After cali≠gari completed a 12-hour marathon stream entitled Tokyo cali≠garimpic 2021 – a nod to the Tokyo Olympics – filled with the screening of archive footage, never-before-shared live footage and out-of-print live DVDs on their YouTube channel, the band ended with a special performance recorded at the Ikebukuro Chop.
This show, -夏、空耳の万歩計- (Natsu, soramimi no manpokei), was shown again almost a week later, but this time in its entirety, via Twitcasting. To give the performance some more punch, with another reference to the Tokyo Olympics, the gentlemen had to carry a step counter as part of some kind of championship. The aim for the three band members was to try and make as many steps as possible during this special performance on the cosy stage.
A catwalk with a makeshift ‘Olympic’ podium for the three winners at the end was placed on the chequered floor space where the audience normally stands to enjoy the show. With all this, the stage is set and the ‘chop dome’ is pretty much filled. As there are only three participants in this competition, it is in any case certain that everyone will earn a place on the winner’s podium. But who will take first place, will it be the bassist Kenjirou Murai, the vocalist Shuuji Ishii or the bandleader and guitarist Ao Sakurai?
The band members calmly walk one by one towards the podium where the step counters are placed, they take one of them and walk to their place on the stage, while the first song in a new format, その行方徒に想う (Sono Yukue to ni Omou), starts in the background. It can be seen as a good warming up. As the second song begins, vocalist Shuuji can be seen jumping back and forth on stage. While it is easier for a vocalist to do some walking, running, jumping and flying around on stage, it is a different story for the other band members, chained to their instrument and in the case of cali≠gari, sometimes having to do their vocal contributions as well. Though Ao doesn’t really seem to care, he regularly spins around and otherwise does a short dance of his own and waves his arms. Kenjirou seems more focused on his sparkling silver ESP Metal Bird, but also occasionally manages to take the time to show off his techniques to the digital audience (for example during ケセ (Kese).
While the band manages to blast through the first five songs without a moment of pause, you can see that the band is still brimming with energy and motivation to make the best out of the show. Even without an audience, they know how to convincingly perform their songs in their new guise, thus surprising and inspiring the audience.
After all the lights have gone black after そして誰もいなくなった (Soshite Dare mo Inakunatta which can be translated as ‘And Then There Were None’) ends, there is time for a short breather and for vocalist Shuuji to make some changes to his outfit. Slowly, the lights come back on to signal that it’s time for a new song. Instead of a short intro, which will be heard on the cali≠gari’s upcoming album, simply titled 15, a longer and exciting intro is chosen before 鐘鳴器 (Kaririyon) starts. This gives the band a chance to beckon the viewer at what is probably a quiet song, but when the song starts, an astonishing barrage of sound comes at you. Shuuji’s soothing voice manages to balance the song, but this new track on the upcoming album is a perfect indication that the band does not shy away from theatrical songs. A real moment of rest is introduced with the seventh song on the setlist.
Various cameras were chosen for the recording of the concert, showing various sides of the stage. A good choice was made to not only use fixed cameras, creating more positive tension in the performance. An interesting move is to place a camera very close to the drum kit aimed at the non-existent audience, which makes Shuuji feel invited to play with this camera regularly. It gives a unique glimpse of what you don’t get to see at a concert.
During the ballad さかしま (Sakashima), Ao sits down for a little on the catwalk side while Shuuji – who has changed jackets in the meantime – seems to sings a serenade to the band leader until the instrumental part of the song becomes more powerful and the three band members stand side by side on stage. Swiftly, the band switches to music from a mini-album released in the spring of 2016, 憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵 (Doukei Suiren to Himawari) but consists of a full-on summer vibe. Considering the performance was recorded in the summer, it is a welcome addition to the setlist. The summer theme is carried on in the setlist with 夏の日 (Summer Day) right after it and further on, the song いつか花は咲くだろう (Itsuka Hana wa Sakudarou, which can be translated as ‘One day the flowers will bloom’) can surely be included.
We’re already at outfit change number four for vocalist Shuuji when the stirring song ケセ (Kese) invites Kenjirou and Ao to walk the catwalk. For the vocalist it’s just an invitation to jump from left to right on the stage, especially now that there is more space on it. Standing still is quite impossible for this new track which is sure to be a hit at the band’s physical concerts due to its danceability and high energy.
The thirteenth song of the show has become an indispensable song for cali≠gari performances and was recently offered to fans in a re-recorded version that was previously only available to fan club members, 淫美まるでカオスな (Inbi Maru de Kaosuna). Another highly energetic song that gets the crowd going and is exemplified by the band itself. With いつか花は咲くだろう (Itsuka Hana wa Sakudarou), it seems to be quietly heading towards a conclusion, until the last song is ushered in with “do you like sex?” by Ao. Another song that really can’t be missed on a setlist of this visual kei band, the well-known エロトピア (Erotopia). In the past, drag queens have been invited to fill the stage during this song, though it’s a different story for an intimate venue like Ikebukuro Chop. But that makes little difference to a skilled band like cali≠gari.
The rock band has chosen to play a mix of new songs from the upcoming album, as well as old songs – which almost evoke nostalgia. The three-piece has been active since 1993, with a break in between of a couple of years, and are still going strong, which in the area they originated from, visual kei, is very impressive. Especially since this band seems to focus mainly on their fans in Japan, but by offering material digitally, also since they are part of Victor Entertainment again, it is again easier for fans outside Japan to enjoy cali≠gari. The 12-hour marathon stream and recorded live show was another good example of that.
1.その行方徒に想う (Sono Yukue to ni Omou)
2.ハイカラ・殺伐・ハイソ・絶賛 (Haikara, satsubatsu, haiso, zessan)
3.腐ったレモン (Kusatta Lemon)
4.汚れた夜 (Kegareta Yoru)
5.そして誰もいなくなった (Soshite Dare mo Inakunatta)
7.空想カニバル (Kuso Cannibal)
8.騒気楼とデジャヴ (Shinkirou to Deja-vu)
10.憧慢、睡蓮と向日葵 (Doukei Suiren to Himawari)
11.夏の日 (Summer day)
13.淫美まるでカオスな (Inbi Maru de Kaosuna)
14.いつか花は咲くだろう (Itsuka Hana wa Sakudarou)
P.S. Who was the winner of this performance, you ask? With all the dancing and jumping on stage, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that vocalist Shuuji made the most steps during this performance. In total, the gentlemen made more than 10,000 steps. Clearly not an unhealthy gig! (Stay hydrated)