Here is part two of a series on one fan’s journey to see NECRONOMIDOL in Metz, France. I am just going to let Lou from Twitter get right into it this time. This half is a bit longer than the first. I think it is worth the time.
I’ll just assume you (the reader) didn’t read part one and begin where I left off. It’s the day before the show in Metz, (Despite the picture in Part One, but who wants to see a picture with only empty benches?) I had just arrived in Metz, and I just met the Promoter for the show and he probably thinks I am a Drunk hooligan trying to score free beer.
It’s hot out and I’m dehydrated, hungry and exhausted from 18 hrs. of traveling. My first stop was to check out the venue for the Necronomidol show. I recognized Florian from Specific Records who did the LP pressing on Necroma’s NEMESIS, and tried communicating in French, which is goofy because no hablo france’.
My mental powers aren’t at their best, so I say something like “Hi, I’m Lou and I can’t wait to see the show tomorrow and I’ve traveled from The United States just to see it” I quickly added in “and of course the rest of your beautiful city”. He gave me an odd look at that point, and he was probably stressed from the planning of this thing, hot from unloading whatever supplies were in the car, Maybe he thought I was fucking with him? Maybe he just needed to switch his brain from French to English? He types in English. Shit I hope he’s not a Google Translate kind of guy like me. This can go pretty bad, fairly quick.
IDK, but I wasn’t sure if I was about to get banned from this show, I really DID want to ask about the beer. I was SO thirsty at this point…
About five seconds later, Mr. Schall reached out to shake my hand, which I did also. I think there was some quick talk about my travel there. I awkwardly said how large and beautiful the city seemed, and at that point, he introduced me to (Michelle? Sorry) his partner, and explained in French about me, I suppose. She softly apologized to me in English about how she doesn’t speak English very well, to which I said ” I don’t speak French at all, you’re doing fine ” and she was. I babbled on somewhat about how I was amazed this was a city, and not a town as I had imagined it to be. I also said something about small dogs which I associate France with for some reason. (More than bicycles, berets, and baggeutes) Boy Oh boy do I need a beer.
While I’m doing this Florian is unloading the rest of the car, and I realize I’m interrupting whatever they have to do, I say a brief goodbye to excuse myself, and Michelle starts explaining about the art exhibition going on inside the building, and Florian asked where I was staying. I told him the hotel name, and he offers up the name of a club where a Japanese band is playing tonight, and says its not far from where I’m staying. I ask the name of the club again, and It sounds like a bunch of vowels I can’t possibly remember. He offers to write down the name ( Travel guide said to bring a pen and small notepad, right again.) That sounds exactly like the type of thing I want to do. J-rock show one night, Aidoru show the next. I’m liking like this city.
It’s maybe 3 O’clock at this point, I really want to get to the hotel for the 3 S’s and add a fourth one, a little sleep. I had to walk through the Old Town. First off, everything is cobblestones, and it started off quite narrow from the across the gate. Things widened up considerably a few blocks in and there are people everywhere, My mind is focused on finding the hotel, which I do, I pull out my E-receipt because I prepaid, and recite syllable-for-syllable the phrase my book says is the magic words for hotel clerks and reservations.
I guess I did a good job because she answered me in French, and added a question in, for good measure. I make a face indicating “my bad” and say the magic rescue words pardon moi, on-glay see vou play. Merci. (the most boring details redacted)
So I eventually get to the room. Unpack my things, clean up, and open the curtains. There is a bottle of complimentary water in the mini-fridge, I chug it. I notice a coffee maker. It heats the water up in no time. I drink four cups of coffee, eat some mints I bought at the airport when I landed, and go walk for an hour. The People: nobody seems pre-occupied with shit, everyone is dressed neatly, the cafes are everywhere and packed, pre-dinner crowd, I guess? I get back, managed to put my phone on the charger before laying down for a nap.
I wake up, it’s still light out (maybe 7-ish) and I spend half an hour checking some things out on my phone. Okay I know where this club is. Can’t wait. The weather (Heathrow? Come on.) and time apps seem fucked. I keep losing WiFi. I thought Necroma’s Paris show opened at 8? Venue tweets already? huh? I start drinking the water I bought at the Metz train station, and start getting a headache. No biggee, I brought some Advil just in case. So I guess the time zone/ sunrise and sunsets are really different in France. It’s late. Like no food-for-Lou late. I ate maybe fourteen hours ago? Mints aren’t going to cut it. I race to the lobby because I remember seeing a bar and hoping some food is available. Pull out the magic french book, and order my beer, in the right size, and maybe even pronounce it correctly. Bartender asks a question. Long story short do I want a glass. Yep. Is any food still available. Yep. Merci beucoup.
