An intense heavy metal gig inspires our newbie from Maximum the Hormone to live life to the fullest.
Maximize Hormone is a Japanese heavy metal band perhaps best known outside of Japan for their song “What’s Up People!”, used as the anime’s opening theme Death threat.
‘What’s up people!’ came out in 2007, but the band is still very active to this day, with their fans calling themselves Harapeko (“The Very Hungry”). And while Maximum the Hormone (MTH) has a loyal group of “hungry” fans here in Japan, it turns out there are Harapekos all over the world, as the band recently wrapped up a European tour. The band played five venues across the continent, finishing at France’s famous “Hellfest”, playing alongside music legends such as Korn and Judas Priest.
Our journalist Ikuna Kamezawa seems to have a habit of crossing paths with MTH fans, and over the past fifteen years has befriended at least five people who consider themselves “starving”. One girl, Mizuki-chan, loved MTH so much that she sang their songs nonstop at karaoke. She sang a song, Koi no mega-lover, so much so that Ikuna developed an allergic reaction, and every time she heard this song, she had to leave the room.
▼ Koi no Mega-Lover (without Mizuki-chan)
Over the years, Harapekos has tried unsuccessfully to make Ikuna a “hungry” fan too, telling him how much fun the band’s concerts are. A fan enthusiastically told him: “There was a concert where everyone had to eat raw garlic before entering the room! It was totally awesome! But it was one particular comment from another fan that ultimately piqued Ikuna’s interest —
“It’s really hard to get tickets for MTH shows. There are people who haven’t been able to get tickets for ten years! But if it’s a European tour, you’re more likely to get tickets. You’ll never have that chance again! Plus, if you go to the British show, you can also go sightseeing in London!
The serious presentation hit on Ikuna’s twin weak spots – once-in-a-lifetime opportunities mixed with her love for the UK – and so she quickly found herself on the outside. Brixton Electric, a famous concert hall in London. She was amazed to see that people were already queuing when she arrived around 5:30 p.m. Lots of people too; how did so many people outside of Japan know about MTH?
The show wasn’t supposed to start until 8 p.m., but the band was arranging a meet-and-greet starting at 6 p.m. Meetings before concerts are not very common in Japan. Some venues hold handshake events before or after a concert, but they don’t give you a real chance to interact with the artists themselves. Kind of like a treadmill, Japanese encounters tend to be very brief, so when Ikuna joined the queue to enter the venue, she assumed the group would be behind some sort of barrier, and she didn’t. would have been able to see them for a moment
▼ They were there!!
Yes, the band was there in the room, and people could chat and take pictures with them. Again, this is nothing particularly out of the ordinary in other countries, but in Japan, to be so close to the artists is almost unheard of. Ikuna was particularly impressed with how the group members took their time to interact with each fan one by one, and she couldn’t help but be touched when she saw the happy faces of the Harapekos. .
▼ Two fans pose for a photo with the band.
Interestingly, the the meet was only available to non-Japanese citizens. It turned out that Ikuna wasn’t the only Japanese person at the concert that day; a group of hardcore Harapekos from Japan had come to see the concert. But when Ikuna asked them about the meet-and-greet policy for non-Japanese people, she was surprised that they all replied, “That’s absolutely fine. It is an international fair. It seemed that MTH was also hosting these kinds of intimate and personal encounters in Japan, so Japanese fans were okay with international Harapekos taking precedence.
The kindness and generosity of MTH fans was there. Hopefully that generous spirit would be extended to someone like Ikuna, who came to an MTH concert with almost no prior knowledge of any of the songs (except for Mizuki-chan’s “Koi no Mega-lover”) . A few Harapekos at home had told him that once this the song starts, you should be careful,” but she didn’t have time to fully think about what that meant, as the show suddenly started to cheers from the crowd.
As soon as the band started playing their first song, Ikuna was pushed forward with the swell of the crowd. She had planned to watch the show discreetly from behind, but she now found herself in the second row, and as the second song began, the men around her began to take off their shirts. They were all covered in sweat and Ikuna began to question his life choices as the crowd grew wilder.
The third song started, and Ikuna recognized it as ‘the song to watch.
The warning was appropriate; the song, it turned out, was What’s up folks! The song was probably the gateway for many people to become MTH fans, so it’s understandable that it got a huge reaction. People started crowd-surfing, and Ikuna soon found herself sandwiched between two sweaty, topless men, completely unable to see the scene. Perhaps that was what raw garlic was supposed to be for – to keep others a safe distance from you!
As the band went through the set list and the crowd got wilder, Ikuna found herself tripping and nearly falling a few times. This kind of concert was far too intense for an MTH beginner like her! Eating raw garlic would be so much easier than that!
As the group played their ninth song, Ikuna saw an opening and rushed to the back of the crowd. Finally a safe place to relax…! or so she thought. As the next song started, the crowd immediately started making a mosh circle and Ikuna found herself sucked straight into the vortex, falling to the ground.
As a writer, Ikuna has done some pretty things, but as she felt herself falling, she started imagining the title of her latest article – “SoraNews24 writer crushed to death in London, lack of raw garlic to blame “. Fortunately, her gig mates quickly noticed that she was in trouble and quickly lifted her to her feetand told Ikuna that the “safe places” were to the left or right of the crowd.
Stumbling to the side of the crowd, Ikuna finally had a clear view of the stage, safe from swirling mosh circles or sweaty topless dudes. Before, she was fully focused on just staying alive, but now that she was here, she could watch the crowd and see everyone enjoying themselves. She let out a sigh of relief and began to enjoy the music.
But it was too little too late, because the group announced that the next song would be their last!
As Ikuna reflected on the concert, she honestly couldn’t say “the songs were so good!” or “the band was so cool!” for she had spent most of her time trying not to be trampled to death. However, there was something special about the crowd coming together, sharing each other’s sweat, transcending nationality and becoming one.
Usually the band would be the star of any concert, but Ikuna felt like the crowd was the star of this show. They had an intense, burning energy like the sun, and while Ikuna was afraid of being “burnt” today, she couldn’t help but want to be part of the sun itself in the future.
The opening notes of the last song started, and incredibly it was ‘Koi no mega lover‘!! Finally a song that Ikuna knew! She was so proud of herself that she dove back into the mosh circle, ready to be part of the crowd. In an instant, his 15-year-old allergy to the song was cured, and his memories of the song were replaced with new, happier (and sweatier) ones.
With that, the show was over and Londoners Harapeko began marching. Before they all disappeared, Ikuna wanted to know how so many international fans came to find out about MTH, so she asked a few on her way out.
This couple was among the many who told Ikuna they first heard MTH through Death threat. Ikuna was surprised and thrilled to learn that overseas anime fans were also the kind of people who go to blow off steam at concerts like this.
This couple had come from Poland to see MTH, after trying to get tickets for ten years.
This gentleman-looking gentleman came after being invited by an old school friend.
This mother-daughter combo was also nice to see!
This lively-looking band also seemed to be fans of Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah, and told Ikuna “That’s why we love MTH!”… Ikuna wasn’t really sure what that meant, but enjoyed their cheerful spirit.
Fans had discovered MTH through a bunch of different sources, but were all united in their love for the band. Thinking about how they had gathered from different countries for the concert, Ikuna felt that she had made the right decision by dropping everything and going to a country on the other side of the world to see a Japanese band. that she hadn’t particularly liked. up to this point. She went with the flow and a whole new world opened up to her.
And either way, she can finally join the next time Mizuki-chan sings “Koi no Mega-Lover.”
Photos © SoraNews24 (unless otherwise indicated)
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