Recaps… Remixed & Regurgitated

20 Jan

This is a consolidation (and partial rewrite) of three recaps I previously posted at different forums,  combined into one convenient, “limited edition” recap.

Idoling x YGA“Shinahachi Live”
@ Yoshimoto Prince Theater
Shinagawa, Tokyo

July 17 and 18, 2011

It wasn’t my intention to see Idoling twice, but I wanted to go to an SDN48 concert, and it was conceivable that there would be an SDN show on the 17th and/or 18th. In order to ensure that I could see Idoling at least one time,  I needed to buy tickets to two Idoling concerts in the event I won a ticket to an SDN show that was scheduled for one of those days. If that doesn’t make sense, just nod and pretend it does. It turns out I didn’t win an SDN ticket so I went to both Idoling concerts.

Shinahachi Live is a joint concert between Idoling and YGA. The groups have equal stage time, and are able to fill their time slot with whatever they want: songs, games, variety stuff, or MCs. Occasionally the groups collaborate on a variety segment or MC. Only ten Idoling member’s perform per show (in order to accommodate their individual schedules and obligations outside the group), so there is some luck involved if you want to see your favorites. Unless you’re a freak that likes everyone equally (kidding).

My favorite member, Ami Kikuchi, and my second favorite, Rurika Yokoyama performed at both concerts. So it was on like… something something. My third favorite member, Erica Tonooka, wasn’t able to fit either concert into her schedule. Idoling fans know the real reason though – she doesn’t like performing with second gen members! And she thinks she’s too good for Shinahachi Live! The television drama she was acting in *might* have had something to do with her missing concerts that month… but making up rumors is more fun.

Rurika and Ami

I had row 4 tickets for the show on the 17th, which was Ai Okawa’s birthday, and front row tickets for the 18th. For that concert, the theme was a little more ambiguous, so I’m just going to describe it as  “Fonchi Appreciation Day”. A lot of her fans were in attendance (one of whom was unfortunately sitting next to me and was a total wota, who looked practically non-human. No offense). During her solo, she sang Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Seasons”, and performed it surprisingly well. I’m still not a fan though (<- unnecessary comment).

Ironically the row 4 tickets were a little better than the front row tickets, because the front row tickets were near the far right side of the stage, while the row 4 tickets were closer to the middle. The distance from the stage was pretty much identical from both seats, but the viewing angle was better. The seats were amazing and it was pretty surreal being that close to Ami and Rurika (and the rest). I had a blueprint of Yoshimoto Prince Theater saved on my computer (yup another blueprint, hehe), but I couldn’t find it (must have deleted it after realizing it was a really lame thing to have saved).

On the 17th I got to the theater literally a few minutes before the show started. I had written down vague directions to the theater: 1) Exit Shinagawa Station, 2) Walk across the street to the theater. The end.

Walking across the street was easy… but finding the theater wasn’t since I was  suddenly in the middle of an outdoor shopping center. On the map I had on my phone, the shopping center was just a small grey square and the theater was represented by a giant red star. But in reality the grey square was a bunch of buildings and there wasn’t a giant red star anywhere. I knew the theater was part of the Prince Hotel, so I was just going to find the hotel at which point the theater should be easy to locate. It turned out Shinagawa is Prince Hotel headquarters, and there are three or four them surrounding Shinagawa Station. In retrospect I was totally lucky that the first Prince Hotel I checked was the correct one. Since it’s a Yoshimoto theater, to get to the venue, you walk through a Yoshimoto gift shop (which sells special items related to that agency). I was really late so I ran through the shop, handed my ticket to the staff and…  got lost again!

I went up a flight of stairs because I somehow overlooked the giant door directly in front of me which would have lead to the first floor of the theater. While going up the stairs a girl handed me two glowsticks for Ai’s birthday. At the top of the stairs I handed my ticket stub to the staff member at the second floor door, who then told me I was at the wrong door and to follow him. When we got to the front doors, he stopped because he was worried the show had already started. He  slowly opened the doors, took a look inside, and only after he verified the show hadn’t started took me to my seat. Kinda embarrassing actually, although it would have been a lot worse if the show had already started.

