Recap: Tokyo Idol Festival 2015

17 Aug

Every year I wonder why the f-junk Tokyo Idol Festival feels less fun than the year before. TIF 2012 was the funnest concert I’ve ever been to in Japan. Yet despite every successive TIF having an improved lineup while basically regurgitating the identical format, they’ve all paled in comparison with 2012.

And I think the reason has become clear. Everyone put on your glasses and study the following chart for the next two hours. 

Year Attendance Number of Stages
2011 10,000 6
2012 21,500 8-9 (8 on Day 1, 9 on Day 2)
2013 33,000 6
2014 41,000 7
2015 51,500 8

TIF 2012 had the perfect blend of attendance and stages. Every year since has had a significant increase in attendance, yet the number of stages has remained relatively static. Because there hasn’t been an incremental increase in venues, stages are continually overcrowded. I mean, where do you think the 30,000 new attendees since 2012 are going? They definitely aren’t all hanging out at the TIF Info Centre! Although speaking of the Info Centre, I think it’s hilarious that I missed this. As if any normal person would read “Young Jump stage” on the timetable and then think, “Ooh cool, Palet is going to be wearing bikinis” and proceed to circle that segment of the timetable with a crayon and draw a million arrows pointing to it so they don’t forget.

If you’ve ever been to Disneyland on a busy day and then gone back during a quiet day, they are completely different experiences. One experience sucks and the other is, dare I say, much much less sucky. Every summer in Japan is going to be brutally hot. And every music festival is going to have groups you like and groups you dislike. But the negatives become insignificant when the event is fun, which directly correlates with attendance. Conversely, the negatives become amplified when conditions suck. On the most basic and primitive psychological level, humans desire their own space and access to adequate resources. Humans can tolerate other humans, until the moment they start encroaching on their space and resources. At TIF, this means, I can tolerate the existence of other fans, until they start interfering with my ability to jump around like an idiot for my oshimen!!

More than 51,000 human beings (and human doings) attended TIF this year. That is 50,999 more than I would like. And considering a lot of fans enter the venues with their bags, the consequence is a ginormous decrease in free space. I know they aren’t intentionally trying to be annoying, but it’s ridiculous having to walk over bags at every stage or have someone’s bag continually brush against you during a performance. Or not being able to jump or even move because some mofo put their bag on the ground right next to you. People who bring their bag to the performance area instead of drop it off at the back are basically doubling the space they would typically occupy. TIF shares the blame for not providing lockers or a bag check, but the real culprits are the fans whose idiosyncrasies compel them to bring their entire collection of shirts, towels, and penlights in order for them to feel they are properly supporting the myriad of groups they are pushing. 

The organizers deserve credit this year though, because the event was a huge improvement over 2014. Tobi and I were able to collect our wristbands–which were free for non-residents, immediately at 8:00 without having to wait in a queue. Comparatively, last year’s tickets for non-residents were only made available after 10:00. The return of Zepp DiverCity was also a huge improvement. The labyrinth to enter the Hot Stage was also simplified and I was able get into the priority seating area both days. Getting in last year was almost impossible unless you queued for the stage before it opened, or went at night during day 1. I also thought the lineup had something for everyone, with a good mix of “surprise guests” like SKE48, Silent Siren, and the new H!P group Kobushi Factory, along with the return of groups that were personally relevant to me, specifically all the iDOL Street groups and 9nine (although I still wasn’t able to see them).

Day One Schedule
NEO from Idoling (Heat Garage)
Sunmyu (Heat Garage)
Akihabara Backstage Pass (Heat Garage)
SKE48 (Heat Garage)
Sendai Syrup (Enjoy Stadium)
BudLaB (Enjoy Stadium)
Dear Stars (Enjoy Stadium)
PREDIANNA (Enjoy Stadium)
DIANNA☆SWEET (Enjoy Stadium)
Doll☆Elements (Enjoy Stadium)
Up Up Girls (Hot Stage)
The Possible (Hot Stage)
Otome Shinto (Hot Stage)
X21 (Hot Stage)
Doll☆Elements (Hot Stage)
Idoling!!! (Smile Garden)
predia (Smile Garden)
PiiiiiiiN (Enjoy Stadium)
Ange Reve (Enjoy Stadium)
3 Min (Enjoy Stadium)
Akishibu Project (Doll Factory)
Houkago Princess (Doll Factory)

