Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2011

Atsushi Sakurai; illustration by Nina Kouprianova

Two consecutive concerts at Blitz were meant to make up for Buck-Tick’s respective Razzle Dazzle tour dates missed due to the devastating earthquake earlier in the year. In that sense, these concerts were another indication of a return to normalcy—even if only in the world of J-Rock.

As the band walked out on stage, the audience reaction was immediate. Always a capable showman, vocalist Atsushi Sakurai sported a modernized version of the kind of extra-spiked hairstyle that fans had not seen since the band’s early days—in contrast to drummer Toll Yagami’s ever-present Mohawk. Perhaps, this particular aesthetic change was but a small taste of things to come, as the band’s 25th anniversary approaches.

There are very few rock outfits that manage to keep things interesting despite—or because of—their longevity. Buck-Tick is one such example. Throughout its career, this band has boldly experimented with various genres: its prolific discography ranges from visual kei to songs influenced by cyberpunk and mainstream gothic sound. Perhaps for this reason, rock lovers of most ilks are likely to find something to their liking.

The set list at Blitz focused around the three most recent albums, but flowed well: faster, catchy songs meant for “rocking out” were interspersed with slower, evocative melodies. The brooding yet groovy “Madman Blues” from Darker than Darkness (1993), for instance, was followed by the rhythmically hip-shaking “Django!!!” from the latest release (2010). The lengthy encore that met vociferous demands from the audience included such crowd favorites as “Rendezvous” (2007).

Beyond the music, it is the overall well thought-out Buck-Tick brand that is responsible for the band’s lengthy success. Image? Dark enough to attract fringe subcultures, but not too dark to scare off mainstreamers. Vocalist? Devilishly handsome, ensuring a loyal female-dominated audience. Even their merchandise serves a useful purpose. Tote bags? Grocery shopping is now convenient, stylish, and environmentally friendly! (Be warned that the occasional skull depicted on this particular object might get you a raised eyebrow from respectable citizens.)

So, if you like your rock’n’roll professionally entertaining, then check out the upcoming Buck-Tick concerts in December, or the ones following next summer’s release.

Just don’t stand too close to the stage. Seemingly fragile Japanese girls put giant Viking metalheads—whose moshpit elbowing skills I am quite familiar with—to shame. You will likely be stabbed in the eye with various Gothic Lolita accessories while tasting shampoo brands in mouthfuls of hair.

In the end, you’ll walk out of the concert fully entertained, drenched in sweat after a two-hour jump-o-dance-o-thon—and your bruised rib cage will fit that corset you’ve considered purchasing for a while—in two sizes too small.

Hell has no fury like a Buck-Tick fangirl trying to get close to her idol.