The most surprising thing about the concerts was how few songs Idoling performed. I think they did five at each show, and then Ai (or Fonchi) did their solo songs. YGA on the other hand performed 8-10 songs. It was a lot easier to get into their set because they performed more songs, they’re higher energy performers, and Idoling has a tendency of constantly breaking into a MC segment every two songs. YGA just went straight through their music. During the show on the 17th, Idoling also had some technical difficulties, which may have also affected their song list.

Hinata Sayo

I’m not a fan of YGA’s music or choreography, but in an attempt to point out something positive… um, they have nice costumes. And I don’t want to sound condescending, but they do try hard. They at least perform with more energy than Idoling. I don’t really get their concept though. They are supposed to be funny, but they don’t do a lot of variety stuff. They are supposed to be hot and wear revealing outfits, but outside of two or three members, they aren’t that good looking (I guess I should add “in my opinion”). I really like Hinata Sayo though and she was one of my favorite idols of 2011. She is super energetic and completely adorable, and for practically their entire set she was performing right in front of me. The right side of the stage just happened to be her primary spot within their choreography. She was definitely one of the highlights of the concert (and I wish she was in predia).

Some strange stuff happens during these concerts. First, I should explain that Idoling and YGA fans are huge nerds. They act like nerds, they dress like nerds, and if I was fluent in Japanese I would probably be able to say they talk like nerds. There is a pretty interesting dynamic at these shows because they involve two pop groups that are very different. There are the Idoling-only wota, the YGA-only wota, the wota of both, and then the casual fans of both, fans of one or the other, and lastly, the YGA haters (lame, I know, but also kind of hilarious). Unlike PASSPO concerts, there are practically no girls at these events. Outside of the girl who handed me glowsticks for Ai’s birthday, I think there may have been only one or two other girls in attendance. Not a big deal, but it does show that both groups are lacking in crossover appeal.

At the concert on the 17th, a birthday banner of Ai crying was on display.

Idoling and YGA alternatingly open the concerts, and depending on which group is opening, the more hardcore fans are wearing either Idoling or YGA t-shirts. T-shirts are definitely the big “wota” thing for Idoling and YGA. Once one group finishes, there is about a two to three minute break until the next group takes the stage. During that period the wotas that are fans of both groups rip off their shirts and grab a towel out of their bag (you can bring bags into this venue btw) and frantically try to clean all of the sweat off them, and then put on the shirt of the group that is coming up. It was weird and gross to suddenly be surrounded by a bunch of sweaty guys changing their clothes. The guy sitting next to me also didn’t like YGA so during their set, he sat down with his back to the group (this was when I had 4th row seats, so I don’t know if the group could see him.) It is also common for fans of only one group to just leave when their group finishes.

Another weird thing that happens is constant seat changing. If someone is a huge fan of one of the girls, and they have a solo coming up, that fan is going to ask someone with a better seat to switch with them for that song. And they usually agree. Maybe it’s the polite thing to do, maybe some of them are regulars and know each other, but when a Fonchi fan asked me to switch seats during her solo, I had to politely refuse (whether I liked Fonchi or not, giving up my seat was too weird. For all I know he could have come from the balcony). For both shows, I was constantly sitting next to a different person.

After the shows conclude, the handshake line starts to form. For those that don’t have a ticket, they just relax in their seat… and take off their shirts again and towel off their sweat. And the corridor leading to the restroom was basically filled with guys doing the same. Why am I mentioning this? Because it was really weird! As I mentioned earlier, on the 17th I got to the show late so I wasn’t able to purchase a ticket. However, when the show ended I got in the handshake line. I basically saw a line and like any normal person, I got in it. I actually thought it was the exit line, oops. Fortunately I figured it out before to much time passed and I was able to casually hop out and get the hell out of there.

——————————————————————————————————–
Pre-dia “3rd Party”
@ Shibuya Rex
Shibuya, Tokyo
November 20, 2011

Following PASSPO’s 2nd Anniversary concert on November 19, pre-dia celebrated their own milestone on November 20. Their “3rd Party” concert at Shibuya Rex was the groups one year anniversary. Rex was a new club that had just opened that October, and pre-dia had actually performed a mini live on the opening night. The venue is pretty small with a capacity of 250 people (or one baby Tyrannosaurus Rex) and is about a 20 minute walk from Shibuya Station.

