DEADLIFT LOLITA at HYPER JAPAN Festival 2018, London

live report - 09.11.2018 20:01

With a song, a dance and a forearm smash, the world’s strongest idol group are a knockout hit.

A six-foot-tall, bearded, cross-dressing wrestler is not the sort of thing you see every day, but it wouldn’t be the first time you’d have come across such a sight at the HYPER JAPAN Festival. Ladybeard appeared here back in 2015, going down a storm with the crowd as part of ‘kawaiicore’ idol group LADYBABY. Now, the pro-wrestler, movie stuntman and heavy metal singer returns to London with his new group DEADLIFT LOLITA.

Ladybeard’s new partner is champion pro wrestler and muscle idol Reika Saiki, and it looks like he’s met his match in this impossibly cute, pint-sized powerhouse. With her sunny smile, she has all the personality to match Ladybeard’s outrageous stage persona. To be fair, Ladybeard is pretty cute too, in his own particular way, and the pair combine to form the self-proclaimed ‘world’s physically strongest idol group’.

The big screens on either side of the stage play an intro, letting the audience know what they’re in for with snippets of their songs and a portentous Ladybeard voiceover. A cry of “Are you ready?!” rings out and the crowd yells “Yes!”, which is the cue for Ladybeard and Reika to bound on stage, announcing at the top their lungs “We are DEADLIFT LOLITA!”

They take a brief moment to pose, flexing their muscles, with Ladybeard in a ‘kawaii’ candy-stripe pink outfit and Reika in matching baby blue. Then they’re straight into Six Pack Twins at full throttle, whipping the crowd up with chants of “Ai! Ai! Ai!” and a trademark Ladybeard scream. For all his death metal screaming, Ladybeard has actually switched up his style to add some more straightforward vocals in harmony with Reika.

The crowd is loving it, swept up by the energy and the ‘Only in Japan’ craziness of it all. When the cheers and applause die down DEADLIFT LOLITA introduce themselves, capping it off with their cheeky little slapstick chest slapping routine. But DEADLIFT LOLITA aren’t just here to entertain. Ladybeard announces “We’re here to pump you up and make you sweat!” The crowd is going to get a gym session from this show too and they’re given their workout/dance routine for the next number, Pump up JAPAN.

The duo bounce through the intro like hyperactive characters from an 80’s platform video game before launching into the song. The track’s chirpy lyrics extol the virtues of Japan, including its punctual rail services. It’s exhausting just watching, never mind joining in the workout too, and Reika takes the chance to show off her impressive guns.

While the premise of DEADLIFT LOLITA is inherently lighthearted and silly, the members take their high energy ‘kawaiicore’ fusion of J-pop and heavy metal seriously, deploying some top notch talent. The frantic guitar solo that screams out while everybody is working out is by Isao Fujita, former guitarist with BABYMETAL’s Kami Band.

Next up is Muscle Cocktail, a catchy little ode to the workout burn and protein shakes, but as that finishes the show is interrupted by a black clad, tattooed figure with Mohawk hair, who is not at all happy with what’s going on. “This is a joke!” he shouts, which, of course, is exactly what it is, and in villainous, underhanded style he proceeds to wipe out DEADLIFT LOLITA while they’re caught off guard.

Like a superhero whose cape gets caught in a revolving door, DEADLIFT LOLITA’s hair, tied up in twin tails, proves to be their weakness. While they might look cute as a button, it makes an easy target for evil wrestlers to grab hold of. With a triumphant roar, the despicable interloper has DEADLIFT LOLITA at his mercy.

Down, but not quite out, our heroes manage to turn the tables and give the bad guy a well-deserved kicking. They finish him off by flinging him overhead in a double suplex throw and all three go crashing to the stage, a surface not nearly as forgiving as a wrestling ring. Reika pins her foe to the deck and Ladybeard is joined by the crowd in giving a three count. The legality of a wrestler suddenly switching to act as referee is somewhat dubious, but they’re thrashing the baddie so let’s call it natural justice.

With the dastardly villain defeated and order restored, Ladybeard pauses to check that everyone is OK after the punch-up. Reika proudly announces, “I may be small but I am strong!”, which is met by huge cheers from the crowd. They close the show with Kimi Terasu Sairiumu and Ladybeard gets to unleash some proper screaming at last. For the big finish, it’s a track that sums up DEADLIFT LOLITA perfectly. A ferocious metal and cheery pop mashup that weaves a ‘wota’ fan’s mix chant into the chorus. After all, the crowd’s energy and enjoyment are as big a part of a DEADLIFT LOLITA show as the wackiness on stage and the HYPER JAPAN crowd have just had the best time.

Set list

01. Six Pack Twins
MC
02. Pump Up JAPAN
03. Muscle Cocktail
Wrestling skit
04. Kimi Terasu Sairiumu
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