Phillter’s Christmas in Tokyo, Part I

How was everybody’s holiday? I guess Orthodox Christians and people of religious backgrounds with which I am unfamiliar have/may have seasonal holidays left to get through, but most folks have wrapped things up — extra weight! regret! the existential dread of work! Anyway, I hope you had a nice time.

You know who had a nice time? Our man in Japan, Phillter, who headed to Tokyo for a few days and went on an idol odyssey that most of us can only dream about. This is part I; it’s okay to begin to hate the man now.

Some of you may know me from the Hard Idol-verse. I do translations of interviews and reviews when I have the time. In general, I love this genre and want nothing more than to see it flourish and thrive.

For this holiday season, I decided to take a vacation from the sleepy country region of Tokushima, and go to Tokyo for a whirlwind week of Hard Idol concert after Hard Idol concert. I was in Tokyo for five days and went to five live shows, and thus there will be five of these reports.

I spent Christmas Eve mostly in the Shibuya and Shinjuku areas, where any self-respecting admirer of the Idol-arts ends up wandering to. After stopping by Tower Records Shinjuku and picking up a few Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen CDs [Maniac: Phillter is YKG’s biggest fan], it was time to head to the show of the night: マボロシ可憐GeNE 3rd anniversary Meets ENIGMA (Maboroshi Karen Gene 3rd anniversary Meets Enigma).

Now, I’ll admit I had (and still don’t have, continue reading to learn why) NO idea who Maboroshi Karen Gene is, but when a member of Aphrodite tweeted out the schedule and I saw that Guso Drop was on the docket, along with a group who would soon be dispersing, I knew I wanted to go.

I arrived at the venue, a complex with multiple live halls stacked on top of one another in Shibuya named “The Nest”, paid for my ticket and drink, and entered the floor called O-WEST. Now, a quick tip for those of you who haven’t gone to shows like this before: I don’t know what it is like where you are from, but in Japan almost every live event has a compulsory drink ticket that you MUST buy in addition to the show ticket. It usually only costs $6, but be prepared to pay it. Even if you aren’t gonna get thirsty, you still gotta buy that ticket to get in. Maybe the live houses are working with the beverage companies and get a kickback, who knows.

The first act was actually a group that was just doing a rehearsal … for a live audience. 少女第九楽章-ガールズアンセム, or just Girl’s Anthem for short, is a group I’d seen before in the summer, they have some potential and may appeal to some of you.

After them came some other smaller groups:

Other than Kita Kaze and Aphrodite, the other acts were VERY idol in their approach, and since that’s not really my jam, I didn’t pay attention to them as much. Kita Kaze was in good form with a few rocking numbers, and Aphrodite, though more idol than I remember from the last show I saw in the summer, also had a slightly heavy edge to their tone that was pleasing to my ears.

Between CoverGirls and Aphrodite was Guso Drop. Guso has been and remains to be one of my favorite bands. Though I am sad over the loss of Saki, she’s a good person and I’m sure we’ll continue to see great stuff out of her and the new Guso for a long time to come. How do I know she’s a good person? Well, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s report to find out!

The girls came out on stage in costumes: Rei was wearing a santa beard and hat, and the others wearing black hoods and wielding some wicked looking (fake) weapons. I don’t remember the exact setlist they did, but I remember “Gushin” was fantastic, and everyone in the crowd was roaring at the call and response parts. They also played a holiday-ed version of “Bokoboko Paradise,” with the call and response section changed from talking about a bear, to talking about Santa, while Rei wandered aimlessly around stage … after which the other members murdered Santa with the aforementioned weapons, and their show was over.

As expected from a Guso live, they brought tons of energy and middle-finger-in-your-face attitude and infected everyone that saw them with said attitude, leading to some good crowd surfing and a small mosh pit. Ah, just like the concerts I know and love from the metal world!

After Aphrodite was the band that a good number of people had come to the show to see: Bellring少女ハート (Bellring Girls Heart). Bellring has always been one of those bands that I know everyone else really enjoys, but that has never had a song or event that sunk claws into me and refused to let me go. One of those situations where I can’t say I know them, but I know OF them. However, even down a member due to illness, this show changed that attitude.

I don’t know the names of the songs, the dances and cues that the crowd is supposed to take for them, or the special chants that are done for the crow girls, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t swept away by the power they held over the entire audience at that show.

Everyone was jumping around, coordinating hand movements and even forming dancing lines that moved back and forth across the standing area floor. It was coordinated, harmonized chaos. During their performance I had a few moments of that state that every live-goer tries to find: Where you space out and let the music from the stage and the drifting and swaying of the crowd take you away from your present self. It’s similar to how I’ve heard religious experiences described, and that is exactly what I had during Bellring’s set. I didn’t really know much about them before now, and after their Shallow Grave show I’m sure that it’ll be painful to learn more, but I’m gonna learn what I can about these black-winged angels.

After Bellring’s set was the performance of the title group … and the group I didn’t watch the whole set of. I saw the first song of theirs, judged that it was a little too idol-y for me to really care about, and left to catch some shut-eye before my early show the next day. On the way out I ran into a couple of guys from France and a dude from Germany, all of whom were here to see the Bellheart show, and were good people to have a chat with. They gave me an album recommendation for Bellheart, and sent me off with waves as I walked towards the subway back to the hostel I was staying at.

I remember falling asleep that night thinking, “If the first day’s show was this good, just imagine what ***’s and ****’s shows will be like!”

Look for my report on the Christmas Day show coming tomorrow!

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10 thoughts on “Phillter’s Christmas in Tokyo, Part I

  1. The drink requirement is due to the establishment being a registered bar containing a stage and not a live venue.

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    • It’s also a good way for the venue to get more profit. A friend of mine considers it to be some sort of a courtesy money for the venue.

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      • That’s a good way to think of it I guess. I’d rather they just roll it in to the ticket prices though. Was kinda confusing the first time I went and I had to buy something else, and I never end up using the drink tickets because I don’t get thirsty.

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