The day before it had rained all day, but the weather was perfect for predia’s concert. There were double rainbows everywhere!! *kidding* Upon arriving at Rex, fans were gathered outside the venue street fighting and breakdancing hanging out, as opposed to huddling under umbrellas and overpasses like everyone was at PASSPO’s concert the day before. I only saw three or four girls at their concert, so I was amused when I read a blog entry by a Japanese fan who wrote there were a lot more girls attending than normal.

In addition to being their first anniversary, the concert also celebrated Rumina and Keiko’s birthdays.

White and teal glowsticks were handed out to fans with specific instructions on when to activate them. Since I can’t read Japanese I cracked them immediately once the concert started (kidding). The instructions were to activate the teal glowstick during the unit song Eyes2Love and the white one during the encore. But what if there wasn’t an encore?!

Before the live started a staff member asked everyone to move closer to the stage to let the stragglers in. The place was already packed but everyone moved closer to the stage. A few minutes later the same guy asked everyone to move even closer, lol. The staff then explained it would ok to take photos, just without flash. The lights went out and the concert started with Dia Love and Diamond High Heels. I was surprised that they were wearing their original outfits (PASSPO should have done the same during their anniversary concert). There was a brief MC before singing the third song HEY BOY, which is one of my favorite pre-dia songs. And then *drumroll* they debuted a brand new song called Do the Party!!. The song is  amazing, the choreography is really fun, and it just rocks. I think it could be their new theme song.

After the song concluded the girls lined up for the first real MC segment. They asked the crowd if they liked the song (someone answered “No” and was promptly thrown out. <- that didn’t happen) and then the birthday girls, Rumina and Keiko, talked a little.

Pic source: ciento-cuatro blog

The group left the stage, the lights went out and a projector screen came down. The PV for Honey-B was then shown for the first time. The PV is basically them dancing, skipping, jumping, and frolicking in a grassy park. It was as low-budget as it sounds. Well at least they’re getting PVs, it took a while for PASSPO to get them.

After the video ended a “fashion show” was performed with the group split into two sub-groups, the first group dancing to a Kara song and the second group dancing to Namie Amuro’s NEW LOOK. Akane then sang one of my favorite J-pop songs ever Heavenly Star by Genki Rockets! She was awesome and while she sang each girl came out one at a time and tossed a flower to the crowd. Marina’s flower hit the ceiling and landed back in her hand, so cute.

Reiko after tossing her flower and Akane singing. (horrible iphone pic)

The girls left the stage except for Rumina, Akane, and three other members and sang Eyes2Love. Everyone activated their glowsticks and did the whole “glowstick thing”. It was glowtastic™!

Source: Reiko’s blog

After a brief MC they performed five songs: Girl’s pre-dia Party (cover of PASSPO’s Girl’s Pajama Party), One More Yesterday (Akane and Rumina duet), Dream of Love (my favorite pre-dia song), Kimi Mitai ni, and their new single (and the “last song” of the concert) Honey-B.

A few seconds after Honey-B ended, a guy had already started the encore chant, lol. When the group came back on stage they had changed into personalized 1 year Anniversary polos that were given to them by some fans. The back of the shirt listed all the concerts they had done during their first year.

The last horrible iphone pic.

During the encore they sang Do the Party!! and Dia Love again.

White glowstick time. Source: Reiko’s blog

I was glad they sang Do the Party twice because I needed to hear it again, and it could be months until that song is released (as a single or on their first album). The show concluded with singing happy birthday to Rumina and Keiko. They announced their next “party” would be at Shibuya O-WEST on 12-1-14. This is a pretty big venue upgrade. I remember that theater as one PASSPO has performed at, and has capacity of 600+. After the concert they had a handshake/2-shot event. I did the handshake and got a second 2-shot with Reiko. I haven’t written a lot about her, but I love her. I love her dorky voice, her robotic dance style, and everything else about her.

