Exist Trace @ ULU

5th May 2010
Written by Keita-Eiri Uesugi
Photography by Lorna Ransome

Hana no Sakanai Machi
Unforgive You
Lost in Helix
The Colors
Orurean No Syojo
Owari no Nai Sekai

Upon arriving at the exist†trace queue, one has to wonder, where were all the fans? And was this really the venue? Well, many questions could have flickered into peoples minds, alas, it did not matter. Based at a University Union, it would seem that the choice of venue was a big change from the typical staging for a Jrock show, and that was made apparent by the small gathering fans around a double set of fading, red doors, that clearly seemed to resemble more of an emergency fire exit to the building, instead of the entrance.

But the fans are true exist†trace fans it seems, which is a pleasure for all to see: massing eight die-hard campers for the night before and then at least another fifty people by four o’clock, and more turning up as the doors opened. Excitement beginning to surge throughout them, especially the lucky, early arrivals, who were given the great chance of being able to hear ever so clearly, the sound check before the show would begin.

Now, the venue was definitely an interesting affair, with light peeking through the cracks in the curtains against the windows upon the wall and one cannot help but think that this place really does seem to resemble a school hall. And with a barrier-less stage… what more could you need? At around ten to eight, the chants for the band would begin, the voices calling so loud and deafeningly, hands and fists banging against the stage, you’d truly never of guessed just how many people were there. With about four to five rows of people waiting with bated breath and vigour, and a few older fans taking advantage of the space at the back of the room (and access to the bar!), the lights would proceed to go down. Let the show begin.

Coming on stage to a brilliant surge of roars, “VANGUARD” outfits worn, Mally, Omi, Miko and Naoto enter the stage, closely followed by vocalist, Jyou, breaking out with “VANGUARD”, one of their strongest hits. And the crowd loves it. Although, when they came on, it would seem that they are a little shocked at how small a gathering it is (considering some other European shows had been cancelled due to lack of ticket sales), especially after the amount of noise that was made for them before hand. But it doesn’t take them long to warm to the crowd, and within just a couple more songs, including their new single, “KNIFE”, (Scheduled to be release on the 2nd of June), it is evident that the band care not for the lack of fans, and instead, they begin to come forward, engaging with the front row as much as they possibly can. You can tell they are enjoying it, especially by the cheeky looks from guitarist Omi, as she plays.

With the gift of a flag prepared for the band by the girls that camped for these ladies, Jyou would finally take it as the crowd chants her name, holding it up high, as the light casts her silhouette against the fabric. She certainly seems pleased with it, keeping a firm grasp of it throughout the entirety of the next song, “ROUGE“, thrusting her hand into the air whilst she sings.

The song that would seem to stand out the most, let alone personify the whole show, would be “JUDEA”. Although there were only four rows of people, it would seem that all would do their best to vertical headbang to the heavy parts of the music, but the section that would resonate in many peoples minds would be towards the end of the song: the chorus. With the instruments becoming silent, the other members standing still, and watching, Jyou would hold the mic out to the crowd, and encourage them to sing along. To which they do, and by far the loudest the crowd has ever sung at a gig in the UK. It is surprising, just how many fans knew the lyrics, and even the ones who didn’t, would hum along regardless, even the older metalheads at the back (who had so far been throwing some epic shapes) would stop and join in. It was truly a more than perfect, more than beautiful sight to behold and the emotion contained there in, was certainly the most intense feeling felt in the world. And would too, cast a lasting impression on the band, let alone the fans that were there.

Now, the encore was a force to be reckoned with, containing two heavy songs, including their most recent release of “RESONANCE” coupled with “WATER” and the fans, for lack of better wording, purely went insane. Coming out with items of their merchandise, with what one could call shameless self promotion, but alas, instruments were put on, and the mood was set. For a gig of little people, their was a distinct surge towards the front of the stage when “WATER” began, after all, you cannot expect to have that much space and have it last through a whole gig, right? Not that it mattered, as the crowd headbanged with all that was left within them, roaring out the lyrics to “RESONANCE” as if it was the last thing they had been set on Earth to do.

With the gig ending on a dramatic high, the band leaves the stage, not before tossing out plecs and for the lucky one or two, used water bottles and the usually oddities that would become keepsakes. As well as gracing their fans with a little fan-service from Omi and Miko, much to the delight of us all!

After the gig, many could not contain their happiness (and war wounds to boot) as they queued for merchandise and took the quick walk downstairs and out of the venue to be greeted by the cool, London air. Although, not many would stay and hang around, leaving in their friendship groups to get their travel home or to hostels. A small gathering of fifteen would make their way to the back of the venue, to wait for the band by the tour bus. Leaving at about midnight, costumes (and make-up!) removed, they quickly would wave and say goodbye, and alas, that would be the end of a beautiful show.

So, they have said they would come back? And we shall wait and see. For a poor turn out, lets all hope that that is not going to influence a return in the future, and who knows, maybe next time, a larger turn out shall greet them upon our shores!