By Bunny Bissoux
Picture the scene: the bass player is dressed in a silver crop top and hot pants paired with thigh-high, heeled boots. The drummer’s waist-length, rainbow-coloured hair flails around an outfit of leather bondage gear with every thumping beat. The guitarist plays a wild shredding solo in a Marie Antoinette-style ball gown complete with wig and feathers. The singer winks a fake eyelashed eye from behind wisps of striking white hair before launching into death shrieks and erotic moans.
It would be easy to presume at least one of these band members we’re describing is a woman, or that they’re playing at a Halloween hair metal concert in 1987 – or even that this is some kind of performance art show. In fact, this is a fairly typical gig in the modern Japanese world of visual rock, with ‘visual’ being the operative word. Every weekend, at venues across Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro, bands like this entertain a giddy crowd of almost entirely female fans who express their adoration through furious, synchronised arm movements and co-ordinated hair thrashing. This, oh wide eyed reader, is the intriguing world of visual kei.