[ALEXANDROS] at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC

live report - 15.11.2018 00:01

With their energetic set and warm stage presence, rock band [ALEXANDROS] left a positive impression on fans during their first US tour.

Following their appearance at the SXSW Festival in 2016 and the success of the live-action “Bleach” movie, which featured two of their songs, [ALEXANDROS] announced they would be holding their first ever US tour in October 2018. Tickets went on sale shortly after, and fans worldwide were excited over this popular Japanese rock band finally coming to America. Originally scheduling five performances across the country, plans were unfortunately cut short due to circumstances outside of their control. Despite the last-minute setback, they were determined to carry on with the east coast portion of the agenda: two shows in Washington, DC and New York City.

The location for their first stop was a unique and cozy venue located in downtown DC called U Street Music Hall. Lining up outside the doors a few hours early, many people spent time getting to know each other, sharing past tour experiences, and listening to the sound check that echoed through the walls. A handful of dedicated fans even explained that they flew in from Japan in order to celebrate [ALEXANDROS]’s first US tour – a milestone they didn’t want to miss.

Inside the dimly lit venue a hush fell over the crowd seconds before MILK reverberated through the impressive sound system and [ALEXANDROS] was welcomed to the stage. Each member settled into position as the lights flared up. Frontman Yoohei Kawakami, bassist Hiroyuki Isobe, and guitarist Masaki Shirai stood towards the front of the platform, while drummer Satoyasu Shomura and support keyboardist ROSE were seated directly behind them. The performance began with a powerful opening of Claw, instantly hyping up the crowd. Despite the seemingly small audience, fans were definitely not lacking in enthusiasm.

At the closing of the catchy and rhythmic song Dracula La, the band took to the microphones. “Thank you! Good evening, we’re [ALEXANDROS] from Tokyo!” The crowd proceeded to cheer as they continued, “This is our first tour ever in the US! Thank you very much for coming!” Fans cheered wildly again. “We’re so happy, but you know, I think in the future there will be a little bit more [people] here. Not a lot of crowd now, but next year we’re definitely going to make it!” Hiroyuki then spoke up with a teasing lilt in his voice. “You know what? This is much better than I thought it would be,” he smiled. “Yeah, I was thinking like five people would come,” Yoohei answered him, and as everyone laughed Hiroyuki continued. “I don’t mind that though. Even if it’s just one person.”

The audience began clapping at the statement while Yoohei agreed, “I’ll do it. Yeah, I would! That’s how we started,” and Hiroyuki answered, “Right? Exactly!” They then proceeded to pick up their instruments. Performing many of their well-known tracks, [ALEXANDROS] had put together a solid set list full of many fan favorites, including the ever popular Adventure, Watadori, I Don’t Believe In You, and more. Between songs it was relatively calm and quiet – a stark contrast to the atmosphere they’d normally have during a large tour – but it was entirely appreciated, as many were able to give commentary and have short conversations during the more reserved moments. [ALEXANDROS] enjoyed teasing the cheerful audience throughout their performance, and it was clear that fans were happy to return the playfulness with their own silly remarks.

Following their crowd-pleasing tune Run Away, the band took a moment to catch their breath. Yoohei then approached the microphone again, “How you guys doing? What day is it today?” An audience member answered him saying it was Monday. “It’s Monday?!” Yoohei sounded astonished, “Oh my god thanks for coming … I thought it was the weekend, Friday night or something.” Fans agreed by cheering and thanking them for coming. He answered, “Thanks for having us! So, we’re going to play a song we haven’t played for maybe five years. It’s on YouTube, so you might know it … ” and the audience responded with curious and excited murmurs. They decided to play a more nostalgic number, Namida ga koboresou, with the crowd collectively gasping in delight as they announced it.