Day Two Schedule
Silent Siren (Heat Garage)
Palet (Heat Garage)
GEM (Festival Stage)
HR (Heat Garage)
PASSPO (Heat Garage)
Lovely★Doll (Heat Garage)
SUPER☆GiRLS (Heat Garage)
Idoling!!! (Heat Garage)
Passcode (Heat Garage)
GEM (Heat Garage)
Prizmmy (Heat Garage)
Doll☆Elements (Heat Garage)
predia (Heat Garage)
Idoling!!! (Hot Stage)
Grand Finale (Hot Stage)

Mini-recap & random observations

I queued at Heat Garage (Zepp DiverCity) both mornings, several hours before the venue opened and the day one “SKE48 queue” was at least five times larger than the day 2 “Silent Siren queue.” By 8:30 on day 1 there were already hundreds of fans waiting, likely to see SKE48, although the first fifteen or so were all NEO from Idoling fans. On day 2, I arrived at the stage at 8:00 and was surprised that there wasn’t even a queue. There were a lot of Silent Siren fans in the area, but for some reason the TIF staff wasn’t allowing an official queue to form. When they finally did allow one to form alongside the edge of the venue, it was a fraction of the size of day 1. I started the day here because NEO opened day 1 and Silent Siren opened day 2. With NEO disbanding, this was one of the last opportunities to see them and I thought they were awesome. I wish they performed longer than 15 minutes, considering Sunmyu and Akihabara Backstage Pass followed them and both had longer sets. Silent Siren opening day 2 also provided a rare opportunity to see them from the front row.

On day 1, I wanted to do Doll☆Elements handshake event since it perfectly coincided with the break in my schedule. I went to their booth and purchased a Doll☆Elements towel, but the staff member said I would have to go to the Tower Records booth in order to purchase a cd to get an event ticket. Unfortunately, the Tower Records queue was massive, slow, and completely in the sun, so I scrapped that plan.

On day 1, I randomly met up with Tobi while walking to the wristband exchange booth. In the evening, I randomly ran into tsutomo near Smile Garden. I was in the area because I wanted to go up to Sky Stage for the evening performances of Ai Shinozaki, Idoling!!!, and predia. Unfortunately, that was impossible because of the queue from hell. The wait was probably 2 hours, considering how slow the elevators operate and how many people were in line. Predia at night at Sky Stage is my ultimate TIF highlight, so that was disappointing. Speaking of predia, they have been my favorite performers at 3 of the 4 TIFs I’ve attended. They always perform their best songs at TIF and somehow I am always able to see them from up close, because magically a path to the front opens during the transitions between groups.

The last thing I’ll mention is that during day 1, a bat was flying inside the Hot Stage area for more than 30 minutes. Totally annoying, except when it collided with a member of the Possible. It was the early afternoon, so I’m not sure why it was even flying around, but it was probably terrified and having an impossible time navigating out of the tent area. TIF should have shut down the speakers for a minute to allow it to leave, because it was really distracting.

TIF Breakfast

My editor says people love this kind of thing, so here is my official TIF day 1 and day 2 breakfasts.

The end

Recaps: GEM & SUPER ☆GiRLS

12 Aug

blazeGEM “Non-stop Zenryoku Live”
@ Shinjuku BLAZE
July 31, 2015

It was a hot day in Tokyo. I should copy and paste this for every recap.

I attended two concerts at Shinjuku BLAZE; the early show was GEM, followed by SUPER☆GiRLS in the evening. The concerts were sponsored by either Adidas or New Balance (which would determine the group’s attire), and they shared the same format: 60 minutes of non-stop performing and a high-touch at the conclusion (or group handshake if you purchased a single). 

I arrived 30 minutes before the venue opened and was surprised that the merchandise booth had already closed. Since I’m near the end of my GEM fandom, I was undecided whether to purchase anything further (specifically the new member penlights and wristbands), and this conveniently resolved that dilemma. Unfortunately, this also meant I couldn’t purchase GEM’s new singles, which was somewhat important because the three singles are music card-only and have yet to be uploaded anywhere due to their limited availability. I would have liked to share them with the other overseas fans.

