Babymetal in Tilburg: An Electrifying Sonic Spectacle

TEXT & IMAGES: ANIECK VAN MAAREN | There is a lot that has been said about Babymetal’s style of kawaii metal, with heavy metal purists often discrediting the Japanese trio, but none of that sentiment was present in the sold out 013 in Tilburg on Sunday night. The venue is bursting with fans, eagerly lining up throughout the corridors for merchandise and many donning maid costumes or carrying glowsticks, while others stick to black t-shirt and jeans only. It’s the type of crowd that can only be found at a band this niche, yet so big.

The first band to grace the stage are support Wargasm. The electropunk duo have been on an upward trajectory in their own career, with their second album released in 2023 and collaborations with Fred Durst and Enter Shikari, among others. Their self-proclaimed style of “angry songs for sad people” takes a while to woo the Babymetal crowd however. By the last song, they manage to get a moshpit going and get a fair portion of the crowd to sing along. A lone crowdsurfer makes his way to the barrier, to the chagrin on the front row fans. Maybe the Babymetal crowd isn’t quite the right one for Wargasm, but they don’t let it stop them from putting on a show.

When the lights dim for Babymetal, a Star Wars-esque introductory video from the Metal Galaxy welcomes fans to the Metalverse. The girls storm the stage single file and immediately burst into dance for the first notes of Babymetal Death, the opening track to their hugely popular 2015 self-titled album. The track immediately flows into fan favourite Gimme Chocolate!!, to a chorus of screams from the crowd. Pa Pa Ya, Distortion and BxMxC follow, each with their own impressive dances and plenty of fan interaction in between. A mixture of grown men and teenage girls dance along to the choreography with baffling precision. Su-metal, Moametal and Momometal have the audience in the palm of their hands, and rightfully so.

When we get to the portion of the setlist with tracks from their 2023 album The Other One, an excited fan at the barrier exclaims “oh my god, it’s happening!” which seems to be the sentiment amongst most of the crowd. It’s bookended by their latest single Metali, which gives a great opportunity to highlight how incredible Babymetal’s live band actually is. Each granted their own solo towards the end of the song, the masked men well and truly put the ‘metal’ in Babymetal. 

In the realm of metal, Babymetal often finds themselves underestimated, perhaps due to the unconventional fusion of metal and J-pop or the fact that their lineup exists of young women. However, those who approach their performances with scepticism are in for a revelation when they happen to catch them live. Babymetal’s unique blend of genres creates an electrifying visual and sonic spectacle as their energy, precision and undeniable talent comes together to deliver an unforgettably fun show.