Photo by Megumi Iritani

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If you ever wondered what would happen if you combine visual-kei, Japanese traditional elements and a ton of humor, then zigzag would be the answer. With their unique and creative concept and performance, and incredible musical skills, they made sure every single person in the complete sold-out Budokan was having the time of their life. 

-Shintenchi Kaibyaku Shuudan- zigzag (short. zigzag) (−真天地開闢集団−ジグザグ) started their activities in January 2016, and immediately got much recognition for their unique concept. While at first glance there are many traditional Japanese elements, from their music to costumes, their songs are usually about the most everyday things. Adding a ton of humor to the mix and never taking themselves too seriously, it is apparent that many can relate to this band, as shown by their performance with the title zigzag (慈愚挫愚) on 15th November, 2022 in the legendary venue Nippon Budokan being completely sold out. We had the pleasure to experience and share with you our impressions of their special performance. 

In complete darkness, various band footage from their past was projected onto a huge screen in front of the stage. The band arrived from behind the screen onto the stage and the first song started: TAGATAME (タガタメ). Although you could somewhat see the band through the screen, the main focus was on the screen and the footage and lyrics projected on it. 

It was during PROMIS, the second song, when the screen in front of the stage fell and you could finally clearly see the band: -mikoto- (vocal) played the guitar while singing; -kagemaru-’s (drums) drum set was so high that it was impossible to miss any of his movements; -ryuya- (bass) was fully in his element, moving gracefully while playing. 

After KONOHA (コノハ), it was time for the first MC of the evening. The band members were waving excitedly at the fans and -mikoto- explained that although shouting is not allowed at the venue yet, fans were allowed to clap. To make sure, the fans were up to the task, -mikoto- shouted yei yei yei and the fans were to clap to the same rhythm afterwards. Then some faster yei yei yei yei yei – the fans managed. By the third or fourth time, -mikoto-‘s yei yei yei yei rhythm got too complicated for the audience to keep up with and everyone laughed as they had to give up clapping – it was impossible to beat -mikoto- at it. It was a wonderful way to connect to the fans and make them laugh. -mikoto- proceeded to say that they were extremely surprised to hear that almost all tickets had been sold at a very early stage through their fanclub and they couldn’t believe that so many people would come to see them. -ryuya- admitted that it was so unbelievable that he wasn’t even nervous up to the morning of the show, and -kagemaru- just seemed excited to be there. 

Photo by Megumi Iritani

And again, changing the mood completely: NIHAO WANTANMEN (ニイハオ・ワンタンメン), with its traditional asian sounding intro, was next. -ryuya- jumped to the fun and light music, while -mikoto- was busy doing furitsuke and tilting his head left and right to the beat of the song. Then both of them and the support guitarist made steps left and right simultaneously, an extremely lovely sight, almost looking like a dance routine. But then: everything went dark except an eerie red light that filled the room while -mikoto- made the most amazing and impressive growls and shouts, and fans started headbanging like crazy. And as quickly as that happened, we were back at the fun and light melody, swinging left and right again, now with the fans joining.

After the emotional ballad GOGATSU NO YUKI (五月ノ雪), it was time for another MC. After making sure the audience was still alive, -mikoto- informed them that they are a visual-kei band and inquired whether there were bangyas in the audience (although not many dared to admit and raise their hand!). -mikoto- explained that they have not been a band for a long time and already had to say goodbye to a band member who was quite popular, which caused them to lose many fans as well. They were close to giving up and quitting, but because they couldn’t give up on music, they were able to stand on this stage today. 

“Bangya, your heads!!” shouted -mikoto- as he came up to the platform, spread out his arms, and the first sounds of SOREDEMO HANAYO, SAKE. (其れでも花よ、咲け。) started. The fans immediately began headbanging. This is another song where you can experience the wide range of -mikoto-‘s vocals, from traditional japanese singing to shouts to a beautiful, emotional, melodic voice – this song has it all. During this song, -kagemaru- also seemed to enjoy himself, as he was constantly twirling his drumsticks while playing, which seemed a bit too effortless, and you could just tell – this drummer is extremely talented. 

