SUPER☆GIRLS: Summer Concert R3CAPS part 1

31 Jul


When I was in Tokyo last July I decided to return in August to attend Tokyo Idol Festival 2011. I never got to the planning stage of that trip because something really lame happened that prevented me from going (let’s just pretend it was something interesting like I was abducted by aliens). So after TIF 2011 came and went, I was even more determined to go the following year (assuming there was another TIF). A year is a long time to wait for something though. When TIF 2012 was announced a few months ago, my desire to go had faded significantly, but I felt obligated to go because it was something I used to want. It was similar to when I saw AKB48 in L.A. I had bailed on the AKB fandom several months before their visit, but I felt I should go just because for two years of my life I was a huge fan. The same principle was in play for TIF 2012. It didn’t help that the week before and after TIF was an idol “dead zone” with none of the groups I like having anything scheduled.

But then SUPER☆GiRLS pulled through like they always do and scheduled not one, not two, not 17, not 6.5, not ‰, not ∞, but eight concerts! All eight would be at Shinjuku BLAZE, a club that both S☆G and PASSPO☆ play at all the time. The trip was on like Donkey something! The only questions left was how many concerts to attend. And what was Reira’s home address.

SUPER☆GIRLS “Summer Battle” Concerts Vol. 5 and Vol. 6
@ Shinjuku Blaze

Shinjuku, Tokyo
July 28, 2012

Since the group officially called the concerts “battles”, I’m going to refer to the three concerts I went to as the NIJIRO Star Wars Trilogy (“NIJIRO Star” is the name of one of their most popular songs). Keeping with the Star Wars theme, Reira is Princess Reira. And Ruka is Ru-bacca.

Although I would have liked to go to the concerts on Wednesday and Thursday, because I was already taking a week off of work for TIF, I wouldn’t have been able to take an additional week off in order to be in Japan by Wednesday. I’m on summer break, but I still have a job. So that left the four weekend concerts. The night concerts were locks because just based on PASSPO’s history of two concerts in one day, the night concert is always better. After I bought tickets to the two night concerts, I started thinking about the two morning ones. Because of the cost of the resale tickets, and just the feeling that going to all four was excessive and selfish, I decided to compromise and buy one ticket to either one of the morning concerts, and decide based on which show I could get the best ticket for.  Initially I thought going to multiple shows was selfish because I would be depriving other fans from going, but it turns out it was really common for fans to go to multiple and during one of the MCs the girls even encouraged it. It was fate that I ended up with an amazing ticket for the Saturday noon concert, since that concert had the best set list by far. Three words: Renai Rule! That is my favorite S☆G song because Reira has an adorable solo at the beginning. This is her personal favorite song as well.

Saturday Morning Concert
Getting to Shinjuku BLAZE from my hotel was as easy as walking half a kilometer along a pedestrian path that paralleled the train tracks and then crossing a main street. After another 100 meters I arrived at a row of stores called “American Blvd” and turned left into a labyrinth of side streets with pachinko parlors, massage parlors, arcades, restaurants, bars, a movie theater, bowling alley, random sleazy-looking establishments, and Shinjuku BLAZE. 

I arrived at 9:45 which was several hours before the scheduled start of the first concert at 12:30. I wanted to arrive early in order to find a shop that specializes in purple glowsticks and also purchase SUPER☆GiRLS merchandise. When I arrived there were four lines in the vicinity of BLAZE, and I had no idea which one to get in. They all looked like top shelf lines and it would have been an honor to stand in any one of them. After staring at them for a half hour I realized one was for S☆G tickets (the concert sold out, but a few more tickets were made available that morning), another was for S☆G merchandise, a third line was for a pachinko parlor that was opening at 10, and a fourth “special edition” line was for the newest version of the 3DS which was being sold at a nearby game store. I thought it would be better to find a place to buy glowsticks first so I was about to head to Don Quijote when I heard some commotion behind me. I turned around and the pink SUPER☆GiRLS bus was making its way down the alley! Talk about surreal. It was pretty hilarious watching an old man slowly and awkwardly drive the pink bus down the narrow street. Watching the girls get out and head into BLAZE was an unexpected surprise. In retrospect I have no idea why I didn’t stick around after the night concerts and wait for them to get back on the bus, in order to watch the reverse spectacle of them slowing driving away.

We need more pink tour bus pics!

Watching them get off the bus ended up taking a while, so after that was over I had to make up for lost time and rush to Don Quijote for glowsticks. They only had disposable ones, the spot on the rack where purple battery-powered would have been was empty. Kind of annoying because I needed a purple light stick not just for Reira but for Anna (PASSPO), and buying and re-buying disposables is a waste of money and bad for the environment.

Obi Don Quijote you’re my only hope. If you are looking for glowsticks, they are on the first floor.

I then went back to BLAZE, got in the merchandise line and purchased a Reira fan (uchiwa), Reira’s S☆G photo magazine that was released a few months ago, and two glowstick wristbands (they had 4 types but they were random, but I luckily got the two I wanted). The group was also doing a high touch after the concert, so I got in a separate line that was selling Puripuri Sumer Kiss. This was exactly the reason I had held off purchasing their single when it came out a couple of weeks ago: I knew I would eventually have to buy it again. I’m a genius.

