Content warning: You may be about to hate Phillter’s guts. And who can blame you! All four parts of the Phillterlogue are like a horrible tease. Go look at Part I Part II Part III Part IV if you need to.
December 28, 2016. This was the second show I had been eagerly awaiting. Passcode’s MISS UNLIMITED Tour Final at Studio Coast. As the final show of their major label debut tour, this show was not one for a Passcode fan to miss.
In the usual fashion, I arrived at the venue before the show, this time about five hours early. Passcode shows always do a presale of merchandise to anyone who is standing in line before a certain time, and since this show had some exclusive merch to pick up, I didn’t want to miss that cutoff. So I stood in line for a couple hours, listening to all the Passcode I own on repeat in preparation for the show.
When it was my turn to enter the merch area (safely nestled outside of the chilling wind that had picked up throughout the day), I bought the tour final exclusive towel, and two really nice looking tour shirts, before exiting the line and finding a spot to hole up in for the remaining hours til the show.
I ran into a few fans that I knew from the Passcode show that I went to in Takamatsu, a larger town on the northern part of Shikoku near Kobe. That show was also the birthday celebration show for Takashima Kaede (Kappi). The guys were wearing the birthday celebration shirts that a fan group had made for her before that show, and stood out in the crowd with the pastel yellow and pink design. We killed time by catching up about our lives since the show two weeks earlier and talked about what we thought this one was gonna be like. After a bit, he and his friends were going to go to the convenience store down the road to booze up before the concert. I had been feeling a cold coming on (and as of this writing, nearly two weeks later, I still haven’t quite recovered), so I passed, as sickness and alcohol do not mix well for me.
With my acquaintances gone. there was nothing to do but sit and wait … and wait … and wait some more. Eventually, the event staff started separating out areas for the different ranks of tickets to stand. See, tickets have a letter and number value based on what order you bought the ticket in, with the earliest buyers having the lowest number, i.e. A1. I had bought mine late since I wasn’t sure if I would still be in Tokyo for this show, so my number was D165. This meant I was lined up way outside of the venue when the doors opened to begin letting people in. The lines went fast, however, so as per usual I tossed my stuff in a coin locker outside of the entrance, entered the lobby and bought my drink ticket, and then entered the massive show floor.
It was enormous, with three tiered floors, an upstairs VIP area, speaker flowers hanging from the ceiling like chandeliers, and rigging and camera equipment everywhere. The stage itself felt like it was 100 feet across, but more realistically 40-50 feet. I managed to get in with enough time to stand in the fourth row from the front of the stage, slightly right of center. Pretty good spot for not having a low number ticket.
On the way in, I had spotted a few girls that looked like idol friends of Passcode from other groups, though they were all wearing large surgical masks so I couldn’t quite see who they were. The no-photography rule was being rather strictly enforced, but I managed to sneak a shot of the venue before the floor started really filling up. When the music shifted to a more metal back track, I headed to the floor to stand my ground and wait for the show to begin.
The show started with the enormous white curtain being lit up from behind with the silhouettes of Minami Nao, Imada Yuna, Takashima Kaede and Ogata Hinako, then crashing to the floor with a roar as the girls jumped out on the stage, and the cheering started. You could see the look on the girls’ faces as well that they couldn’t truly believe this was all happening. The shouts of the crowd were ear-splitting as the first songs barrelled through the venue.
The members of the live band they had accompanying them also brought something more to the sound than I thought it would. The little licks the guitars could throw in, the slight variance of the keyboardist compared to the recorded music we’ve all heard before, it was all really refreshing to hear. Seeing an idol group with live music behind them is an experience I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to go see it, especially within our brand of idols.
All of the members of Passcode were in fine form as they ripped through song after song. Yuna’s demonic choruses echoed off of the crowd as it roared them back at her in response. I can’t tell you how many times I was kicked in the head by crowd surfers at this show. Passcode shows, specifically during Yuna’s big parts, are known for enormous amounts of lifting and surfing. When your head is the tallest one there, though, it tends to get knocked around quite a lot. For a while I thought I had gotten a concussion, but that is another story.
The background graphic also changed along with the songs, which really added to the atmosphere of the show. During the more idoly songs it turned into a rainbow explosion of lasers, and during the heavy breakdowns it would turn a harsh red or green and spew fog to darken the mood a bit.
About halfway through the show, the lights dimmed to a shade of orange, and the song “Orange” started up. Now, until this point there hadn’t been any super visible emotion on the girls’ faces other than wonder and the Show Faces I imagine they put on during a performance. But, when “Orange” started, poor Nao lost it. You could see her slowly start tearing up, then crying, then eventually doing everything she could to hide the fact that she was bawling. During some of her vocal parts, she had to cut out partway through because she couldn’t hold the tone together. It was one of the greatest moments of a live show I have ever seen. That much raw, overwhelming emotion is what shows you that these songs mean so much to the girls that perform them.