After quite light songs, such as USAGI GIRL (兎girl) and LAST DAY LOVER (ラスデイ ラバー), the mood got darker again with REQUIEM and GURU. On the huge Budokan stage, -ryuya- had plenty of space, which he used to move a lot, headbang, and gracefully lean back while playing. -mikoto- switched effortlessly and impressively smoothly from rapping to singing high notes to growls. 

Photo by Megumi Iritani

Another very distinctive feature of zigzag’s performance was the videos that were displayed on the screen above the stage during the songs. During KAO GA SUKI (顔が好き), the lyrics of the song were displayed in the most crazy constellations, such as the smallest font size you could imagine or huge letters or some parts of the lyrics being censored. Them earnestly playing songs with crazy things going on on screen was the most hilarious combination, which also describes the band very well. 

After APPARE CHINDOUCHUU (あっぱれ珍道中) and BOUKYAKU NO KANATA (忘却の彼方), all members left the stage and there was a small break, during which you could hear a whistle tone through the speakers, which fans imitated by clapping. However, again, the rhythm of the whistle became too fast for the fans, and everyone laughed. Then, everything went dark again and -kagemaru- and his drum set were lit up and ready for his drum solo. Already the first beats and the venue was completely shaking. While in the first part of the solo, -kagemaru- motioned for the fans to clap along, and it seemed like a joint performance, the second part was completely breathtaking to say the least. The solo was quite long, and although you could tell that it was hard work and took a lot of skill, -kagemaru- looked to be playing as effortlessly as can be, laughing and flashing his arm muscles in the end. With that, the rest of the band came back with the intro of KAERITAI KEDO KAERENAI (帰りたいけど帰れない) (transl. I want to leave, but can’t). Smoke shot from the stage and the fans were continuously jumping left and right. While -mikoto- was portraying the essence of a person who wants to, but can’t, leave, -ryuya- was dancing and singing while playing, and -kagemaru- took every opportunity to stand up from his drums and connect with the fans. 

Then, out of the blue, 14 dancers ran onto the stage, wearing tour t-shirts and pants in different colors. -mikoto- announced that he wanted to dance with everyone as he showed and explained the moves. After some practice rounds, SMILE★KAWAIINEN (スマイル★かわいいねん) started and the fans had the opportunity to put their dance skills to the test while the dancers danced on stage and the band joined in as well. 

Another highlight was AISHI ANATA KYOUKAISEI (愛シ貴女狂怪性). As the dancers left, torches on stage lit up with fire, and fire shot high up from the stage, changing the venue’s atmosphere completely. While the fans headbanged, -mikoto- walked confidently on the stage, seemingly not even caring about the fire shooting up around him.

Photo by Megumi Iritani

KIZU TO USO (傷と嘘) was another ballad where -mikoto- could display his soft and emotional singing voice. Smoke covered the stage floor and -mikoto- asked the fans to turn on their phone lights. Although the audience part of the venue was completely dark, with every single person in the venue turning on the flashlights on their phone, the venue became as bright as in daylight. The screen above the stage showed the venue from the member’s perspective, so it was not surprising when all three members started tearing up and crying. 

And with the words from -mikoto- “please show me your cute faces”, it was time for the final song of the evening: KICHUNE NO YOMEIRI (きちゅねのよめいり). Fans broke out in happy clapping and golden tape shot from the roof of the hall. An extremely fitting and joyful song for the celebration that was this concert.

Although zigzag are only in their 6th year of activities, after experiencing their show, it was not surprising that they were able to reach and sell out Budokan already. Starting from the talented and flawless performance of the members, to the incredibly creative and unique staging of lighting and video footage on screens, it was an unforgettable experience. It was also very evident how important that day and performance was for the band and that they can’t wait to share their continuing journey with their fans, as they announced more concerts and releases in the upcoming year. So don’t miss out on the zigzag experience! 

Report: Olga
English Edit: Kaity

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It would be great if you could support us with a small donation.
It might not be much for you, but it would help us providing more and better interviews in the future.
With a little bit of your support we might be able to realize even more!

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