remembering correctly, they went to Rage On next, and it was AMAZING. I know that at their shows in Japan, Ta_2 will let the audience sing the first part of the chorus, but I wasn’t sure if he would do that for us, too, just in case we didn’t know all the words, you know? BUT HE DID. He let us take over for that part and I was screaming as hard as I could. Another point where he got super smiley that we knew the words!
OKAY, SO FEED A. I absolutely L O V E that song, and I get the feeling that it’s not as popular as some others, but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. It started off pretty normally, but this is the song that I had my first interaction with Ta_2! During the second chorus, he came over to our side of the stage and crouched down, but he was looking out across the audience (because of course, that’s what you do). But then he started looking across the front row. He basically locked eyes with me when he saw me singing along with him and moved a little bit closer to me, so we basically just looked at each other and sang the chorus, and afterwards he pointed at me and gave me two thumbs up and smiled super big, and my heart stopped for a second, I think. HE LOOKED SO HAPPY.
And finally, KICK OUT! I was NOT expecting them to play it AT ALL, so I freaking screamed my head off when it started and was jumping up and down and flinging my hair around and everything. I could not even believe it. It’s just such a fun song! But, you know, I had seen the Contrast Silver tour and knew they pulled that boy on stage there, and I’d heard rumors that Yorke. had mentioned something about trying to pull someone up during a recent GardenGate cast, so I thought, “WHAT IF THEY ACTUALLY PULL SOMEONE UP DURING THIS SONG?!” and kinda started to lose my mind at that point. Not everyone knew the song, so the parts before the chorus when everyone shouts “yeahhh!” was a little quieter, but it was still there. The second time around was stronger as more and more people started to learn the song. c: It’s no secret that Ta_2 loves to dance around during this song, and our show was no exception. He looked like a kid in a candy store up there, dancing around and smiling widely and having a great time! Again, not everyone knows about the little things they add into their shows, so during the bridge when they want us to clap along (”Hey! Hey! Hey! Heyhey!”) started out very quiet at first, but people picked it up quickly! The people who had seen their lives before and knew what usually happened were trying to show others what to do just to get everyone involved, and it worked, making it even more fun! By the end, I think most people were chanting and clapping along! Thank you to everyone who joined in and made it more special! (Oh man, my hands are starting to shake as I type this now…) To give you a little perspective, at this point (if I’m remembering correctly… my brain kinda short-circuited after this), Ta_2 was standing at the middle of the stage and Yorke. was stage right. So they had us clap along for a little bit, (shorter than they normally would) and all of a sudden I heard Ta_2 ask in Japanese, “Who knows the song?” and without even thinking, I responded in Japanese, “I do!” and shot my hand up and waved. Ta_2 walked over, pointed at me, and said to Yorke., “She said she knows it!” and Yorke. said, “Really?” so I leaned over the rail and looked over at him and said, “Yes, I do!” (The three of us are all still speaking only in Japanese to each other and I’m so proud I didn’t screw it up even if I only had to use simple phrases to answer them) and then they both looked at me and started waving me on stage. At this point, my heart literally skipped beats and I froze like, “Is this real? Is this happening?! ME?!” and then I regained function and thought, “Well, how the heck am I supposed to get UP there?” because I am 5′3″ and the fence was chest level, haha. But there were platforms on the opposite side, so I literally pushed myself up and hopped the fence, then jumped on stage, and Ta_2 helped me up! Everyone was cheering so loudly at this point, and so when I got up there I looked around and waved at everyone (pretty sure I bowed, too). Uh, okay, the view from the stage was INCREDIBLE. Everyone with their hands up and their penlights waving?? What a sight. (THANK YOU for giving them that sight, everyone!) So then I was handed one of Yorke.’s microphones (WITH PAINT ON IT AND EVERYTHING) and Ta_2 asked me in English, “What is your name?” The first time I answered, I pronounced it like you would in English, but then I back-tracked and pronounced it like you would in Japanese (テイラー) (which was probably completely unnecessary… But I don’t know, at the time I thought it might make things easier) and then he introduced me to the crowd. They walked me to the front of the stage (I saw the setlist!) and then Yorke. rested his arm on my shoulder and started posing and being his awesome self, and I was screaming on the inside. Ta_2 walked over and cued Taizo to start the bass line again, and then they started dancing with me! I was literally sandwiched in-between them and could feel their energy and how strong their presence was. Gosh, they were incredible.
