Boyz in Pink Hair and Eyeliner

Visual kei band Duel Jewel

Tonight I saw Duel Jewel at the Liquidroom in Ebisu, a ‘live house’ with standing room for about 400. The band is a classic example of visual kei: glam metal overlaid with stylish Japanese punk. The guitar-thrashing boys and girls (not always clear which) take the stage in bruised-looking make-up, hair out to here, and enough piercings to set off the metal detector at Narita airport. Gotta say, though, the audience put on a show to rival the band.

Every song has an odori, an intricate handjive that turns the sea of bobbing heads into a flock of five-fingered birds, all moving in unison. Occasionally, a frenzy of hair-whip headbanging breaks out, but of course, since this is Japan, it’s all done in such a skillful way that you never get a mouthful of your neighbor’s dead protein.

The band played from 6:00 – 9:00 (nightlife depends on the last running subway trains at midnight, so events start and end early in Tokyo) and if there was a glam rock Olympics, these guys would be on the podium. Serious aerobic workout, seriously tropical conditions. It being July, the lead singer had to wring out his t-shirt several times on stage but miraculously, his hair remained PERFECT. (What military-grade hair products he uses remains a burning question…)

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more