Meat and cheese and salad greens and bread. Basic. I won’t die of starvation. I think maybe the bartender had to make this for me because the kitchen was closed? After a few beers I notice the last customer leaving. Don’t be the last guy in the bar. This is Rule Number One in any language.
So, I overslept. and missed a J-rock band. Damn, I get back to my room and got a private message from someone else going to NECRONOMIDOL tomorrow. We’d spoken before, so, I confirm. This really is about Necroma, I promise.
It’s 3 am and I think I’m supposed to meet this guy at 4 am at the Train station? I walk there and there’s still plenty of people walking around, the whole way. I guess weekends are pretty good here. The train station looks deserted. Maybe it opens when the train comes? I start chain-smoking while sitting on some rocks. I brought a full pack with me and hadn’t had one in umm… Wednesday afternoon? I guess I’m content or have some adrenaline flowing. Everyone was smoking on my walks, didn’t have the urge till now.
A homeless guy or vendor by the door, I’m not sure which it was since it was dark out still had some talk radio on or news? Anyway I kept hearing a word repeatedly spoken over several minutes Nec ronom Edol. That’s cool. Surprisingly nobody really shady-looking at the station, so I pull out my phone check the hours of the Train arrivals. None for another hour and a half, and it’s not from where my new E-friend is from.
I start walking. I really want to see all of the old town because it’s big. All day-long big. The streets are laid out really randomly, and I walk for a bit, not caring where I end up. I end up in front of the French Bank (all spelled in French and I still knew what it was) There are some signs with times next to it on the road I’m walking in the middle of. I know the correct time and I’m good to go. Nope. Not at all.
I hear a car behind me which is impossible because these posts are blocking all the roads. The car is maybe five feet behind me, driving maybe 15 MPH. Thank god for cobblestones. I jump to the right and just then, It puts it’s headlights on. I jumped in front of it. Fuckathon me. With all the finesse i could muster, and having seen at least fifteen parkour videos since You-Tube has been around, I stumble quite poorly out of the cars way. Cops. French Cops. I blurt out a whole bunch of “sorry I didn’t see you’s” because I’m in the wrong obviously, and they roll up the window of the minivan and drive off.
I reach for my guidebook to see if I guessed wrong on the sign I read, and it was gone. Hooray! No more guidebook drama for the rest of this story. Anyway. The sun was coming up quickly so I decided to just find my hotel. The street sweepers were scrubbing the hell out of the streets no matter where I went. France is clean, or at least Metz is. there’s public toilets and trashcans and recycling barrels everywhere. I’m using google maps and it’s been really precise so far, but there are passageways and alleys that aren’t on it
And I’m really sleepy at this point.
Walking around with your phone out kind of makes you a target, or feel like one at least. Right away someone 100 ft. behind me is yelling at me in French. I notice some stairs going into a shopping area and walk up them. I stop on top of the stairs, and light another cigarette. Guy slowly up the stairs, we make eye contact, and he asks for a light, by the way he makes the lighter flick sign with his hand. I offer it to him, never breaking eye contact, and he slowly hands it back to me. I really need some sleep at this point.
Wakey-wakey time. Hotel. 10AM . Dude I was going to meet up with says I’m at a ___ Cafe. I already know where it is. This town is full of Cafes, but I passed this one four times. We meet and start talking about going to see Necroma. He took the Night Bus from his town, and was wandering around. He staked out the nearby stuff already. We check out the Cathedral (really impressive) scope out the Opera House (big) There’s a Manga store and some other things. We walk and talk about all sorts of thing. He’s obviously not French, but says he knows English better than French. We find a place to eat that isn’t too pricey. I never figured out restaurant/cafe hours but 3 pm is apparently way too late for lunch and you might get a really limited menu. I get the standard European Lecture on Americans Eating To Fast. We discuss it and I blame the 20 min. lunches in our schools. This is the first full meal I’ve eaten since Wednesday, so I want to get back to my room. He agrees to walk me there.
Of course we’re discussing Necroma again and he says he wonders what Sari looks like without her shironuri. I say half the Lamina Maledictum video is her without make-up and he agrees. I tell him Sari probably deleted most of her old tweets to avoid that sort of thing. The Mystery is cool. On the way back to my hotel there was a Plaza with some sort of show going on. The crowd was heavy, but I saw the batons of some fire-jugglers. Looking around I saw Florian and Ricky across the plaza. I didn’t see any umbrellas, but I figured the Dark Girls were in there somewhere, and decided to leave because they’re not on the clock, as it were. Well that and kayfabe. We walked from the plaza for a few minutes, and then me and my new friend parted ways. OF COURSE, somehow at that precise moment, who happens to come into full view, The entire Necroma Entourage, Ricky and Florian in the lead. At that point I just made a beeline towards my hotel. I’m pretty sure I spotted a few of them earlier across the way from the opera house, too.
5pm, 1700, I’m the only one around. I don’t see a sign, so I’m thinking maybe the back gate I spotted yesterday might be the entrance. There’s a parking area adjacent to the old city wall, it’s a public park, and theres an eighty foot drop from the wall, to the river below. I spot a small group, they’re “partaking in some consumables” as it were. Probably not waiting in line for Necroma. The gate ahead is rusted and padlocked. I had to be sure.
Sound check SKULLS IN THE STARS is being played. I’m really about to see Necroma perform in a few hours. A friend from back home texts me asking if I want to hang out. Fuck that world for the moment, I’m seeing Necroma. I go up top to watch some sound check. The equipment sounds good. Real good. I noticed the FanCan vids on YouTube sound weird, that’s because being one yard from the stage monitor, the mix is vocal heavy. There’s a camera tripod mounted on the wall. This will be good.
6pm, 1800, Two hours before the show. There’s someone in one of those Disc Union Painfully Violent Guso-Drop Tees, I wonder if I should say hello. I have time, so I’ll wait. My legs are starting to cramp up. People are starting to gather in the courtyard. People in button up shirts. Many Rock-looking dudes with concert tees. A few Idol group tees, some J-pop and j-rock tees, Some people in Anime Tees. Some older couples there maybe there for some avant garde dance, I wanted to to meet up with a newbie french wota. I had just made Twitter friends with a few of the Japanese wota, both take excellent photos, I don’t see any of these people around. I wonder If the task of taking pictures will fall on us Gaijin.
7pm, 1900 an hour to go. The courtyard is getting fairly full. People are socializing and my friend from earlier in the day arrives. We start analyzing everybody there. I don’t know where the line between anti-socialability and shyness is, but I think the two of us are treading it quite well. My pal points out some woman wearing some high-end Fet stockings. Everybody waiting seems to be in a good mood.
At this point, I made it a point not to look at the time, and just try to watch everything going on. I think the doors opened a little late, but I’m not sure. I was only fifty feet from the door, it was all a wide open space. The moment the door opened everyone made a rush. I wasn’t fast enough. No way in hell I’m getting a bench seat.
Walking in, we were frisked. The concert area was straight ahead through a door, the buppan table was right next to it. They only had the LP and a stack of the Metz poster prints. At the time. Just then I spotted Florian, and he greeted me. I asked quickly about buppan sales, and he said Ricky took the stuff with him(?) and looked really busy at the moment. To the left was the room with the beer (and wine) stand. I naturally had to have an ASAHI beer. the bathroom was in here as well, along with some rather large contemporary art pieces.
So out into the concert area. The “stage” extended maybe 12 ft. out from the building. It was the lowest point in the area, since it was an amphitheater setup, without the curved seating. The benches were full, seeing how people spread out a little. I already knew I’d be on the lawn. I sat down next to my buddy.
There was some music playing kind of low, I didn’t recognize. I don’t even remember what style it was, honestly. More people were coming in by the minute, I noticed some people coming and going: booze and bathroom stops I guess. The Lawn was filling in tighter and tighter. but I wasn’t giving up my place right behind the “Sweet Spot” where the loudspeakers were probably time delayed to sound their best at. I watched where the sound engineer was taking his readings from. I had a basic idea what he was doing.
I guess the girls weren’t there yet at that point, because Ricky took all five mikes and was “sound checking” them in Russian(?) in front of the stage monitors. I’d bet this was the most time he ever had to deal solely with sound staging since at that point, the Girls weren’t there and other people seemed to be taking care of everything else.
