Drag queen anime at 160bpm (or faster)
Sunday late night the Red Marquee turned into a sort of extreme TV variety show with the Tokyo Shock Boys, and following that was the impossibly weird blitzkrieg pop of Ziyoou-Vachi (女王蜂), a band of drag queens playing 160 b.p.m. anime music. Pound for pound (or perhaps kick-beat for kick-beat) it was quite possibly the most entertaining set by any band at this year’s Fuji Rock.
In Japanese kanji, Ziyoou-vachi literally means “queen bee.” There were five of them on stage, dressed like they were going to a Cosplay convention, and the music took cues from anime, visual-kei and the high camp of drag queen karaoke. For some reason the lead singer, Abu-chan, was wearing a sort of sci-fi cheerleader uniform and had all of her skin painted blue, like one of the people from Avatar. The others wore similar uniforms and painted their faces white. The music was super loud, high-bpm heavy metal with sing-along children melodies, the kind of stuff that will instantly drive a normal human being insane. Within the space of 30 seconds, it can move through about eight different genres, making schizoid jumps from children’s pop to a capella singing to acoustic strumming to glam metal power chords. This is typical Japanese anime music — four years ago, Ziyoou-Vachi created the theme song to the anime film Moteki, establishing themselves within the genre — but this band is also at the same time much stranger.
Throughout the 40-minute show, Abu-chan pranced and waved her arms and hips with manic intensity. Her voice was a husky, nasal drag queen voice. For one song she jumped between her regular male tone and a female falsetto, singing a duet by herself. She was a sexy, campy minx, and during the 40-minute set, she and the band paused once to take a breath and address the crowd in a 1-minute talk set. Otherwise it was a non-stop barrage, with songs bursting out of each other like stages bursting out of rocket on its way to space.
As performances go, this was a band practiced to perfection and giving it a thousand percent. The crowd was in a frenzy from start to finish. Few other acts at this year’s Fuji Rock have done as much. The performance was 38 heart-pounding minutes, a mass jazzercize workout for the entire Red Marquee crowd, Abu-chan stood upright, waved a sexy wave, shouted out “Arrigato” and sashayed off the stage, as the other band members followed. It was over are suddenly as it started. My jaw was on the floor, and I still had no idea why Abu-chan was painted blue.
Photo: Miyuki Samata | Text: Dave Frazier
Posted on 2015.7.30 11:23
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