AAA's tour opening day was my first concert in Japan05 May, 2013 by Grace
We started off the next day waking up early, in order to pack up our stuff, check-out and move to our next hotel which was located one stop away from Shinjuku Station on the Yamanote Line. The initial plan was to take a taxi there since we had to carry all our luggage, but realising that we wouldn’t have to change train lines at all if we took one from Tokyo Station, we decide to save the money. Our hotel in Hatchobori did provide a free shuttle to Tokyo Station anyway, and most guests checking out took advantage of it.
Leaving our luggage at the reception of our next hotel, Shin-Okubo Sekitei, as it was not check-in time yet, we headed for the nearby branch of Gyoza no Ohsho to have lunch. Like its name suggests, it’s a shop known for its gyoza. We had a quick lunch here with all of us ordering sets that included gyoza, and it didn’t disappoint.
Here, I regret to inform that there won’t be any photos for today’s travel and food. We kept our cameras away in the luggage as Etine and I would be going for a concert right after, and didn’t want to risk any trouble with the bag check. We would also be splitting up from her mum, who would be doing her own shopping in Shin-Okubo and Shinjuku while we went for the concert.
The concert we would be going for was the opening day of AAA’s Eighth Wonder tour. For the uninitiated, their name stands for Attack All Around, and the group consists of 5 men and 2 women. They do a variety of genres in accordance with their name – what they’re attacking are actually genres. They’re also titled a “super performance group”, giving energetic dances and singing at the same time without lip-syncing. With their debut single BLOOD on FIRE, they won Best Newcomer at the Japan Record Award.
Lately they’ve been leaning towards a more electronic sound. Here’s their latest release.
So anyway, we made for concert venue, which was in Hachioji City, 1 hour away from central Tokyo. On the way there we started to feel kind of sleepy due to the long train ride after a filling meal. But the moment I got out of the train I regained my energy and started getting super excited because in Hachioji Station itself I could already spot other fans who were carrying AAA goods.
All along the station’s exit till Southern Sky Tower, there were a ton of fans decked out in AAA gear, ranging from official goods, self-made t-shirts, and cosplay outfits of the members’ costumes. There was also a dance cover group in the open area outside the shopping mall, but we didn’t stop to watch as we were freezing in the cold. The 9 – 11 degrees temperature was already cold, but adding were strong winds that happened to be blowing in that area. It was too much for my Singapore-bred self. I think Etine was able to put up with it a little better though.
Heeding the advice of online forums, we were there at the concert venue, Olympus Hall Hachioji (located on the 4th floor of Southern Sky Tower), at about 2pm. It was one hour later than intended due to several minor delays in the morning, but I’m glad we didn’t reach earlier because we ended up with too much free time.
The advice on forums said to be at a venue at least 3 hours before the doors open (4.30pm in our case), if you absolutely wanted to get your hands on goods. However, I guess this didn’t really apply to us as it was the first day of the tour and there’s less chance of things being sold out. So anyway when we got to the queue for buying goods, we got an official tour light stick and towel each, and I bought some a~panda keychains, the AAA mascot.
When we were done buying, we didn’t stick around the area since it was crowded with fans sitting around chatting. It was still 2 hours til the doors opened so we decided to walk around Southern Sky Tower, which was a shopping mall.
Most of the shops around were restaurants, but there was a supermarket and a 100-yen shop as well, so we spent our time in those. Etine ended up buying strawberries from the supermarket as they were cheap. Also, when we visited the washroom, it was filled with AAA fans who were there to change into their AAA cosplays.
Close to 4pm, we returned to the waiting area outside the hall. Finding an empty corner, we sat ourselves there. There were plenty of other fans around but none tried to talk to us, to which I was kind of sad, but then I didn’t approach anyone to chat either because I was afraid. Around 4.30pm, staff started shouting for people to form a queue to enter the place. Since there was no English spoken, I was only half-sure of what I had understood. Anyway, we joined the queue since there was nothing to lose (nothing to win either – the concert is ticketed seating).
