Fan Review: 2014.11.04 - BABYMETAL in New York City

This is the premiere of a new section in Babymetal Newswire. Because our project is "Made for the fans, by the fans", we want to share not only news, also experiences. The reviews of the BABYMETAL Show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York were made by two of our great Facebook Group members, Kurt Hendricks and Aldo Guerra who traveled from far to see how their dreams were being made true on November 4 of 2014. We hope you guys enjoy their reviews, the pictures, and the videos. 


"How i learned to late to stop worrying and love BABYMETAL" 

Review by Kurt Hendricks from Wisconsin, United States. - 

"The first thing that people who read concert reviews are expecting is an informed opinion. So right away we’re off on the wrong foot. In my forty plus years on this planet, I’ve attended only a handful of concerts, and most of them very tame affairs where people kept in their seats and enjoyed the music in a less than proactive way. I’ve never attended a metal concert, and had only a superficial idea of what to expect. And on top of that, my adoration of Babymetal  makes me ridiculously biased in my experience and opinion. So how this show compared to a typical metal or J-pop show, I have no idea. I hope the reader will keep these things in mind as they go.


The morning of the show, I awoke eyes wide open, heart already beating at an elevated rate. I was in Spanish Harlem, north of Central Park, the Hammerstein sat about 70 blocks or so to my south. My travel companions - who are in no way as big a fan as I am, not even close - took their time getting ready. We had planned to see some sights on the way down to the Hammerstein; I agreed it would be a shame to miss out on some of the experiences New York City had to offer, but my mind was completely preoccupied by the concert. And this is an important point, one that kept cropping up again and again throughout the day: Concert Day is all about the concert. It is a time to be selfish and to indulge wholeheartedly in the Babymetal experience - and this is hard for me, but next time I’m determined to be more stubborn and selfish and set aside the entire day (and night) for the show and activities with other fans.


As we made our way through Central Park, I saw a post on Facebook warning everyone to stay away from the venue until 5PM, and that anyone who showed up early risked having their tickets voided.  So we did some more sightseeing: Times Square and more of the touristy parts of the park.  I was on pins and needles until we finally took the subway and arrived at the Hammerstein a little after four o’clock. My heart sank a little as the line was already quite long. And so that is another lesson to take from me: queue early, no matter what.


I hustled to get into line - the regular line, not the VIP line. This was one of several concessions I made when buying the tickets: I got the regular tickets to save money, and I picked the balcony so my companions would not be uncomfortable on the floor. Again, these were huge tactical mistakes, but I’ll get to that a little later.


The line was well behaved, generally, and time passed slowly as we waited for the doors to open.  There were many friendly people who I could have probably conversed with, but I was too nervous and anxious, so I just sort of stood there vibrating in anticipation.  My phone was not working, so I was unable to converse with any of my facebook friends who were in attendance - I think they were mostly in the VIP line.


Eventually, the doors finally opened, and we were let in. I headed straight for the merch table, waiting impatiently as the people in front of me seemed to take an interminable amount of time making their purchasing decisions.  One by one the shirts I wanted were pulled off the wall, sold out before I could get to the front of the line. If I’d been in the VIP line, I’d have already made it through the merch stand, so I’d recommend to everyone to go VIP if you possibly can. I did manage to snag a couple of shirts and some wrist bands, and am happy for that. Dana Distortion, the official photographer of Babymetal, slipped in a side entrance as I waited in line, and I grabbed the stranger next to me and excitedly pointed her out. He was a large man, imposing, but I tugged on his shirt sleeve unabashedly and whispered through teeth gritted with excitement, “Dude, that’s Dana Distortion!” He seemed to have no idea who she was, but smiled politely and said, “Cool.” She caught my eye and smiled so nicely; I hope I didn’t make her uncomfortable with my fanboy behavior. 

I thought about hitting another merch table on the floor above the main entrance, but was worried I would get a bad seat, so I went to claim a good a one as I could find. The seats we got were perfect, second row, center of the first balcony, with only the seats reserved for Amuse VIPs in front of us.


