The popular J-rock band treats Toronto to its signature glam looks and big sound.
Get ready, because Danforth Music Hall is gearing up to host the city’s inaugural visit from the GazettE, one of the most popular J-bands around these days, rocking out under the category of “visual kei” music. In just over a decade, this quintet of self-styled heroes has gone from a mere blip on the crowded music scene to a head- liner with an intensely loyal, global following.
The band first formed in Kanagawa in 2002 when two childhood friends—bass player Reita and guitarist Uruha—joined forces with vocalist Ruki (who was a drummer at the time). They were involved in several bands for a period, but eventually decided to devote themselves to visual kei, bringing on an additional guitarist, Aoi, and a drummer (Yune) who was eventually replaced by the current man on sticks, Kai.
Now what, you may be wondering, is visual kei? Even fans are sometimes hard-pressed to answer, because, rather than being limited to one genre, visual kei encompasses multiple styles, from metal, to hardcore, and even to pop music. And it’s candy for the eye as well as the ear: originally influenced by Western glam rock, visual kei tends to include beautifully androgynous band members belting out frantic lyrics, which range from hopeful to raging. The easiest way to spot their visual kei-ness is by their fabulous eyeliner and dramatic fashion sense, which is part gothic anime and part boy-band chic.
The five guys from the GazettE all grew up listen- ing to visual kei when it first burst onto the scene in the late 1980s, with bands like X Japan and Luna Sea making a powerful impact on their musical foundations. While the GazettE started as an indie band, they were charting and performing one-act gigs within a couple of years, releasing their first major label single in 2005, and debuting abroad the following year. Their success reached such lev- els that in 2008, when they decided to host a secret show in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station Square, the audience quickly ballooned from 250 to over 7,000, causing such a ruckus that police shut down the performance after only two songs. Of course, like many bands that blow up, the GazettE’s had some rocky times—but they have endured, strengthen- ing ties not only among themselves but also with their unfailing sixth member: the fans.
In 2012 the band resolved to hold their first world tour in six years, commemorating their 10th anniversary—a date that also felt like a turning point to the members, whose ambitions have continued to grow. The following year saw the release of The GazettE WORLD TOUR13 DOCUMENTARY, which gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at their collective journey. What those glimpses reveal is a surprisingly soft-spoken, hard-working group who, for all their head-banging fame and well- coiffed fortune, seem like just a bunch of guys trying to challenge themselves to put on the best show they possibly can.
On April 27, locals are in for a treat: the GazettE will be hitting the international circuit once again, and taking the stage in Toronto for the first time ever.
Wednesday, April 27, 7 pm
Venue: The Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave., Toronto)
Tickets: $59.75–$80.25, $214 VIP meet and greet package