After “Orange,” the girls left the stage for a few minutes to grab a drink and the band stayed on the play a little solo swapping set. They were all really skilled, with the drummer and keyboardist playing off of each other while the guitars traded solos and kept the underlying rhythm going. Since I was slightly to the side of the stage, I could see the entrance/exit area, and saw the director come out a few times and roll his hands over in a “keep it going” sort of manner. I wonder if the girls were all becoming as exhausted and overwhelmed as Nao had become.
After about 5 minutes of solo swapping, the girls were back out on stage, and everyone’s eyes were dry and focused to a pinpoint again. They started right in “Never Sleep Again,” making the crowd go absolutely nuts with excitement. After that was “Asterisk,” and a few others from their older stuff like “Kissの花束,” “XYZ,” “Club Kids Never Die,” and “Now I Know.” Then came a lot of newer stuff like “Trace” and “MISS UNLIMITED.” Going through all of the different Passcode styles was really great, and you could tell when certain sections of the crowd joined the ranks of the Hackers based on their reactions to which songs.
As the second section of the show ended with “Over There,” the lights dimmed, and the girls went backstage. But the background graphic was not turned off, so the whole crowd knew what we had to do.
That encore chant continued for about 5 minutes before the band walked back out on stage, cheers went up, the girls returned, and “NINJA BOMBER” started up. Since they hadn’t played it yet, I had a strong feeling they were saving it for their encore, and when Hina started the song off with her iconic solo bit at the beginning, everyone went insane. You could barely hear her mic’d voice over the roar of the crowd as they sang along with the starting parts. However, when Nao saw how wild the crowd was going, she was overwhelmed with emotion again, and tears started streaming down her face. During her solo vocal parts in the song she couldn’t hold a singing voice together for long enough, so she just yelled them out with wild emotion. And it was fantastic. Poor Nao.
The encore section closed with “From Here” from their first album. During that song, Hina got in on the crying action with noticeable glistening in her eyes, and Kaede had a tear or two fall as well. Yuna didn’t seem to get emotional during the show. Maybe that was just the demonic spirits inside that tiny woman lending her unlimited strength and fortitude to finish the show. Who knows.
“From Here” ended and the girls and band walked off once again. The lights dimmed to almost pitch black now … but the symbol was still glowing a bit. So, once more, we in the crowd raised up the cry!
After a slightly longer amount of time, the band walked back on, and the girls had changed out of the white and black outfits to normal tour shirts. They looked filled with happy emotions as they walked back on stage, smiling and waving like they couldn’t believe what they had accomplished with this show. The final song of the night was “Link,” and it was a doozy. Not only were the girls emotional during the song, but there were several members of the crowd, including yours truly, that got a bit choked up during that last song. The lines of, “We’ve laughed together, cried together, got angry together,” must ring home for many fans. Thus, “Link” was the perfect song to end such an important show with.
After the last song ,the girls gave speeches, during which Nao was crying, and Hina finally broke and started all-out crying as well. Kaede was still standing strong and smiling with damp eyes, and Yuna was still dry-eyed and holding everything together. They thanked everyone for all of their support for the last few years, through the good and bad times, the sure and unsure times, and even when they didn’t have much going for them, they said the fans were still there to help them get through it. Now that their future is bright and they have nowhere to go but higher and higher, they can’t wait to take that journey with their Hackers together.
With that, the speeches were done, they took a few crowd photos, and left the stage. I, along with the rest of the crowd, turned and slowly trudged out of the doors into the frigid night air. This was the kind of show that would live with us for a long, long time. I grabbed my stuff from the lockers and started heading back to my hotel to catch some sleep before an early train to Sendai the next day.
On the way out of the venue area and back to the station, however, I ran into a few different idol groups handing out fliers outside. First was Checkmate, a group that we’ve had an article or two about on here before. They have a good sound that fans of Passcode should probably enjoy. I talked to them for a few minutes, telling them to keep up the good work, that they had attention of some fans from overseas (which of course they couldn’t believe), and that I couldn’t wait for them to release a few more songs.
They thanked me and I thanked them, and I turned to go and ran into another girl handing out fliers for a group called WiLL. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this group, and I was exhausted after the show, but I still told the girl I would genuinely give her a listen and to keep it up because you never know who might be interested. It’s amazing how a few kind words can perk up someone trying so desperately to make a living in the difficult circuit that is the idol world.
If you’ve come along this whole way on my concert journey with me, I would like to say thank you. I have ambitions of moving into the promoting space for groups like ours, and I hope these articles are the first step towards that.
Let’s keep these groups going.
Let’s show them that we appreciate all that they give.
Thank you again for reading.
Go bother Phillter on Twitter to tell him that he did a good job.