If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ll know from last weekend and the year prior about my love for Babymetal, a Japanese group joining heavy metal with pop idol music. Babymetal began their 2018 World Tour at the start of this month, beginning in the U.S. and moving onward to Europe. My husband and I opted to attend the Austin concert on May 10th, their second stop on the tour. We had seen them perform the previous year as a participant in Pain in the Grass and as an opener for Korn. This was our chance to finally see them as the headliner amid a crowd of fans just like us. I had always wanted to visit Austin, which would also be my first trip to the state of Texas. The combination of Babymetal, and the city’s amazing music scene, food, and culture made this one of the most enjoyable and relaxing vacations we’ve taken.
Austin’s venue for Babymetal and opener Skyharbor was the still fresh Moody Theater, a 2011 space which holds approximately 100 concerts a year and is capable of seating 2,750 people. The downtown location is smack in the middle of a treasure trove of food, entertainment, and hotel options, and is easily the best music venue I have visited thus far. The theater’s three stories and tiered seating ensures that almost every single seat shares a full view of the stage—the exception are the seats fully obstructed by standing columns, which in this case were not even available for purchase. We were in balcony seating, smack in the center and only a few rows from the lip.
When we first arrived early to the venue, we already had planned to get a bite to eat then stroll in before the opener. The line to enter already stretched fully around the block and then some. If you are not part of General Admission for the first level and pit, then there is no reason to line up early. Entering until just before the opener allows you to whisk yourself right through without having to wait. ACL’s security also optimizes for volume and efficiency. Their bag checkers and hand held metal detector wands make quick work of clearing large numbers of attendees through a process other venues often make painful.
News about a missing member of the group had spread quickly following the first performance in Kansas City. Yui, one of the three faces of Babymetal, was nowhere to be seen or heard. Her absence was neither shared beforehand, nor explained at the concert or even immediately following. It wasn’t until a huge outcry from attendees and fans that one news source was able to get official word of her absence for the U.S. tour and, very likely, Europe. While Kansas City’s negative response brought down the energy of the concert, their disappointment was understandable. They had the unfortunate position of being the first on the tour to discover this news; every city afterward had time to cope and knew not to expect Yui. My husband and I endeavored to have fun no matter what, and to wish for a day when we can again see the group as a whole.
The concert started with a short set by Skyharbor. While I wouldn’t say I’m a new fan of them as a group, I thought them likeable enough and well suited to the tour. It was clear almost everyone was here for Babymetal—the instant intermission hit and preparations were underway to reset the stage, the atmosphere became even more charged with excitement.
Set List (pulled from Reddit):
- In The Name Of
- New song (“Elevator Girl”?)
- New Su solo song (“Tattoo”??)
- Megitsune (with C&R)
- Gimme Chocolate
- Road of Resistance
- The One (Legend S arrangement)
The performance was much as we’ve come to expect from the girls and the band; their energy could be felt to the back walls of the venue. They brimmed over with love for their music and fans, who responded in kind with nonstop cheers and chants.
Every single level of Moody Theater has its own lounge area with bathrooms and a bar, so you don’t need to worry about running up and down stairs. While the tour merchandise was only on the ground level, there were plenty of opportunities to head down and line up; we ended up going at the end of the concert when there wasn’t an official line and customers were crammed up against people trying to exit the theater (don’t do this). We walked away with two t-shirts—”Metal Sound” and “King of Darkness”—and a fox god Dad hat. The shirts we grabbed from their Korn tour have held up pretty well despite many washes, so I’m confident we’ll get a lot of wear out of these new ones.
So here comes my criticism, which you should note as coming from someone who loves the band as a whole and these critiques in no way takes away from my continued appreciation for them.
As much as I had endeavored to enjoy the performance without Yui, her absence was unavoidable in the choice of songs and dances. Two girls filled in for her, bringing the total to four on stage with Su and Moa. They helped round out the routines, though Moametal often picked up the moves usually shared with Yui, going above and beyond to perform for two. Su-metal performed a number of solos, which did well to showcase just how much her voice has strengthened over these past years.
The concert ran a little under one hour, a grievance felt by almost everyone on this tour since the duration seemed like something easily remedied. Most Babymetal concerts include sections and songs by the Kami Band without the girls. This was not the case here. They did play some short sections, but I really wanted to hear them more and not only as an aside to the vocals. If the concert could have sprinkled two or three Kami songs throughout the set list, then the duration could have easily gone over an hour. “Heavy metal” is part of the genre, so why not indulge in it and show a bit more appreciation for the band members? I also wish Babymetal had performed “Headbanger,” though they did include the majority of their most popular songs.
Then there was the pervading “Chosen Seven” that bookended the performance and gave us two new songs in the set list. They were accompanied by new outfits which look something like a cross between Egyptian gods and Roman soldiers, with a dash of Wonder Woman. This is to be expected, but I’m still on the fence on whether or not I like the style with its more monochrome scheme (black with gold accents) and headdresses. The updos have been replaced with long, loose hair held in place by wide headbands for an arguably more mature look.
Much has changed since the girls first came into the limelight in 2010. The girls are older now and I want to go with them as they grow and change. The “Chosen Seven” they keep hinting about concerns me since it makes me think new faces will switch out with the current members. I would rather see the three girls transform than see them replaced. If this means they break up and go their separate ways, then so be it. But I’ll wait to see what this all really means and hope for the best.
By the time this post comes out, the girls will be on their way to Ohio for the Rock on the Range music festival. If you can, I encourage you to go and cheer on the girls and the rest of the bands. Babymetal begins their Europe tour in Germany on the first of June. If you’re going to any of these concerts, do the group proud and yell out your support!
Let me know which Babymetal songs are your favorite!