Phillter’s Christmas in Tokyo, Part III

You guys are going to be glad that I wagged my finger at Phillter when he told me about this epic account of his epic holiday trip to Shangri-la; imagine if this thing were all one enormous piece? Gracious. But this is Part III, and you can go look at Part I and/or Part II if you don’t already know the score.

December 26 brought with it a show I had been looking forward to for a very long time: Survival UB Visual Shock, Under Beasty’s 4th One-Man Live at the Shinjuku ReNY!

I pride myself on being a long-time fan of Under Beasty, one of the seemingly lesser known rock idol units. [Maniac: #IdolHipster] The group of four (Nagase Kaho, Haruno Yumu, Matsushita Ai, and leader Uetake Yua) is one I have had the great pleasure and fortune of seeing live before at the ReNY, during that show where I got my gear stolen.

The day before that show, during the summer, I had stopped by the venue to scout out the location, since finding the entrance to the ReNY is a bit of a pain. When I figured out where it was, I made a note and turned to leave, but I saw Kaho-chan herself handing out fliers in the lobby.

She saw that I was staring in what must have looked like shock (when you see something/someone that you’ve always wanted to see in person you tend to forget yourself), and stepped outside of the venue to ask me if I knew her. I said yes of course, and from there we had a small chat.

I couldn’t believe I was talking to an idol, she couldn’t believe Under Beasty had fans in America, there was a mutual cloud of wonderment hanging over the two of us. So, when I entered the show on December 26, I wondered if she would remember me.

I picked up my reserved ticket (you can email most groups before a show and reserve a ticket for a cheaper price than buying the day of), bought the ever-necessary drink ticket, and walked into the venue. I was just in time for this show, as previous plans during the day extended to the very last minute, so there was no time to try to get any merch. I figured there would be plenty of opportunities after the show, so I threw my bag in a coin locker [Maniac: Yes, you did.] and entered the hall.

It was packed. The ReNY is one of the better-sized venues in the hard-idol circuit. It isn’t by any means a stadium, but that number of people felt like an enormous crowd. And good for Under Beasty, they deserve an audience like that.

People saw that a foreigner was in the crowd and were in minor states of disbelief, followed by immediately shoving me towards the front, for which I was extremely grateful. I got my light wand I had purchased earlier in the day in Akihabara for this occasion, ready to go with my favorite member’s color, pink for Ai-tsun, just as the lights dimmed and the show began.

They brought out all the heavy-hitting songs that I expected, threw in some songs I didn’t even know they had, and did a fair bit of MCing. The crowd ate up every minute of it, all of us getting lost in the call and responses, the coordinated movements, and the clapping rhythms.

The halfway point of the show was ushered in with lights dimming and background music coming up for the girls to go take a water break … or so I had thought. But no, it was time for some vocal solo songs from the two major voices of the group, Yua and Yumu.

Yumu was first, and did a slow-paced rock ballad with piano accompaniment. Her voice is the richest of the group in my opinion, with lots of little layers to it that build up to some amazing crescendos when she is singing solo pieces. You could see small tears dropping from her eyes due to the emotion of the song as she gave the stage to Yua before going off to take her own break.

Yua’s solo piece was a slower jazzy-vocal-solo piece. Just piano, with a brushed snare if I recall correctly. Her singing voice is higher-pitched and joined with the piano lines well. No tears of emotion came to the hard facade of Under Beasty’s leader though, this girl has the mind of a strategist for sure; cool under any kind of pressure. And since Under Beasty is a self-managing group, I’m unsurprised.

These two vocal songs showed off one of Under Beasty’s best points: the voices. It is very easy to tell from the singing parts in their songs that all of them are professionally trained and take their vocal work seriously. It can be obvious when an idol group isn’t really vocally up to snuff, and may hide that fact by gimmicking something in, but these girls are nothing like that. Personally, I think Yumu has a powerhouse of a voice that could be up with the likes of Su-Metal on any day of the week, but I digress.

After the break came some more powerhouse songs, including my personal favorite, “Raven” from their first single:

These, along with the signed frisbees and streamers of shiny ribbon that exploded into the crowd, woke everyone up and led quickly to the end of the show. The lights dimmed, the girls waved and said thanks as they walked off of the stage.

But of course it wasn’t quite over yet. With a chorus of “ON-KO-RAY!” (how the Japanese say “Encore”) repeated for a few minutes, the girls came out and did one final song, which I believe was “Black Jet,” one of the title songs from their latest single. It, of course, blew the house down and ended the show perfectly. After the song, the girls each thanked all of the people for supporting them thus far, and emphasized very strongly that 2016 is not the end of Under Beasty, that 2017 was going to be an even bigger year, with (and this has yet to be confirmed by anyone officially) the possibility of a nationwide tour. If that were followed through with it would be a HUGE step for the group, so I hope it does end up panning out for them. Who knows, they may even come to Shikoku!

After the show,  I was unable to pick up the towel or T-shirt I wanted, but I was able to pick up all the versions of their new single, and get photos with all of the members. Apparently Kaho had previously spread word of me being their fan and attending a show of theirs because all of the girls told me that they heard about how I had talked to Kaho and thanked me for coming all the way back to Tokyo for this important show of theirs. I also met one of their promotion guys who knew English really well. We had a nice chat about various things, and exchanged contact info. So who knows, maybe we’ll be able to get more Under Beasty info into the community’s hands at some point!

[Maniac: I demand an interview. With the members. Not the guy.]

I headed home that night still spinning with such joy … that I got on the wrong train, went half an hour outside of Tokyo, barely realize it in time, catch the last train back into the city, not quite make it to the stop I needed, and have to walk about two miles back to my hostel. That just goes to show you how great the show was, though. Tomorrow was another, however, so I needed to get some rest.

Check in next time for what ended up being an unexpected show, but a good one nonetheless!

[Maniac: Phillter lives in the Kansas of Japan. Ain’t nobody touring the Kansas of Japan.]