Music

Review: Sid at Yokohama Arena

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

Passionate fandom has become the domain of pop music. Or, at least, that’s the image that has developed globally over the past decade, as intense groups of diverse people throw their support behind a wide range of mainstream acts, from Beyonce to BTS. Rock, once the hub for this type of devotion, doesn’t boast quite the same reputation anymore.

Save, perhaps, for in Japan, where rock music still has legs and can attract a passionate following. That much was clear on March 10, when the band Sid (stylized in all capital letters as SID) celebrated 15 years together at Yokohama Arena. Besides offering the chance to catch one of the more prolific Japanese groups of the 21st century, this big anniversary gig showed just how tight a connection many fans have with their favorite performers.

The Yokohama Arena performance functioned as the finale for a nearly year-long jaunt by Sid to commemorate the band’s 15th anniversary. Over that time, Sid has been a productive quartet, releasing singles that have landed in the Oricon top 10 and which have served as themes for various marquee anime, including “Fullmetal Alchemist” and “Bleach.” Fittingly, a large chunk of the band’s set featured cuts tied to famous cartoons, though this never felt like an anime-adjacent show (although backing visuals of a kind of steampunk airship flying through all kinds of terrain came pretty close to being late-night animated fare).

Despite being frequently tagged as a visual-kei group, Sid’s set in Yokohama outlined that part of the reason the group has lasted so long in the Japanese music ecosystem is variety. The four-piece moved between ballads built for those in the upper deck to mid-tempo, horn-accented ramblers. At its best, though, Sid controlled chaos, allowing it members to get a little looser and let the fuzz come through. The highlight of the evening came via a whirlwind set-closing run of four songs that saw Sid embracing fuzz and squall.

But throughout, even during the most energetic stretches, it was just as interesting to look around the crowd and see how enthused they were for almost everything Sid did. At times, it closely resembled an idol-pop show in how folks screamed out the names of their favorite member or busted out specific dance moves for each song (the best being a really frenzied headbanging move). Save for the whole “playing instruments” thing, the four members of Sid also flexed plenty of idol-like charisma, highlighted by a bit in the encore where they all came out wearing different clothes and goofed on one another over it. The audience loved it.

Perhaps owing to the anniversary central to this gathering, the mood throughout felt especially emotional and fragile, to the point where it felt like intruding to have been invited here as press. By the show-finishing monologues where each member of the group thanked the rapt crowd, lead singer Mao was just leaking tears. Besides highlighting the catalog of one of Japan’s busier bands of the past 15 years, it was also a nice reminder of how passionate fandom isn’t restricted to any one genre. Anywhere charismatic people are together creating music, you’ll find someone ready to make it a major part of their life, at least for a bit. Of course, it helps to be able to fill an arena.