Here, Dana made a second appearance, taking the seat right in front of me.  Two middle-aged Japanese people took seats to her left. Both were thin and well dressed, the man with hair just beginning to thin on top of his head, the woman thin and demure.  I wondered if maybe they could be the parents of one of the girls. The woman opened up Twitter on her phone; I tried to steal a glance at her screen. It was all in Japanese, and I don’t read Japanese well enough to be able to do it surreptitiously, so I never did find out who they were. I’m sure they were probably just employees of Amuse, but it’s hard not to dream that I was sitting so close to the parents of Yui, Moa or Suzuka.


After about another hour of waiting show itself started at 8:30, just like they’d promised on the Babymetal Facebook page earlier that day. The house lights went down and the story of the Metal Resistance II played on the screen over the stage. I was slightly disappointed that there was not a large sheet covering the stage which would drop as ‘Babymetal Death’ kicked into high gear, but the electricity in the crowd from the hours of waiting and tension seemed to bring the crowd together as one and my minor disappointment melted away. I pried my eyes off the screen to glance around at the crowd, and saw on each face an expression of joy, of anticipation, of I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually going-to-happen ecstasy. Everyone’s face was all light and hope, everyone looked beautiful, even the scruffy metal dudes. Some had tears welling in their eyes, some were yelling and adding their voice to the unified wall of noise that hit the stage as hard as the opening notes of music hit us. To my disappointment, there also seemed to be a lot of people who were either new to Babymetal or maybe just attending out of curiosity, and I worried the girls and the band would see great pools of languidity among the large pockets of unabashed enthusiasm. But there was nothing to do about that except shout louder and throw more kitsune signs.

Babymetal Death’ was the opening song. This was the song I most wanted to see live, the one for which I had nursed at arm’s length an unacknowledged fear that they wouldn’t play. The girls appeared on top of a staircase, raised through the floor on a platform, visible only in silhouette and by the stage lights dancing off of the sparkly parts of their outfits. Their sudden appearance evoked a thunderous noise from the audience, everyone full-throatedly reacting on instinct and awe, as if they had actually materialized by the whim of the Fox God out of thin air. Overhead, there was a small burst and silver confetti rained down - it seemed like a small amount, like it might have been better to not have done it at all, but maybe it looked better from the perspective of the floor.

And in all honesty, that is all I can coherently remember. As soon as Yui and Moa started shaking their heads side to side, kitsunes twisting like crazy on their delicate wrists, it was like my brain was scrambled at the spectacle of it all. I have some snippets of memory of certain moments, certain people that flash through my memories, but the photographic memories I’d hoped to capture in my mind are instead all fuzzy and disjointed. It is a lot like the girls have said: Kitsune-sama possesses you and you don’t remember much.


I remember the fifty-five year old man sitting next to me sitting quietly, at first I thought out of his being reserved. But then I noticed how he hung on Su’s every word, every note, and how he would wave his hands sometimes, quite subtly, as he “directed” the girls in their dancing - he seemed to be as well versed in their choreography as they were themselves. He knew all the words to all the songs.


I remember the Asian lady sitting two seats across from me, thirty years old or maybe more, the huge, open mouth grin never leaving her face as she danced on the edge of her seat. She waved “Cho matte! Cho matte!” during Doki Doki, “Bye bye!” during IDZ, and never stopped moving until the intermission before the encore.


I remember the young people behind me, about to explode from excitement, stumbling along as they sang, not quite knowing the words but having the time of their lives anyway. I remember, most of all, how very happy Babymetal made all these people around me.


I remember leaping from my seat to bow down to my queen during Hedobangya!! I was fully swept up by the spirit of the performance, as if I was possessed by a force greater than myself.


I also remember thinking the crowd was not as loud as they should be, and how downright quiet they seemed during the call and response parts of the songs. “Ima nanji!” during Doki Doki was barely perceptible to me. But maybe I was expecting too much of the audience. In the United States, Babymetal is still a very new phenomenon, and maybe it’s not fair to expect so much from a fanbase this relatively new. I just wanted so much for the girls and the band to know how much they were appreciated; I wanted us to be a show for them.


I had thought (although maybe I was just trying to fool myself into thinking I’d made a wise choice) that a balcony seat would give me the best experience; that I’d see everything and be able to remember it all.  That was not the case. I found myself occasionally looking down longingly at the floor, at the people just standing there, and wishing I were down there to help mix it up. Two Walls of Death opened up during IDZ, and they were pretty well executed, and looked like a hell of a lot of fun. And my memories, wonderful though they are, are just as disjointed as when I saw them in Denver, moshing on the floor no more than 15 feet away from them. 

