HimeKyun Fruit Can VS Shizukaze & Kizuna @ Shibuya O-West

7 Apr

IMG_1184HimeKyun Fruit Can VS Shizukaze & Kizuna
@ Shibuya O-West
March 25, 2013

After the night SUPER☆GiRLS concert I headed back to Osaka station. It was around 9PM and the bus was scheduled to leave at 11:30PM . There was plenty of time, but I didn’t want to repeat the situation in Tokyo where I was minutes away from missing the bus, so I sacrificed having dinner in Osaka to ensure I arrived at the bus terminal ahead of time. It took about an hour to get to the Willer bus station, and it was overflowing with travelers when I arrived. It kind of seemed like a refugee camp: people sleeping on the floor, huddling together for warmth, babies crying, old people rummaging around for food and annoying everyone. If I never get to recapping the bus experience, I’ll just say it here: highway buses are inexpensive for a reason. It’s a terrible way to travel, and should be considered a last resort. Willer buses are pink; the only pink bus I ever want to travel in is the SUPER☆GiRLS tour bus.

I should mention at this point of my trip, I had slept less than 3 hours since I had first arrived in Tokyo on 3-23.  On that day I had checked into my hotel at around midnight and unfortunately couldn’t sleep. I’m used to only sleeping 5 or 6 hours a day in the middle of the night, but I only slept for 30 minutes that night. I didn’t sleep on the plane because I thought it would affect my ability to sleep that night, so that logic backfired. Then the following day I only slept two hours on the bus ride to Osaka. So at this point I had slept less than three hours over three days (factoring in the time zone change and the 12 hour flight), while going to four concerts. I was eating nothing but ramen, and drinking three Red Bulls and Monsters a day, so considering I am a bit of a health freak who typically only eats organic, responsible food, I was living like an animal. Fortunately, I was able to sleep for four hours on the bus back to Tokyo. It was a crappy four hours though. It wasn’t like four hours of sleeping on a cloud made of marshmallows. It was like four hours of sleeping in a ghetto pink bus along a ghetto highway full of massive holes and in the company of super weird traveling companions… who were ghetto.

When I arrived at Shinagawa station at 9 AM, it was raining lightly. I was hungry and wanted ramen (breakfast ramen) and a Red Bull. My plan for the day was to go to the STREEEEEGU concert in Akihabara at 2:30PM and then HimeKyun Fruit Can VS Shizukaze & Kizuna concert at 6PM in Shibuya.

Something happens to your brain though when you deny it sleep and normal food.  It stops caring about stuff like idols. I know, crazy. Six hours of sleep over four days and nothing but energy drinks and ramen (which is not that healthy) made me realize idols aren’t that important. I was dead tired, it was raining, I was probably consuming 1800 calories a day but exerting three to four times that amount from concert activity and walking 10 km a day. And I had only 2 hours to get to my hotel, check-in, shower, redo my hair (which takes time because it’s awesome), and get to Akihabara and purchase a ticket and concert merchandise. This was a concert I couldn’t buy tickets for in advance because they only become available ten days before the scheduled concert. They don’t sell out, so there was no point in dealing with a buying service to get tickets for me. So instead of going to the concert as a zombie and getting a two-shot with Yuki looking like a zombie, I just decided to scrap it and just focus on the HimeKyun concert, which I already had tickets for.

IMG_1167I arrived at Shibuya O-West at 5:30; it wasn’t raining but it was pretty cold. Along this street are five concert venues: Shibuya O-East, Crest, duo, nest, and O-West. There were three different queues, and since I was going to the HimeKyun Fruit Can VS Shizukaze & Kizuna show I looked for a queue filled with dirty looking wotas. Totally kidding. But it’s true. The line of school girls  definitely wasnt’t there to see either of the groups I was seeing. At the time I thought they were there for Tokyo Girl’s Style, but I’m not really sure. Anyway, my ticket was #49 (out of 600) so they were already letting fans into the club when I arrived. Once inside the staff asks for your vote, either HimeKyun or Shizukaze & Kizuna (it’s a “VS” concert so fans determine which group headlines). I voted for HimeKyun. The vote determined which group performed last and got the encore. HimeKyun won so they performed second and had a slightly longer set.hkfcskow

I’m not a hardcore fan of either group, so unlike a SUPER☆GiRLS, PASSPO, or predia concert, I didn’t really know what fans “do” at their lives. Although I had a great ticket, I was fine holding up the wall for this concert. I knew enough about both that there would be moshing, stage diving, and other punk behavior that I had outgrown and didn’t even participate when I used to go to real punk shows in L.A. I also knew to keep the glowsticks at home. Although HimeKyun is “fruit themed” and color-coded based on their fruit, they aren’t a glowstick group, although some fans used them.

