(Originally posted January/February 2014 on my previous blog, Quid for Quill.)
If you haven’t read the first part of this trip, you can read it here.
Part of the excitement of our tickets for the VAMPS show was that after more than an hour of trying for them on release day, I scored us two VIP tickets. The VIP bonus for the Los Angeles show was a meet ‘n greet.
Everything on the House of Blues website had mentioned this would be after the show. I am so happy I called the HoB before we had lunch to find out more information however, because it had been moved to an hour BEFORE the doors opened for the show. Apparently some people did actually miss the pre-show event and I felt bad for them. HoB did a poor job with that one.
Knowing we needed to be at the venue by about 5:30 we wasted no time heading to our room once it was ready for us after lunch.The room was incredible. The only other really fancy place I’d ever been was the Venetian in Las Vegas and that still paled to Beverly Hills in some ways. (I suppose the two are just different types of grandeur, if you will.)
Our room was huge, first of all. And the BATHROOM. Oh my goodness. Tameri and I had already exclaimed in giddy awe over the guest bath in the lobby, but the one in our room was even crazier.
I wanted to take that bathtub home with me. So badly. It was the deepest bathtub-that-wasn’t-a-pool I’ve ever seen and I’m still amazed I didn’t fall asleep in it after the show just from pure comfort and relaxation and utter bliss and euphoria. (By that time I had also been awake for about 42 hours straight.)
What you can’t see in that picture is the separate toilet behind a door off to the right. Why do I mention that? It had a bathroom scale in it. AND a landline phone. After a brief discussion, Tameri and I decided the phone was for the stars who had just weighed themselves to call their personal trainers crying because, heaven forbid, they gained a pound from the exquisite food.
Tameri was the first to look out the window and discover our ‘neighbors’ across the street. We felt the need to take pictures and admire the view with a bit of awe for a few moments.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some Gatsby thoughts, standing there at the window, looking across the way.
(A writer’s best friend is her curiosity!)
It didn’t take us long to be ready to head out into the night.
A tradition not common here in America that is more common in Japan is for fans to give gifts to the artists they adore. I think this a wonderful and personal way for fans to express their love and appreciation for musicians in a way they could not personally do otherwise.
I thought for a very long time on what I wanted to give Kaz and I finally decided on a stuffed owl. I know he has kept a couple of stuffed animals over the years and owls are a special significance for me in many ways. What better to give him than something personally important to me? I searched everywhere for the perfect owl; and it wasn’t until just a day or two before my trip that I realized owls are often considered good luck charms, and protectors from suffering and hardship in Japan. Perfect.
I also wrote Kaz a letter, but he does not understand very much English, so I did my best to write it in as much Japanese as possible. I learned that around 3 o’clock in the morning I have a period when my brain does not process the foreign language just yet, and functioning in it is very difficult. But if I struggle through that, suddenly functioning in it becomes much easier than I believed possible. (Further proof I know more than I think I do when it comes to the language and now it comes down to training myself to be able to USE that knowledge.) The last few lines I really wanted to say to him I couldn’t begin to guess at the grammar for, and so I wrote them in English with the hope and prayer he could understand or perhaps someone would translate for him.
Shhh…. what I wrote is a secret. But I did not write anything typically fangirly, I can promise you that! No proclamations of love or exclamations of ‘YOU’RE THE BEST EVER’.
Off to the venue we went and while waiting in line I chatted with the boy and girl standing in front of us. I heard him mention what a treat this was to see VAMPS after having just taken the JLPT only 3 days before and I told him I was thinking the very same thing! Then he told me he’d taken the first level (and most difficult) and I was a little sad at that… Someday that will be me!
(Side note update: I passed the N5, but haven’t yet gone to the effort to take further tests. Considering the N4 next year, but haven’t decided.)
To be honest? The meet ‘n greet was a disappointment in many ways. No photographs allowed. Tameri tried to film me greeting Kaz, but she was quickly informed that was not allowed. (Even though the ‘handlers’ didn’t know she had already clicked record.) It’s because of that recording that I know precisely how long I got to speak to Hyde and Kaz BOTH. 5 seconds. There was no time to say anything more to them than ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you for coming’. Not that I ever expected to have a long time with either of them, but I had hoped for 20 or 30 seconds. Long enough to say something worthwhile. Looking back I could have said something a bit more to Kaz if only I’d been prepared to have so short a time.
Still, despite that, I shook both of their hands and I walked out with my heart full. I know I shook Hyde’s hand, but I don’t remember anything about him other than a slight smile and him saying ‘Hello’ in his very quiet, very sweet voice. Kaz didn’t say anything – I didn’t expect him to – but as soon as I was standing in front of him and he took my hand… time stopped. And then when time hurried up all too fast, the rest of me was still at a standstill. I fought tears for the next ten minutes, at least, because I was so happy. There are a few things I would still like to tell him someday, and I know the chances of that opportunity coming around again are very slim, but if you’d spoken to me last summer I was still dreaming the far-off dream of seeing VAMPS perform live someday at all. My dreams didn’t even dare touch on the idea of meeting him for real. I’ve learned a few times in my life to never truly believe that something is impossible. And if I ever DO meet Kaz again, I’ll be more proficient in his language and tell him the few things I didn’t get to before. Someday.
The concert itself was INCREDIBLE. I used to be quite the rocker girl and I didn’t realize until this show just how much I miss being on the floor of a rock show.
I’m not sure if I can even begin to describe the thrill of the music running through me during that hour and a half or so. I was a little closer to the stage than halfway back, just close enough to really feel close to the artists even though I’m sure they never noticed me.
The music was so hard and loud and pounding and PERFECT. That’s something I adore about VAMPS. The heaviness of so many of their songs. Not to mention how catchy the guitar is, even in the roughest music. (Upon a bit of research I found out that almost all of my favorite VAMPS songs were actually musically written by Kaz. Just one more reason to adore him as an artist! Like I needed another reason.)
I went crazy when they played Revolution, sang my heart out for Trouble, lost myself in Vampire Depression and Redrum, and cried during Sweet Dreams. The girl standing just next to me and slightly ahead of me kept looking sideways at me for that. I’m fairly certain she thought I was crazy. Maybe I am. That song means a lot to me. I was in the moment. And on the floor of a rock show, you just let the emotions happen however they come.
Seeing VAMPS was more than I ever could have dreamed it would be. I was blessed to see them in a very small venue, something that happens so rarely for them now. I was blessed to meet them, however briefly. And from it all, my heart is still full.
The world is a very small place under a very large curtain. You never know when your soul will meet the people most important to it. Take those opportunities. I had said for awhile that I would drop everything and run if only I could meet Kaz one day. The instant the universe gave me the chance, I did just that. And I’d do it again. I still have things my heart wants to tell him.
Stay tuned for Saturday and the final part of the trip!!
All pictures in this post taken by Lissa Clouser or Tameri Etherton.