Nogizaka46, SCANDAL, Kyary and NMB4816 January, 2013 by Chad
Today we’d be going over to Yokohama for the long awaited Happy Music Live 2012 concert in Yokohama Arena. The previous day had been the “boys” segment of the show with Orange Range and SHINee, but we’d only be attending the “girls” half this afternoon. A total of 50 songs had been promised by the performing artistes today: NMB48, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, SCANDAL, Nogizaka46 and Becky.
We left the apartment later than usual, since all of us had had long nights yesterday. According to the tickets, we were to enter the hall at 2 PM, so we didn’t have much time to do anything in the morning anyways. Judging from how earlier it would start, it looked like it’d be a long concert. Didn’t take the camera out with me today, as we’d spend most of the day indoors. Will have to settle for the few, taken poorly with the iPhone.
This time, it was Yan that had arrived late and had gotten lost at Shibuya where we’d be meeting. The three of us ended up having to head over to the Hachiko statue, the only landmark that he knew, to pick him up before heading back to the Tokyu station for our train to Yokohama.
Thought we’d try checking out if there were any goods sold at the venue before hand, so by the time we’d arrive at Shin-Yokohama station, there wasn’t enough time to catch a proper lunch. Instead, we grabbed some gourmet rice balls and waffles from the station and headed over to Yokohama Arena.
That turned out to be a waste since there were no goods being sold outside. Instead we’d need to wait until the doors opened to see what concert goods were being sold inside.
Only a small fraction of the attendees had started queueing, the rest either hung around the venue waiting or (most of them) had not arrived yet. We sat at a flight of stairs beside the arena to consume the food we had bought earlier. We were joined by a mother and her young son. Wonder who they were here for.
Had forgotten to grab some drinks earlier, so had to settle for getting some at the nearby vending machines. Sadly all they had were Kirin drinks, which from experience are mostly terrible. The weather was actually quite cold today, but did not bring a jacket since had expected to be indoors. Wanted to get a hot drink, but there weren’t too many options from the machines so had to settle for some apple water instead.
Spent some time sitting here, observing the people visiting the concert today. Compared to the last AKB48 concert I attended here, which was mostly teenagers, the crowd today was more varied. We spotted some kids, accompanied by their parents and a few middle schoolers, one of whom had come here limping with a cast. The majority seemed to be young adults though and there were a good number of middle aged folk too.
About half an hour before entry time the queue started to form naturally. The staff requested that everyone go around the back of the concert hall, so rather than looping around the front of the arena the visitors formed a single line around half the dome. Things moved really smoothly and before we knew it, we were in the hall.
Some of the presenters from the Happy Music TV program came out to pose for cameras. Lots of people flocked to the mini studio set at the entrance to snap some photos. Eri and Yan helped us pick up some Happy Music Live concert tees while the rest of us made a break for the rest rooms. There had been an impossible queue for the convenience store toilets outside of the hall.
Our seats weren’t as bad as we’d expected. We were situated about halfway through the hall, just behind all the technical people running the concert. We initially messed up our seats and sat one row too far behind, but after the people actually sitting there arrived we embarrassingly moved forward. Thankfully, our seats were elevated so the staff didn’t impede the view, furthermore, we enjoyed having seats directly centered to the stage.
Yokohama Arena nao. twitter.com/supermerlion/s…
— Supermerlion (@supermerlion) November 11, 2012
We did have the misfortune of having one of the tallest Japanese couples standing in front of us though. With the exception of a few distinct hardcore wota types who had come fully geared, the rest of the populace here looked rather normal. We eavesdropped on a bit of their conversations, identifying the couple, as well as most of the people seated around us to be NMB48 fans.
Apart from Becky who sang the theme song for the show, Fukuda Ayano, Yasei Bakudan and Ayabe Yuuji from Peace would be presenting today. They opened with a bit of MC, asking for shouts as to who had come from Tokyo, the rest of Japan and then overseas. We raised our hands, but the hosts laughed it off that we were lying.
They soon introduced the show’s first performers, which unexpectedly, was Negicco. Seems Negicco had been chosen by Becky ahead of time in some sort of prefectural idol battle to open the concert. Like us, most of the audience seemed to had been taken by surprise. Their music can best described as being pleasant.
Matayoshi Naoki arrived later to join his partner. During the short time since the concert hard started, a heavy downpour had began outside, though that probably wasn’t the only reason why he was late since the rest had managed to arrive on time just fine. He had quite a few fans here who cheered his arrival, there was even at least one girl beside the stage who had a Matayoshi board.
Next up was SCANDAL. Apart from Negicco, they probably had the least fans here today. There were just two young teenagers in our immediate vicinity. But what they lacked in number, they made up for in obnoxiousness, head banging and making all sorts of hand signs even to the band’s new pop music. When they got tired of that, they began to lift up their SCANDAL towels and jumping up and down, much to the irritation of the people behind them.
Many of the songs they performed today were probably from their new album, as had yet to listen to that. Still, SCANDAL was probably the second most enjoyable performance for myself today, on account of them actually performing live. The rest of the crowded warmed up a little too when they started to sing some anime songs.
Nogizaka46 appeared to much fanfare. They probably had the most fans here apart from NMB48, or more likely an overlap. Those who’ve listen to any Nogizaka46 songs would know that while easy to listen to, their music do not translate very well to life performances. For the most part, it was just the recent senbatsu members doing their usual radio taisho / calisthenics to a pre-recording of their piano driven melodies. As a result, I’d spent most of their performance oshi camming Fukagawa Mai. The binoculars we purchased yesterday came in handy for this one performance.
