Tokyo 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)
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
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.
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.]
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|
|KNU||nanoRider (nanoCUNE)||Maneki Kecak|
|Narumi Takiguchi||Ciao Smiles, others||Fudanjuku|
|Akishibu Project||Kaori Sakura||Sakura Gakuin|
|Bakusute Sotokanda||Stella Beats||Dance Philosophy|
|Yumemiru Adolescence||Doll☆Elements||PPP! PiXiON|
|PASSPO☆||Up Up Girls||BiSH|
|Sakura Cinderella||World Standard||nanoRider|
|Dorothy Little Happy||LinQ||Houkago Princess|
|Yufu Terashima||Doll☆Elements||Cheeky Parade|
|Houkago Princess||“Hiroshima idols”|
My favorite performances (I was going to include video links, but they tend to get taken down quickly)
1. 9nine @Hot Stage — I was only planning on staying for one song, just to be able to finally see them. But once they started performing I was completely hooked. With Umika Kawashima graduated, I feel the members are individually and collectively trying harder in order to compensate. Uki has always been my favorite, but I was really impressed with Hirona. [What were you impressed with?] Her cuteness!
2. Cheeky Parade @ Ship Stage — I’ve explained my paradoxical feelings about Cheeky Parade before: they have by far the best music in iDOL Street and the members are cool, but they’ve just never clicked with me. My plan was to see Doll☆Elements at Sky Stage, but the queue was too long, so I went to Ship Stage to see Chikipa and Houkago Princess. Best decision ever. One of the most pure fun performances ever. Just people jumping around and having a good time. And only three reported deaths. Not bad. Hands Up is a love it or hate it song, but I love it and it’s my favorite song of theirs. HouPri also had a special announcement at this stage, promoting several cadet members to full member status.
3. Narumi Takiguchi @Festival Stage — I wanted to go to her one-man because I was really impressed when I saw her. [What were you impressed with?] Her hotness! I just wish TIF wasn’t so stingy. One stage on one day? TIF stop being mean!
4. Akishibu Project @Doll Factory — Their set was delayed for a five minutes after BiSH fans broke the front barrier, but the delay allowed me to get to the front row :P They are another group I need to add to my “late to the party” list because they are hot hot hot and have a great catalog of music. They are now in my top tier along with YumeAdo and GEM.
5. MAPLEZ @Ship Stage — My oshimen graduated one week before TIF, but they were still awesome. And one day I will forgive her.
LinQ — I didn’t realize how hardcore their fans were. I always thought LinQ was a harmless group like Tokyo Performance Doll or Sunmyu or LaPomPon, but their fans were high on something at their Hot Stage performance. My guess? Cocaine laced with steroids. I don’t blame them though, their set was pretty good. I wish my favorite groups would take notice: perform your good songs at TIF, not your weird b-sides.
Ciao Smiles – They were scheduled twice during stages I happened to be at, and for a “little kid” group they were pretty good and I didn’t completely hate them :P Their song “Rainbow Smile” was pretty fun. <- The live version was way better. At first I thought they were a Sakura Gakuin club, and was confused when I couldn’t find the members I liked during their Hot Stage performance. It turned out, only two members of Ciao Smiles are in Sakura Gakuin. [Ooooh, that’s a fun fact™!]
drop – Thank you for debuting new outfits. They are a huge improvement over the weird hobo attire!
Most Annoying (aka my place to rant :P)
GEM’s Smile Garden performance. First, where is Monami?? Second, they performed only 3 songs (In the same time block, YumeAdo, PiiiiiiiN, and Kamiyado did 4. Although drop only did 2. But they were barefoot… so that counts for something). Third, and this is the most important, they performed Clarity and fRiEnDs, two ballads. Clarity is an okay song, this just wasn’t the right time or place. Fans at Smile Garden were drunk and acting insane because they had to endure an hour of Splash. Seriously, six Splash songs in a row! Pretty much any GEM song would have been better than Clarity. [Even DANCIN’ DANCIN’ DANCE?] And FRiEnDs isn’t only a ballad, it’s a 4 member unit song! What group performs a unit song at TIF? [GEM!]
My TIF photos
I remember when Tokyo Idol Festival would end and it was a complete mystery whether there would be another the following year. Obviously, there was always the possibility, but it felt like it could go either way, considering a lot of work goes into the event and the idol scene has the possibility of imploding at any time. This year, their homepage has already mentioned they are proceeding with TIF 2017. That’s so GEM!™
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.