I also noticed the SUPER☆GiRLS tour bus was missing. At previous BLAZE concerts, the bus would hilariously ramble down the alleyway before parking at the entrance, allowing fans to see the members arrive and leave, and also take 2-shots with the bus. There is currently construction directly outside the venue though, which explains why the bus was absent.

Side rant: Something I find extremely annoying about concert venues in Japan is the staff’s insistence on fans not causing any inconvenience to others in the area, despite fans doing nothing except patiently waiting for the venue to open. There was a lot of shade in the area, but the staff kept forcing everyone to stand in the sun, because they claimed there was interference with traffic. Which is absurd because there was very little foot traffic because of the construction, and even when pedestrians did walk through, the street was wide enough for fans to queue and for others to walk through unobstructed. This is something that happens all the time in Japan: staff meddling and forcing their customers to stand in inconvenient areas because of nebulous reasons that are completely out of touch with reality. I typically blatantly disregard their instructions because I can simply remove any evidence of being a fan and I’ve transformed into a tourist who just happened to be standing outside the venue. I think it’s barbaric to make people wait in the sun and I revel in disregarding illogical procedures.

Back to the recap :P My ticket number was B6, so I would enter after the “A” tickets, which designate SPC members (iDOL Street’s fan-club). There were 289 SPC members in attendance and once FC tickets concluded, my number was quickly called. After entering the venue, I received a Maidoru card (which has a keycode for iDOL Street’s FC), got a drink, and set up SaRana fan headquarters center stage about eight rows back. On stage was a large digital clock, which would be used to keep track of their 60 minute live (although both concerts went 20 minutes over because of encores and raffle drawings). The concert didn’t sell out, therefore there was some room to move around.

GEM recently debuted new outfits which are their best ever, but today they would wear Adidas attire, because all six of the iDOL Street concerts this week were sponsored by either Adidas or New Balance. I’m pretty sure Adidas makes super-short shorts and tight-fitting tops and camis, yet the GEMbers took the stage wearing running pants, leggings, and t-shirts!! Running pants! Leggings! T-shirts! Not even tight-fitting Ts! Or transparent! This was the greatest injustice ever!! And then they proceeded to discuss in great detail how “kawaii” their outfits were. There were a lot of pervy fans in the audience, please don’t insult our intelligence!

After explaining that the giant clock would ensure they performed non-stop for 60 minutes, they briefly left the stage. The GEM overture began, which is a dance number they do to begin concerts and also when fans chant the names of the members. Chisami recently went on a self-imposed hiatus, but despite her absence, there was a noticeably loud chant for her during her part. I haven’t found the setlist for the concert, probably because the GEMbers who normally share those updates on twitter or their blog were too busy since TIF, IDOL NATION, and a-Nation, began the following day. They performed their complete catalog, except DANCIN’ DANCIN’ DANCE!! and Maya’s solo song, Emerge. This was the first time I would hear their three music-card singles, which are their best songs imo, and their upcoming single, “Baby, Love me!,” which I think sounds like an E-girls song. I really like it though, because it’s Rana-centered (and I’m a Rana>Maya fanboy) and the choreography is cute.

After the concert concluded it was announced the high touch would begin in 10 minutes. In the hallway outside the stage area, the GEMbers had lined up youngest to oldest and it was… umm… well, here’s a recap. 

Sara is my favorite member and I said: “Oshimen–>oshiGEM” and charmingly pointed to her. She replied “Eh?”
Maho was leaning into Sara and therefore overheard what was said, which wasn’t ideal when saying something lame to your oshiGEM. I said “Hello” to her and I don’t recall her response because my brain was still fixated on Sara.
Maya was next and I said, “Gets” and did the “Gets” point with my free hand (in the group, “Gets” is her thing). Then I said, “GEMs” and pointed (she also does this). She just stared at me blankly. Didn’t matter since Ranachin was next!
Rana is my second favorite (but more accurately oshiGEM #2), and I told her, “GEMbatte” and “GEMbariyei.” And… got no reaction. She was the only GEMber who didn’t say a word to me, but it felt like she stared straight into my soul… and put a curse on me. I didn’t care too much about the previous blank looks, because Sara and Maya in particular have aloof personalities, but her reaction was surprising, since she is the silly and funny one. And she invented the word GEMily to refer to GEM fans, and GEM and family don’t even rhyme! At this point, I wasn’t going to further GEMbarrass myself, and did the rest of the high touch just saying thank you to the remaining GEMbers. Which was unfortunate because Nacchi and Chanman were really warm and outgoing. Nacchi said “Please see us again!” in English and Chanman said “Hellooo” and “Nice to meet you.” I didn’t say anything to Yuki, because she has a phobia of English and she looked nervous. There was nothing to say anyway, since I already scratched sharing my GEM puns, like sempai/”GEMpai” and members/ “GEMbers.”

