5:00 a.m. Outside, snow. Not only did I have to drag myself to work , I then somehow had to get myself from there to Meguro with very little time to spare. Luckily, through some fortuitous turn of events, the snow melted faster than it fell and so my road home was relatively clear. And then the road to the station was even more so. So clear, in fact, that every traffic light I reached turned green upon me reaching it.
I ended up being early on every train I had planned to be on, and so rather than going straight to Meguro, I headed to Ikebukuro with Dean to get the best karaage in the world. It’s also the shop that does weird collaborations with Alice Project, though their normal karaage is far better than those could ever be. Amusingly the shop’s history with Alice Project caught up with us, as Maipuu (to me she’ll forever be “minefield”) turned up as we were waiting, recognised Dean (who used to visit PARMS far too frequently) and then hid behind a corner until we disappeared. I guess she was there to stick her feet in the batter or something.
Random asides aside, and loaded with chicken and alcohol, we headed to Rockmaykan. Inside we found a plethora of old friends from 2& and Guso days past, who all seemed surprised to see me. I really should figure a way of teleporting so I can get to Tokyo more. Richard, the Anna fan everyone in the Guso Facebook group adopted as a mascot, has decided that now instead of being half-English he’s gonna be half-Brazilian, and is sporting a massive afro and tan in support of it. Fumimi was (wo)manning the buppan table, as she does so much for Saki these days, and I got the nice copies of the new single and one cheki I needed from her. Looking forward to her one-man on March 24, should be a fun time.
Spent some time before the live chatting with some more people, then the projector came on to count down to the live. I was expecting a PV or something, but it never materialised. Instead, we got 22 songs with random MCs, as ever.
- Nounai Talk [Intercranial Talk] (New Song)
- Mirai wo [The Future]
- Ningen Moyou [The Human Condition]
- Usagi no Dorei to Casseiopeia [The Rabbit’s Slave and Casseiopeia]
- 3pun [3 Minutes]
- Negaposi Monster
- Dasai Falsetto [Uncool Falsetto]
- Genkai Asshuku Ningyou [Limit Compression Doll]
- 0.1byou [0.1secs]
- Koboreochi [Scattering]
- Resu [Response]
- Koori Jikan [The Time of Ice] (New Song)
- Futatsu Niji [Double Rainbow] (Saki Guitar)
- Vektor Tuning (Saki Guitar)
- Super Ningen ni Naritai [I Want To Be Superhuman] (Saki Guitar/New Song)
- ○ no Riron [The Theory of ○]
- Katame no Liliy [One-eyed Liliy]
- Popping Shower no Ame [A Rain of Popping Shower]
- Machigai Darake [Nothing But Mistakes]
- Chippoke Hero [Li’l Hero]
Encore: Chippoke Hero
The live itself was a rollercoaster. Starting with a new song was a bold choice, as no one had any idea what to do, but through the course of the song the crowd reaction grew stronger and stronger. It really was a good song as well, so that helped. Following it with a song like “Mirai wo” also came in handy as it’s one of the songs where the crowd get most vocal. “Ningen Moyou” and “Casseiopeia” are always crowd pleasers, and “Cassiopeia’s” bouncing probably killed half the crowd. Even this early, her new skirt had started falling apart with threads dangling all over the place. Some staff person came out to cut them off, and this process continued throughout the live.
Next we had a random MC where Saki tried to introduce “3pun” by the most roundabout way possible, saying because it’s winter and it’s cold you just want to stay at home and eat this. Someone yelled out something so far from the correct answer Saki got faux-pissed off and yelled “CUP RAMEN!” Was kind of funny.
Following the three minutes of “Three Minutes,” we had another MC with Saki talking about the first song for 2&. It was apparently a dance song, which Daichi hated and scrapped almost immediately, preferring the rock direction he was used to from his band days. And so “Negaposi Monster” came about. The fans brought Daniel (ex-manager, and fan from the really early early days) and Saya (ex-member) to the front, and it was a good little nostalgia fest.
