Am I concerned that there hasn’t been a Tokyo Idol Festival 2014 update since the initial reveal three weeks ago? No. Did I just lie? Maybe. Am I worried that iDOL Street won’t participate this year? My personal motto is “Never worry about anything.” But yes I am worried. Very worried. Am I going to rename TIF 2014 “Tokyo Reira Festival” or “Tokyo Sara Festival”? Neither, that would be stupid. I’m naming it Tokyo ReiSaRa Festival. Am I going to keep asking rhetorical questions? No. Are there already annoying things about TIF 2014? Yes. But I’ll keep them to myself… for now. (edit: the TIF website just updated yesterday. That’s so GEM!)
Thinking back, I’m not sure whether TIF 2012 or 2013 was better organized. TIF 2012 was definitely much better overall, but organization-wise, 2012 and 2013 each had their own strengths and weaknesses. TIF 2012 had more stages, but the timetable totally fell apart. TIF 2013 added one cool stage, but removed three. The timetable was much more accurate, but the stages were a lot more congested. Ideally, the producers will look at what worked and what didn’t the past two years. If you take all the positives from 2012 and 2013, mix them in a giant bowl, and then bake to a golden brown, you would create the best TIF cookies ever! I mean TIF experience.
1. Planning for bad weather
Last year it started raining at about 7:30 PM, which closed Sky Stage and Smile Garden. This cancelled the night performances of predia, Mai Kotone, Shizukaze & Kizuna, and Dorothy Little Happy. While the organizers can’t control the weather (scientists are still 2-3 years away from that kind of technology), rain was in the forecast a week beforehand and back-up plans could have been devised. There are two indoor stages conveniently located right next to each called Doll Factory and Enjoy Stadium, which could have been used as alternates for the outdoor stages. Particularly since both stages closed early and had gaps in the timetable which could have accommodated the groups performing at the two outdoor stages. (If that didn’t make sense just nod and pretend it did. The following visual will clearly explain everything.)
Last year predia tweeted being on stand-by for an hour, while they waited for the rain to let up. Unfortunately it never did, and they all fell asleep. Based on the above timetable, the performances from Sky Stage and Smile Garden could have been transferred to Doll Factory and Enjoy Stadium. There were 10-15 minute gaps at Doll Factory and Enjoy Stadium, which could have been minimized to fit in one extra group, and a half hour could have been added to each stage to cover the others. Just follow the arrows and note the black squares. It should all make perfect sense now.
TIF “Hot Tip” #1: I would advise checking the weather forecast throughout the day. I checked the weather in the morning, but I never checked it again. The weather was perfect in the morning, so I figured it would be perfect the whole day. That’s how weather is supposed to work. Had I checked the weather throughout the day, I would have realized that there was a very high chance for rain in the evening. And for some reason I didn’t notice the ominous looking clouds appearing. In my defense I’m an idiot. Had I known that the weather was changing for the worse, I may not have not gone back up to the roof to see predia. Honestly, I would have gone anyway. But I probably would have gone up at a later time.
2. There should be a million stages. Or at least eight.
TIF 2012 had eight stages on Day 1 and nine on Day 2. TIF 2013 had six stages, one of which was completely useless (no offense Venus Church). Attendance at TIF 2013 was several thousand higher than 2012, so basically there were thousands more people, packed into less stages, resulting in longer queues and an overall worse experience. Last year they changed the location of the main stage (Hot Stage) from Zepp DiverCity to Zepp Tokyo. You can walk from one to the other in less than ten minutes. Considering the fortune of having two venues that close together, they should open up both and have competing main stages. That would almost single-handedly fix all of the issues. If they really want to make the fan experience better they would also bring back the outdoor stage near the entrance of Zepp DiverCity and the second rooftop stage called Secret Court.
But we’re not supposed to talk about Secret Court.
The ultimate stage setup aka “If TIF 2012 and TIF 2013 got married and had a kid named TIF 2014″
- Two Main stages: Zepp DiverCity and Zepp Tokyo
- Two outdoor stages: Smile Garden and Green Oasis
- Two rooftop stages: Sky Stage and Secret Court
- Two mid-size indoor stages: Doll Factory and Enjoy Stadium
If TIF 2014 followed the above map, this would (1) resolve the overcrowding at the main stage, (2) improve the rooftop area (going up and down for one stage is a little weird), and (3) reduce or eliminate all of the queuing. Also note the removal of Venus Church. (No offense Venus Church!)
3. Open the Marketplace before TIF begins
TIF begins at 10AM, but there are already hundreds of people waiting around as early as 8. They should open the marketplace at that time to allow these more hardcore fans the ability to purchase goods (more like greats) in order to avoid having to shop during the actual performances later in the day. Nobody wants to waste time in the marketplace once TIF actually begins. I’m sure they would get more sales if they open the marketplace earlier, since there isn’t anything else to do to pass the time – except maybe wait at the lobby entrance for groups to arrive.
4. TIF stop being lazy!
If you are familiar with TIF’s scheduling you may have noticed the frequent time-slots filled by multiple groups. Sometimes the arrangement makes sense, like a block of groups from a certain region (e.g. groups from Osaka or Sapporo) or from the same label (all of the Street-sei teams sharing a stage). More often though the blocks are completely random and just TIF being lazy, since scheduling several groups in one time-slot is much easier to organize than creating individual time-slots for every single group. The following image shows how easy it would be to break up these random blocks into individual performances.
(1) The schedule on the left is from TIF 2012 and clearly lists the performance times for individual groups. (2) The block in the middle is from TIF 2013 and features a random mix of groups with no relation except they evidently like to “smash” and “play.” (3) TIF organizers could easily split this block into five 15 minute segments, allowing fans to better plan their day. (That’s great but why did you write GEM so large?)
Am I being too critical? Check out this stage from TIF 2012:
What an abomination! Three words: SUPER LAZY. The stage on the left (Sky Stage) featured a massive 3-hour block of groups that would make it practically impossible for fans to know when their group would perform. Imagine if you just wanted to watch w-Street Osaka. Although the groups are listed in order of appearance, that only provides a vague estimate on when to arrive at the stage. Compare that with the stage on the right (Secret Court) which clearly listed the specific times for the groups performing. TIF organizers think they are being clever by setting up huge blocks of performers. They’re actually just being lazy.
But everyone knows I’m still a TIF fan.
5. TIF and overseas fans
The TIF website updated a day ago with a section specifically for overseas fans (well, specifically English-speaking overseas fans… because they are the coolest) <- Totally kidding! (I’m not kidding). The initial TIF reveal mentioned they were going to try to increase foreign fan attendance this year. Providing updates in English is a great start — but TIF organizers, let us not forget our friends in Iceland. On behalf of the fans there, please provide updates in Icelandic as well. The recent update mentioned it will be possible for fans from anywhere in the world to purchase tickets in late May. (Even in Zimbabwe?) Especially in Zimbabwe!
Obviously that is great news, but I’ve been thinking about the bigger implications of their push for foreign fans. The first two lineup updates have been underwhelming, mainly appealing to the fandoms of those specific groups. If they truly want to entice overseas fans to attend, then I’m hoping this means they have a very impressive lineup planned. Without groups that have broad appeal, TIF will be a very hard sell. Since I’m an eternal optimist, aka an idiot, I’m going to assume there will be a fantastic lineup with a few surprises.
Two words: Mano Erina coming out of retirement for one last show! With special guest Atsuko Maeda!
My TIF Wishlist
5. READY TO KISS
8. Dorothy Little Happy
9. Houkago Princess
10. IDOL Street Street-sei
11. Himekyun Fruit Can
12. Cheeky Parade
13. Tokyo Girls Style
Unfortunately Himekyun already scheduled a concert elsewhere and won’t be attending – they are dead to me!
Sara “pic of the week” ™
Sara: Oh no, I’m trapped in a box!