[ S.K.I.N. ] Review
Publication date: November 8th, 2007 by Zac Bentz
"S.K.I.N. is (or maybe was?) a group of four major stars of the Japanese pretty-boy rock scene. Gackt, the singer, was one of the original members of seminal vis-kei band Malice Mizer. After leaving them, he went on to build one of the biggest male solo carriers in the Japanese pop scene today. Miyavi, one of the two guitarists, has a huge fan-base following his solo career. The lead guitarist is former Luna Sea member Sugizo. The founding member and man behind the curtain is Yoshiki, former (and now current again) drummer and founder of one of the most popular Japanese rock bands of all time, X-Japan.
To date, the only appearance by the band has been a performance at Anime Expo in Long Beach, California on June 29th, 2007. They have not released a single single or album, nor even a video. The only material available of the band is bootleg video from the AX show and a very brief teaser from Yoshiki's web site.
Now, a bit of personal info here: I am a huge fan of this band. In fact, my wife and I drove over 5000 miles round trip to see them at AX. You heard correctly, "drove" and "thousand." Actually, I was covering AX for Japanator, but the only reason I made the trip was to see S.K.I.N.
I'm still full of questions about their appearance. Why did the biggest group of Japanese mega-stars make their first (and so far only) appearance in America and at an anime con? They could easily fill the Tokyo Dome every day of the week, yet they've only played one very small show in America.
Why haven't they released an album, or even a single? Again, even a CD single with only one song would sell like mad. Plus, many of the songs played at the AX performance were very English heavy. They are obviously making a push for American audiences.
Where have they gone? It's been almost five months since their grand unveiling, and there hasn't been a single tid-bit of information since the day of the show.
There has been a lot of criticism about their AX performance, mainly that it was very short. In fact they only played four or five songs, most of which was just extended soloing and one really crappy drum solo. Which, in my mind, is all the more reason to get an album out and start playing live.
Now, however, both Yoshiki and Sugizo are reuniting with their past bands, so it may be quite some time before we hear anything from S.K.I.N. again. Maybe if you just play a track from a Gackt, X-Japan, Miyavi and Luna Sea CD all at the same time...
Anyway, you can read my entire report of the AX performance (and the agonizing hours of waiting in line in the sun to get in here on Japanator, or at the end of this post. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, there aren't any high quality videos from he show, so you'll just have to make due with some really horrible cellphone videos. Sorry."
Gackt – vocals
Miyavi – guitar
Sugizo – guitar
Yoshiki – drums
Anime Expo 2007 Part 01: S.K.I.N.(graft)
"Well, the first day at Anime Expo 2007 has come and gone. At least for us. I'll try and go into detail a bit more concerning our first encounter with AX, but I thought I'd get the good news out first. S.K.I.N. was awesome. The six or seven hour wait to get tickets and get into the venue while being forced to stand under the blazing L.A. sun was probably grounds for a class action lawsuit.
Thursday we arrived right on time to get our press badges and to do what would quickly become the norm, namely stand in a line full of people who weren't exactly sure of why there were standing in line. Eventually things started moving, the line was split into Press and Industry, and we got our passes. There was great concern among a few people as to the status of tickets to the S.K.I.N. show, as all of the emails and phone messages we received on the subject had been contradictory at best. When we finally pinned down the man in charge, we were told that only one person per organization would be able to maybe get a free reserved ticket. Maybe. The catch was that they had to rush to the venue, be first in line, poison a few of their colleagues, sacrifice a virgin and do the truffle shuffle before one would be handed over. If they didn't manage to pull this off, then they might be able to pay $50 for a premier ticket. Maybe. Again, see the above set of rules. I don't know if this actually turned out to be the case on Friday morning, because you can tell me it's a Twinkie, but I know a turd when I see one. Instead, Kitsune and I opted to keep our knees clean and just wait for a free general admission ticket. Bad idea. It all turned out just fine in the end, but maybe that's the hours and hours of future skin cancer causing sun light we received talking.
See, that sentence doesn't even make any sense.
We stood in a very long, weaving, endless line of possibly the nicest people in the world. We stood in the line for roughly three hours. Did I mention the sun yet? It was out, laughing its way through a perfectly cloudless sky, shining its death beams unto the shadeless ground below. Naturally, that's were all the people were. Once we got our (not so) free (anymore) tickets, we decided to try and actually see what this whole Expo was about.
Turns out it was mostly about the art of waiting in line. It seems like some people were actually able to get in and look at things and take some of the things back in gigantic bags, but we were not those people. Instead we ate very overpriced food and drank even more overpriced drinks. This, at least, was expected. After we ate, we realized that the doors would soon be opening for the S.K.I.N. show, so we made our way back, looking at all the awesome cosplayers and all the awesome bags full of magic hopes and dreams, knowing that soon, we would be able to join their ranks. Because then, we were younger and full of optimism. We didn't yet know the meaning of true horror.