[ALEXANDROS] followed this up with the slower acoustic track, Hanauta, to the complete surprise and joy of the fans yet again. After softly strumming the opening chords, Yoohei joked that in Japan people would go completely wild upon hearing it, but the reaction in the US was surprisingly different. The audience wistfully followed along, and after the conclusion of the melodic tune Yoohei addressed the crowd again. “So tomorrow we’re going to play in NY. And we might be doing something afterwards … It’s not announced yet!” Intrigued, the audience began to throw out ideas ranging from new songs to an album release. Laughing, Yoohei replied, “I’m not sure … ah, forget it! We’re gonna stay and probably do something special in New York. Please get excited! Please check our Twitter and Instagram!” (The surprise was a performance at Paste Studio NYC which was live-streamed across social media on October 24th. The stream is available for viewing here.)

After a brief technical problem that the audience took no notice of, the band announced, “There is a problem, but fuck it, let’s go on!” They jumped right back into the set with the high-energy track, Stimulator, which got the fans moving again. During the second verse of their recently released song, Mosquito Bite, Yoohei emphasized the word “scream”, and the crowd dramatically screamed for a few moments in time with the track. A couple of beats later, everything softened and the vocalist came back with a quieter refrain of “woahs”, which the fans joined in on, followed by the rest of the band as they reintroduced their instruments into the music. It came to a fun and frenzied close with both the band and audience head-banging and jumping, and with Yoohei and Masaki tossing their picks to the crowd before exiting. Drummer Satoyasu was the last to depart, coolly sauntering across the stage while waving and acknowledging the cheering fans.

As the lights dimmed, the audience began clapping and chanting repeatedly for one more song, trying to convince the band to return to the stage. [ALEXANDROS] happily answered the call a moment later by reconvening, ready to rock with everyone for a few more songs. “Thank you for the encore!” Yoohei began, “So it’s our first time visiting Washington, DC. Yesterday, we actually saw the White House, and the Capitol. We had that Ben’s Chili Bowl? It was awesome. So, we had a lot of experiences yesterday. But today’s much better!” Everyone cheered and agreed that being at their live show was the best experience. “So, we’re now playing our new song that was just released in Japan. This song’s called ARPEGGIO, and hopefully we’ll be releasing our music video on YouTube, maybe in December? Maybe in a couple weeks? It’s a secret,” he teased as the fans applauded.

Yoohei asked the audience to join in on the opening chorus of ARPEGGIO as the heavy and emotive melody of the song began, and [ALEXANDROS] continued powering through the rest of the track with strong vocals and even more intense playing. They moved right into the hyperactive electronic opening of Kick&Spin, bringing the energy level to an all-time high as fans continued to scream and bounce in response to their stage antics. The excitement was palpable during the chorus as the crowd jumped and waved their arms in time with the song, pumping their fists during the bridge as “Stay alive!” was chanted.

Near the end of the encore, bassist Hiroyuki jumped down from the stage to join fans on the floor. He ran from one side to the other while continuing to rock out on his bass before jumping back onto the stage to regroup with the band for the boisterous finale of the show. Finally, [ALEXANDROS] said their farewells, thanking everyone and waving goodnight as they departed the stage to prepare for the meet and greet event that was scheduled to follow after.

With their energetic set and a warm stage presence, [ALEXANDROS] left a positive impression on everyone by performing with as much passion and enthusiasm as they would in front of a stadium of people at home. Although abbreviated, they’ve had a successful first tour in America, and fans are already anticipating the next visit that has been promised for 2019.

Set list
SE MILK
01. Claw
02. Waitress, Waitress!
03. Dracula La
04. Adventure
05. Wataridori
06. Run Away
07. Namida ga koboresou
08. Hanauta
09. Stimulator
10. Cat 2
11. I Don’t Believe In You
12. Girl A
13. Mosquito Bite

Encore
01. ARPEGGIO
02. Kick&Spin

Be sure to check out [ALEXANDROS]’s upcoming full-length album, Sleepless in Brooklyn, which is scheduled for release on November 21st. You can also check out the video for ARPEGGIO below.

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