Overall, it was a weird experience, since half the members are introverts and half are extroverts. I can imagine their akushukais are also unique. But everyone knows I’m still a Silent Siren fan! I mean… GEM fan.

GEM setlist
All their songs minus DANCING DANCING DANCE and Emerge

The SUPER☆GiRLS concert would be in two hours, so afterwards I had lunch and passed the time in Don Quijote and the electronics store LABI, mainly to get out of the heat. I also found that in Seibu-Shinjuku station, which is a smaller station in Shinjuku just one-minute walk from BLAZE, there are a lot of discount coin lockers near the exit (100 and 200Y, compared to 300-900Y in other stations) and practically all of them were available. A lot of the fans used them and they could be convenient when attending a concert. This is also slight foreshadow to my experience in Osaka, because I would need a coin locker for the Doll☆Elements concert I would attend the following week.
SUPER☆GiRLS “Non-stop Zenryoku Live”
@ Shinjuku BLAZE
July 31, 2015

The SUPER☆GiRLS concert was sponsored by New Balance and on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “SUPER pervy” and 1 being “somewhat pervy,” their New Balance outfits were like negative 27 million.

Ever since these concerts, I’ve been haunted by track pants, leggings, long skirts, knee-length shorts, and loose-fitting t-shirts.

In comparison, this is what they wore the day before during their Adidas-themed concert. They’re not perfect, but something something Reira’s legs.

The concert was incredibly fun though and reminded me how much I like this group. After attending several one-mans in 2012 and 2013, I only saw them one time in 2014, and they fell off my radar. Saori graduating and two years of horrible singles and music videos didn’t help. Even with the graduations, I still feel their talent and good looks are unmatched in the idol world. After seeing GEM and SUPER☆GiRLS consecutively, it also became apparent how far ahead SUPER☆GiRLS are as performers. They perform with more energy, precision, confidence, and just look happier on stage.

Similar to the GEM concert, the group performed non-stop for over an hour, which amounted to 14 songs straight. They performed several classics like Nijiro Star, Renai Rule, and Kira Pure POWER–songs they only perform at their one-mans, and even then are considered rare. The most frustrating aspect of SUPER☆GiRLS is their setlists at events like Tokyo Idol Festival and IDOL NATION, because they are completely predictable and time after time only include their summer singles. I think this is a poor tactic to both win new fans and to retain current ones. As a result, the only way to get a real SUPER☆GiRLS experience is by attending their concerts. This isn’t necessarily the case with a lot of the other elite groups, who are much better at mixing up their song rotations regardless of where they are performing, thereby satisfying casual and hardcore fans.

After performing 14 songs, they returned for a three-song encore. They basically performed a complete one-man setlist in half the time it would normally take–which kind of reveals how much filler is included in a typical concert.

During the high touch nothing was said that was particularly interesting, but it was a fun experience because the members are so friendly. I did notice that when I got to Reira, she looked at me very closely and I could feel her gaze linger on me even after I had passed. I felt like like she was going to say something more, but regretfully I didn’t look back at her. These moments happen very fast and fans are conditioned to just keep moving forward. Beforehand, I considered asking her if she enjoyed her visit to San Francisco last year in order to segue that I’m from Los Angeles, but I knew there wouldn’t be enough time. Other than that, Koume and Naapon stood out, because instead of high-fiving, both of them grabbed my hands and held them, which was unexpected. I don’t think they do that every single time and both seemed surprised to see a foreigner. 

