Are Babymetal the strangest thing you'll see at a festival all year?

Babymetal made their UK debut at Sonisphere

Are Babymetal the strangest thing you'll see at a festival all year?

Photographer: Sara BowreyAnna Hyams on 07 July 2014

Japanese Pop or J-Pop is something of an internet phenomena, and hasn't really reached the height of UK music culture, other than as one of those things emo kawaii kids brandish as a cool-tool on their blogs, but J-Metal is another thing entirely. The backing band enter the stage wearing ghostly white sheets and Black Swan style face paint and proceed to do one of the most bizarre soundchecks to grace a UK stage. With a shout of "Onogaishimasu" the guitars are turned up, but the extraordinarily fast Japanese that follows and the band engaging with the already built up crowd - no-one is really sure if they're talking to us or not. It's like 'Conversational Japanese with Babymetal' and the guy in the Pikachu costume a few rows from the front is already super excited.


After a very strange and stereotypically weird VT of a fox in space forming Babymetal and telling them that ''all roads lead to Europe'' eliciting a huge roar from the surprisingly large number in the arena, the three leading ladies 15-year-olds Yui Mizuno and Moa Kikuchi, and 16-year-old Suzuka Nakamoto,
strut onto the stage wearing Gothlolli uniforms consisting of Gladiator style waistcoats, red tutus and adorable pigtails. As the band launch into a rolling death metal beat, these e pint-sized popstars begin a series of synchronised dance moves like tiny angry cheerleaders. It's hard to separate what you think of the music and what's being seen on stage, and there are a lot of bemused faces in the crowd.


As Babymetal warm up, the fascination in the crowd changes to respect for a band who dominate the stage in a unique and unusual way, it's not every day you see heavy metal choreography. Yelling "Louder" at the riled up audience, Babymetal aim to get the crowd chanting a chorus along with them, to no avail - no-one knows what they're saying.


Having been formed from another Jpop group, and having no clue what metal even was, it's easy to see how Babymetal have created their persona - it's basically a checklist made up from watching metal bands. Circle pit, check. Crowd surfers, check. Gratuitous guitar and drum solos, check. They've even hit the holy trinity of costumery - black, metallic and facepaints. Another odd mid-set VT confusingly instructs us that Babymetal stand for 'No more bullying forever' and then indicate that they would like to see a 'Wall of Death'.

The crowd oblige but it doesn't work all that well in the rain, but the succeeding circle pit is definitely rowdy. By this point their melodic dual guitars and cutesy high pitched pop mixed with gutteral screams is causing a ripple of respect throughout the crowd and as they exit the stage calling "Seeeee youuuuu" Sonisphere gives them a loud sendoff. It's safe to say despite causing quizzical amusement site-wide, Babymetal are leaving Sonisphere with an awed reverence after a rocking show, proof be held in the mass exodus to the merch stalls for Babymetal t-shirts.

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