The line. Yea gods!
The line of people holding free tickets was, truly, awe-inspiring. I don't know if you've ever seen a line of six or seven thousand people, but if you ever get the chance, I recommend it. Especially if a lot of them are chicks wearing pink hair and little else. I do not recommend standing at the end of that line for over three hours. Again, in the godless L.A. sun. Only this time they had the line running into the parking lot. Did you know that they pave parking lots? And fill them with big metal cars? Did you also know that these two things like to both store and reflect massive amounts of heat? Well, if not, now you do. While I doubt they could fill a 1000:1 replica of Death Valley with customers, even ones with free tickets, they did manage to pack this small corner of Hell with thousands of well meaning music fans.
We did a little asking around and found out that because all of the tickets were for actual seats that we didn't have to wait in line. We could just go in after the line was gone and get our seats. The only hitch was that it was already well after the posted time for the concert to begin, so there was no way to know exactly when it would start. Plus, the doors were still closed and people were still lining up. The dilemma was a toss up between walking around the Expo for a bit to see junk, just sitting in the shade near the line, or actually getting into the line and thereby at least having the chance to get into the venue faster. We did a little of options two and three. We waited until I just couldn't bare it anymore and then walked the considerable distance to the back of the line. We were followed by a small Inuyasha who told us the sad story of waiting in the wrong line for a long time, only to have to then get into the Hell line all over again. Once again, the lack of communication between the promoters and audience was very reassuring.
We were in that line for probably close to two hours. The show started around six. (I keep saying "around" because we didn't have any time telling devices on us. More about that in a second.) About three hours later than posted. Sure, these things will happen with these large events, but this was bad. Bad on so many levels that it's causing my brain to simply lock up and go home early.
1. Press. They could have given the press a free pass right from the start. The press (a very small number) could have even been given special access to the venue and the chance to get in before the other ticket holders. Why? Because I'm part of the press and think I'm better than everyone? No. Because the press are the ones who can give you a good review!!! *choke* *gasp* Instead of spending the last 1,000 words ranting and raving and rallying against the management of this single concert, I could have been fawning over all of the other events and announcements that occurred while I was being rendered sterile by our closest star.
2. They could have easily just handed out the free tickets at a window. In fact, they were just handing out free tickets after everyone had stood in line for over eight hours! This. Was. Insulting. To everyone.
3. Provide shade. Duh. I was standing behind a girl in a black wheelchair for a few hours. She was obviously uncomfortable. Her friend wheeled her over to some shade a few feet away, until a staffer came by and told everyone that they had to get back near the barricade, which was right in the path of the sun. These people were just trying to not die, how dare they!
There were many other cases of this botched effort to turn a simple problem into a complete disaster. I simply cannot go on anymore. I'm burned on top of my burns. I need water, and sleep. So anyway, on to the actual show.
It was awesome. Oh! I already said that. Basically, if you know anything about any of the members in the band, then you can imagine exactly what it sounded like. Gackt on vocals, Miyavi on rhythm guitar, Sugizo on lead guitar, Toshiki on drums, and Gackt's long-time bass player Ju-ken. Backed by video screens showing tranquil nature scenes, they played a very short set of about five or six songs, along with an extended and solo filled closer called "Get Back." Most of the songs were of the rather slow and groovy variety, bookended with two incredibly intense rockers. With so many pop pretty boys, I really was expecting more syrupy ballads, but they managed to keep a harder edge to everything. As far as I could tell all of the songs were sung in English. As I mentioned, the set ended with a wall of solos and a lot of Gackt's signature call-and-response with the crowd. There were a couple popularity contests as the members were first introduced on screen, then later when Gackt said their names before the solos. Poor Ju-ken didn't get many cheers.
We were told many times that there was to be absolutely no photography or video recording allowed, and like idiots we believed them. That's why we didn't take anything into the show with us. Turns out that there were probably more camera phones and video cameras in the venue than people. We saw one staffer make a very half-hearted effort to stop the dozen or so people next to us from filming, but as soon as he left, all the tiny screens flashed back on. So, I guess us good-guys finished last on that one. Sorry.
That really is all there is to say about the show. There's still been no explanation as to what S.K.I.N. stands for. We didn't see any sign of merch on the way in or out, but we did see a few people wearing S.K.I.N. t-shirts afterward. There was still no sign of an album or even a single. Gackt managed to say something about seeing us again soon, but I'll believe that when I see it. Then again, the fact that this world premier happened in America could be a sign that they are planning to actually market the band in the States, which would be a welcome change.
It's very unfortunate that our entire first day of Anime Expo had to be taken over by this fiasco, but I think that the worst is over. Tomorrow we will be able to bring you all the hairy-assed cosplay and thrilling industry news you can't live without."
*If you are a J-Rock fan, The blog www.zbsatozofjmusic.com, created by Zac Bentz, writer for Japantor, is a must see.
I wanna fall in Love with Life!