A long line formed early in front of the isolated club 1720 E. 16th Street, in the downtown industrial section of Los Angeles for a sold-out show featuring Japanese heavy metal singer HYDE. Devout fans began arriving early in the morning and stood in the rain for hours waiting for the doors to open shortly after 7 PM. The crowd mainly made up of music fans of Japanese descent were ecstatic when they finally made their way to the front of the stage just after 8 PM.
The Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and accomplished actor known as HYDE was in the United States on a national tour and promoting his new solo album, ‘Anti.’ Although he is best known as lead vocalist for the heavy metal bands L’arc-en-Ciel and Vamps, he also has a successful solo career. L’arc-en-Ciel was the first Japanese band to headline Madison Square Garden in 2012. The prolific musician has released eight solo singles and five albums including his newest one.
The latest tour was a return to his heavy metal roots for Hyde. The 16 song setlist featured songs mostly sung in English. In a recent interview, the Japanese singer revealed that it is hard for him to sing in English, but he wanted to connect better with his English speaking audience, so he made an effort. Backed by a four-member band of hardcore metal musicians, the charismatic singer mesmerized the crowd with his stage antics amidst a multimedia smorgasbord of lighting effects. The singer’s vocals ranged from soft, quiet harmonies to ear piercing screams reminiscent of German metal bands. Nearly an entire album of Rammstein songs was played before the group took the stage. The German prelude was telling as HYDE’s music seemed to emulate some of the same musical territories as the iconic Rammstein. But the range of HYDE’s music also includes many other rock genres. The thunderous set featured several singles HYDE has released over the last eight months including two in collaboration with X Japan’s Yoshiki. Last year Yoshiki played his own well-received concerts at the prestigious Coachella festival.
As lasers flashed, a sea of cell phones glittered throughout the sold-out crowd while the tightly packed audience swayed in euphoric harmony. The 16 song set left sweaty fans screaming for more as the mythical singer left the stage for the final time. It seemed that Japanese rock is alive an well in Southern California.