DIR EN GREY, OPIATE FOR THE MASSES
at the Wiltern LG, March 23
It was about time Japanese rock got some new hype, and a dressed-up, dressed-down mob of fans and trendies, moms and daughters, Asians and Anglos raised their devil horns to augment the shrieking gale that’s been driving Dir En Grey.
If not the orgasmic apotheosis suggested by PR lore, the lank-tressed rockers (established stars in Nippon) scored points for originality or at least well-cobbled thievery. Gothy jangle and metalcore polka blasts, tedious in themselves, took on new sheen when slammed tight together. A distant appreciation for Prince-era funk built a strange bridge to startlingly offbeat rhythms. The melodies were hard and simple. Not many bands can make you flash on Alice Cooper, System of a Down, Boredoms, Led Zeppelin and Cher.
Best, Dir En Grey have got a god in front — Kyo, a glowering little Iggy with a puff of saffron hair whose twisting hands, gleaming abdomen and harsh screamelodics overshadowed his bandmates’ more standardly postured glam. He spat blood; he writhed tortuously; he delivered his message as clearly as if he were singing in English: It’s aaallll fuuuucked uuuppp! Nonstop intensity. Which actually got a little wearying.
Phoenix’s Opiate for the Masses dealt an opening set of anthemic heavy rock a la Marilyn Manson. First comer in the bare-chest pageant, singer Ron Underwood shot for Billy Idol stature but attained only dashboard-Jesus level. More fun was drummer Elias Mallin, a grinning all-arms maniac who tossed sticks with theatrical perfection while laying down a dynamic Tommy Lee slog. They were okay.