We had to climb two floors of stairs after entering the place since our seats were on the third floor. Despite it being the third floor, the view we had was clear without any blockage. Props to Olympus Hall here – each row of seats are elevated so high that you had no possibility of being blocked by the front row unless you had a 2m-tall man in front of you.
When the hall started filling up, I noticed the Japanese fan beside me was holding a pair of binoculars… and that is when I realised how stupid we were to not foresee the usefulness of bringing binoculars when you’re seated this far from the stage. You can’t really see facial expressions from this distance.
It was not long before the lights switched off, squeals from the audience were heard, and colourful moving lights appeared on the screens that were on the stage itself. The thumping dramatic music at the beginning really got everybody into the mood and even Etine, who wasn’t a hardcore fan like I was, got excited.
Opening up with a totally new song which was very electronic-sounding, it set the pace for the concert. Most of the songs for the day’s setlist would be upbeat. The setlist consisted of songs from recent years (Still Love You, CALL, etc), most recently released singles (Miss you, PARTY IT UP), and new songs from their upcoming album. We were treated to a total of five new songs that would be in AAA’s upcoming album – this meant everyone in the audience on this day were the first fans to listen to these songs. After the encore there was also a medley of older songs that were fan favourites. Here’s one of them.
The MC portions were also enjoyable and you can witness how comfortable they are with the stage after 7 years since debuting. With my limited Japanese though it was still not easy catching what they were saying, and there were a few times where I was clueless when the audience laughed. I also tried explaining the parts I could, to Etine who totally didn’t understand anything.
During the encore MC, AAA also showed their appreciativeness to fans, and they specially asked for the lights on the third level to be turned on so they could see us and wave to us. Naturally, everyone on the third level waved back enthusiastically.
Being immersed in the music I like, watching the high-energy dances and entertaining skit, waving my light stick along with everyone in the audience to the rhythm, and swinging my towel to their song together with a friend, I could say that this was hands down one of the best times I’ve had in my life. Of course, there were many other songs I love that weren’t performed, but I was very satisfied with the show. Etine was also satisfied and ended up buying a~pandas because she became a bigger fan of one of the members.
The concert in total was about 2 and a half hours which was what I expected. 5pm is an early time to start a concert, but I think it was done in consideration of fans – it ended nicely at dinner time. Since we came all the way out to Hachioji, Etine suggested finding dinner in the area. The opposite side of Hachioji Station seemed to be quite a bustling place so we headed off to find food there.
On the way I spotted an electronics shop, so I quickly took a look inside to find the earphone model I had been searching for. And this time, I found it. Still 30 dollars cheaper than in Singapore, so I promptly bought it, then we continued on our journey for food. It was also raining at this time, so it became unbearably cold walking around the streets.
At one point we wandered into an alley with a sign that said “Lingerie Cafe” or something so I tried to stop Etine from going further into this alley. She, still a little blur, walked on a bit before spotting some dubious-looking men and turned back to me and said “Let’s go back to the main street.” Feeling a little scared of what else we could accidentally wander into, we in the end settled for…friendly old McDonalds’.
It’s not as disappointing as you might imagine. The McDonalds’ in Japan has a different menu from Singapore, and after trying the food, I’ve got to say the standard is so much better there. Etine ordered the ebi burger together with seaweed shaker fries. Except it wasn’t called “seaweed shaker” there. I first saw the photo so we mistakenly thought we could just ask for “seaweed shaker” and the staff gave us a confused look. Turns out, when I looked at the menu a second time, it was called “shaka-shaka potato”.
I ordered a teritama burger meal and it was really good. I wish it was available in Singapore too! We sat near a window where we stared back into the same dubious alley we had gotten out from. This time, I spotted even more dubious signs, and was glad we didn’t hang around in there long.
After we finished eating, we headed straight to the train station, since going back would take another hour and we didn’t want to be back too late.
Images and videos of AAA from avex trax/avex management inc.