At some point Ricky walked inside, and a few minutes later I noticed something through the open door of the buppan room glowing. It was still fairly light out, but the lights inside were not turned on at this point. I could make out a grey square next to it, but that’s about it.
The natural light outside was what photographers call “golden hour”, and of course the glowing was Sari’s shironuri makeup. The grey square was actually Okaki’s top. In every photo i’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen more than a few Necroma photos in my day, Sari’s face always looks white. The same exact kind of white that’s been in most Necroma uniforms since the beginning. Bright white. Very Bright white.
In person, Sari’s face was ten times that amount of white. Not glittery. Not Shimmering. Not shiny. We’re talking Uranium mixed into the foundation white. Otherworldly white. Throughout the night, her face retained this “glow”.
To get back on track, at this point they were standing inside, waiting for something. I think all the members were visibly waiting at that point.
I could go through all the songs, but I won’t.
They started with 4.7L, which I was very happy with. I know lyrically it’s a “sexy” song, if getting your otaku self exsanguinated is considered “sexy”. The choreo, tight, and yes, sexy. Okaki, dayuum girl. Now, I had a Hina shirt I was able to get quite a long time ago from Japan. It was hand made, but not a screen printing. I really don’t know How it was made, but I treasure it.
I proudly held it over my head for a few seconds until someone behind me said something. I’m really sure they weren’t saying “hey man, nice shirt! ”
Dawnslayer. Insane. Some girl in a sundress next to me stood up to take a picture a little too long. someone threw a big piece of bark at her. Yeah, she sat back down. I think some people 20-30 feet behind me were standing, because the hill flattened out and they couldn’t see otherwise, but everyone just wanted to watch the performance. I tried taking a few pictures, they sucked, but I never used the camera I brought with me before. I’d rather watch the show, anyway.
Sarnath. Maybe one of my favorite songs. Anybody who’s been a long-time fan of Necroma may feel like I did, and thought of this as one of Hotaru’s signature songs. She left and that sucks, but the chemistry from DEATHLESS is definitely there. Guess what people, Himari really OWNS this song front to back. She brings her own style of insane desperation to the Monologue part as well.
While I’m talking about Himari I never noticed how much she uses her hair as a “third arm” in some of the more graceful choreo. It works great for her.
Keres Thanatoio. (bias alert) Hina prancing around as the Goddess of war is the most amazing thing ever. Risaki and Sari’s routine of being some sort of Kabuki Marionette subject to her whims being shuffled around by Rei and Himari is pretty fun to watch, too.
It started getting considerably darker around this point. Sliding towards dusk. I noticed one of the people I probably should of met up with, but he was taking LOTS of well-timed pictures.
More than a few songs had the vocal parts changed around, for the better, I’d say. No, I can’t think of one single example.
Rei has gotten so much better in the last few months, Everyone else in Necroma has been Idoling for years. She’s obviously been working really hard to match them.
ITHAQUA and Skulls In The Stars in French. Wow. I think I Prefer the French Skulls. I don’t know how you learn TWO songs in a foreign language while still performing them a couple a times a week in your native tongue. I was impressed, I hope the rest of the audience was.
Audience participation. I think many people there may have only seen the MV’s, or heard a handful of songs. The times where it should have been easy
(like the clapping in Ithaqua) it was really messy. Maybe this falls into the “don’t block someone else’s view” category?
Ricky. Now I always wondered what Ricky does exactly when the Girls are performing. I figured he works the light show (no lights were here, at all) and maybe just made sure the next song was cued up. Nope, That isn’t it at all.
I mean to say, he obviously Does cue the next song up when they are ready. He’s watching where the microphones are in proximity to the stage monitors, and pulling DOWN microphone levels when they are Not singing, and bringing levels UP when they are singing. You may have noticed the microphones travel over every inch of the stage, with the way the choreo is. There’s no magic anti-feedback device, even in this day and age, well I guess there is, but in-ear monitors are a little out of their and most other musicians’ price range.
They ended with Skulls In The Stars, and people clapped very enthusiastically. There was enthusiastic clapping after most of the songs, actually. a few songs lead one right into another, and people would start clapping and then have to stop.
