Tokyo based metalcore outfit Crystal Lake are currently on their ‘Body and Soul Tour’ of Japan, presented by JMS. On Saturday night, Ryo (vocals), YD (guitar), Shinya (guitar), Gaku (drums), and Bitoku (bass) were at Big Cat, Osaka, and our photographer Liam Davidson was there! This is his experience as an Australian live music photographer, shooting in Japan:
What were your thoughts before the gig?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gig going into it. First of all, I couldn’t find any promotion of this gig from Crystal Lake themselves. No posts on any socials, not even Instagram stories, yet somehow it was sold out. Secondly, was it 18+? All ages? What were set times? When did it finish? What order were the bands playing in?
What I discovered was that most gigs in Japan are all ages, and everyone with a ticket gets a free drink card, including kids under 18. After that, it’s up to the bartender to decide if they’re old enough.
Set times don’t exist to the general public. All we were told was “Doors at 13:00. Start at 14:00.” I still didn’t know what order the bands were playing in, although everyone else seemed to. Every band’s set was about 40 minutes, with 20 minutes in between.
What was the vibe of the crowd before the gig?
Before each set the whole crowd was very chilled out. There were coin lockers outside the main room, and people were just sitting down having a chat. Inside the main room was the same; everyone was just sitting in the middle of the floor hanging out, waiting for the next band.
What did you notice by way of other photographers and the etiquette there?
There was only one other photographer in the pit, as well as a videographer. We smiled and nodded at each other at the start, but I don’t think either of them spoke very good English so I was in the dark a little bit. They were both very respectful and we stayed out of each other’s way.
Before the set started I had no clue what my access was: How many songs could I shoot? Would security kick me out if there was lots of crowd surfers? As far as I could tell, photographers could shoot the whole set from wherever they wanted (except on stage/side stage), although at this point I’m still not sure what my pass actually allowed me.
What was Crystal Lake’s energy on stage like? Based on the photos, they went off! Was it that high energy the whole time?
Crystal Lake were crazy. The energy you can see in the photos was just as high throughout the entire set. They commanded the crowd. Between songs they would talk with the crowd without the microphone, just yelling out. The crowd was entirely silent during these moments, which was bizarre.
How were they with the crowd?
They were very interactive, with the vocalist climbing onto the barrier a few times during the set. There were crowdsurfers and stagedivers constantly. It was not only allowed, but encouraged. You could see security working hard through the whole set, with kids coming over the barrier 10 at a time. The band would interact with anyone who got up to stage dive, but it was all friendly, as if they knew each other.
What was the vibe after the show?
Their set finished and there was an instant cry for an encore, and the band met the crowd’s desires. After their final song, everyone seemed stoked with what they got. As far as I could tell the high energy from the crowd continued after the gig was over, it seemed a lot of people were going out drinking afterwards (it was only 10pm).
Overall it was a pretty huge show. It’s hard to tell how everyone was feeling without understanding 99% of what they were saying, but it’s safe to say it was a very good gig.
[All photos courtesy of Liam Davidson]