In high school, all of us, no matter who we were had a group of friends. Maybe you were popular. Maybe you were a jock. Or maybe you hung with a bunch of artsy geeks.
I was part of that last one.
I went to San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), which is a public visual and performing arts alternative high school.
To make it more clear, yes, we were like “Fame”.
Okay. Not really. But we did often break into spontaneous verse in the hallways.
Anyway, SOTA, though larger now, only had a student population of about 400 students when I went there. It was pretty evenly distributed at 100 kids per class and everyone knew just about everyone else by sight, if not by name and art discipline. Due to its student body’s creative nature, it was an exceptionally tolerant environment. There was little to no violence. No bullying. No harassment. If you didn’t like someone, you just didn’t hang out with them. Students were capable of being who they were, without fear. As a matter of fact, we actually enjoyed being outlandish and eccentric.
My high school was a great place and I was lucky to have gone there.
If I had gone anywhere else, I’m sure I would’ve gotten the living crap kicked out of me on a daily basis.
My friends and I were (and still are) definitely too geeky to survive a regular high school. We were band geeks. We gushed about our favorite Shostakovich pieces and the awesomeness of John Williams’ compositions, particularly the theme to Star Wars. We liked Star Trek. Apple computers. Online text based role playing games (Oh how I miss my bronze dragonrider on StarStones MOO!). Origami. Video Games. Anime (Yes, I did watch all seasons of Sailor Moon in Japanese, and I am NOT ashamed!).
Japanese rock music.
The person in my circle of friends (with whom you all should be familiar by now) who started my group off into the love of Japanese things was Maya. She introduced us to anime, beyond what was being dubbed into English and she was the one who shared with us the pop and rock music that was coming out of Japan. The end of my high school career and the beginning of my time in college was spent trolling Japantown, buying CDs and watching PVs at the music store.
We listened to several artists, but when I think of the artist I listened to the most, it would have to be Hide.
I won’t lie. I still kinda want one of those chibi pink haired Hide keychains.
The other music group that we all listened to was a band called Luna Sea. Their music is completely amazing. I remember hanging out at Maya’s place and watching her videos (yes, videos! we had pagers too!) of a couple of Luna Sea lives. They were definitely an amazing band, their music evolving as their career progressed. I loved those videos…the live show looked amazing! I never in a million years dreamed that I would ever see them in concert.
But I did!
A few months back, it was announced that Luna Sea would be doing a 20th anniversary world tour, with a U.S. stop….in California, no less! Sure, it was L.A., which isn’t my favorite place…but I knew with them coming so close, I had to go. I got in contact with other high school friend and Japanese music enthusiast, Cindy, and we made plans to head down for the show.
When we arrived at The Palladium on Saturday night there were already two long lines of people waiting to get into the venue. We got into one line only to learn that it was the “VIP” line (which obviously meant you had to of paid extra money to be in) and were informed that the general admission line was around the other side of the building.
When we got to the other side I saw the marquee and I thought to myself, “Holy shit. I’m about to see Luna Sea!”
Really, it was surreal and I had to keep thinking that to myself, to prove that it was real.
We ended up standing in line in front of a die-hard fan who was originally from Korea. Apparently it was illegal to buy Japanese music there back then and she bought it on the black market and spent hours on the internet (as did my friends) downloading material at incredibly slow connection speeds (how did we ever live with dial-up?). She even bought tickets to their final concerts (Luna Sea broke up at the end of 2000) in Japan, but ended up having to sell them because her father refused to hand over her passport –she was still a minor at the time. Now a days she resides in Idaho, but she had to come to California when she found out they were coming. I have never heard someone so pumped up to see a show.
Honestly, it made me even more excited to get in there. Also the fact that it was freezing outside made me want to get in there. Despite our tickets saying 7pm on them, we didn’t get in there until well after 8pm. Waiting makes me totally anxious.
Once in the venue we checked out the room. I immediately felt privileged that I was going to get to see the band in such an intimate venue. I could tell this was going to be epic.
After the initial scope out we made a visit to the crazy crowded souvenir stand (you better believe I was going to get some swag!) and got a cocktail while we waited for the show to begin.
My badass t-shirt. This is the back, the front just says LUNA SEA in the same font across the chest.
I really like my tote bag. I’m sorry it didn’t want to hang nicely off my door hook.
After we had alcohol and material possessions we went back into the auditorium. We ended up standing in the pit, to the left and towards the back. I probably would’ve gone in a little deeper, but Cindy was a little concerned about how rough it would get on the concert floor. Having been to a rock concert in Japan (I saw Oblivion Dust when I was in Tokyo in Feb. 2008), I knew that it would be chill. Even with a partially (a LOT of the crowd had actually flown in from Japan) American audience, I knew it would be nothing like a typical U.S. show. No moshing, slam dancing, getting kicked in the head, battered and bruised. I knew it would be bouncing, fist pumping and synchronized hand movements all of the way. And I was right.
I totally love to bounce and fist pump.
I’m not going to go through the concert song by song, as that isn’t the way I relive concerts in my brain. I’m not a note taker or a person who writes down setlists. I tend to just remember my thoughts and emotions during the show.
My thoughts throughout the show:
“OMG! Ryuichi is speaking broken English right in front of me!”
“OMG! It’s J! He’s playing bass! I love J and his bass!”
“OMG! J is hella cute. I had forgotten how completely adorable and amazing he is! J! I love you!”
Essentially I was a hysterical fan girl.
I completely lost it when they started playing Rosier. I know, I know. Totally stereotypical. Freaking out when you hear one of a band’s greatest hits. I couldn’t help it though. I love that song so much…I still remember the words, all of these years later! The other songs that really stuck out for me from the show were “Genesis of Mind” and “Face to Face”. What can I say? I love their album, “Mother“, and it still goes down as one of my favorite albums of my teens.
I really want to share Rosier with you, but the YouTube videos that are up of the show I went to shake so much that watching them makes me nauseous. So instead, watch this performance from 2007:
Anyway, I guess I don’t need to say this now, but in case you were wondering, the show was absolutely amazing and I cannot believe I even considered not going to it because it was in L.A. I’m sad to think that I may never have the opportunity to see them live again, but I feel happy about the fact that this tour was filmed and I will probably get the opportunity to buy the experience for my at home viewing pleasure.
If any of you buy it, look for me. I was the white girl jumping around like a maniac.
At the end of the show the band members threw out souvenirs into the crowd. Guitar picks, towels, opened water bottles (not really a souvenir, but still…) and of course, Shinya threw his drumsticks into the audience.
I didn’t see it coming.
I had fangirl towels in front of my face. Besides, we were way too far in the back to have anything flying at us…right? Wrong!
After getting hit, I turned around and saw Cindy on the ground, wrestling with a cute little girl. The girl kept saying, “Can’t you let me have it?” Cindy kept saying, “No.” In the end, however, Cindy handed it over.
After the show, we headed to Roscoe’s for their famous Chicken and Waffles. We both got the breast and 1 waffle plate, as well as Arnold Palmers (ice tea + lemonade), which were called something else. Can I say, to die for? I can. And just did.
What were you listening to in high school? Did you ever see them live?