I keep alluding to this handy guide to the Tokyo Idol Festival, and not really producing it. It might not have happened at all hadn’t Go Go Going Now! reached out a week or so ago about putting together something that would have a what-to-do element to it. That’s smart, I thought. That gets back to the roots of ye olde website.
So here’s the deal: If you’re kind of a n00b but have made the very smart decision to get into idols, and part of your conversion process is a pilgrimage to the annual holiest of holies known as the Tokyo Idol Festival — this year’s biggest idol-dedicated party on the planet runs Friday Aug. 3 through Sunday Aug. 5! — I won’t tell you what to do, but I’ll tell you what I would probably do, and you can take that or leave it or use it as a basis to think about things. It doesn’t matter! Just go and have fun! Also get started by reading Go Go Going Now!’s primer!
But if you are thinking that maybe this Maniac guy has some iota of good sense in that enormous head of his, I encourage you, friend, to read along and think strategically about how to make the most of your TIF experience.
Friday at TIF has, in my experience, always been the water-testing day, where acts that might belong but might not rate as highly show up and do their thing … for the first time; the rate of Friday idols also getting Sunday sets on different stages is high. There are, though, usually quite a few idols who only get one chance to shine, on Friday, when the wota aren’t even warmed up yet. However, Friday evening is a great time; I recall some sick performances at the old HEAT GARAGE in particular.
Idol at Its Finest
Idol has a unique power to send the audience member on a journey; it’s as much theatre as straight-ahead musical show. Take amiinA, who does everything so beautifully, or sora tob sakana, or Maison Book Girl — they’re doing performance art as much as they are song and dance, and it’s incredible. Also incredibly lucky for fans of the performing arts to get to see them at a venue like TIF, considering that a U.S. equivalent would probably shunt them to a side stage at best.
And then there’s the just-plain-great idols in the mix, like Yanakoto Sotto Mute, Dots, Dance for Philosophy and 2017 post-TIF breakouts Task have Fun, all of whom are going to deliver sets that could damn near bring you to tears. This is the day for it! Opening days of festivals, especially opening evenings, are in my opinion the time to find sets that are going to put me into that glowing moment, to see something transcendent that can power me through.
Get into the Pit
Pits at idol lives being unique, wonderful things, it’s kind of hard to say who’s definitely going to have a raucous crowd — especially among the newercomers. There There Theres have legendary ones, though, going back to the BRGH days, and I’ve heard good things about about people at Kaishin no Ichigeki. Otherwise, you should have good pushing and running around during the likes of NEO JAPONISM, PIIIIIIIN SHINGEKI, Shuuengo Buppan, Gokigen Teikoku, ayumikurikamaki, Malcolm Mask McLaren, Panda Mic, RIOT BABY and, of course, the deadliest idols of all, Broken By The Scream, who seriously have to be on loan before heading over to Summer Sonic (what do you mean, they aren’t?).
The thing is, though … do you want to burn yourself out now? I’d try to pick and choose a little bit. BBTS is a one-shot, and a dangerous one for human health at that, as is the slightly less-dangerous Malcolm Mask McLaren, so I’d see if I could catch those two today and spread out the others.
The List of Everybody Worth Seeing Except the Ones That I’ll Post about This Week and Next
There are a lot of different ways to look at TIF’s sandwich day; I’ve always preferred to think of it as the spotlight, where idols making a breakthrough might get a prime afternoon or evening slot on a stage of significance, and where bigger names who are only partly involved in the whole event usually get their booking. This year is no different! For instance, the WACK family will all be appearing, but only on Saturday. Likewise KOTO, and JyuJyu, and other well-known entities.
For what it’s worth, Saturday is the day to take in a solo performance by Yui ga Dokuson (sure to be a highlight) or catch up with the one-time-only resurrection of SAiNT SEX, now featuring Aya and GOZEELA in place of Puu-sama. Oh, and Aina’s doing a solo set with Kenta, just like that other time.
If I were attending TIF (and I’m not!), I’d be trying to load up Saturday with appearances by the big names that I’d otherwise struggle to connect with. PASSPO, for instance, and not just because they’re breaking up. The WACK things obviously; likewise You’ll Melt More! and Dance for Philosophy. What I might really try to get into, though, especially if the stage and time and environment all coalesce, is There There Theres’s set — not only do they never disappoint, but their TIF sets are the stuff of legends.
I’d also be careful to try to catch some of the chika-ier acts that only made it into today, like Sola Sound and Woltanative. Otherwise, I’m saving some strength for Sunday.
The List That’s Kind of Repetitive But That’s Okay Because the Best Laid Plans Fail and You’ll Wind up at the Smile Garden at the End of the Day Anyway
If Saturday is like the TIF main course, Sunday is the incredible dessert that follows. I may prefer Day 2, yes; to imply that Day 3 is somehow inferior is just silly. For one thing, it’s a good follow-up kind of day — very few idols only do Sunday, so you can catch them now if you missed them earlier — and lesser-knowns are plenty accessible. Things also seem to be a tick or so calmer as compared to Friday and Saturday, given that everybody, from the idols to the staff to the fans, is pretty gassed on the third all-out day of blazing-ass Tokyo summer spent dancing like you just don’t care.
This is where I’m catching uijin and wyenra and QUEENS and Party Rockets as priorities, plus Electric Ribbon (who are great), Devil ANTHEM (who are on fire) and Negicco, because I love them and you can’t stop me. It’s the one chance to see BILLIE IDLE, with the newly added Pour Lui, at least at this event. And, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll at least swing by Bed-In’s set to see what the big deal is. You won’t be disappointed.
No matter what you do, though, if you’re at TIF, you go to see Oomori Seiko on Sunday. She’s part of the TIF/Summer Sonic mashup, and an appropriate connection thereof at that, and you would be a fool to not see one of the greatest musicians in all of contemporary J-music (if not working today, period) when you can.
The By-now-you’re-exhausted-but-you’re-not-missing-BILLIE-IDLE List
Absolutely! Look around on Twitter or in fan communities for the smaller, off-to-the-side concurrent events held during TIF, often right down the road, that are explicitly for the chika idols (or, rather, the chika idols who haven’t graduated to being draws of pinchike money to the main fest). For instance:
I have no idea what that tweet means, but until Melon’s showing up in the official TIF lineup, I’m going to assume that they’re holding down the fort at some day-long gig at LOFT or something. But still, can you imagine the Idols From Outer Space taking over the Sky Stage? Gives me shivers, it does.
The point is, if you’re “at” TIF or merely in Tokyo and TIF-proximate, it’s worth seeing what’s around. Idols who aren’t performing at TIF absolutely flood the area, hoping to catch the eye of idol fans who might be looking for something new, and that’s just scratching the surface of all of the gigs, parties, street performances and so on that you can expect. It’s an absolute smorgasbord of idol — feel free to try new things!
And drink a lot of water! It’s hot out there!