So this is not much of a concert review, but all of the normal things that go into a concert review seem to me to miss the point of a Babymetal concert. Yes, the girls were of course amazing as ever; Moa’s smile lit up the stage and melted our hearts, Yui’s dancing was top-notch as expected (except for one small flub during Doki Doki Morning that she covered up smoothly), and Su was a commanding presence, an intimidating performer who looked not only comfortable performing next to the seasoned metal musicians in the Kami band, but like she had the chops to be their leader. And speaking of the Kami band, they too were flawless and joyful and worth the price of admission themselves. The light show was impeccable, and the sound was mixed very good, although it was at times hard to hear Yui and Moa, and I found Boh’s bass sometimes difficult to hear, even during his solos. But all in all, it was an amazing show, a true spectacle, as much Rocky Horror Picture Show as it was heavy metal show. It was like a KISS concert, except really, really good.


But what I most took away from this show was the experience of community I felt. There were old, grizzled metalheads in Iron Maiden T-shirts dancing and singing next to cosplayers in elaborate gothic loli finery, young black men smiling and jumping into the air with fifty year old white guys in sportsjackets, all shouting “Death! Death! Death!” through incredibly huge, irrepressible smiles.  There were group hugs when the show ended and the lights came up, and the camaraderie spilled out into the streets after the show.  Even the event security staff, who were stern and serious and stone-faced as they walked the lines outside before the show, smiled uncontrollably as we exited. They handed out cans of Red Bull as we departed, shaking hands and high-fiving and telling everyone to have a great night.


And again, I suffered for my lack of selfishness, as I had agreed to get get my companions home the next day, so I had to leave right away. Let me be a cautionary example for anyone reading this: if you ever get the chance to see a Babymetal show, dedicate yourself, go all out, have no regrets. Abandon your non-like-minded mates, cast off your loved ones, for this is your life now. You are, I am, We Are BABYMETAL."

"BABYMETAL New York 2014. My story. My adventure"

Review by Aldo Guerra "Aldo-Metal" from San Antonio, Texas, United States. 

"I first heard of Babymetal while checking my Youtube channel's what to watch list back in late March early June 2014. Gimme Chocolate was the video. Gimme MORE! was my reaction. I must've watched it over a dozen times that day. Needless to say I was hooked. Especially after watching all their pro videos on their channel on Youtube. Then I started seeing Concert footage from France, Germany and then Sonisphere!! After seeing clips of them perform at Sonisphere, I was totally addicted. I MUST WATCH THEM LIVE! Before I knew it the first US show was announced. This was before joining any fan clubs or meeting people who also liked Babymetal. I knew nothing! I missed the LA show. Not because I couldn't go but because I never even considered going to a far away city to watch a 1 hour show. That's crazy, I thought. Only crazy people would do that! But I continued to follow their tour online. I watched as they continued their tour with Lady Gaga and then on to Montreal. I watched every video I could find. At last I was convinced that these fans are not crazy. Babymetal is that F@$king good. I want to see them live! So a period of sadness fell upon me at this time. Their tour was over. I didn't get to see them. There was no way I could travel overseas to see them. I have no money. Then a new announcement....One more time. One more chance to get to see them before the year is over. One more UK and US show. YES!!! But since I didn't expect to see them till 2015, the announcement caught me off guard. I had less than 2 months to prepare. I had to save money NOW! The UK show was announced first for the 8th of November. But they held off on announcing the date for the US show until later. When it was announced for the 4th of November, 4 days BEFORE the UK show, I panicked. I didn't have enough money yet. I didn't even have money for the ticket! But I was saved by group of friends from the Babymetal, TX Fan Group. They bought my ticket (which I paid them back for) an provided a way to the concert. And in the process of all this I somehow ended up with a VIP ticket. Due to illness one other member would not be making it to the show. So he offered his VIP ticket to me in exchange for the package that came with the VIP. Since plane tickets were very expensive and we were under limited funds, 3 of us decided to drive to NY. 1700 miles each way, from Houston/San Antonio to New York and back. 