I was basically trying to clear my throat from screaming well enough to actually sing. They both stepped back a little, and then Ta_2 turned to me and counted down for me to start singing, and they let me take over the bridge from there. The strangest part of all of this? I didn’t even feel nervous. Not even a little bit. I went up there with the intention of showing them, “Hey, yeah, we know your songs, even the ones that aren’t a part of anime,” and I think I accomplished that. I could hear myself on stage, and I was proud that my voice actually sounded pretty strong and on key! The people in the audience said I was a little hard to hear, which doesn’t surprise me because the microphones in general were all kinda quiet, but I was at least heard! Ta_2 came back up next to me and started singing the final chorus, and I had a moment where I was like, “Can I keep singing? Should I not? Would it be rude?” But I turned to Ta_2 and he was looking right at me, and I just felt this surge of confidence, so I put the mic back to my mouth and looked straight into his
gorgeous eyes and sang the final chorus with him, too! He had one of the biggest smiles on his face the entire time, so I think he was okay with it. His mic was louder anyway, so I probably wasn’t even heard at that point, but I don’t care. All I know is that the image of his smiling, happy face will be burned into the back of my mind forever. It’s something I will never forget for as long as I live. When the song was reaching its close, they took me back by the drum set and I put my foot up on the platform like they do, and the drummer was smiling at me (GIANT smile!) and giving me the cues for the final note of the song. I made sure to look over at Taizo and Shinji while I was up there too, so I tried to acknowledge all of them! We were all together and on time for the final note, and the crowd blew up. I was so incredibly happy that I don’t even have the words to describe it. (マジパネェ！) I just kinda lost it after that, laughing to myself and smiling like an idiot because I couldn’t believe that was something that had just happened. I thought I could only dream about something like that, but then it became reality. I still haven’t fully processed it, I don’t think. It’s just crazy to me! A staff member came over to take the microphone back, and then Ta_2 came up to me smiling like crazy still, shook my hand, and pulled me into a hug. I made sure to thank him a bunch of times, over and over again.
Gosh you guys I can’t even tell you how incredible that felt and how nice he and Yorke. both are! I walked over to Yorke. next and he also shook my hand and hugged me, and of course I thanked him as well.
I think I kinda waved one more time to them and the crowd, and then a staff member took me to the backstage exit so I could get back to my spot on the floor. When I got back, the people around me started shouting again and a bunch of people wanted to hug me, so I tried to hug and talk to everyone who wanted me to! (That’s the bulk of what happened, but if I remember other little details then I’ll add them in later!)
For the second MC bit… I cannot even believe. Basically, Ta_2 talked about food! I think he was saying how he had eaten tacos for the first time, and he thought they were good! Then he talked about how they went to a restaurant called Eggslut (for breakfast, I think?) and at first, I didn’t quite understand what he was saying was the name of a RESTAURANT. But oh yes, if you look it up, it’s definitely a place that exists. I’m still over here laughing.
And just when I think it couldn’t get any better, they played Reel! The pledge mini-album is way up at the top of my favorite albums list, so I started freaking out yet again. They got us to wave our arms back and forth during the chorus and it was just so. much. fun. And they sounded great! That’s also a more Yorke.-heavy song in terms of singing, and it was great to hear that. c:
THEY PLAYED ANTHEM. I think that was the first time they had ever played it live?? Gosh I wanted to hear that song so badly, and they answered my wish for sure. It sounds incredible live! And then they even played Eyes in Chase, which is another one of my favorites! I’m a big fan of their heavier songs (I mean, I love songs like Garden Gate and How Affection too of course, don’t get me wrong! But at this concert I wanted to head bang, haha) so I was glad they played some of them and didn’t stick ONLY to the anime music route! Again, I feel like they were using this chance to sort of scope things out a bit, but it was SO NICE TO HEAR.