Since they only had a few singles to date, was hoping that they’d do some of the under B-sides which I liked but sadly, it was just the senbatsu for all but one song. They performed the few singles that they had as well as their rendition of Aitakatta. To round off the first half of the concert, the rest of Nogizaka46 appeared from off stage and the whole bunch of them performed their new single “Seifuku no Mannequin” for the first time together. It was disappointing.
After a break, Becky lead the second half. Choosing Negicco to open turned out to be a pretty sly move on her part, since while she did have a number of fans, Becky was also among the least well received artist today. This was due to her singing a series of ballads, though probably out of necessity, as Randy pointed out that they were the theme songs for Happy Music and other recent programs.
Thankfully, Becky had the good sense to end with an upbeat song, “Good Lucky!!!!!” her collaboration with Greeeen for last year’s Universal Studios Japan’s 10th anniversary. It caught on rather well with the 10,000 or so visitors here today. The young woman in front of us turned out to be a huge fan, enthusiastically dancing along to the whimsical choreography.
Despite having already been listening to Nakata’s music almost everyday before the trip, wasn’t expecting much from Kyary Pamyu Pamyu who came next since had seem some of her television live performances before and they were quite unimpressive.
It’d definitely came as a surprise then that Kyary ended up being the act I’d enjoy the most. While most of the songs were lip synched as expected, it was easily one of the most novel and captivating concepts to see in motion.
A big part of this came from the amazing team of faceless dancers backing Kyary’s eccentric dance steps. Rather than provide a close up of the performance as in other artist cases, the big arena screen behind was integrated into the spectacle, displaying psychedelic imagery in tune to the music. The result was less your typical music performance but more a circus for one’s senses.
This would be my first time listening to “Fashion Monster” and the still unreleased “Kimi ni 100 Percent”. They’d be ringing in my head for a long time to come. Though it was apparent from initial audience reactions that she had few fans this day, the simple almost jingle-like tunes caught on quickly such that by the time Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was to end with her most notable singles, “PONPONPON” and “Tsukema Tsukeru”, the audience were already following along to the choreography.
The final act would be NMB48. The loudest cheers this day erupted from mere mention of the name. Inevitably, as what would seem like 3/4s of the audience here today seemed to be NMB48 fans. They were also what the rest were most looking forward to.
They opened up immediately with “Virginity” and much to Randy and my own delight its B-Side, “Mousou Girlfriend”. He was pretty ecstatic when the familiar tune began, though for good reason, as the collective being one of the most listenable releases to come out of any main 48 group in recent times. He did comment that they ought to had kept these to the end, so he could had savored it better.
NMB48 moved on to cover the rest of their singles. I had a hard time keeping up, since hadn’t been following their music much. I reckon that even if I were familiar with the members of NMB48 (I’m not), it would still had been literally impossible to see what was going on, what with all the extended members in the group shuffling around the stage at once. The crowd loved the theatrics though, as evident from the sudden emergence of cheers and chants, that had be absent up to this point of the concert.
The group ended on a good note though, with NMB48 performing another familiar song, their new single Kitagawa Kenji, which I had been exposed to courtesy of the superfluous trips to Akihabara. It was quite catchy and easy to follow.
After the concert, there were actually booths set up to sell merchandise for the individual artists. Since all the booths were side by side though, to get anything you’d need to join one long queue and then choose which booth you want to purchase from at the end.
Nearly everyone in queue was here for NMB48 goods. We had just been in Osaka so found nothing of interest, but for the rest of the Kanto fans, this must had been a rare opportunity to acquire some goods. We waited around while Yan queued. He ended up spending a ton of money at the Nogizaka46 booth.
The Becky booth saw next to no customers and the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu booth too after the first few minutes, so they opened up access to those booths without having to wait in line. Decided to take this opportunity to have look. There were a couple of cute young ladies tending to Kyary’s booth.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu actually had some nice towel designs but that and most of the merchandise had already sold out. It could be that they weren’t expecting there to be much Kyary fans at all, or perhaps most of the goods had already been sold out during Kyary’s Budokan concert earlier this week. Ended up picking up one of her dinosaur tees instead.
It was time for the arena to close, so the staff had begun to politely “chase” people out. In the time we had spent at the merchandise booth, the rain had made a return and quickly intensified. We were the only ones still around that had come unprepared for the weather. Once Yan was done, we headed back to Shin-Yokohama station by making a run for connecting shelters along the way.
There was also the matter of dinner. Thankfully, the concert had finish earlier enough that the restaurants there were still open. One of the first things we’d come across would be this buffet restaurant in CUBIC PLAZA, the mall above Shin-Yokohama station. Without much thought, the rest unanimously agreed on giving it a try.
Only after entering did we noticed that restaurant, Haabesuto specialised in healthy and natural foods. Unfortunately, rather than alternative dishes, they tried to emulate a normal intercontinental buffet, just with everything cooked lightly. The result was that the food served were pretty bland. Ended up mostly eating salad, which wasn’t a bad thing, since I really enjoy my greens. Dinner was affordable at just 1,888 yen for a weekend dinner, which was also the main point that attracted the rest in the first place. There was a 90 minute limit to eat though.
After having our fill, it was just a matter of enduring the journey back to Tokyo and our respective accommodations.
Despite the seats, today’s Happy Music Live 2012 concert turned out to be quite a fun and worthwhile experience. The tickets were definitely on the pricey side at 7,350 yen and each artist’s segment felt quite short, but like a buffet these were just some trade-offs in exchange for catering to just about all of our musical tastes.
One subtle side effect of the variety though was that the audience ended up being pretty divided all around. Despite the similar venue, it lacked the grandeur of a concert where everyone is cheering vigorously for the same artist. And after experiencing the awesomeness of the Pamyu Revolution first hand, I kind of regretted not going for Kyary’s Budokan concert. That would had surely been something.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.