SUPER☆GiRLS setlist
1. Hanamichi!! Ambitious
2. 1,000,000 Smile
3. Nijiro Star
4. Renai Rule
5. Renai Manifesto
6. Gira Gira Revolution
8. Akai Jonetsu
9. Joshiryoku Paradise
10. Catch the dream
11. MAX! Otome Gokoro
12. Ichatte Yachatte
13. Miracle ga Tomanai!
14. Kira Pure POWER!
15. Exit (11 member ver.)
16. Ichatte Yachatte
17. MAX! Otome Gokoro

Japan Trip Mini-Up™ (mini-update

4 Aug

Inexplicably my brain thought it would be a good idea to do some vacation homework, aka a trip update.

July 29: Concert tickets and Hotel check-in
I arrived at Narita at 2:00PM, which was more than an hour ahead of schedule, and collected my concert tickets at the 7-11 in the airport. The process was a little amusing and I’ll explain it in a later recap. In the afternoon I checked into my hotel in Odaiba, which I’ve stayed at before because its within walking distance of Tokyo Idol Festival 2015 and Silent Siren’s Mezamashi Live concert at Fuji TV’s Yume Tairiku summer festival.

July 30: Museum and Silent Siren concert
At 9:00 I met up with Tobi in Ueno to check out the National Museum of Nature and Science. Yes, we’re both nerds. But Tobi is nerdier because when I casually referred to prehistoric mammals as “dinosaurs,” he immediately corrected me that those creatures weren’t dinosaurs :D Hey, in America a Woolly Mammoth is a dinosaur! (jk)

Tobi also gave me a copy of Yururirapo‘s debut single. Thank you!! This will be worth millions of yen in the future.

After two hours at the museum we parted ways because he had a concert to attend and I had a Silent Siren concert that night. At 5:00 PM I headed to the Yume Tairiku festival to collect my 1-day pass (which is included with the concert ticket and necessary to access the concert venue) and to purchase Silent Siren goods (more like greats). Earlier in the day the band tweeted there would be a high touch event after the concert, so in addition to purchasing a towel and wristband, I preordered their new single Hachigatsu no Yoru, in order to do the high touch.

Afterwards I went to the stage area because the band had started rehearsing! And they were super long kawaaaaaiiiiiii!! They rehearsed for about 20 minutes, playing parts of randoms songs, including my favorite Silent Siren song Yumeoi. When they finished I left the stage area to get into the queue.
My ticket number was 211, which was pretty good since there was about 900 in attendance. In comparison, at last year’s SUPER☆GiRLS Mezamashi Live, my number was 684. Upon entering the concert area, staff members handed everyone Silent Siren disposable glowsticks and I chose a spot in the center column of Row 7, which was based on where the members position themselves on stage. I am a huge Suu fan (lead singer and guitarist) and she occupies the center position. My second favorite member is Ainyan (bassist and backing vocals), so I deliberately chose a spot that was directly in the middle of the middle column (for Suu), but I then shifted two seats to the left (to get slightly closer to Ainyan’s spot), in order to maximize my field of vision for both members. [In other words you’re a huge nerd. And that explanation was poorly written!] I also kept shifting back and forth trying to find the perfect spot, which I think confused and annoyed the people around me. [Umm, no one needs to know that detail.]

The group performed wearing super cute white dresses, which are actually outfits they’ve worn since 2013. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the setlist (I don’t really like their “popular” heavy rotation songs), the concert was amazing. Their new single Hachigatsu no Yoru is my second all-time favorite Silent Siren song after Yumeoi and from the moment the first chord was played I was just crying non-stop like a baby gorilla and screaming “Suuu daiSUUUkii” directly in the ear of the person next to me for the entire song! I was flailing my arms and just kicking whatever was in my path knocking over people and just having a blast! (<- All of that may or may not have happened). They also performed their cover of ZONE‘s “Secret Base,” but I think their version is a little rough. Maybe they are still getting the song down, or maybe they intentionally didn’t want to do a clean version. The concert lasted about 45 minutes, and another 15 minutes for the high touch to conclude.  

The high-touch went great… until Ainyan looked at me and said “Whoooa!” like she just had a close encounter with an alien from Mars. Initially I thought it was hilarious, but after thinking about it more I have no idea if it was a positive reaction. My hair was pretty spiky that day so maybe it was a combination of that and being a foreigner. I’ll see them again on August 5 in Kamakura, but this time I’m setting up official Suu fan headquarters directly in the center because Ainyan is dead to me! (jk)

1. Soukai Rock


3. Secret Base (ZONE cover)
4. Hachigatsu no Yoru (New single)
5. Starmine
6. GuruGuru Wonderland
7. Bii San (Beach Sandals)

July 31: GEM and SUPER☆GiRLS concerts

I’ll recap these concerts when I return home. The concerts were pretty good, particularly SUPER☆GiRLS, and both shows concluded with a high touch.