“Dasai Falsetto” and “Genkai Asshuku Ningyou” are both reliant on the good old performance art days of choreography Saki had, “Falsetto” being her standing in one place and moving her arms and letting crowd movement make it more interesting, and “Genkai Asshuku Ningyou” is… well, “Genkai Asshuku Ningyou“. Even so, she gave a damn good performance of both.
The next MC she talked about how almost all of her songs are performed using real people playing instruments. The only exception? “0.1secs”, which Daichi wrote after getting all into the potential of DAWs when writing for Guso Drop. He soon dropped the idea, but “0.1byou” is a nice little song with a ridiculously fast tempo. Very rare that it’s performed live, so many people probably haven’t heard it, so here’s an idea.
Next up, we got the two songs that’re on the new single, “Koboreochi” and “Resu”. Both are ridiculously difficult to translate the titles of, Koboreochi can mean knocking something over so it spills or can mean the scattering of petals, which is a little bit long and weird for a song title. Resu is the wota language word for idol interaction, mostly from major idols, where they wink or wave at you from the stage, borrowed from the English response. So I just half-assed it above. Either way, both songs are good and completely penned by Saki. She was moaning about how she’d done arrangements before, for the acoustic stuff she has, but moving from that into songwriting was a big leap. Even so, they sound true to her sound; “Koboreochi” she even moaned at one Buzz Session (her regular lives at Shinjuku Dues) that it was too similar to “Chippoke Hero”. I pointed out that she has “Real” and “Dream”, two songs in which the rhythm sections are exactly the same. After that she could just think of them as counterpart songs in the same vein. “Resu” is also really good.
Next we were treated to Saki’s usual acrobatics in “Dream,” followed by “Koori Jikan”, another new Saki-penned song. This one is a lot slower than her usual stuff, kind of ballad-y. Still, an interesting addition to her repertoire. After this there was a quick break as a stool, SM-57 and guitar were brought out to give us an acoustic live. Saki’s guitar playing has improved vastly even since I last saw her. She’s confident with it now, doesn’t worry about making mistakes and, as a result, doesn’t.
We started off with “Futatsu Niji”, a well-known song she’s been doing in her busking lives for nearly 2 years now. Following was “Vektor Tuning”, which has a fun history. Honey Go Round, some Osaka group, wrote a song about Saki. In reply, Saki made “Vektor Tuning” for them. She had unfortunately been practicing somewhat too much as she voice kept cracking during one section, but was otherwise good.
Finally was the last new song of the night, preceded by a long, rambling MC which was basically as Saki as it’s possible to get, where she pondered why she couldn’t be a superhuman; but that she still wanted to be one. She then said that the song just kind of popped into her head and that the lyrics were stupid and to please ignore them as she’d basically only just finished it in time for the live, as she had promised she’d do 22 original songs for it. It was funny, the lyrics were indeed stupid but very Saki. Still a fun song.
Acoustic live over, we returned to the longest 2& song, the phenomenal “○ no Riron”. Eight minutes and change later, Saki barely seemed to feel it. The rest of us were panting. “Katame no Liliy” is another of those songs where the crowd does more than Saki, with her just standing in one place for the whole thing, but is mesmerising doing so.
Following this was “Real”, so the whole crowd went nuts as they’re prone to. Still one of the best idol songs ever created. The last spurt of “Popping Shower”, “Machigai” and “Chippoke” went by in a blur as logic and reason were overridden by the sheer joy these lives bring you. “Popping Shower” has the entire crowd start skipping around the venue whilst Saki skips around the stage, “Machigai” had a moshpit, and in “Chippoke Hero” especially there’s a jumping bit which ended up turning into a pogo moshpit. The encore was even more hardcore. And just like that, 2 hours and 22 minutes and 22 songs later, it was over.