Shizukaze & Kizuna opened the concert wearing karategi (karate outfits). I only know the name because I used to do karate when I was younger. I had to stop because my sensei turned me into an unstoppable fighting machine! Anyway, they had two black belts do a demonstration, and then all six girls took turns breaking a wood board in half (either with punches, kicks, chops, headbutts, jump kicks, or moe-moe beams). It was cute. I guess. There was some persistence involved because not each girl was successful on their first attempt. Or second. Or third. But they never gave up. It was kind of silly and a time filler (possibly), but I guess that is also part of their “charm” and just something original that further separates them from other groups. Personally, I thought it was unnecessarily dangerous. Unless they actually do karate (which I am too lazy to research), the spectacle of breaking wood boards is not worth getting injured over. If the girls hurt their ankles or broke a bone in their hand or foot, they could be sidelined for months, or years. A lot of idols get injured just by dancing and rehearsal, and some are forced to graduate if they take too long to recover. So it seemed too high risk with too little reward. After the karate exhibition, they debuted the music video for their next single.

Both groups were performing with live bands (they each group had their own) and both complimented the group really well. Shizukaze & Kizuna performed five or six… or seven songs. I actually have no idea because they performed nonstop and each song just blended into the next. The music is pretty much straight up punk. It was cool seeing live, but I don’t know if I’d want to listen to their recorded music. If I want to listen to punk, then I would listen to a real punk group. They are really high energy though, and I would probably put them on my short list of groups to see if they perform at TIF again. One thing I didn’t like about the concert was the amount of conformity expected from fans. There is a lot of stuff fans are expected to do and they want 100% participation: coordinated headbanging, jumping around like an idiot, and holding the person next to you and swaying back and forth – it was all really lame imo. One of the ironies of punk is it’s supposed ethos preaching nonconformity, but there is a lot of conformity in the fashion and behavior at punk shows. I think fans should be able to do what they want. I’ve read many blogs where fans are constantly lamenting there wasn’t enough “unity” from the crowd. Even at the SUPER☆GiRLS concert I’ve read criticism of the fans for not singing along with the group loud enough (during Celebration, the group asked the audience to sing the refrain, and it didn’t turn out too well. Same thing happened at a predia concert). Fans either don’t know the words or don’t want to sing. Not every fan brings a glowstick to a concert, and some fans don’t even clap. I can understand their perspective though: the louder and more energetic the crowd, the better the group performs – theoretically. 

Once Shizukaze & Kizuna’s set was over, HimeKyun debuted the music video for their single, Buzzword.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POeZ9VOzPUQ

Their set was pretty short, maybe a half hour, and like Shizukaze & Kizuna they performed straight through. They came back out for a 3 song encore, which included Buzzword. If I go to TIF and they are performing again, I would definitely go to each one of their stages if possible.  They have the energy PASSPO used to perform with when they were an indie group. HimeKyun has a lot of potential, but like all super-high energy groups, there is the unfortunate possibility the members and fanbase could burn out.

The following day I went to the Love Mark Festival at Shibuya Deseo. It’s too complicated to recap because the groups are too obscure, and I arrived an hour after it started which didn’t help. At least I think I arrived an hour later, I actually have no idea when it started. I really like a lot of the groups on the  Spiral label though and I’m hopeful that some of them are at TIF. 

IMG_1179Trying to recreate your own personal Tokyo Idol Festival is tiring and complicated. It was a great experience, but I have a new-found appreciation for the real thing. For overseas fans, TIF is  so simple, inexpensive, and perfect (except for NEP She Stars being there).

IMG_1195

The observation deck at Haneda airport. I’ve wanted to check this out since watching that cheesy air traffic controller drama staring Kyoko Fukada.

I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep forever.

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