VAMPS at The Roxy, Los Angeles

live report - 11.10.2017 13:00

VAMPS unleashes the UNDERWORLD at The Roxy on September 26th.

The Roxy in Los Angeles is no stranger to the live VAMPS legacy, and with the latest full-length album UNDERWORLD, VAMPS entices a new wave of fans into the decadent army of Bloodsuckers. Immortal idols of J-rock, HYDE and K.A.Z brought a bold nu-metal sound to their established mix of glam rock and goth punk. The inspiration drawn from touring with a variety of rock acts from across the world is apparent, and the UNDERWORLD album showcases it best in a live venue.

Opening act Black Map set a pitch-perfect tone for the night as they launched into a five-song set list. Their music brought back memories of an earlier millennial punk sound but more post-hardcore. Their live sound quality was crisp and superb, a sound that could comfortably fill a stadium venue as well as any club. The Bay area trio certainly had a worthy following, which came as no surprise given the quality of their sound. Various members of the audience sang out loud with the vocalist and shouted out their support, which made many of the uninitiated take notice, eager to learn more about of their discography. Warming up the crowd is never easy, but Black Map definitely earned some new fans and song downloads that night.

A rumble of cheers erupted as the house lights dimmed and the audience packed in extra tight for the main act. Bathed in pools of red light, with throbbing electronic chords sounding their arrival, VAMPS took to the stage with a hooded HYDE shrouded in shadows. The VAMPS set list is like a goth/punk-rock opera, with MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION as an opening ceremony and introduction into the VAMPS world. As a fan favorite, MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION set the tone for a high-octane ride while serving as a marker from where the HYDE and K.A.Z journey first began in 2002.

EVIL is also quintessentially VAMPS – a song that shows off the talents of individual band members while also highlighting their cohesion in sound. The thunder of Arimatsu’s drums, mixed with K.A.Z's bewitching guitar hooks, and Ju-ken pounding out bass riffs completely encapsulates the power and precision of their musical arrangements. Armed with an adorably vicious monster megaphone HYDE’s seductive sway juxtaposed with a screamo chorus exemplified the unique allure of VAMPS.

“How are you doing tonight?” HYDE purred into the microphone, “We are VAMPS.” The steady growl of rollicking synths ushered in a growing excitement as HYDE ordered the crowd to “Rise up Bloodsuckers!” Leaping onto an edge speaker, K.A.Z let the guitar chord rip, and the crowd fell easily into pace with the melodic shouts of “Yeah” off the album's title track UNDERWORLD. UNDERWORLD was fueled with all the decadence of grinding guitars, syncopating thunder of drums, and the signature seductive growl of HYDE’s vocals. Like a pied piper leading his thirsty flock, HYDE sauntered across the stage, offering a delectable feast of visuals with K.A.Z, Ju-ken, and Arimatsu threatening to blow the roof off with full-throttle, headbanging instrumentals.

There are few rock vocalists who could manage such a feat, and with over twenty-five years of experience, HYDE’s sound grows richer with age. The atmospheric track BREAK FREE embodied the soul of VAMPS with a musical call-to-freedom, and CALLING followed suit with the promise of a new day and a comrade to help transition into a new world. Both songs showcased HYDE’s vocal prowess and his ability to balance a growling technique with melodic tones, enriched the depth of emotions layered within the songs.

Initiation into the next world requires sacrifice, and HYDE invited all fans to offer a vein with the goth-metal track BLEED FOR ME. Bathed in a blood-red glow, HYDE’s black leather duster whipped at the stage smoke as he sauntered from corner to corner, luring adoring fans with piercing stares and growling enticements to BLEED FOR ME. IN THIS HELL is the most subdued of all the tracks from UNDERWORLD, and reminiscent of earlier VAMPS releases, but the energy and intensity hasn’t waned. If anything, it served as a mild calm before the storm of the fast-paced, punk infused track DON'T HOLD BACK.

VAMPS has a knack for creating fist pumping anthems, and RISE OR DIE fits right into the VAMPS catalogue. The VAMPS rebellion was in full effect as the audience raised their fist and punched the air in unison with HYDE. An obvious fan favorite, BLOODSUCKERS from the title album had the fans going wild. The track is composed of only one verse, but with every musical refrain the guitars rocked louder, HYDE’s signature growl grew deeper, and the headbangs harder while the lights went crazy. BLOODSUCKERS begged for moshing, and fans from the rear of the venue happily dove in as VAMPS displayed unending reserves of energy.

INSIDE OF ME and WORLD'S END had the most audience participation, with fans singing every lyric while HYDE strummed along with his guitar. B.Y.O.B. (BRING YOUR OWN BLOOD) is an all-out campy, “party ‘til the sun rises” anthem, and to the delight of the fans, Ju-ken and HYDE took positions opposite each other to perform a mid-song headbang together. As VAMPS left the stage, thoroughly drenched in sweat after rocking out, the hunger for more was evident. “Bang on, stomp everybody!” the fans cried out, as they stomped and clapped in unison for an encore.

Perhaps the show maxed out its anthem quota, as VAMPS did not perform their live show staple REVOLUTION. However, a VAMPS show is never complete until the Jolly Roger flag has flown and HYDE is freed from fabrics. The flag billowed behind a shirtless HYDE as he marched in time to encore song SIN IN JUSTICE. HYDE’s vocals soared effortlessly with the orchestral string instrumentals and full-bodied guitar chords. The energy for RISE UP was high, and phone screens stretched even higher, reflecting images of HYDE’s six-pack and studded leather cap from all angles.

Down to just their final song, HYDE reluctantly bade his farewell to the audience with a promise to return. While all good things must come to an end, VAMPS made sure to drain the audience dry as everyone jumped and screamed along to SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL. Even as the show reached its finale and the stage curtains cascaded down, nothing could divide the fans from VAMPS. Together, the audience lifted the curtain hems and VAMPS rewarded many lucky fans with guitar picks, handshakes, and a shower of flower petals.

Since inception in 2008, VAMPS have amassed a dedicated following worldwide. Influenced by the sounds and visual pomp of glam rock and punk, VAMPS has created their own breed of east-meets-west rock ’n ’roll, earning admirers and a multi-generational fan base that spans around the world. VAMPS' albums are a wonderful sonic journey, but they are incomparable to the heady, raw, and sultry energy experienced at their live shows. It is an experience that has kept VAMPS' concerts packed with veteran and newbie fans alike. The VAMPS addiction continues to spiral out of control, inviting all potential bloodsuckers to join the party … provided you bring your own blood.

Set list

01. MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION
02. EVIL
03. UNDERWORLD
04. BREAK FREE
05. CALLING
06. BLEED FOR ME
07. IN THIS HELL
08. DON'T HOLD BACK
09. RISE OR DIE
10. BLOODSUCKERS
11. INSIDE OF ME
12. WORLD'S END
13. B.Y.O.B. (BRING YOUR OWN BLOOD)
14. SIN IN JUSTICE
15. RISE UP
16. SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL
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VAMPS 26/09

VAMPS  
Los Angeles, CA - United States of America
The Roxy Theatre
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