August 1 and 2: Tokyo Idol Festival 2015

I won’t write too much about TIF because it’s too time consuming, but eventually I’ll recap my personal highlights (prediaDoll☆Elements, and NEO from Idoling) and random thoughts (like why is that orange sphere in the sky so hot?). The biggest TIF disappointment was Silent Siren for performing only three songs before having a long and boring conversation with PASSPO about Yukarun losing their tour’s punishment game and thus having to perform with PASSPO. *However* I also had an unobstructed view of Suu, who was wearing a skirt with a slit up both sides that revealed most of her legs, therefore I forgive them. So the real disappointment was Passcode performing during day 2 at a venue and time-slot they shouldn’t have been within a million kilometers of. This group should be performing at sewer treatment plants, city dumps, radioactive landfills, and alleys behind 10 yen sushi bars, not the biggest stage at TIF. They killed the perfect chain combo of Doll☆Elements, GEM, & predia.

August 3: Hotel change and IDOL NATION 2015

I changed hotels to Toranomon Hills in order to get more centrally located. Odaiba is fine during TIF, but it gets tedious traveling into and out of Tokyo from there.

I’ll recap IDOL NATION in more detail later because it was awesome. Definitely one of the best idol concerts I’ve ever attended. Great production values, great stage layout, great lineup, great crowd, and there was a lot of space to move around in the arena area, as opposed to TIF where most stages were overcrowded and fans were packed in tighter than Chubbiness in their tour bus.

August 4: NEO Idoling mini live in Odaiba
I went back to Odaiba for NEO’s “best of Album” mini live at My Navi stage. The event was in the morning and I arrived later than I intended, but I was still able to catch the rehearsal and 30 minute live. I wasn’t sure whether to purchase their album considering the group is disbanding and purchasing an album without new content seemed pointless, so I just acted the part of the clueless tourist who happened to stumble upon the live and watched from the non-priority area.

August 5: Otodama Sea Studio ~Tomomi Itano x Silent Siren
Otodama Sea Studio is a summer concert venue located directly on the beach of Kamakura, a city 50 kilometers to the south of Tokyo. Travel time was 70 minutes by train and when I arrived I quickly visited Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a popular Shinto shrine. The shrine is in the opposite direction from the beach, so I only had about 15 minutes to look around before I needed to head to the venue to queue. The weather was really nice because of the proximity to the ocean, and a total departure from the Tokyo heat. 

When I arrived at the beach, the staff had just began letting fans into the venue. Unfortunately, I had no idea what the process was, because they weren’t calling by ticket number. It seemed like they were just letting in blocs of people based on ticket number ranges, beginning with fan club members. I knew I had a good ticket so I just got in the queue, which seemed logical at the time and I entered without a problem. It’s a free standing venue and I was able to get 4th row in the center column. The floor is actually sand, since it’s a structure set up on the beach. 

The two-man line-up was interesting because I doubt there is fan overlap between Silent Siren and Tomomi Itano, and the ratio was probably close to a 90/10 split in favor of Silent Siren. Because it was a shared concert, I figured the etiquette of letting fans of each group have priority would be in effect. I didn’t know who was opening though, so I chose the best spot available, and would vacate if Tomochin opened. I figured she would open though, since the stage didn’t have Silent Siren’s instrument setup. Most of Tomomi’s fans are girls, so when she came on first, I let them pass me, but I still had a decent position. I’m no longer a fan, but when I followed AKB48, she was my fourth favorite member, so I was interested in seeing her as a solo artist, despite having low expectations. I won’t get into detail about her performance, but it was entertaining, although she heavily relies on a backing vocal track. I think she sang six songs, with a short MC, before returning for a one-song encore.

At the conclusion of her encore, the Tomochin fans relocated to the back of the venue, and I returned to the front near Suu’s spot. Silent Siren’s staff then brought out their instruments and did the standard instrument checks. For the concert Hinachu would use an electronic drum kit instead of her typical acoustic drum, which you can see in the photo below.
It’s difficult to judge depth based on photos, but I was two meters from the stage, and I actually moved closer because I don’t recall ever seeing the guy wearing the hat in the above photo. There wasn’t the typical gap between the stage that exists at most live-houses, so the group was extremely close. They performed wearing the same dresses from the Mezamashi Live concert, but this concert was a lot better, because they performed more songs, it was free standing, and being on the beach the venue had a better vibe than Odaiba. During the MC, Suu explained that the two-man came about because Tomochin requested Silent Siren, and their managers set it up.

They performed BANG!BANG!BANG!, Lucky Girl, Hachigatsu no Yoru, What show is it?, Guru Guru Wonderland, and Bii San, in addition to a few others. I’ll update with the setlist when it’s uploaded somewhere.

Update: I’m back in Los Angeles and the weather here is so much nicer than Tokyo. My editor told me that it’s bad form to leave updates incomplete so…

August 7: OTONA no Bansan Vol. 3 in Shibuya

Otona no Bansan (“Adults’ Dinner”) is a concert series featuring idols and groups in their twenties. The lineup was Yururrirapo, Hachaketai, Yuu Kikawa, Vanilla Beans, and predia. I’d been to O-West a few years ago for a HimeKyun concert so I took the “short-cut” to get to the venue, which is going through MarkCity, a mall attached to Shibuya Station, which allows you to avoid the summer heat and crowded Shibuya streets and quickly get to the venue, since the mall’s exit is directly across the street. I arrived 15 minutes before the concert began and purchased a ticket from the box office. When I purchased the ticket the girl said, “Really? This live?” and she showed me the ticket to confirm. At the entrance a staff member asked for the name of the group I was supporting, and I said Yururirapo (even though I like predia more) and she replied, “Really? Yururirapo?”

At the entrance a member from the opening act DREAMING MONSTER was also handing out flyers. After the opening act, Yururirapo, Hachaketai, Yuu Kikawa, and Vanilla Beans, in that order, performed four or five song each. The venue has a second floor closed off to the public that members of each group often occupied while watching the other performers. Predia concluded the concert with seven songs. Even though there were more people in attendance than I had anticipated (I thought it would be empty), it was nowhere near a sellout, so there was plenty of room to move and jump around like a idiot–if that’s your thing :D Except during Vanilla Beans of course. That was nap time.

August 8: Doll☆Elements Summer Tour in Nagoya

The Doll☆Elements one-man in Nagoya was in a tiny, uber janky, and possibly haunted, live-house about fifteen minutes from Nagoya Station. I’ll recap this concert later. In an unexpected highlight, they began the concert wearing their “Kimi no Negai Kanaetai!” (4th single) outfits, which are not only beautiful aesthetically, but more importantly, the skirt length has to be one of the shortest ever for an idol group. Thank you costume designer person!

August 9: Doll☆Elements Summer Tour in Osaka

The one-man in Osaka was also in a tiny venue, but larger than Nagoya’s and nicer because it had a relatively unique three-tiered floor layout. It was still a little janky though, because the club’s bar was actually located in the floor area (as opposed to the lobby), which was a ridiculous design choice because it significantly reduced the venue’s capacity. The setlist and MC segments were similar to the previous day’s concert, but there were a few different songs, which I preferred and made a big difference. I was also more familiar with the new songs I had heard in Nagoya, so it was a much funner concert overall.

Concluding thoughts
Before planning this trip, I had decided this would be my final visit to Japan. After eight trips in five years I’m burned out by idol groups and I want to travel to locales that are more agreeable to my friends and siblings, because traveling solo has a lot of downsides. I also once again learned that because of the heat and humidity, summer is the worst season to visit Japan. It only took five summer trips to fully realize this. Seriously though, it’s 2015; why hasn’t someone invented an on/off switch for the sun? And where the f-junk are flying cars and robot butlers?

Conversely, my fandom for Silent Siren has completely skyrocketed and I fear I’ve become an addict. Whenever I fall asleep at work my colleagues tell me that I mumble “DaiSUUUkii” in my sleep, while clumsily caressing my keyboard.

So maaaybe one more trip will be okay.

For Suu.

And Suu’s legs.