I guess it’s fitting that I put the Idoling and predia recaps together, because when I went back in November to see PASSPO, both groups had concerts the day after and I would only be able to go to one. Idoling seemed like the logical choice, since I was already going to see predia perform at both of PASSPO’s concerts. Ami and Rurika were also scheduled for the Idoling concert. I ended up choosing predia because although I could make an equally long list of reasons to go to either concert, ultimately I just like predia a lot more.

Every time I see pre-dia they exceed my expectations. They have improved so much, that they have done something I previously thought was impossible, unimaginable, and impossible – they have replaced PASSPO as my favorite group.

——————————————————————————————————–
PASSPO Flight
@ Shibuya AX
Shibuya, Tokyo
July 16, 2011

Personal note: This was my first concert in Japan, and my worst recap. It was my first, and it was my worst. I’m a poet and I didn’t… know that I was one.  It would take hours to edit and bring it up to “decent” standards, so I’m just copy-and-pasting this mofo. Now the recap collection is complete.

Tonight I went to PASSPO’s concert at Shibuya AX. Since I’m still on my PASSPO high I Initially just wanted to write that they hijacked the hell out of the stage. (Since that probably doesn’t make sense to most people, “hijacking the stage” is how they explain they are about to put on a kick ass live that may result in several deaths in the audience.)

I should probably mention that this was Natsumi’s birthday, so fans were passing out orange glowsticks. Two guys tried to give me one, but at the time I didn’t understand why they were trying to give the only white guy at the concert free glowsticks (this is probably too lame to mention, but I thought they were going to bill me if I took one or scream that the gaijin was stealing their stuff). I meant to check if there were any recent birthdays in the group but it slipt my mind.

Everyone thought that it was just PASSPO performing tonight, but pre-dia opened!! (updated note: a few days before the concert their blog did mention pre-dia would open).  Pretty much this would only be of interest to PASSPO fans (since we actually know pre-dia and like them). I cannot stress enough how hot this group is. They performed all of their songs… all five of them. Fortunately all five songs are amazing. Not only am I now officially a pre-dia fan (and Reiko worshiper), but they’ve instantly become my second favorite group. They have improved so much and its cool they are finally emerging from PASSPO’s shadow.

Once pre-dia finished, PASSPO took the stage and started with Let it Go! and everyone as if on cue started acting like a bunch of deranged psychopaths. A massive tidal wave of humanity just rushed toward the stage, and while at the time I was annoyed, in retrospect it was awesome because for the rest of the concert I was only 5 rows back. I was basically pushed from the middle of the venue to near the front, hehe. I’ve seen a lot of PASSPO ustreamed concerts, but I think people were acting much crazier (and annoying) than any of the shows I’ve watched. PASSPO has a lot of girl fans and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t enjoy the concert because it was out of control, at least at the beginning. (Edit: after reading up on the concert, the insanity of the concert makes more sense now. PASSPO typically play at venues with a capacity of 300-850 people, however at this concert there were 1500).

PASSPO performed the 2nd b-side from ViVi Natsu for the first time tonight, ROCK DA WEEK, and the song… ROCKED MY WEEK (just pretend that makes sense) They also screened the ViVi Natsu pv and making-of during an intermission. They performed every one of their songs, with the exception of Sakura Iro (since that is one of their best songs… I’m going to randomly blame Sako for it not making the cut. Seriously I love that song, did they really need to perform Let it Go!! twice?). They made up for it with two encores.

As the last encore ended and people streamed out of the club Pre-dia was at the exit greeting everyone as they left. Have I mentioned that they are freakin hot?

The concert ended with a handshake event that lasted over two hours. I didn’t attend because I’m an idiot, but I went shopping and had dinner in Shibuya and when I came back almost two hours later there were still hundreds of people in line waiting to see them. I should have bought a handshake ticket and gotten in line… but again, I’m an idiot. This was supposed to be my chance to ask (beg) them to come to L.A.

Fun Facts:
1500 Passengers, 16 songs (+ 5 songs by pre-dia), 2 encores, 948 glowsticks, and 0 deaths

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