After Eyes in Chase, they walked off the stage, and IMMEDIATELY people started chanting for them to come back out. At first people started chanting “encore!”, but it quickly changed to “OCD! OCD! OCD!” and then they came back out for an encore song, which was WALK! I cannot even tell you how excited I was to hear that song live, because it is I N C R E D I B L E, okay? The energy they give off during that song is so contagious, and it just makes you want to dance and sing along until you can’t possibly do it any more. WALK is the song that first got me completely caught in OLDCODEX’s world, so hearing it in person was completely surreal! He let us do the call and response part with “red pulse rushing through and I can hear you!” and I was like YES GOOD. It was so much fun!! After the song was done, they had to say their final goodbyes of the show. But before that, Yorke. took his wristband off and put it between his teeth, haha, then looked out over the crowd. I had gotten back to the front row, and when he saw me, he smiled around it and tossed it to me! There’s even a little spot of black paint on the back of it. :P
(This is right before he tossed it to me!)
Ta_2 showed us the same respect he would show any crowd in Japan and bowed to all of us, and that felt really special to me. It’s not that I think he WOULDN’T do that, but, you know, seeing it in person and seeing how happy he was? It meant a lot!
Overall, the show was INCREDIBLE. They had such amazing energy and they sounded fantastic. Ta_2′s growls keep getting better and his voice overall keeps getting stronger. Yorke. hopped off the stage and got up on the railing by the crowd at one point, and that was a moment where I was like, “We did it! We’re accepted!” haha. He also had his glasses off for a large portion of the show! It was just awesome. Also, Taizo and Shinji (especially Shinji!) were moving around and enjoying themselves, too! Shinji was soaking it up, coming to the front of the stage a lot to see us, and he was smiling the entire time too! I wish Ryo could’ve been there (they’ll just have to come back c;), but their back-up drummer did great! For people who don’t know the members by name, I don’t think they would’ve had any idea that it wasn’t the normal drummer. They all just seemed like they had a ton of fun and like they were very happy to have been able to do the show, and giving off that kind of vibe and putting them in that environment felt so good. I
wanted needed them to know how loved they are here and in other places, and I think it’s a good start to what will hopefully be many more overseas shows! I do think they would want to come back, so fingers crossed!
Oh, and during my flight home, I got Tweeted at by Yorke.!
(Come follow me and listen to me scream about OLDCODEX and complain about organic chemistry if you want.)
I cannot thank everyone enough. Thank you to Anime Expo and the Anisong World Matsuri for bringing OLDCODEX to America. I don’t know if you understand how important this opportunity was for us fans, to get to show them in person how much they mean to us and let them know that we love and support them in all that they do. Thank you to the fans, near and far, who showed up to see them and support them. I know I wasn’t the only one who practically came from across the country just to see them perform. I think that we all got our message across that we do love them and we do want them here. They have fans all over the world, and it’s so important for us to keep telling them that at any chance we get.
And finally, a huge thank you to OLDCODEX for agreeing to come to America as a part of the event, and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I promise that I will never forget what happened, and I will treasure this memory forever. I love you guys more than words can say, and there are plenty of others who feel exactly the same as me. You were all so nice to me while I was up there with you, so thank you for making me feel welcome and loved in return. I sincerely hope you all enjoyed your time here, and that we were able to express our feelings of love and gratitude to you. I also hope that you now want to return some day, and also travel to other places as well. You’re all usually halfway around the world from us, but for one night, we were together under the same roof, speaking a universal language. Music has no language barrier.