End of the show, Buppan time. It was a huge mob trying to get through the door, since the Buppan was right there. I walked down the stairs in front of me, and said something to Ricky like, “Hey man, thanks for a great show” I think he said thank you. I figured Ricky is behind me, if he has the Buppan stuff, I’ll be good to go.
Now my original plan was to buy a Tour shirt, a cheki or two and a copy of the French Version songs CD. I think the Necronomidol Europe Facebook page mentioned it a while back, but didn’t say which songs. They did a limited French CD a while back called En Tout La Tout or something like that.
So with Ricky obviously still behind me I don’t have to fight to get inside. As I approach the door a little closer, I see Ricky at the Buppan table. The old sneakaroo. The beer/art room had a door as well. Dammit. I wiggle my way to the door way and see the last shirt being sold , I’m looking at an empty table, save a small stack of Cheki tickets, and Ricky looking bewildered and graciously apologizing in English, because I don’t think he speaks much French, and I think The people here spoke English well enough. Many people seem eager for stuff, and he can’t accommodate them. He’s still super nice.
For the record, The shirt was an all black version of the “Blood Red Skies” artwork, I don’t know what the back said.
Ricky had a box of chekis and I brought a pocketful of Euros from the good old USofA. I heard the price of the cheki tickets about a minute prior, and when I asked for a cheki ticket he asked how many (I guess you’re only supposed to do one or Two? Breach of Etiquette. OOPS. I bought five.
Around this time I went into the beer room, since some cheki tickets were being sold, and I guess the girls were “freshening up” after the performance. I figured I’d do my cheki’s last, anyway. I went into the beer room for a minute, noticed the bathroom had a line. I took a pic of the tickets, since they are Rare, put on my Hina shirt so I wouldn’t lose it, and
I wandered back to the Buppan room, Just as Rei is hurrying outside to the stage area. I know where the Chekis are being taken. Cool.
It’s dark out, at this time except for some light coming from the Buppan room. There are a LOT of people out here. We’re all on this 12 foot wide deck pretty much, and people are standing on the front row benches, and Ricky is taking pictures. Some are cell phone pictures, some are the Instax cheki’s. It’s kind of chaotic. I’m just waiting for the line to get shorter. I’m not in a rush. Someone made an announcement in French, and someone else said something to Ricky about having to be out of there by a certain time, or there not being much time left. One of the guys waiting for a cheki didn’t know he had to buy a cheki ticket. Maybe he really didn’t know, I don’t know how many people do know about chekis, that aren’t already in to Japanese culture things. Maybe he wanted a freebie. Maybe he was drunk. In any case that dude came off as an asshole. Anyway he kind of made a scene until someone led him away, it was dark at that point, I really couldn’t tell who did that.
Ricky kept asking who’s next, because the crush of people didn’t really allow for a proper line to form. he asked me and I said no get more people out of line first. I was wearing a different shirt at that point, then when I bought the tickets, he probably wouldn’t have asked me otherwise.
So it gets to be my turn, and there’s still a bunch of people standing around, probably to get stuff signed afterward? There’s another announcement about needing to leave very soon. I think everybody’s eyes are adjusted to the dark by now, and it’s not so hard to see. Maybe more lights are on in The Buppan room? Anyway Ricky starts asking me about the shirt. I don’t think any of the girls even saw the shirt at that point. I guess he saw how it was printed and asked me how i got it. I told him a short version of how i got it, and then he had to explain it to them, and they talked with each other for a few seconds. Now i’m feeling a little uncomfortable about this whole cheki situation,and Ricky asks if any different poses that I’d want, I’ve seen a lot of chekis and wanted the “choking” cheki. Now, they barely even touch you so I knew my windpipe would be OK. I also suggested kneeling and maybe a “stepped upon” one. First one I knew was terrible I did the old “family picture” pose, I went to to the stepped upon, but my legs were all tensed up from hiking the city that day. I think at that point I tried Kneeling and I stepped on Okaki and Sari’s toes. I didn’t turn around to find out. Okaki kind of used the long drape of her sleeve to guide me to where I was supposed to pose for one shot. They all sort of guided me down without touching. It was a little spooky in a very comforting way. I got my chekis from Ricky, and Hina pointed at the shirt I was wearing, and said “That’s Me!” and I said something like “Yes it is!” I wanted to stay, but I heard someone say something else about the time. and then I left….and I almost left my Hina shirt in Metz.
And I need a new Guidebook.