Since she left Guso and had her nodule surgery, Saki’s vocals have been getting better and better. Only the slight slip in “Vektor Tuning” hindered her. Her dancing and stage presence is still top notch, and in general as a performer you can tell she’s still yet to reach her peak. Now she’s incorporated songwriting and composition into her repertoire, she’s got the potential to become the next Daichi. I guess all those years under his guidance kind of worked as an informal apprenticeship; she seemed to have picked up a lot of his way of writing songs, the lyrics she writes are as nonsensical as the thoughts in her head, and she now knows how to instruct a band how to play the songs the way she has imagined it. She has become a proper producer, and more power to her.
Also her ideas of becoming an artist seem to have been put on the back shelf as far as those things go; the whole no-cheki rule that was announced before the split with Daichi was hastily renounced when she went freelance, ostensibly because now she’s responsible for her own upkeep as it were, rather than living on a wage and the 30 percent of every cheki pay-plan of A-minor. And one can never discount chekis as a potential earner. She also often stays around as late as possible in buppan, aiming to get as many people as possible. I think she probably has a better sense of business than Daichi did. Or at least, one can probably discount Saki from ever taking 100 fans on an eight hour bender and then insisting on settling the bill herself. Either way, buppan is still a thing at 2& shows, so no need to worry. Unless you’re terrible with cameras, because sometimes you might be asked to take the cheki of the person in front of you on days when Saki hasn’t hired any staff.
Anyway, now suitably knackered, everyone geared up for buppan, and I worried about my train. Spoke to Daniel for a bit, and he got back in the manager mood trying to help Kojiki move people when he was trying to get through with the table. Luckily, I got into the line relatively early as I’d bought my ticket from Fumimi when I came in, unlike Dean, who then had to line up to buy the ticket and then had to wait another 30 mins for his cheki. Fumimi enjoyed yelling that people who hadn’t bought a cheki ticket today couldn’t use a cheki ticket they’d bought elsewhen to get a cheki so much she must have shouted it 20 times or so. I spoke to Kojiki who was taking the chekis, who told me to make time for Burst Girls at some point. I told them I’d give them a chance.
Then Saki was chill as usual, being glad that I hadn’t been screwed over by the snow. I also gleaned some interesting information from her regarding something later this year, [spoiler]
[you’ve been warned]
but suffice to say if you’re in the UK and going to Necronomidol, you might be in for a treat that involves screaming to the high heavens about the 60s and a squared conjunction.
After this went and spoke with Dean and David, a Scottish 969 fan who was there. Always random finding another Scot at idol events. Also spoke with Roger a few times through the evening. He goes to more idols than I do even though he lives in Australia. Ibaraki really does suck. Spent some time talking to the Gushin guys, the majority of whom are avoiding Burst Girls like the plague because the music just isn’t very good. For a lot of them Daichi was the glue binding them to Guso, without that they just have no inclination to go. Most of them have migrated to 969, Kaishin no Ichigeki or Dots, but some outliers have gone crazy and started with Zenryoku Shoujo R and Sora Tob Sakana. They’re all still chill though. 2& Family are still Family, after all.
Fumimi and the other staff guy who didn’t know me came up to give me some chekis Saki decorated for me. One was dated 2015.10.14, the other 2016.08.27. I think back in September she told me she had some of mine still and I completely forgot about it. Obviously she told Fumimi and the staff guy to free up some space in her cheki file. I went and annoyed Zaka for a bit , but I had a train to catch, so Dean and I left and got on the train just as the doors were closing, only to find that we had basically run into the back of Fumimi. “Shit,” we thought. Luckily we were only on the Yamanote for one stop, only to find our exit blocked by Fumimi getting off and going to the same platform as us, for the same train. “Dammit,” we thought, and went to the other end of the platform.
I don’t stalk idols, I promise. These things just happen in Tokyo.
Anyway, March 11 is Saki’s birthday, so I’ll be there. March 24 is Fumimi’s one-man, so I’ll probably be there. Whether I report or not is up to my mood. Anyway, until then, pozdrav fuckers.