I saw this photo before. Yeah, but it didn’t have a caption back then. It’s a lovely photo of lovely merchandise so let’s all appreciate it again!

Now all that was left to do was wait in the hot sun for the concert to begin. This part was brutal because whenever concert goers tried to take refuge in the shade created by the movie theater we were ordered back to a roped off area near the S☆G bus, because we were supposedly inconveniencing people trying to walk down the street.

At 12, the staff began yelling out instructions to line up by number in order to enter the club. Like most concerts at a club there aren’t assigned seating, instead you enter the venue based on your ticket number. The lower the number the better because you get in earlier, and then can choose to go near the stage, or the back area which is slightly elevated. The more concerts you go to the more you’ll realize that everyone has their own preference for location, and the front rows aren’t always the desired location. My ticket was #80, so considering the ticket numbers go up to #800, it was a great ticket. Upon entering the club you walk down two flights of stairs to the underground lobby, pay a 500 yen drink cover, and receive a Maidoru point card. Then you walk down another flight of stairs into the actual club.

Each concert was worth 400 points, and all merchandise also included Maidoru keycodes.

Once inside I headed to the middle of the stage and set up official Reira-fan Headquarters. Lame jokes aside, my location was just four rows back. Factoring in the gap between the stage and the barrier in front of row one, once the group took the stage they were less than two meters away!

The series of concerts had a different Idol Street group serve as the opening act for each day. On Wednesday and Thursday it was Idol Street Tokyo and Osaka, and for today’s concerts it was the group from Nagoya. After they performed three songs (which are the identical three songs each regional Idol Street group performs), the lights went out and the “Welcome to S☆G Show” intro track started playing immediately cueing the “SUPER GiRL” chant that occurs before all of their lives. It’s cheesy but their intro is way more effective at getting the audience up then the ones AKB and PASSPO use.

The theme of the morning concert was “Chozetsu Shojo” (their first album) and they wore their old-school yellow outfits, and opened with NIJIRO Star, Kira Pure Power, and Renai Rule. Kira Pure Power and NIJIRO Star are absolutely their two best live songs in my opinion and Renai Rule is simply my favorite song! When I saw Reira getting in formation at the front, I started trembling like a baby gorilla because I could tell Renai Rule was coming up. The concert couldn’t have started any better. After the three songs they did their standard MC introduction, during which some members left the stage based on their “unit”, which was another surprise because I didn’t think they would be doing unit songs. All three units came on stage wearing their unit outfits, which was yet another surprise because I didn’t think there would be costume changes either. It was exactly like a concert for Chozetsu Shojo! During The Rock You Reira, Mirei, Saori, and Ruka throw their towels to the crowd. Reira and Mirei threw theirs almost to the back of the venue. Couldn’t they just hand them to me? Reira-Fan Headquarters was right in front of her *sigh*.

After the unit songs and another MC segment, was a final costume change into the SUPER short shorts outfits. Ruka sang My Dream solo with Rika and Hikaru as her dancers. Rika and Hikaru may not have the acrobatic skills of Rina, but they are the most energetic dancers in the group. Which reminds me of how sweaty these two get. Normally I would refrain from mentioning this, but the amount of sweat that was dripping off Rika during her MC was unreal. It was like she was standing under a waterfall. She was sweating so much after the first three songs that she couldn’t open her eyes during the MC.

They also performed Everybody Jump!!, Miracle ga Tommanai, Puripuri Summer Kiss, and Max! Otome Gokoro. There was no encore, but the Saturday morning set list was almost perfect!

My favorite MC “corner” was when Saori, Kaede, Reira, and Aya introduced their “favorite” S☆G summer goods. Saori’s “favorite” was the coin pouch, which she said she uses for her daily allowance (sure, lol), Kaede’s was the moist towelettes, Reira’s was the pocket fan, and Aya’s was the frozen treat kit. No love for the cupcakes, so sad. Kaede and Reira said their items are the perfect combo: first you wipe yourself with the towelette and then dry yourself off with the fan. Kaede demonstrated on Reira by wiping her arm and then directing the fan at her. SUPER☆GiRLgasmic. I got the impression that these “favorite” items were just the junk that no one was buying!

Rika standing in the girl section during a break between shows.

One cool difference between SUPER☆GiRL and PASSPO concerts is S☆G concerts don’t have lame restrictions like “no jumping” (which would be very ironic considering their album “Everybody Jump”). Like a lot of concerts, there was an area on the stage left side reserved for girls though.

Something to consider when choosing where to stand is the closer you are to the stage, the more aggressive the fans are. It’s pretty surprising how rude fans can be at idol concerts. I’ve been to 30+ punk concerts in L.A. and you expect moshing and certain types of behavior, but for the most part there’s respectfulness. But at these idol concerts some fans push people for no reason, jump on them, and just disrespect others. If you just want to chill and have a good view of the stage, standing in the middle area could work out better.

