I was kind of excited about this. You’d have a hard time making me a case to include geek idols Avandoned on this site as a regular thing, but they’d be a central part of the sister site. Not only are they cool as hell, but their tour in the U.S. was basically under the guidance of their collaborators/friends Hijokaidan, and if you get a chance to see Jojo Hiroshige and company do their thing all of 45 minutes from your house, you do it.
— Homicidol Maniac (@homicidols) March 26, 2016
Overall, I mostly enjoyed what all was going on with Multiple Tap, but I was in Baltimore to see two things happen, Avandoned and Hijokaidan, and boy was I surprised when Avandoned was treated as the primary support act. But there they were, putting on a good 30-minute set on a tiny stage in an upstairs bar/lounge space in a Korean restaurant in a second-tier city a few thousand miles from home … and they killed it. They killed it so hard, and were so much the actual featured attraction, that people actually left after they wrapped up despite the fact that Jojo and company were still on stage and still going.
Here are some photos:
Observations and stuff:
- I’m used to going to out-of-the-ordinary events that attract out-of-the-ordinary people. This was one of the most eclectic groups I’ve ever seen. That of course made my straight-laced self the weirdest person there.
- Avandoned’s merch basically sold out within minutes. Like, all of it. I hope they either have some in reserve or can get a box in from Japan overnight.
- Shout out to the one dude in the place who had glow sticks that were yes, appropriately colored and yes, constantly waving. Jojo loved him.
- They’re all good performers, but I’ll go ahead and give Beni the nod as the most magnetic person on the stage. It’s one thing to work around the fact that the stage is small and has a side wall. It’s another to play up the wall for effect. It’s quite another still to make the wall into part of your routine and act like you had it planned all along.
- Idols, live and up close, are basically impossible not to like. I’ve done my share of stage work; they knew exactly what they were doing and why there were doing it, and the effect was a room of about 200 people completely in love with them.
— Homicidol Maniac (@homicidols) March 26, 2016
I took better video of different spots, but come on. “Feedback Friday”!
I know it’s just one indie/alt group on one night in one venue in one city, but I was left with this impression: Maybe it really is becoming idol’s time. I don’t think this is all coordinated, but the timing of it all is important, and it seems to be working.
Tell me a musical style or scene that suddenly happened because a standard bearer rode into the world on a beam of light and converted millions. You can’t, right? Because that’s not how it works. Scenes come to life by building at the very bottom and progressively catching on until they can break out into mass public consciousness; the emergence of a superstar/s is helpful in that regard.
Idol for Americans (outside of the cons, that is) has always consisted of big names or well-resourced soon-to-be-big names sort of manipulating process: They have enough of an audience as to not be embarrassed by booking a decently sized venue, and they can make more fans and sell more stuff in the process. You have Perfume and Morning Musume and Babymetal. Top-of-the-heap stuff.
Is that what Avandoned is? Absolutely not. They’re cool. I obviously think they’re awesome. Would they play a much bigger place in Japan? Other than festival stages, not really.
But they had a couple of hundred people in Baltimore going apeshit for them. They even instigated a circle pit for “Feedback Friday” (which was completely surreal) before everybody just started to skank along. That crowd was out for Avandoned.
I’d like to see them come back, build on that success. But if they can do it at all, what does that say about bigger names in idol, some of the biggest period? More importantly (for us, at least), what does it say about BiSH? PassCode? Kamen Joshi?
What I’m getting at is that there may actually be a decently supportive underground level of support for alt-idols in the United States (and elsewhere) already, and if Babymetal is rampaging around and making converts who then go looking for more and find themselves really interested in a couple of other groups and sweet holy dog, they’re coming to within a decent drive of my place just a month from now! that’s a heck of a phenomenon to support an underground by driving more people toward it.
Maybe people who got to witness a scene come to life in real time can talk about more that; all I know is that American interest in idols is growing in general, Babymetal and others are creating conversation at the same time, and there’s never been a better time to be an idol doing it different.