I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I saw VAMPS in New York City. I made so many great friends in line, and I still communicate with them via Facebook today! –G. E.
Waiting for Hyde:
Curiosity Killed The Average New Yorker
It was 7 in the morning when a skinny, middle-aged woman in a tracksuit jogged up to us and asked “What are you guys waiting for?”
Carey, one of many fellow fans I had met for the first time that very morning, asked her friend Shannon to hand her the signs. After receiving the pile of lined paper from Shannon, Carey proceeded to display the first page to the skinny woman. In crude Sharpie marker, the sign read:
We are here for VAMPS.
After staring at the words for a moment with a confused expression on her face, the skinny woman responded by asking, “What is that?” Carey tucked the first page behind the others to reveal the second sign.
They are a Japanese rock group!
“VAMPS” is the popular side-project band of Japanese rock star Hyde. In Japan, “Hyde” has been a household name for over a decade.
Hyde’s major band, L’Arc~en~Ciel, keeps busy dishing out one hit single after another and playing Tokyo Dome (a venue with more than twice the capacity of Madison Square Garden) for the umpteenth time. This year, the band celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Although Hyde doesn’t sport fame in the United States equivalent to that of bands like Green Day per se, his fame among American Japanophiles is enough to earn VAMPS a spot in the 2009 Vans Warped Tour and a 2010 World Tour including four concerts across America.
On Saturday, October 9th, I attended VAMPS’s concert at The Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
After reading the second sign with an increasingly confused expression on her face, the skinny woman asked “How long have you all been here?” Carey revealed the third sign.
Yes, we’ve been here ALL DAY.
My friends thought me insane for heading over to the venue at 5 in the morning. But I knew better. By the time I got to Roseland, there was already a block filled with VAMPS fans standing in line for the 8 p.m. concert.
By “standing,” I mean fans huddled in blankets, sleeping sprawled out on the dog-piss-covered Manhattan sidewalk.
Chatting in line, I could tell that these fans were truly dedicated.
According to Josh (a friendly, chubby VAMPS fan dressed in a kangaroo costume for some unknown reason), some fans had been waiting in line since Wednesday.
Many had come in from Syracuse, Connecticut and the like. Some – such as die-hard fan Mayline – had flown all the way from faraway places – in Mayline’s case, Puerto Rico – just for the concert. Mayline had even lied about a death in the family just to get time off work.
The skinny woman, confused as ever, continued asking questions. And for every question, Carey had a pre-made sign with the corresponding answer. “7 in the morning, and Carey was already an expert at this,” I thought to myself. “Only 13 hours to go.”
Taxi drivers stopped at the light would shout out their windows at us. We would shout back and, once the light turned green, they would drive away still chuckling.
Tourists stood with their cameras snapping pictures of us. Fans in line would retaliate with their own cameras. Upon seeing cameras flashing in their direction, the tourists would flee.
Theater-goers would ask us, “Is this the line for Jersey Boys?” or “Is this the line for Promises, Promises?” They would leave moping about how young people don’t appreciate Broadway anymore.
Sometime during the afternoon, the VAMPS American tour manager came around and handed out flyers with Hyde’s face on them. We figured the flyers would make our lives easier, a visual tool to show curious passersby.
Unfortunately, the flyer just seemed to confuse people more.
Around 5 p.m. and about the gazillionth curious passerby, VAMPS fans in line started getting fed up with all the questions. Down the line, we started hearing people walking past, complaining, “Why didn’t anyone tell me there was a Justin Bieber concert today?”
By that time, the VAMPS line must have already reached the Letterman Show a few blocks up. I can only imagine the kind of hell that part of the line was getting. “What, you’re not here for Letterman? What’s wrong with you?”
After all her questions were answered, the skinny woman seemed disappointed. As she jogged away, she sighed, “Okay then, enjoy yourselves.” She didn’t even stop to read Carey’s last sign:
Thank you for your time!
Perhaps the skinny woman would have been less disappointed if Carey’s first sign had read “Bette Midler.”
2012: L’Arc~en~Ciel went on to become the first Japanese band to headline Madison Square Garden. The “WORLD TOUR 2012 LIVE at Madison Square Garden” concert DVD will be released December 26th.
Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas