Tokyo Idol Festival 2016: Recapped in less than a million words

16 Aug

TIF 2016 banne FinalTokyo Idol Festival 2016 in one sentence: My favorite TIF, but also the weirdest. 

My actual schedule (anything in red is where I deviated from my initial plan)

The Good
1. Attendance
TIF reported total attendance for the three days at 76,000, making the daily average about the same as last year. Despite similar numbers, from my experience, attendance seemed much lower this year. I thought this was most obvious at the paid stages (Hot Stage, Doll Factory, and Ship Stage). The free stages (Smile Garden, Dream Stage, and Festival Stage) were extremely congested, however. Since I spent most of my time at paid stages, this worked in my favor. Stage congestion fluctuates with the popularity of the groups performing though, so my experience could be very different from someone who had a different schedule (e.g. a 46 or 48G group fan). There were still queues for Doll Factory and Sky Stage, they were just less frequent and smaller than last year. Sky Stage also had a different access point, which I think helped, but I can’t confirm since I never went up. 

2. The weather
This year easily had the best weather of any TIF I’ve attended. Summers in Japan are extremely humid, and the heat can be unrelenting. This year was hot, but it was less hot. And it was humid, but less humid. It also never rained, which has closed stages in the past. It basically felt like California weather. 

3. Ship Stage >>> Last year’s Hot Stage

ship stage

This is what Ship Stage looked like. source: pbs.twimg.com/media/CpOWwJ-VIAEqWnT.jpg


The stage looked extremely janky and the barriers were excessive, but it was a massive improvement over last year’s Hot Stage, which it replaced. The floor area was much larger, easier to access, and most importantly, was often less than 30% full. This meant you could leave the stage to get a drink, get food, or use the restrooms which were next door, and then return without any hassle. Last year if you left Hot Stage, you had to get back in a queue that sometimes never moved. The only negative compared to last year was exposure to the sun, since last year’s equivalent stage was covered. This was a big drawback, but wasn’t an issue after sunset, which was the best time to visit this stage.

CpQSWOHUIAATO6g

This photo isn’t great, but Cheeky Parade’s performance at Ship Stage on Day 3 finally made me a fan. https://twitter.com/CP_yuna_ist/status/762254421430448129

4. Three days are better than two
I think this is self explanatory, but in case it isn’t, three days are better than two. [Oh, I get it now.]

The Weird
1. Separate tickets for 46 and 48 Groups
Not an issue for me, but if I was a fan (or if I needed separate tickets for the groups I happened to like), that would have been extremely annoying and likely would have reversed my opinion of the entire event.
2. Security presence

One of the first things I noticed when collecting my wristband were the 20+ security guards standing near the TIF entrance. I don’t recall security at last years event, just normal staff. During the day there were 3-4 guys patrolling Doll Factory and at night at Smile Garden, I saw several guards tackling fans and subduing them. These images clashed with my perception of TIF, just as heavy security at Disneyland or armed troops patrolling the Eiffel Tower change the atmosphere there.
3. Sparkling Night event
I think the organizers went about this in a “1 step forward, 2 steps back” kind of way. I don’t think idol groups should be segregated, but the main negative was scheduling the event while TIF was still going on. This stage should have been scheduled an hour later, so it didn’t compete with the more popular groups performing at the three other stages during their timeslot.
4. Special lives for fans with TIF shirts
Unless you care absolutely nothing about fashion, dictating what people wear to an event is lame.
5. TIF please don’t tell us what to climb and what not to climb, kthx.

6. Ship Stage was cool, but banning the shade? Really?
At Ship Stage, the walls surrounding the venue created shade, but fans weren’t allowed to stand there. On one hand, I can understand their logic–fans would have absolutely set up makeshift hobo camps like they did at Smile Garden, but standing in the sun for hours isn’t fun or healthy. They should have allowed fans to stand there, just not sit. Issue resolved.
7. On a related note, TIF please set up some canopies at the queue areas or let fans wait inside Zepp DiverCity.
Canopies are super inexpensive, yet year after year fans have to spend hours baking in the sun for no reason. If TIF is too cheap to do that, let fans queue inside Zepp DiverCity. That place is huge. Issue resolved.
8. A media section at Doll Factory that was completely unnecessary.
On Friday, Doll Factory had a runway stage which most groups didn’t touch, but the most annoying aspect was the large roped off area reserved for media. There was like 2 or 3 photographers max, who could have shot from anywhere in the venue, without wasting floor space. Fortunately, they removed the runway stage for day 2 and 3.

9. Unrelated to TIF, but I found this amusing.
Within one year, the parking lot near Doll Factory turned into a BMW & MINI dealership.

An easier to read version of my schedule :P
Performances I thought were great are in bold, and my favorites are in red.

Day 1 – Friday Day 2 – Saturday Day 4 – Sunday
Afilia Saga Magical Punchline Lyrical School
Tenkoshojo Ciao Smiles SUPER☆GiRLS
KNU nanoRider (nanoCUNE) Maneki Kecak
BELLRING @17 TokimekiSendenbu
drop palet GEM
Narumi Takiguchi Ciao Smiles, others Fudanjuku
Akishibu Project Kaori Sakura Sakura Gakuin
MAPLEZ Musubizm Yume Ado
Bakusute Sotokanda Stella Beats Dance Philosophy
Yumemiru Adolescence DollElements PPP! PiXiON
PASSPO☆ Up Up Girls BiSH
predia predia Akishibu Project
Sakura Cinderella World Standard nanoRider
Dorothy Little Happy LinQ Houkago Princess
Yufu Terashima DollElements Cheeky Parade
DollElements 9nine  
Houkago Princess “Hiroshima idols”   
DollElements GEM  
PASSPO☆ drop  
  PiiiiiiiN  
  Kamiyado  
  Yumemiru Adolescence  

And then there is this thing…

A 2-Day New Years collaboration between TIP and @JAM is being planned for January 2 and 3, using both Zepp Tokyo and Zepp DiverCity, along with Fuji TV facilities (which sounds like the TIF stages). Reminds me of the FIVE STARS Festival from 2014 that Tobi and I went to. I’ll put it on my schedule. Maybe they’ll give free tickets to oversees fans again.
Screenshot 2015-01-13 17.23.57
The End

Tokyo Summer 2016 Mini-Cap™: Yumemiru Adolescence, GEM, and Akishibu Project

15 Aug

Going to Japan was a last minute decision, although I was deliberating it for a while. On July 31, I finally decided and booked my flight and hotel for August 3–12. My main motivations were seeing Akishibu Project, Yumemiru Adolescence, drop, and GEMAnother motivation: I had purchased tickets for J-POP Summit in order to attend Silent Siren’s U.S. debut in San Francisco on July 23, but as luck would have it, I ended up getting a job interview at a new school the following Monday, so instead of going to San Francisco, I spent the weekend preparing my presentation for the interview. So I wanted to make up for that loss. Everything turned out for the best, I got the job, went to Japan, and I’ll see Silent Siren when they perform in Los Angeles in September. 

Every summer, I stay at the same hotel in Odaiba, because it’s a ten minute walk to Tokyo Idol Festival. After checking in, I went to Akihabara to see Yumemiru Adolescence at Akiba Cultures Theater. In the ten times I’ve been to Japan, I’ve only been to Akihabara twice, and I had never been to a show at Akiba Cultures. For some reason, I’ve also never been to Ginza, even though that is the first district of Tokyo I learned about when I was in college studying Japanese. Surprisingly, I was able to purchase a ticket to the show using my Pigoo account and credit card. Now in addition to being able to purchase drop and Maneki Kecak tickets, who use Peatix, I can also purchase tickets for shows at Akiba Cultures. That’s so GEM!™

This is the process I used for entering the lottery and purchasing a ticket
1. Register for a Pigoo account (assuming you don’t live in Japan, you’ll have to fill in a fake Japanese address.)
2. Wait for the pre-sale period, which varies depending upon the type of membership you have. For free accounts, I believe the lottery period begins ten day before the show. You can review the details here.
3. Enter the lottery and wait for the results, which will be sent to your registered email address.
4. After you win the lottery, pay using a credit card or paypal.
5. You’ll receive an email confirmation, which includes your ticket number.
6. On the day of the concert, pick up your ticket 30-60 minutes before the show start time by showing your email confirmation along with a form of ID. 
7. Pay the 500Y cover. If you plan on buying merchandise before the concert, arrive early, because sales end about 15 minutes before showtime.

This was a new experience for me and it was a little nerve-wracking, because I kept thinking my ticket would be cancelled since I used an American credit card and a fake Tokyo address, so hopefully the above instructions are helpful.

Yumemiru Adolescence
YUME LIVE! @ Akiba Cultures Theater

August 4, 2016

I arrived at the theater 30 minutes before the start time, and since I’d never been there before, I tried to casually observe what was going on–which is difficult when you stand out. Eventually a staff member yelled out that anyone who still needed to exchange their ticket should go to the ticketing area, so I walked in (still kind of thinking there was a chance my ticket could be invalid). Fortunately my fears were unfounded and I was able to show my ticket confirmation in exchange for a real ticket. The girl helping me checked my ID and I wonder if she compared my California address to the fake Japan address I used for my Pigoo account. I was prepared to explain the situation if pressed, but it wasn’t necessary.

After getting my ticket, I was literally a few seconds from entering the queue for merchandise when they closed it, because by that time it was 15 minutes until showtime. My ticket was #289, which is pretty bad for this venue, since capacity isn’t much higher than 300. The concert sold out, and I think they sold extra tickets beyond normal capacity. Despite my high ticket number, I had great visibility from the standing area in the back.

Most of the fans in my area were pushing Karin (who is also my favorite), and since she is color-coded red, we were the red light district. Which reminds me, when I was still at home packing my luggage, I tested my penlight and found that half of the colors weren’t working–it’s supposed to toggle through 10 colors, but I lost yellow, light blue, brown, purple, and two others. 

The concert lasted only about an hour, but I knew that beforehand from watching their previous YUME LIVES. The concert was great and now that I know how easy it is to purchase tickets, I’ll go back in the future, since a lot of groups I like perform there. The venue also isn’t as janky as I once thought :D The low-res streams on niconico kind of give a bad impression of the theater.

And I feel very mature for not once mentioning how hot the members are.

Setlist
1. Suterusu Bukai 25: 00
2. Mai Gene!
3. Mawaru Sekai

4. Shomei Teenager
MC: Announced a free live on 8-13, the day after I leave :P
5. Oshiete Schrodinger
6. Fantastic Parade
Encore
7. Love for You (new single)
8. Hi! Summer Dreamer


GEM, Yumemiru Adolescence, Up Up Girls, Moso Calibration, et al
GIRLS❤GIRLS❤GIRLS SUMMER LIVE!! @TSUTAYA O-EAST
August 9, 2016

When I found out that Yumemiru Adolescence was performing at an event called GIRLS❤GIRLS❤GIRLS SUMMER LIVE!!, my first instinct was to purchase all the tickets and not share GIRLS❤GIRLS❤GIRLS with anyone! But then I got hella dizzy looking at the word GIRLS so many times in a row and realized one ticket would suffice.

A friend mentioned that this event sounded like a strip club, which reminded me that when I was in fourth grade, when returning to school from a field trip, our bus drove by a building that had a huge sign that read GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! I was only ten at the time, but I remember my best friend and I thought that was hilarious and wish we could have gone on a field trip there instead.

The concert was two days after TIF and was sponsored by a Tokyo radio station celebrating their anniversary, which is why the lineup included groups which typically wouldn’t participate in a shared concert. This was also the last real show I would go to for this trip; everything else was release events.

The full lineup in order of appearance: J-Dee’Z (opening act), Zettai chokkyū joshi Play Balls, Tsubaki Factory, GEM, Bakusute Sotokanda Ichome, Moso Calibration, Yumemiru Adolescence, and Up Up Girls.

I’ve never seen J-Dee’Z, Play Balls, or Tsubaki Factory before. I’ll just write one sentence about each:
J-Dee’Z’s music and style is kind of old-school and the way they dressed, it was like they just pulled clothes out of their closets and then went on stage.
Play Balls are a baseball-themed idol group and they have two guys in the group who wear baseball uniforms and act like idiots on stage to the delight of their fans.
Tsubaki Factory is a Hello Project trainee group, and like all Hello Project groups, are old-school and incredibly boring! :D

GEM followed Tsubaki Factory and as one of the few remaining good guys in the world, I politely plowed my way to the front center. GEM was actually a late addition to this concert. Obviously, that’s so GEM!™ Ever since I’ve been a fan, my interest in them has constantly been up and down though. They recently added two members to the group, Monami and Hirari, when Maya went on hiatus and almost immediately I became a huge fan of Monami. Because of her, my interest in GEM had skyrocketed into the furthest reaches of outer space. Unfortunately, Monami fans came crashing back down to earth soon after her debut, because after about ten days of activities, she went on a sudden hiatus–and hasn’t been heard from since. It’s possibly due to illness, but no one is really sure, because there hasn’t been an update on her status.

Despite her absence, I still love GEM and had a great time. Their set was much funner than any I had seen from them at TIF. Although, instead of doing their new overture, they came on stage singing “We’re GEM,” which was disappointing since the new overture is cool and “We’re GEM” is not. At least the choreography allows us to repeatedly point at our oshiGEMs. They performed their new single “Spotlight” and “Party Up” from their recent album, which are both great additions to their normal rotation. “Do You Believe?” is fun, but I doubt I’m the only one who is getting tired of it. Lastly, I continue to get haunted by the song “Can’t Stop Loving.” Every time I see GEM, they perform either this song or it’s brother, Star Shine Story. And I would see them perform these two mediocre songs three more times during the trip.

GEM’s setlist
1. We’re GEM

2. Spotlight
3. Party Up
4. Do You Believe?
5. Can’t Stop Loving

Bakusute Sotokanda Ichome was next and umm, I’m not going to write about them so fast forward to Moso Calibration, although I don’t have much to write about them either. The last time I saw them was 2014, and I remembered their fans do wotagei and also run around in circles, so I moved out of the center. Their fans were extremely tame during their set though. 

Afterwards, I again became a gentleman and politely plowed my way to the center for Yumemiru Adolescence. There were a lot of YumeAdo fans at the show, so the front area was more congested than it was for GEM. There was still space to move and jump though. Really fun setlist, the funnest of the night for me. Basically just a lot of jumping around.

YumeAdo’s setlist
1. Love for You

2. Bye Bye My Days (Note: I would link to this song, but it’s disappeared from the internet)
3. Kurachu Summer
4. Mai Gene
5. Fantastic Parade

After their set I went to the bar to redeem my drink ticket. I had noticed 7 or 8 foreigners at the show, and two came up to me while I was getting my drink and mentioned seeing me at TIF. Up Up Girls came on shortly afterwards and I went back to the floor area. I’ve seen this group several times, and they’ve never clicked with me and I left after watching two songs. I was also starving since I’d been out since early that afternoon and it was now 9PM.


Fairies Event @LaLaport Tokyo Bay, Chiba
August 10, 2016

I haven’t followed Fairies in a long time, but I’m still slightly interested in them, so I went to their event in Chiba. They sang three slow songs, including their new single Crossroad. I’ve noticed they’ve rapidly matured their look during the past year. It seems to be working since they are still getting more popular, but I prefer the more high energy, cool look they used to have.


GEM @Ikebukuro Sky Deck (aka the Tobu Department Store rooftop)
August 11, 2016

GEM and Akishibu Project both had two events in separate locations in Ikebukuro, and because of the timing I was able to go to both of GEM’s and one of Akishibu Projects. Later that night I wanted to go to Narumi Takiguchi‘s one-man in Shibuya, but that didn’t work out, so I went to Akishibu Project’s third event scheduled that day, which was also in Shibuya.

I feel like I shattered his perception of the oversees GEM fan. Anyway, I’m still surprised that I was able to see GEM so soon after the new GEMber’s debuts, yet I wasn’t able to see Monami. It’s pretty rare I become a fan of a new member so quickly. I honestly hope she’s okay and returns to the group, but this situation is kind of unprecedented.

GEM Event 1
Overture
Spotlight
Can’t Stop Loving
Star Shine Story

GEM Event 2
We’re GEM
Do You Believe?
Spotlight
Party Up
Can’t Stop Loving


Akishibu Project events
@Shinseido, Ikebukuro
@HMV & BOOKS, Shibuya

After GEM’s first mini-live I rushed to Akishibu Projects event at Sunshine City (a large mall in Ikebukuro), which was about ten minutes away. On the way I saw their truck promoting their single and had to stop to take a photo. I also saw the truck in Odaiba during TIF and in Shibuya.

Their event was at a Shinseido store at the far end of the mall, and was a little hard to find since it was actually a mini-store inside a store. Since the shop was small, the stage was even smaller. The members were dressed as staff and handled cd sales.

I purchased two copies of their single and afterwards, I had to rush back to GEM’s event, which was beginning in 20 minutes. Because I was in a hurry, I bought the wrong version of one of the cds (each of the five versions have different tracks). Not a huge deal, but it’s a great single and it’s doubtful anyone will upload the other versions. Yuechi helped me with my purchase. I have several favorite members in the group, which is why I like them so much, but Yuechi and Yuna are my favorite. I was a little nervous and I’m pretty sure my hand was shaking like a person being electrocuted as I handed her the cds.

After their Shinseido event and GEM’s second event, I went back to my hotel for an hour, before going to Shibuya. Earlier in the day I found out Narumi Takiguchi was having a one man at a small club near O-EAST, and I really wanted to go, despite not having a ticket. I’ve been a fan of hers since 2013, when I saw her with her old group Takokusekigun, at an underground idol show in a small club called Shibuya Deseo. So I went to the venue she was performing at called Vuenos. I had to run to get there and arrived 5 minutes before the opening time. There was literally no one there though. I thought maybe I had the wrong day, but checked her twitter and confirmed this was the day. There was a sign on the door in English that said “Not Ready,” but I went inside anyway. There was an old man sweeping the floor and a few girls standing inside, but I didn’t see any staff or Narumi fans in the lobby. I went outside and waited until 7:10, not really sure what to do since this was an underground show and I already felt out of my comfort zone. Akishibu’s event was at 7:30 at HMV & BOOKS, which is across the street from Tower Records, so I knew I could get there quickly if necessary. I waited a few more minutes and didn’t see anyone enter or leave the venue, so I walked around to the back thinking there could be an alternate entrance. I didn’t find one so I decided to go to Akishibu’s event. It was getting late, so I also had to run there. Running through Shibuya’s crowded streets isn’t the coolest thing to do, but I’m a fast runner and I’m skinny so I was able to get their quickly.

HMV & BOOKS is a relatively new store and they have an event space on the 7th floor. It’s supposed to hold 100-200 people, but that seems like a complete exaggeration. I should have purchased more singles, but I still hadn’t realized I bought the wrong version earlier in the day, so I just watched the live. They came on stage wearing pajamas and I loved all the songs they performed. It was a short live, but this was their third event of the day, and they had been promoting all week, so it was understandable.

Setlist
Summer Summer

LOVE&PARADISE
Be Yourself

If you think you can have any interest in Akishibu Project, please watch the following video for Be Yourself. It’s super long kawaiiii and super long kakkoiiii!


My original schedule included a show at Shinjuku ReNY with drop, Houkago Princess, and Maneki Kecak the following day, but that listing turned out to be a mistake. The lesson here is to not automatically assume everything on idolscheduler is accurate!

I didn’t want to go to that show anyway!! *sobs into a pillow*

The End

Tokyo Idol Festival: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a million times, super shame on you!

31 Jul

Somehow, I’m going to TIF again. I told myself I’d never return because summers in Japan are horrible and the past two TIFs were boring. This year is going to be different though. I don’t care as much, so my expectations are at the level of a normal, sane person. As long as I get my Tokyo Hobo Orchestra fix, I’m good. [Umm, I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be attending. Since they don’t exist.] Fine. As long as I get my sweet sweet Chubbiness fix, I’m good. [They aren’t attending either. How sad is that?] Fine. As long as Yururirapo gets to hijack the main stage, I’m good. [Well, they are performing on a stage.] Any stage that Yururirapo performs on is the main stage! Of life.

My schedule: August 3-12

August 4 Yumemiru Adolescence @Akiba Cultures Theater
August 5 Tokyo Idol Festival
August 6 Tokyo Idol Festival
August 7 Tokyo Idol Festival
August 8 Akishibu Project  release event
August 9 GEM, YumeAdo, Up Up Girls, et al @TSUTAYA O-East
August 10 Fairies release event
August 11 GEM release event
August 12 drop, Houkago Princess, Maneki Kecak @Shinjuku ReNY

My TIF Schedule
Oh ok. Then the following is definitely not my TIF schedule.