Blueprints are back! I’ll update the layout with my locations for the three concerts when I return home since I don’t have photoshop on my laptop.

After the last song the staff began preparations for the high touch. Everyone filed out of the club and into the lobby, and then was redirected to the side entrance to the stage area where we handed in our “high touch” ticket that was included with Puripuri Summer Kiss. Upon entering the stage area, the girls were lined up on stage, along with the Idol Street Nagayo team. High touches happen so fast that your brain can’t really process anything. It’s basically a rapid-fire succession of high fives with idols. It’s a fun experience though and definitely better than a high touch with a group of deranged hobos!

After leaving BLAZE I headed back to my hotel to re-shower before the night concert which was two hours later. What magical surprises would await? A ten song Renai Rule marathon? More shameless merchandise promotion? Even shorter shorts??

Setlist
01.Welcome to S☆G show!
02.NIJIIRO Star☆
03.Kira・Pure・POWER!
04.Renai Rule
-MC-Member Introduction
05.Tokimeki Iro no Kaze to Kimi
06.THE ROCK YOU ★
07.Egao ga Porori
08.My dream (Ruka solo)
-MC-
・Merchandise segment (Reira, Saori, Aya, Kaede)
・Puripuri・SUMMER Kiss choreography lesson (Rika, Rino)
09.Puripuri・SUMMER Kiss
10.MAX!Otome Gokoro
11.Miracle ga TOMANNAI!

Saturday Evening Concert


When I arrived back at BLAZE at 4 fans were already being let into the venue. My ticket number was #289 for the night concert, so while it wasn’t as good as the earlier show, it was still near the top third. Once the ticket numbers are the hundreds, they call tickets by tens, so when 280 was called I darted in, right in front of a group of girls wearing yukatas. S☆G has quite a few girl fans, although they don’t seem to have as many as PASSPO. I think there were about 30-40 girls per concert (out of the 800 total in attendance). Surprisingly when I got into the stage area I was able to get in the seventh row directly between stage right and middle.

Idol Street Nagoya opened again and sang the three songs they sang during the morning concert. Maya is really cute and I can see her getting promoted to Cheeky Parade or possibly a new idol group.

Once their twenty minute set concluded “Welcome to S☆G show!” played and SUPER☆GiRLS came out wearing their blue “Everybody Jump!!” outfits. The theme of the concert was still “Chozetsu Shojo” though and they again opened with NIJIRO Star and then sang Yume no Inryoku and Everybody JUMP!!. I mentioned in the earlier recap that some people were acting a little crazy during the early show, but the level of insanity went up a lot during the night show. This is expected for night concerts though, and BLAZE security lined the sides of the venue. It was pretty crazy because they were tossing people out left and right. Before the concert even started people with shitty tickets were trying to force their way to the front, and there really isn’t anything you can do about it. Japanese fans would rather let the jerks force their way passed them, then cause a scene. Fortunately security must have been watching by surveillance, because after Idol Street Nagoya wrapped up, they showed up and kicked out all of the people who had weaseled their way to the front. And for the duration of the concert, security was jumping in and taking out the fans that were causing trouble. On one hand it was cool that they were enforcing basic rules, but it was also really distracting trying to watch the girls while 3 or 4 security staff was violently removing people around you.

After the introductory three songs and MC introductions, the group changed into the “MAX! Otome Gokoro” outfits. After a few more songs they did a hilarious MC “corner” called “Ashita he Step” (Step to tomorrow) in which the girls used pedometers to record who could shake their ass the most in 20 seconds. On one hand this was awesome. On the other, Tokyo has been so hot and BLAZE being underground was pretty hot as well, so it seemed kind of inappropriate to have the girls waste so much energy on something so silly. The corner was pretty long with the girls taking like five minutes to explain how to properly use the pedometers. During the explanation of the corner, Rino went to the front of the stage, and bent over and slowly slipped the pedometer into the back pocket of her shorts. I’ve noticed that Rino and Rika have zero shame when it comes to fan service. That’s why they are my second and third favorites. Well that’s not actually why, but that kind of confidence doesn’t hurt.

After the corner they changed into their fruit-themed outfits and performed Purirpuri Summer KissMAX Otome Gokoro, and last song Be with you. The night concert was somewhat disappointing, I think my expectations were too high. I assumed it would follow the standard pattern of the night concert having more content than the morning one, but they performed only eight songs at night compared to ten during the early show. The song “Be with you” is a very popular S☆G song, but it’s surprisingly not that fun to see live, so the concert kind of ended on a flat note. Although I’m clearly weird when it comes to which songs I prefer. If I was in charge, the song list would continually rotate between Renai Rule and Mega Twinkle, until everyone goes insane.

Setlist
01.Welcome to S☆G show!
02.NIJIIRO Star☆
03.Yume no Inryoku
04.Every Body JUMP!!
-MC-Member Introduction
05. Kizuna Days
06. Nijiro Daiya
-MC-”Ashita he Step” corner
07.Puripuri・SUMMER Kiss
08.MAX!Otome Gokoro
09.Be with you

My favorite part of the bus.

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