We shared a room with a fourth person all members of the same Texas fan group. On the day of the concert we all left for the venue at different times. We didn't all have VIP passes. I arrived around 10 AM with some others and immediately got in line. There was a small crowd of fans already lined up who had gotten there at 6 AM. As the crowd began to grow to about 50 people or so, security began to disperse us and so all those who had gotten there early were upset to lose their place. But arrangements were made to make sure that everyone's spot was saved. We decided to cross the street and wait. It was at this time I saw BOH, Babymetal bassist, walking away from the venue towards a music store next door. Needless to say, I yelled out "It's BOH!" and ran across the street and asked for a picture with him. He was such a cool person. He obliged and it is one of the most memorable moments of my life. Since we were not allowed to line up, we decided to walk around New York. We got to meet so many Babymetal fans from around the world. Sweden, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, UK, Japan, and all over the US. It was an amazing thing to see all these international people getting along and talking and smiling and making friends. Around noon the VIPs are allowed to line up again. Everyone is courteous and everyone gets back in line in the same order we were in. I'm standing behind 20 or so fans alongside my fellow Texas fans. Everyone is hyped. At around 7 PM they start handing out the VIP packages to everyone in line. It is a slow and unorganized process that seems to take forever. But in due time we all get our little goodies which consists of the VIP pass, a hologram, and a booklet with all three girls special autographs. Soon they start letting us in. I show my ticket and go directly to the merch table. Already they are out of XXL size shirts on the new 3 fox shirt so I settle for a Big Fox shirt instead. As soon as I get my shirt I head to the stage. What I don't understand is, if I was 20 or 30th in line, how did they sell out of 2xl shirts so quick and how the hell did 100 people get in front of me so fast? I did get close to the stage though. About third row. The stage is a 2 tiered stage with steps leading down to the main stage.

A hint at the difference between this show and previous shows in the 2014 tour. As we waited for the 8:30 show time, they played Anthrax on the speakers. At exactly 8:30 the lights went out, and the show began with the well known Star Wars style intro video. Soon the music for Babymetal Death starts and we see the girls rise from the middle of the upper stage and we get our first glimpse of them. The crowd goes crazy! The girls slowly descend the steps and spread out on the stage and continue to rouse up the audience. By the end of the song the whole audience is in a frenzy. My only complaint of the whole show was all the pushing and shoving. Teenagers pushing their way to the front with total disregard to those around them. It kind of defeated the whole purpose of the VIP ticket in my opinion. From that point on the whole concert is a blur. It happened so fast! They went through the whole album one song right after the other rather quickly. I give props to the girls for putting out 200% in all their shows. Their dance routines were spot on full of energy with extra to spare. Su's vocals were flawless as usual. My most memorable moments of the concert? The opening of course was epic.

Gimme Chokko with the now usual call back audience participation and Headbanger with the extended ending of Su crawling up the stairs slowly to the big gong ending the main show. Epic! Then the audience encore chant to bring in the girls for IDZ begins. By this time all the pushing and shoving had gotten to me. I am 49 years old afterall! I knew the Wall of Death was coming so I, and a few others, made our escape to the rear of the hall and watched the mayhem from safety. There were 2 Walls of Death! The show ended with a bang! Literally! Pyrotechnics and fireworks! I took one video of the show, the end. I wanted to enjoy the show and experience it without having to worry about filming. As soon as the show ended people started leaving. But the one thing I noticed most at the end was the smile on peoples faces. The pure joy of having witnessed one of the best concerts they have ever been to. It was one of the best I'd been to for sure. Afterwards we mingled with the fans and I took video of all the people and you can feel the energy flowing. There were tears flowing. Joyful tears and laughing and friendship. This was not your typical Metal show. Something special happened that night and everyone there felt it. It was at his time I concluded that i would make an effort to see them again. Once just isn't enough. And so I will. Metal Resistance episode II ends and episode III begins in 2015. And I will be there! 

On a side note. Some of us went to the rear of the venue to see if we could catch a glimpse of the band and the girls leaving. There were about 10 people there . After a while we saw the band leave in one van with pizzas in hand and a few minutes later the girls were rushed out to their van. We wanted a glimpse and a glimpse is what we got. They did turn to us and smile and wave. And I, like the fanboy I've become, yell out to them, "Su, Yui, Moa, ARIGATOU! Thank you! Please come back!" And just like that they were gone. It was an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish for years to come. I hope you get to experience Babymetal Live yourself sometime in the near future. You'll be glad you did and I guarantee you'll leave with a permanent smile."